Saturday, March 30, 2013

Weekly Impressions - Preventative Maintenance


I realized the other day that I haven’t been utilizing my spiritual tools lately.  Yes, I’ve been having my quiet time at night, but it’s been more by rote.  Read my chapter, maybe pray, go to bed.  I hadn’t sought the Lord in my formulated prayer (see Weekly Impressions - Prayer with Thanksgiving) in awhile, and I wasn’t trying to call thankful things to mind, nor was I Confessing very often.  Perhaps... (just maybe...) I was struggling more - especially in the area of depression - because I wasn’t using the tools that God had given me.  

The day I wrote Blue, my depression was so fierce that I just had to look around and say, “Thank you for my clothes, Lord.  And my shoes, and my Water, and my Camelback, and my desk...” and so on, producing an entire litany of things before my eyes that I could thank God that I had.  I didn’t really focus much on why I was thankful for them.  I was going more for quantity so as to be overwhelmed with His goodness and provision.  I was trying to bring to mind the evidence for what I knew in faith to be true.

It helped.  At the very least, it steered my mind away from my self-focus to break the downward spiral, and provided a basis off of which I could begin an Upward Spiral.  I didn’t get very far in the upward spiral that day; I hadn’t really expected to.  Feelings don’t often change with the flip of a switch.  It takes time.  Things did turn around emotionally by the next day.

I have purposed now to be more intentional about using my spiritual tools not only when I’m facing an issue, but during the usual course of my day.  You could classify it as preventative maintenance.  That’s pretty much what it boils down to.  I am so glad that God not only gave me these tools, but also helps me to use them.  

“For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” Romans 11:36

Friday, March 29, 2013

Humidifiers


My cold turned into laryngitis almost a week ago, and I lost my voice.  It didn’t hurt, but I was having difficulty controlling my coughing.  If there’s one thing I’ve found that helps coughing, it’s water.  Since I can’t shove water down my throat at night, I have set up our humidifier the past four or five nights.  It’s been great!

I am thankful for God’s gift of our humidifier, that He is using it to ease my symptoms and help me get better faster.  It is a blessing to be the recipient of the Lord’s care - and we receive it every moment of every day, even when it doesn’t feel like it.  Those moments, similar to being sick, can feel miserable.  Yet they are still an example of God’s glory and His Grace.

Paul wrote about this in 2 Corinthians 4:15-18:  “For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.  Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.  For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

I look forward to the “day” of eternity, knowing that this “momentary light affliction” is temporal, not eternal.  Therefore I will not lose heart, but continue in God’s renewal day by day.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Blue


I had a bit of a rough day today because I was struggling with my attitude.  I was depressed about something and had a difficult time not focusing on myself and perpetuating the problem.  

As I was driving out of a parking lot at the end of the day, I looked up to see a serene cloudy sky tinted a beautiful color of blue and immediately recognized God’s hand.  As I looked around, the whole outside world was tinted in various shades of blue light.  I smiled at the parallel of me being depressed, but even more, God spoke to my heart in that one scene about blue not having to signify depression.  That blue scene didn’t depict melancholy or gloom, it spoke of calm, beauty, quiet... peace.

I didn’t have to be depressed, because the peace of God could fill me.  Even when I’m having trouble drawing upon it, God can meet me in my depraved state and bestow it upon me.  That was what He did in that moment.  Not that the whole world turned happy, but He helped me to perceive things differently.  Closer to the way that He sees them, I think.

I am thankful for the color blue, that God used it to speak His peace into my heart.  We are so blessed to be able to have such a relationship with Him.  God speaks to each of His children in many different ways.  What was the last thing He “told” you?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Flash Drives


Today was one of those somewhat slow days until the last hour of the work day.  Then it got hectic - and the work day became longer.  We wanted to get some street signage to direct people to our Easter service, which is at a different location this year, and I had never handled any printing or graphics that large.  So we had a call in to someone who did, but - as always - we waited until the last minute.

