God, Don't Give Up on Me!

March 31, 2009

Psalm 138 (NIV)

I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; before the “gods” I will sing your praise. I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.

When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted. May all the kings of the earth praise you, O Lord, when they hear the words of your mouth. May they sing of the ways of the Lord, for the glory of the Lord is great.

Though the Lord is on high, he looks upon the lowly, but the proud he knows from afar. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me.

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord endures forever—do not abandon the works of your hands.

I’m encouraged to see that David, a man after God’s own heart, begins by praising God for his love and faithful ways. He reminds us of the two things that are high above all other things and those are God’s name and his Word. There is nothing above them, no time …anywhere!

He testifies to us that God answers when we cry out to him and makes us strong. The next few lines jumped off the page at me… “Though the Lord is on high, he looks upon the lowly, but the proud he knows from afar.”

Sometimes God seems so close to us and sometimes so far. Because of pride in our lives he has to step back from us…he hates pride and can’t be part of it but he still knows us and waits patiently for us to come back to him.

God is always there watching over his children to save us from danger and complete the work he has begun in us. I love the last line. David encouraged me today that God won’t give up on me; he is the one who fulfills his purpose for me.

But even with all David has said comes the cry of my heart as well… Don’t abandon the work you’re doing in me! God, don’t give up on me!

I have so far to go compared to you, Jesus, help me I pray. I cry out to you…make me strong for I feel so weak. Thank you that you haven’t left me though you seem far away.

I lay down my pride and humble myself before you. I need you, God and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Thank you for your love and faithfulness. Amen.

Blessed by Obedience

March 29, 2009

John 2: 1-11 is such a rich passage. There are so many things here that I see but the Lord has been speaking to me about obedience and blessing. He loves to reward his children for their obedience to him.

Here Jesus is at a wedding banquet with his mother and disciples and he’s sitting there and his mother comes to him and says, “They have no more wine.” (CJBV) My imagination goes into gear here and I can just see him smile at her as he says, “Mother, why should that concern me?—or you? My time hasn’t come yet.”

Mary smiles back and goes to the servants and says to them… “Do whatever he tells you.” What confidence she has in him I’m sure she’s seen things time and time again. What faith the servants have, Jesus tells them to fill the jars and they do…they fill it to the brim! (vs7)

It is the servants who get to see the miracle, not the man in charge. He didn’t even know where it came from scripture says. The servants obeyed and mixed faith with their obedience and Jesus worked the miracle.

I love how Jesus instructs the “lowly” at the party and they are the witnesses to the miracle he performs I also love how Mary says to them “Do whatever he tells you.” I love the heart of Jesus that would do a miracle to bless all the people and help the disciples to build their trust in him.

Jesus is so sweet. He rewards their obedience and everyone is blessed and edified with the best of the land…the best for last.

Stop and Let the Lord Catch Up to Ya!

March 24, 2009

I haven’t written for a while because we were on a journey this last weekend. We went to visit close family and we had a wonderful time. While we were there we had many late night and early morning talks about the Lord.

How wonderful it is to have fellowship with other believers. We also watched a movie and went to a church. The movie was a race against time type where the main character was protected by a group of very large individuals and it made me think of how God protects us. We have nothing to fear!

Psalms chapter 23 (CJBV) says… “Adonai is my shepherd; I lack nothing. He has me lie down in grassy pastures, he leads me by quiet water, he restores my inner person.”

Have you ever taken time to actually read this psalm slowly? I know I haven’t …until today. This says I lack NOTHING! And HE is the one who brings me to restful places…HE takes care of me. God’s thoughts towards me as my shepherd is to restore me and give me peace.

He guides me in right paths for the sake of his own name. Even if I pass though death-dark ravines, I will fear no disaster; for you are with me; you rod and staff reassure me.”

HE is the one responsible for guiding me even if all around me there is disaster AND he reassures me during those times. What a wonderful God we serve. He takes care of us! He wants to take care of us! We don't need to fear.

You prepare a table for me, even as my enemies watch; you anoint my head with oil from an overflowing cup.”

Wow, we are given favor while our enemies watch; we are blessed out of the overflow of God’s abundant cup, anointed with the oil of the Holy Spirit…take time and think about that!

Goodness and grace will pursue me every day of my life; and I will live in the house of Adonai for years and years to come.”

These things follow after us; they pursue us every day of our lives. God pursues us with his goodness and unearned favor every day. What if we would just take time to stop what we are doing and turn around? Would God’s goodness and grace continually wash over us?

Most likely God would visit us with his presence for as long as we were quiet and stood still, pouring his cup of anointing oil over us refreshing us, renewing us, feeding us, protecting and leading us.

I think if we would do this we would have inner peace and restoration and we would thankfully realize that we truly lack nothing.

I don’t know about you but I think I’ll stop and turn around now; I could use a good visit with the Lord.

