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Friday, February 27, 2009

One Size Does Not Fit All

And Saul armed David with his armour, and he put an helmet of brass upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail. And David girded his sword upon his armour, and he assayed to go; for he had not proved it. And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him. And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the rook, and put them in a shepherd's bag which he had, even in s scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine.
I Samuel 17:38-40

We all know the rest of the story. David faces Goliath and brings him face down in the dirt with a stone from his sling (not to mention a mighty shove from God). Have you ever wondered what would have happened if David had faced Goliath as Saul intended for him to do? What if David had gone out wearing over-sized armor and carrying a sword that was likely as big as he was? What would have been the outcome?

David was wise enough to know that one size does not fit all. What may have worked best for Saul was not necessarily what would work best for him. That's an important lesson for each of us to remember.

Often in life, we try to get through by use someone else's strategy. We listen to advice from Oprah and Dr. Phil and wonder why things aren't working out the way they should. We follow in the footsteps of our heroes, yet fail to accomplish even an inkling of what they've accomplished. This leaves us doubting our purpose in life and weary of going on, but could it be that we are trying to fight life's battles in someone else's armor?

God did not create all of us with the same talents or personalities. We are each unique. He has a distinct purpose and plan for each of us, and His will can only be performed by using the tools He has equipped us with.

Let me give you another example. When it comes to cars, I'm an idiot. I can put gas in the tank, and sometimes I can figure out how to get the hood open. That's about it. I don't know how to change the spark plugs or even charge the battery, and I'm really not interested in learning. My husband, on the other hand, can take engines apart and put them back together with minimal effort. When he talks "car talk" with me, it's like hearing Charlie Brown's teacher. "Blah, blah, blah, blah." He's using words, but they don't mean a thing to me. So, of the two of us, which one would make a better mechanic? Obviously, the one who has the knowledge and the tools to perform the job.

That's how life is. We each have a purpose. It's our job to find out what it is and to do it. The best place to start in finding out what plans God has for us is to look at the tools He's given us and stop trying to use the tools of others. It's good to have role models, but just because something worked for them does not mean it will work for us. We must find God's specific will for our lives.

So, what tools do you possess? Patience? Skill with numbers? Love of animals? Musical talent? Gather your tools today and put them to work for the glory of God. After all, our path will be much smoother if we'll stop lugging around over-sized armor and hand-and-a-half swords. Let's stick to our own tools. . .even if they're as simple as a sling and a stone.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

God Knows What We Need and When We Need It

In his book, Cure for the Common Life, Max Lucado writes:

I jogged through my neighborhood the other day under a cloud. Not a cloud of rain, but a cloud of self-doubt. The challenges of life seemed to outnumber the resources, and I questioned my ability. And, quite frankly, I questioned God's wisdom. "Are you sure I'm the right man for this job?" was the theme of my prayer.

Apparently God really wanted to give me an answer, because I heard one. From on high. From a deep, booming voice. "You're doing a good job!" I stopped dead in my Reeboks and looked up. Seeing nothing in the clouds, I shifted my attention to the roof of a house. There he waved at me--a painter dressed in white and leaning against a dormer. I waved back. And I wondered and almost asked, "How did you know I needed to hear that?"

Am I stretching theology a bit when I suggest that God put the man there, at least in part, for me? Long before time had time, God saw each moment in time, including that one. He saw a minister in need of a word. He saw a fellow with a skill for painting and a heart for encouragement. He put one of the street and the other on the roof so the second could encourage the first. Multiply that tiny event by billions, and behold the way God sustains his world.

As I read this passage this morning, I was reminded of an event in my own life that took place just last week. I, too, was walking under a cloud of self-doubt. It seemed that all was wrong with the world and that nothing I did mattered. "No one appreciates my work, so why should I bother?" I asked the Lord. "My writing has been rejected time and time again. My work at the church seems to go unnoticed. I don't have the skills that others have, so why am I even trying to do these things?" Yeah, it was a really nice pity party.

