Sunday, March 30, 2014

His Will - Whose Way?

The lyrics rolled off my tongue in worship this morning.  "It will be my joy to say Your will Your way.  It will be my joy to say Your will Your way always."

As everyone else continued standing and singing, I sat down to write those words in my journal so that I would not forget.   Your will Your way.   Really?   Is that what I meant?   Did I mean that I wanted God's will in my life and that I wanted His will to be played out HIS way.   Or do I only say "Your will God" and secretly hope that He does it MY way?   If I'm honest, that is probably true.

And then what about it being my joy to say Your will Your way?   And always?  Isn't there something within each of us that finds it joyful for God's will to be done when we don't suffer or sacrifice or have to wait.

If there is suffering, sacrifice or putting the interests of others before our own and these things are happening because it is God's will in our life for it to happen that way, where's the joy then?

If the prayers earnestly prayed at the midnight hour aren't answered in the way we would like, do our hearts fill with joy and praise that God's will is being done?    Or does a cloud of doubt and despair overshadow all the goodness of God in our hearts and minds?

For seven years, I have prayed some very specific prayers to God that He handled His way.  His will was was being done His way and not mine. And I can honestly say I am thankful.   I wasn't always thankful though.  My trust and faith didn't always run deep enough, but God was faithful and has been with me through it all.  That was His will and His way of doing things.

If everything had been done my way, there would have been utter failure in the end.  My faith would have been wilting and my pride would have been growing.    The end results would have the residue of a human and finite finish and ultimately would crumble.  Instead, the end results are proving to be absolutely divine and in-explainable by any human standard.

The process of change continues and it doesn't mean that it is always easy.  But I am learning to trust and believe that God's will done God's way is always best.  

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Be Real

A few days ago, I was randomly browsing through various links on some Christian blogs and websites.   More than one caught my attention as they indicated that they had overcome some sort of adversity.   Stopping the mouse for my little arrow to hover over their "About Me" tag,  I clicked.  

In each case, they truly had overcome some sin or some stronghold in their life.  I am not diminishing God's work in their life at all.

But for each of these people I read about, it seemed like they had sinned once, felt great remorse, turned their lives around and it has been great ever since.  Or at least that was how I saw it portrayed.    I truly don't believe that was the way it was intended, but that is what I saw.  Or is that really how it happened?

Did their marriage, their kids, their finances, and all their decisions just fall into place and they lived happily ever after?   I don't think so.   Satan doesn't quit that easily.  

So what about the woman or girl reading their posts who has failed over and over and over again?  The one who thinks she isn't good enough or that perhaps God's grace really isn't enough to cover all of her sins.   What about the lady who still doesn't think that God could possibly love someone like her because He really does know every single thing she has ever done?

I am not suggesting that we should write about all the negative in life, nor that we should give Satan one ounce of glory.  But being real is what helps pull others out of pits and places of darkness and hopelessness.  

When we share what Jesus has done for us, it encourages others that they too can make it.    When the reality is spoken that marriage is tough, children from age 0 through adulthood push us to our knees, that fear grips us in the middle of the night for no apparent reason and that Jesus Christ is faithful through it all, lives can be changed.

The women who have had the greatest spiritual impact in my life are those who shared their lives with me and didn't pretend that everything is or always has been easy and perfect.   These were godly women who love Jesus with all of their heart and serve Him with reckless abandon. These are women who still face trials and heartache and disappointment and health issues.   But they continue to persevere and push through to the feet of Jesus day in and day out.  

Keep pushing.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

James & Beth -what a team!

Every once in awhile you do a Bible study that just kicks your tail!  Beth Moore's study on James is like having a personal spiritual trainer who won't let up until you get yourself into shape spiritually.    Seriously, I have never heard a sermon or done a study that had this much impact on my life.

No doubt, memorizing the book of James while I am studying it helps me to retain it and apply it. The Word of God is living and active and you can't help but change inside and out if you spend enough time in it.   

