Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Sabbath is Faithful

Sabbath. Rest. Sabbath. Rest. Sabbath. The words keep running through my head like a stuck record. They have been there swirling around in my thoughts for some time. I have been studying Leviticus for my devotions this month. Since I started studying this year in Genesis that means I have been reading about the Sabbath in Genesis, Exodus and now in Leviticus.

I wanted to study the Feasts of the Lord more in depth as I went through Leviticus 23. After reading about the Jewish custom of observing the Sabbath, I began to feel like I was putting in a 40-hour work week on my Sabbath. I'm not Jewish, but that doesn't make the Sabbath any less important or holy for this Gentile.

Fast forward to Leviticus 25. The Sabbath Year. Perhaps it is best not to go there until I have managed to grab hold of the Sabbath day.

Leviticus 26. Rewards for Obedience. Ahhh, this I want to soak in. First, do not make idols or set up images of stone and bow down to them. (my summation of verse 1.) Got it. Verse 2: "Observe my Sabbaths and have reverence for my sanctuary. I am the LORD." Hmmmm. Observe my Sabbaths and have reverence for my sanctuary. I am the LORD. Wow. Although a list of wonderful rewards follows in verse 3 for those who observe the Sabbath and revere the LORD's sanctuary, it suddenly didn't pique my attention as much. My desire was/is to pursue and come to a place in my walk with the Lord where I allow the Sabbath to be the gift that God intended it.

Every single week, God offers us the Sabbath. It is a spiritual discipline to observe it. It means that we have to deny self. Putting aside the tasks of the day or the things we didn't get done on Saturday because we were too busy and filled our day with more than necessary, is a discipline. Our human nature too often wants to get up, go to church, maybe take a nap or watch a ballgame and then get back at it. Our Sabbath might consist of the hour or two we spend at church. But God wants more for us.

The Sabbath is a gift to us from God. It is also a day for us to truly trust Him by resting in Him. The other six days of the week God gave us to get everything done. One day he set aside for resting. From Genesis through the New Testament, the Sabbath carries great significance.

As I wrote above, God has been so impressing it on my heart that my version of observing the Sabbath is not His version of my observing the Sabbath. Same for the resting. Then tonight as I was reading a book by Marilynne Robinson, I came across this sentence: "The Sabbath is faithful". Yes, the Sabbath is faithful. Every single week that we continue to draw breath, God gives us another Sabbath. 52 of them every single year of our lives. That is a lot. No matter what we do or don't do during the other six days, God faithfully presents to us the Sabbath. It is our gift to take and to receive and to enjoy.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Important Things

Life can get so darn busy. Places to go. Bills to pay. Things to fix. And all of that can make you frustrated and worry and sometimes lose focus. My daughter, son-in-law and precious little grandson Simon are on their way to our house in this terrible snow storm.

My husband is actually going to pick them up about 1 mile from our house after they were involved in a minor fender-bender on the way here. At first I want to be nervous, anxious - but then I praise God that they are alright. Now I am just ready for them to be home and for our son to get here from work. All the other stuff just isn't important when your family is out in the snowstorm. The piles of laundry, the mail to be sorted, the dust on the bookshelves, the shoes laying all over the place - it's just stuff.

And then as I was waiting for them to get here, I find out that my mentor's 6-week old granddaughter, Emma, is in critical condition in the hospital in Michigan. My friend is in China. I cannot imagine how hard it must be on all of them.

I am so extremely thankful that God is able to watch over it all and to provide comfort, peace and healing in the midst of storms and many miles.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Creepy Blog Followers

Recently my husband and I have noticed occasionally we will have someone leave a comment or sign up to follow our blogs only to discover that when you click on their picture/comment you discover they are how shall I say 'a bit shady'!

I write this as a warning and heads up to others. I am not concerned with who reads my blog. I am very concerned about who decides to link up to my blog that others might then click on and find themselves in places of ill-repute. In addition, I have had more than one person who was also trying to promote books that flat out involved things contrary to the Word of God.

It is and has been and always will be our desire to honor God in what we write and represent. When people try to demean that or use us to draw others to sites that are basically evil in nature - well, they will be blocked and deleted.

If you have a blog, are you paying attention to who follows you and to who is commenting? I certainly don't know everyone who follows my blog or leaves comments, but I can guarantee you that I ALWAYS click on their picture and to the best of my ability make sure they are not trying to mislead anyone that stops by this blog.

I pray that God will use this blog to bring glory and honor to his name and His alone!

P.S. Let me clarify that this is not about the person leaving the comment or following, but about what they are clearly trying to promote and/or sell.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Called to Belong vs. Taxes

Hmmm. You tell me which you would prefer:

A. Preparing figures and calculations for annual business and personal tax returns


B. Watching Called to Belong video (pics will help you get the idea)

So why am I doing taxes???????

Thursday, February 18, 2010

What do you pray about?

