Saturday, December 25, 2010

She Knew to Kneel

Today is Jesus' birthday!  I wonder what it would have been like to have been present at His birth... What would I have done when I came face to face with the Savior in the manger?  What gift would I have laid before the King?

This Christmas the LORD gave me a tiny glimpse of the Baby in the manger through fresh eyes.  My family and I were at the church preparing the set for the Christmas Eve drama production.  A friend of my husband's came by the church to help with the construction.  His two little children came with him.  They don't attend any church, nor have the children had any spiritual upbringing but the most profound thing happened... When they entered the sanctuary, the father pointed to the nativity scene and told his tiny daughter (about 2 years old) that this was Baby Jesus lying in the manger.  "Sissy" quietly approached the manger and without a word, she knelt down on her knees and silently peered at the doll that represented Jesus.  She didn't reach out for him or remove him from the manger.  Instead, she gently folder her hands and gazed in wonder! 

How awesome!  I was speechless.  How did this little one know that there was something special about this baby in the manger?  How did she know to bend the knee?  What filled her with awe?

Jesus did.  Somehow, I think that these tiny children - so freshly knit together by the LORD Himself... so untainted by the fallen world - remember something that we all too often forget... that the Baby laid in a manger was God Himself.  He was and is the King of kings and the Lord of lords and there is no more appropriate response than to reverently approach Him, bow our knees and adore Him.  May I do precisely that today - and always!

But Jesus asked the children to come to him. "Let the little children come to me," he said. "Don't keep them away. God's kingdom belongs to people like them. What I'm about to tell you is true. Anyone who will not receive God's kingdom like a little child will never enter it."  (Luke 18:16-17)

Father, help me to have eyes like this child.  Help me not to forget the wonder of the Baby's birth - fully God yet fully man... Help me never to lose sight that Jesus came to earth for the purpose of saving me from the penalty of my sin.  May I too reverently and humbly bow before You.  May I be full of awe and wonder and may I always affectionately express my love and gratitude for the awesome gift of salvation that You freely offered me.  Thank You for the priceless gift, Jesus!  It's perfect!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

By Bit Or Bridle

We are in the process of buying a beautiful old farm just outside of the city where we live.  There's an old farm house, a huge old dairy barn, several stray farm cats and three delightful, strong-willed, unbroken horses that pasture on the land that is soon to be ours.  The horses will continue to roam the pasture land after we take possession of the farm and though they cannot be ridden, my daughter and I couldn't be happier!

Angel or "Mama", as we have affectionately named her, and her two colts have quickly become one of the highlights of our soon-to-be home and we venture out to see them often.  They are in dire need of some grooming and TLC and we are all too happy to oblige.  We have discovered that they really do love carrots and apples.  They don't mind the occasional sugar cube and we just heard that what they really find tasty are bagels!  We start out towards them and these beautiful, raggedy, old horses come running to us when we call their names.

Recently, my daughter and I ventured out to find the horses with our arms laden with their favorite treats.  We ended up walking nearly a quarter mile out into the pasture through snow that reached past my knees.  It was hard trudging but once we reached the hill overlooking a ravine, the horses spotted us and came running.  They reached the edge of the ravine and somehow decided that this particular part of the trek was too deep with snow.  They stepped back.  We called their names.  They tried once more but again decided the way was too much work.  After looking at us for a few more seconds, they went off another direction - the path of least resistance!

Immediately, a verse that I had memorized a few years ago jumped into my mind!  This time, it held fresh, poignant new meaning...

Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. (Psalm 32:9)

Didn't they understand that we had their favorite (and nutritious) treats to satisfy their hunger?  Didn't they pause to remember how much they like to be stroked and talked with?  How much am I just like them?  God holds exactly what I need in His hand.  He loves me - even though I require some grooming and have nothing to offer Him.  He loves to be with me and He comes out to meet me, calling my name.  How many times do I look at the place He is calling me to and wade a step or two in His direction only to decide that the path is too difficult?  Why do I not remember - truly understand - that He holds precisely what I need?  Not only does He hold nourishment but I enjoy being with Him... So why do I all too often resort to the path of least resistance?  What about you?

Father, I confess that I am often just like these horses.  My actions beg to be controlled by bit and bridle when You offer me freedom and the drawing of Your love.  Please help me to remember - to truly understand that Your way is for my best.  Help me not to resort to the path of least resistance and miss out on all of the wonderful blessings and provisions that You hold in Your hands for me.  I really do love You, Lord.  Keep calling my name.  I want to learn to listen...

Thursday, November 11, 2010


My Poppa - A Canadian soldier and his beautiful bride to be!
I almost didn't go this morning - to the Remembrance Day service.  I woke exhausted.  Numerous busy weeks have blurred together and I just wanted to stay at home.  I didn't feel like feeling sad... Can you believe it?  I'm ashamed to admit it, but it's true.

I'm not sure exactly what it was that changed my mind... perhaps the fact that both my children wanted to go... perhaps the sight of my grandmother, a veteran herself, donning a poppy and remembering the handsome young soldier who promised to love her forever more than a half century ago... I still can't say , but I'm grateful that something triggered in me to look beyond myself and see the importance of standing with others to say "I remember."

I watched through tears as the soldiers marched into the arena and took their place.  So handsome in their uniforms.  So disciplined in their stance.  As the crowd took their seats, these soldiers continued to stand.  While a myriad of wreaths were placed, hymns were sung, speeches were made, there wasn't even so much as a shifting of weight in their ranks.  Even in this, the soldiers were giving of themselves so that we could pause and remember.

We sang "O Canada".  I wept over the melodic prayer "God, keep our land..."  These men were willing to die for me to have the religious freedom to sing those words!  My mind wandered to my friend Shannon whose husband Rob spent 18 months away from his wife and tiny son in order to protect our rights and the rights of thousands like us in Afghanistan.  What a sacrifice this man made!  I watched and observed the cost to his young family.  Praise the Lord that he returned home safe!  Notice I said "safe" and not "untouched."  I thought about a young man named Jordan who survived his injuries thanks to the Hand of the Great Physician.  I can't even imagine the call that his beautiful young bride received.  How can we possibly express sufficient gratitude to these men or the families of the 116,000 that have said a final goodbye to their beloved soldier?  It's impossible... but oh, I'd like to try!

My eyes were rivoted to the young man who, no doubt, has carried a pack for miles on end, and yet so comfortably swung a diaper bag over his shoulder.  Another young man used to displaying discipline to the enth degree tenderly correcting a toddler carelessly dropping a toy... I couldn't help smiling as the roar of wrestless little ones got louder and louder.  It was the sound of life - the reward of hard-fought battles...

Men and women, real flesh and blood, with families just like yours and mine, willing to lay it all on the line to protect what they love and believe in... I am in awe of you.  From weathermen to artillery soldiers, helicopter pilots to chaplains, privates to brigadere generals, I salute you!

I am so grateful that I went this morning!  This year, I pray that there will be numerous opportunities for me to say thank you to these men and women for their dedication.  I plan to.  One heartfelt "thank YOU" at a time!  Won't you join me?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Knots Prayer

Dear God:
Please untie the knots that are in my mind,
my heart and my life.
Remove the have nots, the can nots
and the do nots that I have in my mind.

Eraise the will nots, may nots, might nots
that may find a home in my heart.

Release me from the could nots,
would nots and should nots that obstruct my life.

And most of all, Dear God,
I ask that You remove from my mind, my heart and my life
all of the 'am nots' that I have allowed to hold me back,
especially the thought that I am not good enough.

(Author Known to God)

Last week my father-in-love sent me this prayer.  It has been on my heart and mind all week.  Perhaps you have some knots in your life.  I tend to know they are there by feelings of anxiety, discouragement, feelings of being overwhelmed.  A few knots were pulling tight on me even this morning.  When knots arise, I'm learning to lean myself on the strength of the Almighty and let Him untie them for me.  Here are some of the Truths He used this morning as He smoothed out each knot that had me bound.

Since Karrie is in Christ, by the grace of God...

