Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Knowing God - Matthew 6:34

(from Pastor)

Personal Note ...
It's sure to be a nervous day.
Tomorrow Jay checks into the Academy.
Jesus said ...
do not worry about tomorrow,
for tomorrow will bring worries of its own.
Today's trouble is enough for today
Matthew 6:34
Have you ever waited for surgery ... or waited for a diagnosis ... or waited to start a new job? How'd you sleep the night before?
I'm not much of a worrier by nature; nevertheless, I've definitely been a guy with bags under his eyes on a number of occasions.
The question is: Is this commandment from Christ? (In which case, I've failed many times.) Or is this a piece of wisdom? 
I'm opting for the latter. Like in the book of Proverbs, I don't think Jesus is giving us yet another rule to weigh us down; I think he's giving us a piece of wisdom to set us free. I think he's saying
            Enjoy today!
Wait ... That may be overstating it a bit. After all, Jesus acknowledges that today may have "enough trouble of its own." Nevertheless, I do see an intentional invitation to "live in the moment"! "Carpe diem" is a piece what Jesus is saying. "Seize the day."
Therefore, Jay -- and all of you who are facing something big -- I give you Jesus' advice: "Do not worry about tomorrow." Instead, embrace today. Yes, they may call your next step -- Annapolis -- "prison," but today is your last day of "freedom" as a civilian. Don't let what's coming enslave you yet!
In fact, try this instead ... Do you remember what Jesus' advice is just before this verse? He said, "33 Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Therefore, let's ask, "Where are we seeing God today?" Why? Because seeing him in the present reminds us that he'll be there tomorrow too. Seek him today. Seek him tomorrow.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who wants to carpe diem with you
before the Navy carpes you manana
I am a worrier.  Always have been. "What if" and "If only" are two phrases that I have uttered way too often!  Carpe Diem (I always picture Robin Williams saying that in 'Dean Poets Society')  Seize the Day.  Live for today. Pastor has been helping me to learn to see God in the daily ... seek him out in the everyday.  We can't see into the future - we can't do anything about the past - but we can see God today.  

I know I will still worry. I will still have sleepless nights and ask what if and if only too much - but I am seeing God more and more in the daily ... I am trying to Vide Dei more than Carpe Diem!  (See God vs seizing the day)

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Knowing God - Genesis 12:1-2

(from Pastor)

Personal Note:
Today we leave home with Jay for Annapolis
Now the Lord said to Abram,
"Go from your country and
your kindred and your father's house
to the land that I will show you. ... 
I will bless you ... 
so that you will be a blessing.
Genesis 12:1-2
The faith of Abra(ha)m has always amazed me. As Hebrews 11:8 renders it, "he set out, not knowing where he was going."
My son, Jay, does know where he's going. He's aimed for it since he was eight! Therefore, the sense of loss and change mingles freely with excitement and purpose. Only one thing undergirded Abraham's sense of loss and change as he left his father's house, it's the words that started this verse from Hebrews, "by faith."
Faith! That's the way we all go out everyday. And that's why Lutherans for generations have prayed: "Lord God, You have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen"
Jay -- and all of you -- may you go forth today and always in the spirit of this prayer ... and with the absolute confidence of God's covenant upon Abraham: "I will bless you ... so that you will be a blessing." (Claim that promise, because, remember, God is who he says he is and God WILL DO what he says he can do.)
I want to be a blessing ... to others who are hurting ... to others who travel on similar journeys I have been on and am on ... to show that God is who he says he is and that he will do what he says he will do - always!!  

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Knowing God - 2 Samuel 22:31

(from Pastor)

