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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Living at Odds

I absolutely LOVE reading my devotional each day. I love how when I come down and click on it there in my e-mail that I know something that makes me who I am in Christ will be confirmed. I will be affirmed. I will be encouraged. Encouraged to encourage others and to give from the flood of blessings that come to me from God. How is it I manage to fall away? It puzzles me - but I do, and I will - more than likely - but for now, what a wonderful place to be.

In my reading of David Jeremiah and his e-devotional this morning, for todays blog will be mostly about my thoughts on my reading and ruminations from it, he pointed out that there are many things that are at odds in kingdom living.

"Many things about the kingdom of God seem odd to those who are not its citizens. Kingdom citizens gain by giving, live by dying, and become great by becoming least. But perhaps the greatest oddity in the kingdom of God is when Christians find joy in pain and suffering. There is something unnatural about rejoicing in the midst of trials."
-David Jeremiah

This thrilled me. I literally had goosebumps. If you have read at all of my last year - then you know that I have had a few trials. They were less than some folks but to me they have been horrifying at times, so painful and I have been broken and sad. So sad. But one thing I know about myself is - I am a weenie. I am not made of stern stuff. So my trials would be blips in someone elses life, although I must say some of them were pretty big blows. Anyway - all that to say - I understand about finding joy in pain and suffering. I have it. It has been the oddest thing but I truly love being where I am. I have never depended on my heavenly Father more for my daily bread, for my and my family's needs - both spiritual and physical or for my happiness.

Not only can we find joy in suffering - but I have found that in order to GAIN, we are to GIVE. One more thing that has been impressed upon me. The hoarding and living like we have nothing to offer is wrong. We have plenty to offer. It may not be from a huge house with a man cave ( I admit - I would love a man cave for all the man cubs in my household), BUT it is a warm, sweet little house that has good food and laughter, a lake right down the street for one of life's more enjoyable pass-times (fishing) and a hill for sliding - whether leafy or snowy(HA) - yes - we have hill surfing and I offer it up to those who would like to give it a whirl. We have so much to offer.

David Jeremiah points out that the Bible does not say give thanks FOR everything but to give God thanks IN everything. No matter what we go through we are to thank God for the blessings we do have. To find a grateful heart in the midst of our hardships. God gave me the ability to do so. With every new hardship, I thanked God for what we had. For we are rich. We have much. We are not paupers - spiritually or physically.

And the most important spiritually impressive point being, believers DIE to themselves in order to LIVE life to the fullest. In dying to ourselves we find that we truly live. This is an amazing and liberating find. If one can find a way to understand this wonderful concept (pray for it friends - it will come, and if you are like me understanding will go, then come back again - as long as you keep on - keep on) life will become more full than it could ever be imagined.

I love living a life of paradox. It has been an amazing thing to find that in the midst of all the hard stuff that goes on, there absolutely can be joy.

1 Peter 1:3-7 (New King James Version)
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.


6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Proverbs 30

Proverbs 30


Sayings of Agur

1 The sayings of Agur son of Jakeh—an inspired utterance.

This man’s utterance to Ithiel:



“I am weary, God,

but I can prevail.

2 Surely I am only a brute, not a man;

I do not have human understanding.

3 I have not learned wisdom,

nor have I attained to the knowledge of the Holy One.

4 Who has gone up to heaven and come down?

Whose hands have gathered up the wind?

Who has wrapped up the waters in a cloak?

Who has established all the ends of the earth?

What is his name, and what is the name of his son?

Surely you know!

5 “Every word of God is flawless;

he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

6 Do not add to his words,

or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.

7 “Two things I ask of you, LORD;

do not refuse me before I die:

8 Keep falsehood and lies far from me;

give me neither poverty nor riches,

but give me only my daily bread.

9 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you

and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’

Or I may become poor and steal,

and so dishonor the name of my God.

10 “Do not slander servants to their master,

or they will curse you, and you will pay for it.

11 “There are those who curse their fathers

and do not bless their mothers;

12 those who are pure in their own eyes

and yet are not cleansed of their filth;

13 those whose eyes are ever so haughty,

whose glances are so disdainful;

14 those whose teeth are swords

and whose jaws are set with knives

to devour the poor from the earth

and the needy from among humankind.

15 “The leech has two daughters.

‘Give! Give!’ they cry.

“There are three things that are never satisfied,

four that never say, ‘Enough!’:

16 the grave, the barren womb,

land, which is never satisfied with water,

and fire, which never says, ‘Enough!’

17 “The eye that mocks a father,

that scorns an aged mother,

will be pecked out by the ravens of the valley,

will be eaten by the vultures.

18 “There are three things that are too amazing for me,

four that I do not understand:

19 the way of an eagle in the sky,

the way of a snake on a rock,

the way of a ship on the high seas,

and the way of a man with a young woman.

20 “This is the way of an adulterous woman:

She eats and wipes her mouth

and says, ‘I’ve done nothing wrong.’

21 “Under three things the earth trembles,

under four it cannot bear up:

22 a servant who becomes king,

a godless fool who gets plenty to eat,

23 a contemptible woman who gets married,

and a servant who displaces her mistress.

24 “Four things on earth are small,

yet they are extremely wise:

25 Ants are creatures of little strength,

yet they store up their food in the summer;

26 hyraxes are creatures of little power,

yet they make their home in the crags;

27 locusts have no king,

yet they advance together in ranks;

28 a lizard can be caught with the hand,

yet it is found in kings’ palaces.

29 “There are three things that are stately in their stride,

four that move with stately bearing:

30 a lion, mighty among beasts,

who retreats before nothing;

31 a strutting rooster, a he-goat,

and a king secure against revolt.

32 “If you play the fool and exalt yourself,

or if you plan evil, clap your hand over your mouth!

33 For as churning cream produces butter,

and as twisting the nose produces blood,

so stirring up anger produces strife.”


I am amazed at how I seem to connect to Agur. A man from so long ago and yet, I love what he says. I like the randomness of his thought patterns but the truth and simplicity of what he says. My favorite thing he says is:


7 “Two things I ask of you, LORD;


do not refuse me before I die:


8 Keep falsehood and lies far from me;


give me neither poverty nor riches,


but give me only my daily bread.


9 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you


and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’


Or I may become poor and steal,


and so dishonor the name of my God.

It just makes such good sense. And as you know - I am a HUGE fan of common sense, even though at times I do not show it. I pulled this from my devotional from David Jeremiah today and thought it was worth sharing. Especially given the economy and the preparations for a new year.

Here's the link: http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/magazine.aspx?id=4402
Prov 30 is from yesterday though.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Born to Die

There is an old song that we used to sing at our Easter Cantata when I was a little girl. It was called Born to Die. Every Christmas, I think of it. The fact is that Christ's whole human existence was based on this plan. Without it - there would be no hope.

The fact is, it blows my mind. I don't understand that kind of sacrifice. Though I am grateful for it. Thank goodness Christmas is about so much more than just pretty lights and presents. I am so very thankful for a selfless love - the Greatest Gift.

We who have heard along with the shepherds, the call of the angels to come and see - we are so very blessed -


10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2



Friday, December 17, 2010

This....Means.....War.....

Okay - so, about 4 weeks ago I realized I was clenching my teeth. Apparently stressed and taking it out on my jaws. I got an abscess. Horrid little thing. Painful. Still, I did what I had to. Had a blessed Thanksgiving and come to find out that abscess is not going to get better and it is in a tooth that already had a root canal so they had to pull it. Absolutely nightmarish experience. I seriously urge you never to have a tooth pulled without being put under. It was so bad. And it hurt afterwards too...for days. But meanwhile the electricity has gone bad in my house (something needs to be replaced), the car broke down, I missed my jury duty and figured it out 2 days later at 8:00pm, and feared contempt of court, one kid got sick, the other got sick, I tripped over the dog and twisted my ankle and then got called today that another child had lice, was leaving to go pick him up from school and fell down a flight of stairs. My knee is as big as a grapefruit and I have bruises up one side and down the other. Then as I was washing all of the bed linens and such after shampooing 3 boys with Rid and combing through their hair with a lice comb, the electricity goes wonky again and I can't get the kids blankets  dry. So I have to use all kinds of crazy things to make sure they stay warm.