• Karrie has been justified – completely forgiven and made righteous. (Romans 5:1)

• Karrie is free forever from condemnation. (Romans 8:1)

• Karrie has received the Spirit of God into her life that Karrie might know the things freely given to Karrie by God. (1 Corinthians 2:12)

• Karrie has been established, anointed and sealed by God in Christ, and Karrie has been given the Holy Spirit as a pledge guaranteeing her inheritance to come. (2 Corinthians 1:21;Ephesians 1:13, 14)

• Karrie has been made righteous. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

• Karrie has been blessed with every spiritual blessing. (Ephesians 1:3)

• Karrie has been redeemed and forgiven, and she is a recipient of His lavish grace. Karrie has been made alive together with Christ. (Ephesians 2:5)

• Karrie has direct access to God through the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:18)

• Karrie may approach God with boldness, freedom and confidence. (Ephesians 3:12)

• Karrie has been rescued from the domain of satan's rule and transferred to the kingdom of Christ. (Colossians 1:13)

• Karrie has been redeemed and forgiven of all her sins. The debt against Karrie has been cancelled. (Colossians 1:14)

• Christ Himself is in Karrie. (Colossians 1:27)

• Karrie is firmly rooted in Christ and now being built up in Him. (Colossians 2:7)

• Karrie has been made complete in Christ. (Colossians 2:1)

• Karrie has been saved and set apart according to God's doing. (2Timothy 1:9;Titus 3:5)

• Karrie has the right to become boldly before the throne of God to find mercy and grace in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

• Karrie has been given exceedingly great and precious promises by God by which Karrie is a partaker of God's divine nature. (2 Peter 1:4)

Perhaps you have some knots of your own today.  These precious promises are for every believer in Jesus Christ - the Son of God.  You can be free too!

PS.  leave me a message if you'd like to talk further about freedom in Christ!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

What Do You Want As Your Epitaphe?

From a healthy, "relatively young" woman, this may sound like a crazy question but this is where my thoughts have roamed this morning.  As I was reading God's words through the apostle Paul in Colossians 3, I found myself writing in the margins of my Bible "make me into that, LORD." 

The passage reads, "Let the message about Christ completely fill your lives, while you use all your wisdom to teach and instruct each other.  With thankful hearts, sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.  Whatever you say or do should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus, as you give thanks to God the Father because of Him." vs. 16-17

A wife must put her husband first... vs. 18

Parents don't be hard on your children... vs. 21

Slaves (employees)... Do your work willingly as though you  were serving the Lord Himself... vs. 22-23

In so many ways, I fall short of this but THIS is who I really want to be.  I recently participated in a funeral service which, despite the grief of losing a friend, tickled me that her true character was celebrated.  I believe she would have been pleased.  Then I thought I wonder what people will say about me... My heart desires that they would express the words in the verses above.

Let the message about Christ completely fill your lives... I'm struck how it says our "lives" and not our "heads".  If I only learn the message of Christ in my head but never let it filter out into my life, I'm a hypocrite.  I spent the first half or more of my life that way.  What I said with my mouth didn't show itself in my actions.  My life may be the only Bible someone reads.  I want to declare it with integrity.

While you use all your wisdom to teach and instruct each other... Immediately, I recognize that my wisdom is not nearly enough to teach and instruct my children or others that the LORD has placed across my path.  That being the case, I need to be really digging into God's Word for His wisdom to live by and then I'll have something of worth to teach and instruct another.

With thankful hearts, sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God... The friend of mine that just passed away had a real attitude of contentment in all things.  I want to have a thankful heart.  I want it to show itself as I sing. 

Whatever you say or do should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus... Well, this covers an enormous number of things!  I think I can understand it best by "if Jesus were here... would I say this?  Would I do that?"

As you give thanks to God the Father because of Him... In all that I say and in all that I do, I want to have an attitude of gratitude!

A wife must put her husband first... I want my husband and those around us to know that I really love him.  Love is not just an emotion.  It shows itself in our choices and actions.  I want it to be evident that after the LORD, he is my number one!

Parents don't be hard on your children... I love my children - more than I ever knew possible!  But raising children is hard work - much harder than I ever knew possible!  I want to be full of love and affection, consistent in discipline, but never hard on them which the Bible says can cause them to give up.

Slaves (employees)... Do your work willingly as though you were serving the Lord Himself... It even adds working hard to do the job my employer desires even when they are not watching.  God is watching.  And you know, it also says that God rewards. 

What about you?  How do you want people to celebrate you?  Are you that person today or are there some things that you'd like to change in order that you would be remembered differently.  We'll never become something different in the future without taking steps today.  I don't know how many years, months, weeks or days I have left to leave a mark upon this earth. I hope it's lots! But one thing is for sure, if I want things like this to be the hallmarks of my legacy, I need to start letting God do some work in me today.  And if I let Him, I know He will!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

"Whatever"... What a Promise!

O the love of our Lord! The promises He holds for us! The blessings He bestows! They are infinite! So much more than we would dare to imagine... Don't you just love His Word?! The logos or the whole of it and then the rhema or those scriptures which the Spirit brings to life as He writes them on the pages of our mind and heart. When the Lord gives a rhema, we can trust Him for it! He expects us to act on it just like the good and faithful servant given the talents. When we do, He gives more. If we don't, we run the risk that even the little that we have will be taken away from us.

Awhile back, the Lord led me to 1 John 5. He was taking me on an amazing adventure of "against all hope - hoping" in believing prayer. He is so awesome! I thought that I knew this chapter. O the blessings that pride must keep me from. I read, For the [true] love of God is this: that we do His commands [keep His ordinances and are mindful of His precepts and teaching]. And these orders of His are not irksome (burdensome, oppressive, or grievous). (vs. 3) I love that! When we surrender our ways to walk in His, we really do find that His yoke is easy and His burden is light - no matter the situation. It was when I got to verse 4 that I did a double take. The verse didn't say what I thought it did...

For whatever is born of God is victorious over the world; and this is the victory that conquers the world even our faith. I always thought that it said "whoever". Whatever... what was that all about? I pulled out "Strong's Strongest" concordance. At first, I was dismayed to find that "whatever", or "whatsoever" as the King James Version puts it, was found in the appendix. I had never researched something in the appendix before, but the Lord is faithful. When He has a Word for us, He leads us through to get it.

The word "whatsoever" comes from many Greek words indicating whenever, wherever, whoever, no matter how large, incorporating: if, also, and even though, no matter the kind nor the manner, encompassing a wish or possibility. Whoa! The Lord had asked me to believe Him for something HUGE in the life of my children. In fact, humanly, what I'm to believe Him for is impossible! But the Lord showed, through numerous scriptures, that He was capable of just such a miracle. He's asked me to labor in prayer for it and He's made it clear that it's going to be a long journey, but I know without a doubt that He's given the desire and the plan. So what was this one word "whatever" saying to me?

Whatever wish or possibility born of God is victorious! No matter the what, when, how big, even though, etc.! When God gives it, we can - we MUST - put our faith in it! Who is victorious? The one who believes and trusts in the fact that Jesus is God's Son! Against all hope - hoping - in believing prayer that the Son of the Most High is able!

I do not call you servants (slaves) any longer, for the servant does not know what his master is doing (working out). But I have called you My friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from My Father. [I have revealed to you everything that I have learned from Him.] John 15:11

Child of God, what has He asked you to believe Him for? Are you acting on it? He's already working it out! Hear Him answer all of your "buts" with "but God..."! No matter how improbable or even impossible it appears, if the Lord gave the Word, He's good for it! Who will be victorious? The one who believes Him for His whatever...

Saturday, October 2, 2010

He Knows Our Heart

The Lord God is so gracious and amazing! He knows my innermost thoughts - my deep desire to please Him intertwined with my often confused notion that somehow I can earn His love. I struggle with perfectionism. Not that I get things perfect - far from it - but an incredible pressure that I place on myself to get "it" right... no matter what "it" is.

One day, in particular, the Lord sweetly showed me a valuable lesson about this! We were enjoying a wonderful day together. Our time in the morning had been so sweet. His Presence lingered almost tangibly as we went through Our day. I was cleaning in the kitchen when I noticed that my two small cutting boards were put away in an unusual spot. Immediately I found myself saying, "oh, my precious baby!" I knew that my little daughter had decided to help her mommy and had put away the cutting boards in this spot because she was unable to reach up beside the microwave where I normally keep them. I was so blessed by the fact that she would want to help me put the dishes and such away.

Then He spoke. "Does it matter that she didn't put them in the RIGHT spot?" No! She had thought of me and tried her best! And I was blessed - even though she hadn't done it how I would have. I knew what He was saying to me. How much more is our Heavenly Father blessed by our attempts - even when the outcome is "wrong"...

