Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Not-So-Patiently Waiting

"I began to learn to wait."

These words were spoken by Elisabeth Elliot in her book, Pasion and Purity. In this book, Elisabeth tells of the love story between she and her first husband, Jim Elliot. I first read this book when I was about 16 years old, and have read it countless times since then.

Wait- it means, to "remain, expecting something"... "attend as a servant"...... "a stay; a delay"

I have been waiting a long time. Nothing compared to an eternity, but for me: a long time. Waiting on what? For companionship, for supportive friends, for wisdom, for God's plan for me.

"Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long." Psalm 25:5

"Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." Psalm 27:14

"I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope." Psalm 130: 5

"Blessed are all who wait for him!" Isaiah 30:18b

Waiting is HARD..... I am not (nor have I ever been) a patient person.... I like structure, a plan, a time line. I rarely get caught by surprise.

But waiting is something that I (and we all!) must do. However, as I wait, I must move forward. The Bible teaches that we must, "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." (Colossians 4:2) and that we should "make the most of every opportunity" (Colossians 4:5b). We cannot sit around and wait, as one might do in a doctor's office.... we must be ACTIVE! We must also be hopeful knowing that "the one who calls you is faitful and he will do it" (I Thessalonians 5:24).

Elisabeth Elliot waited. And God was faithful to her (and Jim's) obedience. There were times when she struggled with her thoughts and feelings, yet she WAITED. I need to wait also....... on whatever God has in store for me... on whoever God has in store for me...... in who God is.

Lord, help me to wait. You know how much I hate waiting. You know how impatient that I am. You know what is best for me. Help me to serve You during my wait. Amen.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Happy New Year?

I'm sure you are looking at the title and asking yourself if I have finally lost it.... but I was just thinking about how every new year (January 1), I make tons of resolutions and then NEVER stick to them! What are resolutions? They are goals... NEW things that we want to do!

God is a God of NEW.....

"He put a NEW song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God" Psalm 40:3

"Sing to the Lord a NEW song, for he has done marvelous things" Psalm 98:1

"Behold, I wil create NEW heavens and a NEW earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind." Isaiah 65:17

"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are NEW every morning; great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3: 22-23

"I will give them an undivided heart and put a NEW spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh." Ezekial 11:19

"Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a NEW heart and a NEW spirit." Ezekial 18:31

And that's just the old testament!

"A NEW command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." John 13:34

"Just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a NEW life." Romands 6:4b

"Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a NEW batch without yeast- as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrifieced." I Corinthians 5:7

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a NEW creation; the old has gone, the NEW has come!" 2Corinthians 5:17

God promises us a new heart, new spirit, new commands... He promises to make us NEW creations! We must remember that God blesses us with a NEW day each day.... what we chose to make of it is up to us......

I choose to live each NEW day to the fullest...... that I may glorify God and show others what He has done for me. So, if each day is NEW.... then I guess I can say..... "Happy NEW Year!" What goals are you going to set for yourself?

Lord, Help me to not waste my NEW.... the NEW day, the NEW life, the NEW love You have given me. Amen.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Why Don't You Just Grow Up?

Ephesians 4:11-16 "It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men intheir deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does it work."

This passage was shared Wednesday night at church. The youth pastor was speaking about how summer can be a time of growth in Christ, or it can be a time of "slacking off". One of the things he said was, "people spend so long trying to find our purpose (God's purpose for us), when we need to focus on maturity (growing in Christ)". WOW! For years, I have seeked God's purpose for my life. In fact, it was the reason I began a blog.... to share my random thoughts and search for a purpose. However, finding a purpose shouldn't be my goal. My goal should be maturity. Maturity...... really? me?

The pastor spoke of how so many youth come to him saying that they just LOVE God..... Loving God is basic/entry level..... it's awesome to love God, it is a reaction to the cross. The important thing is to DO something about our love for Christ! What is it that we should do to show our love? "and find out what pleases the Lord" (Ephesians 5:10) Pray! Read the Bible! Spend time with other believers! Share our testimony and witness to others! Love those around us! Be a servant! Avoid temptation! Obedience to His commands! By showing our love, we become more mature in our faith.

I think about my students and how much they grow during the school year. They become more mature by following the rules, studying, showing self control, living up to their potential........ should it be any different for us Christians? These same disciplines help us to become more mature also. It's amazing to see what they can accomplish at the end of the year, when their third grade time is finished. How much more can we accomplish in our lives by focusing on maturing?

One of my students never took responsibilty for his own actions. Whenever he got in trouble, it was always "someone else's fault" or "they did it to and you didn't say anything to them". However, now, at the end of the year, he has learned to accept responsiblity for his own actions. Is he perfect? No. Does he still get in trouble occasionally? Yes. Has he matured? Absolutely. This student has learned that maturity is the willingness to accept responsiblity. "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours (God's) be done" (Luke 22:42).

The pastor closed the message saying, "If we focus on maturity, our calling will find us". That is my new focus: Maturity..... I wanna GROW UP!!!!

Lord, Help me to remember that my growth should be my focus. Help me to please You through my words and actions. Help me to outgrow childish things that attract sin. Help me to accept responsibility when I fail You. Help me to trust You, knowing that You will reveal Yourself to me as I seek You and grow in You. Amen.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Which Way? God's Way

Deuteronomy 2:3 "You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north." This past weekend I attended a women's conference. This was one of the passages that was shared. So many times I have "circled" around the same issues: what is His plan for my life? will my prayers ever be answered? I need to stop circling and go NORTH! I need to go in a new direction, trusting that God will guide me and show me the way. I cannot continue to dwell on where I am (my current situation) and continue to do the same things over and over that have not produced results, I must go in a new way!

