Me and my family

Me and my family

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Unseen World

"The Psalms invite us to complain, to plot revenge, to accuse God, all in the form-amazing as this sounds-of a prayer. The Psalms assume that God is big enough, powerful enough, and gracious enough to absorb that emotion so that it causes no destruction." This is a quote from a book I am currently reading called "When God Doesn't Answer your Prayer" by Jerry Sittser. The author of this book was the driver of a car accident that took the life of not only his wife, and mother, but also one of his children. Out of all the books on grief I read after my mom died, his book, "A Grace Disguised, How the Soul Grows Through Loss" was the only book I could relate to and that also inspired and encouraged me. This book does the same.

I had a week that started with me wondering what God was doing, I was a little mad that I was not feeling His Presence on this morning and even after asking, I just could not grasp hold of His peace. I was just not getting God at that moment. Have you ever felt that way? These moments make it seem as though God were far away from me, yet I know His Presence has nothing to do with my feelings. In contrast, there are moments were I think I "get" God like in the story I watched the other night called "The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven" (it was on TBN, but is a DVD and book). I "get" God in that story. It is an amazing story of a six year old boy who was in a terrible car accident with his father and see's angels during the accident and continues to see them regularly. It is too amazing to really even describe. In the hour long DVD they do a very good job of explaining the whole story from the father's viewpoint and that of the son. The father is skeptical when he first hears his son speak of seeing angels and even contributes it to his injury, but is convinced of a supernatural encounter the more he hears his son's account. I highly recommend you watch the DVD or buy the book. I just ordered the book myself. As I watched this show and thought about it for so long afterwards, I could just see how the educated and/or unbelieving alike would be quick to think this story a hoax. What it did for me is remind me of God's miraculous hand on all situations. It was a flashing light of His mercy and love. To see real-life circumstances where God shows up so obviously just like He did in the people of Bible times we read about is not far reaching at all to me. Also to be reminded that God is still in the business of using His angels in our lives is encouraging because I tend do dwell on things I can see, but God's Word constantly reminds us to focus on what is Not Seen. It seems in His Character to be merciful enough to know that in this current world we need reminders to focus on the unseen. God does not allow His angels to be seen everyday, in every circumstance. This is the mystery of Him. Why would He allow a six year old boy to get a glimpse of the unseen world? Could it maybe be a nudge from an All-knowing, All-compassionate God that knows these are not easy days to live in? That knows we need reminders of His glory, His power.

Like I said, I have had some moments lately where my seen world was all too much affecting me and try as I might, I could not keep my focus on the Unseen God. My prayers to Him felt hindered and ineffective. I did not understand what God was up to and I let Him know how I was feeling. I was encouraged to read and be reminded in Sittser's book about how Jacob wrestled with God and prevailed and God commended Jacob for this. He writes about God changing his name to Israel: "Israel, it is a peculiar name and not particularly complimentary. Yet the name reflects a quality of character that God values. It literally means "one who strives with God". Jacob was a fighter, so that became his name - and not only his name, but also the name of God's chosen people, for all time." The author asks the question, "Does our emotion hurt God?". He answers "of course it does. Still, God is able to absorb our emotion and love us, even when we rage against Him. God is like a good parent who is not put off when a frustrated child screams, "I hate you, I hate you", to his mom because she put him to bed early for not completing his chores. God allows us to pour out our hearts to Him and get rid of the poison, regardless of how much there is, so that it can be diluted in the ocean of His love." Very well said.

God's Ways are not mine and how can they be? He is the Sovereign God who created the Universe and all that is in it. He charges His angels to protect me, to intervene, to fight for me in ways I cannot see, that I too easily take for granted. He allows me, even encourages me to wrestle with Him. To vent like the Psalmist did and then to return to Him in faith knowing full well that someday this will all make sense.

Psalm 119:75: "I know, O Lord, that Your judgements are right and righteous and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me."

