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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Why the Change?

Psalm 23 is a very familiar psalm. In fact, I think believers and non-believers alike have heard it so many times that they can quote it from memory. Memorization is great, but we must be careful to not allow the words to lose their meaning. When we quote a verse, are we just reciting the words or are we really thinking about what the verse is saying?

While doing my Bible reading this morning, I read through the familiar psalm. I was almost through when I realized I wasn't paying attention to what I was reading. My eyes saw. My lips spoke. My brain? Well, it was somewhere else. So, I went back and started reading again, and I saw something I had never noticed before. In the hundreds of times I've read, heard, and quoted it, I've never seen this. It's amazing what happens when you actually pay attention!

In verses 1-3, David is talking about the Lord. "The Lord is. . ." "He maketh. . ." "He restoreth. . ." But, look at what happens in verse 4. He completely changes his point of view or point of reference. Beginning in verse 4, David is actually talking to the Lord. "Thou are with me." "Thou preparest. . ." What happened between verses 3 and 4? Why the change?

Could it be that in the writing of this psalm, David remembered how precious the Lord is? Perhaps, David's change had to do with familiarity. After all, verse 4 talks about walking through the valley of the shadow of death. David had been there. Maybe, these verses meant so much to David that they reminded him that he was not alone. It could be as simple as the fact that he wrote it the way God told him to. I don't know, but I find it very interesting. There are many changes like this throughout the Psalms. Read a few, and you'll see what I'm talking about. In the first half of the chapter, David is questioning God. He spells out his complaints and troubles. He describes the trials he's facing and wonders why God won't help him. But, then in the next verse, he's praising God and singing songs. Wouldn't you love to know what happened in between those verses? Did David just resolve to be thankful? Or, did God come down and thump him on the head, telling him to quit his griping? (Don't laugh. God's done it to me a time or two.)

What's my point? First of all, when reading God's Word, pay attention. It is so easy to let our minds drift, but when we do, we miss out on something special. Second, look for God's work between the lines. Even if we can't figure out what the work is, it's a reminder to us that God is always in control, and He is always working in our best interest. If that's not worth paying attention for, I don't know what is.

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
II Timothy 2:15

Monday, September 29, 2008

In His Likeness

Wow! The Lord has really been speaking to me this weekend. On Friday afternoon, Jason and I went to see the movie Fireproof. What an awesome movie! If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it. I cried through most of it. I don't want to give the story away, but there were many times throughout it that I was reminded of how many times I've let God down. Yet, He has always forgiven me. Even though I've disobeyed and failed Him time after time, He still loves me and calls me His child. What a blessing!

If that wasn't enough, on Saturday, I was doing some studying for my Sunday School lesson. The Lord was leading me to teach on patience (a topic I'm not very familiar with). As I studied, again I was brought to tears when I was reminded of how patient God has been with me. It seemed to tie right into the movie.

I taught the lesson Sunday morning, and many of the ladies approached me later saying that I had really stomped on their toes, but they thanked me anyway saying that they had needed to hear it. The two messages from our pastor went right along with the lesson, emphasizing the fact that if we want to change anything in our lives, we must keep our eyes focused on the One who can bring about the change. Needless to say, it was a weekend full of spiritual blessings!

The lessons continued in my devotions this morning. I was reading in Psalm 17, a passage that I've read probably 100 times. But, this morning, I noticed something special in the last verse. As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness. In this passage, I don't think David is referring to a physical likeness. Instead, I think he is referring to the time when his words, thoughts, and actions reflect the Lord. He is stating that he won't be satisfied until he is a true picture of Christ. What a challenge!

While some of my words, thoughts, and actions reflect the Lord, I have not arrived at the place where I can look at myself and see Him. I still have a lot of areas to work on before my character resembles that of Christ. And, until then, I won't be satisfied. Until the world can see Jesus, and only Jesus, in me, I must keep striving to grow more like Him. How? Through prayer, Bible study, and walking with Him day by day. The task will not be easy, but the reward will truly be worth it!

