Friday, September 12, 2014

Called Higher

Here's an encouraging song for your Friday  Called Me Higher!

And I could hold on
I could hold on to who I am and never let You change me from the inside
And I could be safe
I could be safe here in Your arms and never leave home
Never let these walls down

But you have called me higher
You have called me deeper
And I will go where you will lead me Lord
You have called me higher
You have called me deeper
And I will go where you lead me Lord
Where you lead me
Where you lead me Lord

Our loving Father has a life for us beyond what we can imagine.  We can settle in and stay tucked away safe in the familiar.  Or we can submit to the Lord "How do you want to change me?  Where can I become more like You?  Where am I being safe or afraid?"  And then surrender to the Lord's leading.

Today ask God where he is leading you!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Knowing God

An enlightening perspective in the midst of my fear and doubt.   I am such a worrier - I have been my whole life.  As a kid I worried about getting in trouble.  I acted and talked precisely and minimally in order to make sure a teacher wouldn't make me put my name on the board or make me stand at the wall at recess.  I worried about upcoming tests.  In high school my friends would laugh at me before the tests were handed out - "Sarah's in her fetal position again."

I worried about the future - my sister leaving for college, my boyfriend rejecting me, what college I would attend and what my career would be, who I would marry, where I would live, what my life would look like.

I knew worrying was a sin - I wasn't fully trusting God.  I knew Jesus told me not to worry.

Matthew 6:25-34

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

As I've grown older and not managed to subdue my worry, my worries have just grown to bigger, adult-sized worries - work, finances, fertility, terrorists.  The other day I was talking (let's face it, monologue-ing) with God and I said, "Lord, if we can just get pass this hurdle, I won't have to worry anymore."

Ahem...Really?  Who did I think I was kidding?  Leaping over the hurdle would no doubt bring beautiful things to my life, but lack of worry was not one of them!  In fact, it would likely bring more!

"Enough!" I cried out.  "Lord, You must help me to get this sin of mine under control or it is going to consume me!"

I decided I would start writing down verses about fear and worry, that way I could memorize them and have them at my disposal whenever in need.  This, however, felt overwhelming.  Where would I start?

"If we're really struggling to trust God, it's because we don't really know Him.  Because if we really knew Him, we wouldn't hesitate to bring everything to Him."

When I ran across this the other day, I realized my worry and fear was deeper than memorizing a few verses.  Yes, searching out God's word and memorizing it was sure to bring healing and a balm for my bruised soul, after years of daily anxiety.  But knowing God is the ultimate answer.  If I really knew God, I wouldn't worry or fear because I would trust him, because I would know his character and his intentions.  

I'll be honest, I don't know what this looks like practically or daily.  I'm sure some of it will come with digging in the Bible for answers and memorizing the Word, but ultimately my faith comes in knowing God.  Fully knowing him.  Only he can satisfy my longing for peace.  Only he can bring me true joy.

Psalm 37: 1-7

"Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.

Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.  Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this:  He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him."


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.