Then, on Sunday evening, after the church service, a kind gentleman in our church shook my hand and said, "I don't know if I've told you, but I really enjoy hearing you play the piano. Your offeratories are always such a blessing, and when you sing, I really enjoy it. Thank you!"

I mumbled, "Thank you" as I fought back the tears. God knew Satan was on my back. God knew I was doubting my work and His work, too. God knew I needed encouragement, so He gave it. Isn't God good?

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.
II Corinthians 9:8

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


The other day, while doing research for a writing project I'm working on, I came across a couple of websites that really made me angry. They were sites designed for "ex-Christians" or "those who have decided to leave the faith."

First of all, you can't leave the faith. Once you're saved, you're saved for good. There's no way out. Secondly, why would someone want out? Some of the people on these sites professed to have been Christians for 40 years. What made them change their mind? I wondered about that, so I started reading.

Some claimed to have "left the faith" because of all the new scientific evidence. According to them, many of the miracles in the Bible were not miracles at all, and the knowledge that we have now proves it. For example, one person claimed that the maniac of Gadara was not possessed by demons but was simply suffering from a mental disorder or hormonal imbalance. They claim that Jesus didn't actually cast out the demons, but that He merely talked to the man and convinced him that someone cared for him which helped the man come back to his senses. Far-fetched, huh?

Others claimed to have "left the faith" because they found out that God really wasn't loving after all. They said that once they started studying the Bible, they discovered that God was an "egotist with a blood lust." They claimed He was violent and did not love the world as they had been taught.

Some "left the faith" because they didn't fit in with their church family. Some "left" because they finally realized how naive they were being to think that there was a God and that He cared about anything but Himself.

The list went on and on, and I became more and more angry. What in the world happened to these people? I admit that the Christian life has not been a bed of roses, but then again, Jesus never said it would be. In fact, in John 16:33, Jesus said, "In this world ye shall have tribulation. . ." Yes, life is tough, but that doesn't change the fact that Jesus is Lord and that He died so that we might be free.

Why am I telling you all this? Consider it a warning. There are a lot of false teachers out there. There is a lot of false doctrine out there. The devil himself is out there trying to deceive us into forsaking our faith in God. Don't heed these things. Know what the Bible says and stand firmly upon its promises. No, life is not always easy, but God is always God. He is a good God. He is a just God. He is a loving God.

Please, beware!!!!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Finding the Path

I would like to share with you a passage from God's Little Devotional Journal. It was a blessing to me today, and I hope it will bless you as well.

"E. Stanley Jones tells the story of a missionary who became lost in an African jungle. Looking around, he saw nothing but bush and a few clearings. He stumbled about until he finally came across a native hut. He asked one of the natives if he could lead him out of the jungle and back to the mission station. The man agreed to help him.

"'Thank you!' exclaimed the missionary. 'Which way do I go?' The native replied, 'Walk.' And so they did, hacking their way through the unmarked jungle for more than an hour.

"Pausing to rest, the missionary looked around and had the same overwhelming sense that he was lost. All he saw was bush and a few clearings. 'Are you quite sure this is the way?' he asked. 'I don't see any path.'

"The native looked at him and replied, 'Bwana, in this place, there is no path. I am the path.'

"When you have no clues, remember that God is omniscient--all wise. When you run out of time, remember that God is omnipresent--all time is in His hand. When you are weak, remember that God is omnipotent--all power belongs to Him."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

God's Diary

Guys, you may not understand what I'm talking about here, so feel free to skip this post. Now, ladies, that I have your attention, I want to ask you a question. How many of you have or have had a diary?

I don't write in my diary anymore, but I still have the diary that I had when Jason and I were dating. I read in it every now and then. I reminisce of the times that we spent together during our dating years. It holds memories that I have a tendency to forget. Diaries are special that way. They record our thoughts and feelings so that we can always go back and re-live a certain moment in time.

