Monthly Archives: November 2012

Truth and dare

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Who or what is your giant today? What wave is out there just laughing at you. What noise is confusing you so you can not hear Him speak. The truth is there. Be bold and courageous. Knock down the giant and calm the wave-you can do it.

Psalm 138 2b: I will give thanks to your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness, because your promises are backed by all the honor of your name.

3: When I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me the strength I need.

When God Says No or Not Now

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Most likely you are familiar with the idea that when you pray God gives you one of three answers:  Yes, Not Now or No.  We love the yes answer and that’s when we are 100% certain that there is a God, that He is watching over us and that He has our best interest at heart.  Of course He does.  He agrees with us!

Then there is No and Not Now.  Those are the answers that prove God obviously does not know what He is doing up there, doesn’t care about us, doesn’t understand the severity of our situation, isn’t listening to us or doesn’t exist.  Yeah, right.  

Let’s cut to the chase on this one- God is listening, He knows what’s going on, He cares.  There is way too much evidence to suggest differently and the Bible speaks repeatedly of His unfailing love.

We can’t begin to understand why God says no or not now to curing an illness, allows people we love to die when they do, makes us move away when we are happy just where we are, does or doesn’t redirect our career path, keeps someone’s heart hard in unhappy relationships etc.  I certainly don’t have the answer here.  What I do have is a relationship with the Lord that helps me to accept I will and do have challenges and encourages me to draw closer to Him to deal with them.  In fact, in my daily prayers I typically will ask that the Lord would draw me closer.  That’s a prayer He seems to always say Yes to.  Strengthen my faith.  He says Yes.  Help me trust You more.  He says Yes.  Lead me to your will for me.  That’s a Yes.

It dawns on me that the key in our prayers is the relationship with the Lord…no matter what the circumstance.  He tells us to put no other gods before Him.  Maybe the gods in our life are not only material things like money and property.  Maybe they are the relationships we have or our work.  Maybe its our job loss or our illness.  It’s tough to admit when you are embarking on something that seems awful, but  Is it possibly a god in our life?  Are we not relying on our relationship with Him?  Are we allowing our shortcoming and misfortune to come before our love for the Lord?  Before our desire to know Him better? Are we suggesting we know better than He?  Maybe He isn’t kidding about putting Himself first.  I appreciate this takes a deep relationship with the Lord to make sense.  I know I need to delve into this further to really see if it makes any sense in my life.

I read another perspective on prayer that also made me think hard.  The writer mentioned people always ask him why God doesn’t answer their prayers.  He gave several responses.  One had to do with timing.  The writer made mention of the fact that people may not be praying at the right time or in the right place.  At first I thought, what?  Then I read over his explanation and I kind of got it.

In The Lord’s prayer, Jesus’ way of how to pray, we say: “Give us this day our daily bread”.  Jesus focused on THIS day.  Not tomorrow and not yesterday.  Prayer is a day by day thing. We don’t pray today to cover us for the rest of the week, or at least that wasn’t the divine plan. 

Jesus says in, Matthew 6:34 NIV, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  We need to pray each and every day for each and every day. As you read this today can you said God answered your today prayers?  Did you pray for your daily bread today or did you pray about tomorrow and beyond.

I kind of like this concept.  We’ve all heard the saying, I’m taking it day by day.  I think there’s more to that than I’ve given credit.  What are my prayers today?  Were today’s prayers answered?  Did God take care of me?  Did I get my daily bread? God may have said No or Not Now… today.  Will He say the same thing tomorrow?  I guess the point is I’ll have to focus on that when tomorrow gets here.  As for me, today, I got my daily bread- even among the other Yeses, Nos and Not Yets. 

 

 

FEAR…NOT

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Years and years ago I was going through a rough spot in my personal life.  I was feeling desperate and out of sorts.  I had failed in so many ways.  I wasn’t living the life of the person I wanted to be.  I had hurt people and was hurt by them.  The dreams I had were crushed.  I was sinking.  At that time the church I belonged to had a devotional phone line.  You could call in and hear an inspiring message that changed daily.  It was brief, but for a desperate person it was a rescue and hope.  Through my tears and disarray I made the call and the recorded message told me: Cast your cares upon the Lord and He will sustain you.  He will never let the righteous fall.  It was Psalm 55:22 and it became MY verse from that time forward.  A brief message followed, but the words that remained were those above.  I think I might have redialed that number half a dozen times just to hear those words again and again.