Personal Note
This week begins my son Jay's life in the navy
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.
2 Samuel 22:31
At the academy, my son Jay is scheduled to be in Company 5. Therefore, I've held up my hand to him and wiggled my five fingers, saying, "Remember, Jay, the shield of faith":
        1) God is who he says he is.
        2) God can do what he says he can do.
        3) I am who God says I am.
        4) I can do what God says I can do
           (which is all things through Christ who strengthens me)
        5) God's Word is alive and active in me.
You don't have to be in the military to have the world be a hazardous place. Satan shoots and the world woo's. "Shield's up!" "Take refuge in him."
That will be one of my final pieces of advice to my boy(s). "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8).
Too many of us would like a shield, but we drill holes in it before we're done with point one. Do we really believe that God is powerful and active in our lives and that his way -- not my way -- is perfect?
Jesus tells us that he is "the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). That three-fold affirmation is today's verse too. "His WAY is perfect." In his "flawless ... Word" there is TRUTH. And when we "take [our] refuge in him," we're escaping the constant hazards and discovering LIFE the way it was meant to be.
Jay -- and all of you -- "Shield's up!" Have a great LIFE!
This comes from Beth Moore's study on Believing God.  This study was what I was going through when I went into my deep depression.  I see it completely differently now.  This 'shield' that I reluctantly participated in during bible study is TRUE!  
1. God IS who he says he is (even when we try to deny it or tell him he isn't.)
2. God can do what he says he can do ... and he actually does it to boot!
3. I am who God says I am. Ephesians 1 says that I am chosen, adopted, blessed, holy, blameless redeemed ... must be true (although I still have trouble with this one, but if I read it and say it aloud enough I may believe it one day!)
4. I can do what God says I can do (I don't need the strength - I just need the trust)
5. God's word is alive and active in me.  I am experiencing God in a new amazingness!!!  I still have a very long way to go. But his word is growing in me ... 

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

born again ...

In church this morning Pastor preached on John 3 when Nicodemus snuck to Jesus under the cloak of darkness and talked with him under the cone of silence about being born again.  He talked about being Born Again - salvation - accepting Christ as your savior - a major moment in your life. (and something talked about very often in the church I grew up in) And being born again in many different ways throughout life.  Life changes that help a person to continue growing up toward Christ. Enables them to show Christ out to others and in their own hearts and families.

The past few days especially I have truly realized God's power in my life.  His love and caring. How much he has worked in me. To help me regain a desire to live. I have whined about being lonely, but didn't want to continue facing rejection of trying to reach out to others for friendship.  Being lonely is still hard, but ... dare I say it? ... I have hope for my future. I feel like I am living - really living for the first time!  I am discovering that I don't need the things I thought I needed.  I am growing closer to Christ - the only 'thing' I need.  As Pastor was wrapping up the sermon and once again tears were running down my cheeks - the song below came to my mind.  Then a couple came up and sang it. It has been running through my head ever since.

Born Again by Mac Powell

Today I found myself
After searching all these years
And the man that I saw, he wasn't at all who I thought he'd be
I was lost when you found me here
And I was broken beyond repair
Then you came along and you sang your song over me

It feels like I'm born again
It feels like I'm living
For the very first time
For the very first time
In my life

Make a promise to me now
Reassure my heart somehow
That the love that I feel is so much more real than anything
I've a feeling in my soul
And I pray that I'm not wrong
That the life I have now, it is only the beginning

It feels like I'm born again
It feels like I'm living
For the very first time
For the very first time
It feels like I'm breathing
It feels like I'm moving
For the very first time
For the very first time

I wasn't looking for something that was more
Than what I had yesterday
Then you came to me and you gave to me
Life and a love that I've never known
That I've never felt before

It feels like I'm born again
It feels like I'm living
For the very first time
I'm living for the first time
It feels like I'm breathing
It feels like I'm moving
For the very first time
I'm living for the first time
In my life 

... a gal who is starting to really live in hope ...


Knowing God - Deuteronomy 10:17

(from Pastor)

For the Lord your God is
God of gods and Lord of lords,
the great God, mighty and awesome,
who is not partial and takes no bribe
Deuteronomy 10:17
There's an old story about a rich man who -- when he dies -- figures out how to take all of his gold with him to heaven. He meets St. Peter at the Pearly Gates, and St. Peter says, "Why'd you bring pavement?"
(Get it? Streets of gold.)
The point is this: Re-read the last line of today's verse. What could we ever bribe God with?! More pavement?
No matter how much we ... serve him ... read our Bibles ... confess our sins ... tithe to the church ... join a convent ... serve on committees ... discover a cure for cancer ...
                God can't love us any more ...
                and he won't love us any less.
It's not what you do. It's what he's done!
But there is one thing he does ask ... All he wants is to spend a little more time with you. He loves you and treasures your friendship.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who'd like to find a way
to smuggle on thing into heaven ... 
... a few more lost souls
Believe me - I tried to strike many deals with God ... if any of them had worked, my only biological son, Lucas David, would be sleeping quietly upstairs.  The guy who violently attacked me would not be free and my family would be dysfunctional.  