I could go on and on about each section I have studied or each verse I have memorized thus far.   Every single word has impacted me in some way.   Really it has.   

But last week when I was studying James 4:11-12, it was like someone punched me in the stomach.   I don't know about you, but it is easy for me to find myself on that slippery slope of judgment and justify it.   After all, I was just sharing something that I felt.  No I wasn't, I was judging plain and simple! 

So God and I spent some time together on this.  Him shining His light in the dark places of my soul where the pieces of judgment like to hang out.  Me opening my heart to Him asking him to show me and convict me when my thoughts starting heading the wrong way. 

Some amazing things began to happen immediately.  First, I suddenly felt a freedom that I can't quite put into words.   When we live according to the Word of God, we are truly free.  He tells us so.  But to feel the freedom is so, well, freeing.  

Secondly, all those people and instances that I found to be so irritating, suddenly weren't.   God softened my heart and opened my eyes to see differently.  Perhaps the only irritating common denominator was me.   You get the point.   

I am so extremely grateful that we can rely on the Word of God to be and do all that it claims it is and will do.    There is so much more to learn and to apply and yet God takes the little bit we read or study and uses it right then and there when we submit ourselves to Him.    

May He open your eyes to see His word in a fresh and freeing way today. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

James and Something New

For several years, I have done Beth Moore Bible studies with a group of wonderful women.   When Beth's new study James, Mercy Triumphs was due to come out, I kept debating over doing it on my own or inviting other women to a group study.   Still undecided, I finally just asked for the workbook for Christmas and I would download the videos on my own.

After starting the study, I realized that this time around I needed to have this be just between me and the Lord.     And I'm okay with that.

One of the challenges in the book is to memorize the entire book of James in 5 months.  I have wanted to memorize large chunks of scripture, but somehow never pushed myself to follow through.  Now I had the motivation.  

Doing the study and memorizing the scriptures at the same time has made it so much easier.  I have something to draw from and relate to as I go. Not to mention, that God clearly had a lot of work to do on me in just the first seven verses.    Have mercy!

About the same time that I was getting ready to tackle James, I came across this link  about memorizing Colossians on   Suddenly I didn't feel so 'alone' in my efforts and desire to memorize whole books of the Bible.    Even if I was doing a different book over a different time frame, I could still apply many of these ideas to my own memory work.

If you think memorizing scripture is too daunting or that you just aren't good at memorizing things, I still encourage you to give it a try.   I am always amazed at how quickly God starts working in my life and on my soul when I commit to memorizing His word.  It truly is alive and active and will purify us and transform our thinking when we meditate on it throughout the day and night.

God will never allow us to put that much effort into His word only to leave us the same as when we started. What have you got to lose?   Try it - you just might like it!

Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year - New Goals

I am not one for New Year's Resolutions.  But I do appreciate and need goals in my life.  Last January when I made out a list of goals for for 2011, I honestly thought they would stretch me and push me, but that they were still very doable.  

I had great intentions, after all I believe the buzz word on many blogs was "Be Intentional".  I thought I had that.  They were good goals.  I had some specific goals concerning my marriage and children.  I wanted to spend more time in the Word, memorize more scripture, read more, exercise more - and so on.  

Each of my goals were clearly defined.  For example, I wanted to memorize one scripture per week.    Because it would be of my own choosing, I didn't see any reason why that could not be done.  Well, that and several others fell far short of what I saw as the victory finish line.

I did read more books, so that was a plus.  Although many of the specific goals were unmet, there were other areas that didn't make the list, but were greatly improved.   And I learned something about setting goals in my life and what being intentional means for me. 

If I don't have a specific reason attached to my goal, I will fail.  I want to be in better shape, but doesn't everyone this time of year?   However, the reason I want to be in better shape is to be healthy for my family and so that I have all the energy and strength I need to play with my grandchildren.   

When I set the goal and have a very specific reason with it and then break it down into doable chunks, I have a much better chance of achieving it. 

