Tuesday, January 27, 2015

I’ve Got This


 
I have set the Lord always before me. Because he
is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Psalm 16:8
 
There was a little girl, who had a little curl,
right in the middle of her forehead.
And when she was good, she was very, very good,
but when she was bad, she was horrid.
Unknown
 
Do you know this poem? Whether you know the poem or not, I bet you can relate to the girl. It seems her brother is in my class. This little angel boy is good as gold most of the time but when he isn’t, suffice to say it’s just not pretty. The other day he chose to show his less pleasant nature just as the bus arrived to take him home. I was asked to convince him to sit down and put his seat belt on. When I got to the bus my co-worker, Lisa, was already there. I looked up and asked her, “Have you got this?” Her response was a terse but confident, “Oh I’ve got this.” And indeed she did. Her demeanor suggested that there was no room for defiance and our little darling complied. Lisa didn’t touch him, she didn’t threaten him, she was simply there with a no questions invited attitude.
            A few days later at church one of our music ministers shared some hard times she’d been going through. She talked about her concern that maybe this time God wouldn’t come through for her and for the people in her prayers. In a shaky voice, eyes glistening with tears she said, “But I hear God saying to me, ‘Don’t worry. I’ve got this.’” That reminded me of Lisa of course.
            It wasn’t any action Lisa took that sat our little man down. It was her presence, the mere suggestion of what she could do if necessary. It is the same with our heavenly Father. We pray and we sometimes anticipate big movement. Sometimes there is an event or action that takes place but often it’s a simple shift in our favor and we’re not really sure what happened. We just know that we feel better, safer, that  we avoided the disaster, danger, humiliation, etcetera. I wonder if in those moments our Abba simply stood in front of our enemy with a similar look to Lisa’s. I wonder if it is simply the suggestion of what He can do that often makes our enemies disperse or better surrender.
            Too often we feel that something needs to be done. We need to take action or have someone do it for us. It is human nature to want to do something. We fear defeat and believe that passivity will lead us straight there. To simply stand in the doorway of the bus, if you will, and wait seems too passive. Waiting for God is not passive. It is quiet faith but we want to see progress and in that pursuit we miss the still small voice saying simply, “I’ve got this.”
           
 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Mouths of Babes


 

“Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.

“‘From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise?’”
Matthew 21:16


 Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.
Psalm 8:2 

 

 How often have you heard “out of the mouths of babes?” Did you know it was from the Bible? Given that most of us read more modern translations I think it’s safe to say many of us did not realize the origin. We use it when our children say something embarrassing or inappropriate.

          Yesterday I had the privilege and blessing to experience that verse in its truest meaning.  Two of my granddaughters, Faith and Madelyn, had spent the night with me. They came into to my office when they woke up and found me, as they hoped they would, having my quiet time. They usually asks me what I’m reading or praying about but yesterday I was writing in my blessings journal and they were very interested in that, knowing they would find their names written there.

          What began as a conversation about them, their hearts and their faith, transitioned into the subject of sin. They were talking about the hurt that comes from sin, specifically lying and/or having someone lie to them. My girls are nine and seven but they are deep thinkers. We’d moved onto how each of them is a gift from God to their mother, to my husband and me, to the world, when suddenly Madelyn, the seven year old, stopped me. “Wait Grammy, I have a question.” Her question went back to the lying topic. I answered her and she said something that stopped me in my tracks. I promise you my answer to her was nothing compared to what she got out of the conversation.

          “Gram,” she said, “ I feel like when someone is cheating or lying or something like that, Satan is laughing in God’s face.”

          Are you stunned? I was! She is seven and yet, that is the most profound and perfect description of sin that I’ve ever heard. When I think of the consequences of sin, I tend to look at who I may have offended or hurt. I know I’ve hurt the heart of God and that leads me to repent but until yesterday morning I did not have a visual concept of Satan’s reaction. Our sin is indeed cause for him to be delighted and it follows that he would gloat. Out of the mouths of babes indeed!

           Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith… 1 Peter 5:8b-9a

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Captive Set Free


 

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge or God and we take captive every though to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5

People say that there are no more miracles. There is a certainty even among believing Christians, that those amazing events were for a different time. I beg to differ. While I could give a long list of miracles just from my own life, I really want to share what just happened to me.

          I got up this morning with a heavy heart, my dreams having shone a lovely spotlight on the areas of my life that are far from encouraging. With my heavy heart and my restless thoughts leading the way I moved into my morning. Giving a valiant effort I tried to capture my thoughts and turn instead to prayer but every prayer opened another door of angst. UGH! I headed into my quiet time uncertain if I would be able to hear God at all and fairly sure that my gloomy mood was not going to lift. Realizing I needed to focus on God, not me, I went to my knees and prayed straight from the Scripture. I chose a Psalm that I love and before I was three verses in my heart felt lighter. A song that I love that is all about praising God came to my mind and I gladly let it sing through. Within a minute or two my anxious thoughts were captives and I was free. Miracle? I think so.