But - God doesn't deal with us like that.  He told us what he wants us to do.  Love his with all our heart and mind and strength. Love others as ourselves. He wants us to take care of others. Show his love to others. But make sure they know where the love comes from.  

But - even if we don't do that. He STILL loves us. He is STILL God.  he is still great, mighty, awesome and above all - GOD our LORD!  No matter what. Nothing changes that.  Guess I could have saved my breath back then, eh?

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Knowing God - Deuteronomy 7:9

(from Pastor)

Know therefore that
the Lord your God is God,
the faithful God who
maintains covenant loyalty
with those who love him
and keep his commandments,
to a thousand generations
Deuteronomy 7:9
I just finished leading youth group. We played a game. I gave one person a pen, and I gave another person a picture of a pen. I said, "Draw with your pen." One could draw, and one could not.
I gave one person a hammer and the other a drawing of a hammer ... a lollipop and a drawing of a lollipop ... scissors and a drawing of scissors. I said, "Hammer, eat, and cut." One could, and one could not.
What's the difference? "One is real. One is paper (and pretend)."
The point? Some people believe that God is really real. While other believe that God is God-on-paper, God-in-theory. Too many of us read about God on paper -- i.e. on the pages of our Bibles -- but we treat the words as "stories" and we don't really believe he's real.
The question is: What will it take you to truly "know ... that the Lord your God is God"? What's holding you back from truly believing that "God is who he says he is" and that "God can do what he says he can do"?
God is ... powerful. And when you truly believe that God is powerful (powerful for real and not just on paper), then you will have more power in your life. Much more!!!
In Christ's Love,
a guy who wants to recycle all my old paper
and discover (more fully) the real God
and all his power 
What will is take to truly "know that the Lord my God is God?"  I am realizing that he is is much more powerful than I ever imagined.  I have been in the bottom of a pit and he has helped me climb out.  He did not pull me out - that would have been too easy.  He has helped me climb out and has shown me that there is no way I would be where I am on this side of it without him.  He has been walking along side me as I wear the path around the hole of grief in my heart. Tossed me a rope when I fell in. Placed people and situations in my life the last few months so that I would not only regain a desire to live, but so that I would know beyond any doubt that he was the only one who could orchestrate something so amazing.  

I am still discovering and still have much to learn and grow.  But my belief is building on something so much firmer than it was on before.  There is power in His love. I thought I knew who God was ... having always gone to church. But I am learning how truly loving, powerful, jealous and passionate he is.

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Knowing God - Exodus 34:14

(from Pastor)

You shall worship no other god,
because the Lord, whose name is Jealous,
is a jealous God
Exodus 34:14
Since "jealous" is generally perceived as a negative term, some translations soften the phrase a bit. Indeed, they try to capture the intent of an uncomfortable phrase. For example, the Good News Translation renders it, "I, the Lord, tolerate no rivals." I like the New Living Translation even better: "For he is a God who is passionate about his relationship with you."
"Passionate," I like. "Jealous" seems harsh to me.
Notice those phrases: "I like" and "to me." My goal is usually to domestic God like I'd try to domesticate a cat -- i.e. bring God down to my size. God is not a cat. He's the Lion of Judah. And if he says, "I am a jealous God" my challenge -- my gift -- is to believe him.
Ultimately I don't want a God that can be brought down to my size. I want a God big enough to spin galaxies and resurrect from the dead. Therefore, I'd better loose myself from the bonds of any false priority -- false god -- that competes with the one who is passionately and compassionately jealous for me. (For me?! Why me? He's awesome, isn't he!)
In Christ's Love,
a guy who's been created wonderfully enough
that God is jealous for me
(I'd better go spend some time with him) 
jealous - intolerant of rivalry or unfaithfulness, disposed to suspect rivalry or unfaithfulness, hostile toward a rival or one believed to enjoy an advantage, vigilant in guarding a possession. From the Latin 'zeal' (eagerness and ardent interest in pursuit of something)

passionate - easily aroused to anger, filled with anger : angry, capable of, affected by, or expressing intense feeling, enthusiastic, ardent

Pretty intense words.  God doesn't want a rival. He in fact is aroused to anger and intense feeling when there is a suspected rival. That rival can be almost anything ... our time, what we are reading, other people in our lives, money, memories. But God also vigilantly, eagerly, ardently pursues us, guards us as his precious possessions.

