Thursday, April 30, 2009

A place of safety

There are many things I could blog about tonight: the hate-crimes bill, Obama overturning Bush's restriction on embryonic stem cell research, or the swine flu. As believers in Christ, these serious issues deserve our close attention and much prayer. And I am praying a lot about them.

But what I am hearing tonight is this: keep your eyes on Jesus, not on the winds and the waves of uncertainty. "Be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10)

There's a lot of scary stuff going on right now, but we don't need to be ruled by fear. Jesus said in John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, nor let it be afraid."

Just as a baby who is crying is hushed in his parents' protective arms, so God is holding us His children in His loving, strong hands. God is still on the throne. He is not up in heaven having a panic attack or freaking out over these things. He's got it all under control, and we need to just trust Him.

Be still. Be at peace. For God your Father loves you and is your safe place, your refuge, your strong tower in times of trouble.

Here is the music group Delirious' video of "Majesty" (Here I am) on You Tube. The Lord reigns in majesty.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Susan Boyle's stunning performance

Tonight I found a post on Susanne Scheppmann's blog, Dreams, on Susan's Boyle's stunning perfomance on Britain's Got Talent. I encourage everyone to read Susanne's short but potent blog and to watch the incredible You Tube video below. What a voice Susan has!

Loneliness: God sees you and He cares

Fig Tree with figs

Have you ever felt all alone?

Loneliness is a pervading problem in today's society. Kerby Anderson, president of Probe Ministries International, nationally syndicated columnist and author, says that in the 1950's, about one in every ten households had only one person in them, who were mostly widows.

But today, because of the three D's of social statistics (death, divorce, and deferred marriage), that number has changed to one in four. Sociologists estimate that if current trends continue, the ratio will increase to one in every three households by the twenty-first century.

"Living together loneliness," which occurs most often in middle-aged, married couples, and "crowded loneliness," that results from people moving a lot and not knowing how to reach out to others in a new city, are two examples of loneliness occuring, even when people are close to each other physically, but emotionally distant.

Yet Anderson says this increasing loneliness in society gives the church an opportunity for outreach, fellowship, and friendship.

God sees when we are feeling alone and lonely. Jesus had just been baptized in the Jordan river by John the Baptist, and had called Peter, Andrew, Philip, and Nathanael with Him to be His disciples.

John 1:43-51 says, "Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!" Nathaniel said to Him, "How do you know me?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you." Nathanael answered and said to Him "Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!"

Jesus answered and said to him, "Because I said to you 'I saw you under the fig tree,' do you believe? You will see greater than these. And He said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."

Jesus saw Nathanael even when he was under the fig tree. God sees everything. We are not just a dot on the earth, not just like a little, worker ant, but a very important person in God's sight. We have great value and a great purpose. God loved us enough to send Jesus his son to die for us.

Nathanael was amazed that Jesus had seen him. He wanted to know how Jesus knew him. Because He's God! God knows us, too. He is the one who made us. He knows everything about us, even the numbers of hairs on our head. He knows our every thought.

He knows about all our sins, too ~ and loves us anyway and wants an intimate relationship with us. Jesus told Nathanael that he was a man with no deceit in his heart. He was an honest, truthful man. God sees our hearts, beyond the surface.

Jesus also reassured Nathanael that the best was yet to come. Nathanael would see even greater things ahead. Nathanael was under the fig tree, when Jesus saw him. The fig tree is often synonymous with the Jews, and often represents abundance. The fig tree is among seven species symbolizing the bounty of Israel.

This is found in Deuteronomy 8: 7-10: "For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, that flow out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing; a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper. When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you. Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes, which I command you today."

Proverbs 27:18 also says, "Whoever keeps (tends) the fig tree will eat its fruit; So he who waits on his master will be honored."

Just as with Nathanael, Jesus sees us and He has blessings ahead for us, if we will believe, follow, and obey Him. He will be with us, and will not leave us alone and lonely. He is our dearest friend, who knows us intimately and has a wonderful plan for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11).

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Africa: Waiting on God's perfect timing

"I had seen the royal lion, before sunrise, below a waning moon, crossing the grey plain on his way home from the kill, drawing a dark wake in the silvery grass, his face still red up to the ears, or during the midday-siesta, when he reposed contentedly in the midst of his family on the short grass and in the delicate, spring-like shade of the broad Acacia trees of his park of Africa. All these things were pleasant to think of when times were dull on the farm. And the big game was out there still, in their own country. I could go and look them up once more if I liked. Their nearness gave a shine and play to the farm. Farah, -although with time he came to take a vivid interest in farm affairs,-and my old native Safari-servants, lived in hope of other Safaris...When you have caught the rhythm of Africa, you find that it is the same in all her music." ~ Out of Africa, Isak Dinesen, pp. 15-16

Today my friend Ruth and I were talking about our longing to go to Africa. I have never been, but I cannot wait to go. Several years ago, Ruth was a missionary in Uganda, with her husband Dave and their children for a year. Their youngest daughter Abi, now 3 years old, was born in Africa during their time on the mission field.

