Saturday, September 21, 2013

Faith: Trusting God Through Prayer 1 Samuel 1:7-20

I feel like the story of Hannah is one I connect with. Not because she and I have suffered the exact same situation, but because I feel a connection to her heart, to her longing.  I get this image in my mind that we would have been friends if we lived in the same time and place.
Sooo.... Here's the passage (with Verse 6 included because it reads differently in the NIV than it does in the translation on the app):

6 And because the LORD had closed her womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. 7 This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the LORD, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat. 8 Elkanah her husband would say to her, "Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don't you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don't I mean more to you than ten sons?" 9 Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on a chair by the doorpost of the LORD's temple. 10 In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD. 11 And she made a vow, saying, "O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant's misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head." 12 As she kept on praying to the LORD, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk 14 and said to her, "How long will you keep on getting drunk? Get rid of your wine." 15 "Not so, my lord," Hannah replied, "I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the LORD. 16 Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief." 17 Eli answered, "Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him." 18 She said, "May your servant find favor in your eyes." Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast. 19 Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the LORD and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah lay with Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her. 20 So in the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, "Because I asked the LORD for him."

I think the thing that sticks out to me the most is the attitude change that Hannah underwent after praying.  Before, she was bitter in her soul, filled with anguish and longing,so much so, that she wouldn't even eat the portions her husband gave her. She is so troubled in her spirit that the priest did not consider her behavior normal. :-) But after she poured her heart out to God,  Scripture says that she went away, ate something, and that her face was no longer downcast. 

That's the thing that just stuck out to me best.  Hannah's faith in God changed her attitude toward her circumstances.  She did not continue to dwell on what broke her heart, but instead walked away in good spirits, and she did so without a promise that she would recieve what she asked for. Perhaps there is a link between faith an attitude?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Genesis 22:1-14 Faith: Trusting God with Everything

Okay, This is going to have to be quick (hopefully) because I have to get some sleep before work. But I started this 30 day Bible Reading Plan that has different topics. I chose the topic of Faith, because I started reading a new book yesterday called When You Don't See His Plan: The Nadine Hennesey Story by Nadine Hennesey with Rebecca Baker.  I got through the first chapter while waiting for my clothes to dry and I found myself longing to have a faith like the faith I was reading about, just in that first chapter. 

I imagine that my faith has always been rather small, and I don't want it to be that way anymore.  Lack of faith immobilizes people, not just to do God's work, but in many areas of their life.  Say I never leave my current job because I'm making more money than I've ever made in my life, I'm not struggling to make ends meet. I finally have a savings account, I'm helping my parents out... I'm supporting myself quite well.... But my job is not where I want to be permanently.  Will I ever be able to leave this job?  Not if I don't have the faith that God can and will take care of me no matter where I am. You get the point.  I want to increase my faith.  Through Prayer and Study, It will happen.

So... onto Genesis 22:1-14
Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”“Here I am,” he replied.
2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.
3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.
6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.
13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.
I wanted to post the passage for easy reference. :-)  So I was reading through this and there were a few things that stuck out to me.  Since I seem to have a good memory for Scripture... or maybe it is just from my Bible Quizzing days... I recalled a few things from other parts of Scripture that I want to mention.  For Example:

There seems to be a bit of problem with Gods instructions to Abraham because just a chapter earlier, God said this to Abraham:

But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. (Genesis 21:12)
Dead men dont give offspring... do they? (Well, maybe with todays technology it might be possible) But the point is: this would have been something that set off an alarm in my mind.  I imagine myself even arguing with God, "But God, You SAID!"  But Abraham doesn't do that.  Actually, Scripture doesn't tell us what Abrahams thoughts were, at least not in this passage (more on that in a moment). It simply says that Abraham left early the next morning to carry out God's request. 

What was Abraham thinking? This was his son!  The same same born to him and Sarah in their old age, whom God had promised that through him would become a great nation. Had God changed his mind? His plans?  Was he incapable? Was he a liar? No. Was Abraham submitting to the idea that God gives and God takes away, and for some reason God had decided to take Isaac away?   No, I don't think that's it either.   We get the bigger picture to know that God was testing Abraham, but what must have been going on in Abrahams mind?

I think we find our answer to this question in the faith hall of fame: Hebrews 11:17-19

17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned 19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death
 This is a faith beyond the idea that God would raise his son, but a faith that God would still hold true to his previous promises enabled him to believe God would raise his son.

