Monday, December 31, 2007

Stay Thy Soul Upon God

"Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God." 
Isa. 50:10

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

What God Does

I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 11:19

"When a man comes in contact with God, he can never be the same. God takes the weak and makes them strong, the vile and makes them clean, and the worthless and makes them worthwhile, the sinful and makes them sinless."

Posted on the wall of a homeless mission our family recently ministered at.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Missing Summer...

"He giveth snow like wool; He scattereth the hoar-frost like ashes."
Ps. 147:16

With Summer's cheering presence past
Comes Winter's chilling, frigid grasp.

The fireside, flannel-clad evening talks
Replace the sunset rambling walks.

The swings in somber stillness sit;
Remembering former smiles lit.
The sandbox too is left so bare,
Awaiting Summer's balmy air.

No fresh mowed lawn to breath in deeply
No flowers adorning the gardens so sweetly.
No Summer birds to serenade
Not even one could bear to stay.

Out come gloves, a scarf and a hat
A coat that proves that everyone's fat.
Boots that feign an inner heat
While only housing chilly feet.

A thermometer that won't go any lower
Makes my blood move even slower.
This is winter in all it's glory!
It paints for me a sad, sad story.

But while it stays I will rejoice
For happiness is my own choice.
My spirit is warm, my heart is free,
when I remember Calvary.

That blood-bought gift to me was given,
Someday I'll see my Lord in heaven.
And up there in eternal Spring,
no season change will winter bring.

*Written this afternoon right after a bone-chilling 'photo-walk,' after I was securely wrapped in a flannel blanket and had a mug of hot tea in my hands. :-)

A workman, who needeth not to be ashamed..

"Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." II Timothy 2:15

"If you cannot express yourself well on each of your beliefs, work and study until you can. If you don't, other people may miss out on the blessings that come from knowing the truth. Strive to re-express a truth of God to yourself clearly and understandably, and God will use that same explanation when you share it with someone else.

Always make it a practice to stir your own mind thoroughly to think through what you have easily believed. Your position is not really yours until you make it yours through suffering and study..."
-Oswald Chambers

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

More on Gifts....

Today I was reading back in some old journals, and came across some quotes I had recorded from an article I had read over two years ago. This prompted me to go back and search it out. I was blessed, refreshed, and encouraged anew. At first I thought I would only give the quotes here, but in reading the article again, I can't find anything to omit. It was such a timely encouragement again for me to set my eyes on the gifts of the Lord. Truly He knows what is best for us!

“Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” Psalm 55:22

I was very surprised recently to discover that the word ‘burden’ in the above Scripture is not exactly what I had thought it was -- worries, cares and heartaches. It is the Hebrew word 'yhab' which means, ‘gift, what is given by Providence, that which has been assigned to you, your lot in life’.

Your lot in life – your circumstances, your marriage, your lot in your home, and even your hardships – may not be what you had planned! But it is the lot that has been given to you. Instead of resisting your lot in life, why not give it back to the Lord and trust Him to do His work in you? He has put you in your circumstances to refine you as gold, to change you into the image of His dear Son, to make you the beautiful person that He has planned for you to be and to prepare you for His eternal kingdom.

If you were to choose your own way, I know you would choose the easy road. We are all inclined to do this, aren’t we? But the easy road will never lead you closer to the Lord, it will never deepen your understanding of the ways of God, and it will never allow you to be changed into the image of Christ.

This Scripture does not tell you to wallow in your miserable lot. It does not tell you to spoil your days with self-pity. No. It tells you to throw your lot upon the Lord. When you do, He will not only carry it for you, but He will carry you too. He has promised to sustain you in the lot He has given to you.

The word ‘cast’ in the Hebrew means ‘to throw away, to hurl, an adventure’. Wow! I like the sound of the ‘adventure’ bit, don’t you? The dictionary meaning of ‘adventure’ is ‘a hazardous or exciting experience, a bold and difficult undertaking, encountering risks, somewhat dangerous.’ This gets exciting, doesn’t it?

When you try to order your own life and make it work the way you want it to, you miss out on all that God has planned for you. When you cast your lot upon the Lord, it becomes an adventure! You will face challenges. You will have to overcome many obstacles. You may even face hardship and suffering. But this is the adventure of life. It prepares you for eternal life. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 says, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

Many try to run from their circumstances, or even their marriage. Imagine standing at the Judgment Seat of Christ and God says to you, “Why did you divorce your husband? I gave him to you to lead you closer to me, to work my character into you and change you into my image. You have missed out on my purposes in your life.”

One writer says, “What God lays upon you, lay it upon the Lord.”

Are you ready for an adventure?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Christian Liberty and the Law of Wisdom

I came across an article the other day that simply blessed my socks off. :-) The whole way through it, I was thinking, "Wow, wow, wow...AMEN!" Ever have times like that?! :-)This young mother hit the nail on the head in so many ways, and painted a beautiful picture of our liberty in Christ. In words, she described the journey God has been taking me on in the past two years. The journey of a lesson, that is.... Read it with an open, discerning heart, and let God use it as He would.

