Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Weaving His Tapestry

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”  Esther 4:14
God is dealing with me to write a blog on marriage once again.  I did not want to write it for fear of offending someone.  He laid this verse at my feet and I knew I had to write. So here goes.
Night before last I was innocently taking a shower when God began to speak quietly to my heart.  You cannot miss that voice.  It goes straight to the heart penetrating it with words that bury themselves deep into your very being, bringing great joy or great agony of spirit, whichever you are in the need of at the time.These words brought both.  As soon as I heard them my heart did a flip flip of joy and then immediately my stomach began to twist as I realized this was something I had to share with whomever would choose to read it.  I did a short battle of words with God, to which I of course lost quite handily.  I finally told Him, "Okay God.  If You really want me to share this, then give me the appropriate way to write it so that it is not embarrassing and offensive to people."  I know that no matter how this is worded someone will try to pull it apart and prove it wrong if they find it goes against their desires and or belief system.  Still, I must write. 
God placed a gift at the very heart of marriage - sex.  (Here is where it gets interesting or offensive - the reader's choice.) 
But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. I Corinthians 7:1-5
The world's society has kept me wondering for many years as to the whys of sex in general: Why did God create it?  Why is it considered sin if it isn't contained between a husband and his wife?  Why did God kill Onan (Genesis 38:9) for spilling his seed on the ground?  Many more questions have poured through my head over the years, but I have a tendency to simply ask a question once, place it on a shelf and wait for God to reveal the answer.  Sometimes He answers right away, others it is quite some time before I am ready to receive the answer. This one has taken a few years.
The answer came in one statement, but it answered all my questions.  I have found over the past 39 years of studying God's Word that He is really big on explaining the whys of life in pictures.  When Moses struck the Rock (Numbers 20:8-12) when God told him to speak to it, God punished Him. Realizing that this Rock was a picture of Christ and what He was coming to do for us,1 Cor 10:4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. it was imperative that Moses speak to the Rock as he had already struck it once before in Exodus 17:6.  Christ came once for all to pay the penalty for our sins, not twice.  In hitting the Rock when God told him to speak, he was giving a picture of crucifying Christ again for the sake of the people. This could not be so. 
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.  Hebrews 6:4-6
Therefore, Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land - another picture God was using to show that He is preparing a place for us to spend eternity with Him. 
There are hundreds, possibly thousands of pictures like this all throughout Scripture.  Sex in marriage is one of the most beautiful (in my opinion). 
Here are the words God spoke to my heart in the shower:
"The woman must accept the shedding of blood before she can become fertile and receive the seed man will plant in her.  If there is no shedding of blood, she cannot conceive new life."
So simple and yet so profound, these words answered all my questions.  Why does the Bible condemn prostitution, homosexuality, adultery, fornication and any and all other types of sex outside of the marriage bed?  Because it destroys His tapestry, the picture He is weaving before our very eyes that demonstrates salvation so perfectly! 
Jesus is the Husband - the Church is the bride.  When we receive the shedding of His blood as the cleanser for our soul, He plants the seed of salvation in our heart and new life is formed within us.  We become one with Him just as He prayed to the Father in John 17
When we hold a newborn baby in our arms we are looking at the oneness of husband and wife:
The two shall become one.
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24
This perfect picture can only be demonstrated through the love, devotion and sacrifice of a husband/wife marriage relationship.  There is only one husband to one wife because there is only One Savior and one Church - the true believers in Jesus and His gift of love on the cross.
Father, I have written what You laid on my heart to be written.  May those who read it gain the same understanding You have given so graciously and undeservingly to me.  May we learn from this not only the importance of marriage in general, but the importance of the Church remaining united.  Divisiveness is as divorce.  It stains Your beautiful artistry.  May we truly become one as You are One, Christ in us and over us, uniting us and binding us together in spirit.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

In the Potter's Hands

As Mother Theresa said, "I know that God said He would not give us any more than we can handle.  I just wish He didn't trust me so much."

I was reminded of this last evening as I was conversing with my dear relative and friend.  We were discussing our children and how badly it hurts us when one of them is in pain, mentally. physically and/or emotionally.  She is having to watch one of her children suffer severe physical pain and is in great turmoil because of it.  She will give it all to our Father, I am certain, because she always does, but I know how difficult it is as a parent to let go and let Him work.  In the mean time we will be praying for them all.  Her greatest concern though is for his soul.  She asked that we pray more regarding that than his physical health. 
I shared with this sweet cousin that my heart was aching for my daughter-in-law and son who just lost their first child in miscarriage.  Having experienced this trauma in my personal life, I know the thoughts that plague, the physical pain involved and the ache in spirit that clings and makes you cry at the sight of a newborn or anything that has to do with one.  I also know that my son is hurting from the loss, but doubly having to watch the woman he loves suffer so.  The realization that God loves and trusts us to be able to bear these (as Mother Theresa realized as well)  things for His glory is what keeps us going.  Knowing that my lovely friend and relative is praying for me and she knowing I am praying for her helps tremendously. 
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come?
 My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.
  Psalm 121:1-2

Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
There are times when I feel as Mother Theresa did, that I wish God didn't trust me so much, and yet there is a joy in knowing that He does.  I am reminded of a time in my freshman year of high school.  I was sitting in English class and my teacher happened to be a member of the church our family attended.  He was quite angry with our class for something, but I do not remember what.  I knew I was not involved and therefore chose to tune out his lecture.  HUGE mistake.  He asked the class a question regarding Who we should be imitating.  He asked me personally for a response.  I hadn't heard the question!!  I just looked at him blankly.  He was utterly disappointed.  I could see the hurt in his eyes and I became ashamed of myself.  He was seeking someone to acknowledge Christ and had chosen to depend on me.  I had gravely failed the test.  The look in his eyes would haunt me to this day if I hadn't sought forgiveness and received it.Perhaps God allowed that occurrence in my life as an example to carry with me each time I was tempted or succeeded in tuning Him out.I remember another time shortly after this event where I was sitting in a revival meeting during the invitation.  As I sat with my head bowed I saw a vision of Whom I perceived to be Jesus.  He had tears in His eyes and disappointment oozed from Him.  Why?  Because I still had not truly received Him as my personal Savior and Lord.  I accepted Him as the Savior of the world, the Son of God and much more, but I was walking in pride and did not want the world to know that I had falsely been accepted as a member of the Body of Christ.  It was two more years before I gave in to His saving grace and humbled myself enough to go forward and admit the deception.
Would it have been better for me to never have experienced these painful events?  It would definitely have been less painful, but I may never have been able to swallow my pride otherwise.  Therefore, it would have been decidedly worse if I had not.
When I miscarried it was our fourth child.  It tore my heart out.  I grieved every time I purchased a shower gift for another baby or simply walked by the baby aisles in stores.  Do I wish it had never happened?  Of course, but I am privileged to know that my God trusted me to handle it so that now I can share my experience with others having the same difficulty and let them know they are not alone.  There is a God who loves them desperately and will heal them if they will let Him. 
Sin has saturated this world with evil.  Someone must be willing to experience the pain that comes in so many forms because of this, so that a dying world might come to realize its need of Jesus as Savior.  If my suffering will allow me to understand another person in theirs so that I can share with them the answers God has revealed to me through the struggle, then I need to be willing to suffer it.  I must remember the tears of anguish Jesus suffers each time one of His children is hurting and willingly become His hands and feet here on earth to minister to their needs.  How can I know what they are going through if I have never experienced it?  How willing am I to become more like Jesus, Who suffered for each and every one of my sins and heartaches that I might be healed and delivered?
Who has believed our message
    and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
    and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
4Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.  Isaiah 53:1-6
We sings songs like the following:
I want to be helpful and loving, at home and at school and at play.
I wish I could be just like Jesus through every single day.
Jesus, Jesus, I want to be just like Him.
And one of my all time favorites:
Have Thine own way Lord, have Thine own way.
Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will
While I am waiting yielded and still.
The problem we have is that, while we truly do want to be more like Jesus in His service to others in most ways, we do not want to have to be like Him when it comes to suffering.  In order to change the world, we must become like Him in every way, so may we make David's prayer our own:
Create in me a clean heart, O God,    and renew a right spirit within me.  Psalm 51:10

