January 29, 2010

Be Compassionate

When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things. (Mark 6:34)

We can't only be decent people when it's convenient for us. In fact, it's probably more important to God how we react to others when we are tired and hungry and overworked. How can we separate ourselves as full of God's grace? By showing that grace when the rest of the world would not.

The verse above comes at a time when Jesus was so overrun with people that he couldn't even eat. The disciples put him in a boat to get away and have some time to rest, yet when the boat landed there was a crowd of peopl all there for him. And how did Jesus react? He didn't say "I'll talk to you after I eat," or "Come on, just give me one day off, people." No, he had compassion on them, because they truly needed someone to follow, and Jesus knew that He was the one they must follow.

We are not Jesus, but we are God's representatives on earth. When people look at us they will see something or someone shining through us. Will they see our own selfish natures? Will they see power-hungry tyrants? Scared little children? Or will the grace and peace and power of the Lord God almighty shine through our eyes? For if we can do all things through Christ, shouldn't we walk in that knowledge, and rest in that fact, and allow God to work through us for His will?

And shouldn't we show compassion on the people who do not yet follow Christ, for they do not know any better?

We do know better, we Christ-followers. So we are called to show the same consideration to others that Jesus showed. Jesus knew he had but a short time to bring the Kingdom, so he did not rest overmuch but focused on healing and saving the souls of the people who came crying out to him. And we must do the same. For a thousand years is but a blink of an eye to God. So however long we are here, it is not overlong. We don't have the time to waste being selfish.

So next time you see another person, especially one who annoys you or drains you of your energy, just remember to look at them with compassion, and remember that you have but a short while to give them a reason to ask themselves just what this Jesus guy might have to offer.

January 28, 2010

Don't be Wicked

An oracle is within my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked: There is no fear of God before his eyes. For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin. The words of his mouth are wicked and deceitful; he has ceased to be wise and to do good. Even on his bed he plots evil; he commits himself to a sinful course and does not reject what is wrong. (Psalm 36:1-4)

I found this verse when I was searching for "Words" in the Bible. I was looking to see what the Bible had to say about words because I unfriended someone on Facebook yesterday because of his comments. (My other blog post is all about it if you want to know more about it.)

I just think about the power of words, and how easy it is for people to be hurt or led astray, particularly people who do not know Jesus as their savior. And then I found this verse. I'm not trying to equate this particular person in this particular situation with the "wicked." I actually felt convicted myself of being this person sometimes. How often have I flattered myself to think that I knew what was best, and that my plas were the best plans? How many times, when I was in the midst of sin, did I think about it in bed, and plan it out?

When we ignore God in our lives we suffer, because even though we feel that we are doing right, and are justified in our actions, He knows our heats, and He knows His plan, and if we are not living in accordance to it, then we need to be redirected.

I ask you, God, to redirect my thoughts toward Your thoughts, to keep me from the human tendancy towards wickedness and self-sufficiency. And I ask that you would work in this situation with the other person, that he would recognize that his words are lasting, and cutting, and no amount of explaining them away will reverse their negative effect.And help me, through your grace, to never be the other person in this situation. Amen.

January 27, 2010

You are Gracious, Lord

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! (Isaiah 30:18)

I felt like I needed to look up "gracious" today in the Bible, as an attribute of God, to understand just a little how very much He loves us. And Isaiah 30 is a perfect example, because it actually starts thus:

"Woe to the obstinate children," declares the LORD, "to those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit, heaping sin upon sin" (Isaiah 30:1)

Man, how often have I been an obstinate child? Probably several times a day. I am always making plans and (when I even remember) asking God to bless them. Not asking His opinion or His will, no, I just barrel on ahead doing what I think I need to do.

Isaiah 30 continues on to describe what will happen to the people who ignore God for their own plans. Ouch! But that is the same fate that waits any who do not consider God.

And yet... and yet He is a gracious God. He will forgive us, and guide us back to His path again and again. All He asks is that we listen for His voice, that we would wait on him. Which rather implies that first we would ask Him His opinion, then wait for His answer. Working with God certainly doesn't seem like the most expeidient way at times. But it is the best way; nay, the only way to live a full life, resting in God's will for us.

I have experienced God's gracious council, the few times I have sought it and waited for it. An example: I was debating whether to apply for my church's mission trip, and my pastor suggested I 'put a fleece out' to see if it was something I should do. My normal self would have said "Oh, but the pastor asked if I was going so clearly that means I should." And yet, I told God "Ok, if anyone besides the pastor asks me about the mission trip by the end of the day, then I'll go." And you know what, no one did. So then I had to decide if that was actually His answer. (It's hard for silence to be an answer.) But now, a few months later, I realize that there is no way I could have gone on this trip in a month. My department just lost a person, and we'll be hard pressed to be comfortable taking one or two days off in a row, much less a whole week.

And I have peace about it. There is disappointment, because I do very much desire to go back on this trip, but God in His gracious mercy allowed me to feel peace about not hearing anyone ask me if I was going. Because He knew that I'd be in this situation today.

So God I pray in thanksgiving to you today, for you grace and mercy over my life, allowing me to learn that Your way is the best way, that You do know what's right and good and within Your perfect will. I ask that you would cement this knowledge in my head and in my heart, that I would always know to seek Your wisdom and accept what I hear as Your absolute best for me. Amen.

January 26, 2010

And the Young Will Dream Dreams

Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. (Ecclesiastes 5:7)

As I settled in to listen to my worship music this morning, I thought "Hm, I should write about praise today. Yes, that's perfect." But then while listening, I fell asleep, and had a dream, parts of which were pretty cool, and parts that were disconcerting.

The cool part is that I had what I believe is a continuation of a dream I'd had before, where I went to a gym with my physical therapist and met this beautiful man in a red shirt and an arm brace, who was also there with his phyiscal therapist. And in today's dream he came over to me again and was gorgeous and charming and very much interested in seeing me again.

The rest of the dream had weird parts. Like, I was there at 10:30 in the morning, only my appointments are for 12:30 so somehow I had apparently just up and left work at 10:30 that day for no apparent reason. And instead of going right back to work (which I knew I had to do) I sat down in a folding chair in front of a building, and a woman came who wanted to take a picture of her family with me, but she had the type of camera I had in jr. high, and she couldn't get the angle right, but then her husband pushed a button and it became a digital camera, which would have been great except then the dream morphed and we were trying to help the woman buy a TV with a touch screen, and then we were in a house and the children were helping us figure out the technology (of course) and the doorbell rang and one of the kids broke some glass running to get it.