There are a lot of extremes under the banner of Christianity. That’s not too surprising, because people in general are extremists. We discover an idea and run with it until it becomes our guiding doctrine in life. It’s human nature.

The frightening thing about Christianity is that there are very few rules. People like rules. It is easier to open a book and find a rule than it is to seek the face of God. I’ve heard many people say, myself included, “I just wish God would spell it out in the Bible, it would make things so much easier…” Easier, yes… but then where would wisdom come in? Seeking wisdom means seeking God, a continual dependence on Him. When you have a rule for everything, then there is no need for wisdom, or really any kind of relationship with the Rule-Giver. [emphasis added]

People burned by hyper-conservatism and legalism, tend to take their Christian liberty and run the other way. Like a prisoner suddenly set free they gorge themselves on ice cream and lollipops because they can. After awhile, they’ll wake up with a bellyache and wonder why God didn’t stop them or something… Well, friends, it’s called wisdom. And God gives it freely to those who ask. :-)

The ideas so many of us grew up with—homeschooling, courtship, stay-at-home mothers and daughters—these are not mandates found in the Bible. Oh? Then why should I practice any of these things? It isn’t a matter of should or shouldn’t, but of wisdom...(Seeking GOD for the truth) The same goes for any other gray area we find in the Bible. Wisdom is knowing what is right for ourselves and our families. [parenthesis added]
And may I add, a heartfelt seeking - not for loopholes or excuses to avoid something we don't want to obey, but an earnest desire to know what God's Word says, and how we need to apply it to our lives.
This makes many people uncomfortable because we want everyone to be like us. It makes us feel more comfortable in our own choices. So, we tend to take very good ideas and turn them into rules. That way we can say to our neighbor, “Hey, you should be doing this…” instead of “Hey, I’ll pray with you about this decision… may God grant you wisdom.”

There is so much freedom in realizing our lives don’t have to look like everyone else’s. In fact, I think once we realize that we don’t have to keep looking at others to make sure we’re ‘doing it right’ we’ll be spending a lot more time looking up… which is infinitely sweeter. [emphasis added]

Like one commenter posted...

"It's easy to read the books about "how to do it" and want to follow the rules to "be safe" and have the results guaranteed...Following rules feels "safe"... but in reality, the Presence of God is the only place with fullness of joy and true safety!"

The article by Elizabeth Jackson can be found in it's entirety here.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

CNA Snapshots - Demonstrating Our Father's Love

"...He whose heart is kind beyond all measure 
gives unto each day what HE deems best..."

The month of CNA training was an especially monumental one for me in learning more about the Father heart of God. I learned that trust springs out of that knowledge, and the more we are acquainted with His character, the easier it is to trust Him.

There are times my perspective of God is turned, and I act like He is a taskmaster, driving me to do what's right. How easy it is to forget that He is a loving and tender Heavenly Father, and that all His thoughts towards us are good. The wonderful thing about this is, that the more I experience the love of God in my own life, the easier it becomes to be a channel of that to others. 

Toward the beginning of the course all 16 of us were divided into two teams. This determined what floor we would be working on during clinicals, study hall times, practice room times, etc. The day we were divided up, we were also given names. There were the channels, and there were the vessels. I appreciated the devotional that went along with these.

It was explained to us that both of these things were no good in and of themselves. Their value lay in how they were used. A channel, such as a river bed, is not much good for anything unless it is used to direct water down the correct path. Likewise, a vessel is only good for looking at unless it is filled with something and given out to others. We were encouraged to be vessels and channels of love, willing to be filled, and poured out for the sake of others. 

We knew there were going to be times where this would not come naturally. Working with the elderly is not always pretty. There were joyful times when a resident gave us a hug of appreciation, and there were times when dentures were removed and thrown at us. We found out that the sights and smells of the nursing home tended to follow us back to the training center, and later haunt us in the midnight hours.

At the beginning, I was nervous about the clinical side of the CNA course. Working with the elderly has never seemed to be my special gifting, or something I really thought I would enjoy doing. I was concerned that while working, I would respond to it as an undesirable task, and struggle with truly demonstrating the love of Christ to these people.

God met me in a neat way my first day of clinicals. To quote from my journal that day...."Over and over in our training, we've heard the verse, "And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Matt. 25:40 I know it's true in every serving situation I'm in, but today it hit me in a new way. As I cared for this dear lady I had been assigned to today, I was overwhelmed with the thought that I have the privilege of serving Jesus Christ Himself. That is awesome! And to think that He takes my fumbling service, and in return, blesses me far beyond what I thought possible is incredible!"

The love that I thought would come so hard, flowed out of this new perspective God gave me. "As unto Him...." "Have to's" turned into "get-to's" as I realized the amazing opportunity the Lord had given me. And not just that one, but all of life has taken on a whole new excitement. The ugly turns into the beautiful when viewed through the eyes of love.

"He whose heart is kind beyond all measure" put me in a situation where I had to depend on Him to love, and through that, opened up a whole new perspective of life!