Monday, February 27, 2012

Sometimes Love Hurts

This morning I said goodbye to my son, my first born, and it was hard. We prayed, we hugged, we kissed goodbye. I said what I always say, "I love you. I love being your mom." And then we watched him drive away - to Basic Training to be followed by Officer Candidate School.

I am grateful for the blessing of my sweet family, children who love God and seek to serve, a husband who loves much, and a God who cares about all these things.

This week, as I walk a new path with my family, I am trusting God and remembering his promises, like these I memorized last year:
And my God will supply all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of sound mind. 1 Timothy 1:7
Come near to God and he will come near to you. James 4:8
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they put their trust in me. Isaiah 26:3
The Lord is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid. Psalm 27:1
my blessings

Saying goodbye should not be easy when we love.

Friday, February 24, 2012

A Heart Wide Open

To compliment my Bible reading, my 2012 scripture memorization has been focused on verses that highlight the importance of asking God to reveal what his Word means, what truth he wants me to see. My verse this week is longer than usual, something my delightful daughter pointed out. I think she was worried about the ability of my older brain committing so many words to memory. Here is this week's verse:
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his people. Ephesians 1:1-18
Something happens when I memorize while running. I focus on certain words in the text and they unfold in my mind. This morning I focused on the words "revelation" and "enlightened." I like the idea of God "revealing" his word to me.  It's like tearing wrapping paper from a gift. I also like the description of my heart having eyes, because I want to see the world through the eyes of a loving God.

Here is another verse I memorized in February, also from Ephesians:
My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Ephesians 1:2-3
I know that on my own, I cannot fully understand what God is telling me in his word, so I run to him asking that the eyes of my heart be enlightened. I want to take part in the glorious inheritance which he has gifted to me.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What Do I Believe?

Warning! If you think I have it all together, stop reading now!

Over the last year I have been part of several Bible studies regarding taking victory over the lies we believe about ourselves. These lies are often called “strongholds,” and author Joyce Meyer describes a stronghold in this way:
Through careful strategy and cunning deceit, Satan attempts to set up “strongholds” in our mind.  A stronghold is an area in which we are held in bondage (in prison) due to a certain way of thinking.
This week I have been under a cloud of one of these strongholds, something I believe about myself that is not true. Satan is an expert at knowing our weaknesses. You know, those things that can most easily send you spiraling downward. Well, this week I fell into that downward spiral.

Now, I don’t know about you but I have an excellent imagination and this does not always serve me well! I allowed my imagination and dark thoughts to take over. I wanted to break free of them, but a part of me was allowing myself to wallow in a feeling of self-pity.

Because I have walked this path before, my husband knew what was happening and he encouraged (dragged) me outside for a walk, which is always helpful in clearing my mind. When we walked back into the house, I grabbed a book from the bench in our entryway. The book I grabbed was Battlefield of the Mind: Winning the Battle in Your Mind by Joyce Meyer. I sat down and read the first three pages, including this:
The devil is a liar. Jesus called him, “the father of lies and of all that is false.” (John 8:44.) He lies to you and me. He tells us things about ourselves, about other people and about circumstances that are just not true.
After asking my sweet husband to pray for me, I felt such a weight lifted. I have experienced all of this before, but coming out of the darkness has never been so swift or so vivid. Usually, I’m stuck there for several days and emerge gradually.

Please, if you struggle with any stronghold, any lie you believe about yourself, I encourage you to read these books:

Breaking Free by Beth More
Praying God’s Word by Beth More
Battlefield of the Mind: Winning the Battle in Your Mind by Joyce Meyer

The truth is Jesus loves me. He loves you. The truth is we are so valuable to him, we are so loved that he came here to show us that in person.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12

“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Looking For Some Grace

During a run last week, I did what I always do. I memorized a Bible text.  The verse I memorized was Colossians 2:2-3 which says, “My goal for them is that they be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding so that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” I don’t want to brag, but I wrote that from memory.

The Reward for Running Early
So I was repeating the verse over and over as I ran and suddenly it occurred to me that, of course, we can’t understand the mystery of God without love, because God is all about love.

A lot happened in the world last week, most of it sad. I didn’t see love represented much at all.  And it’s got me thinking about Philip Yancey’s book, What’s So Amazing About Grace? If you haven’t read it, please do. The world could sure use some more grace filled people.