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
II Peter 3:18

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Where Have I Been?

Wow! I can't believe I haven't posted anything since Tuesday. This week has been super busy. Not only have we been looking into dropping our home phone line, but I've also been tied up finishing the first draft of my second book. Yep, it's done. Now comes the hard part. Now, I have to add the final touches, cut out the parts that are just fluff, correct my many typos and grammar errors, and on and on. The writing is fun because the story can come alive as I type. The editing and revising can be a very tedious process, but it is a necessary part of writing.

Concerning our home phone line, we are dropping the home line and transferring the number to a cell phone. This is going to save us a lot of money each month. The problem is that our internet will be down for a few days while AT&T does whatever it is they need to do to set up our internet so that it is no longer connected to our land line. I don't understand all the specifics, but I do know that sometime in the near future (probably next weekend), we will be without the internet for a few days. This means no e-mail and no blogging. Pray that I don't go into withdrawal.

I will make every attempt to get back on track with my regular blogging on Monday. Until then, God bless you all, and have a wonderful weekend.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

God Works in Mysterious Ways

This morning I went outside to do my devotions. I was reading and meditating when out of the corner of my eye, I saw this white blur. Looking in that direction, I saw my dog, Mitch, running as fast as he could run with his long white rope dangling from his mouth. He made circles around the yard, running and growling. I can't describe the sight to you, but it was so funny that I laughed uncontrollably. The more he ran around, the harder I laughed. The more I laughed, the more he wanted to run. I guess he liked the approval.

I looked at Tippy, my older dog, who was just staring at Mitch like he'd lost his mind. "He's a mess. Isn't he?" I said to her. (Yes, I talk to my dogs. Get over it.) But, then the thought hit me of how much we have enjoyed having Mitch as part of our family. He's been a real joy. That thought in itself isn't strange, but the thought that followed was that we never would have gotten Mitch if Tessa hadn't passed away.

I believe Tessa's passing was God's way of directing us to another one of His creatures that needed love and care. If you had seen Mitch when he was at the pound, it would have broken your heart. I've seen a lot of "puppy dog eyes," but he was truly pitiful. I've never seen anyone or anything look as lost and abandoned as he did. Today, he doesn't even look like the same dog. He is happy and energetic, lovable and rotten.

He will never take Tessa's place, and I don't think God intended for him to. But, I do believe God worked this out, even though it's hard to understand and even sometimes hard to accept. But, I love Mitch. In just the few months we've had him, he has wiggled his way into my heart, and life with him is VERY interesting. I would love to have my Tessa back, but I see now that the Lord was working things for the good. It is true that God's ways are not our ways. The sooner we accept that, the better off life will be.

For my thoughts are not your thought, neither are you ways my ways, saith the LORD.
Isaiah 55:8

Monday, September 22, 2008

Priorities, Priorities

Is it just me or are the weekends busier than the weekdays? Don't get me wrong. I had a very pleasant weekend: hiking with the hubby, my niece's birthday party, wonderful church services. It just seems like no matter how busy I stay during the week, there's still so much to do on the weekend. For example, right now my house is in DESPERATE need of a good cleaning. I could have done it this weekend. I could have tried to squeeze it in, but frankly, I didn't want to. Instead, on Friday afternoon, Jason and I dropped everything and went on a hike at Table Rock. On Saturday, we did a few errands in the morning, then went to my niece's 13th birthday party. When we left there, we went shopping for some new hiking boots. (If you haven't noticed, hiking has become a new hobby for Jason and me.) Sunday, we had church in the morning and evening, but in the afternoon, we sat in the bed and watched reruns of The Amazing Race.

You're probably wondering why I'm telling you all of this. Well, if anyone is familiar with the "Martha syndrome," I certainly am. Work, work, work. No joy. No life. No fun! If you have no idea what I'm talking about, look up Luke 10:38-42. Martha was careful and troubled. Ever been there? Me, too. Why? Because she totally lost sight of what was important.