Time to Turn the Page!

March 18, 2009

It must be time for a new chapter in the life of our family. I feel the page beginning to turn and I greet it with cautious expectation and excitement. What does God hold for us in the future?

I was reading Joshua chapter 3 today and I realized that God brought this scripture to encourage me about this time last year when we were crossing the Jordan into waters and things unknown to us.

How marvelous to watch the faithfulness of God at that time. God went out ahead of us and provided firm dry ground for crossing just like he did the Israelites. He carefully guided us through the flood waters to deliver Danni safely to the other side. For that my heart sings songs of thanksgiving and praise.

But now there are other floodwaters not only for us but for every community across the world. People are experiencing the wrath of God on so many levels and fear has become a constant companion to many. I’m so thankful that we have a God who is in control.

Does this mean we won’t have to suffer? Hardly not. God didn’t spare his own son suffering and he won’t spare us either but we have faith and trust in a loving God who has our best at heart always! We know that the potter is shaping us and molding us with his capable hands.

I think of how in awe I would have been if I were an Israelite at that time crossing the Jordan on dry ground and seeing a wall of water with the knowledge that the hand of my Father God was holding it back. How humbling that must have been!

I was also reading in Habakkuk 3 today and it speaks very plainly about praising God through the hard times. Habakkuk was in awe of the power and might of God coming to the aid of his people. We serve a God who can deliver us mightily but even if he doesn’t do it in our way or timing he is still to be praised no matter what chaos is going on around us.

Hard times reveal what you are made of and how genuine is your faith. It is the point where you must decide to push through the circumstances and man, does that make your faith and trust in God go through the roof!

Habakkuk says in chapter 3 verses 17-19… “For even if the fig tree doesn’t blossom and no fruit is on the vines, even if the olive tree fails to produce, and the fields yield no food at all, even if the sheep vanish from the sheep pen, and there are no cows in the stalls; still I will rejoice in Adonai,
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

Elohim Adonai (Sovereign Lord) is my strength! He makes me swift and sure-footed as a deer and enables me to stride over my high places.” ( CJBV)

I love this because it is God, the Sovereign Lord, who is our strength! He is in control and it is he who makes us able to do things that we in ourselves are not able to do! Praise Adonai!

In 1Corinthians 1:8-9 it says this… “He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, IS FAITHFUL!” (Emphasis mine)(NIV).

Guess what?! God is in control and he will keep us strong until the end; that is enough to keep us praising him all day long for the rest of our lives mortal and immortal! Praise God!

The Heart of the Matter.

March 15, 2009

Romans 10:9-10 that if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. (NIV)

I was in the post office the other day when I ran into a person I have known for a long time. This person expressed to me their sadness over the Danni’s passing and as we conversed the subject of God came up.

They stated to me that all you have to do is believe in God (to go to heaven) and then added, “Right?” I agreed but since that time I wondered if I shouldn’t have said more. But what is it that I should have said? Belief in Christ and his sacrificial death and resurrection is the heart of the matter.

Maybe I should have made them be more specific by saying…believing in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead and confessing that Jesus is Lord are the requirements for salvation. We’ve all encountered these moments where we have afterthoughts about what was said.

The bible says in 2 Timothy 4:2 that we should… "Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage-with great patience and careful instruction…”(NIV)

I like what Romans 10:10 says…For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified….so believing comes from the heart not from the intellect or the mind and then out of your heart it causes you to confess with your mouth that “Jesus is Lord”.

But that also brings a change to your heart causing you to repent from your sins and live by another way. If we confess that “Jesus is Lord” then he must truly be Lord! We allow him to rule and reign over every life situation.

As the process continues fruit begins to be evident such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23) and Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:20 that we will know what is inside a person by the fruit that is there.

So, is believing in God the only requirement? The demons believe in God but that won’t help them in the end (James 2:19). Believing that Jesus came and died and was raised to life with the heart and confessing Jesus is Lord with the mouth is the way to salvation but it is a process that doesn’t end there.

We must believe and continue to believe with our hearts and that brings change to our lives. Believing sets the wheels in motion bringing us from the wide road to the narrow. (Matthew 7:13-14)

Hopefully, with the help of the God I will be better prepared next time...

Love One Another

March 12, 2009

I’m thinking today about family and how it is so important every day to communicate your love for each other because you never know when that will be the last time you ever speak with them.

This morning I was in a deep sleep and for some reason while I could hear people milling about the house getting ready to go to school and work it didn’t occur to me to get up until I heard the bus in front of the house.

Then it was too late…the kids were out the door and away they went. My heart sank and I was so sad that I didn’t get up to give them goodbye hugs and kisses. I know they are older (15 and 11) but I think it is so important. I was confused as to why I didn’t get up, this is not like me, and I concluded that God wanted to teach me something. (No, I’m not depressed) :}

I began to thank God for my family and friends. As I sat and took in the morning I saw a robin outside my window and it reminded me of things my grandpa would say and do when he saw one. All this made me so aware of the wonderful people God has surrounded me with during my life.