So I've been pondering this faith.  How does someone come to have such faith?   I reasoned it out this way:  Faith comes from trust. Abraham trusted God. We trust because we believe we are loved, and when we believe we are loved we those who love us hold good intentions toward us.  Love comes from knowing God.  Knowing God comes from having a relationship with Him. Our Faith is expressed through obedience.

I'd like to explore this more, and maybe even write out a small group lesson or Bible study guide on it, but, I'll have to ponder this more later, because I'm now looking at 6 hours of sleep.  So that's all for now.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Feeling violated

Well, I had two days off of work, which was nice. I feel like i'm getting more opportunities to hang out with my friends now that my schedule is less flexible.  Does that fit the definition of ironic?  Either way, I am pleased.  It's nice to be able to get together with friends once in a while.

Work is.... Okay.   I keep walking up on people masturbating. That has been uncomfortable.  Some of them are simply getting caught by accident, but some of them are doing it to be seen, and that's simply irritating until one of the people that I walk up on tells me later that he "had a really good dream about me last night"...At that point I feel violated.  I can only describe the feeling as being mentally raped.  I can't control what thoughts go through a persons mind, but I can tell you that I will NEVER try to dress or act in a manner to make myself the object of someones lust.  Thats something I just don't want.

But I think what's worse than that is that I found out that it has apparently been a topic of conversation among my COWORKERS of whether or not I am a virgin.  That also makes me feel violated... I've never really had an issue or been embarassed to say that, yes, I am a virgin, in every sense and definition of the word, but to understand that my coworkers have discussed a matter that truly is very personal honestly gives me a sense of feeling violated. How does a person even have a conversation with someone about that?   What do they say to one another?   WHY ARE THEY EVEN INTERESTED IN DISCUSSING IT????  It's probably a good thing that I don't know who all of the people are who have been talking about it...

I don't even know what to think about that....

I want to write more, but I'm really tired, so I think sleep is due.  I'll write again another time.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Am I Worthy?

Well, today is a day to just be transparent and unashamed....

I desire marriage. 

Yes. It's true.  It's one of my hearts foremost desires.  Maybe it's something that people could tell I've desired... or maybe I've kept it well hidden.  Either way, I haven't spoken about it much...or at all really... especially in the past few years.  It's only been recently that I've started following (publicly) any sort of marriage blog/facebook page.

 There was a fear inside of me.  A fear that if I simply spoke my desire, someone would tell me that I needed to take a good long look at myself and be realistic.  How could marriage ever be for me?  How could it ever be written in my future?  Who would ever love me enough to want to marry me?  For some reason completely beyond my own comprehension I felt completely and utterly unworthy of marriage.

I honestly don't know when I started to believe those lies [and what sick, cruel LIES they truly are!] But the fear inside me was sooooo deep that I couldn't even speak my desires for fear that someone would tell me that I was unworthy of marriage and confirm what I already feared... as though my own experience with singleness wasn't already evidence enough on it's own. 

And the really sad part is that there are already so many well meaning people doing just that... when they bring up verses where Paul says it is better to remain single [1 Corinthians 7?].... as though this is some sort of honor.  I'm not going to get into some huge complaining session about that because 1) that has been someone elses experience more often than it's been mine. 2) I truly and honestly believe that people mean well and dont intend to add to anyones hurt. and 3) I believe that passage of Scripture is worth studying and I don't want to taint it for myself or anyone else because Im complaining about someone elses regurgitated thoughts.

And so.... there came a point when I realized how there is such healing in confession... and how simply powerful words are. When we sin, we confess our sins and find healing, so does it not stand that if we confess our doubts or fears that we will also find healing in the confession?  I think we do.

But more than just confessing those doubts or fears, I think there-in lies a responsibility to also confess the truth. 

I am not unworthy of marriage.  I am loved by God and I am HIS bride first.  God wants to fulfill my desires in His time. I am simply to walk in Obedience.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Is God Holding Out on Us?

It can be quite humbling when God speaks to you...