Prayer has been a huge part of my life since 2003. I have sought God, trusted God, cried my heart out to Him and believed Him for things way beyond my understanding. I have seen and been blessed by answers to prayer that were absolute miracles and could never have been completed or accomplished by man. God has supplied and provided so abundantly at times and in the most divine way that my husband and I just had to laugh out loud with joy.

At a financial turning point in our lives, God started sending us checks for gas well rent on property we hadn't owned in 12 years. The IRS suddenly owed us money from past tax returns. Someone decided to just increase the rent they were paying us on land they farmed because they suddenly thought they weren't paying us enough.

We witnessed God's hand fill our gas tanks, cause household supplies to last longer, utility bills to decrease and a multitude of other provisions.

God changed the hearts of family members, took away addictions and strongholds, opened doors for jobs, sold houses in record time in a bottomed-out market. You get the picture. Those are just a few of the hundreds of answers we have received.

Before you get the idea that I think God is just some "name it and claim it" genie in a bottle - you are wrong. I have also cried and cried hard to God about some matters that I am still crying out to him about yet today. I have witnessed healings and untimely deaths. I know full well that God is sovereign and that His ways and thoughts are higher and greater than mine.

But something that occurred to me yet again is how often do we really take "everything to God in prayer"? I do mean everything. Finances, marriages, children, utility bills, car repairs, grocery expenses, health, strongholds - just to name a few. How often do I personally figure I can just handle this one on my own? Or take it to God in prayer, only to try and fix things myself when God isn't doing it right away or the way I thought would be best? I then have a V-8 moment when I smack myself in the head and remember that every single time God has answered my various seem-impossible requests, it has always been in a way far greater than anything I could have ever thought to even consider.

I have learned to pray about everything. I have learned and am still learning that prayer truly does change things. And so I leave you with these verses:

Luke 18:1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.

1 Thessalonians 5:17: Pray continually.

Matthew 7:8 Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.

Be persistent and trust that God hears and knows - always.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Scripture Memory 2/15/10 (2 days late!)

Yes, I know that scripture memory sign-up is to take place on the 15th and 30th of every month. Fortunately, my friend Tanya went ahead and posted her verse on a previous post. So here are my lame excuses and then my verse:

1. Could not settle on which verse to memorize for this time.
2. Still could not get one that I really felt compelled to claim this time around.
3. It snowed.
4. It snowed some more.
5. I had the melt down with the all out ugly cry as a result of the never ending snow!
6. None of those are good excuses, but they are all true.

There are actually two passages that I really want to memorize this time. I believe that God wants them under my skin and into my heart a little deeper. They both fit perfectly for some places that I am at in my life right now. But I am going to go with the passage from Psalm 51:10-12 this session.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me. Psalm 51:10-12 NIV

For whatever reason or reasons I have been bending and reacting to circumstances from a fleshly viewpoint instead of from a steadfast spirit of the Lord within me and there isn't a whole lot of joy when I do that. I know the joy of salvation and my heart longs for a steadfastness in the Lord that keeps me from swaying to the storms of life. In particular, I am not interested in being swayed by a light and temporary 'breeze'. The Lord and I have been through some very stormy times and I know that he will sustain me. I want all of the thoughts and meditations of my heart to be pure in the sight of God. Just really wanting to live out this verse every day!

Maybe you are feeling the need to go here too. Maybe it will take the whole month to memorize the three verses and that's okay. Or maybe God has laid something else on your heart that needs to be deep within you - whatever the case, go ahead and post it. Accountability it a great thing!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

What Does Love Look Like?

It's Valentines Day. As I walked into Kroger to get a newspaper after church, there was a line of men at the floral department all with flowers in their hands. At CVS, there was a young man with a large heart shaped box of candy and a card waiting in line. It's Valentines Day.

My husband and I decided long ago that we were not going to celebrate these holidays. It made life a lot more enjoyable and simpler for us. No expectations, no disappointments. My husband is very romantic and does amazing things for me all year long. He brings me chocolate and Starbucks on a regular basis. If I only got them one day a year, I would wonder what he thought the rest of the year.

We are doing a series at our church involving marriage. Between that and Valentine's Day, I gave some more thought to what marriage and love really look like. We have been married 24 1/2 years. We dated for 3 before that, which means that we have been together since we were teenagers in high school. We have seen the best and worst of each other! - repeatedly. We have weathered storms that many a marriage might not have survived. I take no credit for that. When the worst came - God was at the center. It is only because our marriage is focused on God and each of us take our personal relationship with Him very seriously that we are where we are today.

But that aside, my husband shows me love in ways that far exceed anything you can buy in a store. For a man who gets sick the moment he even thinks someone else is getting sick to hold back my hair and hold up my head as I throw up all down the hallway - and then to clean it up - that is love. When my husband greets me at the door with a cup of fresh brewed Starbucks after I get home from work - that is love. Encouraging my frivolous pursuits and passions in life and never, ever complaining about them - that is love. After 24 1/2 years together, still desiring me and telling me so - that is love. Putting up with my snooze alarm going off every 6 minutes every single morning and not complaining -that is love. Telling me he loves me multiple times a day and leaving me love notes all through the house if he is going to be gone - that is love. Praying for me daily - that is love. Praying for our children - that is love. Seeking God and studying His Word so that he can be more like Jesus - that is love. Eating whatever I cook and telling me leftovers are just fine so that we don't have more dirty dishes - that is love. Making the bed every morning, picking up after himself and not complaining if I don't do the same - that is love. Changing the oil in my car, taking out the trash, folding the laundry, mowing the yard, shoveling the never-ending snow, going to work, supporting our family - that is love. Leading a group of men in prayer on Tuesday nights at our house instead of being out running around - that is love. Working through the tough stuff and talking it out - that is love. Sitting on the front porch just enjoying being together because we can - that is love.