Father, You have blessed me far beyond anything I could ever imagine; A husband who loves me, three beautiful and talented children, seven (so far) awesome grandchildren, parents who reared me in Your Word, a home, a church family, joy that overwhelms me at unexpected moments, peace in knowing You are in charge, and so much more.  It shames me to think that I would quibble over a little discomfort.  When I am tempted to tune You out because I want my way, help me remember all You suffered for me so that I might turn back with a listening ear and welcoming heart to Your desires for my life to exhibit Your glory to those You place in my path.  Make me willing to suffer that I might learn to bear the burdens of others and lead them to a saving knowledge of You.  Grant me wisdom and discernment to know when, where and to whom You would have me pray for and/or reach out to in comfort and by what means to do so.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Love and Peace

And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.  Colossians 3:14
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  Ephesians 4:3
Love and peace.  Most believers will say they do their very best to walk in love and peace, but it just isn't always possible.  They will say that some people will simply not allow it.  I suggest that we are the problem rather than they. 
We wonder why our prayers sometimes seemingly go unanswered.  We even say that sometimes God simply must say no.  After deliberation regarding myself, I can only come to the conclusion that the reason God seemingly simply says no to so many prayers is that we have neglected love and peace.  It does not matter if an individual doesn't want us to love them and behaves in such a manner as to try and deter us from doing so.  We are to love them anyway.  We speak highly of the unconditional love of God and are extremely thankful for it.  However, we tend to forget that He tells us 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you. 32 "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. Luke 6.  We are not to love others because they have earned our respect, gratitude, or anything else.  We are to love them because they are created in the image of God and because, at the heart of the matter, we are just like them.  The only difference may be that we have accepted Jesus' free gift of salvation and they have not.
We even find it difficult to walk in love toward some of our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Why?  They think differently than we; they behave differently; they spend their money differently; they are not as neat as we or too neat for our taste and again, the list could go on.  I would bet we make up reasons to not have to walk in love!!  Why?  It's hard work!!  You get rejected, lied about, and generally are thought of as pretty crazy.  And then what are we told?  Walk in peace!!
So, just how badly do we want our prayers to be heard?  Badly enough to fulfill these "ifs" He tells us about in His word? 
As I look around my house I see places where, were someone to visit, they would think my house in disrepair.  The truth is, it is in the state of being repaired.  Last night Michael put some holes in the livingroom wall to discover how wide our double doors were to the outside.  The previous owners had blocked in over one of them to have more wall space.  These holes will remain for at least two weeks, when our new door is supposed to arrive, then Michael will spend two days installing and repairing.  The holes were necessary to get the measurements exact for the new door.  What he discovered was rather amazing - absolutely no insulation.  A hole in the wall above our door gave him a view of our front yard.  No wonder our house gets so cold in winter and hot in summer!!
Sometimes when we look at our lives we think we are in such disrepair.  Perhaps it is simply God doing the dis-assembly necessary to get the perfect measurements for the removal of the old and replacement with the new.  As we begin new journeys with the Lord, say determining in our spirit man to walk in love and peace as much as we know how, sometimes we are going to feel like a hammer is bashing against the walls of our heart.  What we must remember is that all it means is God is at work.  He is taking out the old and replacing it with something much better, more beautiful and much longer lasting.  He will insulate us in His love, filling our gaps with His joy and peace.  He will throw out the old, worn out parts that didn't work correctly and were an eyesore and will replace them with the work of His hands, flawless and beautiful to behold, with the bonus of being eternal.  In order to get to that place though, we are going to feel bashed, cut, torn, scraped and so much more!  Will it be worth the effort?  We have to make that decision individually.  I can say without much deliberation with myself, that I don't really care what I think about it.  God says to walk in love and peace, so therefore, I choose to walk in love and peace.  When my sin nature rears its head and cries out in agony over the bashing it is taking, I pray that God gives me the strength to offer the sacrifice of laughter up to Him in praise and adoration for the work is doing on my behalf.  Will I always succeed?  I cannot make that guarantee, but I can cry out to God and know that He will be there to help me and to forgive when if/when I do fail.
Father, there is much work to do in Your Church.  We have walls in disrepair, doors that have been plastered over and become unwelcoming to the world, windows that are dirty - so dirty that Your light comes through only dimly, extra walls that have been built up and need tearing down, insulation that is missing or gotten so thin it is of little value.  Father, make us like Nehemiah.  Break our hearts at the very thought of Your temple being in such disarray.  Help us bind together in love and peace.  Help us walk in unity and begin the work of repairing Your temple and bringing back the sacrifices of our very lives to Your work.  Forgive us, cleanse us, and help us recognize and welcome the alterations You will be doing in and among us, so that when Jesus returns, He will find His bride beautiful and perfected, for He is worthy of nothing less!!  In Jesus' precious name I ask this!!  AMEN and AMEN!!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Gift of Grandchildren

This morning I woke at two in the morning.  I was wide awake (I thought! Was I ever wrong!!).  I thought,  "Great.  It's going to be one of those days again."  I tried to go back to sleep and failed.  After a few minutes of tossing, changing pillow position, prayer and feeling more wide awake than ever, I got out of bed and came in to do Bible study.  I turned on my computer to see my name in lights along with Brother Bill's regarding a send off luncheon.  I sent a thank you and let them know I was undeserving.  I was also thinking how unfair it was to others who had left the church for one reason or another.  I was actually feeling rather perturbed for them.  Then it hit me, Brother Bill's wife is named Sherry as well. They DEFINITELY deserve a send off, as they have served this church family the majority of their lives.  How funny is that!!   All frustration and confusion fled and I felt ever so much better!!  I do enjoy making people laugh though, so laugh to your heart's content regarding this one!! 
The verse that hit home with me today in my studies today is the following: 

"Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him, and children's children are a crown to the aged."  Psalm 127:3

