Thursday, August 30, 2007
"The Lord is gracious and compassionate.: good to all… faithful to all His promises….loving toward all He has made….righteous in all His ways….near to all who call on him….watches over all who love him….my mouth will speak in praise of the Lord. (From Psalm 145)"
As the year continues to go by my heart is eager. How to express the joy and gratitude for daily evidences of all the above? I have sensed the Lord’s abundant grace and abounding love in my life lately more the ever before, but on the hand I always seem to continue to ask the question “What do you have next for me Lord?” No matter what season of life I’m in, I always want to know what’s next! Elizabeth Elliot has helped me tremendously in this area.
“If I am willing to be still in my Master’s hand, can I not then be still in everything? He’s got the whole world in His hands! Never mind whether things come for God Himself or from people- everything comes by His ordination or permission. If I mean to be obedient and submissive to the Lord because He is my Lord, I must not forget that whatever He allows to happen becomes, for me, His will at the moment.”
"Psalm 25:4- Make me to know your ways O, Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long."
When we cannot see our way
Let us trust and still obey
He who bids us forward goes
Cannot fail the way to show
Tough the sea be deep and wide
Though a passage seem denied,
Fearless let us still proceed,
Since the Lord vouchsafes to lead. - Anonymous
"Psalm 25:12- Who is the man who fears the Lord? Him will He instruct in the way that he should choose."
The Lord’s message to me every day is…..Wait, be still, trust, and obey!
"Psalm 40:1- I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry."
Lord, I give thanks for all that you in your mercy have given me to be, to do, and to have. Teach me to rest quietly in Your promise to supply; recognizing that if I don’t have it I don’t need it. Teach me to desire Your will- nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
OK, let me step down of my high seat of judgment and indignation and inject some reality into the situation. We know that the world we live in is one of sin and disobedience and we shouldn't be surprised at these types of events. Just turn on ESPN. All you will hear is 24 hour coverage and opinionated news of the Micheal Vick debacle. Almost ironic that the all anyone seems to care about is the killing and abuse of dogs, while the murdering of babies is simply ignored or applauded. Dogs for babies... hmmm. This is the world we live in, and we (Christians) can't afford to be caught off guard by it. It is my duty to recognize the sin, stand up for truth, and let the grace of God draw and change sinful hearts. God judges, not me. God saves, not me.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
"The first time I ever went whitewater rafting, I learned an important lesson. But not about rafting. I learned something about following. My boyfriend at the time was really into cycling and whitewater boating, primarily kayaking. The cycling was fine with me--we had met on a bike trip. But I always thought of whitewater boating as his thing, not mine. So when he suggested we take a trip down the James, I refused to go. Somehow, though, he managed to get me on that raft. I had whined, complained, and resisted the entire way there, trying to cover my fear. He would have none of it.
Finally, as we started down the river, he turned to me and said something to the effect of, "Look, you could do this if you would just shut up and listen to me. I know what I'm doing here. I know your capabilities. Just listen to what I tell you, do it, and you'll be fine. You're the one making this difficult."
He was right. When I stopped resisting him, we both had fun. In fact, I loved it. Though we stopped dating years ago, he gave me two gifts: a love of whitewater rafting and an insight into leadership and followership. Followership is an awkward word, but I use it purposefully. It's quite popular to discuss leadership skills, but nobody talks about followership skills. Yet both are needed. Leaders have to have people following them or they aren't leading anything. A good follower is as necessary to the team as a good leader.
Whitewater rafting provides the perfect illustration. A rafting guide is the leader of several other paddlers in the boat. Some paddlers may be novices, others may be quite seasoned. But on the river, only one person can make decisions in fast-moving water. Everyone else has to listen to the guide and paddle in unison--or else the team goes for an unwanted swim in the rough water. Because he is charged with navigating the rapids, the guide yells, "All forward! Pull hard!" But if he's the only one paddling, the maneuver won't be successful. As the raft approaches the rapids, it's important that the followers are listening carefully and doing what the guide says promptly and thoroughly. Coordinated teamwork prevents disaster.
This is the same principle found in Scripture about marriage. God has assigned the husband the role of the guide. The husband is accountable for guiding the raft according to the instructions he has received from the Bible. Likewise, God has assigned to the wife the role of the fellow-paddler. She takes her paddling cues from her husband, and together they navigate the turbulence of life. If he doesn't lead well, the boat could go in circles. If she doesn't follow well, the boat could capsize.
It's hard to be a top-notch follower, but it's worth the effort to cultivate the skill set. In my observation (and limited experience), good followers know:
- How to assess the "river skills" of a guide before getting into the boat. Once in the boat, they've made a commitment. They can't get out mid-stream. They must stick in that boat until the trip is finished.
- That because the guide has received certain skills, knowledge, and perspectives that enable him to lead, this means the follower must combat the indwelling tendency to second-guess the guide.
- That there's an art to listening well. Therefore, followers learn to listen carefully (without sinful judgment, bitterness, or a rehearsed litany of sins and failures) and then perform the instructions carefully.
- That followers can set the tone of the whole trip with their attitudes and words.
- That the river requires humility of both the guide and the fellow-paddler.