Thursday, July 15, 2010

God in everyday life.

I accidentally ran a red light the other day. I had dropped off the boys at their basketball camp, at a location I am not familiar with. I had a lot of errands to get in while they were at their two hour camp and my mind was distracted on finding the "Staples" store by this location. As my eyes came upon the store off in the distance and focused on it, I all-of-a-sudden saw this car coming at me from the opposite direction that would have t-boned me had I not swerved. Trying to comprehend it all in that second I looked up and saw a red light on my end. I realized in that moment how quickly my life could have changed or ended as far as life on planet earth is concerned. I also truly felt God had protected me from a crucial mistake. As I drove into the "Staples" parking lot my hands were shaking, I also half expected to see a police man running after me to give me a consequence to my mistake, but thankfully, gratefully, there was none, just my convicted conscience and a new appreciation for life itself and God's protective shield over me. 2 Samuel 22:31 says: "As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him."

I spent my shopping experience getting the school supplies I had come for and were such a good bargain, but more than that I was praising God, thanking Him continually. It was one of those wake-up call moments where the day-to-day distractions from the really miraculous reality of life came full force into my consciousness. I kind of enjoy errands and especially shopping. Even more so when I am able to do so without three boys pressuring me to hurry up and be done and even more so with a renewed reminder of how precious life on this earth is. I so easily take it for granted, that God has given me another day to be a wife, a mom, a friend. I feel this was a Romans 8:28 moment where God worked a situation for good and He wants my realization of that and my acknowledgement of His complete sovereignty.

Today was another opportunity to be taught by Him. My oldest son gets the mail for us everyday and there has never been a problem with this. Today however, when we went to go with all of our things ready for our busy day....We were to go to our movie from the summer movie club, then on to a friends house to swim, eating lunch in-between, we found we could not find the keys. It had been a hectic morning, and to finally get in the van in anticipation of getting on the road when we had just enough time to make it to the movie....was disappointing. Re-tracing yesterdays steps lead us to the conclusion that Seth was the last one with the keys. He could not remember having them in the house after getting the mail. They were not in the mailbox nor anywhere along the path. We looked everywhere in the house we could think of, then stopped it all and went to the only One who knew the solution to this problem. We prayed, pleaded with God to help us find them, and to be with the person who most-likely took them from the mailbox when they saw them hanging there. My oldest son was in tears and felt really bad. Instead of lecturing him about the importance of being responsible (something I am prone to do), I told all three of my boys to keep looking and to pray. We then decided to go to the mailbox once again, see if there was a note, then decided to go door-to-door in our neighberhood to see if anyone saw them. We split up to speed up the process, I went to the house where new neighbors had just moved in. I had been meaning to go introduce myself, but had not made the time for it. So this allowed that to happen. Our new neighbors now know who we are, along with knowing we are not the most organized family in the 'hood! As soon as I turned away from that house, I heard Jacob (my middle son) jangling the keys and saying "I found them!". The neighbors right next to us had saw the keys left in the mailbox and took them in. What a praise!!

So we missed our movie, but we gained a very important life lesson in the process. Something I hope will outlive the enjoyment any movie would have ever brought us. God is there to help us, He cares about our deepest needs. I know His ways are not mine. Almost everyday I see accidents and know sometimes a simple mistake can kill. Suffering and frustrations are part of this earthly life, but even in that He is here to help us. We are not left alone to grumble and complain, unless we choose to. I hold on to His promises because I know they are where the abundant life is to be found.

He wants to be there in our everyday situations so that we can see that He is with us. Those who seek refuge in Him will have blessings. Psalm 34:8

Friday, June 18, 2010

Remaining in a Steadfast Mind.