I am so thankful for that.  Without his vigilant, ardent, eager pursuit of me and his guarding of my life, I truly do not believe that I would be sitting here in my kitchen typing this.  He is a jealous, passionate God who knows what his plan for us is and he will guard us and guide us to fulfill that plan.  

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Knowing God - 1 Timothy 1:17

(from Pastor - 2 in 1 day - go with it!)

To the King of the ages,
immortal, invisible, the only God,
be honor and glory forever and ever.
1 Timothy 1:17
I've sometimes asked the youth group: If you could be a superhero, what one trait would you like to have?
Half the kids say, "I'd like to be able to fly."
The next most common response is, "I'd like the ability to become invisible."
Not me.
Sneaking up on people and hearing what they say about me is not appealing at all. I'd rather take people at face value -- as in face to face.
All of us know that other people talk about us behind our backs. But I'd rather give people the opportunity to be who they want to be in the light of day. (Otherwise, I might not like them!)
The remarkable thing about our immortal, invisible King, is that he "sees in secret" ... and likes us anyway! That's true love.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who has a superpower:
I know nothing
I only want the power to be invisible so I could hide from everyone.  I have an 'invisibility cloak' that I wrap around myself to shield myself from the world. (It isn't very effective in reality - but is comforting nonetheless)  I think it is significant that the verse says 'only' God.  Immortal, invisible ONLY God.  We don't need any other gods ... although we have them.  We tend to acquire gods who are visible and finite. our ONLY God is invisible and immortal.  and he wants our honor and glory - forever.

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Knowing God - John 3:35

(from Pastor)

The Father loves the Son and
has placed all things in his hands.
John 3:35
My father is a man of many talents.
For example, he can fix anything! Over the years, I've seen him craft things with wood, fix car engines, plumb a bathroom, and wire corners of the house.
And when I was little his hands seemed so very big and strong.
Now, I'm an adult and he's supposed to be retired. His hands are still stronger and more capable than mine!
Imagine being Jesus. How big must his Father's hands have seen. My skilled father couldn't spin a basketball on his finger; God the Father could spin galaxies on his pinky toe.
As I grew in year, my father, though, gave me a gift: He entrusted more and more to me. God the Father gave Jesus a gift: "He placed all things in his hands."
If you want to know the Father better ... take a closer look at Jesus.
In Christ's Love,
a very thankful son
(P.S. I've got two great dads)
The father trusted his son.  God trusted Jesus.  I wish my father on earth trusted me. had faith in me. was proud of me.  But God, thankfully can do all that for me.  He takes care of us like no other. And sent Jesus to experience life on earth to know what we go through and more ... He does love us.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

2 Chronicles 24:17-25a, 2 Kings 12:17-18, 2 Kings 4:1-44, 13:4-8, 8:1-6, 13:9-11, 12:19-21, 2 Chronicles 24:25b-27, 2 Kings 14:1-6, 2 Chronicles 25:1-10

2 Chronicles 25:2 He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, but not wholeheartedly. How often do we act like this? We will do what is right in the eyes of the Lord - reluctantly.  Just because it is the right thing.

2 Kings 4 - I love this story - the widow needed money and God provided and more.  But it was done behind closed doors.  They didn't boast about it. brag about it. tell their neighbors what they were doing. they simply obeyed and were incredibly blessed for it.

Elisha and the Shummanite woman - she had such faith in him and God.  Like the woman who washed Jesus' feet - she fell at Elisha's feet and grasped them.  She reached out for something so dirty as his feet to cry out to him.  And Elisha went to her house ... prayed. laid with her son. prayed. touched him again and he lived.  Faith in healing.

2 Kings 4:43 "How can I set this before a hundred men?" his servant asked. But Elisha answered, "Give it to the people to eat. For this is what the LORD says: 'They will eat and have some left over.'" I don't think I ever knew about this.  This was long before the feeding of the 5000 by Jesus.  A foretaste of miracles to come?  Pretty amazing.