This week, after seeing another missionary's video at church of his work at an African orphanage, Abi said in her sweet, little voice, "Mommy, I want to go there!" She has heard the stories of Africa from her parents, but something in her heart remembers on its own.

Abi, I want to go, too! Ruth and I discussed God's perfect timing ~ how He puts desires into our hearts, and then seems to make us wait forever! But God knows when is best. He is preparing the soil of my heart for Africa even now, primarily through praying for it. The needs are great there.

Ruth's mom, Alma Jones, is there now, ministering, even while battling pneumonia and malaria. She is part of God's wonderful work in Africa through the organization, House of Friends.

I would also love to go on a safari when I go, seeing the lions, tigers, elephants, giraffes, zebras, hippos, rhinos, buffalo, so many of God's beautiful, wild creatures. I am not naive. No, Africa is not safe. An intense book on African safaris and Africa's unpredictability is Dangerous Beauty: Life and Death in Africa: True Stories From a Safari Guide (Hyperion, New York, 2001).

The author, Mark, was one of 31 people captured, with ten murdered by rebels, in the jungle along the border between Uganda and the Congo, as he and his safari group were looking for mountain gorillas. The story he tells is one of surreal terror, and yet compelling...and in the end, somehow, you still want to go to Africa, although with much more trepidation now.

He writes, "In spite of the brutal horrors and "forever" scars of the violent crimes at Bwindi, I still live in Kenya and still love being out on safari." (p. 306). How is this possible, after what he and the others went through? There is just something about this continent that stirs your heart.

Another excellent book is Out of Africa, by Isak Dinesen (Random House, New York, 1937).

The movie Out of Africa with Meryl Streep is one of my favorites, although I object to Karen's immoral relationship with Denys. Even after she is almost attacked by lions on safari, she tells Denys she is glad she came. As I watch Meryl portraying Karen Blixen at her desk, writing a letter, remembering the colors of Africa, I am undone.
Ruth did not face lions in Uganda. But she told me today how malaria is prevalent there. Workers who helped her at her house contracted malaria, but still came to help her, saying they would just move a little slower. They are "used to it," they said. Sadly, many Africans are also very familiar with political unrest, violence, rape, murder, rebels, kidnappings, AIDS, poverty, lack of clean water and food, ethnical tensions, and war.

I will continue to pray for this place, hoping ~ despite all the dangers ~ one day I will go. "Here I am, Lord, send me."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Friends and strawberry shortcake

Last night I went to our friends' Kenny and Kelly's friendship group, with my husband Ray. We all brought a dish, Kenny did a short teaching about dying to self and letting Christ live in us, and most of all, we had fun. I saw some friends I had not seen in months, and it was so great to see them! Now,THIS is church!

We sat around, eating hot taco soup, turkey-cheese sandwiches on Hawaiian sweet bread, triangle-shaped slices of tortillas spread with garlic hummus, fresh kiwi fruit and blackberries, and finally strawberry shortcake with whipped cream.

I thank God for blessings like these....friends and strawberry shortcake. It doesn't get much better than that.

"Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, For God has already accepted your works. Let your garments always be white, and let your head lack no oil. Live joyfully with the wife (spouse) whom you love all the days of your vain life which He has given you under the sun, all your days of vanity; for that is your portion in life and in the labor which you perform under the sun." Ecclesiastes 9:7-10

Saturday, April 18, 2009

God still does miracles today

Picture of Asian woman, on her knees, being "shaped" on the potter's wheel...and the hands of God, the Potter.

I have blogged before about my friend Kelly, whose pap smear showed abnormal results and who recently had surgery for a biopsy. Her doctor told her that unless a miracle happened, she was going to need a complete hysterectomy. Kelly was really scared, especially about the big "C" word. Yesterday, Kelly's doctor herself called her, instead of a nurse, to give her the good report. She was not going to need a hysterectomy, and everything looked fine now. PRAISE THE LORD JESUS! God still does miracles today!

What about you? Are you in need of a miracle or an answered prayer? God will do the same for you, because He loves you. Just ask Him ~ God wants to do good to us, His children.