Genesis 3:1-6... While I was still at Bethel, I studied this passage extensively for a sermon I was writing for my Homiletics class.  I don't remember if this was one of the ones I actually used or not, but I feel a particular draw to the creation and fall of man... I think maybe that's because the story is all of our story.  We find ourselves in this place again and again, sometimes by effort and sometimes by accident. So here we are...
Now the serpent was more crafty that any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden' ?" The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die," "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. (NIV)
Satan is pretty crafty, isn't he?

So Eve and Satan are having a conversation in the garden... a few question immediately come to mind... like 'I wonder if Eve ever questioned the fact that she was carrying on a conversation with a snake.' (Or maybe animals spoke and had language before the fall, but I don't know, that's beside the point anyway.) Or what their proximity to the tree was... did God give this message to Eve directly, or did Adam relay the message... If it was Adam, was he the one who added the part about not even touching it, or whatever... maybe those aren't relevant questions...

What I really noticed though is how the enemy seemed to have a tactic. At the time I wrote this sermon, there was a cross over into the temptation of Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11), where I found the same basic tactics used.   But these are the things I noticed:

1. Satan twisted God's words.
2. Satan lied about the consequences of Sin
3. Satan appealed to natural desires (and not always even bad desires)
4. Satan made Eve believe God was holding out on her
5. Satan made Eve believe she was entitled to it
 I could probably address each one of these things separately, but I would probably be typing for a while... but perhaps I ought to study up on each one at some point....  How many times have many times have I... fallen for these old tricks... time and time again?

Think about this for a moment... We start out with a desire for something, even a natural and healthy desire... so then we start believing we are entitled to it.   When we believe that we are entitled to something, it naturally follows that we might end up believing that God is holding out on us.  Once we believe that He is holding out on us we might twist God's word to justify our own sinful actions, and end up with the belief that there isnt, or shouldn't, be any consequences for our sin.

That's sad. (and quite honestly, I see this whole this process right before my eyes as the supreme court is preparing to rule on Gay marriage rights.  I see it in the whole homosexual revolution. but I really don't wish to discuss it any further at this point in time)  I see it in the sexual revolution.  I see it in the consumerism around us. I see it in good and healthy things, too. Things that have been taken to extremes... like for myself this unhealthy intake of food. It could also be the healthy desire to be married or an honest desire for my car to start working after I've already replaced two parts on it... but my actions toward God in response to these desires may cause me to sin.

God is not holding out on us. I think sometimes we just lack understanding about God's purpose or plan.

I think God simply desires obedience even (and especially) when we dont understand.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Progress with my painting

I'm very excited. I spent some time last night working on a painting that I started before Halloween in 2012.  I've been having a hard time with it.  I was just when a writer gets writers block. I felt very much like I had "painters block". 

:-)  Theres no such thing though, right? 

Well, I decided to pick up a paint brush and just try again and I think I actually did something with it that I liked.  I think one of the things that made the painting difficult for me was what to do with the butterfly.  I must have five or six layers of paint where the butterfly is... but perhaps it was worth it.   I'm not done with the painting, I still have a lot more I want to do with it, but I am excited enough that I just have to share progress!

I hope to be able to finish it soon.  This one will be better than the other butterfly painting.   I think it already is. 

Some thoughts on Pregnancy

I've had a myriad of thoughts running through my mind... I'm exposed to a lot of things... different opinions and viewpoints. I read, I listen, and I pay attention when people might think I'm not.  And I research.  I actually don't like to passively dismiss other viewpoints, even though some people might feel that if I disagree with them, then I've done exactly that....The point is this: When I make a decision about something or form an opinion on something... it's pretty rare that you'll find me uninformed. So I've been doing some thinking and researching.

One of the things I ran across today was a blogpost someone had posted on facebook where a woman had written about her pregnancy and how miserable it was for her.  She wrote of crippling morning sickness, feeling bloated, weight gain, getting kicked in the spine and a whole host of other things.   She sounded genuinely miserable during her pregnancy. But one thing she spoke of was the loneliness she felt.

This idea of pregnancy and birth being a beautiful thing was lost on this woman because of the miseries she felt, but the loneliness that followed her was the result of the "beauty of pregnancy" being lost on her.  She felt outcasted and looked down upon because she didn't enjoy the experience and was actually chastized for it, and made to feel like she wouldn't be able to be a good mother.

On the flip side, I have also seen some women who have had difficulties trying to concieve or have miscarried who look at the complaints women who are miserable make, and are hurt by those complaints. 