His words were such a kindness to me. A friend and I had just talked, about our struggle with condemning ourselves when we didn't do things "right". As if this were not enough, only a little while later, while I was cleaning my children's rooms, I was thanking the Lord for the great enjoyment that I was getting from this day. Again He spoke. "Does it matter to you that you are going behind them and cleaning up after they have already tried to clean their rooms?" You see, they had already made their beds and tidied their desks but I was following behind them doing a more thorough cleaning. And NO, it didn't matter! I was singing and rejoicing in what they had done and it didn't matter a bit that I was doing the things that they hadn't seen.

How much more our Heavenly Father? He sees our hearts! He knows our good intentions! And He knows what we're capable of! He love us. He loves me! And He has assumed full responsibility for me - His daughter! And in His infinite mercy and grace, He rejoices over me with singing... even when He's going behind me cleaning up my messes!

Friday, October 1, 2010

He Leadeth Me

Oh, I was desperate for a Word! I came before the LORD, longing only to hear His voice and to hear it above the roar of the day before me. I needed my course to be corrected. I had gone off course and I knew it but I didn't know how to fix it. I needed the Master to place His nail-scarred hands over mine and redirect me. I called to Him. I reminded myself of what He had told me... "when you pray, I will listen. You will find Me when you seek Me, if you look for me in earnest." (Jeremiah 29:12, 13 LB) "And if you leave God's paths and go astray, you will hear a Voice behind you say, 'No, this is the way; walk here.'" (Isaiah 30:21 LB)

The LORD took me to Psalm 78. I love that psalm! He has spoken precious promises to me through these verses. Today, these verses held fresh, new insight. Isn't that just like our God?!

"For He divided the sea before them and led them through!" (vs. 13a) I asked Him to please do this with the load that overwhelms me.

"In the daytime He led them by a cloud, and at night by a pillar of fire." (vs. 14) I could trust Him to lead me.

"He split open the rocks in the wilderness to give them plenty of water, as though gushing from a spring. Streams poured from the rock, flowing like a river." (vs. 15, 16) O LORD, I am so thirsty!

"He gave them bread from heaven! They ate angels' food! He gave them all they could hold." (vs. 24b, 25) May I feast on You and be satisfied, O LORD.

"But it was only with their words they followed Him, not with their hearts... They did not keep their promises." (vs. 36, 37b) Oh... I didn't like the sound of that! How LORD?

You see, the LORD has really been teaching me about living intentionally - walking circumspectly. He has had me revisit my core values and the verses that prompted them pretty much daily. He wants them to so resonate in me that they become the signposts of my choices. Yesterday, in the midst of good intentions, I dismissed a pledge that I had made to the LORD as being too difficult to carry out that day. Before long, I also dismissed a knawing in my soul. The result? I spent my energy on a "good" thing and missed out on the best. On top of that, I wasn't the only one who paid the consequences. My children paid too. "...I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life that you and your children may live." (Deuteronomy 30:19) "Again and again they turned away... and limited the Holy One of Israel from giving them His blessings." (vs. 41)

So where does that leave me? In the midst of grace! "Yet He was merciful and forgave their sins... He remembered that they (I) were merely mortal men, gone in a moment like a breath of wind." (vs. 38, 39)

The LORD has shown me the path through the waters of my responsibilities. It's a dry, clear cut path but it takes trust. Each morning, as I sit and wait upon Him to direct the course of the day, He sets the pillar of cloud before me. In the evening, He leads by a pillar of fire. The values that He has set out for me are His. They help me stay the course when the waves pound on the sea of life. I need to trust the Master when earthly "wisdom" would suggest a different course. My heart must choose to follow. I must not forget His power and love or "like a crooked arrow", I will miss "the target of God's will." (see vs. 57) Just like the Israelites, He is bringing me to the border of "His land of blessing", to the land He has made for me. (see vs. 54)

And today... His mercies are renewed. Just like they will be tomorrow and the next day. I'm learning - by His great faithfulness!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lessons From Philippians 3 - More Reasons to Rejoice!!

Oh what a word the Lord spoke to my heart awhile back! I've been revisiting it trying to get a real grasp of what all it means but how's this for starters? God does not find it "irksome" to tell me the same things over and over! Praise the Lord! Do you know how freeing that is to me? I get irked all of the time over how slow I am to actually start walking out the things that He's teaching me. My obedience lags so far behind my heart! As all Scripture is God-breathed, listen to these words spoken to us through the apostle Paul...

...delight yourselves in the Lord and continue to rejoice that you are in Him. To keep writing to you [over and over] of the same things is not irksome to me, and it is [a precaution] for your safety. (vs. 1, Amplified)

Does anyone else just find that reason to rejoice?! A God like that is one I can delight in and rejoice to be found in! I am so encouraged by these words. My feelings can get so "off" but as I remember to delight myself in the Lord, my feelings disapate. As I rejoice in abiding in Christ, I am safe-guarded against the enemy. Verse 2 is a really fitting warning to me (the Lord knows me so well).

Look out for those... [legalists]...

I tend to be so legalistic and performance based. Legalism does not lead me to worship God, rather it leads to condemnation of self because the focus is on me and I can't measure up. The Judaizers of Paul's day were dealing with physical circumcision. Today, we are being circumcised to a new nature. Verse 3 says, For we [Christians] are the true circumcision who worship God in spirit and by the Spirit of God and exult and glory and pride ourselves in Jesus Christ, and put no confidence or dependence [on what we are] in the flesh... I not only put confidence in the "good" things I do "for" God but sometimes I think I put even more confidence in the "bad" things I do as I sin against God. I become confident that He could never really love someone like me or that there must be limitations to His love for me and I start to act like it. Jumping ahead to something Paul says in verse 15, if in any respect you have a different attitude of mind, God will make that clear to you also. And this is exactly what He's been doing for me!

The Truth is that NOTHING can separate me from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39)! The Truth is that all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6)! For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned... (John 3:16-18a) It is ALL about love and grace - His love for me and His grace extended for me! Any striving on my part should be a natural overflow to His great love for me. Paul makes it clear that no matter our background or zeal, we're to consider it as loss for Christ's sake. When I walk in obedience, that doesn't give me right standing with God, just as disobedience can't negate the gift He purchased for me on the cross.

So, I want to know Him more! Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege (the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him... and that I may [actually] be found and known as in Him, not having any [self-achieved] righteousness that can be called my own, based on my obedience to the Law's demands (ritualistic uprightness and supposed right standing with God thus acquired), but possessing that [genuine righteousness] which comes through faith in Christ... the [truly] right standing with God, which comes from God by [saving] faith. (vs. 8-9)

So what does that look like? Verse 10 tells me to make my determined purpose to know Him better. It's a progressive knowing. As I begin to perceive and recognize the wonders of His Person more clearly and come to know the power which He exerts and makes available in the lives of believers, I am being transformed. It's a process! Sometimes, I learn through hardships and suffering - you know, when you reach the end of your own rope? He does not expect perfection! Someday, I will be glorified but not until heaven. Until then, I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus has laid hold of me. (vs. 12b) I made myself a list in the margin. Why did Jesus say that He came? He came that we should have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10)! He came to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). I want to lay hold of that life and I want to be found - in Him!

Verse 13 says in order to truly know Him, I need to have a single-minded purpose... I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]; forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. "What" lies behind isn't only the past failures but also the past victories. I need to trust the Lord when He says that His grace is sufficient to cover the sin and remember that works can never add up to equal sufficient. There's freedom to live in the moment here! I don't need to be bound by what I did wrong yesterday nor worry about what I may do wrong later on today. I can just live in the moment and worship Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly!

So I'm going to press on! I'm going to hold true to what knowledge of Him I have already attained and, to the best of my ability, I'm going to order my life by that. I'm going to observe those around me who are living after God's pattern and follow their example. And where I need a change of mind, I'm going to trust He who is faithful to handle that too. I'm going to listen to the warning of serving the god of my appetites and siding with earthly parties because I am a citizen of heaven. I may be living out-of-country for a season but I know in my heart where home is and I want to earnestly wait for my King to take me home. (see verses 14-20) And I will live to praise Him Who will transform and fashion anew the body of our humiliation to conform to and be like the body of His glory and majesty, exerting that power which enables Him even to subject everything to Himself. Even me. (vs. 21) I am not too big of project for God!

Therefore... I will stand firm in the Lord my beloved! (Philippians 4:1) I pray you will too!

The Mind of Christ

"For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?"
But we have the mind of Christ." 1 Corinthians 2:16

Consciously or unsconsciously, I have struggled with this verse. I know that the mind of Christ is part of my inheritence as a child of God but since I I am well aware that some of the thoughts I have would NEVER cross my Lord's mind, I struggle. I kept waiting for the day when my thoughts would fall completely in line with those of my Lord. I cling to, and often pray, that the Lord would continuously transform me by the renewing of my mind (see Romans 12:2). It would be wrong of me to not testify that slowly but surely He IS renewing my mind by His Word but I have often been discouraged by the size of the project.

