Thursday, June 27, 2013

One Thing

Distraction.  The word for "distracted" in Luke 10:40-42  is from the Greek word, perispao.  It means to draw away, to be driven about mentally, to be over-occupied, or too busy.  

There are many distractions in this world that clamor for our attention.  Distractions can range from insignificant fun to dangerous detouring sin. But mostly, distractions are the everyday activities in our lives that keep us busy from sun-up to sundown until we crawl from exhaustion into the comfort of rest in our beds. 

Busyness can keep us from the feet of Jesus and severely hinder our relationship with the Lord.  Even good busyness.

"But Martha was distracted with much serving.  Sometimes the distractions in our life that keep us from the feet of Jesus as not necessary bad or amusing.  I know there have been times I have been so busy with serving that I didn't take the time needed to sit at the feet of Jesus.  I was too tired, too exhausted from much doing to spend the needed time just being

"Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me."
Sometimes pressure is unwittingly or purposely put on us to serve beyond our capabilities or beyond healthy balances.  A friend told me yesterday how someone had asked her to serve in a ministry at church. She replied that she didn't have time.  Then the person asking began to tell her all the ways she was serving to attempt to make her feel guilty.   You can say no.

The second point of this line makes me laugh.  Martha was telling Jesus what to do!  She was demanding Jesus do something!  She must have really been stressed.  

"And Jesus answered and said to her, 'Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.

How about you?  Are you worried and troubled about many things?  Are you stressed because of all the busyness in your life?  

"But ONE THING is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her."

One thing.  Mary sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word.  Mary chose worship.  How long has it been since you just sat at the feet of Jesus in your bedroom and listened to worship music?  How long since you delved into His Word and let His Words soak into your Spirit and revive your soul?  Are you too busy?  Are you distracted?  The Almighty God of the Universe, Creator of all things, Your Creator is longing to spend time with you.

Only one thing is needed.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Talking about Oz

I recently took my two boys, ages 8 and 10, to see the blockbuster hit, Oz The Great and Powerful. 
Movies can be a great way to engage your children not only with getting into their world with movies they like, but also can birth life lesson conversations. 

For those of you who haven't seen it (I promise I won't give too much away!),  at the beginning of the movie Oz says:

"I don't want to be a good man, I want to be a great one."  

At the end of the movie, Glenda says to Oz, "I knew you always had it in you." 
Oz questioned, "Greatness?"

Glenda replies:

"No, something better.  Goodness." 

This line in the movie inspired a great (or was it good?) question from my ten year old son, Joe, last night.  He asked me, "Mom, which is better: Goodness or Greatness?" 

Some of the best conversations we can have with our kids are in the unplanned moments.  

The world teaches us that we should strive for greatness.  However, there are many great people in the world who are not full of goodness.  Greatness is an outward attribute assigned to one by an outstanding ability to perform or excel in their talents.  There is nothing overtly wrong with greatness and it is admirable to aspire to greatness in developing one's gifts, but not at the expense of goodness. 

Goodness, on the other hand, is an inward attribute.  It is an attitude of the heart.  It is a fruit of the Spirit.  

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control."  Galations 5:22 

Goodness defines how we treat others.  The fruit of the Spirit have to be developed in our lives just as natural gifts and talents need to be developed.  If we strive for greatness while neglecting our character, we will undoubtedly fall from the heights of greatness when it is obtained.  

Talent can take you to greatness, but it is your character (your goodness) that will keep you there.   

Joe and I had a fruitful conversation about Greatness vs Goodness that I hope will stick with him for awhile.  As a mom, it is in these seemingly small spontaneous teachable moments that some of the greatest lessons are taught.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

"If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all--how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?  Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?  It is God who justifies.  Who is he that condemns?  Christ Jesus, who died--more than that who was raised to life--is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?...No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us."  Romans 8:31-37  

I want to encourage you to read the verse above out loud...slowly.  Let it penetrate your heart and soak into your spirit.  