   I have a friend who miscarried and she is now pregnant again and she thanks God for her morning sickness, and her back aches, and the frequent need to run to the restroom and all sorts of other miserable pregnancy symptoms because the truth of the matter is that those miserable symptoms of pregnancy are often signs that your body is doing exactly what it needs to produce a healthy baby.  She knows that.   I've also seen her comment after she originally miscarried that she would gladly take the symptoms other women were complaining about if it meant she could have her precious baby back in her womb. 

.... It is difficult for me to say that I really know what either woman is going through, because I really don't.  I've never been pregnant, I've never miscarried, I've never tried to concieve but found myself unable.  I know being nauseated when I've got the flu is miserable for me, and I already feel like I use the restroom a lot as it it, but thats about the best I can do to identify with the first woman.  The second woman... I think I actually identify with her more, which is crazy because I've never tried to concieve, let alone miscarried a child, right? 

I think the reason I identify with the second woman is because my own fertility has come into question for me. I had an ovarian cyst (at least, that's what they believe it was) burst when I was in high school, and I believe it happened a second time when I was in college.   Now there are other reasons for this thought, some of them are simply too personal to share.  I try to blame my weight gain for any issues I have.  I tell myself if I lose weight, the questions will go away because everything will go back to normal, but thats my guess.  I couldn't really tell you what's going on in my body. 

But what I can tell you is that the possibility of being infertile scares me... a lot. My hearts desire is to serve God through marriage and family. Im still working on the first part.... :-)  But it can be a scary thing to think that you may have to deal with something that could keep you from your hearts desire.   I have to continually put my hope back in God and remind myself that He is the giver of dreams and my life is complete in Him.  Everything else is icing.   I have to remind myself, and sometimes ask God to help me remember that I find my fulfilment in Him alone and if neither marriage nor bearing children is to never be a part of my life, then I will praise and love Him the same as if it were.

But that's beside the point I want to make.   What I'm trying to say is that hearing other women complain about something that I want so much can be a sensitive issue for me too, even though I've never had trouble trying to concieve or difficulty maintaining the pregnancy because it's not a part of my life right now. It sometimes bothers me to hear other women complain about their symptoms because it just reminds me of a fear that Im already bringing to God on a daily basis.  I can only imagine what it's like for women who are really experiencing what I only fear.

But does that mean the first woman was wrong?  No, not really.  Then, does it mean that I and the second woman are wrong about our feeling?  Again, I really dont think so.

 I truly and honestly believe pregnancy is a beautiful thing.   It it simply amazing to me that a few small cells can become what you and I are today.  It is amazing to me what a womans body does to accomodate the life that grows inside of her.  I am fascinated by the love a mother can have for something that made her so miserable for nine months. 

But I also know that God says to the woman in Scripture very plainly "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children."  I feel like the first womans experience gave me a whole new insight to this verse. (it's not just about needing the epidural during the birth process, lol) There is indeed an ugliness that is associated with pregnancy.  There is pain beyond the child leaving the womb.  

What this leads me to is the question of how we minister to both of these women where they are at. The truth is that their feelings can easily feed off of one another. One needs hope, the other ecouragement.   How can both have an outlet for their feelings without making the other feel bad somehow? 

For now I guess thats going to be something I'll be trying to figure out.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

They're just words, right?

Wow, did I really have over 20 hits on my blog yesterday?  About a quarter of them are always for a post I made on 'submission'. I get hits on my blog for that post every day. I know I've commented on that fact several times now, but it still suprises me and somewhat un-nerves me. 

I think the reason for that is this: larger my audience is, the more I feel the weight of the need for the things I say and do to reflect God accurately.  Get what I'm saying?    My thoughts on this blog are not private. People read them.  Apparently, quite a few people are reading them.  My words hold weight.  They have the power to influence people in many ways if people actually listen to them. 

Proverbs 18:21 tells us that the power of life and death is in the tongue.   I believe the word tongue could very easily be a word used to mean our words, our tone, and the meaning behind it all. Kind of all encompassing in a sense... 

The question comes to mind... is what I'm saying bringing life or death to people?  Are my words on their screen leading them closer to God?  or further away from him?

There may be nothing wrong with the blogpost I made on submission, but just the mere fact that I have an audience for that particular post makes me want to be absolutely sure. Not just sure about that post, but all the posts I make.