This verse has been my theme all my life.  The first thought triggered in most will be that I am exaggerating; that I really have only felt this way my adult life.  They would be wrong.  From the time I could speak, which was actually very early, I asked for a doll for Christmas.  Each year there was a different doll that was the most important thing on my wish list.  Christmas would not be very joyful to me if I didn't receive that doll.  At one point I had 29 dolls lined up around the edge of my bed.  They were all clothed and fed daily, bathed and redressed for bed at night AND they all slept with me.  This desire for a new doll continued until I was thirteen.  I figured out that I would be considered very strange by my friends if I asked for another at this age.  My dearest friend at that time told me how her mom had gotten rid of their dolls when they were (if I remember correctly) in second grade.  It may have been third.  Anyway, she and her sister were deemed to old to play with dolls.  That is when I decided it was time to stop.  So, I began dreaming of having a real baby of my own one day.  My mom gave birth to my baby sister when I was 11 and my oldest sister had my oldest niece a few years later, another two years after that she had another daughter and so on, having seven children in all.  Meanwhile, my other older sister got married and started having babies as well.  I had plenty with which to keep me entertained and gain practice.  So now you know.  I truly was not exaggerating.  God has given me a love for children that goes way beyond simple motherhood.  Something truly amazing to me is that not only am I drawn to children, but they are drawn to me.  I cannot tell you how many times a child I have never met before has walked up to me and asked for help, or simply wanted to tell me a story or show me something they found interesting.  A few weeks ago I was sitting in McAllisters at lunch and a little boy of around three walked up to me to show me his socks.  They were brightly colored and mismatched.  I told him how cool they were, so he showed me the shoes he had taken off as well.  They were new and he was extremely proud of them.  I looked around.  The restaurant was pretty full, yet he chose me to show his treasures.  My friend who was dining with me was astounded that the parent wasn't keeping very good watch.  I told her that this happens all the time and since I understand how easily a child can slip away from a parent's grasp, I am glad they come to me.  I know I am safe and will get them back to their parents in one piece.
Another time we were in Silver Dollar City.  We were standing in a check out line in one of the shops.  I noticed a young girl of about 11 or 12 and her little brother.  The girl was looking rather fearful and was scouring the shop.  I figured their parents had simply slipped out of view for the moment and they would see them soon enough.  However, when I looked away, the girl came to me, touched my sleeve and asked for help.  They couldn't find their parents.  I took them to the cashier and explained the situation.  She made a call over the park intercom and the parents arrived in a few minutes.  The only reason for this attraction that I can gather is that God has placed a knowing in these children.  They look around, find this lady with a grandmother's heart, recognize it as such and ask for her attention. 
I say all this because today's study is on praying for grandchildren.  Having seven, I know the difference between a grandmother heart and a mom heart.  Moms are swift to react, and end up making wrong judgments in so doing.  They feel stressed with time limits, programs, work and lack of sleep, and sometimes the children get the blunt end of it.  At least this was true of me.  I apologized to my children many times over for being rash in decision making.  Grandmothers tend to weigh the situation, realize that time on earth is short and so do their best to react in a positive fashion in order to bring about positive results.  We choose to laugh at our mistakes, are quick to forgive, and realize that time grows shorter every day, so we need to make the most of the moments we have now.  At least this is how we desire to be.  We are not perfect and we know it.  This makes it easier to laugh at our mistakes, apologize when necessary and forgive at the drop of a hat.  It also places a burden on the grandmother heart to pray fervently for her grandchildren.
Let the little children come to me and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.  Matthew 19:14
The question is asked: What is your greatest desire for your grandchildren that you need to release to God?  My greatest desire for my children, grandchildren, future grandchildren, future great grandchildren and so on, is that they come to know Jesus at an early age, grow in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man and, as they grow, that they fall more in love with Him each and every moment of their lives so that they serve Him with a heart full of gratitude for all He has done for them. 
Notice the verse doesn't say to "bring" the children to Jesus.  It says to "Let them come."  Children have a deep desire to be approved, loved and respected.  Because of this they are automatically drawn to Jesus and His love.  Our job as parents and grandparents is to assure them safe passage in journey.  We are to reveal His love through our lifestyle so they can recognize the path that leads to Him.  We are to share experiences with them, pray with them and guide them, but we are not to force them.  Should we bring them to Sunday School and church?  By all means!  When I say we are not to force them I am talking about not allowing our desire for their personal salvation getting to us and pressuring them to accept Jesus. 
When I was seven, my sweet daddy, who had just accepted Jesus as his own Savior, asked me when I was going to be baptized.  Being very much a daddy's girl, I went forward a few weeks later and told them I wanted to be baptized.  Long story short - I wasn't truly saved until I was sixteen.  We must not allow our enthusiasm for their salvation cause us to make the mistake of deciding for them that they have accepted Jesus.  Instead, we should be a guide for them to Him through our words, our actions, reading the Bible to and in front of them, expounding on it for them, praying with and in front of them and admitting our personal failures to them.  This shows them just how loving and forgiving our Father truly is and will draw them ever closer to Him.
Father, being a parent and/or grandparent is never an easy task.  We desire so much for our children that we tend to overwhelm them rather than guide them.  Forgive us and teach us how to "let" them come to You rather trying to "bring" them to You by force if necessary.  You have given them to us, entrusted their care to us and are always there to forgive us when we blow it.  We cannot thank You enough for this.  Help us to realize what a true blessing these little treasures of children are that You shower us with and help us be the people we need to be in order to lead them to Your loving arms for all eternity.
As a side note: my three year old grandson called me 'mommy" yesterday.  When I looked at him he simply stated, "You are my grand-mommy. so it is okay if I call you mommy."  As I am reminded of this I realize that he is, in his three year old way, letting me know that he trusts me to guide him the way his real mommy would.  What a responsibility!  Grandparents beware.  You are being watched and much is expected of you, not only by the heavenly Father, but by your grandchildren as well!!  I say this with a most grateful heart to be in this position!!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

God's Path Is Straighter

If you remove the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness,
And if you give yourself to the hungry

And satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
Then your light will rise in darkness
And your gloom will become like midday.  Isaiah 58:9-10
I married young.  People thought we would never make it.  I was asked if I was sure.  I was told that if there was a problem I was welcome back home.  My dad feared because when he looked at me he saw a small, frail individual.  Now I am actually of normal, fairly average height and weight.  I admit that I am small framed, but I am healthy - now. 
As a child I was sick quite often; once a month to be exact.  I had what they then termed  chronic strep.  At that time I was small - too small.  At one point I was five foot three and only about seventy pounds.  That's what not being able to keep your food in your stomach a week out of every month will do to you.  After having my tonsils out for the first time at twelve, I became pretty healthy.  I gained weight, and though still a bit underweight, it was only by a small amount; about five pounds.  However, Daddy remembered me when I was weak and pretty frail, so I understand why he thought as he did.  What he did not know was I had been praying for nine years for God to show me who He would have me marry.
The first time I met my husband was at a high school football game.  Their team was the visitors.  He had brought a small pep band of his own making with him.  I think he must have hand picked the loudest players int he entire band.  The announcers actually had to ask them to quit playing so the plays on the field could be heard.  That's loud!  Anyway, a friend of mine introduced us.  The two of them were in an extended college class together and she thought we should meet.  He flirted, I ignored.  I had recently been told that I was getting too serious by a guy I had been dating, so I had told him basically, "so long" and was angry at guys in general. 
The next day my friend brought a note from my now husband asking me out.  I sat there at lunch pondering the note.  The thought went through my head, "What if he were the one you are to marry?"  I argued and said, "That's ridiculous.  That only happens in fairy tales that people meet and immediately know they are to marry."  The voice persisted, "But what if he is the one I want you to marry?"  This stopped me short.  I had been praying for God to show me hadn't I?  So I had no choice but to answer, "Then I will marry him."  Long story short - almost thirty eight years later we have been married thirty six and are happier each day that passes.
Today's study was on praying for our child's choice of a mate.  My parents prayed for us regarding this all the time.  My mom was the one to encourage me to start praying myself at the ripe old age of nine.  Being human, it was a difficult pill for them to swallow that I may truly have heard from God and was doing the right thing.  When asked for my hand in marriage, my daddy turned to me and asked, "Have you really prayed about this?"  I assured him I had and knew the answer for a certainty.  He then said, "Then who am I to say no?  You have my blessing." a few years later he admitted to me that he never worried about me anymore.  He had been watching and recognized the love that was being poured out on me and was extremely glad I had listened to my heavenly Father over his warnings.
This is not so true of other young people when they marry.  Parents refuse to accept their spouses into the family.  They back bite about them to others and even to their child.  What they do not realize is that they are not only making their own lives miserable by dwelling on all the negative, but they are humiliating their child.  What they say cries out that their child doesn't know how to make good choices for themselves.  It also tells them that their love for their spouse doesn't matter as much as what their parents want for them. 
Father, may we as parents learn to break the yoke of condemnation we tend to place on our children and their spouses or future spouses necks and set them free to be the people You have designed them to be.  May we refuse to point fingers and speak wickedness regarding those our children love and instead feed them on the meat of Your word and anoint their wounds with the oil of Your Holy Spirit so that the light of Your Spirit might shine through us onto them to help guide them in the directions they should take, whether they are the directions we would have taken for them ourselves or not.  Help us place Your desires before our own where our children are concerned so that the gloom of worry we may currently be feeling is lifted and the light You have placed within us shines like the noon day sun.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

God as Teacher

All your children will be taught by ADONAI; your children will have great peace.  Isaiah 54:13 (Complete Jewish Bible)
There must be some ifs, ands or buts in here somewhere.  Isaiah 54 is a much more beautiful passage of scripture than I ever noticed until now.  It has promise after promise in it.  The problem we tend to have as human beings is to pick out the promises without discovering what we must do in order to secure them in our lives. 
When my children were little I would say something like the following: "If you clean your room within the next half hour, we will have time to get some ice cream."  Later in the day, their rooms still a mess, they would come to me and say, "Mommy, you promised we could get some ice cream!"  When I reminded them of the "IF," they might stomp their foot, cross their arms, pout and walk back to their rooms.  We are just like this. 
The promise above is a beautiful promise, but there is an unwritten catch to it.  Just because someone is being taught doesn't mean they are listening.  My children heard what they wanted to hear when I mentioned ice cream.  Humans hear what they want to hear when God is speaking - a lot of the time.  This does not mean we cannot pray this promise over our children; rather we can pray that God continues teaching them and that their spiritual ears and eyes will be open, their hearts of soil be tilled up and softened, that they might be hedged in on all sides from the attempts of Satan to draw them away and that God help them understand their need to receive instruction from Him and His word.  We can ask that He burden them with a hunger to know Him more fully and a burning desire to get into His word and learn all they can before their time on earth is over.
We can also search the scriptures ourselves for other promises to pray over our children and grandchildren, but we must be certain to catch the "ifs" "ands" and "buts" included, whether they are written out in full for us or not.
There are some written necessities in this passage as well.  Consider the following:

Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame.
    Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.
  verse 4
YAY!  We won't be put to shame or humiliated!!  Then why have I been in the past?  Because I feared and tried to take care of things in my own strength instead of turning to my Help.  However, there have been times when I used wisdom.  Once, before I retired, a young girl came into the office and handed me an envelope.  She told me it had a few hundred dollars in it and was to go to the president of our parent organization.  I took her over to their mailbox and showed her where it should go if her mother asked her to deliver something like that again.  I then placed it in the box and she went to class.  The next day the president asked me where the money was.  I told her it was in their mailbox.  She looked again and said she had now gone through everything twice and it was not there.  She then said something that sounded rather accusatory and implied that I would need to replace the money.  I prayed all that evening about it as fear did its best to overpower me.  I refused to listen to fear and told God that I would trust Him whatever happened.  The next morning I went to talk to the little girl.  She said she told her mother that she watched me put it in their mailbox.  Later in the day the president came to me and apologized.  Their treasurer had been caught with her hand in the till, so to speak.  She had to pay the money back and was fired as treasurer. Oh, if only I would remember all the ifs and follow them every time!!
Father, we desire the very best for our children just as You do.  The problem is, we are not all wise as You are.  You cry out to us what to do moment by moment, but we must listen!!  Our ears get stopped up by the commotion of the world around us.  We are deafened by the tinnitus of our sinful nature.  The wax designed to protect our hearing has become too much as it works overtime to keep out damaging influences.  Unstop our ears.  Help us to turn deaf ears to worldly influences and determine within ourselves to listen so that we hear Your powerful words of wisdom and run to You in times of distress.  Our children are watching Father!!  You tell us that they will be taught by You, and they are, but part of that teaching is done through us.  They are studying us to see if what we are telling them is true in our own lives or not.  If we truly want our children to have great peace in knowing You, then we must demonstrate that peace in our own lives so that they know it is of MORE worth  than silver or gold, rubies or diamonds.  May we be those children trained in the way we should go so that our children might become so as well.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Tea Anyone?

BROKEN   DREAMS-author unknown As children bring
their broken toys
With tears for us to mend,
I brought my broken dreams
to God
Because He was my Friend.
But then instead
of leaving Him
in peace to work alone,
I hung around
and tried to help
With ways that
that were my own.
At last I snatched them back
and cried,
"How can You be so slow?"
"My child," He said,
"What could I do?
You never did let go."
There are some dreams that may remain broken throughout our lifetime, or until we move away from them.  Sometimes it takes our removing ourselves or God removing us from the situation completely.  Why?  Because we continually try to fix it otherwise.  We cannot help ourselves.  Especially moms and dads. We are in the repair business.  From the time our children start rolling over we are kissing boos boos and mending broken hearts with words and actions of love.  Our hearts cry out to mend the wounds of those we love.  Sometimes we cannot.  Sometimes we must let go and let God and when we refuse, He must take another course of action to open the eyes of our spirit so we can see clearly the damage we are doing by holding on.  I am guilty once again.
This may sound like a broken record - "I am guilty" - but God tells us to confess our sins one to another in order to help set us free and to build each other up by letting others know they are not alone in their life experiences.  When others share with me it helps me examine myself to see if perhaps I am in the same boat and haven't realized it yet as well.
So I pray this will help in the same manner those who read this . 

“I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness;
    I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
    to be a covenant for the people
    and a light for the Gentiles,
 to open eyes that are blind,
    to free captives from prison
    and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.  Isaiah 42:6-7

We are the body of Christ and are to act in His place in this world through the power of the Holy Spirit. 
I have written many blogs regarding marriage being a beautiful picture of our relationship with Christ.  God has blessed me with a wonderful marriage, a beautiful extended family through said marriage and given me many examples of His love for us through it as well.  One part I have not written regarding this is our position in marriage in order to keep the picture vivid and active for the world to see clearly and be drawn to it.