So now it was down to the wire and I worked up a little something simple, having called around to get an inkling of the options available.  However, the person did call toward the end of the day, and we worked up a much better sign.  She had lots of helpful tips.  

Now the problem was getting it to the company for printing.  I had already stayed an extra hour at work by this time.  I hadn’t realized it, but the file was 677Mb... that’s a big file (and would explain why the computer took soooo loooong, lol).  How was I going to get something that big to the company?  Now that I thought about it, I actually had two files that size.  That’s over a gig... I remembered that I had a flash drive in my Backpack, and quickly checked it for the size... 8GB - yes!  The company was local, so I could hand deliver it with my flash drive.  Thank the Lord!

I am thankful that God provided me with a flash drive to fit the bill, and for the relief that it provided me in that moment.  I made it to the company with fifteen minutes to spare.  How’s that for God’s Schedule?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Backpacks


My backpack goes with me everywhere.  I use it as my purse, my laptop bag, book bag, and for a little while used it as my knitting bag, too.  It’s wonderfully versatile and pleasingly resilient.  I even think it looks cool, with its frosty blue and black tones, which is a nice little bonus.

Without my backpack, I would have to carry two or three bags that wouldn’t be as easy to tote around.  I get looks for my backpack sometimes, but I’d rather carry it and have two hands available than both hands full with my things.  Besides, free hands mean that I can carry all of my 1-year-old’s things in fewer trips.  That’s pretty nice, too.

Yes, I am very thankful for backpacks, that God made an easy way for us to carry more with less work.  It just seems to make things run more efficiently, especially with the amount that my family travels!

Has God provided you with an item that's your workhorse?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Productivity


I’ve had a cold this past week, so I’ve been trying to lie low with respect to exertion.  In the past, I have played video games while sick, and noticed that I didn’t get well as soon, so that includes mental exertion.  So over the weekend - with frequent rests - I have been Knitting and working on the book that I am designing from the first 100 thankful things in this blog.  (You can see more about that under the tab above entitled “Devotional Journals.”)

I progressed quite a bit on both!  Knowing that you’ve been productive - especially when you’re sick - feels like an accomplishment.  Yet as I enjoy that feeling, I must be careful to temper it with the knowledge that I am only able to accomplish anything by the grace of God.  I have no right to be prideful.

“For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever.  Amen.” (Romans 11:36)  “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” (John 1:3)

God is the reason that I can even breathe at this moment.  There are so many facets of that one function that require survival:  He created our lungs to breathe; the structure of the atoms and molecules to form the lungs; the bodily systems that require the oxygen from the air; each of the elements that are in the air... you get the idea.  That is a pretty big God.

I’m not saying that’s it’s sin to enjoy accomplishment - we were made to enjoy God, “...who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.” (1 Tim 6:17c).  I’m just loving the knowledge that God is in control of the tiniest details, and thus, am thankful that He gave me the gift of productivity this weekend.  I pray that I might get to see some of the ways in which the work that I accomplished will glorify Him.

What has God been orchestrating in your life this past week?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Weekly Impressions - Plate Spinning


I enjoy doing things.  I take pleasure in doing them to the best of my ability before God.  The drawback is that I like to take on more and more until, before I know it, I’ve taken on too much.  

One of my high school teachers used the example of plate spinners.  They spin a plate on top of a stick, but the real trick is that they have multiple plates spinning on multiple sticks.  They run back and forth tending each plate to make sure that none tumble and shatter.  I view tasks like those plates, and I truly enjoy managing how to complete all of my tasks in the amount of time I have without letting one fall and shatter, so to speak.  How many plates can I spin at once?

This mentality evokes a certain urgency that spreads throughout my whole day-to-day life.  Everything relates to how much time I have and what I need to do in order to make sure that none of my plates are falling.  It even affects my quiet time with the Lord.  I find it difficult to keep my thoughts on the same subject, or am so worried about needing to learn something in the time I have, that I can’t focus enough to actually learn it.  It becomes my idol.


