Friday, July 25, 2008

30 Days of Praise - Day 19

I can't believe it's been 19 days straight that I've been doing this blogging. It's been an eventful 19 days. I am grateful (and praiseful), though, that God put the desire in my heart to pursue Him in this before the events got challenging. It made a big difference when I was struggling through the past weekend because I was already focused where I needed to be.

I think back to just a week ago tonight sitting in a hospital room with my husband being told about a lot of concerns with little definitive information. I felt torn and divided having to leave my kids at home so I could tend to my husband, then when the flu started the next day having to leave my husband alone in the hospital so I could tend to my daughter. It tears at your heart to be in a position like that.

There is something to be said to have an assurance of something bigger than yourself that you can hold to. I feel sorry for people who think faith is a crutch. Well, I feel sorry for them because what they believe that means. The Lord is my crutch at times, because I lean on Him in my weakness, but it doesn't make me weaker, it makes me stronger. I have a friend who has a quote on her MySpace that says something to the effect of "the greatest mistake of mankind is believing there is anything greater than life itself." I think what she means is life is supposed to be some great adventure, and I don't disagree with that, but I think the mistake is believing this is the best that there is.

This world is the broken down version of what God intended for us. Sin destroyed the "great life" God had planned for us all, and in the process the clear view of God and His love for us was severely obscured. As time goes on I think the world obscures Him more and more, and the truth of the matter is that as in many nations of the world, eventually the whole concept of believing in Him will become a crime. I believe I will see the day in my lifetime that religious freedom in America no longer exists.

But I praise God that they can not regulate my faith, nor destroy my testimony. And I pray, like Daniel in the Bible, I will be a believer who stands firm and faces any conflict against my faith with confidence in the One I serve.

It's very interesting to me that so many of these people who "enjoy this life" and deny God are the same people who live their lives medicating themselves with alcohol, drugs and/or illicit sex. Or perhaps it's not even things that innocuous, maybe their pain killer is work, achievement, worldly succes. They numb themselves to the pains of this world and call it a party or a success, when eventually the party catches up with them, and their "crutches" crumble or the success fades and they have nothing but "stuff."

I don't judge these people, I feel sorry for them, and I know, there but for the grace of God go I. But I am thankful and filled with praise for the God who rescued me from that life. I remember days when I myself called the Bible "a book of stories to be interpreted." I praise God for opening my eyes to truth and giving me the foundation I can build my life on. Because this life isn't the "greatest thing there is," it is but a dress rehearsal for the eternal, and I look forward to the days when all I'll do is praise, for God alone is sure.

(Jesus said)"Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.” Luke 6:47-49

Thursday, July 24, 2008

30 Days of Praise - Day 18

Life is full of interruptions. Just when you think things are running along on a track, you find there is no track at all.

Sudden illnesses, accidents, even death, can jar your world in a completely unexpected manner. Good things can jar you too, a pregnancy, a job promotion, any of these things can make life seem like it's taken a sharp turn.

You can go to bed at night blissful, and be awakened with one of "those" phone calls in the middle of the night, and your whole world could seemingly crumble. The one you love might come home from work one day and tell you they don't love you anymore, or they've met someone else.

Or you could go to sleep wondering how your going to pay the rent or buy groceries, and wake up and find a check in the mail, or groceries on the front porch. Interruptions, life is full of them.

I praise God for the anchor of faith that holds outside of circumstance. I praise Him for being there in the midst of every circumstance, and when darkness comes, holding to Him means holding to the hope of what a new day will bring.

I praise God that when we as believers grieve, we can grieve with that hope. I praise God that I do not have to be overwhelmed about the doctor bill that's coming, or the income that isn't, because when worry creeps up on me, I have a place to take it, lay it, and LEAVE it.

I praise God that though I may be completely thrown by an interruption, God knew it was coming, and He is prepared for it, and more importantly to help me and grow me through it. I praise God that I have the confidence that whatever I may face in life, it has come through the filter of a loving Father and that there is purpose in it, even in suffering.

I praise God for the purposefulness of life, that it isn't random, and that the Lord is sovereign and is with me, for me, and watching over me, in everything, and every day. And I praise God that this isn't just true for me, but for all of His children.

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart" Jeremiah 29:11-13

"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified." Romans 8:28-30

"In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek." Hebrews 6:17-20

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

30 Days of Praise - Day 17

Today has been a difficult day for me emotionally. My mind has been kind of running off on its own, thinking critical thoughts, being focused on "wrongs" I've felt over the last week or more.