Like a warm coat on a chilly spring day. Family means so much and yet it seems they are the ones we always take for granted. They are the ones we always hurt.

I am so saddened by the things I hear about on the news…people are killing their family members right and left! What is happening to our world? Hard times used to make families cling to one another and now… just shoot them! These are signs to us of the urgency of or time. (Mark 13:12)

There are so many hurting people out there, so many in need of him. (John 4:35)

I think what God was reminding me about today was that my children and family members and friends are all to be cherished. They are gifts from him and they can be taken away without a moment’s notice. They are to be loved and cared for and respected. (Mark 12:31, Ephesians 5:15-16, 19-33)

Every day I want to be in right relationship with God, my family and those around me. God, help me have no regrets. Help me to live every day as if it was my last or my family’s last. Make me aware; wake me up so that I don’t miss a moment you’ve given me. I receive your life, your abundant life and I believe with all my heart that in you it is mine!

Not that I am worthy but you make me worthy. Thank you so much for that Jesus. I want all that you have for me. I trust in your goodness in all situations. Your love endures forever…amen!

But When Will I Know When I Know Him?

March 7, 2009

Ok…so…here’s what happened yesterday, I was on my way home from running errands and there was a sharp “s” curve in the road with an intersection in the middle of it. They had to stop and I did not and there were several cars lined up there to cross the road I was on.

As I slowed for the curve, the man in front of the waiting line of cars decided to cross in front of me and I had to come almost to a complete stop to let him cross. I honked the horn and threw my hands in the air as if to say to him…what are you doing! Don’t you see me coming!?

Oh pride is an ugly thing. “I repent God,” I said and after a few miles of dealing with my heart condemning me, I forgave myself and thanked God for the discipline.

I have recently been on this quest to know him deeper and more fully but how will I know when I know him? Last night Matt and I were reading 1 John 2:1-11 and it answered my question very specifically.

· 1 John 2:1-11 (NIV)

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense--Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. 3. We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.

4. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6.Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

7. Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. 8. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. 9. Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness.

10. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. 11. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.

Ah-ha! There it is in plain English! Verse 3 says I know him if I obey his commands! Obedience is a part of knowing him and what is it he has commanded? Verses 9-11 Love your brother…that is one command. I love how God makes things simple for us. The other command is to… “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matt 22:37)NIV.

I must also “walk as Jesus did” (1John 2:6). And who is my brother? Jesus makes it clear in Matthew 12:50 (NIV)“For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

The problem is that approaching a car at an intersection you can’t possible know if the driver is a believer who does the will of the Father so I would have to act in love towards everyone.

The Lord also instructs us in Matthew 5:44 (KJV) “…But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you…”

These are tall orders… simple in concept but tall by human standards. Good thing that we have the Holy Spirit with us to teach us and guide us through this because I am confident that I could not do this on my own.

All this makes me wonder…God, how well do I know you?

Father, help me walk in your love towards everyone. I want to know you more. Help me to hear you and follow your commands. I love your Lord…thank you for your patience with me. Amen.

What Are We Waiting For?

March 4, 2009

This morning I have been reading in Acts 22. Paul is speaking to a crowd under Roman guard. He has been arrested or rescued is more like it from the people who were beating him for supposedly teaching that the Jews shouldn’t obey the law.

Paul is giving his testimony bloodied and bruised before a crowd of people who have just tried to kill him. This is such an amazing scene. He’s speaking about an encounter with God that has turned his life upside down or should we say right side up. This experience has so transformed his life that it didn’t matter to him that the people were trying to kill him, he had to share what the Lord had done for him.

So many times I want to tell people about what I’ve been through with Danni. I want to tell people that I meet about God and his faithfulness but it’s such a heavy thing; people don’t know how to respond. God has given me a testimony and he wants me to share it. God has given you a testimony and he wants you to share it.

Paul didn’t care what response he got he just had to share. I love what Ananias says to Paul in Acts 22:16 “…And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.”(NIV) What am I waiting for? Why do I hesitate? Because I don’t want to take the time or maybe I’m afraid of the response I might get. I’ve never been comfortable in awkward situations.

I love the zeal that is in Paul he really puts it all out there. He is the most least likely person to go and speak about Jesus because he was responsible for causing many followers of Christ to be imprisoned and even killed before he saw the light of Jesus.

Maybe you think… I am the least likely person to share Jesus with anyone because of my past but it’s part of your testimony…you have to have a past to build a testimony. If I didn’t go through Danni’s situation I would have no basis for speaking to anyone about cancer's effect or taking care of someone with cancer.