The phrase, "If God is for you, who can be against you?", is continually being kept in front of me by the Lord.  It is a reoccurring theme for me this summer.  

I am in a hard place.  There are emotions and circumstances in my life presently that are difficult.  I need to know God is for me.  I need to know His love is enough and is never failing.  I need to know He is interceding for me and nothing can separate me from His love.  

As I was reading this scripture the other day, I told my husband..."I am in a hard place."  He asked me lightheartedly (because that is how he is--and a joy to live with!), "So, you aren't between a rock and a hard place?"  Then, it hit me...

Yes!  THAT is where I NEED to be!  I need to be between "THE ROCK" and the hard place.  Or better yet, I need the Rock between me and the hard place.  Jesus is my Rock.  I am not alone.  He is with me in the middle of my circumstances.  If He is for me (and with me), who can be against me?   

If you are going through something difficult today, let the Rock get between you and your hard place.  He is bigger than anything.   

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?...No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." 


Friday, June 14, 2013

Christmas in Summer

"For in this hope we were save. But hope that is seen is not hope.  for how can one hope for what he already sees?  But if we hope for what is still unseen by us, we wait for it with patience and composure."  Romans 8:24-25

We are in a waiting season. 

During Christmas, children are bright-eyed with excitement.  They see all the beautiful wrapped presents and they know there is something good hidden within the colorful wrappings and bows.  They long to peek under the paper to catch a glimpse of the treasures within the decorated packaging.  However eager they are to open the gifts, they have to wait until an appointed time--Christmas morning.  

Like a child at Christmas who knows his parents have something really good for him under the tree, we are waiting with eager anticipation to open the future God has tightly packaged up for us.

We don't know what He has in store for us, but we know it is good (Jeremiah 29:11).

Even though we cannot see what is inside the presents at Christmas, our hearts are full of expectancy of the treasure we know waits inside the box.  That is faith.  Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Heb 11:1).  We have faith and hopeful expectation that the unseen in the box is a colossal surprise worth the wait!  

We need to be as certain about what the Lord has in store for us when we cannot see all that He has in the box.  He is for us and His plan is good.

Just like we want to give our children presents that will light their eyes up with joy at Christmas, our God wants to surprise us with gifts that will bring joy to our hearts. 

"What man is there of you, if his son asks him for a loaf of bread, will hand him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will hand him a serpent?  If then, evil as you are, know how to give good and advantageous gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven [perfect as He is] give good and advantageous things to those who keep on asking Him!"  Matt 7: 9-11

We want to give our children what they ask for at Christmas because it brings us such overwhelming joy to see their face shine when they finally get to open the present they have been waiting for until Christmas morning. Do you think our heavenly Father is any different?

What is it you are waiting for?  What is it you have asked for (according to God's will--all God's promises are His will)?  You may not be able to see the answer at this time, and that is because He has it wrapped up for you until the appointed time--Christmas morning {Let's hope Christmas is this summer}.

Father, we know that all things work together for those who love you and are called according to your purpose.  We know your plans for us are for good and not for evil, to prosper us and not to harm us, we know we can trust you to give us the best for us.  Father, help us wait for what we cannot see with hopeful expectation, patience and composure.  Help us to just trust, be still and know You are God.  And if you don't mind, could we just have a little hint or peek of what is under the wrapping paper?  We love you, in Jesus' Name, Amen. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Running to Find God [Repost]

I have been reading Stressed-Less Living by Tracie Miles with Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies with Melissa Taylor.  Today, we were asked if we would share a time when we were at a breaking point and God intervened, rescued, healed and restored.  I thought this story was a perfect example a time God rescued me. I hope it encourages you today...

It was a Sunday.  The sunlight beaming between the blinds shed light on the darkness of my reality.  Where was I?  I did the thing I told myself I would never do again...again.  No more.