I had more cares than I had the strength to cast, but as I was able to throw them off layer by layer I could breathe.  I wrote the verse down on a ripped sheet of paper that I carried in my wallet for years.  It reminded me time and time again that God’s shoulders were much broader than mine and He could handle any challenge I sent His way.  Not only was He able…He did.  Time and time again He did not leave me or forget me.  He wouldn’t let me fall.

Right after Psalm 55:22 you come across Psalm 56 that shares (3-4) But when I am afraid, I put my trust in you. O God, I praise your word.  I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? Further in Psalm 56:8- You keep track of all of my sorrows.  You have collected all my tears in your bottle.  You have recorded each one in your book.

This is a God who knows our pains.  He doesn’t always stop them.  He loves us enough to let us go through them, but always walking along side of us.  We grow through our pain and our sorrow and somehow come out better for it in the long run.

Most of my troubles come from my short fallings.  If I could figure out a way to stop my problems from ever occurring I’d be way better off.  But then I wouldn’t be human. I wouldn’t be like every other type of person who walks the face of the earth with their good days and bad days.  Instead, I accept my humanity and I remember with gratefulness beyond measure to cast my cares upon the Lord and He will sustain me.

Accidental Breakthrough

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When I wake in the morning I often lay still for a while and just think.  I try very hard to acknowledge all that I’m grateful for and to get my “head straight” for the day’s agenda.  I’m slow to get up and I  work diligently to be a happy, oh let’s say instead, nice, person in the morning.  

As I lay there this morning I was processing a very important meeting I had yesterday.  I’m in the process of interviewing for a new job and had to go through a rather extensive session with a Psychodiagnostician.   Frankly, if I’m going to see a “nostician” of any sort I would have preferred it related to a facial, hair-coloring, or back massage.  But, it didn’t.  It related to my brain and my thoughts and feelings.  That is never fun.  Well, maybe sometimes.

Though tiring, you go through a lot of simple but supposedly revealing tests of your psyche, it wasn’t a horrible experience.  It made me think.  In fact, hours later I was still thinking about it and even as I woke this morning.  I was going through this experience for one purpose but it related indirectly to a different situation in my life from years ago.  A situation I thought I had managed, cleaned up and neatly tucked away in a space not to be seen or heard from again.

Wrong.  There it was sitting on the top of my mind as I woke this morning.  It doesn’t matter what the experience was and it wasn’t anything horrifically traumatic that you might read about in a newspaper.  It was my own personal trauma that affected me greatly.  It changed every aspect of my life.  It was painful  and gut-wrenching. My ego had been bruised and beaten and finally went down for the count.  

But, in time, I got up again and I was somehow better for it.  During that period of my life I had to deeply analyze who I was and what I was here for, why God made me, what my worth was,  and every other deep question you battle through when you hurt.  I made a decision to go a direction in my life that I thought was strong and courageous requiring bravery and perseverance.  I was able to adjust  to have more of the important things in life like time with my child and freedom to define myself. I created something from nothing and my family had a new life experience.  We had to make many painful adjustments along the way, but we did it and we were making it.

Six years go by.  I’m starting to walk down the same path I walked before filled with self-doubt and ego crushing pressures.  I can’t figure it out.  Bad times come again.  New challenges that I don’t feel strong enough to brave.  I get through it and I make some tough decisions about my life…again.  As such, I’m in the office of a psychodiagnostician running through a battery of tests to help my potential employer get a better view of my fit in their organization.  

Back to the beginning of my post…I awake and as I’m processing everything from the past 24 hours it occurs to me that how I spent the last six years of my life, though filled with amazement and goodness and pride, was possibly a  path to escape my ultimate fear of facing the big dragon again- the one I succumbed to in the past.  

I’ve possibly been escaping the reality of who I am and what I’m here for this past six years doing something I thought was so completely right.  I can’t really say it was wrong.  I’ve had  a lovely detour that brought great joys.  This time was a gift from God who allowed me breathing space to sort through things in my life and try things I had always wanted to do.  It was His beautiful gift to me and I so appreciate it.

But this year I think He has been leading me (let’s be honest…forcing me)  to try something different.  To face new challenges.  To reignite the courage and bravery I lost to the dragon six years ago.  I think I have been taking an off-course journey that has been filled with wonderful things but has ultimately brought me back to a path filled with new challenges and hopefully smaller dragons where God wants me to be.