So with that in mind, I think I'm going to spend a little more time thinking about the post I originally intended to make when signed on.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Are we missing God's faithfulness in our lives?

You would think that being forced into solitude would make you a bit more productive....  Well it hasn't yet. At least I don't think so.  I'm still adjusting to my new work schedule, but I am finding it a little bit easier to stay up later.  I actually slept until almost 5pm (I want to say today, but it was actually yesterday) after I got off of work.  I wanted to get up at 2pm but that would have given me less than 6 hours of sleep, so I just slept until I was done being tired.  I know I slept more than 8 hours. It's weird.  When I work, if I sleep more than 7 hours, I get a headache, but once I get a day off, I can easily sleep 9 (or more) hours if I want....

But that's all beside the point. I'm happy that I'm adjusting to the new schedule, I just want to be more productive at night when no one else is up.

So anyway,  every day, I listen to the Daily Audio Bible ( on my way to work.  I have found this to be an incredible tool in my life.  I'm finding myself becoming rather absorbed into the passages as I listen, and I love the thoughts that Brian gives before/after the reading.   I think this really works for me because I try to read through Scripture and there will be times when I am just not in it so it's like I'm reading to finish and I absorb nothing that I read.

The readings have been in (I think) Numbers in the OT, and we just started Mark, in the NT, and there is always a Psalm and Proverb.  In Numbers, we've been listening to the journey of the Israelites in the desert, and one thing struck  me one day on the way to work. 

For the past.... I don't even know how many chapters we've read through.... but the Israelites have been complaining, sinning, and repenting in cycles, and God has been dealing with them accordingly.  A while back they left the desert and complained to Moses that they had nothing to eat and that he had brought them out of Egypt to die in the desert... Well, recently God was giving instructions about certain sacrifices and such, and there was mention of sacrificing bulls, and the number was so large... I think it said something like Sacrifice for 7 days, reducing the amount each day so that on the 7th day, there are 7 bull sacrifices.  I might not be remembering that correctly, but the important part was that it made me think about something.

Where did the Israelites get all these bulls to sacrifice?  From their flocks and herds, some of which, perhaps, were given as a parting gift from the Israelites. (Although I'm not sure about the second one, because I thought one of the plagues might have destroyed any flocks or herds owned by the Egyptians...but then, Pharoah granted Joseph to give his brothers the land of Goshen because they were Shepherds and Shepherd were detestable to Egyptians, so that begs the question of whether they any...  I'm just going to have to go back and re-read). But thats a tangent that doesn't matter anyway....

The thing that struck me is that they must have massive amounts of sheep and cattle... they were wandering through a desert... not a lush promised land... a desert.   Now maybe not all of the land was sand and barren wasteland, but we are talking about a desert. The land wasn't exactly equipped to provide for the needs of millions of men and women, let alone their flocks and herds. And they Israelites cried out against Moses and God saying they were led out of Egypt to die in the desert.  And then God provided manna.

Is it funny that my thoughts were to wonder what the flocks and herds ate? God MUST have provided for them. Maybe they ate the manna off the ground.  Maybe the Israelites brought grain with them (there was a requirement for a grain sacrifice too, so perhaps?) Maybe they ate sand.  Who knows. But the bottom line is that God had to have provided... But I don't think this was even a concern of the Israelites.  At least I can't recall it ever being mentioned in Scripture.  Maybe it just wasn't an important concern. Or maybe you just don't care about some things when you're own life appears to be hanging by a thread.

But doesn't that lead you to think about God's provision?  In the midst of the desert, The Isrealites were concerned about what they were going to eat, but even their flocks and herds had provisions.

That leads me to the verse in Matthew 6:26  "Look at the birds of the air [or in this case sheep and cattle]; they do not sow or reap or store away in bards, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable they they?"

Hindsight is always 20/20, so I don't say this as a judgement on the Israelites, but as an object lesson.  God's faithfulness was staring the Israelites in the face, and they couldn't see it because they were blinded by their own concerns.

In the same way, God's faithfulness stares us in the face day after day and we miss it!  We don't see it.  In the Old Testament, the Israelites own flocks and herds should have been a clue of his love and provision.  What clues of God's faithfulness are we missing today?