Ananias says… “wash your sins away, calling on his name.” Sins are no problem for God they can be washed away and forever forgotten by him in an instant if we call upon the name of Jesus. We make things too hard. God has made a way and we should access it! It cost Jesus his life to give us this privilege! Our debt of sin is paid in full! Thank you Jesus!

Paul didn’t let his past control his future, he had a mandate from the Lord as we all do. Matthew 28:18-20 “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

If Jesus came to them, he surely comes to us!

I think I will experiment…the next time my testimony comes to my lips from my heart I will share it and not worry about the circumstances. Who knows maybe this will become a habit! God has done a marvelous thing in my life, I’ve seen his faithfulness, goodness, loving-kindness, mercy and grace in operation in a tangible way…people must know! People must hear! Time is short!

My testimony is the only reason I am on this earth today. I’m saved so what else is there for me to be here but to help others find the way. I believe it is the same for you too if you are saved. God wants to lead others to himself through me and you otherwise we’d be in heaven like Danni.

Her life’s purpose had come to completion and she is with God now but her testimony lives on in me and everyone who shared in her journey. There is one more thing that I want to proclaim and that is the words of Jesus at the end of Matthew 28:20 “…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

What a comfort to know he’s right there with us in the thick of things and he will be there until the end and beyond! What a wonderful Savior we have, we can trust him!

Danni's Room

March 2, 2009

Danni’s room is changing. After the funeral, her room was filled with flowers and the fragrance filled the house. It seemed that she had left us a gift and the smells were sweet to us. Then as time passed the flowers died and I removed them from her room.

Her colored pictures in frames and other memorabilia were placed here and there about the room and her closet was still full of her belongings and clothes…we had lovingly placed them there when she became ill.

For a while she saw this as a temporary solution to the problem but as time passed her thoughts changed and she realized that her dreams were not to be fulfilled. God had another path for her.

Then came the time for me to go through her clothes; I came to the realization that there was someone out there who needed them and that was Danni’s wishes. Her only thoughts about her things were that they should go to someone in need. I honored her wishes. Her closet is bare now.

I’m still finding things around the house, things that were hers…I had asked her one day how she wanted me to find the people in need and she said, “Have a garage sale and give the things away or sell the things and give the money to someone who needs it.” She had no attachment to material things anymore, she didn’t care about money.

Her life had come into focus and she could see eternity nearing…things didn’t matter anymore.

Danni’s room is currently a safe haven, a place to relax and reflect and a place for Jessi and Atlee to watch TV and spend time with her. Anytime I miss her and I want to be near her I go to her room and look at her pictures and touch her things that I haven’t been able to part with yet. I know she’s not here but somehow God brings comfort to me.

Jesus lovingly, gently, caringly takes our family from day to day faithfully bearing our burdens and moving us beyond our sorrows into peace and joy. He reminds me that life is short and soon we’ll be with her again only this time things will be so much better.

It’s time for her room to change again. We are changing the carpet. I want the reminder of sickness and death removed from the room and I feel like it is time to cleanse. I don’t know how to describe my feelings about this and it seems insignificant unless you’ve been through it. It’s just time.

Little by little I let go of her and look forward to our meeting in a different place, time and atmosphere. It is amazing to me to see how things change and time goes on. I’m so aware that I am but a vapor, a mist even to the point where spending money on carpet seems silly but in some strange way I think it will help move us ahead.

There are days when I forget that time is short and life crowds in on me but I have only to see her room and God brings perspective. I’m grateful for that…it is a gift from him. He so patient with me, he’s so loving and kind. I wish those who reject him could but taste of his love and kindness. I wish they would allow themselves just one vulnerable moment standing before him.

I know how the weight of this world melts away in his presence. We carry so many things that are unnecessary. Proverbs 23:26 says, “My son, give me your heart; let your eyes observe my ways.”

God is calling to you today and every day…time is short just ask Danni.

I’m not sure what the future holds for Danni’s room except that more of her wishes will be fulfilled. Her red chair that was given as a gift to her will be given to her dad to grace the room where her sister and stepsister spend their time “chilling out”.

Life is moving on and I’m learning to live every day as if it were my last. I want to make a difference; I want to be all God has for me to be. I want to fulfill my purpose in the earth as Danni did…I don’t want to waste this life or wake up some day and find that life has passed me by because I was unwilling to yield to God’s ways.

I want to learn everything I can and fulfill whatever destiny God has for me. I am determined not to kick and scream when God wants to bring change into my life. God help me.

God help me trust in your good nature, there is no bad in you; you are good all the time. Let the rooms of my heart be filled with your love and kindness. Clear out the unnecessary things I’ve been holding onto…

…cleanse the rooms of my heart of sickness and death and heal me. Make me to be all you have for me. I trust in your unchanging character for you are the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. You are my strength and my song. Amen.