Love looks different on any given day. But I never wonder if Kenny loves me. Our love and marriage don't look like anything you would see on a Hollywood screen or in a romance novel. Our love doesn't fit some Hallmark card or country love song. Our love is real and tough and tender and authentic and tried and true. Our love is focused on God and becoming more like Christ and keeping Him at the center of all we do.

So Happy Valentine's Day Kenny - I am madly in love with you!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

So Many Books . . .

I'm not sure what you might call it, but if there is a name for book ADHD - I have it. At any given moment I am reading three different books. I have been trying REALLY hard to read one, finish it, start the next. Not doing so well. On top of that there are several others that I am just dying to dig into. Some I have owned for awhile and others I just got from the library at work.

One of my inspirations for reading, outside of just loving it, is that I seem to think far outside myself when I read. My mind and thoughts grow and I am encouraged to keep learning, keep reading, keep pursuing the passions that God has placed within me. If it is possible to keep getting smarter after 40, well then reading is my method of doing that.

This week I started this:

I am actually reading it as part of an on-line discussion/blog group. I had no doubt that I had a long list of insecurities, I just didn't realize the impact they were having on my life. Without question, God will be speaking loudly to me through this book. Thank you Beth!

Then there is this one:
I believe that all followers of Christ need to raise their awareness of spiritual warfare. It doesn't mean that every believer is called to the same level of warfare or same level of involvement. But if Jesus Christ is your Savior, you are already involved in it. We need to know what we are up against.

Then there are these books that are calling my name:

Sacred Marriage
, by Gary Thomas
The Feasts of of the LORD, by Kevin Howard/Marvin Rosenthal
Life Support, by Robert Whitlow

Did I forget to mention a couple bible studies? Yikes. Praise God for good books, eyes to see, a mind to understand and Starbucks to keep me awake!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Pioneer Woman to the Rescue

I absolutely love taking care of my family and my home. I may not win an award for interior design and I will not be appearing on the Food Network any time soon, but I really do enjoy all the aspects of homemaking. (That includes cleaning) But lately, I have found myself in a "no idea what to cook for dinner" rut. Our cupboards and freezer are overflowing, but my mind is empty on ideas. And then God sent the Pioneer Woman to my rescue.

First, may I point out that her recipes are like a picture book with step-by-step instructions. Gotta love that. So I figure there is a good chance I will get something similar to what she is making in the end as long as I stick to things like salsa, bbq meatballs and crash-hot potatoes. The salsa will be a great date-night snack for my husband and I. The bbq meatballs and potatoes will be fantastic some night next week.

Next week our small group will start meeting again after a way-too-long break and I really want to try some new stuff out on them. They are fabulous like that - they won't complain, so long as it is edible.

I have got to get back to bible study stuff, but had to share the Pioneer Woman in case anyone else was feelin' the need to be rescued in the kitchen.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What's with PB&J?

Within 48 hours: our daughter had given birth to our first grandchild, my husband preached his first sermon (twice) and my husband, our son and I all had the stomach flu. Seriously do not know how much more we could have crammed into that time frame. On top of that, after literally crawling off the floor and out of bed on Monday, I had to finish preparing for the first night of our new Tuesday night women's bible study.

Feeling spiritually, physically and emotionally spent - there just wasn't much left to offer in the way of domestic skills this week. Want to make something with items from the fridge? Well whatever you can make from the butter and milk, please have at it.

By the time Tuesday morning rolled around choices to pack for lunch and supper were not looking so good. Not to mention the fear of eating anything that might cause the stomach flu to revisit. So I did what every respectable woman would do, I grabbed the PB&J sandwich that was actually leftover from husband's untouched lunch the day before and threw it in my bag before heading out the door for work.

Here's the catch, I have never eaten a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in my entire life. Not one single bite. Made 'em, served 'em, packed 'em in plenty of lunches, but never ate one. I made it through the day at work without getting sick again and decided that I would enjoy this first time delicacy on my way to the camp for bible study. After all, I am now Nana and how could I tell our grandson Simon that I don't eat PB&J. Pulled it from the lunch bag, gently (not really) unwrapped it, took the first bite and waited for the revelation that so many others have had. Thud. Nothing exciting. It was boring. Yeah, PB&J is boring. What is all the fuss about? Is there a proper way to make them and I don't know how? Can you ruin a PB&J sandwich? Should I have used strawberry jam instead of grape? Seriously.