But you know, if you can connect parts of a dream to something that happened to you that day, chances are that's all the dream was. I've been thinking a lot about my physical therapy, so that makes sense. Then the guy--well we will hold out hope that it's a somewhat true vision, but there's a very good chance I dreamed about him the first time a few days ago, when I saw this incredibly beautiful man who runs one of our stores, who also happened to call me yesterday with some work-related question. And I can't make an easy correlation to everything else, and won't bother typing it all out here, but there's a good chance it was all just my mind sifting through yesterday. The main weird thing about it is just that it was so incredibly vivid, and when my dreams are vivid like that, they tend to disturb me, and I begin to wonder if they have meaning.

What's interesting is I was in the middle of a vivid dream when my alarm went off, although I don't remember it, and I don't recall having such a vivid dream (or being that deeply asleep) while listeing to my worship in the morning. So perhaps the significance is just in that. Perhaps it's God's way of telling me that I have to start paying attention to my dreams. Maybe God is getting ready to tell me something, and He needs me to be receptive to it, and willing to remember it and put it down, instead of letting it get lost in the day's preparations.

Maybe God will give me news of a gorgeous man in my life. I'm ok with that. :)

But as a last note, when I went to look up "dream" and "meaning" in the Bible, I got three things. Genesis (Joseph and his dream, and the egyptians' dreams that Joseph interpreted); Daniel (the king's dream that Daniel interpreted), and right in the middle (I almost missed it) was Ecclesiastes, which told me that much of dreaming doesn't mean anything.

So very, very confusing, isn't it? And I'm not really sure what it all means, so I'm just gonna end it here, because this is all I know right now. :)

January 25, 2010

Be Prepared for a Good Life

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. (1 Peter 3:15)

I'm pretty sure that "be prepared" is part of both the girl and boy scout's creed. It's kinda funny when you think about how we grow up and forget things like that. Isn't it always a good idea to be prepared? I'm a walking prepared person. I have an umbrella, concact solution, foundation, kleenex, and a roll of quarters in my purse right now.

But would I be able to answer someone who asked me about God? For that matter, would I even be presenting such a great image to the world that someone would even think to ask me about why I look so happy or have so much peace?

I looked up the word "prepare" in the Bible today, thinking that I would find something where God said that He is preparing us for great works. But you know what... I didn't find it. I did find a verse saying that God has prepared great works for us to do. But preparing us... Now, it could all be in there, just under a different word. I don't believe God really said "here, now you're on your own."

But I do believe that along with ouf Free Will, God gave us a responsibility to prepare ourselves for the life He would have us lead. We're not born with the Bible ingrained in our minds. And, because of our free will to sin, we often separate ourselves from all that He would give us anyway.

So, it's kinda on us, hey? It's like this: If I ask God to get me out of my financial problems, I shouldn't thank Him for His grace over my life and then buy lottery tickets expecting Him to give me the winning number. God doesn't work that way. (True, it could happen) Realistically, what will happen is God will prompt me to not buy things. That's how He will help with finances. There may be a gift of money here and there, of course, but seriously, why should God just give us what we want right away if we're just going to turn around and squander it again?

Which brings us right back to preparing ourselves. How do we prepare ourselves? And for what? Well, in this context I'm thinking about preparing ourselves to live a Godly life, one that is pleasing to Him, healthy for us, and will (hopefully) provide the basis for someone to ask us just what is making us so happy all the time.

We can prepare ourselves in a few ways: by reading and studying the Bible, by attending some sort of housegroup for both instruction and accountability, by attending church to receive instruction and worship God with other believers, and by learning from our mistakes. I think all of those steps are important to being prepared for a Good Life.

I actually really like that phrase. Be prepared for a Good Life. It's not just the moments, it's not just a season, it's a life. God did not ask us to enjoy a few minutes every day, or that month when everything seemed to go right, He asks us to enjoy all of it, even the struggle, because if we are living according to God's Will, then we can rest firm in the faith that all things are working out to His plan.

But if you don't know that, you're going to falter.

So this is why, two days after the end of our church fast, I got up an hour before I needed to, put on my worship music, and sat down again to write this. Because I'm realizing that I need to prepare myself. God has prepared a way for me, and I must be ready to take it. So while I am allowing myself flexibility with this time, I do plan to keep to it. Because I need to prepare myself for my day, and not only my day, but my life.

Because the idea of having a Good Life sounds... well it sounds pretty good right about now.

Thank you, God, for giving us a Good Life.

January 22, 2010

So What Have I Learned?

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippeans 4:9)

Well, today is the last day of the fast. I did not accomplish the food part of the fast, but I do not feel guilty about eating. Something that I only just remembered this minute is that during the last few fasts I pretty much just slept 8-9 hours a day (often a nap after work and then my official "sleep"). Those years it was like my body was saying "if you're not going to eat for strength, then you will sleep for it."

Well, this year was the reverse. I have had evening things almost every day, so there goes the nap, and I've been plagued with this absolute ennui in the afternoons, but a flurry of productivity from 9pm-midnight. Add that to getting up an hour early, and even though quite honestly I spent every day of it dozing to music before I came over here and started typing up my blog entry, it has still messed up my sleep something fierce. So, naturally my body has told me "if you're not going to sleep to be replenished, then you will eat."

I have been absolutely miserable for most of this fast. I suppose that is normal--perhaps I should even see that as a sign that I was doing it right, even though I don't feel that way at all. Did I really do anything special? Did I receive great revelation about who I am, and who God has created me to be? I just know that the most specific words came to me at the leader's retreat when we gave each other words, and by and large the message was "stop trying to be in control, and let God make you what He wants you to be."

So how do I do that?

What I have learned this last 3 weeks is that God does speak to us as often as we wish to hear it (more often really, we just aren't listening). Even on the days that I haven't known what I was going to blog about until I sat down and started looking up random words in the Bible, something has always struck me, and I have felt content with what I have written. I have even gotten a couple of comments from people who happened upon this blog and were blessed. I am so very glad for that. Writing is my passion, and Jesus is my savior, so to think that I could in some way mininster to someone by my writing... well that is a blessing.

So what's next for me?

Well, I do want to keep this up. I will not be forcing myself to get up an hour early on weekends though. Maybe Saturday. I don't want to give myself too much leeway here, because I don't want to lose this entirely, but I'm open to the idea of just spending a half hour at some point during the day doing this verse study thing. Perhaps I will suddenly find myself more refreshed tomorrow, but otherwise I have got to start getting more consecutive hours of sleep in a night.

Am I glad I did this sleep fast though? I am. I think it's been very helpful to me. Some days the only thing that got me through was remembering something I had read or written just that morning. So it has been a good time for me. Forgive me for not being more excited, it's just that the fast technically isn't over for me until I don't have to get up as early tomorrow. So hopefully tomorrow I'll be doing better.