Awhile ago, while consecrating (offering for His use) my mind to the Lord, I read Isaiah 55:8-9. "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts." I found myself saying, "See, LORD, see! How can I have the mind of Christ? You say Yourself that my thoughts are not Your thoughts." I just stop and praise You, LORD, that You are so gracious and faithful to me!

The Spirit started to bring to my mind times the previous day when I had heard the LORD speak to my heart. Things like "you don't need to eat that" or to call to mind a need or a person to lift before the Throne. This is Christ's mind. These are His thoughts. I was waiting for my mind to be replaced by His but no matter how far He brings me in the sanctification process, as long as I live in this mortal body, I will battle a mind of flesh. But praise be to God! I also know the mind of Christ! The more aware I become of Him speaking to me in the midst of the every day, the more I can take my thoughts captive in obedience to His! LORD, I'm getting it... Thank You for speaking to me.

Monday, September 6, 2010

"Loving Well"

First of all, I must say that from beginning to end, this is not my material. I have been reminded of a lesson this morning that I simply must share. I have been listening to a recording of Water’s Edge Sunday School class and Beth Moore’s teaching on the book of Romans - specifically, this morning, on Romans chapter 5. I say “reminded” because a few years ago, I heard this teaching in greater depth through a video series by Beth entitled “Loving Well”. That said, let these truths from the Word of God resonate in your heart and mind…

By faith we have been made acceptable to God. And now, because of our Lord Jesus Christ, we live at peace with God. Christ has also introduced us to God’s undeserved kindness on which we take our stand. So we are happy, as we look forward to sharing in the glory of God. But that’s not all! We gladly suffer, because we know that suffering helps us to endure. And endurance builds character, which gives us a hope that will never disappoint us. All of this happens because God has given us the Holy Spirit, who fills our hearts with His love. (Romans 5:1-5 CEV)

Okay, so here are some things that we need to understand about the love of God. First, 1 John 4:16 & 18 tell us that, God is love. We tend to define the love of God by human frames of reference. For us, love is an emotion and a choice. We either feel love or we choose to love but God IS love. We must grasp the ramifications of this. Love is the character of who God is. Just like there is nothing that I can do to alter the fact that God is All-Powerful or that He is All-Knowing, there is absolutely nothing that I can do that can change Who God is! God is love. I am not that good of sinner, that big of a screw-up that can make Him stop being love! Let that sink in!

Just in case that isn’t enough for you, Romans 8:35, 38-39 says, Can anything separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble, suffering, and hard times, or hunger and nakedness, or danger and death? … nothing can separate us from God’s love – not life or death, not angels or spirits, not the present or the future, and not powers above or powers below. Nothing in all creation can separate us from God’s love for us in Christ Jesus our Lord!

Do you know why this is so important to come to grasp? Proverbs 19:22a (NIV) tells us, what a man desires is unfailing love. God created us that way. The Hebrew word translated here as desire is “ta-avah.” It could be defined as the “longing of one’s heart.” ( Strong’s 8378) The longing of your heart is to know that someone loves you unconditionally - that no matter what, someone will be there to love you. Think of the messes that we get ourselves into trying to find that kind of love or medicate the fact that we haven’t found it and received it. God tells us that He has “poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” (Romans 5:5 NIV)

Now, are you ready for this? Our capacity to receive the love of God is set by us. There is no shortage of love being poured out to fill our hearts. The real question is how much of your heart are you giving God as a reservoir? Satan whispers of how selfish it would be to sit each morning and just listen to, read, celebrate, delight in how much God loves you. God can’t wait to tell you! The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17 NIV). God wants nothing more than for you to begin each day by sitting with Him and marveling in His great love for you. He wants to quiet your fears with His love. Reread the passage at the top of this page (Romans 5:1-5 CEV). He wants to remind you (by His love) that you have been made acceptable to Him. He wants you to remember that Christ has made it possible for you to live at peace with Him. He wants you to take your stand on the fact that Christ brings that undeserved kindness. He wants you to be happy as you look forward to sharing in the glory of God. But that’s not all! He wants you to realize that because He loves you, you can even gladly endure the suffering in this life and the character of Christ that this produces in you. He wants you to have that hope because it will never disappoint you! And you know what? There’s more…

1 John 4:19 says that we love because God first loved us. The thing about that is that we tend to understand it this way, we love God because God first loved us. That is not the context of the passage. It’s not just God we love but we love others because God first loved us. If I believe the depths of God’s love for me and receive it and allow it to fill the vast reservoir of my heart, I will be able to love others as Christ wants me to. I will be free, enabled, to love others no matter the circumstances because I do not need them to fill my love tank. It’s already been filled. Profound!

Romans 8 (see verses 5-6) says this, People who are ruled by their desires think only of themselves. Everyone who is ruled by the Holy Spirit thinks about spiritual things. If our minds are ruled by our desires, we will die. But if our minds are ruled by the Spirit, we will have life and peace. You want to know the secret for living a life that honors Christ? Really believe and receive His unfailing love. Allow Him to satisfy the longing of your heart. Spend your life trying to fathom the depths of His love.

Like the apostle Paul, I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:16-19).


Saturday, July 24, 2010

And Then...

I have recently got back from holidays where the Lord supplied sweet rest and refreshing!  He also provided several challenges to me.  Challenges to spur me on to more faith, more obedience.  There is so much at stake!  Allow me to share one of them from 1 Chronicles.

I've been reading through the Bible in a year reading plan.  By the time I reached 1 Chronicles 5:18, I had read through nearly 5 1/2 chapters of genealogies.  In fact, the only exception are those amazing few verses on Jabez in 1 Chronicles 4.  So when there was another little digression at the end of chapter 5, it caught my attention.

The story is about the tribes of Reuben, Gad and East Manasseh.  We are told that they had 44,760 soldiers trained to fight in battle.  Then it says, "Whenever these soldiers went to war against their enemies, they prayed to God and trusted Him to help.  That's why the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh defeated the Hagrites and their allies.  These Israelite tribes captured fifty thousand camels, two hundred fifty thousand sheep, two thousand donkeys, and one hundred thousand people.  Many of the Hagrites died in battle because God was fighting this battle against them."

Several things seemed to jump off the page!  First, "Whenever" they went to war they prayed AND trusted God to help.  How many times am I faced with a battle and I try to go to war against the enemy without praying?  Way more times than I want to admit.  Oh, that my first response would be to fall to my knees in prayer!  Why is it that it's often when I realize that I'm losing that I stop to pray?  Oh, Lord, thank You for Your sweet forgiveness and abundant grace!  Then notice the "and".  Not only did they pray but they then entrusted themselves and their circumstances to the One Who is always trustworthy.  Our lives would be radically transformed if we applied these two simple truths!  Verse 24 even lists some soldiers from East Manasseh by name and tells us that they were well-known leaders and brave soldiers.  I want to be well-known as a good leader and a brave soldier in the Lord's army.

I love the fact that "many" of the enemies died in battle.  Before you think I'm sadistic, remember that what is taught as a physical truth in the Old Testament is most often applied as a spiritual truth for the New Testament believer.  There are many "enemies" that attack me.  Unbelief.  Insecurity. Fear.  Worry.  Am I naming any of the same enemies that attack you?  If we not only prayed but also then trusted the Lord to train us as warriors and fight for us, many of these enemies would die - never to be seen again!

It delights me that these armies were able to take much plunder from the kingdoms they conquered.  Fifty thousand camels... two hundred thousand sheep... two thousand donkeys... In the midst of each battle that the Lord calls me to fight alongside Him, I want to reach deep into the enemy's camp and take out plunder!

Unfortunately, the story doesn't end there.  Verses 25-26 contain a dismal "end note" on these tribes.  It's like there's an unwritten "and then...".  The Word says, "The people of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh were unfaithful to the God their ancestors had worshiped, and they started worshiping the gods of the nations that God had forced out of Canaan.  So God sent King Tiglath Pileser of Assyria to attack these Israelite tribes.  The king led them away as prisoners to Assyria, and from then on, he forced them to live in Halah, Habor, Hara, and near the Gozan River."

