Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wordy Wednesday

Psalm 63

A psalm of David, regarding a time when David was in the wilderness of Judah.

O God, you are my God;
    I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
    my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
    where there is no water.
I have seen you in your sanctuary
    and gazed upon your power and glory.
Your unfailing love is better than life itself;
    how I praise you!
I will praise you as long as I live,
    lifting up my hands to you in prayer.
You satisfy me more than the richest feast.
    I will praise you with songs of joy.

Do I really thirst for God? Am I allowing Him to satisfy my deepest longings? Hmmm. Thoughts to ponder today.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Place of Insecurity

After I started a new job, I began a search to find the best route to work. (You have to do this in a major metropolitan area with lots of traffic!) I tried several routes and then remembered a little-used back road which provided lots of greenery and no traffic for a few miles. Although I'd been on this road many times over the years, it's not one that I used with any regularity and not for quite a while. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this route during my morning commute...for a while. Then one morning something happened.

I was driving along (I'm sure my mind was wandering) when suddenly all I saw around me were trees, overgrown brush, and the road. There were no familiar landmarks and no cars around. It was just me in my car, the road ahead of me, and all these trees. I had absolutely no idea where I was. Panic rose inside me. I became fearful as I looked around and tried to reorient. Where was I? I tried to remain calm and kept driving in hopes that I would eventually remember where I was. Very soon afterward I arrived at a place where the road intersected with two other roads. To my relief, I finally remembered where I was. The whole experience probably lasted no longer than 15 or 20 seconds. Nevertheless, the whole experience was disconcerting and unforgettable.

There was another time when I was a child and found myself separated from my family in a store. I don't remember a lot of details about that incident, but I do recall a similar panic coming over me until my family found me. After that incident my mom always gave me a specific place where I could go should that happen again--a place for us to rendezvous. I was assured that should I become separated again, she would always go to that place to look for me. Thankfully I never got lost like that again, but I always remembered the plan and it gave me a sense of peace.

Life can sometimes be like these scenarios. We can be tooling along when all of a sudden panic sets in. How did I get here? I'm all alone! What should I do? Perhaps an unfortunate incident sets off these emotions or we've simply wandered into (or been pushed into) an unfamiliar path. We feel threatened by unfamiliar surroundings. Everything seems cozy when we are in familiar places, but if we're suddenly plucked out of the familiar, insecurity sets in.

Thankfully, as believers, God has already given us a place to rendezvous when we find ourselves in these unfamiliar surroundings. We can go to Him in prayer and we can read His Word. He will be faithful to meet us there. There is nowhere that God is not.

Psalm 139:7-12 tell us that God is omnipresent:

I can never escape from your Spirit!
    I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
    if I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
    if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there your hand will guide me,
    and your strength will support me.
I could ask the darkness to hide me
    and the light around me to become night—
    but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
    Darkness and light are the same to you.

I'm so thankful that whatever circumstance I may be in, God is always there. I can keep my eye fixed on Him. God is way better than GPS.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The 2nd Thanksgiving

Most are familiar with the story of the 1st Thanksgiving of the Pilgrims celebrating the harvest in a new land. Their 2nd Thanksgiving was more interesting.

The summer before that 2nd Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims planted their crops and were met with drought. All seemed lost. But the Pilgrims chose to take their case to God. They set aside one full day for prayer and worship. As the Pilgrims left their meeting, the skies were overcast and soon rains began to fall. Gentle rains came for two weeks straight. The Indians observed this miracle and celebrated the 2nd Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims.

How amazing is God! His timing is perfect. He sometimes brings His people to a place where we cannot lean on own strength and must turn to Him. When we do, the blessings will rain down on us--not because we deserve it. God wants to show His glory through us to others. It's all about Him.

Be thankful. Be in prayer. Be worshipful on this Thanksgiving day.

May God's blessings rain down on you and your family.

Story source: The One Year Book of Psalms by Tyndale House Publishers.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Wordy Wednesday

On this Wednesday before we celebrate Thanksgiving, I shall remember where my thankfulness should be directed. I have been participating in the 30-Day Thankfulness Challenge and have posted on Facebook at least one reason each day for which to be thankful. When I'm challenged to think about this each day, it helps me to focus on all the blessings and publicly exalt God.

So, let us...

“‘Give thanks to the LORD, call on His name. 
Make known His deeds among the peoples; 
make them remember 
that His name is exalted.’ 
Praise the LORD in song, 
for He has done excellent things; 
let this be known throughout the earth.”
Isaiah 12:4-5

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Resistance is Futile

Captain Picard as a Borg Drone (Please refer to copyright information below)

As I've written on this blog before, I am a fan of Star Trek. I recently watched a number of these movies during a marathon so perhaps that's why I am drawing on Star Trek as an example for today's post.