Now, please understand. I'm not saying that watching television is more important than cleaning your house. I'm saying that if we're always working and we never have any fun, frankly we become no fun to be around. A few weeks ago, I saw a "me" that I didn't like. She had no joy. She complained all the time. She was irritated and irritable. She was no fun to be around at all. I came to the conclusion that I had been trying too hard to make everything perfect (I'm bad about that), and in the meantime, I was driving myself crazy. Why? EVERYTHING CAN'T BE PERFECT! Whew! I said it. But, better yet, I'm finally believing it.

The house is a mess today, and it will probably still be a mess tomorrow, but you know what? Who cares? I spent an hour in precious communion with my Lord today. I played with my two sweet puppies in the backyard. I sent an anniversary card to my parents and a card of encouragement to a dear friend. I did a good deal of my writing outside, enjoying the beautiful weather. Tonight, Jason and I plan to continue our search for hiking boots. Aren't all of these things much more important than having a spotless house?

Priorities--we all have them. Now, we just need to get them in the right order. Please don't spend your entire day working. We all have to work. I understand that. I actually got a good bit of writing done today, but because I took time for the other things that were important, I'm in a much better mood and I feel that I've accomplished so much more! Do something for yourself today. You are no good to anyone if you're exhausted and irritated. Find what is needful in your life, and hold on to it with an unyielding grip.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Just Be Quiet

Because of the circumstances over the past week, I've been reading in several different passages during my devotion time, but today, I went back to my reading in Job. I began reading in chapter 39 where the Lord is questioning Job, proving that He alone is all-powerful, and He alone is in control. The Lord ends His questioning with this: Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it.

The part I like is Job's answer. Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth. In other words, "I'll shut up now!"

I think we all need that reminder every now and then. Don't we? Often times, we see a situation and think we know the best way to solve it. So, when God leads us in another direction, we argue with Him, stating our points and reasons. At times like that, God has to pull us down from our self-appointed pedestal and say, "Who do you think you are? Do you control the world, or do I?" Umm . . . good point! Who are we to instruct God in the way things should be done?

And, the principle of keeping our mouths shut doesn't stop there. I know we've all had times when we said things that we should have kept to ourselves. You know the routine: the thought pops into your head, you know you shouldn't say it, but your desire to have the last word overcomes all else, and then you blurt it out, immediately regretful. But, it's too late. The harm has already been done. Many times, we would be so much better off if we would learn to keep our mouths shut. If we feel we must have the last word, let's make it a word of encouragement or apology. If that's not possible, it's better to just walk away. Cool off! Let our anger dissipate. But whatever we do, let's keep a reign on our tongue. It can truly be a dangerous weapon.

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. . . a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.
Ecclesiastes 3:1,7b

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Thanks for Your Concern

I've received a couple of phone calls over the past couple of days. They were from some of my loved ones who were checking up on me after reading my last few blog entries. You have no idea how much your concern touches me.

We all go through times in our Christian journey when it seems like we're traveling in the dark. No map! No flashlight! No aid! The way before us looks twisted and gloomy, and we find ourselves crying, "It's just too hard, God. It's just too hard." If you've never been there, I'm sure you will be at some point along your journey.

I have just come through one of those dark patches. It wasn't really one thing in particular that was "wrong," but it was a combination of things that made me question myself and even God. Several events and circumstances led me to the place where I was ready to give up on the journey. The phrase "weary in well doing" had become my motto.

Things are looking better now. There are still some issues that I am dealing with, but the Lord is helping me. I can see a light at the end of the tunnel, and though the way still looks tough, I know that I am not alone. I've known that all along, but it's amazing how disoriented and forgetful we can become when we are going through the fire.

The Lord has promised to be with me always, and I know He always keeps His word. Your phone calls and e-mails have reminded me that I have your prayers with me as well. Thanks for the reminder!

I apologize if I scared some of you with my posts about my trials, but I really felt the Lord wanted me to share what I was going through. Why? Maybe so you would pray. Maybe to help someone else who was going through a similar trial? I don't know the reason, but God does. That's one point that God is trying to get me to understand. He sees the entire picture, therefore, He knows best. If I can wrap my brain around that, I'll be in pretty good shape.