What happened to turn the descendants of these mighty warriors away from God and towards worthless idols?  How could generations have seen the mighty miracles of the Lord in response to their prayers only to have the generations that followed after them walk away from such an Awesome God?  While reading later in 1 Chronicles 12:37, I saw that their numbers even grew.  The soldiers numbered "120,000 from the tribes of Reuben, Gad and East Manasseh, who were armed with all kinds of weapons."  So what happened?  I can only guess, but I believe it's an educated guess...

After Moses had delivered the Ten Commandments to the people, he gave them what Jesus termed the most important commandment followed by these instructions.  "Listen, Israel!  The LORD our God is the only true God!  So love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, and strength.  Memorize his laws and tell them to your children over and over again.  Talk about them all the time, whether you're at home or walking along the road or going to bed at night, or getting up in the morning.  Write down copies and tie them to your wrists and foreheads to help you obey them.  Write these laws on the door frames of your homes and on your town gates." (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)  I wonder if over the generations, people were no longer intentional about teaching their children with every opportunity.  I wonder if they lost their fervent love for the LORD and gradually the stories they had to share became 2nd and 3rd generation stories rather than testifying to what the LORD was doing and teaching in their lives. 

I am so grateful for parents and grandparents that intentionally shared with me the miraculous and praiseworthy works of our LORD!  They increase my faith.  I share those stories with my children and because they know the people involved, it boosts their faith as well.  But praise God that they have also increased the desire in me for a fervent love of the LORD and with that, He has given me countless praiseworthy tales of my own to testify to!

1 John 1:1-3 (NIV) says, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ."  Friends, if we do not have recent, personal stories of God's faithfulness to share with our children and grandchildren, it is because we have missed out - not by God's fault but by our own.  Return to Jesus as your first love.  Throw away your idols.  They are lifeless.  They cannot satisfy.  And then, as you look to Jesus as your One and Only, asking Him for help and trusting Him with your situations, get ready to see the unmistakable Hand of God!  He'll be fighting alongside of you through the battles of life.  And as those praiseworthy tales begin to mount, testify!  Testify!  The world is literally dying to see that the LORD makes a difference.  Tell them!  Show them!  Teach your children to do the same.  And then, when our history is recorded, I believe our "and then..." will be an entirely different story! 

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Glimpse of the Cross

"...'Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit.' When He had said this, He breathed His last." Luke 23:46b (NIV)

This story is a little different than the others that I have already written but it is no less praiseworthy. Any time that God teaches us something in the midst of great trial and heartache, it is nothing short of miraculous.

I had never watched someone die. Sure, I had seen it on TV but I had never seen it face to face. The two are very different. It can be very difficult work to help someone die - even someone who knows and loves the LORD. I have had that experience.

From the first moment that my Dad was diagnosed with cancer, I was by his side. Through surgery, appointments, chemotherapy, radiation... everything that I could possibly be there for, I was. It was important to me and it meant a lot to my Dad. The diagnosis of cancer initiated a whirlwind of investigation and planning that plunged us into a road trip to the Mayo clinic for surgery. I was five months pregnant and working a new job. It didn't look like I could go. I was torn. When my husband and I decided it was more important to be there, we drove through the night and got to my Dad's side just before they wheeled him into the operating room. My Dad looked at me and said, "I knew you would come." I needed to be there and Dad needed me.

Over time, as Dad's condition worsened, I began to look to the day when Dad would leave us - when he would die. It became ever so important to me that I would be there to hold Dad's hand as he breathed his last. When Dad was confined to a hospital bed in their house and time was so valuable, I spent my days and nights in a big easy chair beside his bed. Every word that came from his mouth was so precious to me. I didn't want to miss a look, a squeeze of the hand, a kiss... I was there.

I don't know what I expected of death. I think I expected it to be peaceful. That's how it's usually portrayed. The dying person just closes their eyes and goes to sleep, right? That's not how it was for my Dad. His body was riddled with cancer yet his heart was strong. Dad was covered by a blanket up to his waise yet I watched as his feet then his legs grew mottled. I labored to keep his arm and then his hand warm. For what seemed an eternity, Dad fought for every single breath. It really was a fight. His whole body worked in desperation for air. It was agony for him and for us. Each breath took so much work. He looked gaunt. The battle had taken its toll. I begged the LORD to take him home, yet it took time. With those short, ragged final breaths when there was lengthening pause in between, you wondered if each was the last - and finally it was. I had been there - holding his hand.

There was one last thing to do for my Dad. One last act that I could do to say "I love you." I helped was him and dress him to be taken away. It was important to me. I won't tell you about the events of those next few days right now. That's another tale and a tale of God's wondrous mercy and blessing but I want to tell you that God never wastes a heartache. He always works for us, in us and through us in our times of greatest trial.

I gained invaluable insight that day. As I watched my Dad die, my thoughts were drawn to the cross where Jesus lay down His life for me. It wasn't pretty or easy. It was a desperately hard work. No man before or since ever suffered so much. No one has ever bore so much in death. Jesus bore our sins so that we wouldn't have to. He hung on that cross, laboring to breathe, body broken - alone. I had been able to be by Dad's side - Mary watched from a distance and Peter had disowned Him. I held Dad's hand and worked to ease all possible discomfort. Jesus was offered vinegar for His thirst. He felt abandoned. His cry... "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Mark 15:34b) Dad was surrounded by those that loved him. Mark tells us that those who passed by hurled insults at him, others mocked him, and those that crucified him also heaped insults on him. My LORD paid the ultimate price... for me.

I have a new appreciation of the cost of my salvation. True, it is just a glimpse. I can never know how much my redemption from sin cost but I am thankful for the glimpse. May I remember it often and proclaim it boldly.

"But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him..." Isaiah 53:5a (NIV)
"He himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed." 1 Peter 2:24 (NIV)

Those Who've Gone Before Me and Those Who Will Come After...

I love the rich lessons in the Old Testament as we watch the children of Israel make their way to the Promised Land. I love how the lessons are stated and restated chapter after chapter. Obviously, the Lord recognized that there would be ones like me that need repeated reminders. One of the themes that He has been bringing forward for me is that my actions do not just effect myself.

Deuteronomy 30:19 says, "This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you; that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses - now choose life that you and your children may live."

Deuteronomy 4:37 & 40 says, "The LORD loved your ancestors and decided that you would be His people. So the LORD used His great power to bring you out of Egypt... Today I am explaining His laws and teachings. And if you always obey them, you and your descendants will live long and be successful in the land the LORD is giving you." And in Deuteronomy 5:9-10 "... If you reject me and worship idols, I will punish your families for three or four generations. But if you love me and obey my laws, I will be kind to your families for thousands of generations." Now before we get all puffed up and say that's not fair, take note of the fact that though our idolatry can effect 3 or 4 generations, our obedience passes blessings for thousands!

Deuteronomy 5:28 says, "The LORD heard you and said: Moses, I heard what the people said to you, and I approve. I wish they would always worship me with fear and trembling and be this willing to obey me! Then they and their children would always enjoy a successful life."

So, I guess I see 3 main challenges for me. The first question I need to ask is what am I TEACHING my children? Am I teaching them what it means to love the LORD? Am I teaching them how crucial it is that we have no other gods before Him? Am I teaching them what idolatry looks like in our culture and how to spot it in their own lives? Am I teaching them how to truly worship? Am I teaching them Who God is?

Next, what am I MODELING for my children? Do my actions show that I love the LORD will all my heart, soul, mind and strength? (Mark 12:30) Is it obvious to my children? Is my love for Christ so evident that my children know how precious and vital He is to me or is He my "Sunday" friend? Is God's Word so important to me and the way I live my life that it bears memorizing? Is the LORD so much a part of my moment by moment existence that I talk about Him whether I'm at home or walking along the road or going to bed at night, or getting up in the morning? (Deuteronomy 6:5-7)

Then, the question becomes not only what am I teaching my children but what are my life choices CHOOSING for my children? Hebrews 11:8 remembers Abraham this way. "By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going." Deuteronomy 6:10-11 says, "The LORD promised your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that He would give you this land. Now He will take you there and give you large towns, with good buildings that you didn't build, and houses full of good things that you didn't put there. The LORD will give you wells that you didn't have to dig, and vineyards and olive orchards that you didn't have to plant..." Am I living a life of faith that God is going to bless? Abraham dwelt in the land but the LORD set his descendants free from slavery and brought them out of Egypt to inherit buildings that they didn't have to build and orchards that they didn't have to plant! Oh, LORD, I desire inheritances of freedom and blessing for my children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and beyond - and You just invite me to exercise a little faith!