Did you know that God has a diary? Malachi 3:16 says, Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name.

So, what do you think is in that book? I honestly have no idea, but it's an interesting thought. Isn't it? Obviously, God doesn't have to write things down to remember them, but do you think it might be possible that He's writing them down for us to remember? After all, don't we need to be reminded of the many times He's seen us through tough times? I know I do.

Just as with the verse in Psalms that talks about how God keeps our tears in a bottle, this verse reminds me of how much God loves us and how He longs for intimacy with us.

It might be wise for us to start a prayer journal. It doesn't have to be anything fancy, but in it we can write down our requests to God and then mark when and how He answers those prayers. For us, it will be a written reminder of how God works in our lives through the good and the bad. We shouldn't have to be reminded, but we do. So, let's make an effort. It's the least we can do.

Monday, February 16, 2009

I'm Happy That You're Happy

Last week, Jason and I took our two dogs for a hike on a lesser-known trail. Since there was no one there and the trail is not located in a state park, we decided to allow them a little freedom. We took off their leashes and allowed them to travel at their own pace.

Mitch, always so full of energy, would run ahead for a little ways and then run back to us. He would run up the sloping sides of the trail, through the woods, then cross to the other side and do the same thing.

Tippy, who is a little overweight and a good bit older than Mitch, lagged behind at her own pace, stopping every now and then to sniff and mark. Still, she made an effort to keep up, which is more than she'll do when she's on the leash. (She has a bit of a stubborn streak. I think I know someone else like that.)

We walked the trail until we reached the lake, then we decided to see if they would run and play, yet stay within our sight. So, Jason and I sat down on the ground in front of the lake and just spent some time enjoying one another's company. Before long, the dogs had wandered off, exploring every nook and cranny (and mud hole).

We spent probably close to thirty minutes just sitting at the lake and allowing the dogs to run free. They loved it!

On our way back up the trail, Mitch decided he wanted to play tag, so he'd run ahead, then circle back and tag one of us when we weren't looking. (Tippy was thrilled at this. NOT!) He ran and played and looked so happy. I laughed at him until my face was literally hurting. Jason turned to me and asked, "What's so funny?' With a huge grin, I said, "I'm just happy to see him so happy."

That thought has stuck with me for several days now. For those of you with children, doesn't it make you happy to see your children happy? For me, my dogs are my children, so I can't help but smile when I know they're enjoying life. Do you think our Heavenly Father is any different? Don't you suppose it makes Him happy to see us happy? I think so. I think He smiles when we smile and laughs when we laugh. I think He's blessed when He sees us enjoying life.

So, what about the hard times? What about those times that life is not so enjoyable? During those times, He knows our pain, and if we can still smile through our tears, He smiles that much more. It's like the song Rodney Griffin wrote, "God Wants to Hear You Sing." God's happy when we smile during the good times, but He's really blessed when we can still smile through the bad times.

Make God happy today--be happy!

Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
Psalm 37:4

Friday, February 6, 2009

Are You Playing the Second Fiddle

Yesterday I came across a quote that read, "It needs more skill than I can tell to play the second fiddle well." I found this very interesting.

Those of you who know me know that I love music. For upbeat, work music, I listen to Southern Gospel. But, during those times when I need to relax, I love listening to instrumental music. Two of my favorite pieces begin with a piano. The music is simple, yet lovely. However, in the middle of the song, the solemn tones of a cello appear. This combination usually moves me to tears. The two instruments are playing two different melodies, but they sound so beautiful together.

What amazes me is that when you look at the album cover, the name of the pianist (the one playing the MAIN instrument) is bold and prominent. However, the name of the celloist (the one playing the "second fiddle") is difficult to find. The song would have lost much of its beauty without the second instrument, yet little recognition is given to the one who added such harmony to the music.

Life is the same way. In following the Lord's leadership, we often find ourselves completing tasks that add beauty or harmony to someone else's work and receiving little credit in return. On the surface, this seems so unfair, but if you really think about it, it makes sense. If we are really doing things for Jesus (the Main musician), we won't want the praise and recognition. After all, what are our efforts compared to the Master's?