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
James 5:16

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Just a Reminder

Just wanted to let everyone know that it looks like I FINALLY got the comment option fixed, so I'd love to hear from you. Do you have an opinion, a comment, or a request? Please, let me know. If for some reason the option is still not working, please send me an e-mail to let me know. I really would like to get the situation resolved. Thanks!

Vengeance is the Lord's

This morning I received the news that a precious couple from the church I used to attend were killed by a hit-and-run. The husband and wife were out for their morning walk when they were both struck by a car, which sped off, leaving them lying dead in the middle of the road. That sickens me! How could someone be so cruel? Were they drunk? Insane? Or just hateful? Somewhere right now, children are grieving the loss of both of their parents. The thought makes me want to weep, and the entire situation literally makes me sick to my stomach.

After hearing the news, my first prayer was for the family. This will not be an easy time for them. My second prayer was that justice would be done. My exact words were, "Lord, I know you are a just God. Please don't let them get away with this."

I'm angry, and my heart goes out to the family. I can't even imagine what they must be going through right now. But, I am comforted by the fact that God is just. I have no doubt that justice will be done. It may not be accomplished the way I would like it to be or the way the family would like it to be, but it will be done. We can also find comfort in the fact that we know we will see this beloved couple again.

Please help me pray for the Carey family during this difficult time. I know they would appreciate it.

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
Romans 12:19

Monday, September 15, 2008

Getting the Point Across

For the past several weeks, it seems that every message, every song, every devotion has revolved around the theme that nothing is too hard for God. I had picked up on the trend and thought to myself 'Boy, God's really trying to get someone's attention.' Well, I was right. He was trying to get through to me.

Things had been a little rough, but I was still going. I still felt that God could do a work in me, and I was determined to keep running my race. Little did I know that there was an area of quicksand just inches in front of me, and God was trying to give me the strength ahead of time to make it through. He was equipping me with promises and assurances that He would be with me, even in the toughest times, and that He could meet my every need, no matter how big.

Because I thought these messages were for someone else, I didn't really take them to heart. Don't get me wrong. I listened to each one, but I didn't really meditate on them and think of how to apply them to my own life. I had no idea I was about to face an obstacle. So, when I reached the quicksand, I panicked. I tried to get through on my own, and when that failed, I cried my eyes out, determined that this race was much too difficult, and ready to quit.

God had tried to give me the weapons to fight the battle, but I didn't take them. Instead, I decided to do things the hard way, and let me tell you, if I could go back, I would have taken the weapons He provided. I'm making it through, but it has cost me a lot.

My plea is that you don't make the same mistake that I made. Any time God is speaking, whether it be through a sermon, a song, a book, etc, listen closely and take to heart the message He is giving you. You never know when you may need it! Don't assume that the message is for someone else. Take it and apply it to your own life. It may save you a good deal of time and strength!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Potter Knows the Clay

Do you ever find yourself praying, "God, what are you doing?" Do you ever wonder why life has to be so difficult? Do you ever feel so weary in well doing that you just don't feel that you can go on? I know those feelings well, for I've walked through the valley this week. You know the feeling--everything is going well, you're serving the Lord to the best of your ability, you feel you're making progress, and then BAM! Suddenly, you find yourself back where you started and staring at the same obstacles you've faced so many times before.

Sometimes life if just SO confusing! In my case, I struggle with making things fit. My schedule is busy and complicated. My health is fair, but it could use some help. I find myself running out of energy long before I run out of time. And joy in the journey? It exists, but right now I have a hard time remembering what it's like. The problem is that I've been so busy living that I've forgotten to just enjoy life.

As Jason held me in his arms last night, I sobbed and exclaimed, "I don't enjoy anything anymore. I feel like everything I do is just another task to check off my to-do list." How sad, yet true. I'm approaching life completely the wrong way. The real problem is that I've become so used to my "routine," it's going to take a lot of work to get me out.