The LORD my God will help me take the land where the enemy of my soul has erected strongholds! Pride, gluttony, insecurity, unbelief... He just asks that I cooperate with Him and don't settle for the heavy yoke of these things to be lifted when He desires for me to be completely free. He doesn't want me to make peace treaties with these enemies and He doesn't want me to stand by idle and allow my children to embrace them! (see Deuteronomy 7:1-3) Does the LORD ask me for perfection? No. Psalm 103:13-14 says, "As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust." The LORD just asks us to trust Him. I am so grateful for those in my family, who have gone before me, that have walked not perfectly but faithfully with the LORD. I am reaping harvests that I didn't plant.

So what about you? What kind of choices lay before you today? Will you endeavor to trust the LORD and exercise a little faith? Will you sow seeds of blessing for a future generation to harvest? With God's wisdom and in His power, you CAN! I leave you to listen to the LORD Himself and allow Him to remind you...

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Path to the Promised Land

So, in my journey from the bondage where I've come from to the full inheritance and security of trusting God and God alone, the Lord listed out these steps for me to follow from Deuteronomy 3 & 4.

Remember the Truth! "You saw how the LORD our God helped us destroy King Sihon and King Og [the enemies opposing us]. So don't be afraid! Wherever you go, the LORD will fight on your side and help you destroy your enemies." (Deuteronomy 3:21-22)

Help one another be strong and brave! "Joshua will lead Israel across the Jordan to take the land, so help him be strong and brave..." (Deuteronomy 3:28) Take a look around you. Who is taking this journey with you? We all need encouragers along the way. Help them be strong and brave. Remind them of the strength of our Almighty God.

Listen to the LORD and obey Him! "Listen to these laws and teachings! If you obey them, you will live [truly live!] and you will go in and take the land that the LORD is giving you." (Deuteronomy 4:1)

Remember that the LORD is giving you the land! It's His to give. Take it!

Pray - He answers! "We have a God who is close to us and answers our prayers." Friend, I don't know about you but as the weight of that Truth just settled over me, tears involuntarily flowed from my eyes! He - the God who created the universe with His words - is close to us! He's closer than our next breath and He answers our prayers. Is that not reason to pray? We're told that we have not because we ask not. (see James 4:2) Do you need direction? Ask Him. Do you need courage? Tell Him. "Oh, what peace we often forfeit. Oh, what needless pain we bear. All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer." ("What a Friend We Have in Jesus", Joseph M. Scriven)

Keep reminding yourself what God has done for you and testify to others - especially your children... "You must be very careful not to forget the things you have seen God do for you. Keep reminding yourselves, and tell your children and grandchildren as well." Take the Lord at His word and do this - literally! Write them down. Psalm 78 talks about the importance of writing down the praiseworthy deeds of our God. It's important for us AND it holds great blessing for the generations that follow after us "so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God." (Psalm 78:6-7a) Not only can we dwell in the Promised Land for ourselves but we can leave a legacy for those that aren't even born yet! How gracious is our God!

Teach your children to obey God... "teach their children to obey me too." (vs. 10b) One thing that the Lord has really been teaching me lately is that I learn His lessons better as I teach them to others. The more that I talk about them and study them, the more that they take root in me. "Memorize His laws..." that really should be a point all of it's own on this pathway to the land of promise! "... and tell them to your children over and over again. Talk about them all the time, whether you're at home or walking along the road or going to bed at night, or getting up in the morning. Write down copies and them to your wrists and foreheads to help you obey them." (Deuteronomy 6:6-8) Again, take Him at His word. I have a couple of pieces of jewelry with scripture on them. I wear them on those days that I know that I need Truth within eyesight. My daughter knows what they say and why I pull them out. She knows because the Lord has prompted me to teach her. I pray that these things are priceless to her when she inherits them.

NO IDOLS! "be careful not to commit the sin of worshiping idols." (vs. 15) Friend, I wish that this were an easy command. We are deceived if we see idols as merely wooden or stone replicas of some ancient god. Whatever we choose to worship - other than God alone - is an idol. I've served a number of them. Self... materialism... problems... others... food... if we are bowing down to anyone or anything else but God we are in error and God's blessing is not on us. Can money buy you happiness? Can another individual meet your every need? These things can not be god. They cannot save you. Seek first the Lord and His righteousness and He'll look after these things (see Matthew 6:33)

Oh, LORD. You know that I am but dust and yet I am precious in Your sight. I desire to dwell - permanently - in Your land of promise for me. You have redeemed me out of bondage into freedom and joy. May I receive the full inheritance that You hold for me. I'm resting on the promise that Your grace is sufficient for me. Your power is made perfect in my weakness. What You are commanding me this day is not too difficult for me or beyond my reach. Lead on, O God! I choose to worship You and You alone. In the precious and all-powerful Name of Jesus - let it be done!

More About Naysayers...

I am absolutely in awe of how faithful the Lord is to speak to the very heart of our circumstances! In this journey that He is leading me on to walk by faith and not according to feelings, I find myself wandering in the wilderness somewhere inbetween being freed from absolute bondage to other people's opinion of me and the promised land where the opinions of others holds zero sway over me. The Lord has revealed that I was victim to a stronghold of insecurity and also some of the roots of that stronghold that was planted long ago.

As I have been trying to apply the lesson on naysayers that He gave me a few weeks ago, He has allowed me significant opportunity to practice! During a quiet time this week, the Lord brought me to Deuteronomy 1 and the following scriptures revealed a precious reminder of how the Lord expects me to respond to those who are critical of me as I seek to follow through on what I sense the Lord has laid upon my heart to do.

Once again, we revisit the Israelite spies that surveyed Canaan...

Moses told Israel, "We have reached the hill country. It belongs to the Amorites now, but the LORD our God is giving it to us... He has told us to go in and take this land, so don't hesitate and be afraid." Then all of you came to me and said, "Before we go into this land, let's send some men to explore it. When they come back, they can tell us about the towns we will find and what roads we should take to get there." (vs. 20-22)

The very act of sending in the 12 spies was a step of doubt! God had said "go" and "don't hesitate" and yet the Israelites wanted to hear their fellow man's opinion first. How often do I fall prey to that exact mentality! There are some very specific things that I know the Lord has called me to do and yet in the midst of my insecurities, I hesitate and seek out man's opinion to help alleviate the fear rather than simply trust what the Lord has said.

Praise the Lord that we have a very gracious Heavenly Father! Even though the Israelites were already going against His direction, He still provided a confirmation of His Word through Caleb and Joshua but notice that they were in the minority. Perhaps you find yourself exactly there - remember that even a minority + God's say so = fear not and get going in obedience! Yet, what did they do?

They hid out from the challenge! They "refused to obey the LORD" their God and "stayed in their tents." (vs. 26)

They "grumbled" and gave voice to their fear! (vs. 26, 28) Are you seeing the reminder of our previous lesson from Numbers 14?

They questioned God! "The LORD must hate us - He brought us out of Egypt, just so He could hand us over to the Amorites and get rid of us." Is anyone other than me feeling a healthy dose of conviction?

They listened to the naysaysers and the circumstances became exaggerated! "the men who explored the land told us that the cities are large with walls that reach to the sky." (vs. 28)

They convinced themselves that the obedience was impossible! "We have nowhere to go." (vs. 28) Friends, when are we - when am I - going to quit listening to the lies and start standing AND ADVANCING on the Truth of God?

The Truth is: "Don't worry! The LORD our God will lead the way. He will fight on our side, just as He did when we saw Him do all those things to the Egyptians. And you know that the LORD has taken care of us the whole time we've been in the desert, just as you might carry one of your children." Praise God! What awesome words of assurance! What has He been telling you to trust Him and do? He knows it looks difficult to us. He knows we may even "feel" it's impossible! That doesn't matter. Be strong and courageous! TAKE courage! Quit hesitating and listening to the naysayers and get going! I am preaching this to myself at the top of my lungs. I am weary of wilderness wandering in this area and I am choosing - here and now - to follow His direction right through the flood waters of the Jordan River and plant them on some promised land!

Don't think that I'm saying it's going to be a cake walk. We see from scripture that there are going to be enemies all over our promised land but let's trust the LORD when He says that "the LORD our God is giving it [the land] to us." (vs. 20) We're bound to lose some skirmishes along the way but I can assure you the victory has already been won. The thing is, we'll wander forever if we don't take the Lord at His word and get going along the path where He's leading. With His help, we will "conquer it and live there." (vs. 39b)

What do you say? Are you coming with me?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What's Your Response to the Naysayers?