"BUT WHEN HE CAME TO HIMSELF, he said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!  I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son.  Make me like one of your hired servants."  Luke 15: 17-18

That morning I "came to [my]self".  I knew I couldn't continue to live in the pit.  I was perishing of hunger.  Only it wasn't the hunger of a physical kind.  I was perishing spiritually and heading down the path to complete destruction.  I reached bottom that day.  I arose and went searching for my Father, my heavenly Father.

The year was 1995 and I was a Junior in college.   It was the beginning of finals week at the University of Illinois.  I ran that morning from church to church searching for someone who could help me.  I ran and I ran.  Church to church to church.  Nothing.  No one.  Church had already let out.  No one was there.  Was there no one who could help me?  Crying in desparation, I asked God, "God, please help me." 

I ran to the farthest church I knew of on campus.  It was close to my Freshman dorm.  I had visited it once while a Freshman.  That seemed ages ago.  I found someone who would listen to me.  They called a senior girl from their college group and asked her if she could talk to me.  It was finals week and I know she needed to study, but I am forever grateful that she took some time out of her studying to talk to me.  I wish I knew her name.

She listened, she advised, and she prayed with me.  I knew I could not keep living in the same self-destructive way I had been living.  I felt so unworthy of love of any kind--God's love or man's love.  She spoke words of truth and grace.  She doesn't know it, but she saved this soul from death by her words of grace.  I hope God will arrange for us to meet in heaven so I can give this girl who gave up a Sunday of studying during finals week to help free a girl from the depths of hell a proper thank you.

She helped lead me back to the cross, back to grace, back to Christ, and back to my Father.   

"And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.  And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' But the father said to his servants, 'Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet.  And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and it alive again; he was lost and is found.' And they began to be merry."  Luke 15:20-24

Tears are streaming down my face as I read the verse above.  Not only was I running toward God that day...God ran toward me.  He was there with me all along.  He never left me and never gave up on me. When I came to Him, He hugged my neck, kissed me and rejoiced that His daughter had returned.

I felt so unworthy to be called His child, but He said, "Bring the best robe...put a ring on [her] hand and sandals on [her] feet."

He took my old dirty rags full of sin and replaced them with "garments of salvation" and "a robe of righteousness" (Isaiah 61:10).  Not only did he cover me with a robe of righteousness, he has since given me the fatted calf as well.  God has restored my life and has done above and beyond all I could ever ask or think.  His blessings overwhelm me.  I know the pit I was in and I weep at the thought of our Father's never-ending love and grace.  Oh Lord, that you would love me even in my sin and rescue me from my pit of destruction!!!  My heart rejoices and I am forever grateful!

Are you in a pit today?  Are you hungry and thirsty spiritually?  Arise!  Run to Him!  You will find Him. He has already found you.  Although you may feel unworthy, God says you are worthy.  He has a robe, a ring, sandals, and a fatted calf await you. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Mr. Fix It

This week, my husband and I are celebrating our 15 year anniversary in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico!   What is even more amazing is where my husband and I were in our relationship one year ago compared to today!  We are so thankful for his healing and transforming power! The Lord is good and His mercy endures forever! 

We are completely off the grid with limited to no technology.  I scheduled this to post before we left.   I pray it blesses you today. 

Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.  Jeremiah 33:3

The word "call" in the verse above is "qara" in the orginial Hebrew and it means " to call out to someone; cry out".

God wants us to "call out" to Him.

The commentary in my Bible says that this verse is:

"The positive assurance from God is that if we will call on Him, He will answer us in ways that will astound us."

It is true.  When we call, God will answer.  He will reveal that which was hidden.

We have some rental property and there have been times that our tenants will "call" on my husband, Chris.  Since he is the owner, he has to be available when they call him for help.  The tenants didn't know how to fix what was broken, so they called someone who would know how to fix it.  For example, he has had to be a plumber, put in shower heads, put in new dishwashers, and fix garbage disposals.  However, there have been somethings he has lacked the skills or knowledge to fix and then he will call a professional.