Sometimes it takes God stopping me in my tracks with sickness before I realize how far down that road I’ve gone.  Sometimes I can feel it in the way that my body feels - I can feel the urgency.  I have to stop and say, “Am I really pressed for time?”  And if I am, “Should I be?”

God has taught me - and this is one lesson I must constantly relearn - that it is better not to accomplish all of the tasks, but rather to “cease striving, and know that [He is] God.”  (Psalm 46:10)  Rather than see how many plates I can spin, I should be on the lookout for how many plates He wants me to spin.  

With each new task, I must ask myself, “Will taking this on permeate my life with urgency?”  I may very well be able to take on and complete the task along with all the others I have, but will I be sacrificing my “calm,” if you will, to do it?  Having time to relax is highly important, and God reminds me of this every time I try to sacrifice it.

Is your life constantly on-the-go?  Do you have difficulty Meditating upon His Word?  If so, pray and ask if He wants you to cut something out.  Ask what He would have you do.  If He truly wants you to do it all, then He will also provide a way to do it.  How great is our God?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Ravelry.com


I had heard about Ravelry before, but hadn’t really taken the time to look at it.  Lately, however, I’ve been developing the desire to knit myself a dress or skirt.  There aren’t many of those (1 or 2?) in the catalogs that I get, so I knew I’d have to try a google search or something, which would mean a lot of research to find one I liked, find the yarn, purchase it all, and hope that the pattern was good.

Then my friend physically showed me Ravelry.com, where all of that has already been done!  I am now a big fan.  You can search by pretty specific criteria to narrow down what you’re looking for, which makes finding a desirable item much faster and easier.  You can purchase and download the pattern right there, or they provide a link to where you can.  You can see what yarn is recommended, and it takes you to a place where you can purchase the yarn.  

Now it gets fun.  Other people who have used the pattern can post their photos of the finished product, any possible changes they may have made, any yarns that they recommend, and they can rate the pattern, as well as how easy the pattern was.  Not only is everything in one place, but you get a creative idea brainstorm!  That’s my kind of website.

I am thankful that God created a place (through human hands) for crafters to easily and quickly trade information.  I haven’t selected which dress or skirt to make yet, but I have compiled a group from which to narrow down my selection.  Ravelry should make this so much easier.  I pray that I don’t get so wrapped up in the tool designed to save me time, that I actually lose time!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Being Sick

I know it sounds weird to be thankful for being sick, but I’m more thankful for some of the “consequences” than the actual being sick part.  You see, when you’re sick, you get to stay home (sometimes, granted).  I’m also talking about the common cold, rather than the really nasty stuff, nasty as some colds can be.  I am blessed to be able to stay home while my husband and extended family take care of my one-year-old, so that I can actually get some rest.

It’s funny that, whenever I think of staying home alone - even when I’m sick - I think, “Oh!  I can get some things done!”  Yet, in all honesty, this is not a responsible way of thinking.  I’m staying home and not working so that I can rest, so that I will get better sooner, so that I can return to “active duty” sooner.  Sure, I can water the indoor plants, maybe get a load of laundry in the washer and dryer, if not fold them.  But most of my day should be spent resting and taking care of myself.

That’s a nice reprieve, even if it is a little marred by the headache, sore throat, and stuffiness that come with being sick.  So I am thankful that God allows us to get sick every now and again, if only for the fact that He may also be saying, “Rest now, My child.”  Knowing that God is in charge of that makes the day much brighter - even through the ailments.

What negative thing is God using positively in your life?

Cut Flowers


I had one last flower on my potted cyclamen, and though its petals were still vibrant, the stem had wilted to my desktop.  So in honor of spring, I did something that I’ve only done enough times to count on one hand:  I put it behind my ear.  