As I lay in bed this morning, praying and asking God to show me the answers, He brought this song to my mind. "The Potter knows the clay, how much pressure it can take, how many times around the wheel until it's submissive to His will. He has a beautiful design, but it will take some fire and time. It's going to be okay, for the Potter knows the clay." What an encouragement! What I am going through is not abnormal or unnatural. It's just some time in the fire, as God is molding me and making me into what He wants me to be. It's going to take time, and my job is to allow myself to be molded. Will it be easy? No, but I can rest in the promise that I won't have to face the fire alone.

He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
Isaiah 40:29-31

Friday, September 12, 2008

A New Kind of Radio

My post today is a little different than usual. I don't usual promote things on my blog, but this is on my mind, so I thought I would share it with you. I don't know about you, but I can't find anything decent to listen to on the radio. In my truck, I generally just listen to my CD's, but at home, I turn to the internet.

Once again, you must be choosy in picking out a station on the internet, but I have found a couple that I truly enjoy. The first one is The Gospel Station which plays entirely Southern Gospel music with very little commercial interruption (and I mean VERY little). Of course, there are still a few songs on there that I don't exactly like, but for the most part, I really enjoy their music. It's great for when I'm working around the house or exercising.

When I'm writing, I turn on Pandora radio. This is a unique site in that it lets you create your own radio station. You type in an artist or style that you like, and it creates a station for you based on your preferences. Beyond that, it allows you to fine-tune your station. For example, when a song comes on that you really like, with the click of a button you can tell Pandora to find more songs similar to the one you liked. On the flip side, if a song comes on that you don't like, one button click tells Pandora not to play any more songs like that. I have my Pandora radio playing in the background right now. I created a station of soft instrumental music for my enjoyment. Jason created a station of soundtrack music. We both love our stations.

So, why did I think this was important enough to post in my blog? Well, how many times is music mentioned in the Bible? I can't give you an exact number, but I can tell you it is mentioned a lot and, as far as I know, always in a positive way. Music is a gift from God. Music (if it's the right kind) can be a means of worship. Music is stress-relieving. Music can bring forth emotion. Music is important. I truly believe that!

So, if you're having trouble finding music you can appreciate and enjoy, you may want to check out the ones I mentioned. If you don't like them, hey, no hard feelings. I just felt it was important to share this with you.

Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.
Ephesians 5:19

Thursday, September 11, 2008

God Gives Songs in the Night

I'm still reading through the book of Job. (It's really long!) But today, I stumbled upon another verse that made me want to smile and cry at the same time. It's in chapter 35, vs 9. Where is God my maker, who giveth songs in the night? Songs in the night--isn't that what we are often in need of?

The verse reminded me of a song written by Rodney Griffin, a great songwriter and humble Christian. I'm sure he won't mind if I share the words with you.

He loves to hear our praise on our cheerful days
When the pleasant times outweigh the bad by far,
But when suffering comes along,
And we still sing Him songs,
That is when we bless the Father's heart.

God wants to hear you sing
When the waves are crashing 'round you
When the fiery darts surround you
When despair is all you see.
God wants to hear your voice
When the wisest man has spoken
And says "Your circumstance is as hopeless as can be."
That's when God wants to hear you sing.

According to this verse, not only does God want to hear our songs in the night, He even gives us the song to sing. What a blessing! So, in those times of darkness, when you feel you just can't go on, listen closely because God has a song for you!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

To Be Enlightened With the Light of the Living

First off, let me say that I apologize for the problems with the comment option. Evidently, it is still not working properly. I have changed a few more settings, so if any of you dare, you may want to test it out. Your feedback helps me to know what kind of errors you're experiencing so that I might know better how to fix it. Hopefully, it is working properly now, but I can't guarantee it.

In my morning devotions, I read a couple of verses that caught my attention. They are found in Job 33:29-30. Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes with man, To bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living. How poetic!