But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. I Corinthians 11:3

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
I Peter 3:7
My husband has been that loving man mentioned in I Peter, but I have failed in allowing him to be the spiritual head of the household.  For going on two years now I have felt a burden in my spirit that something was wrong.  My husband was not worshiping like he used to.  He was coming to church, but only for the sermons.  It was easy to make this "his problem" rather than ours.  I began to pray for him, but closed my spirit to the answer, which was simply to listen to him.  He had been gently trying to tell me the problem and what he believed to be the solution without forcing me to do anything.  He was genuinely treating me as the weaker vessel and I was taking advantage.
Several years back God gave me a picture of a china tea set.  There was a beautiful cup and saucer set before me.  The cup was delicate, beautifully shaped and able to hold quite a bit of very hot tea without being damaged in any way.  The saucer, though not so beautiful and shapely as the cup, was strong, broad and able to hold the cup up and receive overflows when the tea became too much for the cup. 
This, God explained, is how He designed the marriage relationship to be.  The wife is the cup.  She is, in the saucers mind, beautiful, delicate and able to do more than even she recognizes.  She carries the burdens of the family while the husband carries her (along with the problems) in order to help her bear them.  If he does his job properly, she will barely feel the weight of the "tea" she carries.  However, sometimes the problems overflow and the husband must catch them in order to keep them from causing harm to anyone or anything else.  God holds the saucer in his hand, the saucer holds the cup and only One feels the true weight.
This has been true in virtually every situation where I have allowed my husband to fulfill his roll in our lives.  However, I have failed many times in my position.  Rather than carry the tea unless it overflows, I have dumped it in my saucer and walked away.  Not only that, but I have blamed the saucer for allowing it to spill over onto others.  I didn't want to share the burden.  I wanted him to carry it all.  His attitude toward worship was his problem, not mine - and yet, I knew in my heart of hearts that it was indeed mine and I needed to quit dumping it on him and others.  So I recently began to earnestly pray.  I received the answer Thursday evening.
As we were driving to community choir practice I made a statement regarding this being my last rehearsal and concert, at least for the time being.  He sweetly replied with, "I told you what you need to do."  I was startled.
I asked him to refresh my memory.  He said, "You need to forget about this choir for now and go back to First Baptist and join their choir.  That way you can sing the songs you really want to be singing every week."  I was dumbfounded for a moment.  Then I asked, "What about you?  Would you go back to orchestra?"  Yes.  He has been looking for a place of service since we left and has found none except to pick up trash found on the parking lot, etc. That night I told him I needed to pray.  He smiled and said, "Okay,"  I think he knew what was going on inside me.  I confessed to God my sin of not allowing my husband to lead and asked what I should do.  I knew right away that I must give everything away.  The next morning I gave up my teaching position and turned down a leadership position at the Fall Festival.  I explained what was happening and cried at the lovely responses of encouragement I received.
The amazing thing about all of this is, as badly as I didn't want to let go of my current church family, I now feel at peace and am beginning to even get excited, knowing that I will once again be able to worship as one with my husband!!  I have come to realize that it doesn't matter where we worship together but that we worship together.   First though, I had to "let go and let God do the work." 
As a side note, last evening Michael asked if I really wanted to sing or be part of the orchestra again.  I told him that I wanted to sing, but during the big productions to be in orchestra.  I want my cake and to eat it too.  Then I told him the truth - "I am actually a spoiled brat wanting it all.  But God loves me and you love me, and that is really all I need." 
Father, help us realize when we are holding on to things so tightly that You cannot accomplish what needs doing, because we won't allow it.  Show us too when we are dumping on our spouses the load we were designed to carry, causing mishaps and spills that otherwise would be contained and would have ended up quenching the thirst and warming the spirits of others.  Thank You for loving us even when we do make these kinds of errors and Lord, thank You for loving husbands who cherish their wives and are willing to carry them throughout life as You carry them in the palm of Your hand.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Hidden Temper Tantrums

Do you ever feel like you are always telling on yourself?  Well, I am about to do so again.  It seems I fail a lot doesn't it?  Yeah, and last night I was bombarded with thoughts from the evil one against myself because of it.  I had to do what was necessary to get him off my back.  I ran to Father God in prayer!!
Monday and Tuesday this week I had all 7 of our grandchildren.  They were beautifully behaved, so I was quite happy with the way things turned out.  There were a couple of skirmishes, but they were easily handled.  However, I had awoken Monday morning feeling extremely tired.  I'd had enough sleep, it was simply one of those days that happens now and again where I need extra sleep, but couldn't allow myself to take it.  I had children from 6:45 until 4:45 that day and needed to make the best of it.  We had fun, but by the end of the day I was thoroughly exhausted.  I still needed to make dinner and go to choir.  By the time I arrived at choir, I had nothing left in me.  I left at 8 instead of staying until the usual 9 pm. I apologized for that at rehearsal last night.
Tuesday things were going great and I was feeling I could make it.  Half the kids would be picked up at 3:45 or so, so I felt I could make it and still have maybe a little energy left for the evening.  Then my daughter called and said I'd need to bring them to her as she couldn't leave school due to carpet being laid in her classroom.  This meant I would have all of the kids until 5:30 and then need to take the rest to school.  I admit, I was disappointed, not because of having to take them or the fact that I would have them longer, but because I would have nothing much left come evening.  At least I thought that was how I felt.  When my husband came home and asked why I needed to take them to school, I told him.  I THOUGHT I said it in a manner that would convey the necessity rather than my weariness.  I was wrong.
We went to Burger King for dinner, because my sweet husband could see I was tired.  However, while there he asked me to do him a favor and not sound so depressed in front of the kids.  He didn't want them to get the wrong idea and think I didn't want them to be there.  I was livid!  I didn't say anything at first, because I was also in shock.  Then I told him that I was simply exhausted and didn't mean it to sound like I was depressed.  What I didn't say was, "but I am now."  I simply thought it.  I held back the tears and did my best to hold the angry thoughts at bay, but they kept raising their heads louder and louder.  I just wanted to go home!  I was throwing a hidden temper tantrum.
When we finally arrived home, I took a shower and then prayed.  I told God how I was feeling and immediately my oldest granddaughter came to mind.  Earlier in the day she had broken one of the light switches in the basement.  I wasn't angry, because I knew it was an accident, but I explained that you cannot just keep pulling on them as she had been doing.  She became angry and said how unfair everyone was being.  She also lied and said someone else had done it.  I decided to pick my battles and told her that it didn't matter who had broken it, no one should be pulling on them.  She then uttered how everyone treated her so mean.  A few minutes later all was well with the world.  She realized she wasn't going to be punished and so became happy again.
I decided I needed to analyze myself.  Was I really simply tired, or had I been feeling sorry for myself?  I finally came to the understanding that I indeed had been feeling sorry for myself, wishing I had more energy and more or less blaming God that I had come across as depressed.  If He had given me more energy that day things would have gone better.  Oh, the lies with which we deceive ourselves!  God allowed the weariness, yes.  He did not cause me to sound irritable though.  I caused that myself by not allowing the joy of the Lord that was actually very real inside me to shine forth.
The Bible study today was all about the seven R's of revival: repent of sin, allow God's redemption to flow through us, receive His forgiveness and Lordship, be renewed into fellowship with Him, allow Him to restore our hope and trust in Him, return to our first love and allow Him to revive us.
When I read these I immediately thought of those two days mentioned above.  Then I was reminded how God disciplines those He loves and true and complete healing began in my heart.  I forgave my husband for the unknown hurt he had inflicted.  He had done so out of love after all.  I knew it at the time, as I could see it in his eyes and his smile, which is why I hid my thoughts and feelings. However, I didn't want to think about this at the time it happened.  I forgave myself for allowing self pity to rule my life for a time and allowed God's forgiveness to flow through me with its healing balm.  I just pray I have learned a lesson that will stick with me.
Father, I have shared what You asked me to and I pray that it will minister grace to all who read it.  I thank You for loving me enough to discipline me and to rescue me from the attempts of the evil one to defeat me.  May Your children all come to realize that we can have daily victory even when we are suffering vicious attack.  You are our Strength, our Shield and our Deliverer. Renew our hope and trust in You in all things.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

