Archive | August 2014

EMPTY!

Psalm 40:11 – “Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O LORD: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me.”

It has been a long week. I am empty. All the soccer practices, dance class, homework, cheer practices, football game, work, driving everywhere – I am pooped. Needless to say, I am looking forward to the weekend.

Despite all my running around, I could not have made it without His tender mercies. I see them every day in my life. From providing all that my family needs to a cloud at the football game to keep my pale skin from burning to a crisp. (The game was very hot and very bright yesterday.)

I fear that too often we fail to acknowledge God’s handiwork in our life. We just take it as what we deserve, what we are entitled to. But truly, God doesn’t owe us anything. “But I go to church. I serve Him. I do all this stuff in His name. Aren’t I entitled to some benefits?” Nope. That, dear one, is your reasonable service (“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Romans 12:1).

His mercy, His lovingkindness and His truth – these are the things that He gives you. These are the things that sustain you. When you are empty, when you have had a long week, when you are tired – these are what bring you through.
His mercy – not giving you what you deserve.
His lovingkindness – in my mind, that’s His hug.
His truth – well, that’s His word, the Bible. His truth holds promises. It holds answers. It gives direction.

So you see, at the end of the week, when there is too many hours and not enough of you, just lean on this verse. Let it flood your soul with hope to pull you through the day.

Get off the porch!

Exodus 32:1 – “And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.”

I read a quote yesterday. “If I only trust what I can see with my eyes, I commit idolatry.” Simple, yet profound.

The children of Israel had just finished committing themselves to God. They had agreed to follow His instruction and guidance. They had committed themselves to Him. Moses goes up on the mount to chat some more with God. While he is gone, the people give up. They don’t know what has happened to Moses and they aren’t waiting around to find out. So they go over, grab Aaron by the arm and say, “hey, make us a graven image. We know what God said about idols but this guy, Moses, is gone and we need something to worship. Something we can see. I can’t believe in this God without Moses around.” (Melissa paraphrase, of course)

What about you? Is your faith in God tied to someone or something? Do you follow Him only when you can SEE Him working in your life? Does it need to be a minute by minute conformation? Can you only have faith because your grandparent is around? What happens when they are gone? Do you only believe in the power of God only when the pastor is around? If you were blind, would you still believe – even though you can’t see the works of God around you?

If you only trust when you can see, do you really trust? If you only believe when the one that teaches you is around, do you really believe? If your not at church, do you think God can speak to you?

As followers of Christ, we want to believe that we have this idol thing under control. “We don’t have idols set up at church or in our home. We know that worshipping something made with our hands is wrong.” But what if our faith is tied to someone or something?

We are approaching perilous times. We need to affirm our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. There are people around the globe, right now, that are being killed for their profession of faith in Jesus. There are people being persecuted by their neighbors because they refuse to deny Christ. If someone came in today and took away your Bible and took away your right to go to church, would you still believe? Would you still pray? Would you still have to courage to share Him with others? What if your family was threatened?

My point today, princess, is that we need to make sure that our faith in Jesus does not hinge upon someone or something – that our faith lies solely in Jesus. If everything was taken away – our Bible, our church, our family – and we were put in a cell with only the walls to keep us company, would we praise God for giving us life that day? Or does our trust and our faith rely upon our eyes?

This is a hard subject. But it is time to step off the porch and run with the big dogs. We need to stop with the warm, squishy feelings and hit home. God doesn’t want robots that go to church and routinely worship and serve Him. He wants people to be tough, be ready and be willing to show others a faith that is solely in Him and not dependent upon anyone or anything else.

Happiness and Joy

Psalm 146:5 – “Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God”

Happy, happy, happy. We all want to be happy. But is happiness what we really want or is it something else?
“If I just had _________, I would be happy.” (Fill in the blank)

Webster’s 1828 dictionary describes “happy” like this:
Happy comes from a Welsh word that means: properly lucky, fortunate, receiving good from something that falls or comes to one unexpectedly, or by an event that is not within control. To be any degree of happy, we must be free from pain both of body and mind; to be very happy, we must be in the enjoyment of lively sensations of pleasure, either of body or mind.

Happiness is based on something. For example, I am happy this morning because I got a good night of rest. Life is good. But 10 minutes from now that happiness could be gone because my son won’t get out of bed. See how my happiness is based on something. Happiness is based on the happenings of a moment. One moment may be total bliss and the next total chaos. One minute we choose to follow after Christ and the next minute we jump off the path to chase a rabbit.

James 1:2-4 – “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

Joy. Now, joy is something a bit different. Webster’s 1828 describes “joy” this way – Joy is a delight of the mind, from the consideration of the present or assured approaching possession of a good.
In my crazy mind, I see joy this way – happiness, contentment and hope all wrapped up in one neat little ball. Joy is being able to find good in yuck. Joy is being able to find a shred of happy when someone dies. Joy has hope in the future. Joy is knowing that no matter what, God has got this.

