“So that I may never forget…”

“Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the Lord your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today.  For when you have become full and prosperous and have built fine homes to live in,  and when your flocks and herds have become very large and your silver and gold have multiplied along with everything else, be careful!  Do not become proud at that time and forget the Lord your God… He did all this so you would never say to yourself, ‘I have achieved this wealth with my own strength and energy.’  Remember the Lord your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful”  – Deuteronomy 8:11-14, 17-18

 

Sometimes I get so wrapped up in the daily activities of life that I forget to step back and take stock of everything God has given me.  That is why I look forward to tomorrow.  I look forward to taking a few minutes out of the cooking and visiting and merriment just to sit and reflect on the wonderful things God has done in my life over the past year.  I have learned to make a habit of writing those things down, so that I never forget.  And once that list is complete, I find myself in a state of shock and awe.  The depth and the breadth of God’s love for me becomes tangible in that black and white moment.  And I have no other choice but to worship Him with all my heart, mind, soul and strength.  

I hope that you all give yourselves the blessing of such an experience.

Happy Thanksgiving Friends!

Night Reflections

My Lord, My God,

Help me always to remember this day.  A day when You spoke so clearly to my soul through a trusted friend.  Words that affirmed and loved, how I thank You for those You place around me.  The thing is, I am walking this road with You.  Sometimes I see You, and sometimes I don’t.  But You are so faithful.  You know exactly  what I need, all the time.  

So thank You on this day for blessing me so profoundly, in a way that I could understand.

Amen

“A sacrifice of praise…”

“Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name.   And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.” – Hebrew 13:15-16

How are we at praising the Lord at all times?  It is so easy for me to sing and praise His name when things are going well in my life.  And I can do it when minor issues arise because I have hope that they will soon be resolved.  But can I honestly praise His name when things are really bad?  I would like to think so.

I’ve had a few minor bumps in the road of life, and I have always relied on God to pull me through.  But I can’t say that I ever experienced tragedy, or great loss.  I wonder how I would react then?  Would I still have the warm gooey feelings in my heart for Him that I do now?

I am an emotional character.  More so than most.  I would have to guess that my emotions would betray me in a time of severe crisis.  So in thinking about it, I would have to say that my heart would probably not be into worshiping a God who allows the death of a close loved one, or some other personal tragedy.

But that is why they call it a sacrifice of praise.  Sometimes we don’t feel like it.  Sometimes we feel justified with just the opposite emotions.  It is in those times that our devotion to God is most evident.  In the times of anger or sadness, what does He receive from us?  Is it praise for the God of the universe, or bitterness likened to that of child who hasn’t gotten his way?

I don’t minimize anyone’s pain or trauma.  In fact, I encourage all those who suffer to enter God’s presence with the confidence of a beloved child.  Go ahead.  Talk to Him.  Tell Him how bad it hurts.  Tell Him how angry you are.  He wants to take care of you.  But don’t forget to thank Him and tell Him how much you love Him too.  Because it is in those times, when we trust Him, that He is able to lift us up and carry us.   The only requirement is that we allow ourselves into His healing presence.

Brothers and Sisters,

As we enter this holiday season, I hope that you find great joy and peace.  However, please pray with me for those that will experience heartache and despair in the coming weeks.  This is a hard time for some of us.  Let us remember not only our own circumstances during this time, but also those that are experiencing all types of loss.  May the peace of God fall in great measure upon those who need it most.

In the name of Jesus the Healer we pray,

Amen

Night Reflections

Where were  You today my Lord?  Oh, I remember.  I made a pretty bad mistake.  One that I couldn’t fix.  But miracle upon miracles, You fixed it right before my eyes.  You really pulled me out of the fire this time, my King.  I don’t know why, except that You are a God of grace and mercy.  You love me and You are always looking out for me.  And even though I know I don’t deserve your divine intervention with all my trivial mistakes, I sure am grateful for You.

Amen

“No More Guilt…”

‘Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

In 1941, noted Christian teacher, Thomas Kelly wrote that, “if you don’t have the relationship you want with God, it’s your own fault.  For God has not moved.”  Direct.  To the point.  A little condemning (??)  But true.  It is hard for us to read something as bold as this statement, because it does call into question our motivation and devotion to our Lord.  It begs the question, “Am I really doing all that I should be in this relationship?”