Knowing God - Matthew 28:18

(from Pastor)

Jesus said ...
"All authority in heaven and on earth
has been given to me."
Matthew 28:18
With a military son, I've been learning about the chain of command.
For example, you don't go directly to the general when you have a problem. You go to your sergeant. And usually, the problem is taken care of right then and right there.
If the problem's bigger, the sergeant goes to his captain ... but only when the captian can't manage it, he goes to the major ... who goes to the colonel ... who goes to the general only when the rest of the chain of command is at a loss.
I'm so very thankful that God does not work like this!
Jesus absolutely has "all authority," but he never says work through the chain of command. He simply says, "Come to me" (see Matthew 11:28).
In fact, scripture blesses us with the wonderful assurance that "we have a high priest who understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same temptations we do, yet he did not sin. Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb 4:15-16).
In Christ's Love,
a court jestor who's running
to the throne of the grace
Being a military wife, I fully understand the frustration with having to work through the 'chain of command.'  It only takes one person to stall the entire process. To not give an answer.  Thankfully - we can go straight to Christ with - everything - without going through anyone else who has another agenda. other issues. chips on their shoulders. In life where things seem to be so difficult, it is comforting to remember that we can go straight to our savior.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Knowing God - 1 Peter 1:24-25

(from Pastor)

The grass withers, and the flower falls,
but the word of the Lord endures forever.
1 Peter 1:24-25
Who said this? Jesus! Indeed Peter was basically quoting the Lord himself: "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will remain forever" (Luke 21:33).
In this disposable world, it's nice to know that something permanent endures! Like the grass, you and I will wither and fade. Bigger than that, stars are born and galaxies flame out. But the Word, the way, the truth, and the light will never fade.
Like most of you, I worry about little things. Temporary things. "Lord, set my heart on the eternal!"
In Christ's Love,
a lawn guy
(i.e. I'm grass ... but
by the grace of God, I'm eternal!)
I am ready for heaven. I long to leave this world and go on to eternal life ... but although this is all temporary, we still have a purpose.  Even disposable things have a purpose and must serve them before being tossed out.  How many of us don't realize the eternal impact of the Word. The timelessness of it? It was, is and will be.  

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Knowing God - 1 John 3:2

... What we will be has not 
yet been made known. 
1 John 3:2

Pastor missed a day so I decided to try my hand at this. :-)  (Don't worry - his will be posted when he has time to write them!)  

We are not yet what we are to be. We are a constant work in progress. Just like a great work of art ... you don 't know what the artist is creating until they are finished.  

God is working on us. We are his art work and what he is creating us to be, to do, has yet to be fully discerned.  We will only know in eternity what our purpose on earth was for.  Until then we are being formed and shaped.

... a gal who wants to be 
God's lump of clay ...

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Knowing God - Jeremiah 17:9

(from Pastor)

The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately corrupt;
who can understand it?
Jeremiah 17:9
Sounds like we need heart surgery. Desperate. Deceitful. Corrupt. And you know ... it's more than a double- or triple-bypass that we need. We need a transplant.
Now, this is delicate surgery. So who is the great physician who is worthy of our trust? I'm choosing King David's doctor, and I'm praying with him, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me" (Ps 51:10).
In Christ's Love,
a guy who doesn't want to be a politician
(desperately corrupt ... as the steorotype goes)
Trust. Again. What is pastor getting at? Why 2 devo's back to back on trust?  Better yet - what is God getting at? I have often thought I need to be powerwashed from the inside out.  Going to intensive treatment was a start, but there is still crud in the corners that is slowly regrowing. I still have trouble trusting God. and anyone else for that matter. 

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Knowing God - Isaiah 46:10

(from Pastor)

Only I can tell you
what is going to happen
even before it happens.
Everything I plan will come to pass,
for I do whatever I wish.
Isaiah 46:10
Why do I ever attempt to be "in control"?
God is God ... and I am not. Our sovereign God holds the future in his hands. He acts with power. He administers with love.
I can fight against it (and I have before)... or I can say, "You're God. I'm not. I trust in you. Thank you for making my life simpler."
In Christ's Love,
a guy who's not God
I am involved in a program called Celebrate Recovery.  There are 8 Principles based on the Beatitudes and then 12 Steps and biblical comparisons.  CR is not just for drug and alcohol recovery.  It is also for depression, co-dependency, sexual addictions, eating issues and any other hurt, habit or hang-up that is impacting your life.  I suffer from depression and PTSD.  The first principle is:

Realize I'm not God. I admit that I am powerless to control my tendencies to do the wrong thing and that my life is unmanageable.