Princess, you are going to have happy in your life. And you should also have joy. These two like to walk hand in hand. But sometimes when happy goes away, joy steps up to the plate and brings us a new friend – hope. And hope reminds us that one day all this pain and suffering and hard times will go away. And we will be left with an eternity on streets of gold where we will be with our Father always. Hope reminds us that happiness may go away but our joy should never fade because we are a Princess and that means that our Father is the King.

Burying Jesus

John 20:18 – “Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.”

I know this is a weird question, but bear with me – Do you bury Jesus? Told you, weird question. But do you? Do you make an effort to keep Jesus out of your life or is He just not easily seen in all that you do?

Let me give you this excerpt from Ann Graham Lotz’s book, Just Give Me Jesus
Our modern-day culture tries to keep Him buried in the church.
The church keeps Him buried in traditions or rituals.
Churchgoers keep Him buried on the weekend like a holy hobby.
The religious masses keep Him buried as an icon of history.
The religious leaders keep Him buried in their programs.
The intellectuals keep Him buried in debate.
The agnostics keep Him buried in doubt.
Without consciously trying, have you been keeping Him buried yourself….in neglect? in excuses for sin? in unbelief? in selfishness and pride? in alcohol? in drugs? in unconfessed sin?

Convicting little group of sentences, right? When I read this the other day, I was taken aback. I never really thought that I “buried Jesus” but when I read this, I had to admit that sometimes, yes, I do bury Jesus. And that made me sad. And convicted. And thoughtful. I was sad that there are people who treat Jesus as a “holy hobby” for the weekend. I was convicted because I know that there are times in my life where the majesty of Jesus has gotten lost in ritual. And I was thoughtful in that yes, I see this type of behavior everywhere.

The same can be said of us putting Jesus in a box. We limit His limitless power by constraining Him to what we think. He knows no bounds or limits. Why do we think He can’t handle something in our life? What, do we not want to bother Him? For lands sake, when you think about it, do you think it bothered Him to come to this earth and die for you? If He is willing to do this for a bunch of people who, at the time, could care less, don’t you think He wants to help you through your decisions? Don’t you think that He cares that the baby won’t stop screaming? Don’t you think He wants to comfort you when you feel lonely in a crowd of people? Don’t you think that He wants to work a miracle in your life when there is too much month at the end of the money?

Don’t bury Jesus! Don’t put Him in a box!

Princess, He wants to be active in your life. He wants to show Himself through you each and every day. He wants to develop a relationship with you. But it takes two to tango. So, sister, get ready to dance!

Note: The above quote is found on page 248 of Anne Graham Lotz’s book Just Give Me Jesus, published by Thomas Nelson.

What are you becoming?

John 1:12-13 – “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Are you becoming anything?

You remember as a kid people would ask you what you wanted to be when you grow up. And then when they asked the same question when you graduated from high school, they wanted to know how you were going to become that thing you wanted to be.

Say you wanted to be a doctor. You have to go to college to get your basics. Then you have to apply to a medical school to get your training as a doctor. And then if you want to specialize, you have to go for more training. It’s a long complicated process.

Most people know what they want to do with their physical life. But what do you want to do with your spiritual life?

What are you becoming for Christ?

We know what needs to be done to begin a career. We know the classes we need to take. We know the people we need to be around. We know the information that we need to study. We know where we need to go to get more knowledge on the subject.

But what do we need to do to become more like Christ? I can see the eyes rolling now. “Oh, just another blog about reading my Bible. Yeah, yeah, I know I need to do more of that but I just don’t have time. And besides, I don’t even know where to start.”
So here is an easy-peasy way to get into The Book.
1. Decide a time to devote to The Book. You need to commit to at least 15 minutes. FIFTEEN MINUTES! That’s it, for now. You have to start somewhere. Maybe you get up a little earlier. Maybe you take that time at lunch. Maybe you do it right before you go to bed. I don’t care when it is, just work it into your schedule sometime.
2. Get a little notebook. School supplies are on sale right now. You can probably get a little notebook for 50 cents. You spend more than that on gum!
3. When you get your time allotted and your notebook, pen and Bible out, pray for wisdom. Then, start reading John. Go through and read each verse. Open your notebook. When you read verse one of chapter one, do this:
a. List the facts
b. Who is speaking
c. Who is being spoken to
d. What can you learn
Do this for each and every verse that you can squeeze into 15 minutes. You will be so blessed at this choice that your time will grow each and every time you study. Go from book to book. It truly is amazing.

This is a great step in becoming more like Jesus. How can you possibly become more like Him if you don’t know anything about Him?

Dear princess, we have been given an opportunity to become “the sons (and daughters) of God”! When we are first saved, we are just a little ball of opportunity. God wants to shape and mold us into a magnificent design for His honor and His glory. But sometimes that shaping requires removal and pressure. We have to be willing to be molded to His will – to become more like Him.

So let me encourage you, princess. Take the first step to becoming more like Him by choosing to study Him. I promise, any time devoted to your Savior will be time well spent.

Note: If you would like more information on how to analyze and study the Bible, let me recommend “Bible Analysis” by Albert Garner. Here is link for purchase: Bible Analysis

Drama, drama, drama

Matthew 11:28-30 – “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

I have an eleven year old daughter who started middle school last week. She is involved in cheer at school and dance on Tuesday nights. She is beautiful and bright.