Over the past few weeks, I have begun to see some areas in my life where I have not totally obeyed God. This lack of obedience causes me to "circle".... to hope, pray, to want my life to be differently without taking the action needed. If all I ever do is circle, then I will never make any progress on my journey. I must change directions, I must do things differently, I must OBEY! In Luke 6:46-49, Jesus tells the parable of the wise and foolish builders. He says, "But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation." (verse 49a). I'm not a builder (I'm not even all that handy!) but I understand that if my house (life) is not built on a strong foundation (obedience) then when the elements (trials) come, my home will not stand firm. I wish I could say that I was obedient. I'm not.

One of the biggest areas I have realized I need to obey is in tithing. I give, but I don't tithe. God commands us to tithe. Malachi 3:8a, 10a, "Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. Bring the whole title into the storehouse" I have always used the excuse that I support good causes to avoid tithing. I have been afraid of not having my needs met...... I have been tight-fisted..... I have been too self-involved to tithe...... I have been greedy, wanting things for myself rather than obey.

I believe that tithing is one of the ways that I need to go north. I have to step out in faith and believe that if I am obedient to His word, then He will supply my needs. He even promises to do that..... Malachi 3: 10b "Test me in this, says the Lord Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it." I may have to give up non-necessities, but ultimately I know that God will provide for me.

I'm asking for prayer..... anyone who may read my random thoughts, my journey towards purpose........ pray that I have the courage to change directions, courage that I can GO NORTH! I'm also asking for accountability...... I can't just acknowledge what I need to do, I must OBEY! I John 3: 22b "because we obey his commands and do what pleases Him"

Lord, Forgive my disobedience. Forgive my self-centeredness. Help me to obey. Help me to trust that you will supply all my needs. Help me to have the courage to change directions, to stop circling around and around, accomplishing nothing. Help me to seek the new direction, the path where I need to be to learn from You, glorify You, OBEY You. Bless my spiritual growth that You will continue to show me other areas in which I am not obedient. Amen

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Seek Joy, Not Happiness

OK.... I know that I have written a lot about the book "God Chicks" by Holly Wagner. Let me say that this book has changed my perspective in my responsibilities as a Christian! In the chapter, 'The Party Chick' Wagner tells us that "What will set us (Christians) apart from most of the world is being able to rejoice even in the midst of challenges." She goes on to encourage us to "search (seek) for joy. Joy isn't some flighty, fluffy emotion. It is far more powerful than being happy. It is the steel that runs through your body. It is your strength." WOW!!!!!!!! My focus is NOT to be happy.... it is to be JOYFUL! The Bible has a lot to say about being joyful--- "But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful." Psalm 68:3 "yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior" Hab. 3:18 "Be joyful in hope, patient, in affliction, faithful in prayer." Romans 12:12 "Be joyful always; pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." I Thess. 5:16-18 The things that are happening around me (good AND bad) should not affect my joy..... My joy comes from my relationship with God and the sacrifice He made because of His love for me. Even when I am upset about something, I can still have joy. Even when things are going wonderfully, I can have joy. One of the ways that I can be more joyful is by seeking the good in people/things.... the more I encourage joyfulness in my life, the more I will be joyful! Not only should I increase my own joyfulness, I should also encourage others to be joyful! Wagner says, "Our words are powerful tools that can bring hurt or healing. Let's be determined to be the chick whose words bring life (or joy)". How many times have we relied on others to encourage us? George M. Adams said, "There are low spots in our lives, but there are also high spots, and most of them have come through encouragement from someone else." In other words, when we are on top of the mountain (rather than down in the valley), it is because someone has helped us to get there. Just as others have lifted us up, we should lift up those who need encouragement. We have to be observent to the needs of others around us. We cannont be so self-centered that we miss the opportunities to help others. Wow..... how often have I ignored the needs of others because I was too focused on myself? How many times have I let others' words or actions steal my joy? Lord, help me to take focus off of myself. Help me to encourage others and help them to seek the joy that only comes from you. Help me to remember that my happiness is not what I should focus on. Help me to seek JOY. Amen

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Are You Nobody Too?

"I'm nobody! Who are you? Are you nobody too?" This poem by Emily Dickinson sums up how I feel. Invisible... Lonely... Left Out... Ignored.... All Alone. I know that these thoughts aren't true.... they are lies the devil tells me to try and damage my witness for Christ. However, I have no idea how to get rid of these thoughts! As soon as I begin to show growth in my relationship with Christ, I stumble and fall. I listen to the negative thoughts in my head and use it as an excuse on why I can retreat into my own shell. I can find LOTS of excuses on why I can't be outgoing and friendly..... "no one will miss me".... "I don't fit in there".... the list goes on and on. I am also too sensitive to other's comments (or lack thereof!) Self doubt is horrible, yet worse is doubting Christ. Christ created me to be a NEW creature... "all the old is gone and all things are made new". Why do I keep letting the OLD me creep up? Why do I let others cause me to be depressed? Why can I not be thankful for who I am through Christ? Why can't I know that he created me with a purpose that only I can fulfill? "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things." Phillipians 4:4,6-8 (NIV) Lord, help me to always rejoice in you! You have commanded me to pray and turn all worries over to you. You have shown me what things are worthy of thought. Help me to give all my concerns and worries to You. Remind me that I should keep my mind on You. Give me peace, knowing that You are my protector and guardian. Amen