Friday, January 29, 2010

In the Hard Times....

Lately it seems that so many of my friends are going through a difficult time.  Tribulations are pounding them from every angle, jobs, finances, family issues -children and spouses, relationships gone awry.  Those are the times that we have to stand firm in our faith, but it can also be the most difficult to stand.  That's when our friends are so very important to us, those friends that are filled with faith.

Our words can greatly affect not only our situation, but that of those around us.  We can speak words of life or we can speak words of death.  I'm not saying to tell your friend who is going through a hard time, that they need to stop being down and sad and put a smile on their face.  The Bible tells just as much.  Singing light songs to the heavy hearted is like pouring salt in their wounds. (Prov. 25:20 -msg)  But it also says that A word fitly spoken and in due season is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. (Prov. 25:11 - AMP) 

So how do we deal with the hard times as people of faith, people who hold the promises of the Living God?  We remember His promises. We remember His words.  We exhort each other in these things.  That is what it says in God's Word.
We have to be serious about the life God has called us to live, even in the hard times.  Not in a fake, meaningless, pretend you're happy because Christians are supposed to be kind of way, but in a real faith-founded Christ-follower kind of way.  The only way to do that is to keep our eyes constantly looking to Him who is the finisher of our faith.  In Colossians Paul writes to the believers the following:
Now Judas and Silas, themselves being prophets also, exhorted and strengthened the brethren with many words -Acts 15:32

That is how we deal with hard times, we look to God for His perspective.  Many times we want to respond in our flesh.  We want to bring justice about because we don't see it happening without our help.  We want to fix the problems around us (anyone else out there ever try to be a fixer?).  But many times that's not our duty and we are taking on something that God never intended.  We just need to be there, it is God who will work out the situation.  There is so much peace that comes with that realization. 
So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective. -Colossians 3:1-2 (MSG)

One of my favorite worship songs is Refuge by Darrell Evans.  The lyrics are:
Refuge, You're my refuge, When the world is shaken, And nothing stands, I will hold on to Your hand, Refuge

God is my refuge, and He is your refuge.  He is our ready help in time of trouble.  He has given us promises that He is faithful to keep.  He is good. We can pour out our heart to Him, the good, the bad, the emotions, the joy, hurt, and pain.  God opened up a way for us to have that kind of relationship with Him, one of restoration, and He is the restorer.
The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). -John 10:10 (AMP)
That is what I am standing on, and what I am encouraging my friends to stand on as they go through trials.  Christ came for us.  He died for us.  He rose again, so that we might have life in abundance, even when we don't feel the abundance.  This is a promise we can hold on to.  He is our source, our refuge, our healer.
I enclosed a link to a short film called Validation.  It is a great perspective on how the words we speak to others affects them.  This is a great video.  Enjoy!
This is my prayer for today: "Lord, let the words of my mouth be focused on your heart.  Forgive me for trying to take matters into my own hands and fix the, both in my life and in the life of those around me.  Help me to see those around me with your heart, to show compassion, hope, and to share what those around me are going through while offering your strength.  May Your love flow through me to those hurting that surround me.  In Christ's Name, Amen."

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Nothing to give?

Do you ever feel like you have nothing to give those around you?  Your friend is going through a trial.  Your spouse is wrestling with issues at work.  Someone loses their spouse or child.   There are times when I go to the Lord and know that I have not experienced these things others are going through.  I have not had the heartache of losing a spouse or child.  There are trials my friends are going through that I can do nothing about but wait on the Lord.  Even my encouragement seems lame.  The words, 'you are in my prayers' seem empty.  I know they are not, I know that prayer is powerful.  Prayer is powerful to change situations, it is powerful to bring the presence of God into a situation, and it is powerful to bring healing. 

Speaking God's word, calling on the covenant we have been given through Jesus is powerful!  The thing is, we may not see immediate change in the natural.   Sometimes healing is immediate, sometimes there is a process.  Sometimes answers come the next hour. Sometimes, in the natural timeline we create in our heads, we feel the answers will never come.  To others, to our own situation, we can feel that we have nothing to give.

But you do have something to give when you have God residing within you.  You and I have His hope, His peace to share.  You and I have His promises.

Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.  Delight yourself also in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.  He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.  Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him... -Psalm 37:3-7a

Hope, we carry it inside of us. Not hope in ourselves. Not hope in a world gone awry. Hope in the God of all creation.  Hope in His loving-kindness.  And even though we feel that we have nothing to give, when we have relationship with the Living God who dwells within us, we are never without. 

I still feel many times that I have nothing to give.  I feel that I am powerless to change my own situation, much less help anyone else overcome theirs.  But then I can remember that it is God who gives the power to overcome.