I’ve perhaps been avoiding doing some things I was meant to do, but God’s grace and mercy allowed me this time.  He is good- all the time and all the time- He is good.  The reason I was meeting with the psycho-man ( much easier to write than the official title) may not come to fruition.  The point for me is that I had this breakthrough that I’ve been running away from something that I feared and God gave me the time to do it.  I think He is now saying to me, “O.k. my lovely daughter, it’s time again, you are ready, I need you to do something different in your life, and I will be walking with you- just as I have been there always.” 

This blog entry may mean nothing to you today, but I have to say it gave me a wonderful outlet to sort through my waking thoughts.  Thank you for indulging me.  What am I going to do next?  I have no idea.  I’m waiting to see what God has in store, but most importantly, I’m not shutting down when God is gently nudging.  

Jeremiah 29:11-14

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.

Are you there God? It’s me ______________.

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I’m reposting a blog entry that a friend sent me from devotion@lutheranchurchcharities.org

It’s really appropriate for this time in my life and maybe in yours as well.  How do you know that a decision you are facing is following God’s will?  We all want the answers to life’s tough calls attached to a note hanging from a string that comes down from Heaven.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen that way.  God forces us to seek His will (if that’s what we want) by being in communion with Him.  As confusion swirls around me about choices I have in my life I examined and read over and over again the devotion below.  I hope it’s helpful to you too. 

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. Psalms 32:8

Solomon says, ‘Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails’ (Proverbs 19:21). Even though your plans are imperfect, if your heart’s right, God will make things turn out for your good and His glory. Are you having difficulty sorting out your ideas from His? We all struggle with that, especially when the Bible does not give us specifics. For example, when it is time to move or marry or change jobs, what should you do? Listen: ‘”I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go…”‘ You say, ‘That’s nice, but I would like a little more detail.’ Okay:

First, ideas go away but God’s direction stays. There is persistence in His leading, that is why time is on your side. Do not rush ahead of Him. Second, God’s direction is usually impossible to follow without Him. He plans it that way. Jesus said, ‘”…without Me you can do nothing”‘ (John 15:5). Third, God’s direction usually begins with discomfort. Listen: ‘like an eagle stirs up its nest . . . The Lord . . . led him…’ (Deuteronomy 32:11-12). Eagles learn to fly when their mother pushes them out of the nest and over the cliff’s edge. Can you imagine their thoughts? ‘It’s my mother doing this to me!’ Yet it is only when the eagle is forced out of its comfort zone that it discovers it was born to fly, spreads its wings, releases its power and finds its place in the heavens. Has God been stirring up your nest? Relax! He’s leading you!

Prayer
Heavenly Father, today help me look and listen to see only those things that are consistent with Your Word, Your nature, Your character – and then to follow. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

 

 

So what does God look like to you?

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When I think about who God is I typically start out with a visual of his physical presence.  I think it probably helps tell the story for me as I’m a visual thinker.   Let’s acknowledge that God says early on that no one can see His face and live.  Still…I make a visual connection- maybe so I’m not always talking to thin air.  Often, for me, God seems to be large in scale with tendrils of white hair falling carelessly over broad shoulders and surrounding his chin up to his ears.  He’s definitely aged with lines of experience scoring His complexion.  Of course you have the long robes that flow freely as He moves about or makes a thunderous command.  He is strong and manly yet his eyes reveal love and perfect fatherliness.  

 Some of you might think of God as an unassuming small man with white hair and dark black round glasses thanks to a movie years ago featuring George Burns as God.  There’s the Morgan Freeman version with rich, deep voice and sly cat smile.  Great sense of humor He must have.  He could be like Yoda I suppose- though I think I’ll be disappointed to find that out.   Of course Moses saw Him in completely non-human form as a burning bush.  That brings us back to not even really being able to see him.   We know we are made in His likeness, but I guess that could mean from a spiritual sense vs. physical form.  

As I was reading through Psalms it struck me that we have very clear images of who God is and what He looks like.  The drawings are with words instead of pictures though.  In reading through this poetry we read He is merciful, a good protector, just, fair, eternally loving, compassionate, righteous, a shield, rock, awesome, strong, a shelter, fortress, savior, shepherd, light, nurse, helper, refuge, most high and salvation.

Hmm, do I really need a physical image of God?  I’d much rather know He is all the things above as they make me feel safe, loved and not forgotten.  One day I will understand what God looks like or I won’t even care.  The important part is knowing He is there and knowing He loves us so much He sent His son, Jesus, to live on earth and die to save us all from our sins.

If He ends up looking like Yoda, that’s completely o.k. by me.  I kind of think the answer is going to be I won’t care though.

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