In His Name

And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. John 14:13
Friend, would you lead a Sunday School class?
Dear, would you hand me the flashlight?
Aunt, can we stay at your house a few days?
Daughter, would you come visit me?
Gramma, can we spend the night?
The list goes on including neighbor, cousin, great aunt, niece, and more.  These are all my names, and those who truly know me, know that this is so and are not afraid to use them.  Those who don't know me will say no more than "hello" until they are introduced and may even then choose to ignore me and consider me unworthy of their personal friendship.  That is their choice. 
It is the same with God.  Those of us who truly know Him know Him by many names: Father, Healer, Forgiver, Warrior, Shield, Rock, Fortress, Savior, Mercy, and many, many more.  However, we tend to be lazy (at least I do at times) and so want to make a blank statement and simply pray in Jesus' name.  After all, it was Him Who made the statement in the verse above.  However, how much more intense would my prayer life be if I were to pray using His name represented in my prayers?  For instance, if I am praying regarding finances, why do I not remind myself through saying to God, "Father, You are the Provider of all my needs....." rather than simply closing  with "in Jesus' name I ask this"?
I don't believe that it will change God's perception of me, my needs, desires or situation, but it just might change my perception of Him in a more powerful way.  When I read the Psalms I see evidence of this in David's life.  When he needed protection, he cried out to his Protector; when he needed help or wisdom; he asked his Provider;  when he needed strength in battle, he cried out to his Banner.  Once again, I could go on for quite some time with this list.  What was the result?  God answered David's prayers in much the same manner as He does mine, but David was called a "man after God's own heart."  David knew God just that well!  He got to know Him better each time he prayed and I'm thinking it was because he was constantly reminding himself of just Who God really is.
Lord God, You are all we ever have needed, do need and ever will truly need.  You are Provider, Defender, Helper, Healer, Resurrection, Life, Direction, Truth and so extremely much more.  You reveal more and more of Yourself to us daily if we will simply seek, watch and learn.  Help us to remember that we are a forgetful people and need to remind ourselves on a regular basis of Who You really are in our lives.  If we admit that it is You Who are our everything, perhaps we will begin to act like it.  May Your childrens' deepest longing be to bring You great joy through recognizing Who You are, who we are and that we belong to You and then to live it through obedience to Your Word.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Never in Vain

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.  I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,  and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength  he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms....Ephesians 1:17-20
This is my daily prayer for my children.  It is difficult at best to look back on my life and realize the mistakes I made as a young mother and wife.  However, in so doing I am able to not only receive forgiveness and forgive myself, but I am also able to share those mistakes with my children in hope of having them steer clear of them in their child rearing.
The one thing I did do and am still doing for them is pray. My children brought me such great joy that this both the least and the greatest thing I can ever do for them.  It is the least in that it is simple, quick and brings me blessing as well.  It is the greatest because there is no one more powerful, more loving, more generous or more anything else ever that is good than our God.  I can go to Him with absolutely anything that is bothering me without fear of being overlooked, condemned, neglected or or rejected.  I know that I am loved more greatly than I could ever dream or imagine.   I also know that anything I pray in accordance with His will and lining up with His word will not be prayed in vain.  Every time I pray in His Spirit according to His will He will answer.  He promises:
"As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."  Isaiah 55:10-11
He gave us His word to use
Too often I purchase things thinking how much easier they will make my life.  Through the years I have wasted more money in this than I care to think about.  Even today I considered purchasing a pedometer to track my steps - again.  I purchased one in the past and found it just yesterday packed away tidily in a box in our basement.  I think I used it twice.  Thankfully, it was one of the less expensive items I've purchased and ended up discarding.  Instead of going through with htis idea, I checked my phone and found a free pedometer app. 
I am ever thankful that God is not like me.  He is truly wise in all things, therefore knows what is very best for me and never forsakes His promises.  If He promises that His word will not return without first accomplishing what it was set forth to accomplish, then it will do what it was meant to do. 
The verses above in Ephesians give us a beautiful example of how God wants us to pray for our children and all those we care about.  Imagine if we would pray scripture over our children daily.  We could pick a verse daily or weekly, etc. and pray it over them for that amount of time, then move on to another verse.  These in Ephesians pretty much cover every area needed, but I like to get down to specifics too.  However, I can think of nothing greater than for my children and grand children to daily know God more fully.  I pray that everyone who reads this will grow in wisdom and understanding of God's great love for them and their family.  In so doing, may they (we) grow a deeper burden to pray the same for our families and loved ones.
Father, pour out Your wisdom and understanding on Your children.  Give us gainful insight into Your ways and Your great love.  Help us then begin to love as You do so that we are burdened to pray according to Your will written in Your word for us as a tool in communication with You.  Deliver us from pride of knowledge and every other sin that besets us and tries to destroy our relationship with You.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Be Still My Heart

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.  Exodus 14:14
There are so many reasons to sit back and laugh at myself.  This is just one.  Here is what this morning's devotional says, and I quote: "...taking things into our own hands to fix school issues and problems.  When we wield the 'weapons of our warfare' by praying for our children and their schools instead of complaining or striving, the Lord will undertake the situation in His own way. Is there a situation troubling you at your child's school that you could pray about with others?"  As if that were not enough, God throws the above verse in my lap as if to say, "So, what will you choose now?"
Yesterday I wrote about my feelings on childcare for school staff when they are required to work longer hours and have to also keep their children under toe while doing so.  I then spoke of how I was choosing then to pray.  However, shortly thereafter another situation arose that angered me, not for my grandchildren alone, but for every child involved in a certain program on the school campus.  There are a few safety issues that seem to be being disregarded, one of them involving mold the adults and children will have to breathe.  The other issues were bad enough, but this one caused me to blow a fuse, so to speak.  Since I do not have a child or grandchild in this program, I knew my voice would not be heard, so I went to a neighbor who does.  He says he will attend the next school board meeting and ask about it. Then this morning hit, I read the passage and the verse above and started laughing at myself.  I apologized to Father God and am now seeking out Mom's In Touch - a prayer organization for women who want to pray for their schools.
It is amazing to me how often something like this happens.  God deals with me regarding any subject and I get it in my head quite easily.  However, to get things into our hearts, planted firmly and well rooted so they are difficult to pull back up, we must take them from our minds and allow the soil of our hearts to be plowed and dug, the seed planted, watered and allow the Son to shine on it and allow it to grow, be pruned at times and flourish.  This takes time, energy, commitment and patience.  So why do I laugh?  Because I recognize God at work in all of this, and while there is a small of amount of shaking of the head in wonder at my own stupidity, there is mostly a great joy in knowing that my Father loves me enough to keep working on me where I need it most.  He never gives up on me and is He ever patient!! 
Thank You for Your great love Father!!  Thank You for continually planting new seeds in the soil of my heart.  Help me remain steadfast, continue to water them with Your word and remember to speak with You every morning so that Your Son can shine His light there to nourish and make these knew bits of wisdom grow so they can produce fruit to be shared.  Continue pruning back the bushes, pulling up the weeds, making me uncomfortable when necessary so that I might, when all is said and done, be a delight to You.  I pray this for each of Your children - in Jesus name!!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Beware Grandma Bears