When I have run across some of these people who I have felt offended by, even if from a distance, it has been sort of a stumbling block. As I criticize a few, and dwell on it in my mind, I find myself becoming more and more critical, more and more annoyed. It's not a good feeling.

I'm trying to acknowledge it and confess it as the sin that it is, but there is definitely a battle in my mind. I am not being loving when I feel these things, which means I am not being like Christ. This is a battle that has recurred for me over and over throughout my life. I haven't always recognized it when in the thick of it, but have often looked back in regret when I discovered exactly what I was doing.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

It's an interesting lesson and thought process for me tonight though as I have never been more aware of the battle as it's raged. I praise God that HE does not love in such an arbitrary way. I am grateful that God's feelings for me are not changed or damaged by my mistakes, sins or even just my humanness. I praise God that HIS love is like the love described above in Corinthians.

I hope that the revelation I have about this struggle is a sign of spiritual growth. I am trying very hard to take each person or situation I am struggling with and give them to the Father. I am praying for God to filter through my feelings, and what is my sin and what may be a true offense, but either way, giving them to the Lord and asking Him to help me walk in forgiveness and love, because these are the ways we grow to be more like the One we love and serve. I am grateful for my God who loves me even knowing everything there is to know, including these self-centered struggles. He knows me completely and loves me completely, oh that I may grow to love more like Him, in Jesus' name.

But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. 1 Corinthians 13:10-12

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

30 Days of Praise - Day 16

In my book/ Bible study, there is a new exercise for the 2nd week. It's called the ABCs of worship. The assignment is to take all 26 letter of the alphabet and for each letter list something praiseworthy about the Lord that starts with that letter. I thought I would try that here tonight.

A - Awesome, Lord you are so big, and purposeful, I cannot wrap my mind around You.
B - Burden bearer, You take those things that weigh heavy on me, and lighten my heart.
C - Compassionate, You care for my hurts, feel for me in my struggles.
D - Delightful, You stir up happiness and joy in my heart.
E - Everlasting, there is no end to You or Your love for me.
F - Faithful, I can count on You, You keep Your promises.
G - Gracious, You are the author of grace, loving and forgiving out of Your goodness
H - Hope, You are my Hope, there is always promise of a better tomorrow in You
I - Intimate, You know my whole being, love me in my strengths and my faults
J - Jesus, you are MY Jesus, You gave Your all for me.
K - Kind, there is such simplicity in the truth that you are kind to me every day
L - Life, You are the reason I even exist, and then You give not just life, but life abundant.
M - Mine, You are not just a distant God in the distance, You draw close to ME and lead ME, speak to ME.
N - Name above all names, there is power and protection in the Name of the Lord.
O - Omnipresent, no matter where I go, you are there with me.
P - Peace, You are the only source of true Peace, no matter what storm may come, there is peace to be found in You.
Q - Quintessence of Goodness and Truth, (yes it's a word, look it up.)
R - Refuge, when life overwhelms and struggles threaten to destroy there is safety and a hiding place in You.
S - Savior, You rescued me from my sin and myself, and I can have eternal life because of what You did for me on the cross.
T - Truth, You are Truth and all truth comes from You, the is nothing hidden or untrustworthy.
U - Undeniable, there is no question that You are, and You are who You say You are.
V - Victorious, You have overcome the grave, the enemy and all evil, and in You I have overcome them as well.
W - Wonderful, You are wonder inspiring, my mind is blown away when I try to grasp the fullness of You
X - X-Ray, the x-ray to my soul, and my entire being, and you will reveal those things hidden in my heart that I must forsake to grow in You.
Y - Yearning of my heart, I long to have, to know and to experience more of You.
Z - Zealous, You are relentless in Your love and pursuit of Your children, me included.

"And He said to me, “It£ is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts." Revelation 21:6

Monday, July 21, 2008

30 Days of Praise - Day 15 part 2

What a challenging couple of days. And what a roller coaster.

But I praise God for His sustaining grace. Today got really tough but the Lord worked it out. In the midst of floods and such I decided to just go take the kids to see their dad. All the way there we just sang praise - good old-fashioned Kid Praise. You know what I mean, we sang "This Is the Day," "I've Got the Joy, