Friday, August 29, 2014

An Unexpected Kind of Adventure

It's the end of the day, the kiddo's in bed, the hubby asleep on the overstuffed couch beside me.  The television runs in the background of this week's episode of House Hunters.  I grab a couple dark chocolates from the kitchen cupboard and settle in to a short-lived time to rest – before I conk out myself.

 But, I am restless.  Is there not more to life than getting here and getting there, making a buck, keeping a toddler on a routine?  Is there not more to look forward to than this week's college football game, a short non-consequential conversation with my husband each day, my pillow hitting the bed at night?  Where is the adventure that I dreamed of a decade ago?  Where is the passion?  The life that is bigger than myself?  The risks?  Where is the peace amongst my unsettledness?

Maybe I need a vacation?  Maybe I should participate in an organization helping those in need?   Or perhaps begin some kind of business venture…or a ministry?!  

The next's day's drive to work is no less thrilling.   Risky, maybe…but not quite the adventure I am looking for.  I survive the traffic and climb the stairs to my desk on the second floor of the building; there, I check my cell phone one last time before dropping it in to the drawer for the day.  I happen to glance at, and then read, a quote.  For me, the words seem to culminate in my heart and mind a web of godly illustrations, sermons and radio broadcasts that God has been graciously sending me over the past few days.  The Spirit speaks: the adventure, the risk, the passion – it is all already here.  It is right in front of you.

It is in the risk you take to truly care about your co-workers, rather than withdrawing for fear of rejection.  It is in giving all of your concentration and energies to your son instead of holding back so that you don't get too tired.  It is in giving to your husband when it just doesn’t seem “fair”.  It is in giving your all in every part of life instead of hiding from mockery, being run-over, weariness and being uncomfortable.

Every single moment of each and every day, my own influence is having an impact on lives right before me, and even-more-so, lives in the future.  The impact is not neutral – ever.  It is a noble influence, or an unholy one.  No matter where I go – whether I want to be there or not, whether the situation seems to me to be meaningful or not, whether I am comfortable or "suffering", my actions and non-actions are influencing people's thoughts and hearts.  The choice between being willing to pour out everything I have, or to insist on protecting myself, will result in influencing someone’s heart – for better or worse.    As will all of yours.

Who goes on an adventure and expects to have it easy?  To retreat to land at the first hunger pang?  Whose life is bigger than herself that protects her pride and withholds part (at least) of her time, money, energy and concentration from the ones she is given to influence in this very moment?

Will I choose to look out for myself?  To protect myself?  To run from the uncomfortable? 

What, then, to do with the fear, the exhaustion, the pain, the running-over of myself when it inevitably happens?   We all know:  It.  Will. Happen.

“And my God will give you everything you need….”  Philippians 4:19

He is the only One with unlimited resources, rest, love and comfort.  He is the only way that I can pour out myself, to deplete all of me, and still be sustained and have peace.  He will meet my needs.  He will meet all of our needs.

And in the end, we get the adventure of a lifetime.


Monday, August 25, 2014

Gratitude Is the Attitude!

Did I ever need this this evening after a long Monday! Tonight I choose to be grateful! I am grateful for a cool house on this 90* day, food to cook myself a good dinner, and a heart-of-gold hubby to make me laugh away the stresses of the day!

What are you grateful for today?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Gender Matters

We often hear in the church that we are to be good stewards of what God has given us.  We’re to manage our money in a way that is responsible and for things that would not contradict God’s character.  We are encouraged to plan our time so that we have time for God, family, good work, and ourselves.  We are to be good stewards of the talents we have, using them to help a friend or advance a cause or to sustain our family. 
Have you ever thought about being a good steward of your womanhood?  Do you know why you were created to be a woman?  In the grand scheme of thing, does it really matter?

I have recently worked through a Bible study (twice! because it was so captivating to me) called “True Woman 101 – Divine Design”  by Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Mary Kassian that challenges women to think beyond cultural views of womanhood and instead look to the Word for guidance in this area. 
Today I’m going to review the first chapter “Gender Matters”. 
John Piper has said, “True womanhood is a distinctive calling of God to display the glory of His Son in ways that would not be displayed if there were no womanhood.”  Throughout this chapter we find that male and female were not created by mistake.  Our gender matters.  Our differences matter. And it has nothing to do with us, but everything to do with God.
Do you believe the lie of the culture that tries to blur the lines of women and men that tell us one can be the other?  As believers in Christ and the belief that God’s Word is the ultimate truth, let’s look at Isaiah 43: 6b-7 “Bring my sons from afar and my daughter from the ends of the earth – everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”  Our purpose is not to put ourselves on a pedestal and work in vain for our own interests, but to be a woman so all can see God’s greatness.  It is through our gender we display God’s beauty best! 

Men display the nature of God in a way no woman can and women display the nature of God in a way no man can.  Isn't our God, Creator so wonderfully mysterious and profoundly creative?
One of my favorite aspects of this chapter was when the authors described the meaning of the word ‘adam’ (man) in Hebrew.  It is an overarching term that describes humankind – both man and woman.  Genesis 5:2 “Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created.”  So what does that mean for us as women?  It means we are valued by God, equally with men. It means we are blessed by God and we were given equal (though not in the same ways!) authority to rule over the earth.  And it means that “God indicated that male and female would share a common condition for which He would provide a common solution.” (pg 30) This solution is Christ! 
How reassuring it is that my way to salvation, like all humankind, comes through Christ alone!  How exciting that through my womanhood, I can witness to those around me about God’s greatness.  By embracing my womanhood for God’s true purpose, I can finally live to the potential God intended. I don’t have to prove my worth as a woman in this world, because my worth as a woman is found in God alone.   “The Bible’s view on worth is much different than that of popular culture.  It teaches that we don’t need a greater sense of ‘self-worth’…what we desperately need is a greater sense of ‘His-worth’.” (pg. 34)
Now that we see the purpose of male and female, what does that mean for us as women?  Chapter 2, titled “Snips and Snails”, gives us a deeper look into men (what woman doesn’t love talking about that??) and  what God’s intended role and purpose for them is.  This will later help us better understand our role and purpose as women.

Until next time, be a good steward of  your womanhood by embracing God’s divine design for you as a woman and relish in the fact that he utterly loves you and your womanhood!  God wants to use YOU to adorn the world with HIS beauty!

~To get this study for yourself or your small group, you can order the book here or check out your local Christian bookstore.  It's a great study I highly recommend! The page numbers given for quotes are simply for your reference if you choose to get the book yourself.~

Thursday, August 14, 2014

I've been reading through the Psalms over the past few weeks, and in so doing I have really struggled with what to do with those that speak of fear of enemies and physical harm.  David was fearful for his life many times, with real danger in heavy pursuit of his life.  His heartache is tangible.

Thankfully (thank you God!) I do not have to worry about enemies pursuing; people hunting me down or threatening me because I believe in Jesus Christ.  I, blessedly, have a tough time relating.

I have mentioned Saeed Abedini before, asking for prayer.  I know in the midst of all the turmoil in the Middle East, especially as of late, there are so many prayers to be said and petitioning to God on behalf of the innocent.

I've never been one to be good about praying.  I'll admit that my fear and selfishness cause me to turn a blind eye to the news.  But as I was reading this article this morning, I became overwhelmed but WHAT to pray.

I thought of the Psalms and decided to pray several of them, before God on behalf of our Christian brother. Here is one in particular.  Will you join me in prayer?

Psalm 3

O Lord, how many are my foes!  How many rise up against me!  Many are saying of me, "God will not deliver him."  But you are a shield around me, O Lord;  you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.

To the Lord I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill.  I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.  I will not fear the tens of thousds drawn up against me on every side.

Arise, O Lord!  Deliver me, O my God!  Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked.  From the Lord comes deliverance.  May your blessing be on your people.

Friday, August 8, 2014

I struggle with quieting my heart.  There are so many distractions in life, and even in the times of "rest", it can so easily be filled with the tv on in the background or music to fill the empty spaces. Even during times of the evening where I'm settling in for bed or wake up in the middle of the night, noise, even if soft, fills the quiet.  In times when I'm stressed or sad, in order for me not to have to think about my anxiety, or in the middle of the night when fear tends to seek me out, I turn to the tv or even my computer to distract me.

Very seldom do I quiet my heart before the Lord, demanding that my chattering thoughts hush.  To turn my heart and fear and worry over to him.  I so appreciate this Psalm, as it reminds me to call to the Lord and allow him to bring me peace, rather than the distractions around me.  Do you struggle with this too?  Here's Psalm 4:

Answer me when I call to you,
    my righteous God.
Give me relief from my distress;  
    have mercy on me and hear my prayer.
How long will you people turn my glory into shame?
    How long will you love delusions and seek false gods?
Know that the Lord has set apart his faithful servant for himself;
    the Lord hears when I call to him.
Tremble and do not sin;
    when you are on your beds,
    search your hearts and be silent.
Offer the sacrifices of the righteous
    and trust in the Lord.
Many, Lord, are asking, “Who will bring us prosperity?”
    Let the light of your face shine on us.
Fill my heart with joy
    when their grain and new wine abound.
In peace I will lie down and sleep,
    for you alone, Lord,
    make me dwell in safety.

Have a wonderful weekend!  I hope it is filled with peace for you as you seek out the Lord for rest!


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

In celebration of Mother Teresa's August birthday : )