          Here’s the thing about God, He’s amazing! He always does more than what we think we need.  As I stayed on my knees in praise, thanking God for removing the heaviness and refocusing my thoughts an image came into my mind. I saw my sweet friend Brianna waving one of her many favorite things in front of her face. For Brianna that movement is calming. She focuses on the object moving in front of her and all is well. Something moving in front of my eyes like that would make me nuts. Oh, there it is! In using my precious girl, God showed me that my thoughts, the irritating, hurtful junk, were like a toy flapping in front of my face. Unlike Brianna I am not soothed by that movement and so a huge hand reached out to grab the shuddering mess and cast it away. Thoughts captive, sinner free and with a sharp image of how God meets each one of us right where we need Him. He provides Breezy with plenty of objects to hold and me (and you if you’ll let Him) with plenty of His thoughts to replace my erroneous ones.

          Submit yourselves then, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. James 1:7

 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Amazing


 

So God created man in his own image;

in the image of God he created him;

male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27

 

Yesterday it was back to work for me after a lovely break. During that break I was blessed to spend time with my son Paul and my grandson Abram. Whenever I was asked about my break I found myself telling stories about Abram, including his love of the word amazing. To Abram, not quite two years old, many, many things are amazing. It’s so precious to hear him say it. As I shared stories about my precious angel boy many people commented about his vocabulary for a child so young. They were surprised. I was not, am not. I expected Abram to be a talker. Why? His father was a talker. In fact, compared to Paul at the same age, Abram doesn’t talk that much.

          Let me say it again, I expected him to be like his father.

          When we claim to be Christian and claim God as our Father, people have certain expectations of us as well. How often have you heard someone comment on another’s behavior expressing displeasure or disbelief. “I thought he/she was a Christian.” They say the word “Christian” dripping with shock or worse sarcasm because once again, a “Christian” has acted badly, giving the non-believer an excuse to stay where they are and to point fingers.

          When we claim the name of Jesus, when we confess with our mouth we need to be prepared to follow through with our actions and not to the best of our abilities because then we will surely fail. We need to imitate our Father, emulate His demeanor, be as much like Him as we can and we need to rely on grace to do it. In His mercy God sent us a perfect example in Jesus. Can we be Jesus? No, there is only one Jesus. We can however watch and learn. We can surrender to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and truly we can just be. God created us in His image. We need to stop trying to be something we aren’t and relax and be who we were created to be.

          Abram is a sweet boy. He has a beautiful heart, a tender spirit and a bit of temper. He’s funny, observant, incredibly bright and quite verbal for his age. In other words, he’s a lot like his daddy. Abram is blessed to have excellent parents who are great role models.  We are too. I see Paul in Abram. I wonder do people see my Father in me?

 

 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

To Prosper


 

 “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

 
Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more
than all we ask or imagine, according

to His power that is at work within us… Ephesians 3:20

 

Yesterday I attended a group led by a man who seems to be faithful and seems also, like a nice guy. At one point during his talk he referred to “prosperity preachers” with a huge eye roll. No big deal, a lot of people do that. I noticed but I wasn’t offended or put off by it. To each his own, right? It was what happened later that made me think.

          At the end of the group there was a call for prayer requests. The first two were for people suffering with cancer. There were a couple of other requests in the health column and then one for a man who need financial help as he is currently unable to work. I wrote them down, we prayed and then all went on our way. My husband and I went to church where we sang about the never ending love of God and of putting it all on Jesus. That’s when it hit me. Wait a minute! We roll our eyes at men and women who will preach audacious faith, believing for miracles, sigh, eye roll, voice change to dripping with sarcasm, prosperity but then we ask for healing, financial help, traveling mercies etc.

          Here’s my problem. I know there are preachers who seem to be extreme. There are times that I think, oh dear, that might not be exactly Biblically accurate, but if you’re going to err in faith, why not err on the side of can do? It is then our responsibility as believers to seek God’s wisdom, to read Scripture and make sure that what we’re hearing lines up with God’s Word. When it does hold on with both hands and when it doesn’t, toss it, quickly and far away.

          Beyond that we need to look at the word prosper. It means to thrive, to flourish. The later definitions talk about money but the words thrive and flourish come first. Well friends, our Father does want us all to thrive. He loves to bless us. For some that’s money, for some health, for some joy and peace that makes other people scratch their heads in wonder.

          It just seems to me that dismissing “prosperity preaching” limits God. Pray bold and audacious prayers, pray for the huge things in your life and the tiny ones too. God has big plans for us, individuals plans for each one of us, so embrace your prosperity however it comes and trust that God is always right!