I like to be in control. to know what is going to happen. to be prepared.  However, I am not in control. I don't know what is going to happen. But God prepares me anyway. Because he knows. He does what he wishes! I don't have to like - but I do have to accept his plans ... and learn to let him be in control. (he is anyway ... I am just pretending I am.) 


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Friday, June 18, 2010

Knowing God - Proverbs 21:2

(from Pastor)

All a man’s ways are right in his own eyes,
but the Lord weighs the hearts. 
Proverbs 21:2
So many of us spend so much time trying to explain and justify ourselves. We want to be "right in our own eyes." 
What this self-justification fails to do is recognize the fact that God has already justified us. And it cost him his life.
If we'd just TRULY accept that God has justified us, we'd be so much better off. And our hearts would be so much lighter.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who wants a smaller heart
(I mean ... a lighter heart)
The Lord weighs the heart.  God could care less what we did for all to see - what he really cares about is what is inside.  He sees behind our masks - through the pretenses we put up - through the walls we live behind. He sees inside ... the ugly ... naked ... no where to run ... that is what he weighs.  What are we really telling ourselves? How do we really see ourselves? Is it the same as how God sees us?  

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Knowing God - Isaiah 52:12 pt 2

(from Pastor)

Ye shall not go out with haste
Isaiah 52:12
How many of us rush through breakfast ... so we can rush out the door ... so we can rush to work ... so we can rush through the day's jobs ... so we can rush home and rush through dinner ... and then rush the kids to a practice ... where they spend an hour rushing around a field ... while you rush in and out of the grocery ... and then you rush them home ... so you can rush them to bed ... because tomorrow's going to start with another rush ...
I am.
I need a verse like this. 
No haste. Slow down.
Now, why should we pause for a breath before rushing forward? Isaiah tells us. He says "for the Lord will go before you."
And that's been my biggest problem. How many thousands of mornings have I rushed out under my own steam rather than waiting for God to set the course of my day.
No haste. Slow down. Listen more. Pause and pray. I think I'll be a little less tired.
In Christ's Love,
a Russian guy
(get it? Rushin')
Why part 2? Pastor used this verse earlier. Linked Here

No haste? Seems a life with 2 kids, work, dogs, hubby - there is always haste.  I spent 3 weeks in WA in April with no haste and lots of my own thoughts.  I came back and tried to live slower ... with more intention ... more mindfulness. However, as I transitioned back to my life the haste crept back in.  The days I do my bible reading and journaling before heading out to face the day are usually the best days.  The days I don't are wasted in haste.  I need to think back to what I learned - be quiet more. be still. be God's.

Maybe there is something to be said about island time and the Jamaican way of saying "No worries, Mon."  God goes before us ... no worries mon.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Knowing God - Genesis 33:14

(from Pastor)

"I will lead on softly ..."
Genesis 33:14
What beautiful words!
Many years before, Jacob had swindled his older brother out of a birthrite, but by Genesis 33 it is time to restore a family. Jacob approaches his brother a bit fearfully. He bows to his brother seven times, as if he were a servant. Esau, however, wasn't angry. He rushed foward joyfully and "kissed" his brother "affectionately." Tears of joy flowed.
The beauty of reconciliation!
After, I imagine, several hours of reminiscing, it was time to go home! Esau said kindly, "'12 I will ... lead the way.'13 But Jacob replied, ' ... Some of the children are very young, ... the flocks and herds ... too. If they are driven too hard, they may die. 14 So go on ahead of us. I will lead on softly ...'"
How Esau's heart must have leapt again. His once selfish brother -- who would lie and cheat and run away -- has chosen a new pace. Family concerns trump selfish desires. And in that way, he leads on softly.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who knows that leading softly
often starts with reconciliation
When I read this verse I was instantly reminded of the Amy Grant song, "Lead Me On." I could only remember the tune with those 3 words so I looked it up and here is the chorus:

Lead me on
Lead me on
To a place where the river runs
Into your keeping, oh.