But if you are reading this, stick with me. I will keep this up in some way, shape or form, even if I'm not getting up early in the morning to do it. :)

January 21, 2010

Are You Tired Too?

Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. (John 4:6)

Is it wrong of me to be a little glad to see that Jesus got tired too?

I mean, you can certainly make the case that He was tired because he was traveling everywhere (which likely meant walking), teaching people and healing them.

I'm tired because I keep staying up late.

But why do I stay up? Because I love blogging. I absolutely love it. There is nothing more fun for me right now than thinking about something to blog about, writing it, and responding to people's comments. And as often as I can, I read other peoples' blogs, which in turn will give me more ideas for my own.

But all I know is that I have been exhausted since the first day of the fast. Well, Tuesday I took a half day so I could get some sleep, because I don't think I would have made it through the week at all otherwise, so Tuesday I felt pretty good. But then came Wednesday, and now today, and I look at the list of things I have yet to do tonight after I get home from working out and even if I don't blog and I only do that list it's still probably going to be late when I'm done.

So I kinda like to know that Jesus got tired too.

But of course when you read about Jesus there aren't too many stories where He tells the disciples to go on without him because he needs to rest. (Of course it never talks about anyone doing laundry either, and I'm sure that happened.) But really, Jesus may have gotten tired, but he rarely stopped. He might wait by a well and send the others for food, but isn't it just interesting that he would never have had the opportunity with the Samaritan woman if his disciples had been there saying snarky things about Samaritans?

Even when He was at rest he was working towards his next divine appointment.

What, then, is the takeaway? Well, I would say it's that we should accept that tiredness happens, and rest when we can so we are always ready for the next divine appointment, and remember that Jesus often pushed through being tired, yet he was constantly connected to God, so He knew where His strength came from. And he often went alone to pray, which was probably the best "recharge" ever. But nowhere did it say that Jesus decreed that we should be workaholics or abuse ourselves in an attempt to do everything.

And so I think the most important nugget in there is the prayer. If we keep ourselves constantly connected to God, He will both sustain and recharge us, but he will also tell us when what we need most is to just go to bed.

God, please grant me the energy I need to get through today. Help me to keep my mind focused and sharp so I may do the work that is set before me, and give me the strength I need to keep my emotions from bubbling over (as they too often do when I am tired). Please help me to ba a calming influence on others, instead of seeing calm from them. And when the day is done, lead me to my bed so I may find rest. Amen.

January 20, 2010


Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped. "O Lord, if I have found favor in your eyes," he said, "then let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our wickedness and our sin, and take us as your inheritance." (Exodus 34:8-9)

I've been going to a physical therapist for my carpal tunnel (and thank God it's practically gone). She also just started to work on my neck, because I've had rather chronic neck pain. Thank bad posture at the computer for that... it's amazing how such a non-athletic job can totally mess you up.

Last night I went to my housegroup, which is currently doing a class on healing. So when the pastor asked if anyone had discernable pain that could be prayed about (not that we wouldn't pray for someone with, say, diabetes, but it's not as easy to tell if anything changed during the prayer) I asked for prayer for my neck. Because, of course, getting the muscles worked on is good for my neck in the long-run, but short-term it actually hurt more.

I'm not going to go into the whole prayer time. I know that my neck felt a lot better afterwards (praise God) but that there were still small remnants of pain in my head and shoulders. But even now it is sore, but I believe it is that good sore that comes from a good workout, and I have faith that I will be restored to pre-computer health and strength.

What I didn't tell anyone that night, however, because I wanted to see if anyone got this picture, was that before we gathered to pray for my neck, I heard God rather distinctly in my mind saying that I have been stiff-necked, and he will release me from it. It was both an awesome and an awful thing to hear. I mean, think about how my physical neck hurt after just two sessions with my phyisical therapist. Now imagine how much my "spiritual neck" may end up hurting before I am healed of this. Ouch.

But revelation is revelation. Am I stiff-necked, proud, and full of controll issues? Yes. Do I need to change that if I want to be more like Jesus? Yes.

God, I open my heart, my mind and my soul to your ministrations. Help me to become more like you. I just ask that you be as gentle as you can be. Amen.

January 19, 2010

Does Your Attitude Stink?

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11)

When I wake up in the morning, I don't usually think "Ok, how can I be like Jesus today? How can I die to myself and serve others?"

That's a confession, not just a commentary.

I couldn't quite find the second verse I wanted, but there are plenty of places that talk about how Israel was a "stench" in someone's nostrils. And elsewhere it says that our righteous actions are a sweet fragrance.

So I guess the question is: Is what you do a fragrance or a stench in God's nostrils? Does your attitude stink?

I think a lot of times my attitude stinks. I think of myself, of how tired I am, how much I want my own plans for my life to come to fruition, how badly I want God to go through my to-do list and check things off... and suddenly I'll have gotten through the day and I probably couldn't tell you a single person I was wholeheartedly "Jesus" to.

Given that we are called to be Jesus above anything else, that is rather embarrasing to admit.

When I started this fast, and this blog, I had two questions for God. They're actually on a post-it on the wall next to me right now: "Who am I?" and "Who have you created me to be?"

And it's taken me almost 3 weeks to understand the answer. I am God's creation. I am broken, yet redeemed. I am flawed, yet fearfully and wonderfully made.

And who was I created to be? Jesus--to everyone I meet.

January 18, 2010

Forgive Me, Lord

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. (Matthew 18:21-22)

"Forgive me, Lord." How many times do we start our prayers this way?

Technically, we always should. (Well, I'll grant that we can start with Thank you, Lord, but I think you understand that we are always in need of forgiveness, right?)

I don't particularly like being sinful, but I am. I can put effort into not sinning and I can be fairly successful for a while, but then I find myself thinking something unmerciful, or doing something I know isn't healthy, or in other words, sinning. There are myriad ways, and I do believe I've discovered them all (or most of them at least). Since one is as bad as the other, that's really a moot point.

But my purpose in this post is to think about forgiveness. When someone sins against us, forgiveness is not always the first thing on our minds. Yet Jesus tells us to forgive our neighbor not once, not twice, but seventy-seven times. I believe that even the most petty among us would lose count somewhere along the way, and that's the point. We should just keep on forgiving. Why?

How many times have you asked God to forgive you, assuming that He would? How many times for the exact same thing?

So we are called to love as God loves us, and forgive as God forgave us. Which, if everyone's life is the same as mine, means that we are to forgive over, and over, and over, and over and...