I kid you not.

It has been one of those months.

I am exhausted, mentally, and physically. The one thing I can be thankful for is that God has shown himself faithful through it all. My family is safe, warm and fed. I have everything that I need. We all have everything that we need. Praise God!

I will say though that I feel like I am under attack. There are moments where I would gladly pull my hair out to distract myself from the events that are going on. One. After. The. Other.

 I am so tempted to feel sorry for myself. There are many times when I just list the things in my head and can feel myself about to fall headlong into self pity.

But instead of doing that, I find that I am getting angry. It makes me so mad that all of this is going on. And I am pretty sure I know why. God has finally gotten my attention after a deficit of years and Satan is not happy.

So - this means war. My bruised and battered physical and emotional body is tired - my spiritual being will fight back. By putting on the full armour of God.

The Armor of God - Ephesians 6:



10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
 
Isn't that awesome? I have a defense in this time of extreme stress and conflict.
 
Philippians 2

1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:


6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,


to the glory of God the Father.


12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. 14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[c] Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

These passages are such a comfort to me. When I read them, everything in me seems to take a deep breath and relax. I love the Word of God. And Philippians 2 is the Christmas Story - in a nutshell. God became man - humbled himself to serve and save. If that does not give joy - I don't know what does.

So - I am not taking this lying down. I have put up my dukes and have a sure defense in this time of struggle.

It's actually not a bad place to be. Please pray for us. We need the strength that comes from our brothers and sisters lifting us up to our Father. Let's band together and fight the good fight.

1 Timothy 6:11-12
11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Another Day

Well - I only woke up at 4:30AM this morning. That was actually not bad at all. It kind of makes me feel like I can be leisurely in my reading and functionality for the day. I like that. It happens so rarely.

Once again I was up and came down to read and was reminded about all of the things I love about being in precarious places. Sounds crazy. But it's true. There is an underlying excitement to see what God will do. Not being able to trace his hand but fully being able to trust his heart (as the old New Song ballad goes) is absolutely thrilling to see unfold. Of course I fall into my ol' doubting Thomas routine quite often. But I love the days that I find the internal fortitude God has placed in my reach and live by it. Amazing! Exciting!


Psalm 1
1 Blessed is the one


who does not walk in step with the wicked


or stand in the way that sinners take


or sit in the company of mockers,


2 but whose delight is in the law of the LORD,


and who meditates on his law day and night.


3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,


which yields its fruit in season


and whose leaf does not wither—


whatever they do prospers.


4 Not so the wicked!


They are like chaff


that the wind blows away.


5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,


nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.


6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous,


but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

I love the Psalms. I can pretty much read one chapter every day and find something to apply. And I love to apply. I am not philosophical, or logical - I am a common sense kind of girl. And Psalms just fits the bill.

So today - and every day - I know that God is watching over me - I long to be that person that is planted by the river of waters which yields its fruit in season

and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers. And I believe that I can trust God to see that it is so.

Now this is a great way to start the day.
Blessings!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Assurance

I woke up at 3:30AM. Wide awake. Mind going full blast. Number crunching, going over the calendar, figuring how, what, when and why. I berated myself. I wished for a re-do. I talked to God. I asked him ridiculous questions, knowing all the while that his ways are higher than mine and there was no way to understand them. But I needed him to talk to me.

I threw on my Tennessee sweatshirt stumbled over the dogs (again) to get downstairs. And I went to my source. The Word.

I don't know where to go. I just want God to talk to me. So, I go to my devotional. I get it in my e-mail every day. I am thankful for this vehicle of e-mail. When I lack the intentionality to be able to search God's Word on my own. My e-mail devotional always seems to be able to put the finger on the spot. I love that about God. He manages to place what I need before me - in the form of a daily devotional sent through my e-mail - that can instantly give me what I need. A Word from God. Wow.