I was never a girly-girl and it felt weird whenever I had tried, so I just didn’t duplicate the experience.  I’ve been feeling a little more adventurous in the girly-girl department lately.  (You know, like I actually painted and filed my nails... not in that order.)  I suppose I’ve been looking for a little something different of late.  A little something to jazz things up.  Not much - just a bit.  

Well, it’s spring, and cut flowers have been just the ticket!  I was tending my african violets at home, and accidentally broke off a perfectly good stem of flowers.  No big - I’ll pop it in my ear and enjoy it awhile!  An arrangement of cut flowers on the table adds just a little flair to the room.  Just enough spice to add some flavor, but not enough to change the whole dish.

I am thankful for cut flowers, that God uses His creation of color, vibrance, and originality to add a little something to our day.  Sometimes, He even adds fragrance.  All-in-all, a rather pleasant and enjoyable experience.  Especially if they’re from your own plants!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Coffee Tables


I have fun memories of dancing on my parents’ coffee table when I was 3-5 years old.  It was a nice solid piece of furniture and the level change was fun.  I now have to smile as my 1-year-old son climbs up onto my in-laws’ coffee table - and dances.  

A coffee table usually ends up in the center of the living room, since it’s most often placed in front of the Couch.  As such, it’s the perfect place for my little man to be the center of attention.  This he enjoys.

He doesn’t only dance.  He has his own awesomely Cute mannerisms, including running in place in excitement in that cute little baby run with arms outstretched and a little grin in askance that you’ll catch him as he jumps off.  That little run cracks me up every time.

I am thankful for coffee tables, that God has helped me to associate fond memories with a piece of furniture that I come into contact with most every day.  Do you hold fond memories of an item that you often come into contact with most days?  

Monday, March 18, 2013

Windshields


If it weren’t for windshields, I think cars would be used more like an amusement park ride rather than traveling places at higher speeds.  It would be very difficult to see and your eyes would dry out quickly, not to mention the bugs, etc. and your immensely tangled and dried out hair.  (Windblown hair - especially at high speeds - is quite difficult to detangle.)  

At the very least, traveling by car would have to be done at a slower speed, which would mean that we would have to live closer to town.  In that case, we wouldn’t have been able to afford to buy a house, we would be renting.  Toting children around like that - especially babies - would also get very old very quickly, and be rather miserable.

Instead, we have the ability to travel at very high speeds with little effect upon our physical bodies (moving sickness aside).  I am thankful that God made windshields so that we can use Cars to travel farther and faster.  What small thing in your life would have big repercussions if God hadn’t provided it?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Weekly Impressions - For His Glory


It’s easy to think that a post has to have something profound to say, but in reality, this is simply about what God is teaching me.  God doesn’t always teach us in epiphanies.  I think that His lessons in life are most often the small “notes to self” with a significant amount of practice and repetition.  As I have been practicing “looking out for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4) this week - particularly this weekend - God has been showing me the difference between serving others to serve myself, and serving others to serve Him (and them).  

I must continually put myself to the question as to my true motive, because it can change from moment to moment.  An easy way to check if it’s in the right place is to check on my Joy in the Lord.  Am I getting annoyed?  Frustrated?  Anxious?  Depressed?  These are all indicators that my focus has strayed, and that my motives are no longer rooted in the Lord.

Instead, I need to put myself in the shoes of the other person and then ask “myself”:  “What do I need?  What do I want?  What would help me right now?”  This certainly isn’t a be-all end-all answer, but it is a beginning. (Don't be afraid to actually ask the person, either.)

It’s nice to be used by God.  Not that anything that I do could thwart His purpose, but it is definitely fulfilling to live within His will, rather than outside it.  There is a peace in it, and the joy of the Lord shines brighter through it, overflowing in an Upward Spiral that glorifies God.

May I be cognizant of the way in which my life glorifies Him.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Milk


As the mother of a 1-year-old who really enjoys his bottle, I’m thankful for milk.  I mentioned in Rocking Chairs that I love the ability to spend a little quiet time with my little man (while he’s being still!) as I rock him to sleep with his bottle.  That wouldn’t be possible without the milk in the bottle.