I think you get the point.

January 17, 2010


Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1)

Perseverance n. 1. steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., esp. in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement. 2. Theology. continuance in a state of grace to the end, leading to eternal salvation.

I was all ready to write a high-brow, theologically dazzling post. But all that I have in my head is Dory's song in Finding Nemo: "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. La la la la la la, la, laaaa."
But you know, I think that actually sums it all up. Just keep running the race set before you. Sometimes it will be uphill, sometimes it will be downhill. The sun will shine, and you'll get rained on. You will want to give up and flop down on the side of the road and not move. You may be tempted to take a shortcut. You may look around and see that the other runners are thinner, younger, stronger, better-dressed. You may wonder why it would even matter if you just stopped. right. now.
But God put you here. He gave you this race to run. And He does nothing lightly. Even though we don't always understand His reasoning, know this: God has a plan for you. He laid out a path before you, and the only way to get to the end is to run. Not walk. Run. You won't always be able to run swiftly, but if you walk too leisurely, your time might run out and you will have missed getting to the end, and seeing the fruits of your labors.
So every morning, when all you want to do is roll back over and turn off the alarm, every afternoon when you want to just up and quit your job, and every evening when you wish you could just hide in your closet forever.... just keep in mind that you aren't doing this alone. People are watching you. You are an influence on others, for better or for worse. You have a calling and part of it is to live out God's grace, mercy, and strength.
And God is with you too, wiping the sweat from your brow and giving you a cool glass of water.
So just keep swimming.

January 16, 2010

Finding Rest

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:28-29)

So amazingly enough I think I got more sleep last night than I have any day of the fast (Except that first Saturday when I slept till noon). But to have gotten almost 6 whole hours of sleep is fantastic. I mean, it's not great, I'll still be tired later, but I feel a little bit more like myself again.

It really is amazing how important "rest" is, whether it's going to bed within a half-hour of getting home in order to get as much sleep as possible, or taking time off of work to just "be."

I have been in turmoil lately, and I feel so much more at peace right now. My church is having a leader's retreat this weekend, and last night I got to lead worship (which was nerve-wracking a bit but went fairly well I think, at least it ended well anyway) and then we took turns asking God for blessings to give each other, and I feel that all of my blessings were really just straight from God. Of course they were directives too: Step back and let go of your control, God is bringing you out of your cocoon but He's going to make you into who HE wants you to be, not who YOU want to be, He's not going to take you out of the storm but He will give you peace inside of it.

My goodness. But I am so grateful for those blessings, because sometimes you do need to hear God through the mouths of other people.

And I hope to find more strengthening times today, and more words of wisdom and more understanding of who I am, and who God wants me to be. And more times to just rest in Him, for truly compared to doing it all myself, His yoke is easy and His burden light.

January 15, 2010

O my Strength, Come Quickly

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. (Psalm 22:14)
But you, O LORD, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me. (Psalm 22:19)

When I sat down at the computer this morning I thought "I've got nuthin." No words of wisdom, no Bible verses that were sifting through my mind, no ideas whatsoever except "I'm exhausted."

But I am determined to be faithful to this time, so I went to Biblegateway.com and stared at it for a while. I wish they had an "I feel lucky" button like Google has.

And then the thought came "I feel so empty." So I looked up "empty," But wouldn't you know it, nothing that came up really spoke to where I am. So I had to think if I couldn't easily find a verse to speak to what I don't have, perhaps I could find a verse about what I need. So this time I looked up Strength. And, not unsurprisingly to anyone who is familiar with the Bible, I found myself in Psalms.

David had much more reason than I to despair and cry out to God in agony. But his words give us hope and direction in our own situation. And I do feel poured out, like water. As though I were a vase that is always bent over to empty out the water, but never has time to turn back up right to receive the water from the fountain. So instead the water is just splashing on the sides of the vase, wasted.

Thank God in His economy nothing is absolutely wasted. But the point of this is David cries out to God, saying How long will you let me stay like this? I'm almost finished, I can't go on any more.

And yet, David's mind then turns to praise. For God IS our hope and our strength, our safety and our deliverance. And no matter our sorrows, He is there to provide peace and comfort.

So I rest on this today. I am poured out, God, but I lean on you for strength and renewal. I cannot get through this day alone, so thank God that you are with me. You do all things well; you do not simply want me to survive, you want me to prosper. And I thank you for the plans that you have in store, the blessings that you have set aside for me. You are the only true God, the only true strength, the only true wisdom, and you share your blessings generously.

O my strength, come quickly today.

January 14, 2010

But I Am Weary

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:6)

Let me tell you, I am weary. This whole giving up an hour of sleep thing is brutal. Even though yes I do doze through worship music, I am getting myself out of REM sleep to do so. And it's all pretty aggregate with the fact that I'm not getting to bed before midnight.

I was allowing myself to complain to my pastor yesterday, about how I just can't fit everything I want to do into my days. I personally hate thinking that way, because my next thought is always that I'm given the same 24 hours as everyone else, and look at what people with children/two jobs/more responsibilities have to do. But is it right for me to be tired so much? And yet, is it necessary that I give up the things I like to do (write) in order to simply go to sleep? Because that would take some of the joy out of life.

So I write today not with a big positive post, because I simply do not feel it. I know the promise of God, if I am doing right it will bear fruit at the proper time. I guess I'm just stuck wondering when the proper time is, and how many more days I have to go without adequate sleep until then, or what I have to give up in order to get a load of laundry done.

Please Lord let this just be an effect of the fast. Let time telescope back to normal. And soon.

January 13, 2010

Accountability Rocks

Jesus said, "If you were really blind, you would be blameless, but since you claim to see everything so well, you're accountable for every fault and failure." (John 9:41)

So, this is not quite what I was looking for when I did a search on "accountable," "accountability," and "answer to" in the Bible. But alas, when we remember verses out of context and in our own wording, sometimes it's hard to go back to find them later! I was looking for something that spoke to the idea of being accountable to each other. This verse is a bit more didactic.

But, that doesn't mean it's not the verse that needs to be read today. Because it's true. If I know how to live a life like Christ, and I willingly choose not to, I will be held accountable for my actions. Ouch. That isn't like an every-day occurance for me at all.

Look at the first half though--if you don't know something that God has set forth as a precept, you are not accountable for it. I'm sure there have been times that we have broken the rules unknowingly. How gracious is our God, who does not find fault in us if we don't know what we're doing? Even Christ asked God to forgive the men who nailed Him to the cross, for they knew not. Wow. That's some amazing grace right there.