Isn't it just like our Lord that this morning's Bible reading spoke directly to the need of my heart?! Look at what the Lord spoke in Numbers 14...

After the Israelites heard the report from the twelve men who had explored Canaan, the people cried all night and complained to Moses and Aaron, "We wish we had died in Egypt or somewhere out here in the desert! Is the LORD leading us into Canaan, just to have us killed and our women and children captured? We'd be better off in Egypt." Then they said to one another, "Let's choose our own leader and go back."

Moses and Aaron bowed down to pray in front of the crowd. Joshua and Caleb tore their clothes in sorrow and said: "We saw the land ourselves, and it's very good. If we obey the LORD, he will surely give us that land rich with milk and honey. So don't rebel. We have no reason to be afraid of the people who live there. The LORD is on our side, and they won't stand a chance against us!"

The crowd threatened to stone Moses and Aaron to death. But just then, the LORD appeared in a cloud at the sacred tent.

The LORD said to Moses, "I have done great things for these people, and they still reject me by refusing to believe in my power..."

What a word to us when naysayers threaten our commitment or belief in the promises of God! Look at the tide we can quickly get caught up in...
  1. They got swept up in emotion rather than standing on the Truth... "the people cried all night."
  2. They gave a voice to the emotion rather than the Truth... "and complained to Moses and Aaron."
  3. They imagined themselves elsewhere... "we wish we had died in Egypt."
  4. They questioned the LORD... "Is the LORD leading us into Canaan, just to have us killed...?"
  5. They came to their own conclusion... "We'd be better off in Egypt."
  6. They decided to make their own choice... "Let's choose our own leader and go back."
  7. They found themselves in REBELLION! Sylvia Gunter defines rebellion as "reserving for ourselves the right to choose."
Oh, how different their history would look if they had just believed the Truth that Joshua and Caleb presented... "We saw the land ourselves, and it's very good. If we obey the LORD, he will surely give us that land rich with milk and honey. So don't rebel. We have no reason to be afraid of the people who live there. The LORD is on our side, and they won't stand a chance against us!" The consequence of this destructive tide was that a whole generation, except Joshua and Caleb, failed to enter the land of Promise. They wandered aimlessly when freedom and "home" was just on the horizon.
No matter how threatening the pressure is, remember that at just the right moment the LORD appeared! Just like for me this morning, the LORD appears and reaches down His righteous right arm and saves us!
"The LORD said to Moses, 'I have done great things for these people, and they still reject me by refusing to believe in my power." We have the opportunity to follow the example of the psalmist Asaph in Psalm 77, when despite the emotions that raged in verses 1-10, he makes this choice in verse 11, "Our LORD, I will remember the things you have done, your miracles of long ago. I will think about each one of your mighty deeds. Everything you do is right and no other god compares with you."
Where has the LORD asked you to go that is looking too difficult today? What has He said to you to be strong and courageous about? "Now what He is commanding you this day is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach." (Deuteronomy 30:11) Believe Him! His arm is not too short "for nothing is impossible with God." (Luke 1:37) In fact, Jesus said, "everything is possible for him who believes." (Mark 9:23) Make your choice! Grab hold of His extended arm, hold fast and believe!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Renewed Way of Thinking

I am so glad that our Lord renews our thoughts! Man, can they ever get off-base sometimes and in desperate need of renewal! Such was the case with me this morning.

Actually, this particular line of thought has been brewing for awhile but I've remained in the dark. Allow me to explain...

This much I had come to realize over the past year:
  • I have a fear of failure.
  • I fear that the REAL me is not enough - enough to be a worship leader, enough to hold my husband's passion, enough to raise godly children.
  • I have a stronghold of insecurity (and it has a stronghold of me)
  • I often wake in the morning feeling defeated because of the sins of yesterday.
So, this morning, I was suffering from all of the above. The Lord woke me early and wooed me to my spot. His Word was sweeter than honey from the honeycomb! Here is what He said:
Isaiah 43:18-19 Do not earnestly remember the former the sins and failures of yesterday...behold, He is doing a new thing! It's a new day and He's not limited by my yesterday.
Like Lazerus, I was dead, but now He's calling me to life and I need to take off the old grave clothes (the shame and condemnation of yesterday) and lay them at His feet. They are a filthy reminder of the former things.
Isaiah 43:25 I, even I, am He who blots our and cancels your transgressions...even my willful sins...for My own sake... so don't worry about deserving it, Karrie... and I will not remember [mark for recognition, recount, call to remembrance] your sins. Wheww!! Awesome!
So, if God is willing and ready to forgive me and blot out all record of my transgressions, why aren't I?
Psalm 40:6 Sacrifices and offerings are not what please you; gifts and payent for sin are not what you demand... so may I not spend today trying to "make up for" yesterday before the Lord. That sort of thinking keeps me looking at the former things. It also keeps me trapped in "works" - trying to earn off yesterday instead of by "grace" alone... But You made me willing to listen and obey. And so, I said, "I am here to do what is written about me in the book, where it says, 'I enjoy pleasing you. Your Law is in my heart.'" He is the One who brought me to this revelation this morning. May I start fresh - forgiving myself for what He has forgiven - and say instead "I'm here to do what is written about me in the book! May I enjoy pleasing You this day!" This train of thought keeps me looking forward.
Psalm 40:11 You, LORD, never fail to have pity on me... WHEN I fail today - even willfully - He never fails to have pity on me... Your love and faithfulness ALWAYS KEEP ME SECURE! (emphasis mine) Well, praise the Lord! This revelation is a giant leap on the way to freedom from insecurity!
The real difference with this right thinking (Truth) is that it makes it so that I begin this day from a position of victory. The enemy tried his best on me yet I stand here FORGIVEN! The devil might have tempted me and I might have followed but he only won a skirmish - Christ won the war! And though I may lose to his temptations at times today, I am still victorious because I will get up in faith and try again. God gives me that privilege. May I cease to let the enemy rob me of the forgiveness that is freely offered me and the resulting position of victory. Praise You, O God!
Psalm 18:3-4 I will call upon the Lord, who is to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies. the cords of death surrounded me, and the streams of ungodliness and the torrents of ruin terrified me... Lord, I was so afraid to make a mistake - afraid to fail... ruin terrified me! But God - You have rescued me!
1 Peter 2:24 He personally bore our sins in His own body on the tree... that we might die (cease to exist) to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed...I can cease to exist to sin - looking back - living in the shame of past defeat and LIVE to righteousness - from the place of grace, forgiveness and victory!
For He has not given me a spirit of fear or timidity but of power, love and self-discipline! 2 Timothy 1:7. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! Philippians 4:19.
I'll shout it from the mountain tops and sing a new song! It's awesome to be free!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Things To Do As You Wait On a Miracle in Your Marriage

This entry may seem out of context - I was so sure that I had posted it earlier along with "Becoming a Woman of Valor" in August of 2009 - but I hadn't so I'm posting it now...

Pray Less For Your Husband and More For Yourself - This may sound totally selfish and inappropriate but sometimes, when a relationship is strained, it's difficult to pray for your spouse without giving the Lord a long prescription of everything that you'd like to see changed in your spouse. Praying for your spouse can easily become a complaining session with the Lord and since the Lord knows better than us what is going on and what needs to be done, prayer sessions like that serve only to discourage us and remind us of everything that is frustrating or hurtful.

In a great little book "Get the Junk Out of Your Trunk: Let Go of the Past to Live Your Best Life" (by Duane VanderKlok) I learned that when we need to forgive someone who has hurt us, we need to pray blessing over their lives - with NO prescription! When we are praying blessing and not telling the Lord how He should do it, we are brought to the point of forgiveness and wanting to see good things happen in their lives rather than retribution.

Prayer is something everyone says and even assumes but we do entirely too little of it and even less of it effectively. God's Word is sharper than any double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). Praying His Word, convicts us where we've fallen short. When we come into agreement with what He says and repent, it accomplishes His purposes within us (Isaiah 55:11). Our lives (and marriages) will be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2).

Some great scriptures to pray daily for yourself are:

  • 1 Corinthians 13:1-7, 12-13

  • 1 Peter 2:18-25 (like the term or not, as married women, we are "household servants" and we are the only one in our home with that job description)

  • 1 Peter 3:1-6, 8-9

  • Proverbs 16:24

See for quick reference to the scriptures listed here. Try the Amplified Bible translation. It puts some teeth to some of the words that were either too familiar or vague. I prayed these daily for many months. The words became ingrained in my mind and the Holy Spirit would call them to mind - often - when I would be tempted to insist on my own rights or add something to a mental tally sheet of what my husband was doing "wrong" (1 Corinthians 13:5).