But I can't stop there.  Seriously.  I cant end it there.  I don't know if anyone is actually reading what I write, but if you are, this is not just about food.  God provides for ALL of our needs. We may have to check ourselves and decide in our own hearts what is actually a need and what it simply desire (by the way, God sometimes even provides for desire too. Check it: The Isrealites longed for meat, and God gave them quail, and actually told them they would have so much of it, that they would become sick of it). 

I know that I don't always understand God's ways, and I know that sometimes his provisions are not what I expect or even sometimes the way I wanted it. But He still provides, in His time, and in His way because He loves us.   HE LOVES US!!!!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

God is the Great Romancer

One of the things I think becomes evident to a person as they fall deeper in love with God is the realitity that He is more than Savior, more than friend, more than Father, more than creator, more than whatever role you choose to describe him. He is not one thing to us, He is all, and in all, and over all... He reveals a little more of His character to us as we have that need for Him.

God is the Great Romancer.  He is husband, and He is lover. And sometimes He gives us a little poetry.  This is gold.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Online Dating?

Well, I had an interesting revelation tonight. I saw a commercial for that Christian Mingle website, and it was really kind of funny because in that moment, I realized why I am so adamantly against using a dating website.

I admit, every now and then i get a little bit lonely.  (LOL, song lyrics) and wonder where my beloved is, and I've even expressed to a few people that I wondered where God was in my relationships, just to get the question "Have you tried online dating?"

Now, I knew that, to me, using a dating website screamed desparate despite the fact that its becoming more and more common to do so.  Even then, I still couldn't shake the feeling. I've even signed up for a dating website. It was eharmony.  Honestly, I wanted the personality test, but that didn't stop me from browsing to see what was out there.

Yeah... I closed the account after I got the results of my test (and took a peek at my "matches").... and a second reason suddenly occured to me why I don't like them.  I'll just start with that second reason now.

It's like a meat market. almost a.... catolog, if you will... You fill out information about yourself, you put up your best pictures and you wait to be picked.  Disgusting.

That's to top off the 1st revelation I had.  Dating websites seem to skip the friendship and go straight to lovers. I know that people don't have to be friends first in order to care about their beloved, but I can't tell you how many people I know who consider their beloved to be their best friend. Why would a person want to skip that process which is so crucial to the development of a relationship?

Now I have to give an eighth of a credit to eharmony for the process they take people through before you can see the next bit of information.... but only that small bit of credit.. While that process had the potential to build a friendship, it's really, truly a weeding out process.

Can I live with this persons quirks? Is this persons body shapely enough to feed my lust? Everything is hanging on where this person wants to go on our first date!.

Do you get what I'm saying?   It's basically people looking for that which does not exist. The person who knows how to answer every question right.  The perfect person.  And what happens to all those people who don't measure up to whatever standard their potential lover has set for them?  Well, they either settle for less than God's best, or they end up paying for a dating service that doesn't get them anywhere.  And what about those people who did get picked?  Who somehow "measured up" to someone elses standard?  I honestly believe that one or both of them was or will be disappoined.

Maybe the next time someone asks me if I've considered online dating, I will tell them yes, and I've decided its definitely now for me.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Trust in the Lord

Do you ever have those moments when you have a revelation about something, and then you feel kind of dumb about it because you get that "I should have known better" thing going on?  

Yeah... that happened to me today. 

The revelation was pretty simple, as I was driving home from work, I was listening to the radio and it was one of those quick ads on WFRN 104.7 where they give the verse quickly and get the point across in a few sentences. I didn't hear the quick message because I got distracted by the verse.   It was Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (NRSV)
(Just a quick sidenote, The radio used the NIV, but I am loving the NRSV translation).

Do you see what is happening here?

This verse is like a blue print!!!!  If the goal given us in this verse is to have our paths made straight, we are given instructions with what we need to do to achieve that goal. First, by trusting in the Lord with all our heart, and also by acknowledging God in everything.

So trusting God can be really hard sometimes, especially when your hope of a future seems dim. At times I would venture to say that acknowledging God in everything can be easier than trusting him with all your heart.  How does a person continue to trust God so much when they feel like they are constantly given reasons and experiences that undermine the idea that we are to fully trust God?

And so I realized I've been reading the verse more like this:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

How can I brush over such a vital part of the verse?   I'm going to stick by the idea that this verse is a blue print because  it really seems to work.  That part of the verse that got overlooked is the part of the verse that tells me HOW to do this whole trust thing.