Occasionally, we run out of milk, and I’ll put warm water in.  He rocks and drinks it just as well... but he doesn’t go to sleep as well.  He usually goes down sometime between 6:30-7:30pm.  Tonight, even the car isn’t putting him to sleep at 10:00pm!  Not that he’s fussy or anything (blessings!), just awake.  The milk seems to help prepare his tummy for the fast during sleep.

Milk helps little ones to grow and prepares them for the next step.  God does this with His children, too.  Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 3:2a:  “I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it.”  

Even though I have been a Christian for more than 20 years, I think I have found that the discipline of being thankful (which has been easier with this blog) has become my spiritual milk.  It really is a very basic principle of following God, and has opened my eyes to a whole new and wonderful world, filled with blessings, contentment, joy, and peace, just to name a few.  Not that I was completely void of these things before, but it is a basis off of which I can begin to eat more solid food.

And I rather enjoy my bottle.  I think it is important to note that milk is still useful to supplement the solid food.  Were I to stop my discipline of thankfulness, my foundation would crumble, and  my solid spiritual food would be useless to me.  Rather, we are to not only have milk.  These basics must continue to be practiced alongside the more advanced principles.  

The most famous example of this is in 1 Corinthians 13:  “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging symbol.”  Let us not forget the basic principles of Christ - why we do what we do.

I thank God for His working in my life through this blog, my spiritual milk.  I pray that it blesses you, too, and that He would lead you to search out His workings in your own life, producing in you the thankfulness and trust that He deserves.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Blossoms


Lord,

Your blossoms make me smile.
Such a soft and pretty thing:
Opening on the branch,
Blanketing bare limbs.

You catch them up with wind -
They float upon the breeze.
Dancing, spritely beckoning
Bright laughs in Your creation.

Alone, I’ll join the dance.
With others, smile and laugh.
Your gaiety is infectious,
May I practice it wisely.

May I spread it when appropriate,
Value its presence when not,
And always may I meditate
Upon Your works;
Upon Your glory;
Upon Your grace;
Upon Your love.

Amen.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Sunshine


It was a beautiful day today.  The new spring growth budded a brilliant green in the warm suns’ rays.  That light and new growth make His Creation so prominent that I can’t avoid thinking about Him.  God steps in front of me, so to speak, and waves, “Hi!”  

The sunshine often feels like God’s warm and loving embrace saying, “You are My child.”  There’s a lot in that statement.  It is both a protection and a command.  As His child, I can have the peace and contentment that He is looking out for me.  Yet it is also a command to shine His glory.  His glory is all around anyway, but He invites me to be a part of it.  To walk in the sunshine, and to reflect its glow to those around me.

I am thankful for the physical, spiritual, and metaphorical messages of sunshine.  May my thoughts be filled with Him, that He may overflow.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Hope


Romans 15:13
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

There are so many verses on hope, because our God is a God of hope.  I praise Him that He is!  So often, as my focus draws inward, I begin to place my hope in the things of this world, and am sorely disappointed.  Yet God’s hope will never disappoint.  He is perfect, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent; there is nothing my God cannot do!

That God who can do anything loves me - no matter what I’ve done or will do - with a perfect Love and tenacity to never let go of me.  In His perfect love and perfect will, He is conforming me into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. (Romans 8:28-29, Philippians 1:6)  Present tense.  He knows I don’t have it down perfectly, and He doesn’t expect me to.  

In my sin, I cannot please Him, but in His Son, I am justified - I am savedNo one can now condemn me (and how prideful of me to condemn myself!), as it says in Romans 8:1.