As I think of this question, I can come up with all the things that I should be doing more of, but am not.  I should be praying more.  I should be reading my Bible more.  I should be…, I should be…  But, at the end of the day, when I fall exhausted into the bed, I am just glad I survived.  I, many times, feel a little guilty because I haven’t been doing all these things to come closer to God.  But it doesn’t last long because I quickly pass out from fatigue.  I tell myself that I will get up early and read my Bible.  But that almost never happens either.

That is why I am so thankful that Mr. Kelley didn’t stop with that guilt ridden statement.  He went on to say that there was only one exception to his statement – mothers of young children.  Mr. Kelley said that it was “near to impossible” for mothers of young children to maintain the spiritual disciplines (praying, Bible study, etc…)  he was speaking of because the needs of their families were too great.

He, in effect, told moms to give ourselves a break.  We are doing the best we can.  Mr. Kelley wrote this in 1941, a time when moms did most of the childrearing activities.  But I believe dads count now too.  Between little league coaching, homework, and the like, dads can get worn out just the same.

So maybe now isn’t the time to dive into a long-term study, or to “do great things” in the name of religion.  And that’s ok.  But it is always the time to lean on our heavenly Father, and to allow Him to carry us.  I encourage all those parents out there who are struggling to get by each day to adopt a breath prayer.  It is easy, one line, and of your own making.  But it will keep you connected in those times that you need Him the most.  It could be your favorite scripture, or a short prayer of thanksgiving.  All being said in one breath.  If you will learn to repeat it throughout the day, you will be amazed at the effect it will have on your relationship with God.  Some common ones are:

“Lord, I praise you”

“Good Shepherd, please carry me”

“He leads me beside peaceful waters”

“Heavenly Father, show me the way”

“Thank You, Lord, for all my blessings”

and my personal favorite (when my kids were 4 and 2) “Lord, God, please help me!!”

So I am off.  I should probably be reading my Bible.  But instead I am going to help my oldest learn her spelling words, over and over and over again.  Thanks Mr. Kelley…

Gracious Lord,

Thank You for providing encouragement and support to me during every season of my life.  You are a gracious and loving God.  Your yoke is easy and your burden is light.  I am so thankful for my Lord Jesus.  Because of His sacrifice I am no longer bound by legalism.  But my relationship with You is built on grace.  Heavenly Father, I do very much want a deep relationship with You.  And I thank You for  being willing to do the heavy lifting for now.  Help me to see You and to seek You every day, and in every circumstance.  Teach me to worship You in the midst of my daily life, that I might be filled with Your sustaining Holy Spirit.

In my Savior’s name I pray,

Amen

Night Reflections

Where did I see Jesus today?

In the face of Sharon Chappell, as she listened intently to my morning ramblings…

In the voice of Laura Cox, as she encouraged me on something difficult…

In the hands of Terry Newton, as he worked building our new stage designs…

In the laughter of Sandy Gosdin, as she cracked me up…

In the eyes of my second graders as they prayed for each other…

In the smile of my husband as he worked diligently to improve my bad mood…

All to the glory of God!

Amen

 

“I grieve…”

“Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” – Hebrews 13:3

My heart is broken today as I continue to read reports coming out of North Korea of the public executions of Christians.  But it is not only there that our brothers and sisters suffer.  Uganda, Nigeria, Kazahkstan, Pakistan… the list goes on.  In numerous countries around the world, believers are being imprisoned, tortured and executed for their attempts to worship our Lord.

What does it say about us when we are here trying to convince folks of the benefits of attending church on Sundays instead of recreational activities?  All the while there are people around the world giving up their lives for the same opportunity?

What does it say about us when we neglect to take the Bible in our home off the shelf and read it to our children, when parents all over the world are putting their children at risk for simply owning one?

What does it say about us when we walk into a church with consumer attitudes and are more concerned with what time we will be finished rather than thanking God with all our hearts for the privilege of being here?

I grieve…  Will you pray with me?

 

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/11/12/north-korea-publicly-executes-80-for-crimes-like-watching-films-owning-bible/

http://www.persecution.com/public/restrictednations.aspx?clickfrom=bWFpbl9tZW51

 

My Lord, My God,

I pray for those that are suffering today for Your name.  I pray that You will bring freedom to the oppressed.  That You will ransom the prisoners.  That You will end the persecution of my brothers and sisters throughout this evil world.  Please let Your mercy and grace fall on every believer that is tortured for Your sake.  Turn the hearts of evil men toward Yourself.

And Father, forgive me for my self-centeredness.  Forgive me for my shallow worship.  Forgive me for turning a blind eye to Your children in need.  Show me how best I can serve these saints of God.

In the name of the Lamb I pray,

Amen