We are in a trial period. There is no doubt about that. The economy, and circumstances have brought us to a place where every day is walked by faith. We pray for God's protection and I am always reminded of my pastor, Alan, asking God in prayer to show us mercy and do not give us what we deserve, and I and agree wholeheartedly.  I read God's amazing gift in words to me - for this day. For this moment.

James 1:2-8

2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways

And instantly, my reason for waking is evident. My need for God is filled and I am comforted. I have everything I need for this moment - even more than I asked for. My request for wisdom and to know what to do has been presented to the Lord. I can trust that he heard me - and that he will take care of my need when it comes time. Maybe not in the way I had hoped. But for now - and now is all I need - I am comforted. I can trust that my "now" will have always have the grace that God provides for that moment. It is extremely reassuring.

What is more - how good is God to a sleep deprived woman to send her an e-mail reassuring her that not only is he enough, he is building character and patience in her. Not only does he want her to come before him and ask - he will see that she is made more like him in the process.

I am rich beyond measure.
Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me - bless his name.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

T'is the Season for Giving

I love gifts. So much fun to get a gift and to be able to use it. And it is almost every day this time of year! So much fun. God pointed something out to me today - bear with me as it unravels.

There are three things I am compelled to do, I do it whether I do it for you or just for me.

I sing. I write. I refurbish.

You may not hear me sing, I don't get to do it as much as I would like these days. That does not mean it won't happen. I am just in a season of not publicly singing - oh but I sing. The car. The shower. All around the house. At work. I get busted occasionally at work.

Over the course of the last couple of years I have come to love the ability to blog. Not only do I get to write - I get to PUBLISH it. Do I make money from my grand pen? Nope. But it is very fulfilling to me. I enjoy it immensley. And I have done it long before I started my blog. I have notebooks upon notebooks of my writing. When I go back and read them, I cry, I am embarrassed, I laugh - I am amazed - by God's goodness to me.

Since I have been married, I have started a new thing. I refurbish things. I take the old and make it newer. I will post some pictures of some of my projects. But I have a crawl space full of things I intend to "makeover". I have chairs - one of which I snagged from someone's garbage in Mountain Brook and carried a mile home - while 5 months pregnant with child. I love that chair. I do not think I could get rid of it now for anything. Everytime I look at it, I think - "How in the world did I do that 5 months pregnant?" I have two chairs in my living room my Mom picked up from someones garbage. She got three - we remade two.  I love those chairs. She and I re-upholstered them together. I love those chairs. They remind me of my sweet Mom and the gifts I have acquired from her.

All of this to say folks is when I woke up this morning, I was going over my day in my head and letting God know that this day was his and everything in it. I was telling him my heart and I came downstairs to do my reading.

Look at what I read:

Romans 12:3-8

Serve God with Spiritual Gifts



3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

Here - Paul is relating God's desire for us to use our spiritual gifts to encourage and serve others. I think God wants us to do this with the other gifts he gives us as well. We should use them to serve others, to encourage others, to build others up. If you are sitting on the gifts - spiritiual - or physical - you are not fulfulling God's purpose for your life.

Find your gifts - use your gifts - give your gifts. You will be happier for it. The reason God gave the ultimate gift was for us to have life and have it more abundantly. The key is to use his liberal gifts for his glory!

John 10:9,10
9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me,he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

For whom the Lord loves he chastens...

For several months now - there has been housecleaning going on in my spiritual life. I asked God to help me do right, to expose my sin and to make me like him. Every hidden thing has come to light. The things I could not confess out loud he helped me by exposing and I am so repentant. The consequences of my sin are hard. So hard. It is painful and it is weighty and I am having to look to God to help me moment by moment.

This morning in my reading Hebrews 12 encouraged and showed me something else I have asked for countless times. "Lord, show me you love me."

The Discipline of God


3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. 4 You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. 5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:
“ My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
6 For whom the LORD loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.”
7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
 
And though this present life is hard, I pray that God will remind me of his love for me. Through tears of sadness and frustration even, I had to thank God for answering my prayers. He is making me more like him, and he is chastening me - he loves me. What an amazing and wonderful thing to KNOW.
 
I can only be grateful.