June 23, 2014

A new blog

My life has changed, I have changed and so has my approach to blogging!  Come on over to the new place and join me on the journey!  

my new blog is: life notes

December 21, 2013

He still speaks to the waves

Have you ever been just going through your day to day routine, rolling with the punches, trying to keep your head up above it all, and you don't even realize how everything you are going through is affecting you until you sit down and begin to talk about it?  And suddenly, though you didn't even see it coming, you are in tears?  It's like the flood gates open up and you find that the more you talk about it, the more you begin to realize how afraid and worried you have been.

You begin to question how long it has been since you called worry by its ugly name and confessed it to God and sought his help.  Worry is a terrible vision clouder and faith blocker.  It creeps up on the best of us.  I have often made the distinct choice not to worry and instead to trust.  But life is full of the new, the unexpected, and the uncertain.  It's not easy for us to humbly depend on God.  Because of all that we can't see, we forget that he sees all.  We forget that he has seen all since the beginning of time.

Our worry makes us feel like we are drowning.  It's like we cannot gain a foothold.  We are so frantically trying to stay above the waves that we have lost our focus on the One who calms them.

Lately, I have been reflecting on Psalm 77.  I keep going back to it because one of the questions that the psalmist asks there made such an impression on my heart...

"Has God forgotten to be gracious?"

If you read this psalm, you will see that this man was so greatly troubled that he couldn't sleep at night.  He was really going through it.  And whenever we are really going through it we struggle with how we think about God.  It's easy to say "God is so good!" when things are going well.  But sometimes the things that happen in our lives can cause us to question so much.  We may never even articulate it but we feel shaken, daunted and upset.

The psalmist is in agony of soul, he is crying out to God, his thoughts are raging.  Have you ever suddenly woken up at three am, eyes wide open, heart racing and felt the waves of worry and fear sweep over you?
Huge hospital bills can do this to us.  A lack of confidence in our abilities can do it.  The pain of suffering through an offense someone caused you can do it.  And through all of these difficulties we wonder what our God is up to.  We wonder how it will turn out for us.  How hurt and wounded will we be?  How much will he ask us to endure?  It frightens us at times.  And sadly, it can cause us to call God's character into question.

It is right there that we need to focus our attention.  Like the psalmist, our souls should "make a diligent search" with these questions that have obvious, "no-brainer" type answers.

"Will the Lord spurn forever and never again be favorable?"

"Has his steadfast love forever ceased?"

"Are his promises at an end for all time?"

"Has God forgotten to be gracious?"

"Has he in anger shut up his compassion?"

Of course the answer to all of those questions is "No, of course not!"  That is the conclusion that we must come to as we remember who God is.

The problem is not with our God, it is with our tendency to doubt him.  We think that something is probably going to happen to us and it will be as if God is taking his love away.  We doubt his promises and his power to provide for our every need.  We think that somehow we will slip his mind and be overlooked.  Our view of God begins to be distorted the more we worry.  The remedy to our problem of doubt is to renew our trust in God and to remember who he is and what he has done.

The psalmist made this choice.  He said "Your way, O God, is holy."  He looks back and recounts how God has led his people like a flock, by the hand of Moses and Aaron.  He says "Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen."

I cannot help but think of God's amazing power in parting the Red Sea for his people.  Think of it!  Deep waters that no one could possibly move or make it through.  An impossibility with an everything is possible God on their side.  We serve the very same God!  Don't allow your circumstances to cause you to lose sight of his power, his love and care for you soul, and the fact that he is leading you.  Often it is when the waves are raging or the prospects look bleak that we learn to trust and depend the most.  Even the wind and the seas obey him.  How can we ever doubt that he can help us?

December 19, 2013

So much to learn

As a new believer, I remember how panicked I felt when I thought of teaching my children the Bible.  I looked around me and saw other parents who had grown up in the faith and I felt tremendously inadequate.  These parents knew the Old Testament accounts.  They could probably tell them in their sleep!  I knew nothing!  I wondered how I was going to teach my children from such an empty well of knowledge.

It wasn't long before I realized that I would need to learn and then teach.  And not only that, sometimes I would learn right along with them.  It still happens even today.  There is so much that I am learning and so much I have yet to learn.  Yes, I am a mother of eight.  Yes, I am a pastor's wife.  But I am still learning.  Every.single.day.

Not all learning is filling your head with knowledge, although that is part of it.  Much of what we need to learn is in the lived out moments that we experience every day.  Sometimes we feel a measure of success as we evaluate our progress in living out our faith.  I have written many times about such things here on this blog.  But there is also the very real, nitty gritty, hard stuff that we don't really like to talk about.  The areas where we know we lack yet we feel as though we should be beyond it by now.  But you know what?  There is grace.  I am so thankful for grace when it comes to my shortcomings.  Without it, I would be completely undone.

You see, when I read in John 13 of my Lord Jesus tying a towel around his waist to wash the dirty feet of those who would forsake, deny and betray...I see my shortcomings bold and plain.  What kind of servant am I, if I love only those who love me?  What kind of servant am I, if I pick and choose whom I will be gracious to and purposefully avoid some?  What kind of servant am I, if I do not freely give as even I have been freely given to?  I am keenly aware of my need to grow as a servant.  Not only to be like my Lord but I am also learning from the example of others in the family of God.

Can I tell you what this family has shown me?  I have seen people who are very concerned about what needs there are and they seek to meet them with the resources that God has provided.  People who take time out of their personal schedule to help someone else.  People who are inconvenienced so that someone else can benefit.  I have seen sacrifices of time, money, and the choice to love in difficult situations.  I have been blessed to the point of tears by how loving and caring this church family is.

And you know what?  They are teaching me too.  How can a person not be taught by someone who offers to help and is willing to do whatever they can with the hands and the strength that God has given them?  How can a person not be taught by someone who drops by to bring you something special and brighten your day?  How can you not be taught by a mom who is very busy with her own kids yet she brings you a meal?  How can you not be taught something of the precious beauty of sacrificial giving when a woman places a gift in your pocket and tears are in her eyes.  And it's not long before tears well up in yours because you know that it is the Spirit of God that prompts such giving.  And in every instance it is the hands being used of God to reach out to someone else.  To meet needs, to bless, and as I am realizing, to teach.

Have you ever learned from the example of someone else?  How is your life teaching others to be more like Jesus?
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