I am so thankful for the hope that God gives us.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Elders


I am thankful that God designed the church to have elders with the qualification to teach.  Whenever our pastor is away for a weekend or two, one of our elders steps up and preaches the sermon.  They may not be quite as polished as our pastor in their delivery, but they definitely share the Word of God in an understandable way.  It’s reassuring to be able to see the teaching of our elders, and thus, to know about the mindset of those in charge of our Church.

I am thankful for the work that our elders do in running the church, mediating, guiding, teaching, and leading.  I pray that they would be encouraged in the work that God has given them, and for God’s endurance and wisdom to carry out His work.  May they ever reveal God’s glory to His children.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Weekly Impressions - Pliable


Lord, 

Help me not to become calloused to Your instruction and to gloss over Your reminders.  Keep my heart humble and pliable in Your hands.  May I not disregard opinions until I have considered them in Your light.  Teach me to empty myself so that I might fill myself with You.  May my heart never grow cold.

In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Hotspots


Since I write a lot while we’re driving home, I will often use my iPhone as a hotspot to post or research something.  It’s a very handy thing to have, and it helps me to make the most of the time while driving home.  (My husband does the driving, in case you were wondering.)  I can also tend to my banking, etc. if I didn’t have time to get to it earlier in the day.  

We don’t spend a lot of time at home, and usually get home pretty late.  This means that by the time I get home, I usually just want to go to bed.  Being able to attend to things on-the-go makes that much more possible.  I thank God that He made the necessary waves for hotspots, so that we have one more thing at our disposal to make the best use of our time.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Sheets


My husband and I recently acquired a set of microfiber sheets.  Can we say comfortable?  Yes.  Yes we can.  We normally use a set of 600 thread count sheets, which are the silky kind of comfortable that feels like living in the lap of luxury.  Microfiber sheets, however, are the cuddly kind of comfort.  Our Cat rather likes it, too!  

I am thankful that God provided us with sheets, to grant a portrayal of the cuddly part of His embrace.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Nighttime


I am a night person.  I get a second wind around 9:00-9:30pm during which I feel as though I can actually get some chores done or do something fun.  The trouble is, everyone else seems to be getting ready to wind down for the night.  I also have a day job (which I love), and thus, must curb my nightly ventures.  Yet I love nighttime.

I am thankful that God made the nighttime, because of its relaxing atmosphere of Stillness.  I used to call my second wind “relaxed energy,” because even though I have the energy to do something, it’s the kind of energy that can be channeled into most anything and still be content.  It isn’t the type of frantic energy that must be used.  It simply is.

I pray that God would help to teach me the delicate balance of how to choose what to work on during that time - or if I need to simply Rest.  May His wisdom guide my choices.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

God's Schedule


I am thankful for God’s Schedule, that He is in control.

Have you ever encountered a project whose deadline seemed impossible to meet, and you prayed and you worked - and lo and behold, the deadline comes and the project is complete?  I call that God’s Schedule.  I wonder sometimes if He doesn’t warp time in the same way that He multiplied the five loaves and two fish to feed the five thousand.

As the church secretary, I was so thankful today to be able to see God’s Schedule take place with a project that had to be completed for a Biblical counseling class presented tonight.  It always seems easier to rest in the Lord when I know that circumstances are beyond my control.  It wasn’t that I was slacking, I just hadn’t received the needed material to work with until - what seemed to me to be - too late.

Yet I knew that if God wanted the material to be presented, He would see it presented.  So I didn’t stress about it... actually, I rather enjoyed the process, and laughed and joked with my colleagues.   When I felt my heart beating faster, I would just turn back to Him and pray for strength and endurance to do what I could do, then rest again in His sovereign plan.  Apparently, it was His desire to see all of the material presented - and that is just what He did through us.

God’s Schedule is truly wonderful to behold, and I am glad to be able to have faith in the God who can manipulate time and space according to His will.  And that will is for His glory, and the good of those who love Him.  This is His promise to His children, and never will He separate the two, no matter how bad it may seem.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Rocking Chairs


I am thankful to have a rocking chair in which to rock my adorable 1-year-old to sleep with a bottle.  It is a precious time when my son actually (mostly) holds still.  Looking down at that sweet little face and watching those baby blues fight a losing battle to stay open makes me smile.