Lead me on
Lead me on
The awaited deliverance
Comforts the seeking...lead on.

God leads us softly to him. He doesn't force us to follow him. He gave us free will, but he gently guides us.  

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Looking for God

I recently went on a girls weekend with one of my closest and oldest (longest) friends to Jamaica.  It is such a country of contrasts.  We stayed at a resort surrounded by tall iron fences.  People would come sell their wares on small boats and rafts just on the other side of the ocean boundary.  On the way to and from Montego Bay (or MoBay) we passed neighborhoods with amazing columns, archways, ornamental accents but no windows or doors.  We were informed that this was the ghetto.  Kids here rarely went to school. They couldn't afford it. They had babies at a young age. The babies grew up and turned to crime and the cycle continued.  This was according to our driver when he took us out to eat at a place where tourists don't go (my tongue burned for hours from the jerk pork!)

Afterwards, at the request of my friend, we went to a 'local hangout' - we were the only light skinned folks there.  People were grilling jerk, roasting peanuts, selling beer, rum, sodas, pot, themselves ... My friend had met a 'friend' who worked at the resort and went with us the Dead End.  It was truly a dead end street with a sea wall.  We sat on the seawall and our driver proceeded to get stoned out of his gourd and my friend was 'getting to know' her new friend.  I was basically stuck. Sitting on a seawall near the ghettos of MoBay with nothing to do.  And - yes - I was a bit scared.  The evil was almost tangible.

I started to repeat Joshua 1:9 "Do not be afraid. Be strong and courageous. For I, the Lord your God, will be with you where ever you may go."  Over and over and over.  And the fear left - mostly. Then I asked God to show me where he was. If he was there, show me.   

That was when I noticed a little girl about 2 years old playing on the sidewalk. She was wearing a yellow shirt and yellow hair doodads.  And laughing. Such sweet innocence.  God was there in that little girl. Hope and innocence amid the evil and desperation. 

A bit later I noticed a couple arguing.  The man looked furious. The woman's expression was anger with a tinge of fear.  I didn't understand a word they were saying, but the situation didn't look good.  I was getting scared for the woman when another man came over - shouted some things at Mr. Angry to make him leave. The woman then collapsed on his shoulder in tears. God was there. Protecting her for that moment. 

That was a true change for me. A true turning point.  Knowing God was there - not wondering IF he was. Asking him to show himself to me ... not asking him later where he was.  Trusting that he was there, I only needed the veil drawn back to truly see him.  When we actively are looking for God - we tend to see him. Amazing how that works!!

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Knowing God - John 7:18

(from Pastor)

Those who speak on their own
seek their own glory;
but the one who seeks
the glory of him who sent him is true,
and there is nothing false in him.
John 7:18
I have a confession to make. "I am chronic and habitual 'speaker-on-my-own-er'."
Without a daily discipline of listening to the Word (and listening for God), I'm liable to speak my philosophies, my priorities, my politics, and my pride. Me, myself, and "I think" are my default positions.
How about you?
In Christ's Love,
a guy who wants to seek His glory and His truth
because there's only wrong answers in me
I disagree - there are not only wrong answers in Pastor.  He has many right answers. Likely because of his daily discipline of listening to the Word and God.  The more I learn, the less I know, but the depth of my trust in God increases and the connection between my heart and my head get a bit shorter. 

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Knowing God - John 6:68

(from Pastor)

Simon Peter answered him,
"Lord, to whom can we go?
You have the words of eternal life."
John 6:68
We look to ... our doctor for healing
... situations for happiness
... the wall outlet for power
... a half gallon of ice cream for comfort
... and a glass of whiskey for courage.
But there's only one place we can go for LIFE.
Peter knew it. So should we!
In Christ's Love,
a guy who wants to trust
as wonderfully in the Word
as I do in Jesus himself
I know it ... do I believe it in my heart? Do you?  

I know I have not always trusted God as I need, but I also know that I can not rely on myself as I have in the past - doing that did not bring life - in fact it almost caused me to lose my life. 

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