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. -1 John 4:4

We have peace that resides in us, peace that we can share with those around us, peace that we can call into our own situation because we have the Holy Spirit inside of ourselves.

But the helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. 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 heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.  -John 14:26-27

When I feel like I have nothing to give, when I've prayed and given all that I know to give, that is when I have to rely on what God tells me in His word.  That's when I have to remember that it's not about what I feel, but about who I am in Christ, about the Christ that lives in me.  That is when I can continue to pray, continue to encourage, continue to just be there for those around me.  I know that it's not about what I can do in my own power and what I can give, but about the God inside of me that I can give.

My prayer today is: Father, bring to my rememberance who You are inside of me.  When I am faced with situations that seem impossible, help me to remember that I can give all I have of you.  It is not of myself, but God who is True and Just that gives me the faith and strength to stand in the gap.  To stand for myself or for those who cannot stand for themselves.  I am never without because I have you.  Thank you for your faithfulness.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Literal Life...

"I'm a lion king, I've got a mane
and a yellow coat, it's gonna rain"

Yes, I know, nonsense. These are lyrics from the literal video 'With Arms Wide Open' by Creed. Literal videos take real music videos and put words to what it appears is literally happening in the video. When I need a laugh I pull this up, because literal videos are hysterical! This morning in the shower these lyrics popped into my head and I started thinking about these videos, and begin wondering how many people view our lives as a literal video?

What makes literal videos hilarious is that the lyrics match perfectly to the actions on the screen, but it was not what the band intended the song to convey. It made me think about my life and what people see as opposed to what I intend my life to convey. I say I am loving, do people see that? I say I am caring, do people see that? Or does my life make about as much sense as the scene in this video that says:

"pee pee naa naaa blah
is what it looks like I'm sayin"

Literally, what do people see in our lives? This is so important to look at because for my life to have the impact I desire, there should not be a disconnect between what I believe and how I live.

How can a Christian believe that God is love and respond in hate when faced with adversity or a different viewpoint? How can a Christian respond in judgment when someone is hurting, instead of compassion? A video is the visual that is seen to a song or story, so how I live my life is the video people see of me, of what I believe. What I do can say volumes more than what I say.

"Let no one despise or think less of you because of your youth, but be an example (pattern) for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity." - 1Timothy 1:12

"Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. - Philippians 2:1-3

These scriptures lay it out pretty plainly! What has Christ given to us and what are we giving to others? I intend to examine my life, my attitudes, my actions, and see what lines up and what doesn't. Actions and beliefs, are they the same? This may seem to be a huge ongoing task in life, and to consider it can seem overwhelming. But, we need to consider that if we don't begin are we being true to the Lord and the life He is calling us to?

There are a lot of questions in today's post. Probably because this topic is filled with more questions than answers until we begin to evaluate things. Sometimes our lives don't line up out of habits we hold. Sometimes our lives don't line up out of heart attitudes. Sometimes we need to change what we're putting into our lives... television shows and movies we watch, music we allow ourselves to listen to, video games we play.

My prayer today is: "Lord, I pray that you would help me to see through Your eyes. Forgive me for the times that I have not acted as I should have, for those times where instead of reflecting You, I reflected the irritation in my own nature. Forgive me for the times that my life has not drawn others to You. Help me to see the areas that need change. Help me to see opportunities to be a reflection of You to others. Thank You for Your grace, mercy, and compassion in my life. Thank you for the joy and peace you give to me so that I am able to give out joy, peace, grace, and hope. Lord, You are my hope! In Jesus' name I pray all of this. Amen!"

If you would like to check out the literal video I mentioned above, it can be seen at:

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Great Expectations?

When the New Year comes around most of us look at our life and what we would like to change. We look at our goals and the things we need to be more disciplined in, like exercise. What are our expectations for our lives in the coming year? This new year I feel compelled to examine what I am doing and the value of those things in my life. Are specific areas contributing to growth or stagnation in my life? I am looking at what increases my joy, energy and creativity. Also, which things drain those my life and creativity?

"We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased." -C.S. Lewis

This is one of my favorite revelations from C.S. Lewis. When we think about it, how true is this quote? Do we really perceive what God has for us? Do we truly perceive the hope that He has called us to? Are we playing around with the mundane things in life when we could be attaining the great things He has for us? I've been reading Lewis' essay, "The Weight of Glory" and reflecting on what my expectations are in life.

John Bevere was a guest speaker this past week at my church and one of the things he said was, "we need to stop reading what we believe and start believing what we read." Do I do that? Do I read God's Word in light of what I've been taught it says instead of truly reading it? In light of God's word, in light of the promises He gives in the Gospels, do I believe what I read?