In this passage, Elihu is speaking and explaining the "whys" and "hows" of Job's suffering. I am not sure of the exact application that Elihu was making in his statement, but I can tell you the thought that it conjured up in my mind.

Many times in this life, we are so busy living that we forget to enjoy living. Think about it, when was the last time you did something just for fun? Yesterday? Last week? Last year? You can't remember? We work so hard trying to provide a better life for ourselves and our loved ones, but that's insane if we're going to be too busy to enjoy it. Am I saying we shouldn't work? Absolutely not. But I know in my own life, with family, church obligations, writing, piano lessons, etc, there is very little time left to "stop and smell the roses." Half the time I don't even see the roses because they are just a blur as I speed by to accomplish the next thing on my "to do" list.

Recently, God has opened my eyes to the realization that I had worked myself into a pit, just like in the verse above. Instead of enjoying life, I charge through trying to get as much accomplished as possible, leaving myself drained, weary, and depressed. This is dangerous ground, as it leaves me vulnerable to the attacks of the devil. It is important to work hard, but it is even more important to know when enough is enough. I go back to the verse, "Be still, and know that I am God." There is a time to stop and enjoy life. Are we taking advantage of that time?

I believe the verses above indicate that God will sometimes allow us to go through trials to make us stop and re-evaluate some things in our lives. During that evaluation, we are given the opportunity to see what is really important and to make the choice to enlighten our lives "with the light of the living." Enjoy today. Hug a friend. Call a loved one. Take a walk. Laugh. Do something you haven't done in years. LIVE!

Monday, September 8, 2008

He Hath Made Everything Beautiful

Last Friday, Jason and I decided to hike one of the local trails. I had mentioned to him that I was feeling a little stressed and wanted to get out to clear my head a little. What I meant was a leisurely walk in the park. As you can see from the flier, that was not what we did. Seeing how neither of us are in "top" shape right now and we are both getting over a chest cold, certainly it made sense to hike the most difficult trail we could find. Right?

I thought my heart was literally going to explode. I now fully understand the saying about hearing the blood pounding in your ears. I could not breathe. My legs felt like they had turned to jelly. And this was all within the first five minutes. YIKES! If not for Jason's persuasion, I would have turned around and went to the park. But, he convinced me that the waterfall at the end would be well worth it. I hate it when he's right!

This picture is just a small part of the falls. I couldn't get the entire thing in the picture. It was too tall. I had to crane my head back as far as it would go just to view the entire waterfall. It was splendid. We sat on the rocks with the water flowing all around us and the spray hitting our faces. It was breathtaking. (Not that I had any breath left anyway.) Immediately the thought came to my mind, What an awesome God that He could speak something so magnificent into existence. Then I wondered, if something on earth could be so beautiful, how wonderful is Heaven going to be. That thought brought tears to my eyes (as did the thought that we still had to climb back down the trail.)

If you ever have the opportunity, our area offers many different hiking trails. Some have waterfalls, others excellent views, some wildlife and flora. I would advise starting with some of the trails labeled "easy" and work your way up to "very strenuous." But, I do recommend trying them. The exercise is great, and the rewards are well worth it. Plus, what a great way to open your eyes to the beauty that God has placed here for our enjoyment!

He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.
Ecclesiastes 3:11

Thursday, September 4, 2008

"No" Is Not a Dirty Word

In my devotional reading of From Clutter to Clarity today, I read the chapter entitled "No Is Not a Dirty Word." In it, the author dealt with one of my biggest problems--overextending myself. A while back I received a grand revelation: I am NOT Superwoman. I can't be everything to everybody, and frankly, I'm tired of trying.

I have agonized over how to make everything fit into my schedule, and I finally came to the conclusion that it wasn't all going to happen. So, I had to start making some changes. I had to start cutting some things out. And most of all, I had to figure out how to get myself to utter that horrible little two-letter word: NO!