I printed my prayers out on recipe cards and I keep them in a photo album that fits into my purse. I recorded audios of them and put them on my I-pod. Keep them handy and commit to doing what they say. It's not enough to just read them or highlight them and visit them occasionally. You must do what it says (James 1:22).

Everyone Needs a Day 17 - Ruth Myers, in her book "31 Days of Praise" has written an awesome scripture prayer about being thankful for the place in life that we are currently in. The whole book is about praising the Lord when things are difficult. It's put out by Multnomah and is worth purchasing for anyone - crisis or not!

Surround Yourself with Positive Accountability Partners and Prayer Warriors - If you are like me, it is easy to see the negative side of situations. You need people who will help you to see the positives. I needed someone who would stop me in mid-conversation if I was about to rant and complain about my husband. My friend would simply say, "have you taken this to the Throne?" or "have you tattled to Jesus?" Your friends and family don't need to know all of the details. Whatever you spend the most time concentrating on is what is going to grow bigger. Surround yourself with friends that will say, "remember when..." and remind you of those good things that your husband has done. You may need to make a list. It makes it easier to remember when you aren't seeing those qualities in the moment! If your friends aren't currently operating in this way - ask them to! Tell them that it is what you need from them. It really is what you need from them. A word of caution - your accountability partners MUST NOT be of the opposite sex! That's never appropriate and can lead down paths of destruction.

Make an 80/20 List - or a 60/40! Make a list of things that attracted you to your husband in the first place. Make a list of good qualities that he has exhibited. Everyone has them. In fact, I believe we do have more good qualities than bad. It's just easier to see the things we wish were different. Keep the list handy! Mine is in the back of my Bible and I purposely added to it whenever something would come to mind. Review the list often and thank the Lord for each quality.

Make Some Things Right, Seek Forgiveness - Perhaps your parents didn't bless your marriage or you were engaging in pre-marital sex. Seek forgiveness. You can seek forgiveness for not honoring your parents or seek forgiveness from your husband for not waiting to have sex with the Lord's blessing. These things are not easy nor do many people think they are necessary but once they've been dealt with Biblically, when the enemy throws out lies like "you should have listened to your mother" you can standon the Truth of no condemnation!

Learn the Lesson "But if Not..." - I have found that in every major lesson/life change that the Lord has taken me through there has come a point where I had to come to grips with the fact "but if not..." I'm still going to choose to follow the Lord in obedience. When I struggled with infertility and that the Lord was robbing me of a blessing, I had to come to the point where if He never gave me children, He was still Good. When my father was dying of cancer, if the Lord never healed him, He was still Good. If your husband never changes, God is still Good and it is the right thing to walk out your life in obedience. The other thing that I've found is that God is so gracious and generous!! He rewards our feeble steps in His direction!

My grandfather always used to say that if the Lord never did anything else for him but save his soul, it was worth serving Him forever. It's the truth!

Become Your Husband's Cheerleader - I'm confident that somewhere inside every man is a doubt or anxiety of "can I really do this?" Be a good husband? Provide for a family? Be a good lover? Become his cheerleader. Make a conscious point of looking for things that you can praise him for. I understand that at first, it may take some looking. We are in the habit of seeing the bad. Genuinely thank him for every good thnig you see. Tell him that he's doing a good job of... I have been stunned by how much my husband has appreciated this. These are pleasant words that are sweet to the soul and bring healing to his bones like Proverbs 16:24 talks about.

Allow Yourself to Be Dependant on Your Husband - Depending on how badly you've been hurt, this can be very difficult. Even if you've never said it consciously, our tendency is to build walls so that we won't be hurt again. 1 Peter 3:1 tells us to "be submissive to your own husbands [subordinate yourselves as being secondary to and dependent on them, and adapt yourselves to them]..." Chances are you rebel against things that you would consider bad decisions on their part. The enemy tells us not to let ourselves "go down" with that sinking ship. A friend of mine taught me to say, "whatever you think is best, dear." Rather than argue your side, if, after simply and calmly stating your opinion, you are of differing minds, winsomely say "whatever your think is best." Be mindful not to be patronizing. Your husband will know the difference.

It is safe for you to submit to your husband even if you are positive that he is making the wrong decision because Jesus is the Lord of lords. You are not responsible for your husband's decision but you are responsible for your response to him. That same wise friend reminded me that submission is difficult and it goes against everything that the world (and our unbelieving friends) tell us but it is richly rewarded by our Heavenly Father. It is even safe for you to submit to an unbelieving husband or one that is not walking with the Lord as long as what he asks of you is not immoral or illegal. That same verse in 1 Peter 3 continues to say "so that even if any (husbands) do not obey the Word [of God], they may be won over not by discussion but by the [godly] lives of their wives." I had to quit preaching and arguing my point and start living out my role as God intended.

We are to live as godly wives in "like manner" to how Jesus conducted Himself. "When He was reviled and insulted, He did not revile or offer insult in return; [when] He was abused and suffered, He made no threats [of vengeance]; but He trusted [Himself and everything] to Him who judges fairly." (1 Peter 2:23) Trust yourself to the One Who is faithful!

"Play the Tapes to the End" - It often looks much greener on the other side of the fence. Don't allow yourself to look through rose colored glasses. If you're struggling with the desire to leave your husband, take a long, hard look at what that really looks like. The enemy is the master of lies. Would life really be easier? Are you sure that you really want to be single? What do children of divorced parents really feel? Are you so sure that your marriage is the one thing that is impossible for God?

Can You Stay for Today? - Spending your time looking at the next 5 years or the rest of your life in a difficult marriage can make you run the other way. The Lord tells us not to worry about tomorrow because it has enough worries of its own. He wants us to live in today. Tomorrow is filled with what if's. These things are not true yet and chances are they will never become reality. As you sit with the Lord and listen to His leading for the day, ask yourself, by the grace of God can you stay and do the right thing for today... Deuteronomy 30:11 says, "Now what I am commanding today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach." You are not trapped. You can always choose differently tomorrow though I am confident that the Lord will amaze you with His grace as you choose obedience today.

Don't Let Anything Keep You From Quiet Time with the Lord - There is no way to live as a godly wife apart from the Lord. You need to hear how deeply He loves you. You need to express your love for Him. You need His Wisdom. You need His Counselor. You need everything that He's got and willingly extending to you. He IS your peace. He is your Shield. He is the Truth and the Way. He's freedom and He's your Deliverer! Occasional moments grabbed throughout the day will never reveal the God that you need to know. He is your very life! Large chunks of devoted time early in the morning are your recharging. Take the Lord at His Word. "Those that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They will mount up on wings as eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint." (Isaiah 40:11). "Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice." (Isaiah 41:10)

If you have little children, get up earlier than them. I know of a woman who had her quiet time in the middle of the night and then went back to bed. Yes, rest is important but the Lord will supply all of your needs, even rest, when we put Him first in all things. Try Him. Let Him prove it to you.

Ensure that you are reading God's Word and not just about God's Word. There are many useful tools and resources out there but they need to be supplements to a healthy diet of the Word of God. Ask Him to "open your eyes to see wondrous things in His law." He will not disappoint you!

The Lord knows that what He asks of us is not always easy. Sometimes, it may feel like it's never easy but He is the Rewarder of those who earnestly seek Him. I can testify to a God who is WAY bigger than I ever knew - and I'm just seeing the tip of the iceberg! I can tell you that I have come to know the Creator God for He created love where there was none left. He truly healed my broken heart and has made beauty where there was only ashes. For that I am eternally grateful!

NOTE TO READER: Why am I so passionate about this? Because I am living a miracle! I had given up but God hadn't! I thought that fighting and dissension was what I could expect the rest of my life. When I thought I couldn't stay for another day, God asked, can you stay for today? Now, just three years later, my huband has a new wife - and it's me! And God gave me a wonderful husband! He's my friend and I love him dearly! God is making a mighty man of God right before my very eyes! The God I've come to know is WAY bigger than I ever dreamed! And tucked away in my drawer is a reminder of where we've come from... a tear-stained piece of paper on which I wrote the words of God in 1 Peter 2:18-3:9 though I didn't believe them possible. Friend, He can do it for YOU!

I'm also making the assumption that you know what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Rules and religion are not the answer. Only Jesus is. To find out more, click on "Where Do You Go When You're Hurting?" (August 2007) or click here