So in a daring leap, I will bring this to my original idea. How can we help ourselves to avoid a looooong accountability session with God when we get to Heaven? By having people hold us accountable down here.

I fully believe that if you have someone in your life to whom you can tell anything (anything), you will be the better for it. Sometimes we only need to speak out a fear or desire or worry to someone who can assure us that we are ok the way we are. And sometimes we need to be able to confess our sins to someone who loves us. It's a way for God to show us His forgiveness in a tangible way--through others. And sometimes we just need someone who will ask us if we've done our writing assignment or walked those 2 miles or learned to play the guitar like we said we would.

This blog, and you dear reader, are my accountability for being in the Word every day. If I didn't have this, I don't know how well I'd be doing it. And sadly, I'm in a class where reading the Bible regularly and reporting on it is actually the homework. But would I be reading it every day? If evidence of the last class proves anything, the answer would be no.

So I thank you for reading this, because you are holding me accountable. I may have stopped the food fast that my church is doing, but I am going strong with this part, and this is what I felt called to most strongly, and what I would like to keep doing in some form after the fast as well.

The moral then? Find accountability now, because you'll definitely be giving an account of yourself later.

January 12, 2010

Just Do it Anyway.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Ephesians 6:13)

I've been reading The Power of Accidental Increase by Steve Sisler, and it's been really ministering to me. To the point that I was doing everything I could not to weep on the train home yesterday. I was reading the part called "Embracing your Weakness."

Yeah, that's right. Your weakness.

Steve pointed out that we all have weaknesses, but knowing what they are makes us strong. Self-understanding is a great strength. But don't only know what your weaknesses are, embrace them. There are some things we can get better at. If I don't speak French well right now, I can take a class. But my maximum level of cognitive skill will stop at some point. And I have to be ok with that. Or think of it this way... I will never ski well. I just won't. I don't have the balance for it. Could I take lessons and practice and get better? Yes, certainly. But would that be an appropriate use of my time? I mean, really? Will I ever be phenominal? Is Skiing that "Thing" that I will be known for? (Only if it's for my spectacular falling). But you know what, God has already used my spectacular falling abilities. I was at a ski trip with work a couple of years back, and a girl fell and hurt her knee quite badly. I, personally, had just done a head-over-heels snowball fall. It took me a few minutes to find all of my equiptment. But when I did, I noticed that she was on the ground, because I had fallen right by her. So I was able to stand by her and keep people away, and get someone's attention so they could go get help. If that's not God directing me in my weakness I don't know what is. :)

So you might think that the more appropirate scripture verse would be the one about how we're all different parts of the body and we can't all hope to be the good skiiers. But that's not the point. Ok, ok, a little extra scripture never hurt anybody, here it is:

Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. (1 Corinthians 12:14-20)

Are you happy now? Ok, good. But here's the thing about that first verse I put up there. Sometimes understanding we're weak, and doing it anyway, is what God calls us to do. Or maybe He calls us to do it in spite of our weaknesses. And how on earth do we do something that we don't do well? The best that we can. We stand firm, not in ourselves, but in Christ.

Because we will be found out. No one can pretend to be perfect forever. Even me, and I've tried.

But Steve brought up the tale of an olympic swimmer. Do you remember the Summer Olympics in 2000? Eric Moussambani had just learned to swim a year before. He wasn't good at it. He was in a qualifying heat with two other men, both of whom got disqualified for false starts. So here is Eric, a swimming pool, 17,000 people, and several TV cameras. Did he give up? Did he say "I know myself and I'm not a good swimmer, so I'm not going to waste anyone's time"?

No. He did it anyway. He swam because that's what he was there to do, despite his weaknesses. He swam slowly, with much splashing, and got to the point where the announcer was afraid he would actually stop. But he didn't. He kept going. And he got a standing ovation from men and women who 30 seconds earlier had probably been laughing at him.

But he kept on. He did it anyway. He didn't let his weakness hold him back from what he had flown to Sydney to do.

So what does this mean to me? This doesn't tell me that I should take up Skiing. No, I don't have the heart for it. I don't know why Eric chose swimming, but he desired to do it. I have no desire to ski. But what this tells me is that there will be times in life that, for some reason, I am being looked at and asked to do something, and I'm just not good at it. Do I listen to the monkey on my shoulder, who is screaming in my ear that I suck at this and I should just give up and move in with my parents and watch TV in their basement all day because that's all I'm capable of doing? No. (Dear Lord, no.)

Don't listen to the voice of adversity. Listen to the voice of God. Prepare yourself to not be perfect. Prepare yourself to be in tough situations. (Read about the Armor of God sometime.) Prepare yourself, to stand. To keep on keepin' on. To do it anyway. Because if you remain true to your calling, even if it is in a place of weakness, you will see it through.

And next time you think you can't, or you're worried about looking stupid in front of people, just watch this. It's painful, but beautiful. Sort of the way our lives are. Cheers.

January 11, 2010

Your Will, O Lord

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:2)

I find myself wondering how I can spend time each morning in the Word and writing about balance, and peace and God's power, and then feel wretched by the end of each day again. I suppose a part of it must be that I can't learn and digest new teachings in such a short period of time. But I do wonder if some of this isn't an outright attack. I've never fasted sleep before, and I've realized that if I fast sleep, I can't really fast anything else. I've never wanted meat so much as I do now. So I have completely stopped the food part of my fast, at least for now. I don't feel guilty about it, though, because it seems I have to put so much energy into going to work and keeping up with my writing that I have a constant need for protien, a much greater need thatn I had before the fast started.

Perhaps you would think that a failing, that I should be able to keep on with the fast, and it would launch me to greater levels of spirituality. Perhaps. But all I know is that despite the fact that I do remind myself over and over that God can handle this, all I know is I am exhausted and I want to quit my job. At this point, I will eat if it means I have the energy to get through the day. Because, you see, I do think this getting up early and spending time in the Word and writing about it is very important.

But today I am just crying to my creator for help. I beg you, Lord, to renew my mind and my spirit, that I may face this day, this very day and all that is waiting for me on my desk, with energy, dedication, and focus. Please Jesus give me an extra measure of concentration so I do not make mistakes, and help me to keep a positive attitude so I will show your light in the office. Help me, Lord, to do my work with excellence, so that I can see Your Will for me at this job. I know I have wanted to quit over and over, and many times it has been a knee jerk reaction to an extra measure of stress, so please Jesus clear my mind so I can know whether it is just stress again, or whether it is actually time to look for something else. Either way, God, I place myself in the palm of your hand, so that You may sustain, protect, and guide me. Teach me your good and perfect Will, o Lord. Amen.