"O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; Give ear, O God of Jacob! O God, behold, our shield, and look upon the face of Your anointed...For the Lord is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man (woman) who trusts in You!" Psalm 84: 8-12

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Springtime: New growth

Yesterday I spent some time working out in the yard ~ mowing, weeding, and putting up a bird and hummingbird feeder. My neighbor's yard man, Sam, is supposed to come over today to use his leaf blower to blow leaves out from the side of the house onto the lawn, shredding the leaves to tiny pieces. He said this will fertilize our lawn. That is fine, as long as the leaves are no longer like Mt. Everest on the sides of our house! He is also going to trim around our trees, and around our driveway pavement. We then will have a nicely manicured lawn.

I now feel eager to begin planting flowers in the beds, and will be able to enjoy the view of them, the birds and hummingbirds from our back deck. We have never had a deck before, so I am really looking forward to this ~ drinking coffee in the morning, feeling the warm sun on my face, and praying to the Lord.

Springtime is a time of growth, renewal, new life. This spring I want to meditate on the scripture in Revelation 21: 5 when Jesus said, "Behold, I make all things new."

What are some old things in my life that I need to get rid of ~ familiar, negative thought patterns, bad habits, sins? What areas of my life need new growth ~ extended prayer and Bible study time, more times of fasting, improved relationships? Where do I need to be renewed and refreshed ~ having more quiet time alone, reading a good book, taking a hot bubble bath after a long, tiring day?

As I drink my coffee and enjoy my flowers and the birds from the back deck, I want to ponder on these important things, drawing closer to Jesus each day. May I walk in more abundant life and new growth this spring.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sow your seed, morning and night

I love Proverbs 31 ministries, and Lysa Terkeurst's blog. Today I read one that really touched my heart ~ about not ignoring people's need for Jesus.

We may be having an ordinary Monday, when we hear that "divine whisper" that Lisa speaks of, and someone's eternity is forever changed. Ecclesiastes 11: 6 says, "So you do not know the works of God who makes everything. In the morning sow your seed, And in the evening do not withhold your hand; For you do not know which will prosper; Either this or that, Or whether both alive will be good."

It's my prayer that I will be sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and sow His seeds of truth, in writing, speaking, blogging, podcasting ~ perhaps sharing a word of encouragement with someone at the grocery store, Walmart, the post someone a smile to brighten their day...thanking my husband for working so hard to provide for our my children a hug and telling them how much I love them...walking over to my neighbor's house to just say hi or inviting her over for coffee...being bold enough to tell someone about God's plan of salvation through Jesus' work on the cross and praying with him or her to receive Christ as Savior.

Seeds, morning and night, seeds of God's love planted into hungry hearts. If I will just obey, God will do the rest.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

It's not about me

Today is Ray's and my 16th wedding anniversary. It seems hard to believe it has been that long. Ray wrote me the sweetest thing on the card that accompanied my dozen, long-stemmed red roses: "We may not have it all together yet, but together we have it all." :) I really liked that!

We have had our share of struggles through the years, but by God's grace we are still married. One thing I am learning through the years is that IT'S NOT ABOUT ME! God created me to be Ray's help-meet, his support, to stand by his side and cheer him on in his destiny and purpose. Woman was made for the man, not man for the woman (Genesis 2:18-25). That does not mean that women are not important or can't be used by God - don't get me started on that soapbox! But it does mean that the role of a wife is very important and precious in God's sight. Our husbands need us, to love them, honor them, and help them.

We're going out to dinner tonight, probably Mexican (my fave! He said it was my choice!). As I put on my makeup and get dressed to get ready to go, I am going to reflect on my God-given, blessed role. I want to be the best wife and mother possible. I want Ray to look at me proudly and think, "That's my wife!" I want him to feel so blessed that he's married to me, because of how good I am to him.

Proverbs 31: 10 says, "For who can find a virtuous (excellent) wife? For her worth is far above rubies." Lord God, I desire to be "above-ruby-quality" for you and Ray. Help me to become that woman by Your power and Your word.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Waiting Room

Waiting rooms are no fun. They are places of anxiety, uncertainty, sometimes sorrow and despair. But waiting rooms have a purpose. They are for containment, one's own safety; sometimes they shield the person from too much trauma, such as when a loved one has been in a terrible car accident and the hospital E.R. staff is working to save a life.

