Friday, July 25, 2008

How Marvelous are your Works, Lord God Almighty!

I am in such a thanksgiving mode to God. I just had to get on here and brag a little about my heavenly Father!
I am a volunteer at my local pregnancy center and have been assisting in our fundraising efforts for years. We had our annual concert on July 18th with Steven Curtis Chapman (SCC) and it was phenomenal. I was blown away with the magnitude of the event, the blessing of the Lord and the Spirit's prescence that night! Here are a few of the highlights:
- Our concert sold out and people were begging for tickets
- There were thousands of people who heard the gospel and the plea of the pregnancy center movement to bring life, hope and healing to the lost and hurting people in our world
- People were saved
- Over $100K was raised to support the center
- Over 50 people were interested in volunteering
- A new satellite center will be opening due to the raised funds
- SCC was ministered to through our love and prayers before and during the concert- he was most grateful!
And so many other things. We prayed before the concert for specific measures and God exceeded our wildest dreams with his answers. I am clapping and jumping for joy right now.
Praise your creator and uplifter today! He is good all the time!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Just for Fun

I just have to say that being married is such a blast. Jonathan and I love hanging out together and we have some pretty good laughs. I thought I would share a few funnies with you.
- Jonathan and I have some neck rolls that we are supposed to use ~1 hr each day so we usually lay on them as we fall asleep at night. A few nights ago I awoke around 2 am to find that Jonathan was still laying on his. I shook him a little trying to wake him up to get his real pillow. It didn't work too well so I shook harder and started talking louder till I finally got him awake (he sleeps really good). He was very grumpy and went right to sleep when I gave him his pillow. The next morning we laughed about how hard it is to wake him up and how abruptly he comes to. I always imagine a cat clinging to the ceiling by it's claws. That is Jonathan.
- Jonathan works so hard and so many hours that when he finally stops moving at the end of the day, he usually falls right to sleep. Often I often have to wake him up to get him to bed. The other day, we were sitting in the living room and he fell asleep in the middle of a conversation we were having. I woke him up later and he tried to pick up where he had left of but was so confused that I just died laughing. The next morning, he didn't even remember the whole incident.
- The other day we caught our yellow lab watching 2 squirrels trying to drag his bone up a tree to eat. They weren't big enough so they just sat on the ground and knawed on it instead. Jo (the dog) peacefully watched them eat it and then rolled over and fell asleep. They know that he won't harm them and so they come borrow his food and toys all the time now! Great watch dog.
All these stories may just be funny to me but they are also a wonderful reminder of how loving and gracious God is to me. He makes my life so much fun! I love him and am eternally grateful.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Isaacs & Ishmaels

I am working on the study "NO OTHER GOD'S" by Kelly Minter right now and was really touched by a concept we studied.
Sarah had a desperate need for a child but was denied this desire on her time table. She was upset, scared and perhaps angry that she would never have children so she took matters into her own hands and created a surrogate mother through Hagar. Abraham went a long with her and conceived a child with Hagar (he must have missed the flashing red warning light and screaming sirens).
Then all hell broke loose and the women started fighting. I can't even imagine the resentment, bickering and hate that emanated from their tents. I am sure that Abraham felt stuck in the middle and everyone was angry. Hagar despised, Sarah punished and Abraham abdicated. Ishmael was born into the mess and things got more ugly. But God redeemed this mess and made something incredible of the disaster. Isaac was born and God's promise came true. And literally the whole world has been blessed through this promise by the eventual coming of Christ.
So what did I learn?
1) Sarah created an idol out of her need so that it overwhelmed everything else in her life.
2)She decided to act on her time table and created a man based solution
3) Everything fell a part and Hagar, Ishmael, Isaac, Sarah Abraham and all their descendants were affected negatively. Even now we see this conflict between God's people and the Middle Eastern countries continuing.
4) Our sin not only affects us, it affects generations to come. IT IS VERY SERIOUS!!!!!
5) God took the broken mess of Sarah's need and still did something wonderful with it.
Gen 21:1 Now the LORD was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did for Sarah what he had promised.
6) God never gives up on us and makes beauty from our ashes. He helps us break down our idols and follow his plan.
7) He loves us even with our sin and baggage and sets us free as we turn to him!
My prayer is that I will avoid Ishmaels and seek God's Isaacs in my life! Don't let your needs create idols in your life!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Truth in Love- Centurion's Style

I am becoming a bible collector of late and use different ones for different things but lately I have been loving the New Spirit Filled Life Bible. This morning I was doing my "Unseen Things" study for the Centurion's Program through PFM. I pulled open the scriptures in 2 Cor 3:7-18 and there was a little section on how God's Word is to be Ministered. Wow, it hit me like a sledge hammer especially after Centurions training last year. I love truth and I have a passion to share it but I need temperance of the Spirit too! I tend to whiplash people with truth rather than lovingly sharing it. If you have the bible you can go read it on page 1613. If not, I will summarize.

"Believing in the truthfulness of God's Word does not guarantee that we will minister that truth in the Spirit of God."
Maturity in Christ blends speaking the truth with love. Instantly Eph 4:15 came to mind "speaking the truth in love". Doing this will always result in 3 things. 1) Faithfulness to keeping yourself straight- putting truth forth faithfully and fortrightly to all those around you. Even if and when they may hate you for it. 2) Constant love- even with hard corrections or honest judgment to set before others , love reigns. 3) Expectation of signs following the speaking/preaching of God's Word- Jesus promised confirmation of himself through signs. These are to encourage us and demonstrate himself to the world.
Thought provoking, convicting and hope giving all at once.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Doing Right- Being Encouraged

My sister and I have been having some good conversations on choosing to do right even when wrong seems more profitable. I was mulling over what she said about being discouraged over how things look bleak for her and positive for someone else pursuing self first. I often struggle with this same thing! Some verses in my study this morning jumped out at me as encouragement for both of us and hopefully you too!
2 Cor 4:16-18
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

Paul was sorely abused and misused for the gospel as he went around sharing. But he never gave in or gave up, he always did right and honored God above all else. Thinking about that got me going and 3 things stuck out to me.

1) Satan trys to discourage us from continuing in doing right be having us look around at how the rest of the world seems to be blooming as they do wrong. Comparison always leads to discontent and frustration. He wants to discourage you from hanging in there, doing right and trusting God to take care of you.
2) God is more concerned with our best internally than our lives externally. For instance, He would rather have you learn trust in him than give you a new car. Think about your own kids. Woudn't you rather your child learn honesty even when it is hard and change her character and life for the better long term than give her a new "littlest pet" that she will love for a minute and then forget all about?
He wants you to learn trust, righteousness and patience for the long haul, even if it is tough, rather than just give you a job or new place to live. He loves you enough to want your best instead of the temporary good.
3) By turning our eyes and hearts to God, we can be encouraged. 1st of all, I think we should be honest with God and talk out our frustration (look at David's example in the Psalms). 2nd, we should ask God to help us turn to him instead of jealousy or anger. 3rd, we need him to change our attitudes and focus our heart on him. I don't know about you, but I can't do that on my own so I have been petitioning God for that daily! All the sudden, your focus has changed from the frustrating situation to the ability of God and you will be able to soar above the fetters of this world. Encouragement will flood your soul. How do I know, because God has done it for me!

So I hope this encourages you as much as it did me. Keep your focus upward!