When we recognize that we can't look to our own understanding (or insight), it is then that we are able to view the situation from a different point of view that could very well alter our (subconsious?) response to trusting God with everything or not.  

This is the way I see it. If it is my desire to get married, and I believe God had shown me that marriage will be a part of my future, but I'm not dating anyone, and I haven't been dating anyone for a long time... and come to think of it, I'm not really meeting anyone who is a good prospect to be a Godly husband.... I might begin to doubt what I believe God had revealed to me.

But that's because my thinking is: I'm not dating anyone, I don't see anyone who is "God-approved" for me to date in the future.  Maybe God didn't reveal that marriage would be a part of my life.  God doesn't care about my desires.Therefore, I can't trust him with my heart.

Wow. But when we realize that we don't always know why God allows the things he does, we can start to make a different perspective. 

Maybe God is keeping me single because I have some growing or healing to do (Or maybe my beloved does). Or maybe  God knows that I want to finish college first (or fill in the blank).  Maybe I'm not walking in obedience to God and He is waiting on me. Maybe it's just not time yet, and we will never know the reason why. 

But whether the issue is marriage or some other desire, the realization that our own way of understanding things is hardly adequate for interpreting whether God is trustworthy.  His ways are not our ways.  He sees beyond what we can see.

Sometimes we have to have this realization 5 or 6 times before it sinkes in.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Closer look at Discipline

This week has been quite a mix of things for me.. I don't really know how to expand on that.  I've finished my first week of training at my new job. Right now we are doing classroom training, and that whole process will last about 4 weeks total. The classes are a string of information overload and somewhat overwhelming because of that, but I do think the process is good because it is setting the foundation for the 'on the job' training  that we will be starting in 3 weeks time.Who doesn't want to be prepared for that?

Mixed in with this training is my personal goal to becoming a God honoring eater.... for lack of a better term, I guess.  More descriptively,  I want to teach myself to run to God when my head tells me I'm hungry, and when my stomach tells me I'm hungry, go ahead and eat all that my body is calling for and nothing more, in order to take my focus off of food and put it on God where it belongs.  This is the whole premise of the weighdown workshop (founded by Gwen Shamblin). 

I'm running into some difficulty, my desire and my will have been battling, and my desire has won out over my will too many times, usually when I get home from work and my stomach is growling and I make myself a snack and end up eating way more than I need....

It brings me back to that verse in Romans "I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate."   (chapter 7 verse 15)

I've been kicking myself a bit over this.

But one thing that I'm reminded of... (Actually, I've had this verse just pop into my head several times this week) whether I'm feeling overloaded with information from training, or kicking myself for overindulgence, is of that verse in Hebrews 12:11 "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." 

So naturally, my mind had dwelled on this verse, I've thought it over, mulled it around in my head, thought about its application, actually looked up a commentary on it... and since I have it memorized (Thank you Bible Quizzing!) I seem to go throughout my day meditating on it.

A few things caught my attention.  First, I thought about the parts of the verse that seem to indicate time.  When I'm sick or in pain for any length of time, I actually console myself and get through it by reminding myself that it won't last forever.  I literally tell myself that I won't remember this pain in 6 months.   It's crazy how well that works.  But perhaps that the reason this first part stuck out to me is because I realized that it will be the same way with my "discipline".

I will not suffer forerver.  Classroom training will end (probably before I'm ready for it) and someday I will no longer struggle with the desire to overeat.  

Then I thought about how this is discipline.   Discipline does not necessarily mean punishment, although it may certainly include punishment. Another word that could very well fit in place of discipline is training.   So in essense, the difficulty that I'm having, the challenge of the things I'm working toward are certainly great, but they are not difficult because I'm being punished.  They are difficult because I have not trained myself in them yetGod is not punishing me.

And lastly, I found myself considering the last part of the verse.  The part that says "for those who have been trained by it". I've mulled this over in my head for a while, and I've looked up different translations and they all seem to indicate the same thing to me.   I have a choice as to how this discipline effects me, but I think that lends itself mostly to the attitude I take toward the discipline. It seems to imply that there are people who are trained by discipline and some who aren't. So essentially, I can choose to believe God is just trying to punish me, or I can choose to believe that God is trying to better me and let the discpline train me (and produce a harvest of righteousness and peace in me).