Since I posted last it has been a battle, a battle to keep my thoughts held captive. Not that I want to give the enemy any credit, but I was put to the test, and I can't say it was pretty. I can say that I have a more heightened sense of my thoughts, and how easily they can not only get me off-focus, but are so incredibly deceptive. That part has been honestly mind-blowing. I was so relieved when I read in my Bible study homework: "The more you "wake-up" to truth, the more you'll realize how Satan has deceived you." I can say that for sure! It has brought great encouragement to me to see this awareness, for even this is a step in the right direction. My homework went on to say: "God's Word is your truth serum. The more you use it, the clearer your mind will become." That is food for my soul, to know I can have a clear mind. This would help me in every area of my life, from homeschooling to grocery shopping, to making dinner! It would also increase my joy and peace in having a steadfast mind.

I am also greatly encouraged in hearing from you. The main reason I wanted to blog in the first place was to be an exhorter of His truth because His truth is what will set us free and gives us continual victory. As Christians we will not be without trials and persecutions. The Bible makes it pretty clear we will do some suffering, all the more reason to be encouraging each other. Matthew 24 and 1 Timothy 4 explain that things will get worse on earth as far as evil is concerned, but even in that there is encouragement because things are happening like He said it would. He is not unaware of the evil in our times or of the difficulties we are facing, but He promises to pour out His Spirit during these times to help us. He promises that whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Prayer is a growing ministry the Lord is putting on my heart. He made me a sensitive person for a reason, not just to feel more pain, but to be tender-hearted to those in need, those who struggle and who does not struggle? So please know that you are being prayed for. I hope you are encouraged and uplifted in some manner today. God is faithful. I have felt His compassion and love for me the most when I have been in the most pain. I wish He could do His refining of me another way, but it seems to be His most effective means. Maybe I'm too prideful and stubborn otherwise. After my tears have dried, I have a deeper peace then I had before, a more intimate knowledge of Him, and a greater thankfulness for His mercy and grace. It is worth it I am absolutely certain. For there will be a day when rewards will be given, when the pay-off will be of greater value than I could comprehend. He has put you and me here on this earth at the very time He appointed for us to be here. (Acts 17:26-28). That is something to glory in!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

In my quiet time this morning I became aware of the absolute necessity of complete surrender of my life to the Lord Jesus, and to God's Word. Gods Word is amazingly profound and dependent on the Holy Spirit for understanding. It is by His Spirit that I ask for wisdom and understanding of His Word and the ability to be a do-er of it.

We all have "issues" and I think most of us struggle with commonalities. As I cried out to God about mine this morning, I felt a strong sense that my very struggles are common to every woman in some way or another. It boils down to one word in a sense, insecurity. I believe the enemy plays on our insecurities. It's where he gets a foothold. I know this to be true in my own life. I felt weary today, tired of dealing with the same old same old. My Bible study homework zoned in on verses I have been drawn to for as long as I have been a Christian: 2 Corinthians 10:3-5: "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of this world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

The Bible study I am currently doing is "Breaking Free' by Beth Moore. In todays lesson she stresses that human effort is useless against demolishing strongholds, that it is clearly a "divine demolition" requirement. She states: "Satan's power comes from his power to bluff. Once we learn the truth and how to use it, he loses his hold." A stronghold is a place of hiding in times of insecurity. Its what stumbles us and keeps us from living in victory, a joy-stealer and peace-zapper. I have many things that fall in to that category, but that probably all come down to a form of insecurity. What does it mean to "demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God"? Beth Moore states that these arguments are our rationalizations for our strongholds we continue to struggle with. I was convicted that I have used many excuses for continuing on with a stronghold I know to be of no value, and aware of the damage it causes in my relationship with the Lord. Pride is involved in every stronghold, every sin. I desire to be humble, to be set free from every form of pride, yet I easily fall prey to this, it feels like a continual battle to remain in humility. The enemy preys on my pride, he uses it to distract me from my worship of God, to deter me from seeking humility.

I absolutely loved this verse from the homework, Hosea 11:4: "I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them." Pride presses on the yoke of my neck as the enemy preys on this and leads me with cords of falsehood and lies. Knowing the truth is the key to liberty. God's Word says the Truth will set me and you free. I long to be free.