January 10, 2010

To-Do List

Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour. (1 Peter 5:8, Amplified Bible)

I came upon 1 Peter 5 yesterday, when I did a search for the word "balance." And I found something that I just had to share, so I saved it for today, which is good since I overslept my worship CD by a good half hour.

I very strongly urge you, dear reader, if you don't already to be sure you read the entire chapter around a verse you are seeking. If you're like me, you'll vaguely remember something said somewhere and the word "balance" might have been in it, so you go online and do a search. That's a great way to find the verse, but so far I've found so much more of interest by readingt the verse in context.

Ok, that being said, 1 Peter 5 gives an absolutely fantastic to-do list, if you're ever sitting around and thinking "hm, what kind of person should I be today?) Just go through the verses. Except for one little blurb about the church, the whole thing is verse after verse of how we should "do" life (the numbers are my own, not verses):

1. Tend your flock, those who have been sent to follow you.
2. Be an example of holy living to your flock.
3. Be subject to those who are older or whom God has allowed to be set above you.
4. Humble yourself before others.
5. Cast your cares on God alone.
6. Be well-balanced of mind and behavior.
7. Withstand the devil in your life, as you know others must also withstand him in theirs.
8. Accept suffering as a reality, but remember it is for Christ.
9. Greet each other with love and nothing else but love.
10. Have peace between yourself and God, and yourself and your fellow man.

How's that for a top ten list of how to "be" in 2010?

May it be, Lord, may it be. Amen.

January 9, 2010

It's a Balancing Act

"Part of Accidental Increase is the ability to properly balance work and family, drive and relaxation, sense and nonsense. The ability to do this without thought can be even more rewarding" (Accidental Increase, Steven Sisler)

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7)

I did not get out of bed until 1:30pm today. It's rather nice to say that in some ways, as not everyone can sleep in that late without being sick and bed-ridden. But the fact that I slept in so late, in context with my sleep schedule for the last six days, shows that my life is currently quite unbalanced. I spent the last week of my life going to bed at 1 or 2 in the morning, and getting up at 6 so I could have my hour of devotion time (which has naturally become an hour of sleeping along to worship music--although every day I have put up a blog post and feel that I have spent my time fairly well).

But to sleep only 4-5 hours a night is not healthy for me. I know that by how exhausted I was every day at work, and how my glands seemed to be starting a tell-tale swelling by Friday. By God's Grace and some vitamin C I may be able to avoid getting sick, but that's exactly the point. I am clearly not balancing myself well if I'm constantly trying to avoid illness.

So, to the quotes I have listed above. Everyone on earth is trying to survive, to live a life well-lived, and most of us (ok I'm speaking only about Americans because that's what I know) are trying to "get ahead" in some way. But how do we do that? What does "get ahead" really mean? In  many cases, getting ahead means working 60-hour weeks for no additional pay but the hopes of advancement, and missing out on family time along the way.

But a balanced life is one in which we have taken stock of ourselves, our committments and obligations, and made some wise choices about how much time we will give to each of them. And then following through.

I'm still woefully behind in that department. But I have to ask myself, if this Accidental Increase book is right, then I might do better to focus all of my energies on getting work done in the time allotted (as much as possible) and then shifting all of my thoughts and cares to the next aspect of my life, such as getting a good workout, and then shifting again to my personal time and my writing, and then--here's the important part--going to bed at a reasonable hour in accordance with when I have to get up the next day.

Those are all really hard things to focus on, but I'm going to try. I went to a friend's house last night for the first time in I don't know how long, and I realized that I've been grossly neglecting my social life. I spend so much time during the day talking to people at work that I just want to go home and be by myself most nights, and yet I miss out on the opportunity to develop relationships outside of work, to have people who care about me be a bigger part of my life.

So that is my goal for this next week (for the rest of my life, really) to start to take stock of my life, of what I must do and what I desire to do, and find some balance, and the self-control to keep my life balanced. Because no matter what gets thrown at me, the only thing that can really throw me off... is me.

January 8, 2010

It's the Only One You've Got

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139: 13-14)

Just as a brief update, these morning times have been really beneficial for me. I'll admit it is really difficult having my alarm go off an hour earlier, especially as I have been going to bed after midnight every day this week. The annoying part is that my body naturally turns "on" at about 8 or 9pm, and I can be tired, yet wide awake until 2am. The next day at work, however, I feel wretched. But then about 8 or 9 pm, I wake up again. Being so tired all the time has opened me up to a lot of emotions... when I get this tired I get touchy, and the smallest thing going wrong or even just "different" is enough to bring me to tears.

But the beneficial part of getting up is that I have been spending more time thinking on the Bible and praying during the day, and even in my times of trouble or tiredness or frustration I have the Bible to rely on and guide my prayers. When I feel overwhelmed at work, I think of the storm on the lake that God calmed. If He can do that, He can handle my problems.

I have, this week, found myself pondering the verse of the day, during the day. I don't normally do that, so I do feel that this concept of getting up early and writing about what I read is really helping to imprint these words on my heart.

So this morning's Bible verse is my reminder. Today is simply a reminder that God created me, he created my body, from my hair down to my toes, and He created it to be awake late at night, and yet He created me to need a specific amount of sleep. And I need to honor this body that God gave me, by figuring out how best I can function in the place that God has put me. And, staying up until 1 or 2 and getting up at 6 isn't working right now. I can force through the days, but God did not create us to have to force, to have to hope against getting sick every day. He created us to be joyful and full of life, not slogging through the minutes.

I will go to work exhausted again today, but I will tell myself that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, that this body is a gift, and that I must be a good steward of it.

And, God-willing, I will get myself on a schedule that will allow me to both do what I need to do at home, and be awake and functioning at work. Let it be, Lord God, let it be.

January 7, 2010

Can You Hear Me Now?

So too the [Holy] Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance. And He Who searches the hearts of men knows what is in the mind of the [Holy] Spirit [what His intent is], because the Spirit intercedes and pleads [before God] in behalf of the saints according to and in harmony with God's will. (Romans 8:26-27, Amplified Bible)

So for the last few days when my CD stops and I realize that I have to get up off the couch (and today I had to push away my warm, cuddly, purring cat--so sad) I've had a thought that leads me to look up a passage in the Bible. And today was no different, except that it was such a non-sequiter. "God has the best service." And not like God serves us (not to say that He doesn't, that's just not what the thought was). Really honestly I thought about God compared to cell-phone coverage.


But God is pretty cool in that He will actually make sense when you think about it for a minute. Because we spend so much time and money trying to find the best phone and the best carrier so that we never drop our calls or lose our text messages or have uninterrupted streaming of our favorite TV show. But most important is that we never drop our calls. Because we've got something to say, and we need the person on the other end of the phone to be able to hear us, crystal clear, so that they can understand whatever it is that we need to communicate.

