Monday, August 31, 2009

Power to Change

I can't change on my own, not the deep down stuff, the foundational elements of my life. Sometimes I don't even know why I do what I do. Can you relate with that?

Recently I've been going through a season of introspection and self discovery--learning things about myself that I didn't know were there, reasons for why I behave the way I do. And some of it's not pretty. ;-)

That long list of not-so-good things could be truly depressing, if:

I didn't know God can change me from the inside out. Indeed, that's where He does some of His best work.

I couldn't look back and see where He's already changed me in my life, from one person into a totally different person, on the inside.

I didn’t already have a list of things I used to do.

I couldn’t say “I’m not the same person I used to be.”

I didn’t know He’s at work right now changing me even more.

And especially if I didn’t believe that no matter our age or how long us humans have been stuck in a certain behavioral or thought pattern, God can change us!

Gives me hope, especially as I’m staring at a long list of things I’d rather not list.

Giving glory to God today because He is the power in me that brings change. Thank God.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sunday Roses

Do you ever try to talk God out of a blessing?

Saturday evenings I always lay out my clothes and accessories for Sunday morning. Because our family has to be at church by 8 a.m., it saves time in the morning, when I’m usually focused on getting everyone ready on time.

For some reason, I felt I should wear a bracelet I’ve had for about two years—one of roses in silver.

During a break between worship team practice and prayer service, I took my daughters to the drug store for miscellaneous camp supplies. While there, I noticed potted roses on sale.

Immediately the Lord spoke to me to get one. Has He seen our checkbook balance lately?? :-)

In the checkout lane, I debated the blessing. (!) God finally said “You can save money if you want to.” And we paid for the items in the cart and left.

But sitting in the car outside, facing the roses, I couldn’t drive away. One specific plant caught my eye again. God said, “See, it’s got your name on it.”

He knows how much I love His creation of roses.

So, I pushed aside my concerns and went back inside. “I need to buy a rose,” I told the clerk. “Do I bring it in, or just pay for it inside and then load it into the van?”

I paid for it inside and loaded it in, with my 15-year-old’s help.

Later, during a worshipful moment at church, God reminded me He’d directed me to wear the rose bracelet.

Little did I know when I awoke that morning, there were roses in the heart of God for me.

Now the plant is repotted and showing off several buds. Can’t wait for more blooms!

Thanks, Lord, for overcoming my concerns and blessing me despite my resistance. (What’s that about anyway??)

Father, make me capable of receiving blessings freely.

(BTW, the rose is a “Betty Boop” for everyone out there who will immediately picture the gorgeous blooms—yellow, red and then pale yellow and pink as it fades. It has a wonderfully yummy fragrance, too! And the picture at the top of this post is not a Betty Boop, just a lovely rose pic I found.)


Friday, August 21, 2009

Living with the Blessings

“Our bird needs a new toy. She’s chewed through all the other ones in her cage,” my teen insists.

So, I buy her a colorful toy with little ropes and pieces of wood hanging from it.

My daughter approaches the cage and our pet bird goes nuts! Squawking in fear. Didn’t stop my daughter from attaching the toy inside her cage.

I visited our bird last night. She still hasn’t grown used to the new “toy.”

What do you think is in the heart of God when, in His wisdom and generosity He wants to bless us so He introduces something new? There it is, this new gizmo (or season or calling or assignment), one that is meant to bless us—to bring us joy, even to stave off boredom with “life as usual” and there we go—squawking! Or maybe you don’t squawk.

I do.


But I’m working on this. I want to be adaptable and “blessable.” I want to respond with joy and trust whenever God introduces something new into my life.

Lena Nelson Dooley blogged about comfort zones on Seriously Write today. Perfect timing with this lesson in my own life. Have a peek.

And God bless you with grace and courage to embrace His blessings.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Jumping Through Hoops

I settle into my favorite chair and rest my Bible on my lap. I like to find a Scripture to inspire me as I begin my conversation with the Lord. Find it. Read it. But as soon as I open my mouth to pray, doubts assail me.

~ Do I have any offenses in my heart? Is there someone I haven’t forgiven?

~ Am I clean before God? Have I asked forgiveness lately?

~ My problems aren’t something to bother God with.

~ I’m just blabbering. These words don’t really mean anything.

Any one of those doubts can stop my prayers, if I let them. Then, I walk away from my "devotional time" feeling more empty than before I began.

Sometimes I forget:

~ He accepts me just as I am. Once I get into His manifest presence (where I can feel God’s touch, the way He warms my heart), He will show me what I can’t see on my own. There’ll be time to address what needs addressing. He makes everything clear.

~ He delights in me. Whenever I come to Him, turn my face toward Him, turn my heart toward Him, He delights in my attention, just like I delight in His when doubts aren’t harassing me.

~ He just wants to hear from me.

~ No problem is too small. We have no problem believing we should pray about our big problems. (Well, mostly.) But I think we doubt God cares about our little problems.