Today is Good Friday. It served as a waiting room for all of Heaven, as Jesus the Son of God hung on the cross, dying for humanity's sins. It was a heavy price to pay, especially for one who was completely innocent. He stood in our stead so that we could have eternal life and have a relationship with God forever, through faith in Christ's redemptive work on the cross.

Angels watched intently as the Father looked away for just a moment from his beloved Son, so that He could judge all of mankind's sin. He was the perfect, acceptable sacrifice to a Holy and Righteous Judge. And that is when Jesus cried out, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?" Even in our feelings of worst betrayal and abandonment, Jesus identifies with us. He suffered with us. He has been there.

Then heaven and hell listened in astonishment as Jesus stated with indisputable authority, "IT IS FINISHED." Mission accomplished. The waiting was over. The waiting which had begun when Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, and God promised a Messiah who would bruise the serpent's head. Jesus, king of the Jews, had accomplished the work He was born and sent to do here on earth.

This coming Sunday is Easter, the day we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior. He is no longer bound in graveclothes, but is risen. He ascended to heaven as his disciples watched, and He now sits at the right hand of God. And we His followers, His bride, are waiting for His soon return. No more tears, no more sorrow. Just spending eternity in the presence of God, who is Love.

Are you waiting for Him? Are you ready?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

What would Jesus blog?

Today I was thinking about the blogging craze, and I thought, "What would Jesus blog?" Here are some random thoughts that sprung to mind about Jesus' blog, in the form of a to-do checklist:

1. Was talking, but nobody was listening.

2. Saved hundreds of thousands of sinners today out of misery, depression, hopelessness, fears, unforgiveness, drugs, alcoholism, religion, immorality. Angels had a big party up here to celebrate. More work to do ahead; time is so short.

3. Protected Mrs. Hutchins when semi-truck swerved into her lane and she was so busy texting Nina, that she did not even notice she almost had a date with God.

4. I wonder why Gary won't repent; he's just making his life so much harder than it needs to be and I have such great things ahead for him.

5. Spoke to President Obama's heart about the solution to the financial crisis; really hope he listens and obeys. I love America and want her blessed.

6. Dispatched angels in Aquila, Italy during earthquake to protect people; am ready to comfort the families of those who have lost loved ones in the quake. I cry with them for their losses.

7. Saved baby using a salesman bystander, from a car ignited in a blast in Baghdad, which killed the baby's mother and eight other people. I love using ordinary people to do extraordinary things, for My glory.

8. The religion and hypocrisy in my church sicknes me. No wonder the world doesn't want anything to do with Me, if this is the way Christians act. My children need to repent and reflect Me. Faith in me is not about rules or religion; it's about relationship.

9. Sarah is the cutest little girl; I just love when she prays those simple little prayers and I love answering them so quickly.

10. Andrea needs healing; I'm going to do a miracle for her.

11. I wish the Mathis couple would knock it off and stop fighting so much. I want them to love each other, and just have fun.

12. I have all the answers. Why doesn't someone ask me?

13. Kelly noticed how pretty the sunset was. I made it just for her tonight.

14. This blogging thing is pretty cool. It's another way to get the Word out how much I love people and want to spend eternity with them.


Easter is this Sunday, and today I was thinking how very thankful I am for all Jesus has done for me. Holy week is a good time to set some time apart to get alone with God and to reflect on our relationship with Him.

Are we in right standing with Him? Are there any areas of our lives where we struggle with sin, and have not completely yielded to God? Do we make time for Him each day to pray and read the Bible? Do we worship and praise God our King?

Do we spend time with other believers for fellowship, to pray for, strengthen, and encourage one another in our faith? Do our lives truly reflect the heart of God, who is Agape, unconditional love?

Do our husbands, children, in-laws and other family members, friends, bosses, co-workers, and neighbors see Jesus and the fruit of the Spirit in us ~ or are we a bad witness for Christ? I want my life to be the story of God's love and grace pouring through a weak clay vessel, His fragrant aroma to a lost and dying world.

As Good Friday approaches, may we remember Jesus going to the cross to die so that we might live....and His resurrection which gives us so much hope and a new life with Him. For all that You've done, sweet Jesus, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

God's perfect timing

Today I went with three other ladies to pray for my friend Kelly at the hospital, who was scheduled for surgery on her uterus at 12 noon today. Kelly was nervous, which was normal. We prayed for peace and complete healing for her, after she had been prepped for surgery, and chit-chatted with her to keep her mind off things.

Just a few minutes before noon, we hugged her bye and left, asking her husband Kenny to keep us posted after her surgery. As we were on our way to eat lunch at Fazolis, Kelly called, saying that the surgery had been cancelled and rescheduled by the doctor until next week.