How often do we hold still for God?  Not that we should always be still, certainly.  Yet do we have that time, and are we truly looking back at God and so at peace that it takes great effort NOT to fall asleep?

I don’t know about you, but my struggle is usually the other way around.  Sleep does not come easily.  I have noticed,however, that lately, the more I keep my focus on God, recognize that He is in control, and place my fear upon Him, the more quickly I fall asleep.  Rest is less illusory and more refreshing (See Weekly Impressions - Self-focus vs Refreshment for more on that).  It isn’t just something that seems like it should happen - it’s something that is happening.

Proverbs talks about that.  It says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom...” (Proverbs 9:10) and “Keep sound wisdom and discretion, so they will be life to your soul and adornment to your neck.  Then you will walk in your way securely and your foot will not stumble.  When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.  Do not be afraid of sudden fear nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes; for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.” (Proverbs 3:22-26)

I am thankful for rocking chairs, that God gives me a time of peace with my little one, and reminds me to have a time of peace with Him.  May our hearts and minds be staid upon Him.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Weekly Impressions - Marvelous God

Isaiah 25:1
“O Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; for You have worked wonders, plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.”

I love God.  I can’t express enough how awesome it is that - though I revile Him through my sinful actions - every day, every hour, every moment, He draws me back to Himself with the perfect Love that only He possesses.  Despite my idolatry, He gives me Answered Prayer, and Joy, and Victory, and Doors, and Comforters and every thing in my life that is good and perfect. (James 1:17)  That is the God I serve.

His Holy Spirit is Teaching me humility, and I think I’m actually beginning to get an inkling of what that looks like in minute corners of my life.  God has blessed me with so much less depression and so much more joy.  When I feel frustration, or anger, or complaint raising its head, I can catch it much quicker.  The first thing I tell myself?  “God means this for my good - so smile at His Victory, and enjoy the journey.”  I cannot tell you how much it changes the outcome of my day.  Life is so much more joy-filled when there is less of me and more of Him.

Take a moment to marvel over God.  His voice is clearer then.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Philippians


God has been pointing me back to Philippians for most of my recent struggles.  This letter that Paul wrote to the church at Philippi is rich with theology that we can put into practical use.  It is easy to set what we read in the Bible on a shelf in our minds - perhaps to display and be proud of - and yet its practice eludes us.  Perhaps it’s just me, or the current phase that I’m going through, but Philippians is written in a way that helps me to see how to put that theology into practice.

For example, anxiety (worry) is mentioned in several places in the Bible.  However, Philippians is the book in which the “cure” is made most apparent to me:  “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)  This is the main verse that instigated the creation of this blog.  Void of other verses in the Bible, I wouldn’t quite have picked up on this meaning, but this verse says to me:  “Pray without ceasing, and be thankful in everything.”

Paul also tells us to “have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus...” (Philippians 2:5) and then proceeds to explain how to be humble.  “...[A]lthough He existed in the form of God, [He] did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant... He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8)  I again pair this with other verses to say to myself, “Be obedient to God, and focus on Him, not you.  Empty yourself of yourself, and fill yourself with praise for God.”

Philippians is a book about how to live in the joy of the Lord.  Without humility (chapter 2) we cannot have true Joy (as distinct from, though not exclusive of, happiness).  Anxiety and worry - which are a type of pride - come in and steal our joy.  So many of us lose our joy because our focus draws inward instead of Meditating upon God.  It is our moment-by-moment struggle with sin.  

I am thankful that God inspired Paul to write this letter to the Philippians for the instruction - and thus hope - of those who love Him. (Romans 15:4)  Have you been robbed of your joy?  Where has your focus been?

My personal prayer is Psalm 19:14:  “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.”