Sometimes, we need to remember that life is not about us. It's about doing all things for the glory of the Lord. If that seems difficult (and I know it sometimes is), then just remember this. Jesus knows what we're doing, and He will reward us for our efforts. Isn't that all the recognition we need?

So, go on. Make some beautiful music today and give all the honor and glory to the Lord. He deserves it!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

How Much Longer, Lord?

How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me? Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved. But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.
Psalm 13

Dear Lord,

I know you've answered many of my prayers, so I know that you can and do hear me. But sometimes, Lord, I feel like not even you can understand how I'm feeling and what I'm thinking. I guess I feel that way because I think that if you knew, you would do something about it.

It is then that I remind myself that you have your own plans for my life, and though I am unaware of it, it is for the best. Though I am in
want of many things, I am in need of nothing. I often get those two words mixed up. I sorrow and worry about the things I don't have and think that I need them.

Lord, please help me to distinguish between the things that I need and the things that I want. I know I would be a lot happier. Please help me to be content with that I have instead of always wishing for more. Help me to say with a grateful heart,
Thou hast dealt bountifully with me.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

An Important Letter

Dear Loved One,

I couldn't wait to talk with you yesterday morning. I know you were busy getting ready for work, but didn't you have just a few minutes to spend with me? But don't worry. I wasn't mad. I could wait.

I thought about you all day and was looking forward to the evening ahead. You said you didn't have any plans, so I assumed you would have time for me. I prepared you a wonderful feast, but you didn't even pause long enough to say, "Thanks." Then you were up and gone off to watch the ballgame or play on the computer, and I was neglected again. But, I wasn't mad. I could wait a little longer.

As you lay in bed last night, I felt like my time had finally come. I spoke to you in my most pleasing voice, but you didn't hear me, for you had fallen asleep. That's okay. I know you were tired. Maybe you will have more time for me today or tomorrow.

However, as the time passes, I am neglected time after time. You are always too busy for me. You have your job, your friends, your hobbies, but I only want you. It seems like the only time you want anything to do with me is when you need or want me to do something for you.

What's wrong? Is this how a relationship is supposed to be? I've done so much for you. Would you please spend some time with me? Whenever you're ready, I'll be here. . .waiting. I love you, and I believe you love me too, even though you haven't done much lately to show it. Still, I'm not mad. I can wait.

Love always,
Your Heavenly Father

Monday, February 2, 2009

God Is Working

We are living in dark days. Many are saying that things are as bad or worse than they were during the Great Depression. People are losing their jobs left and right. Families are losing their homes. The price of food and gas are on a continual rise, and the economy is in sad shape. People are scared! Of course, the media does their part to make sure that the entire country is in a state of panic. Things are looking grim.

During these times, it's easy to forget that God is in control. It seems as if God has forsaken us and left us to work things out for ourselves. But, we know that is not the case. I can't explain why God does some of the things He does, but I know that He knows best.

I was thinking about these things during my Bible reading this morning, and three little words jumped out. These three words are so simple, but they can bring such peace. One simple phrase reminds us that God is still on the throne, and no matter how dire the circumstances around us are, His plan will be fulfilled.

Yea, before the day was I am he; and there in none that can deliver out of my hand: I will work, and who shall let it? (Isaiah 43:13)

In this passage, God is speaking. I realize that He is talking to Israel, but I think the message applies to us just the same. God says, "I will work." No "ifs," "ands," or "buts." God will work. In fact, He is working right now. He is doing something wonderful for His children, and our only job is to sit back in faith and watch things unfold.

Things may get worse before they get better, but God knows that. He has seen the beginning and the end. None of this is a surprise to Him. He's not sitting up in Heaven wringing His hands and wondering how He's going to make it all work. He has a plan, and He will see it fulfilled. Period! Isn't that a cause for celebration?