Some things also need to go.   Just adding a long list of "want to-dos" in my life, without removing some other "don't-need-to-dos", I will probably fail again.    For example, I do not need to stand in front of the TV mindlessly watching the Today Show before work.    Instead, I could be going over my memory verses. 

While that might be a small something, I realize there are bigger areas or more undisciplined areas in my life that need some sifting and sorting. 

I'm still praying about my goals for 2012 and wanting to make sure that God is very much in the midst of them.   And I'm very excited to see where He leads me. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Reading Goals from 2011

Last January, I made a long list of goals for myself for 2011.     One of those goals was to read and finish a variety of books.  I have a terrible habit of starting a book or reading several at the same time and never finishing any of them.

So part of my goal was to actually finish a handful of books that I started years ago!  I can honestly say I did that.  

I also wanted to read some books that have been on our shelves for awhile that I just never could commit to reading.   One of them, I started and decided that it was a waste of time in this season of my life.  Maybe next year.    

Another book, Cost of Discipleship,  - well I'm still on Chapter 2.   I have owned it for so long and I am determined to make it a priority to complete it before the end of January 2012.

Some of these books were on the list I wanted to read, some were given as gifts and some were just for the pure joy of reading.  I also have a handful that are only half-way done.   Here's what made the finish line:

A Message from God, Retha McPherson

Total Money Makeover, Dave Ramsey

Just Give Me Jesus, Anne Graham Lotz
Intercessory Prayer, Dutch Sheets

Organized Simplicity, Tsh Oxenrider

The Help, Kathryn Stockett

Jimmy, Robert Whitlow

Sacred Marriage, Gary Thomas

A Gift from The Sea, Anne Lindbergh

Eat that Frog, Brian Tracy 

Quitter, Jon Acuff

Jesus Calling, Sarah Young

Her Mother's Hope, Francine Rivers (I still have 3 days to finish it) 

I do not necessarily endorse all of these books, nor their authors.      But I read them and therefore, they are on here.   My goal for next year is 24 books.    What did you read last year?   

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Operation Christmas Child -Looking Back and Looking Ahead

For several years, I have wanted to participate in Operation Christmas Child and prepare shoe boxes of gifts for children.  Lack of planning on my part resulted in zero boxes completed until this year.    There are three different age groups for boys and for girls and so I thought it would be fun to do six boxes total.  One for each category.

I had been gathering items since August when quality school supplies are dirt cheap.   Along the way, I also picked up full-size toothpastes, toothbrushes and soap for free.    After speaking with a friend who is heavily involved in Operation Christmas Child and learning that some children never have a toothbrush and others may share one toothbrush between fifteen or more children, I knew I would be putting extras in each box.

Then a few weeks before Thanksgiving, I headed out on a Saturday evening to finish grabbing the other items that would go in the boxes.  I had some thoughts of what I wanted to get, but I also prayed that God would lead me to specific items for each box.    I wanted the boxes to be special and personal for the child receiving it.

That night, I finished packing the shoe boxes (well, actually they were plastic storage boxes I purchased for.74 each at Krogers).   Printed off the mailing labels, signed up to receive a notification of what country our box was sent to and sealed them up to take to the drop-off center.

So far we have received a notice of at least one box going to Zimbabwe and one box going to Mali.   Only God could have made that possible.  I have always had a special place in my heart for Zimbabwe and hope to visit there someday.    My husband has regular interaction with a church that sends hospital supplies to Mali.

I mention this ministry now because it is a great time of year to get toys on sale or other items marked down for clearance.   Their website has a very easy to follow list of instructions and ideas for what can and cannot go in each shoe box.

Personally, I am going to make a list of the items that I plan on putting in next year's boxes so that I can have it with me when I am out shopping.   Some items I may not get until after I have prayed specifically for each child, but other items will be pretty standard for our boxes and I can grab those throughout the year.

Shoe boxes can be filled fairly inexpensively and will bring immeasurable joy to the child who receives it.