There may be times when we don't know how to fix something in our lives.  We know something is broken, but lack the skills or knowledge to fix it.  We may not have a leaky faucet or garage disposal that needs fixing.  Our broken need is usually much more substantial and consequential.  The issues we face may not only impact our lives, but also the lives of people we love.   Perhaps we face a broken relationship (marriage or family member),  a broken body (illness), an issue with a child, a job situation, an estranged relationship, etc.  

Whatever it is, God says, "Call to Me and I will anwer you".  He says He will reveal the answer to you, He will reveal that which you do not know.

About one year ago, my husband and I were in need of some major fixing.  We were at a very low point in our marriage.  In desperation, I cried out to God with my whole heart...."God, please... fix it."

He immediately began to work.  He led us, two broken people, on a journey of repair.  We knew we were broken.  We knew we needed Him.  He answered.  

We may not know how to fix it, but God does.  He will answer. He is our Fixer.

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, 
And delivers them out of all their troubles.  Psalms 34:18

God doesn't want you to stay living with a leaky faucet, He wants your life to be full of blessings and joy.  He wants to go in and fix your need.  Just call on Him.  

Oh Father, we thank you that we can call on You and You will answer and show us things we do not know.  We thank you that you love us.  We thank you that You long for us to give you our concerns and cares and let you fix the broken areas of our lives.  Thank you, Lord, for your faithfulness.  Thank you for your healing power that is available in every area of our lives.  Heal the brokenness and make us whole.  Lord, just fix it, fix us.  We love you. In Jesus' Name, Amen. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

God is Never Late {Revisited}

Hi Friends of Living Free in Him!  I am so happy to have you here today.  I wanted to share a post originally written in October 1, 2012.  I pray it blesses you today...

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life."  Proverbs 13:12

The word "deferred" above is the Hebrew word mashak and is means "draw out, prolong, or continue".

Last week my heart was beginning to get "sick" with waiting... waiting for a heart's desire.

The desire seemed to be at the top of a slippery rope of hope.  The desire was just out of reach.  Hope continued to show me it was there, but I was unable to attain the grip needed to reach the top of desire.

Fulfillment of the hope was just dangling in front of me saying wait a little longer.  When we can see the hope, but it alludes us, it can be exasperating.

Faith whispered for me hold on to hope. Don't let go of the rope, you will attain your heart's desire!

However, disappointment turned into discouragement...

I prayed...God answered.

This post by Lysa Terkeurst was in my email inbox "The Place Where Disappointment Grows"  It was God speaking to bring encouragement to my worn down heart.  

Then, that night as I was reading the kids their devotional, God spoke again...My eyes overflowed with tears in awe of His presence and love for me.

My kids have Sarah Young's Jesus Calling 365 Devotions for Kids. These words were the words of the Lord printed on the page of September 27...

"I am constantly working in your life, even though you may not realize it. Especially when you are tired or hurt, or the day has had too many troubles, you may not notice Me at all.  But I am there.  

When you are tired, I am the One who is gently urging you on. When you are hurt, I am the One who is softly whispering, 'It's going to be okay.' And when you are overwhelmed, I am the One who is running before you, clearing the path of the things you just can't face today." 

Then, as if that wasn't enough, it suggested reading Psalms 27:14.  Again God spoke to my soul.

"Wait on the Lord; 
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!"  Psalms 27:14

"Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!".  What music to my ears!

 He strengthen my heart that day.   A heart that had begun to grow weary with waiting was made new and strengthened with the encouragement of His Word.  His Word helps us be of "good courage" or encouraged

God says those who endure with faith and patience inherit the promise (Hebrews 6:12).  Even when your heart's desire seems continually out of reach, keep waiting, keep believing, and keep hoping expecting a positive outcome.

Be of good courage, and WAIT on the Lord.  He is never late.