I admit, I'm not where I need to be, but I have gotten better. Some people have not responded well to the "new" me. Some were offended when I told them "No." Others were perplexed when I handed them back the job that they were supposed to be doing but I had so graciously taken from them because "they were so busy." I think I've even lost a few friends through the process, and that hurts me greatly. But, the fact is, I am doing what I feel the Lord wants me to do. I am trying to listen to His direction in my life and to only take on the tasks that He has prepared for me. Granted, sometimes it's hard to hear His voice amidst the noise of life, but I'm trying. May God give me the grace to succeed.

The lesson this morning simply reminded me that while life is complicated, it doesn't have to be as complicated as I often make it. If I would stop doing what I think is best and stayed more in tune with the Lord's will for my life, there would be a lot more joy in the journey.

So, if you're feeling overwhelmed today, first ask yourself if you've taken on more than you can deal with. If so, ask the Lord to give you wisdom in sorting out which things are truly His will and which ones you should give up. Second, train yourself in the art of using that precious word, "no." Third, when others don't like it, remind yourself that your only responsibility is to please God. Beyond that, nothing else matters.

Happy traveling!

And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
Luke 10:41-42

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Comment Option Fixed

For those of you who told me that the comment section wasn't working right, I think I figured out the problem. One of the settings was set to only allow comments from registered users. I changed the setting, so you should be able to post comments now. (I hope.) Let me know if it still isn't working.

I also want to thank each of you who take the time each day to read my blog. You'll never know how much it means to me. I pray that it is a help and encouragement to you.

Pride Versus Pride

In my devotional reading this morning, I was reminded of a "revelation" I received several months back. I was preparing for my Sunday School lesson, and the topic was on seeing ourselves as God sees us. The lesson basically contrasted an arrogant, self-sufficient attitude with an attitude of worthlessness and low self esteem. One of the follow-up questions was "what sin is the source of an arrogant, self-reliant attitude?" Duh! Pride. The next question was "what sin is the source of an attitude of worthlessness and low self-esteem?" Hmm. That's a tough one. The answer? Pride.

It's easy to see pride in that person who thinks he is the center of the universe. But, the person who constantly questions his/her self-worth is also exhibiting pride. Why? Well, look at their focus. They are focused on one thing: self. I am not worthy. I am so dumb. I am so worthless. When we are focused on self, whether inflating or deflating, we are full of pride.

That lesson hit me hard because I always thought I was safe from pride because I tend to be of a lower self-esteem. It rocked my boat to find out that I was being just as proud as the person who boasts of their many accomplishments.

So, what does it mean to see ourselves through God's eyes. First of all, we are His creation which means we are under His authority. In other words, it's His way, not our way. Secondly, anything we accomplish, we do so through His power and not our own. If we keep these things in mind, that should help with the arrogant spirit. As for the other, none of us are worthy of God's goodness if we come to Him in and of ourselves. Thankfully, we don't have to. When we look at ourselves, we see our sins and failures. We see a creature unworthy of mercy and grace. However, when God looks at us, He sees His child washed clean in the blood of the Lamb. In His eyes, we are worthy to come before Him.

You see, it's about how He sees us and not how we see ourselves that is important. The book of Psalms does an excellent job in reminding us how precious we are to God and yet how much we need Him. So, when pride causes you to take a warped view of yourself, go to the Psalms and be reminded of how God views you. Trust me. It will be worth your time.

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
Psalm 139:14

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Bearing One Another's Burdens

Yesterday morning in church, my pastor shared a burden. His tears flowed freely as he told of three pastor friends (no names mentioned) who were under very heavy burdens. He invited the church to gather at the altar to help pray for these three men of God.

As I knelt at the altar, I couldn't hold back my own tears. I didn't even know these men or what their problems may be, but I knew their burdens were heavy. I couldn't help but ask God for forgiveness for being so ungrateful about how good my life is. Yes, I go through trials. Yes, I have burdens of my own. But, as the song says, "through it all, God's been good."

As you go through your day today, remember to pray for others. The Bible encourages us over and over again to bear one another's burdens. The best way for us to do that is to pray for them. And during that time of prayer, remember to thank God for the many prayers He has already answered.

Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:2