Kelly wondered what on earth God was doing...she had been prayed for by many people from church and had prepared herself emotionally for the surgery, for going under anesthesia for the first time, and for whatever the results of her biopsy would be post-surgery. I just told her that God had it all under control, and His timing was perfect ~ never early, never late.

I am so glad that God is in charge and has the steering wheel in His strong and capable hands, and that I and my loved ones don't need to be the driver of our own lives. God knows what He is doing, He has worked out all the intricate details for the road ahead, and I just need to put my faith and my trust in Him.

Psalm 125:1-2(NKJV)says, "Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, So the Lord surrounds His people from this time forth and forever."

Our times are in God's hands, each moment counting to Him; He has surrounded us with His loving and tender care.

Monday, April 6, 2009

All that she desired

Ethiopian fresco of the Queen of Sheba on her way to Jerusalem, shown riding with sword under her saddle and a lance in her hand.

This morning I was reading from a book in the Bible that I don't usually read from, 1 Chronicles 9: 1-12 (NKJV). But the Lord spoke to my heart and encouraged me greatly from this passage, and I want to share my treasure find with you. First, I will post the entire passage for you to read, and then share insights that uplifted my heart.

The background of this passage is that King Solomon had finished building the temple where the people of Israel could worship God, and had dedicated it to the Lord. Before building the temple, Solomon had a dream where the Lord visited him and asked him what he desired to have, and said that He would give it to Solomon.

Solomon chose to ask for wisdom and knowledge to rule God's people, and did not ask to be rich, or for honor or the life of his enemies. God was pleased and granted his request, and said that in addition, He would also give him riches, wealth, and honor, like no one else before had or afterward would have.

The Queen of Sheba had heard of Solomon's wisdom and came to visit him to test him. Sheba was an ancient kingdom in a location that was somewhere between southern Arabia and the Horn of Africa (

"Now when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon, she came to Jerusalem to test Solomon with hard questions, having a very great retinue, camels that bore spices, gold in abundance, and precious stones; and when she came to Solomon, she spoke with him about all that was in her heart.

So Solomon answered all her questions; there was nothing so difficult for Solomon that he could not explain it to her. And when the queen of Sheba had seen the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, the food on his table, the seating of his servants, the service of his waiters and their apparel, his cupbearers and their apparel, and his entryway by which he went up to the house of the Lord, there was no more spirit in her.

Then she said to the king, "It was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom. However, I did not believe their words until I came and saw with my own eyes, and indeed the half of the greatness of your wisdom was not told me. You exceed the fame of which I heard.

Happy are your men and happy are these your servants, who stand continually before you and hear your wisdom! Blessed the Lord your God, who delighted in you, setting you on His throne to be king for the Lord your God! Because your God has loved Israel, He made you king over them, to do justice and righteousness."

Then she gave the king one hundred and twenty talents of gold, spices in great abundance, and precious stones; there never were any spices such as those the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon. Also the servants of Hiram and the servants of Solomon, who brought gold from Ophir, brought album wood and precious stones.

And the king made walkways of the algum wood for the house of the Lord and for the king's house, also harps and stringed instruments for singers; and there were none such as those seen before it in the land of Judah.

Now King Solomon gave to the queen of Sheba all she desired, whatever she asked, much more than she had brought to the king. So she turned and went to her own country, she and her servants."

The first thing that stood out to me in this story was that King Solomon's wisdom was not his own. He had asked God for wisdom, and God had given it to him, very pleased that Solomon had not prayed for something selfish like wealth or to kill his enemies. James 1: 5 says that if you lack wisdom, to ask God for it and He will give it to you generously.

Secondly, the gifts in Solomon made room for him, and became a great blessing to God, Solomon, the people of Israel, and to many others. He was known for his wisdom, even to a queen in a foreign land. Psalm 2: 8 says, "Ask of Me, and I will give you the nations for your inheritance." God wants to use our gifts that He has so richly deposited into us, to make room for us, to expand His kingdom, and to glorify His son Jesus.

I believe that King Solomon is symbollic of our King, Jesus, and that Queen Sheba represents the Church, The Bride of Christ. The queen of Sheba had heard of Solomon's fame and wisdom, and she went to visit him to ask him hard questions, to "test him." Do you have questions in your heart for God? Do you ever feel like testing Him and asking Him some hard questions?

She also traveled far to see King Solomon. How far are you willing to go to meet with and obey Jesus? Are you willing to give up the comfort of your own home, and go where He tells you to go? Will you leave what is familiar behind you, in order to go forward with God, and find Him and His purpose in your life? God has wisdom, truth, and eternal riches to give you if you will just step out of the boat of comfort and begin to move toward Him, even to ask Him the hard questions about life.