If you are unfamiliar with Star Trek (I pity you) the Borg is a fictional alien species who attempts to achieve perfection by assimilating humans and any cybernetic organism into their collective. This species and their advanced capabilities became quite a foe for the Star Trek crew. Their introduction to everyone--before assimilation--was this line, "Resistance is futile." In other words, we have plans to assimilate you, we will accomplish it, and any efforts to resist this effort is futile. So you might as well just believe it.

Have I lost you yet? Stay with me here.

This Borg phrase came to mind recently as I was pondering the issue of keeping the faith. There are many times when I want to believe in God's promises but when it takes so long to see something happening, my faith begins to waver. I begin to have doubts, especially if I do not see any progress. I'm such a visual person that if I don't see something, I have a hard time grasping it. If I see someone building a brick wall, I can look at it going up brick-by-brick and know that at some point that wall will be finished. But, God often works behind the scenes and I don't see the bricks going up. Translated in my brain, Nothing is happening.

This year has been all about faith-building for me. Simply put: Trusting God in every area of my life. If God has told me something that aligns with scripture, I believe it...until my faith wavers. God reminded me that if I believe it, then I need to live like I believe it. Then He reminded me of Hebrews 11:1...

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for 
will actually happen; it gives us assurance 
about things we cannot see.

I have always liked this verse but it takes on a special meaning right now as I walk out this faith. Where does the Borg come into all of this? Glad you asked. I'm getting there.

When I go on reading the remainder of Hebrews chapter 11, I have the opportunity to read about all the ordinary people of the Bible who walked out their faith and were commended by God. This chapter is typically referred to as The Hall of Faith. We tend to look at this people as extraordinary individuals with lots more faith than us. Maybe. Or maybe they started out just like us. But they believed God and trusted Him, stepping out in faith. Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses all have some amazing examples faith and trust in God. They were willing to believe, to surrender, and to follow God based on a promise. They didn't know how God was going to work things out. 

All these people earned a good reputation
 because of their faith, yet none of them received 
all that God had promised.
--Hebrews 11:39

True, not all of these people actually got to see their promise fulfilled. But that doesn't mean God didn't honor His promise.

So, Resistance is Futile.

Why am I resisting (not believing)? After reading about all of these great people of faith, how can I not believe? To not believe would be futile. And, to rephrase what I said earlier...
     God has plans,
          He will accomplish it,
               so I might as well just believe it.   

God is good.

What are you believing God for today?

The Borg image is a low-resolution screenshot of a copyrighted television program or station ID. As such, the copyright for it is most likely owned by the company or corporation that produced it. This image is being used only to identify the subject for commentary purposes and qualifies as fair use under United States copyright law. Any other uses of this image, might be copyright infringement. The image will be removed from this website should the copyright holder request. I will "make it so."

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Three on Thursday

I want to share a few notes that I took during a sermon a few months ago. The scripture reference was Joshua chapter 5 as the Israelites prepared for battle. Even though this chapter is mostly about a particular procedure/ritual that I won't mention by name here, there is a lot of real-life application to be had in this chapter. I was quite surprised.

Our teacher said that sometimes our battle is fear and doubt rather than the seemingly looming problem in front of us. How true!

Here are three principles which will come in handy before we head into any battle:

  1. Make sure you are walking in the clear, revealed will of God. Prepare yourself. If there's any known sin you haven't dealt with, make sure to confess and/or forgive.
  2. Remember what God has already done for you. Remember His faithfulness and provision in the past and present. God will be there with you.
  3. The presence of God will challenge us. God will give leadership, direction, and provision for the battle. Recognize His presence--even in the midst of fear and doubt! (Read Joshua 5:13-15.)

These are some really sound principles to remember whenever fear or doubt begin to knock on our heart's door.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Wordy Wednesday

Psalm 100

A psalm of thanksgiving.

Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!
Worship the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
He made us, and we are his.
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Fresh Water

I am thankful that I have all the clean drinking water that I need at my disposal. Just turn on a faucet and there it is. Honestly, it's something I take for granted every day. The only time I have been more aware of this luxury was during times of shortage such as drought and need for conservation.

If you are thankful too for clean water too, please support this new cause called I'M GONNA DIG A WELL. This initiative will help to build a well for people in Guatemala.