So, God's kinda like the best service provider ever. You can seek him any time, any place, in any situation. You can whisper to him in the middle of a crowd, and He will hear you loud and clear. In fact, like Romans 8 says, there are times that you don't even know what to say, and the Holy Spirit (which lives in us and knows our hearts and our innermost thoughts) will not only pray on our behalf but will groan. This is taking it to the most elemental, isn't it? We're saying that God the Holy Spirit will speak to God the Father on our behalf in unutterable moans because that is the most eloquent we can get in our pain, and God the Father knows exactly what we want, exactly what we need, and what He will do to meet that need.

So next time you are praying, or the next time you want to reach out to God but you don't even know what to say, remembr that God has the best coverage, ever. He can see into the depths of you, and He knows what you need before you can even put it into words. Yes, He can hear you now.

Thank you God that you are able to hear and meet my needs even when I may not know what they are. I praise you for your willingness to seek out our innermost thoughts instead of forcing us to put them into words. I pray today Lord that you would help me to hear cries of other people's hearts, so that I might in some way bring light into their situations, according to Your good and perfect Will. And I ask Lord, knowing that you have already catalogued my desires, that you would grant me rest and peace and strength, and the ability to keep on keeping on.


January 6, 2010

Calm the Storm

Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Lord, save us! We're going to drown!" He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, "What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!" (Matthew 8:23-27)

I decided this morning I wanted to look up "calm" in the Bible. I already was thinking about the passage above, where Jesus calms the storm. When I went to http://www.biblegateway.com/, I had the option of pulling up only the verse with the word "calm," or the entire chapter. I opted for the whole chapter. I skimmed through the first 22 verses, and thought to myself "wow it's just a whole bunch of stories of Jesus' miracles." Pretty awesome, yes, but I was looking for the part about the storm.

But, being the student of literature that I am, I was struck by something. Verse 23 starts with the word "then."

"Then" is a great word, it's a transition word. First do this, then do that. I did this, and then I did that. So what the writer of Matthew is saying is "First Jesus healed a man with leprosy, then he healed the Centurian's servant without even seeing him, then he healed Peter's mother-in-law, then he healed many who were demon-possessed... and then he got into a boat with his disciples, where, as he slept, a storm came up."

Is it really so far-fetched to believe that Jesus, who apparently has authority over all sickness, could do something about the storm? And yet his very own disciples were amazed. After waking him up like children waking their parents during a thunderstorm, they could not believe that Jesus actually took care of the problem. He told the storm to stop, and it did.

"What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!"

This man is Jesus, the Christ, the son of the living God.

And He can heal you even from death, and he can tell even the elements to be still and they must obey.

So the next time you (and I say this to myself) are having a bad day at work, and the stress is piling up and you seem to have more on your to-do list than hours in the day... just remember that Jesus stopped an entire storm. Don't you think He could bring some calm and peace into your (comparatively) little situation?

Lord, forgive me for attempting to press through my days without seeking your peace and forgetting that you are just a prayer away. Help me today Jesus to remember I have but to seek your solace and you will give it, I have but to cry out in my heart and you will come to my aid. Stir up the Holy Spirit in me, Lord, that I would remember your words, that they would be imprinted on my heart, so today I may say "as you calmed the storm, calm my heart, calm my boss's heart, and take control of this situation."


January 5, 2010

Sweet Perfume

"and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." (Ephesians 5:2)

After my third day of soaking (dozing) through a CD during my morning hour with God, I felt a little guilty. Where is the praise, the dancing, the 45-minute prayer? But then I fixed on the lyrics in the last song, Sweet Perfume:

Don't ever think that you are worthless,
You have His life within
You are a sweet wholesome fragrance
So valuable to Him.

And I suddenly realized that while I have a goal to spend time with God and that is important, I cannot let myself feel guilty for having to "ease" into it. I can't get away with napping through music every morning, but what is the importance in our lives? That we love God, and love each other. Nowhere did Jesus say "and the first commandment is this, get up at 4 in the morning and read the Scriptures." No, He said love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind and all your strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.

If I immerse myself in guilt, I am not showing myself love, and I will then be hard-pressed to show others love, won't I?

I feel this speaks to the food fast I'm doing as well. I completely broke it for lunch Monday, and have plans to break it again today. Why? Because I had lunch with a committee co-chair yesterday to do some planning, and we went to a place that pretty much only served meat and bread. And today I have lunch with my boss, and she's the type of person who doesn't need the additional stress of trying to find a lunchtime spot that serves big enough salads that I could still look as though I were eating lunch (and not nibbling on a side-salad). I'll admit better people than me could figure out ways around this, I'm sure.

But I have found in the past that when I purposefully break the fast it introduces a new level of thought process. It's one thing to make rules and stick to them and be proud of my ability to not eat meat or wheat or most processed foods... but it's another thing to enter into a situation and see what love dictates in that moment. Does it call for alienating my boss by not eating with her, or by picking at a salad and looking ungrateful for the lunch? (It is to celebrate my anniversary, after all) or does it call for going along with it, eating from the menu, and recognizing that there may be times when keeping to a cultural norm may in fact be the best way in a given situation.

Not all the time, of course. I can't just break the fast every day because I want pizza. But I feel more freedom in knowing that I can prayerfully (sometimes I forget the prayer but I'm putting this in here so you'll remember it) consider if breaking the fast temporarily may be a more loving action for the people with whom I'm eating.

Now, if it helps, you who are reading and possibly thinking "wow, she's really coming up with a lot of excuses for eating what she wants," there are consequences to breaking the fast. For example, I had a greasy cheeseburger, and I'm still feeling the after-effects of it. And this was after only two full days of not eating meat! I've done that before on accident, so it's not like I was in week 3 of no meat and had a steak (because that'll get ya for sure, it's amazing how quickly your body adjusts). So I believe that there can be consequences to breaking the fast, and I accept them since I made the choice.

But I also make the choice to get back into it after lunch today. And that's the important thing. Don't waste time being legalistic because the monkey on your shoulder will tell you that once you've broken the fast you've ruined it and may as well stop. But the small voice in your soul will tell you that it's the heart of the matter that counts.

January 4, 2010

Sereneity Now

So I'll be honest, there's a good chance that I will spend a portion (or the majority) of this extra morning hour curled up on the couch, semi-conscious. I do not want it to be this way every morning, because I need to spend some time in the Word also. But you know what, The Call is a very soothing CD, and I have to say that after an hour of listening to it/dozing, I do feel much more calm than I normally do on a Monday morning, especially a Monday morning after a weekend of working and no more long weekends to look forward to.