And so I shall return to my coping mechanism and remind myself that my training will not last forever.  :-)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Update, Job, Church, etc.

Well, I was planning to be in bed by ten, but I actually just got home from church a few minutes ago, and I still want to make my lunch and lay out clothes for tomorrow.  I have to be up at 5:30 because I need to be to work at 7am. And that was because I was hired at a new job. Yay. That was the thing I was talking about in my last post that I didn't want to say until I knew more.  So yes, that did come to pass.

On another note, I'm going through training, and I don't want to even say where I'm working now because of what they've been talking to us about with being in a public office.  It's weird to say that, I work for the state, but to call my position a public office is strange and foreign to me. I don't suspect I will talk much about my new job, just for the fact that I don't want to breach privacy, and I don't want anyone to think that anything I'm saying is on behalf of my employment because im definitely NOT. I represent myself and all opinion unless otherwise referenced are my own and not representative of anyone or anything else. 

I'm glad we have that covered.

I decided to skip on any new years posts. I originally wanted to write something up, because every year I go over the past year month by month, but I realized that I could hardly remember anything significant or even remotely important to me happening last year. I'm sure there were things that did, but my memory of this past year is almost non-existant. 

So then I thought about making a resolution or two, but I decided against that. I thought to myself... "Why? Why January 1? Why not December 14?  Why Not April 6?"  I mean, if we are going to improve ourselves why wait for a specific date?  Why don't we just start where we are now?   And instead of setting ourselves up for failure by trying to do 6 things all in January at one time, and then fizzling out and feeling like failures for the rest of the year, why not pace ourselves and work on change one thing at a time? Isn't that better than overburdening ourselves?

So this year, I have not made any resolutions, and I'm quite okay with that. Oh, believe me, I understand the depths of my imperfection are deep, but I also know that I serve an incredible and merciful God.  And this God, though He helps me in my weakness, also knows that I can be a stubborn fool who feels overwhelmed when more is asked of me than I think I can handle. :-) And then his mercy is renewed.

I can tell you my dreams for this year.  But, when I really think about that, my dreams are so much bigger than this year.   Actually... they pretty much encompass the rest of my life, but I'm working toward them this year, just as I was thinking about them and planning for them last year, and just like I will continue in them next year.  I think, though, that I will have to dedicate a whole post on it's own to expressing the dreams I've been given for my life. They are, in a word.... Lofty.  At least, they are to me.

So anyway, now we come to the whole point of this post. LOL.  I was at church tonight for the Wednesday evening service.  This is not my home church, LifeBridge, but just one that I really enjoy going to on Wednesday nights.  The pastor had a lot to say. Well, perhaps God had a lot to say... :-)   The service was, in the simplest terms, powerful. It often is, though.

I cant express how many times I have been inspired, encouraged, cut to the heart, challenged, and just felt like God was speaking directly to my heart.  I am amazed at the things happening at Victory Christian Center. 

But anyway, tonight one of the things he spoke about was "the fire" in your heart and he said something along the lines of "a lack of prayer in your life could indicate a weak spiritual life."   I was just immediately struck with the truth of that statement.  The times in my life when I have been weakest spiritually were the times when I wasn't praying. He gave us Scipture from Romans 12:11,12 (and some other verses that I don't remember because I didn't write them down).  And he talked a bit about prayer from there and how it is like fuel to a fire.  He gave an excerpt from Pilgrims Progress where  Christian comes to a man that keeps throwing water on another man, and then a man behind a wall secretly pouring oil onto the man getting soaked with the water  (as well as the explanation behind it.)   I need to reread that book. I read enough of it for my British Lit class, but I don't remember much of it.

During service I kept noticing that a man and a woman (whom I met before and know to be husband and wife probably closer to my parents age than to mine) had looked in my direction several times.  So I decided to go say hi to them after it ended.  When I went over there, the woman said her husband said that there was something about me that stands out, and that they needed to know more about me.    I thought, oh, that's weird.... 

Isn't it crazy how our minds seem to imediately interpret this as being a negative thing?   I don't know why I stood out to them. I don't know if its a good thing, a bad thing, or just nothing. They did say that they were praying for me. So I guess I'll take it at face value, but it still leaves me with the question in my mind, why did I stand out? What does that mean.

I guess thats all.