God may not always answer us right away when we ask Him these questions, but I believe He is pleased when we do. He wants us to seek Him for wisdom, to understand things, and to give us revelation. We need to continue to pursue Him.

Verse 1 says that the queen shared with Solomon all the things that were in her heart. God wants us to pour out our hearts to Him in prayer. Don't hold back. Tell him everything. And He will answer us. The Bible says nothing the queen asked was too hard for Solomon, and he answered her. You might feel overwhelmed with life right now, but your problems are not too great for Jesus. Nothing is impossible for God!

In verses 5 and 6, the queen admits that she had heard of Solomon's wisdom and fame even in her far-away country, but had not believed it herself. The queen of Sheba was a Thomas. Thomas doubted and did not believe that Christ was resurrected until he saw proof: "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe." (John 20:25) The queen did not believe about Solomon's wisdom until she saw for herself.

We don't need to be doubting Thomases, or have unbelief in our hearts like the queen of Sheba. We just need faith in God, to trust Him. King Solomon's wisdom exceeded the queen's expectations.

That is the way it is with God. He is so good, and His goodness and grace to us is so much greater than we can even dream of! 1 Corinthians 2: 9 (NKJV) says, "For it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him."

I believe the key to the entire passage is found in verses 5-9. As the queen praised the king, and gave him gifts, Solomon in return gave to the queen of Sheba all that she desired, much more than she brought. As we praise and worship our King Jesus, and obey His Word, He will give to us the desires of our hearts, and even give us more than all our offerings to Him. We can not outgive God!

Are there dreams in your heart that are unfulfilled? Are there voids, an emptiness, that God needs to fill? Are there deep hurts that need healing? Are there things you desire, like publishing a book, speaking all over the country and the world, traveling, doing missions work, having your own successful business, having a happy, fulfilling marriage, being restored to someone in a strained relationship, seeing a loved one saved?

Then come before the King Jesus, as the queen of Sheba came to Solomon. Ask God the hard questions. Let Him expose your heart and break it open. Share with God all these things that are on your heart, and let Him minister to you. Bring praises and offerings to Him, singing songs to Him of adoration. Let Jesus give you the desires of your heart, but come to Him not to get -but to give Him your love.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

What's got you stuck? Tips to get out!

Sometimes we feel like we can't go forward

Do you feel stuck? Are your dreams on hold? Do you feel as if you will never see the success you long for in your heart?

Last year when we were moving, Ray borrowed a friend's flat-bed trailer to load and haul our heavy appliances like the stove, fridge, and washer. Moving the appliances from our front door step to the flat bed trailer was a feat in itself, but the real fun began when Ray tried to pull out into our two-acre yard.

It had been raining recently in Missouri, but we'd had several sunny, dry days. But the rain had saturated our grass, and as soon as Ray tried to drive forward, the trailer wheels sank in the mud, and he was stuck. After several frustrating attempts to get out, he finally called a friend who had a big truck and a strong chain. Then his friend got stuck!

Eventually the friend and Ray did get out of the mud, although their zealous efforts left some interesting doughnut shapes and other strange markings in our front yard. Ray commented that it looked as if aliens had visited our neighborhood, leaving crop circles.

Sometimes we feel like we can't go forward and we don't know why. If you have dreams in your heart, and you feel stuck, here may be some reasons why, and some Biblical tips to get you out:

1. Identity.
I believe the primary reason we don't see fulfillment of our dreams is that we don't know our true identity in Christ. When Hadassah had to go to the king's palace for the king to find a new wife and queen in the place of Queen Vashti, Mordecai who had raised her instructed her to not yet reveal her identity and to change her name to "Esther." Her identity was very important, and she never forgot who she really was. God used Esther in a powerful way to intercede and to save herself and her own people.

We as believers must know who we are in Christ ~ a royal priesthood and a holy nation, sons and daughters of the King of the Universe (1 Peter 2: 9). If we do not recognize that God sees us as his children and has called us to fulfill His great commission on earth, we will always live below our potential and never see our purpose, dreams, and destiny come to pass.

False perceptions about ourselves that we learn from family members, teachers, friends, bosses, co-workers, even pastors and leaders, can cause our vision to be distorted and us to not understand the truth of who we really are.