"[For I always pray to] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insight into mysteries and secrets] in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him, By having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones), And [so that you can know and understand] what is the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His power in and for us who believe, as demonstrated in the working of His mighty strength! -Ephesians 1:17-19 (Amplified)

There are things I take to prayer, asking the Lord why they are difficult for me. Some of them are things that I need to change my heart attitude on because God has something in them for me. Some I need to step away from. Some things I need to pick up or increase in.

Writing is one of the things that brings me joy, where I feel alive, and one of the things that I am going to MAKE more time for this year. The reason is more than just the joy that comes with it, I feel like it is something God has called me to do. There is a hope wrapped in it. Writing is a gift inside of me that I am burying in the ground if I don't make time to use it. Writing has always seemed a far away desire for me, not something logical. I believe it is an area where I was settling in life instead of raising my expectations.

We can know exactly what God is calling us to do, and the immensity of this glorious way of life He has for His followers! I feel that my expectations for life have been too low. I have been one of those that has settled for a mundane life instead of looking to the Lord to find out what He has for me and going for THAT.

My prayer for this new year is... "Lord, I pray that the eyes of my heart are flooded with light, so that I know and understand the hope to which You have called me to. You have a rich inheritance for me as your child, and I pray that you would give me understanding of the greatness of Your power in my life. I repent for allowing myself to settle for less than you have offered. Thank you for working in me and for demonstrating Your strength in my life as I walk in those things you have called me to. Thank you for helping me to raise my expectations to what You have for me. You are faithful and true to Your word. I will rest in You this year. In Jesus' name, Amen"

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Out With the Old, In With the New

I've often heard that phrase, particularly in times of transition and in the changing of the calendar year; 'Out with the old and in with the new.' There is the literal aspect of getting rid of old items and bringing in new. Then there is an aspect that has more recently come to the forefront for me, of putting away old/wrong ways of thinking and bringing in new/right, ways of thinking.

The end of 2009 was quite a roller coaster that ended not the way I expected. It was difficult, and emotional, and basically completely draining. My husband and I have been believing for a child, believing for conception. We'd gone to doctors but had not received a good answer as to why conception had not happened for us. There was a small issue that should have been easily remedied, but even a procedure for that ended without fruit.

In October we met with our doctor again and felt like we should try IVF, which is a costly and very involved procedure, but one that was being recommended. It involves much medication, MANY shots, appointments and procedures. Every case is different, and to be honest, if you have to look into the arena of fertility the deeper you go the more you realize that only God can bring life. In our case we only had one shot at success, some couples end up with many more embryos than they will ever need for the number of tries they want, some do not even get enough for one try. We had a try, and we truly believed that it would be a success. Friends who were praying with us over this felt it would be a success.

On a Monday in December I went in for a blood test to find out if I were pregnant or not. Expectancy was high. We had been doing everything the doctor said, exactly as they said. That afternoon we received a call that the test was negative. That was it. No second chances, no options, nothing.... just negative. So many hopes and dreams that were once again put on hold. So many emotions of dissapointment came running over.

I do not believe that this is the end of the hopes and dreams, just that it isn't going to happen through the help of fertility doctors. The bigger realization through this entire excursion though has been my thought process. I do trust God to be faithful and I do trust Him to come through, but how much had the old saying of 'God helps those who helps themselves' colored my perception of God? How much was I relying on my actions, my faith, myself instead of on God's love, grace, and mercy? Am I going to think about my situation from the point of view of the natural and only allow God's Word to comfort the dissapointments that I experience, or am I going to view my situation from God's point of view and allow my confidence to be in Him as I walk the path that is before me?

That is the challenge. That is the challenge that has been laid before me this year: to stop thinking about things from the natural perspective and to think about them from God's. To put out the old thought processes and bring in God's thought process.

So what has God said about my specific situation?
He has said that I am wonderfully and fearfully made by God and therefore I'm perfect and able to conceive and have children. God said that I would be a fruitful vine by the side of our house and our children like olive plants around our table. We (my husband and I) will not be ashamed but happy because our quiver is full of children. God said that we are His people and have a covenant with Him, that He will love us and bless us and multiply us and bless the fruit of my womb and that neither male nor female among His people would be barren....
God says more about my situtation. My challenge this year is to find what God says about me, about my life, about what I am to do, and to institute those things as my way of thinking, as my way of living, as the foundation of my thought process and faith.

So how about you, are you up for a challenge in 2010? What does God's Word say about your situation? Find out and let it change your thinking.

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