Though neither of us were Christians at the time, my boyfriend provided a blunt but needed assessment of my character and an illustration that later in life made it much easier for me to understand God's harmonious design for marriage. I think of it every time I'm in a raft--and sometimes out of it, too." - Carolyn McCulley
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Monday, August 20, 2007
Nooooo. Now I have to come out of defense mode and begin looking at people based off real personal interaction. This is going to take a little effort. But the ice cream social was just the beginning of the downfall of my pride and God opening my eyes to true biblical love manifested through fellowship. The lectures were amazing, the discussion groups were awesome but what stuck with me most from the conference were the endless examples of true biblical fellowship. It seemed that every conversation I entered into (not because of me) was in some way God glorifying, encouraging or edifying. The amount of encouragement, pointing out evidences of grace and humble corrections that was given was amazing and challenging.
By the end of the week, self-centered me had actually built new, close and God centered relationships and had grown significantly closer to those who I had already known. God, in his grace, convicted me of my conversations and interactions back in my daily life. How often did I really encourage someone? How often did I point out an evidence of grace in someone’s life? When was the last time that I TRULY loved someone enough to point out sin in their life?
God used the interaction with my friends who I had known and those who I had just met to humble me and show me a real life example of what Paul talks about in Ephesians 4: 29-30 “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who here”. I cannot let the excuse, “that’s all nice and easy when your at a conference, receiving messages and worshiping God every day”, keep me from obeying God’s command to “let NO corrupting talk come out of your mouths” and speak “ONLY such as is good for building up”(authors emphasis). God please give me the grace to love others in my conversation as you have loved me.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
1. Lexus and Buick tie
Personally, I was shocked to see that the top three spots are owned by U.S. manufactures who are normally not known for their reliability. I personally will still stick with Honda's and Toyota's but this survey certainly gave me quite a pleasant surprise. (Although Buick no longer produces cars)
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Monday, August 13, 2007
This passage I read today by François Fénelon encouraged me in my battle against fear. I hope it encourages you too:
Let us then think only of the present and not even permit our minds to wander with curiosity into the future. The future is not yet ours. Perhaps it never will be. It is exposing ourselves to temptations to wish to anticipate God and to prepare ourselves for things that He may not destine for us. If such things should come to pass, He will give us light and strength according to the need. Why should we desire to meet difficulties prematurely when we have neither strength nor light as yet provided for them? Let us give heed to the present whose duties are pressing. It is fidelity to the present that prepares us for fidelity in the future.
Though the future does not belong to us, it belongs--and always has belonged--to God! Oh, happy, comforting thought! We needn't fret over what might lie ahead because the Creator of time is already present in each of our tomorrows, waiting to meet us with sufficient grace for everything he will require of us.
Thursday, August 9, 2007
*I've always been a glass-is-half-full kind of person. And I consider myself to be pretty joyful. But my friend Dave was choosing to wear joy like he chose to wear a certain necktie. For him, choosing joy was an act of the will. Yet, the more I thought about it, the more I realized his choosing joy wasn't about him — it wasn't a "crutch" to help him feel good through a lousy situation. He was choosing joy because he wanted to glorify Christ. Which made me think about the apostle Paul. There he was, in chains and jailed like a criminal — and yet full of joy. He could rejoice because he knew that what was happening to him helped to advance the Gospel. "Good for Paul. But what about me," you wonder. So did I. How can my car breaking down, for instance, advance the Gospel? What I've learned through my friend Dave and through my own walk with Christ is that my reaction to my car breaking down can indeed advance the Gospel. My witness to the mechanic may just cause him to scratch his head and inquire why I might have so much peace.
*I guess that's why experiencing true joy requires faith, not a cheerful situation. It's best expressed in people who have faced extreme hardship or struggle, yet who have decided to choose joy in the midst of it. These are the people who can say, "I don't know what tomorrow will hold, but today I will choose to rejoice in my salvation." Or even, "If tomorrow I lose everything, I will still have the joy of knowing God loves me." What faith. In My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers writes about such decided faith that can lead to joy: Faith is not intelligent understanding, faith is deliberate commitment to a Person where I see no way. Are you debating whether to take a step in faith in Jesus or to wait until you can see how to do the thing yourself? Obey Him with glad reckless joy.
*When I really looked at the Bible to see what it said about joy, the more I came to believe that joy is a decision of the will. Happiness may be something you feel. But joy is something you do. Throughout the Bible I saw action phrases like "shout for joy," "sing for joy" and "cry for joy."
God has been impressing on my heart more and more, that one of the greatest ways to display the light of the gospel in my life is to be a joyful person no matter what my circumstances are. It is humanly impossible to be joyful all the time on our own, but because of what Christ has done for us and knowing what we know, it is possible to glorify God by being a living example of choosing joy.
"For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." - 2 Corinthians 4:17-18
"But the righteous shall be glad;they shall exult before God;they shall be jubilant with joy!" - Psalm 68:3
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Monday, August 6, 2007
We need to have –
Joking, specifically about sin
Talking about others behind their backs
Tearing down others
A view of competition amongst one another
A desire for Man’s approval
Pointing out evidences of grace
Careful with our conversations
Open environment for encouragement
Wanting to be great in God’s eyes
Supporting those who bring Jesus out of his room
Sunday, August 5, 2007
I really like this quote because it very accurately describes who and what is hindering us in our walk with the Lord. There is no outside force or "dark side" that bludgeons us into our wrongs. No. It is the power of sin which lives inside us that causes us to sin. Blame some else all you want but when the rubber meets the road the one who is held accountable is us. And that is exactly what God does. Unless our faith is placed in and on the actions of another (Christ), God will judge us by the law, of which we will surely fall far short. God calls us to look inside ourselves, examine our hearts and recognize ourselves as the sinners we are and the righteousness that Christ is for us. That is why I like this quote.