The next crucial part and the part that I have been fascinated with is taking every thought of mine captive. How in the world is that possible? My thoughts can come at me like a ballistic missle, spewing random thoughts that are hard to even make myself aware of, let alone "hold them captive". They can be subtle, so as not to cause any attention to, yet I am to bring my thoughts into subjection continually. Isaiah 26:3 says "You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you." It is something I must practice, I must strive to do. To be steadfast means to sustain, to be lean upon. I have to choose to pick up God's Word, to read it, to apply it and to believe that it is true. I have to be steadfast. I have to be firm, to be secure. Humility results in security. When I can rest in who God made me to be, in the circumstances He has placed me in, in the role and position He has for me, in realizing and being thankful that His plans for me are good and to give me a future and a hope, than I can be secure, and my insecurities can no longer have a hold of me. I can be grateful for God's blessings on others and not let it promote jealousy and envy in me. Its what I am striving for. I want to be absolutely surrendered to Christ - that is where the victory is at. There is a war going on and the war is for freedom and the battlefield is the mind. This is what my homework stated and it is so true. The war is on our side if we have Him, in fact it is already won, another unfathomable truth, yet a truth that brings security and hope. It is a truth we can all carry with us, it is a truth that can set us free, that can give us perfect peace. It's worth all the striving and the taking captive of all those thoughts. Jesus came to free us from captivity, to bind up our broken hearts, to preach good news, to release us from darkness, to comfort us, to bestow on us a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of morning and a garment on praise instead of a spirit of despair (Isaiah 61:1-4). We can be a displayer of His splendor, not by being preoccupied with how we look, or how we are liked, but by letting Him renew our minds to His truth, to let Him filter our thoughts to see if they are based on truth or lies, if they are "set up against" what we know is His truth or if we are subtly being led by prideful thoughts, its a battle! As I type this, I know this will be a battle because I am in the midst of it myself and you are too, my fellow human being. "The wonders God wants to do in all our tomorrows are prepared for in our todays". Beth Moore very enthusiastically states and I could not agree more!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It's Not Fair to Compare

"It's not fair to compare!" is a saying in our house when the boys start to argue why they should get more computer time, or complain about the treatment they see their brothers getting. Yet as a new homeschooling mom I find that comparing is really hard NOT to do! When I compare my boys with other boys their ages, the pressure kicks in that they need to be up to pare with the same academics as whom I am comparing them too. It's at that moment that I start losing a joy of homeschooling and feel that pressure and inadequacy. Just the other day my youngest son got a cute "card" from a fellow 5 year old friend of his in the mail. It was a handwritten homemade card made with plain paper and pencil, but I was impressed with his handwriting! I compared his to my son and found my son greatly lacking! "Oh No! I've really neglected his handwriting lately and he's going to be behind!" was my thought. So needless to say we worked on handwriting that day! Maybe it was simply a good motivator to get on the ball with my youngest whom I admit has got the least of my attention as I've focused much more on my 8 and 9 year old's, or maybe I played right into that comparing game that so easily steals my joy. Not only in regards to homeschooling, but in many joys of life comparing has been a joy stealer. Whether it's my house, my looks, my van (it's a 1993 with many scratches on it, nothing like the shiny new ones I see going by me), my church (yes I covet other churches for goodness sake!), or friends, it all adds up to discontentment, covetousness, and jealousy - things I don't need in my life. Help me Father to hold my thoughts captive and not covet what I see around me. Help me be content with what I have and be thankful for the things You've given me. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, help me Lord to truly be thankful for my van, our house, our precious boys who have unique strengths and weaknesses, my personality traits, my spiritual gifts, my church, my friendships, my husband, and my life period. In concentrating on being thankful I can stop playing the comparing game and be grateful for what I have and what others have. It's not fair to compare, God is in control and His ways for me are good. I can rest in that and so can you!