The way we come to know our true identity is first to obtain salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ by faith in His redemptive work on the Cross for our sins (Acts 4: 11-12), and secondly to spend time daily in His Word and in His presence in prayer. God will speak to us great and mighty things, and show us how He views us as we seek Him. (Jeremiah 28: 3)

2. Fear.
Over the last several years, Ray and I have gone through very hard, stressful times, so for a season I laid down writing and speaking. Since last summer, things have improved and I have begun to slowly dip my little toe back into the water. For several months now, I have realized that fear also had been holding me back. Fear of rejection, fear of man, and fear of failure had me stuck.

Like the woman with the issue of blood pushing past the crowed and every obstacle, I know that if I just touch Jesus, He will help me - and His power and virtue will flow from Him into me. But God does not want me or you afraid, because fear trips us up. Jesus said, "Do not fear, little flock, for it is Your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." (Luke 12: 32)

As we spend time reading the Bible each day, worshipping God, and praying, God will remove our fears by penetrating our hearts with the truth of His word and His agape love for us. His perfect love removes all our fears. (1 John 4: 18)

3. Not knowing or using our gifts
Wouldn't it be silly for your husband or your favorite girlfriend to give you a wonderful gift for your birthday, and you never opened it, but put it in the back of your closet to open in a few years? Yet that is what we do with our spiritual gifts that God has given us. If we do not know what our spiritual gifts are or do not use them, they are useless.

The gifts are for God's glory and the Body of Christ's edification, encouragement, and ministry. They also are a sign and a wonder to the lost, and draw them to Jesus. A listing of the spiritual gifts can be found in Ephesians 4: 11-12 (five-fold ministry gifts), 1 Corinthians 12: 4-11 (manifestation gifts), and 1 Corinthians 12: 28.

If you are not plugged into a local church or fellowship, I encourage you to find a Bible-teaching church near you that encourages its members to know and to use their spiritual gifts regularly. There are tests that you can take to find out what your spiritual gifts are and how they function, in Spirit-filled churches and on online sites. Get unstuck; tap into your gifts and talents! Use your gifts for God to further His kingdom and to bless His name!

4. Timing
Talking about the spiritual gifts would not be complete without also mentioning God's timing. Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 says there is a time for everything - even our gifts to be used and our dreams to come true. We need wisdom to know the right timing for something. We don't want to do anything prematurely; we don't want to run ahead of God. We also don't want to lag behind, but walk with Him day by day as Enoch did, until we are no more (Genesis 5: 24).

Sometimes we need to be patient. It seems as if God is always teaching me about patience (and I never pray for it!). I often feel as if God acts and moves really slow. One year for a present, I bought my husband a little gift, a ceramic turtle. I wrote him a note and told him that this was a symbol of his and God's pace in my life. He laughed.

I am like a race horse, behind the gate, rarin' to go. But sometimes God wants us to wait on His perfect timing before things can happen. He is still orchestrating all the tiny, marvelous details to perfection. James 5: 7 (NKJV) says, "Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain." We need to be patient and wait on God's timing.

5. Lack of resources
Sometimes we are spiritually stuck because we do not have the right resources. That is why networking, education, and training are so important. At the Glorieta Writers' Conference in New Mexico, my small group leader was Vicki Caruana, teacher, Christian speaker, and author of Apples and Chalkdust. One of the things that Vicki said that really impacted me was, "Don't ever stop learning. Continue with your education and training for life."

The internet is a wealth of information at our fingertips, as well as libraries, the radio, magazines, books, support groups and other groups related to our passions. Talk to your spouse, children, in-laws, friends, boss, co-workers, pastor, neighbors, whoever you can about your dreams and any obstacles you may be facing in getting ahead.

God owns all the resources in the world, and sometimes help comes from the unlikeliest of places. That is why not burning any bridges is so important; you never know who's going to show up again in your life, and you don't want it to be an unpleasant experience.

Tap into resources everywhere; be alert, on the look-out for what you need after you define your needs and write them down for clarity and goals. Be open-minded to where your help may come from; don't be so rigid that you can't accept other creative ideas, things that might help you even more in the long run. Learn from experts in your field, those who are a success already. Emulate them.

I feel that right now my web site and my blog do not accurately reflect me; they are not my personal taste. I have gone on other women's websites and blogs, and admired them so much - that's what I want! But I do not have the web site design or technology knowledge necessary to make them look the way I want to, and have had frustrating attempts trying to do things myself.

I am still swimming through the uncertain waters of creating a web site and blogging ~ what should I blog about, do I put Adsense on my blogs, is Blogsvertise a good thing or will it repel readers, what on earth am I doing, am I doing anything right? This is where studying other bloggers and those with professional web sites comes in...I am striving to learn from the best so I, too, can excel.