At our house, we have an established study routine that we have had in place for quite some time now. We get home. The kids do their homework and then we rest. Both my kids are smart and have great study habits.

Well, last night, we had a fit of drama at my house. My daughter, out of the blue, started crying. She was freaked out about her first middle school test. She didn’t want to fail it. It is a vocabulary test. Really? I’m talking things like the definitions for science fiction, historical fiction and informational writing. Yes, this is the source of our fit of drama. Can we say hormones? I was telling my husband about it and he could not understand what was going on. Poor guy.

Now remember this, the vocabulary test wasn’t the only thing setting her off. She was worried about handling all her work and cheer and dance. She was worried that she would disappoint her dad and I. She was worried in generally about the whole middle school thing. Needless to say, her worry plate was FULL!

So, I sat her down and reminded her of this verse. She is a follower of Christ, praise the Lord, and she needed this verse. She needed to remember that Jesus wants our burdens. He wants all the things that are important to us, all the things that we cannot or don’t know how to deal with. He wants us to rest in Him. He wants us to walk alongside of Him.

I sent her off to her room with a box of Kleenex to have a little talk with Jesus. And you know what, she came down the stairs a much more peaceful young lady.

I had to give some burdens to Jesus last night too. I am coming to realize that my friend of eighteen years is coming to the end of his life – my cat. Now, I know that cats don’t have a soul, but he is my friend. I don’t take him to the vet because he is an indoor kitty and doesn’t need all the shots and stuff that outdoor kitties need. But another reason I don’t take him is because I’m afraid of what they will tell me. I can’t put my friend down. So, last night, I prayed for mercy. I prayed that God would take care of the situation. And now, I wait. I wait for Him to answer and to show His mercy to me and to His creation that He has given to me as a friend for eighteen years.

Dear princess, let me encourage you to give your burdens to Jesus. He cares about them no matter how small or insignificant they may seem to you or others. If it is important to you, it is important to Him. Walk alongside Him. Find rest in Him. And cry to Him – both in voice and in tears. Let Him hold you in times of worry and in times of sorrow and in times of joy. You see, He just wants to be a part of it all. He just wants you to rely upon Him to get you through it all.

Easy Idols

Ezekiel 14:6,7 – “Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations. For every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger that sojourneth in Israel, which separateth himself from me, and setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face…”

Idols. I have heard all my life that an idol is anything that you put before God. The fourth definition of “idol” in Webster’s 1828 Dictionary is this: “Anything on which we set our affections; that to which we indulge an excessive and sinful attachment. Any thing which usurps the place of God in the hearts of his rational creatures.”

The children of Israel were notorious for their going back to idol worship. It plagued them throughout the Old Testament. We look back at them and shake our heads at their lack of faith and inability to refuse idol worship.

But aren’t we just as bad? For the most part, our society doesn’t have images that we worship. Now, there are some who worship statues in our society, don’t get me wrong. But I personally don’t know anyone who has a statue in their home that they bow down to daily.

But I do know people who put other things before their service to God. I have friends that say that they are followers of Christ that don’t step foot into a worship service on Sunday morning. They are at the pool or at the store or at the amusement park or at the ball game – anywhere other than worshiping God.

Last week, we had revival at our church. My son had soccer practice two of the nights of revival. We had a choice to make – do we let him go to soccer or take him to revival? I’ll be honest. We actually toyed around with the idea of letting him go to practice. But in the end, we decided that we needed to show him what was more important – worshipping and serving God. And let me tell you, God blessed my heart in that decision. We had amazing challenges laid out before us and my son was keenly interested. I know that God will use the lesson we all learned last week to touch our hearts in the future.

But walking away and choosing “idols” is so easy. The first step is to separate ourself from Him, just one time. Just one time. That is all it takes to walk away from Him. Then it becomes easier and easier. And then you realize that you are knee deep in step 2 – the idol is set. The little time away from Him has become full on focus on something else. And this makes the “idol” a stumbling block. It gets in the way when we want to go back. We’ve committed to it.

And sister, we are all guilty of this. We have all let something else come in the way of our service and worship of God. It could be work, school and it’s activities, extra-curricular sports, television, vacations, hobbies, fatigue – the list could go on and on, but you get what I’m saying. It is easy to let the things that we enjoy doing get in the way of our “reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). It is not that any of the things listed above are bad. It is just that they have their place in our lives. And that place is behind our service and worship to God.

Dear princess, we have a way back. Repent. Repent means to turn around and go the other way. Choose to walk away from whatever is keeping you from doing what you know that you are to do. Do those things later. Don’t do them when you know you should be at the house of the Lord or in the presence of the Lord. Make God your priority and He will bless you because of it. He will make the relationship so much sweeter. And besides, who are you going to be spending more time with in the future (like eternity kind of future), Him or the “idol”? When you think about your time in the scope of eternity, spending time away from Him seems futile. You want to know Him before you get there.