The Greek word for grace is charis, which means unmerited favor or undeserved favor. As an example, grace is something a wife might give her husband if he accidentally washes the new sweater he received for Christmas – shrinking it to newborn size – after wearing it only once. Just as a random example. . .

The Bible tells us that Jesus was full of grace, and came to give us what we do not deserve. “The Word (Jesus) became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

So if God gave us what we don’t deserve, why is it so hard for us to give someone else what they don’t deserved?

We know that we are all recipients of that undeserved favor. “Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.” John 1:16

Grace is something none of us deserve or can earn. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8

Philip Yancey says, “Grace is Christianity’s best gift to the world, a spiritual nova in our midst exerting a force stronger than vengeance, stronger than racism, stronger than hate.”

Could we just stop for a minute and think about that.  Grace is stronger than hate. God's grace is stronger than hate. Let it sink into our minds, make its way to our hearts until it comes out of us in an active way that benefits others.

Yancey also says, “If grace is so amazing, why don’t Christians show more of it?”

Psalm 119:18 “Open my eyes so that I may see the wonderful truths in your law.” That’s another verse I memorized on a cold winter run.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Change is Good, Right?

Sometimes I think it would have been better to raise children I don’t like quite so much. With a twenty-two year old son and a seventeen-year-old daughter, I am not unaware that change is on the horizon for this mom.  Our son graduated from Boise State University in December and yesterday was sworn into the U.S. Army as an officer candidate.  He leaves for training in three short weeks. To say that we are proud of him does not come close to describing our feelings.  My feelings go something like this: proud, elated, sad, scared – repeat.  Good thing I’m a woman so I can multi-task.

In the fiction work The Shack by William P. Young (which you either loved or hated), Jesus says:  “I don't want to be first among a list of values; I want to be at the center of everything.  When I live in you, then together we can live through everything that happens to you.  Rather than a pyramid, I want to be the center of a mobile, where everything in your life - your family, friends, occupation, thoughts, activities - is connected to me but moves with the wind, in and out and back and forth, in an incredible dance of being.”

I just love God’s timing! I read this book a couple of years ago and just happened to come across this quote last week. I keep notes from books that I read, because that’s what you do when you love to read but don’t have a great memory!

Also last week I listened to a amazing talk by Beth Moore on anxiety.  I don’t think the timing could have been better for this family! Here are a few things Beth had to say about anxiety.
  • The act of humility is reflected in us in the casting of our cares on God.  When I don't cast my cares on Jesus, even subconsciously, it is an act of pride.  Humility takes an action.  And what this action is in 1 Peter 5 is that we are going to humble ourselves to God BY casting all our cares on him.  The Greek word for "care" in this verse means "anxious care".
  • Anything I will not cast upon the Lord, I am trying to maintain lordship over.  This is not conscious.  Our anxiety proves that we are in a wrestling match with whether or not we believe God can be trusted with it (this is our issue).
  • Anxiety is real.  It's not like we can just say stop it.  What God is saying to do is throw it to Him.  Transfer my anxiety to God.  Give it up to HIM.  With everything in me, cast my anxiety to God.
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." 1 Peter 5:6-8

Last summer I started praying in a new way.  I chose a Bible verse for each of my loved ones and prayed that verse each day for them.  Here is the verse I chose for my son:  "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" Jeremiah 29:11

I know that I can't handle all that happens in life on my own, but I know God can.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I Don't Know

Our family has a small group Bible study in our home each Wednesday night.  We share a meal, catch up on what’s happening in our lives and dig into God’s word.  Last week I mentioned to our group that I had just read an article discussing how difficult it is for most of us to say three little words, “I don’t know.” I know this to be true and still I find it so amusing.

Why is it so hard to admit that I don’t know everything?

Sometimes I’m afraid my knowing everything will keep me from seeing God as he really is. We think we have all the answers, so we aren’t looking for any more.  But God is pretty clear on that, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.” Isaiah 55:8

My spiritual goal for 2012 is to see the truths in God’s word.  To see him as he really is, and that may be different from the way I’ve seen him for the last 45 years. I want to let humility live in me so that my way becomes God’s way.

“Open my eyes that I may see wonderful truths in your law.” Psalm 119:18

“My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:2-3

Of some things I am certain.  I am loved. I am valuable. I know this because God keeps saying it for over 1,000 pages in the Bible. I don’t have all the answers, and that’s just fine.