I mean, seriously, I spent a good hour last night complaining about work to a friend. It felt good to get it off my chest at the time, but there's always a chance of carryover, alyways the risk of saying "oh man, here we go again. I sure hope today doesn't suck." And while, yes, I do hope that the day doesn't suck, I feel much more connected to the Reality that God created this day, and that He has a plan for me in it. I don't know exactly what that plan is, but I'm sure it has at least a little to do with bringing His Light into my workspace, instead of allowing myself to be a little thundercloud of emotional garbage.

So I pray today for myself, Lord, and for anyone who may be reading this, that You would be the light shining through me today, that my actions would not be colored by my own emotions but by Your Grace. I can do nothing of my own strength but by your power I can move mountains. I believe you are the highest power, the source of all things good, and I accept that I can tap into that source at any time if I just open my mouth and confess your glory. Help me to confess your glory today, Lord. Amen.

And I believe that God has spoken, as He often does in flashes of insight. "Serenity now" isn't just the title of my blog or a silly phrase from Seinfeld, but it is a true concept which He will grant me if I but ask throughout my day, so that I can be the light in an otherwise dark day. Serenity now, Lord. Serenity now.

January 3, 2010

Soaking vs. Sleeping

Today I began my day with just listening to The Call, the CD I had on yesterday. Sundays are actually going to be the hardest for me, because I am on worship at my church, which means that I need to be out the door by 7:15, which is only 15 minutes after I normally get up for the rest of the week. So setting my alarm for 5am instead of 6 was quite painful.

But no one ever said that you have to dance and sing to worship the Lord, and in fact sometimes it is best to just sit and soak up the words of worship songs. So I got out my Snuggie and my yoga mat, and attempted to get comfortable (but not too comefortable) to listen to the music.

To be honest, I slept through some of the songs. But I also picked up on some phrases that had resonated with me yesterday, and I have a feeling like I should listen to this CD for the rest of the first week of the fast, so that the words will resound even more, and will write themselves on my heart. So as I go through the day when I face stress or fear or a loss of self-worth, or even pride, these words can return to my head and heart and I will know it is God speaking to me.

So no great revelation today other than the fact that there is a difference between soaking up music and sleeping through it, but that we are fully within our rights to soak and in fact it is a calming, soothing practice. I do suggest, however, that you make sure you're not too comfortable. :)

January 2, 2010

The Lion and the Lamb

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will like down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infnat will play near the hole or the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:6-9)

This is the Word of God. Thanks be to God.

I began my worship today with listing just a tiny little of who God is. He is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. He created us, He sustains us, and He died for us. In His good and perfect wisdom, He created us, knowing that He would have to separate from His son Jesus and send Him to die because of our imperfect faith. He created us to have free will, so we could choose to die in our sin or to live in His grace. And it is His grace alone which allows us to live. We are nothing without God. Are you strong? Independent? Talented? Gifted? Lucky? You would be nothing if He had not given these things unto you. Think about that next time you figure you can make it on your own.

I am listening to The Call, a Vineyard Worship CD. A friend of mine gave it to me a long time ago and I believe this is the first time that I've listened to it. So I have been soaking up the lyrics, listening to the message, and allowing it to resonate with my spirit. I stood up to do something mundane--blow my nose--and before I knew it I was dancing. My feet did not move, but my arms lifted and I found myself reaching out to the Lord, acting out the words of the songs. You are lifted up; I will praise you; I will seek you; Teach me; I believe that only you can save me.

As I danced, my cat came to me and tugged at my pants like a small child asking to be lifted up. I took him into my arms and held him, continuing the dance one-armed until the end of the song. And I asked myself: "What of my cat? Where does he fit in when heaven comes?" And I recevied my answer in Isaiah (listed above), a verse that is somewhat mis-quoted. But as it came to me was the well-known statement "and the lion shall lie down with the lamb."

What will happen when all is melted away and what remains is the new heaven and the new earth? All those who have accepted Christ will live in peace and harmony, praising the Name of the Lord. And all those who did not sin against God will be there also--the angels, and the animals.

I did not think when it came to my first day of the fast that God would speak to me about what will happen to my cat when he dies, but I take comfort in the knowledge that God has a place for him as well. And perhaps someone out there is reading this and you just lost a beloved pet, or you are in the place of making some hard choices, and perhaps this is comforting to you: As the lion will eat with the yearling, the wolf and the lamb rest cheek-to-cheek, so I believe will dogs and cats and fish and gerbils have their own place, for they are a part of God's creation as well, and they never sinned against God like humans did.

So rejoice and take heart, beloved. We will all be reunited at the End. Pray now not for your hamster or guinea pig but for the souls of your children, your neighbors, your friends, that they may live with us all in paradise. For we will all live forever--it's just where that is yet to be determined.

January 1, 2010

It Begins with a Word

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not undersood it. (John 1:1-2)

This is the Word of God. Thanks be to God.

I have started this blog not because I need another venue but because I need to hold myself accountable to a promise. My church does a 21-day fast every January, and while we do abstain from food at varying levels throughout the weeks, it is also suggested that we consider other things to fast, such as television, the internet, or texting. I decided this year, for the first time, to fast an hour of sleep.

For those of you who know me, you are already quite shocked, I am sure. I do enjoy my sleep, even though I don't get much of it. But I have realized that the biggest thing missing in my life is my relationship with God. I just don't put time or energy into it. And if you think about a friendship where one person does not persue communication with the other, the relationship tends to die, or at least lose its potency.

So I have decided to ardently seek God, and to get up an hour earlier in order to do it. My current plan is to read the Bible, books about the Bible, listen to and sing along with worship music, speak to my Creator and listen for what He has to share with me. I hope that He will give me revelation not only about myself but revelation of His word, and perhaps even revelations that will bless anyone who happens upon this blog.

Consider this my online faith journal. And it's one where you can play along. If you're here now, I invite you to stay, to follow along as I attempt this lofty goal of getting up an hour early every day and not sleeping through my quiet time with God. I will do my best to post honestly about how these times go. On weekdays I haven't been getting up until 7am so that means I'll be getting up at 6. Weekends are completely up in the air depending on my plans so I am allowing for flexibility in the time of day, though not the amount of time, that I seek the Lord's face and voice.

I have so far only committed to 21 days, January 2nd through the 22nd, but I do hope to continue beyond then, because we need Christ every day, whether or not we admit it.

May you be blessed today, and may you be covered in the majesty of Christ's love for you in this moment.