Here’s what Jesus had to say about prayer:

6"Here's what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.

7-13"The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They're full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don't fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:

Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what's best— as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the devil.
You're in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You're ablaze in beauty!
Yes. Yes. Yes.

(Matthew 6:6-13, The Message)

I've found so much freedom in that passage. Jesus presents prayer so straightforward, like an invitation to just be with Him. That's grace.

And isn't that what relationship is all about? The freedom to be yourself with the other person? Whew. Now, where was I? Oh, yes. Time to pray.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Wanted: Grace for Imperfect Painter

I worked my paintbrush over the curvy spindles of my daughter’s new bed, frustrated that no matter which direction I moved the brush, the paint didn’t lay smoothly on the wood. I tried up-and-down strokes. I tried working with the curves, and brushing side to side. I tried pressing excess paint from the brush into the tray. Nothing worked. I still saw raised stripes of paint. Frustrated, I silently berated myself.

Then, it hit me. I’m not painting this for the Pope. I’m painting it for my preschooler who is not going to notice a little splotch here or a drip there.

So, why am I so hard on myself? Great question. I don’t really know. But catching myself was the first step to changing those thought patterns, I’m sure of it.

It’s time to give myself more grace. How about you? Can you relate to this scenario? Do you ever hold yourself to an impossible standard (I’m not a professional painter, after all) and then berate yourself when you don’t (can’t) measure up?

Catch yourself. And then give yourself a healthy dose of grace. It’s all going to work out. Even if it’s (and you’re) not perfect.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Striking Arrows

Are you familiar with this Bible story?

Elisha had become sick with the illness of which he would die. Then Joash the king of Israel came down to him, and wept over his face, and said, "O my father, my father, the chariots of Israel and their horsemen!" And Elisha said to him, "Take a bow and some arrows." So he took himself a bow and some arrows. Then he said to the king of Israel, "Put your hand on the bow." So he put his hand on it, and Elisha put his hands on the king’s hands. And he said, "Open the east window"; and he opened it. Then Elisha said, "Shoot"; and he shot. And he said, "The arrow of the LORD’S deliverance and the arrow of deliverance from Syria; for you must strike the Syrians at Aphek till you have destroyed them." Then he said, "Take the arrows"; so he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, "Strike the ground"; so he struck three times, and stopped. And the man of God was angry with him, and said, "You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck Syria till you had destroyed it! But now you will strike Syria only three times." (2 Kings 13:14-19, NKJV)

King Joash held back. The man of God commanded him to strike the ground with his arrows and he held back. He didn’t think of victory, he thought of restraint. Civility, perhaps. A tame response. Elisha rebuked him.

This morning God told me to “strike some arrows” in regards to my writing. I won’t share the details, but suffice it to say He showed me what to do and as I was about to only give a little, He opened my eyes and directed me to give everything I had and then pray over what I gave.

Is there an area in your life that you’ve been waiting for victory on? That you’ve prayed about again and again? Watch for the opportunity to “strike arrows” and when it comes:

~ Discern it as the opportunity that it is.

~ Follow through above and beyond restraints.

~ Pray over your response and God’s follow-up.

~ Rejoice. God trusts His servants with opportunities like this!

~ Watch for victory!

Don’t be afraid to strike those arrows. Victory is yours when you do.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Come and See

Sight is a wonderful gift.

Through our eyes we can be fascinated, convinced, delighted. With our sight we trace the seascape of some archipelago or the graceful lines of a baby girl's face.

Sometimes we spend a lifetime longing to see something we never get to see. Like Yellowstone. Or 25% interest on our savings account.

In John, chapter one, John the Baptist's disciples wanted to better understand the Newcomer, the One the Baptist called "the Lamb of God." They wanted to get to know Him, to see what He was like, to study Him. They didn't know how to communicate their hearts' longing, but Jesus knew it was there. He called it out: "What do you seek?"

They couldn't put it into words, so they just asked, "Rabbi, where do you live?"

Jesus' answer: "Come and see."

God created humans to be fascinated. Music fascinates us as we listen. A sunset on the Pacific fascinates us as we watch. A baby's giggle captures our hearts.

Jesus knew that John's disciples were looking to be fascinated. (excuse the pun) He knew that if they spent time with Him, which they longed to do, they'd be drawn to the Father. And the Father Himself would fascinate them. And that fascination would lead to dedication. And dedication would birth affection.

And love was His goal. So He said, "Come and see."

There's an invitation I want to respond to. If you read John chapter 1, you'll see promises from Jesus about what the disciples would "see."

Our natural eyes cannot see Him right now, but we can experience Him. We can gaze with our hearts in loving adoration, through the words of Scripture.

Take this passage, for example. What does it mean about Jesus' heart that He knew they longed for fascination, and He promised to meet them in that place--to fascinate them?

God has a beautiful heart.

Don't believe me?

Come and see!