The things that I want done are also beyond my husband's expertise (he is good on computers, but not a programmer.) We also do not have the $450 or much more that is needed to pay a professional web site designer. So I am getting the word out to family and friends that I need help.

Most of all, I am praying for God to send the right person who does have the knowledge and expertise necessary to help me. and for the monetary provision to do these things. If the reason you are stuck is because of resources (knowledge, education, money, etc.), pray to God for those resources and He will supply your needs! God is faithful. He is the one who put those dreams into your heart, and He will bring them to pass for His glory! Just believe!

6. Sin
We may have big dreams in our hearts, but if we are entertaining sin in our lives, God will not honor that. We must be quick to hear God's voice, slow to speak, slow to anger (James 1: 19). We can't hold onto unforgiveness, but must forgive others as God has forgiven us (Mark 11: 25-26).

Sin will keep us stuck. David thanked God for delivering him out of a horrible pit and the miry clay. That means David was stuck in the mud, folks! He knew both the dangers and the terrible, sometimes permanent, consequences, of sin. Most of all, David did not want to lose fellowship with God because he loved Him. If we love God, we will obey Him. (1 John 3: 6)

We cannot blame other people for our sins, but must acknowledge our own responsiblity to God. God will take care of others who hurt or who oppose us. But I don't want my own sin to stop my destiny. I desire to obey the Lord, and to please Him. Every day I ask God to show me any area of my heart that is not totally surrendered to Him, to change me, and to empower me with His grace to obey Him.

I stay on my face, and ask God to reveal any unforgiveness or bitterness, any hidden area of sin, anything that keeps me out of fellowship with Him - for God is a holy God, and we His people are to have clean hands and pure hearts. Personal sin can keep me from seeing my dreams coming true, and it puts a barrier between me and my Lord, which I do not want. Sin also affects our testimony for Christ. The tablets of our hearts are to be a written epistle to others of the love of God.

If you are feeling stuck spiritually, review this list and follow these tips. While you're learning to get out from that familiar place of being stuck for so long, initially mud might go flying like it did at our house, but you will get free, to become all that you were meant to be, with God's help!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Sharpies and God

Sharpie, ultra fine point markers are my absolutely favorite pens for writing by hand. I should be their spokeswoman, or invest in Sharpie stock. I usually buy black, although the other colors like blue and green are fun, too. Ray bought me a new laptop for my birthday, and I LOVE it. But there is something about the actual act of writing with a Sharpie, fingers holding the pen, head bent over, eyes concentrated on the white page, mind, body and heart connected, thoughts loose and free, that is so fulfilling. I have told my family that when I die, I want to be buried with a Sharpie in my hand. (Maybe my writing will finally be successful post-mortem.)

I spent a lot of time last night looking for a new, pretty template/skin for my website and this morning searching through sites for a new template for my blog. I want my website and my blog to truly reflect me, my own personal taste, and currently they do not ~ although I am grateful that I have both, to write to my heart's content.

My web site's Tech support staff hasn't emailed us yet about the margins. (Where do they disappear to when your web site begins having problems?) I have googled this question about the margins, and still cannot get it to work after numerous attempts from the instructions I found online. After I change the settings on the page, update, and log out, the margins are still center justified. There will shortly be a new movie out on Netflix: Diary Of a Mad White Woman.

So last night I resorted to begging a friend to ask her computer programmer husband to help me when he has time. These margins and the template are the "little foxes that spoil the vine." Just give me my Sharpies, please. It's so much easier.

Meanwhile, I am enjoying other women's blogs so much ~ they minister deeply to me. And I am praying that the Lord will use me here and on my web site to pour out my heart and minister, too. I have learned that no matter what difficulties come in life, God is always with us and He cares. He notices the tiniest details of our lives, and watches over them....even seemingly trivial things like web site margins and templates, for He has set the margins and created the templates of our very lives.

Homeschooling mom and author Vicke Farris encouraged me this morning in her book, A Mom Just Like You. She says on page 58, "God has given each of us a difficult job to do. When I feel the task before me is particularly impossible, I love to read the above passage (Joshua 1: 6-9) as if it were written directly to me....We need to keep His word in the forefront of our minds and "meditate on it day and night." And then, knowing that God is with us, we should obey Him. Be strong and courageous ~ with God's strength, you can do it! If God has commanded us to perform a certain task, He will provide the strength, the ability, and the means."

Now, armed with God, our Sharpies, laptops, and others' help, let's do it!