Watch this video which contains pictures of real people from a mission trip to Guatemala earlier this year. The song was written by a friend and sung by another dear friend from my home church. 
After you watch the video, please go to iTunes and purchase the song. 100% of the proceeds go to the Dig A Well project. Thanks and please share.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The God of Details

You keep track of all my sorrows.  
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.    
You have recorded each one in your book. --Psalm 56:8

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body 
and knit me together in my mother’s womb. --Psalm 139:13

And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. --Luke 12:7a

God is definitely into details. These verses are just a sampling of how into details He is. Think about all the tiny little details embedded within creation of the earth and human life--molecules that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Then there are all the details given to Noah for building the ark! How about the battle of Jericho? Lots of details there, let's see: March around the city, seven priests, rams horns, don't talk, just march, and do this for six consecutive days. Then on the seventh day you can shout, but you have to say these specific words... Yes, He is the God of details.

I had a revelation in recent months about myself. I realized how often I tend to rush through tasks "just to get them done." I want to cross it off my list and get on with something more "interesting." This is especially true if I don't have to worry about quality control coming behind me to inspect. {smirk} So I often choose the "good enough" route instead of paying close attention to details. Sometimes this results in "do-overs."

Unfortunately this is also how I sometimes approach other things in life besides tasks. Let's see:

  • To the person standing in line at the fast food counter who cannot decide what to order...hurry up.

  • To the guy in the truck sitting in front of me, don't you know the light turned green? What are you waiting on? Maybe a different shade of green???

  • To the acquaintance who cannot decide if she really wants to go out for coffee at 3pm or 4pm or decide if which place we should go to... Either are fine with me. Really. Just please decide so we can get this settled--today.

A lot of this is impatience--okay, probably all of it is impatience. I tend to push myself and others--especially God--to hurry up and get it done. Oops! Did I say God? Yes.

Impatient with God? God has his own timetable and, of course, He is the God of details. Admit it. You've probably tried to ask God to hurry up and do something. If you're like me, you don't come right out and say it that way because that would be demanding God to do something. Instead, it may take the form of whining, complaining, crying--that sort of thing. Manipulation.

The fact is that God is better than the best skilled craftsman you can think of. A true craftsman (or artist) will meticulously work on something until it's absolutely right. No shortcuts are taken. No details are overlooked. Only the best tools and materials are used. These artists can envision what the finished piece should look like and will go to great lengths to make certain it gets there.

That's the way God works in our lives--in my life. Even when I cannot see anything happening, God is working behind the scenes to prepare the "canvas" and to fine tune every single detail. God wants the very best for me and not a half-finished project. It may seem like He is withholding something from me. Not necessarily. It needs to "cook a little longer" or it needs a "nip and tuck" before it's ready. If He did give me what I wanted before it was ready, I'd be disappointed or at the very least I would be short-changed.

Since I've become more aware of this tendency to rush, I've tried to slow down. I've been mindful of times when I try to push God ahead of His plan and His timing. I still get hurried or impatient, but with awareness comes an opportunity for me to practice a new habit: patience. When I'm practicing this habit in my relationship with God, it results in more trust in Him and peace for me while I wait. And if I'm not in such a hurry, I get the opportunity to watch a Master Craftsman at work. Amazing!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Wordy Wednesday

A psalm of praise of David.

I will exalt you, my God and King,
    and praise your name forever and ever.
I will praise you every day;
    yes, I will praise you forever. 
Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise!
    No one can measure his greatness.
 --Psalm 145:1-3

Monday, November 5, 2012

Thankfulness and Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has long been one of my favorite holidays. Until recent years, Thanksgiving had remained relatively untouched by commercialism. However, with the additions of Black Friday and Cyber Monday it's simply become the day before bargain shopping begins.

I love how a viral thankfulness challenge has taken hold on Facebook and the blogosphere. There is a 30-Day Thankfulness Challenge during the month of November. Each day participants post a reason to be thankful. If you haven't started yet, I highly recommend participating in some way. Even if you don't wish to participate publicly on Facebook, start a journal or jot down a few words on your daily calendar. Looking for ways to be thankful is good for the soul. It's also a good way to direct our thanks to the Lord.

I'd like to challenge everyone to be mindful of God's provision and blessings on our lives and offer thankfulness back to Him during this season.

“It is good to give thanks to the LORD 
and to sing praises to Your name, 
O Most High; to declare Your 
lovingkindness in the morning 
and Your faithfulness by night.”
Psalm 92:1-2
“‘Give thanks to the LORD, call on His name. 
Make known His deeds among the peoples; 
make them remember that His name is exalted.’ 
Praise the LORD in song, 
for He has done excellent things; 
let this be known throughout the earth.”
Isaiah 12:4-5

“Whatever you do in word or deed, 
do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, 
giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”
Colossians 3:17