II Timothy 1:12 For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed ; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.
The first day of school is just around the corner.  If I dwell on it I will get sick to my stomach.  This year six of my seven grandchildren will be attending public school.  While I know we have a great school district, that is not what can terrify me if I allow it.  What can is thinking about what my grandchildren are doing after school hours while parents have to continue work until four or four thirty.  Children can get into a lot of mischief and even danger in an hour or so if not supervised.  While I know my adult children do their best to keep an eye on them, I also know that it isn't always enough.  If a head is turned in the wrong direction for even a moment, a child can slip away unnoticed.  This has actually happened a couple of times.  When I received the call that they couldn't find a particular child, my heart sank and I began praying frantically for God's intervention.  I felt helpless and heartsick.  Personally, I feel that if a school position is going to keep a parent longer than normal school hours, free supervision should be provided.  The district will tell you that they provide a latchkey program, but even teachers and staff have to pay quite a bit of money to use the service, even though it is run by the district.  This should not be.  The teachers and staff are providing extra service for the district, do not get paid extra to do so, and therefore should not have to pay.  Their compensation should be free child care.  Since this is not happening, at least as yet, what can I do?  Entrust my grandchildren to God. 
If I am truly convinced, as the above verse states, that God is able to guard what I entrust to Him until my day of joining Him in heaven, then I should give them over to His care completely.  This is not to say that wisdom should not be employed.  Rather that I should hand them into His care and seek His face to see if there is anything else I personally need to be doing to ensure their safety. 
This is difficult even now after all these years of serving God and seeking Him out.  I admit that I want to go in, take the superintendents by the throat, get in their faces and tell them how neglectful, insensitive and uncaring they are being by charging those who serve under them to protect their children, when they are supposed to be in the business of freely caring for them in the first place.  However, this would accomplish one thing only - me being thrown in jail.  I would from then on be deemed a fool and no one would ever listen to a word I had to say again.  Instead, I do as God's word instructs and pray for those supers.  I ask that God would bless them with understanding and wisdom.  That He would guide their hearts to see that they are placing undo burden on those trying to do their utmost in their position and that they should be supportive of them, especially when it comes to their children's safety.
Today's study was on relinquishing our children to God.  I have had to go through that process more deeply than ever before most recently when asked if I would continue serving God if my spouse, children or grandchildren were taken away.  The grief that consumed my soul felt almost more than I could bear, but yes, most definitely yes!!  I will continue seeking my Father's face, with His help, no matter what befalls me.  However, the war may be over and victory won within me, but the skirmishes still take place and have to be squashed.  If I do not fill the voids left by the empty space left when the fretting was removed, it will fill again with the same worries, only they will become much stronger within me.  Therefore, when a skirmish arises, I must run to the Father, pour out my heart to Him, seek His word and allow Him to fill that void with the "peace that passes all understanding" that comes from a genuine relationship with Him.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Philippians 4:8
There is that verse again.  It is one I must cling to and that is hanging on one bathroom wall as a reminder.  These are the things to dwell on rather than the "what-ifs" the evil one loves to throw at us in order to consume us with fear and doubt.
Father, I pray for the schools of this nation and every other in this world.  They are supposed to be the protectors and guides of our children and grandchildren.  In some areas they go way overboard and in others they seem to be lacking.  Lord, I pray that You would place in leadership of the schools those You heart has prepared for the positions.  I ask that You would bless them with understanding along with wisdom.  Show them where they have erred and guide their hearts to do what is right for the protection of our children, but help them understand that things need to be done in a manner that does not breed fear, but instead breeds faith and a real sense of security in You rather than in the power of man, which is no real power at all.  Guide the hearts of the parents and grandparents to know what needs to be done for the safety of their families and help us all to walk in faith believing You in each and every situation that arises.  In Jesus' precious name I ask this.

Monday, August 5, 2013

In His Presence

Those of you who truly know me know that I love to use daily life experiences to learn more of God and His ways.  Therefore, it should not be a surprise that my favorite quote from today's devotions is the following: "As you pick up your little girl's tennis shoes, pray that her feet will stay on God's path.  Ordinary things around you can be visual aids and catalysts to prayer that will help you to pray without ceasing."
This gets me to thinking about other things that could be catalysts in my life.  As I do laundry I can pray that my family will be clothed in the armor of God, wearing the breastplate of righteousness, the helmet of salvation, shield of faith, belt of truth, shoes of peace and lifting the shield of faith while wielding the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  That they be covered through prayer in every area of their lives.
As I make my bed in the mornings, or lay down in it at night, I can pray that their sleep may be the sleep of the righteous, peaceful and restful in the knowledge that they are loved and cared for by their heavenly Father.
As I fix a meal I can pray that they will hunger after the Lord and to know more of Him and that He fulfills that hunger.
As I sweep I can ask that the Lord reveal to them when they need to sweep the dust off their relationship with Him and spend more time with Him in prayer and study.
As I drive to the store or anywhere else I can ask that the Lord be the driving force behind their actions and words they speak.
As I shop I can ask the Lord to bless them in meeting their every physical need in this life.
And I could go on and on and on. 
We truly can pray without ceasing.  He has given us this life to learn how.  What is prayer?  Simply talking with God, have a conversation with Him.  When we arrive safely in heaven, it is hopefully the first thing we are going to want to do, so we need to know how to relate to Him. 
Father, thank You for this lesson on praying unceasingly.  I begin to see that it is really a very simple process, as is everything You ask us to do when we really seek it out.  Sometimes, okay, most of the time, You make things so simple that we cannot conceive them.  We owe You so much that we want to have to struggle and yet we are so lazy that we really don't want to have to struggle, so we make it difficult.  Help us understand that it is out of Your great love for us that You make communication with You so extremely easy.  Help us to jump at the opportunities You place in front of us and use them to our fullest capabilities.  Help us strive to show You our love for You even though we will never be able to show You as much as You have given to us.
Last night, as I lay snuggled in my husband's arms, he said, "I love you."  I replied, "I know you do by how hard you are always working to show me.  I wish I could do as much for you as you do for me."  He is currently removing all the popcorn ceilings and replacing them with beautiful ones.  Extremely hard and messy work all because I mentioned it would be nice if we could get rid of them.
Once again God speaks to my heart that this is the way it is supposed to be.  Marriage demonstrates our relationship with Jesus so vividly when we search it out.  He gave us way more than we will ever be able to give back, and just as Michael is filled with joy to give, give, give to me, Jesus is thrilled to give us more than we can ever give back to Him.
I am filled to overflowing with joy and love for you all this morning and at the same time I grieve for those who do not know Him and therefore cannot experience this joy for themselves.  I pray that the eyes of their spirit man may be opened, that they might see the beauty of His holiness and desire to be cleansed of all unrighteousness and be clothed in the Fruit of His most Holy Spirit.  Revel in His love for you!!  Celebrate the day, one with which to give back a tiny portion of what He has given us.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Daily In His Presence

Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way.  Psalm 37:8
I came across this verse yesterday as I did my reading portion for reading through the Bible in a year.  I felt it went handily with this study on prayer, so I jotted it down.  Today I was instructed to read Martha's story in Luke 10:38-42.  God set me up again to be ready for today.  He is simply marvelous my darlings. (If you've never watched the BBC you won't get that joke. Sorry.)
In my early 30s I was asked to lead a women's Bible study in my home.  I did so cheerfully and had fun studying for it and presenting it. Enter pride.  Along came the day I knew the study was ending.  Some folks became involved that wanted to get into areas that bring division, and division came.  That was the final day and it grieved me.  Daily study became weekly and prayer became intermittent for me.  I lost that close fellowship I had had.  I do not blame anyone for this but myself.  It was my choice to allow grief and bitterness a door of opportunity.  This lasted, believe it or not, several years.  I still studied for children's church and Sunday school, but it lacked the depth I needed.  Then one day I cried out to God that I missed Him.  It's amazing at how much more He misses us!!  However, it was my responsibility to dig in and get close to Him again.  He hadn't moved away; I had. 
Being too busy for God is a devious lie Satan employs successfully due to our desire to be successful in not simply an area or two, but in every area we attempt.  He will whisper to us that we will get to a quiet time just as soon as.....we get the house in order, get the kids to their practice and game sessions, get dinner prepared, clean up afterwards, after our daily shower.....and the list grows as he adds more to it.  The marvelous thing about God is that He can take our sacrificial gift of time and give it back to us multiplied several times over.  That seems impossible and is, unless you are God.  Nothing is impossible with Him.  (Luke 1:37) 
One day (I cannot pin point a date for you) I got out my Bible and a devotional and started reading for the joy of it once again.  At first there was little change in me and then one day it hit me that I was gaining new insights once again and I was overjoyed!!  I cried out to God in delight and thanked Him for loving me even though I had, in a sense, turned my back on Him.  Now I delight in God's word once again and seek his face and praise daily.  I lift  up my praise to Him in thanksgiving, for there is no greater place to be than in His presence on a daily basis.  As far as being busy....I'm more busy now than I have ever been in my life and yet I am at peace with it.  I do not feel overwhelmed, nor do I worry myself over the things I do not get accomplished.  I simply pray for God to do the work through me that He desires to have done in each day's time and trust Him to "get 'er done!"  The one thing I pray I never allow to happen again is giving up my daily quiet time with Him.  I am willing to give up many things, like choir and nursery work, but not our quiet time.  When you've been there and walk away, life becomes desperately lonely, fears creep in and the things of the heart are accomplished without joy.
Father, make us a determined people - determined to know You and seek Your face.  It is then, and only then, that we will experience Your free gift of the Fruit of the Holy Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23.  When we are away from You, these things seem a challenge.  When we are in Your presence, they come naturally.  Help us to realize our need.  Then grant us the strength and determined will to "come boldly to Your throne of grace" Hebrews 4:16,  and get to know You more fully in order to have that Fruit multiplied in our lives in order to have some to spare to share with others.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Children of Malnourishment

Sitting in my big glider crocheting, my stomach growls.  Hmmmmmmmmmmm.  I am getting hungry.  What do I want to eat?  I have some left over chicken from last night's evening meal.  I could heat that up and make a fresh salad from our garden to go with it.  But then a thought creeps stealthily through my mind.  "There are cream pops in the upstairs freezer."  The words are seductive and send my taste buds reeling in desire.  My heart speaks directly and a bit firmer than before that the chicken and salad are a much healthier choice and will stick with me longer.  The sensual voice returns and lulls me, trying desperately to draw me into its trance.  "The orange flavor mixed with vanilla ice cream is one of your favorites.  It wouldn't hurt this one time to allow yourself a little eating pleasure."  I get up and head for the freezer, while thoughts of how much I deserve the ice cream for all my hard work swirl around in my head.  But then I remember something.  I have a choice.  I can eat the ice cream and regret 20 minutes later when my stomach begins to growl again from being under nourished, or I can simply eat the chicken and salad, which is more preparation, but will stick with me until dinner time.  I eat the chicken......this time.  All too many other times I listen to the seductive voice.True Nourishment
Rise during the night and cry out. Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord. Lift up your hands to him in prayer, pleading for your children, for in every street they are faint with hunger.  Lamentations 2:19
When I read this verse yesterday morning, I immediately thought of all the children in the world being fed the food of "I want" rather than "I need."  I want to play football, or soccer, or basketball, etc. and even thought the games are are Sundays during church, it only lasts for a season.........and then I want to take dance lessons, cheerleading, join a choir, etc. and, yes, they meet on Sundays as well, but it too only lasts a season. There is absolutely nothing wrong with these activities they are great for the body.  They stretch it, work it and build solid muscle throughout it, but they do little to nourish the soul.For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. I Timothy 4:8
I believe God wants us to keep our bodies as healthy as is possible in this day and age, but He is more concerned with our spiritual health. 
It is not only physical, musical or instrumental abilities that can seduce us away from spiritual growth, there is also intellect.  Schools, in order to try and win the educational battle with other nations, pile on homework so deep that children no longer have time to play, let alone spend time with their Creator.
Parents have an honest dilemma.  The world is crying out not only to pull their family into the busy, busy world of activity, but of academia, financial achievement, keeping up with neighbors and peers so their children do not get mistreated, but above all, don't discipline for fear someone will misconstrue and infer that you are an abusive parent.  The end result is that in every street children are faint with hunger....hunger for their Savior, and they don't even realize that they are desperately trying to fill the void with the call of the world.
Father, in this world today we are confused as parents and grandparents.  Things have gotten so very out of hand that we no longer truly know what is best for our children.  We have moments of clarity, but they are brief as the world grows louder and more creative in its approach.  Lord, I pray that You would open the spiritual eyes and hearts of today's Christian parents to see and hear when they are making worldly choices for their children and family.   May their hearts break with the knowledge so that they are drawn back to the true nourishment of spending precious time with their children and spouses, nourishing each other in the things of God and, in so doing,  teach their children to honor You first and foremost in every choice they make, so that they may truly succeed in life.  Help them realize that true success comes from knowing You to the fullest measure.  It not only satisfies the hunger of our hearts, but the malnourishment of our minds and bodies.  Knowing You and continuing to strive to know You better teaches us the answer to every situation that arises in our lives, which blesses all those our lives touch.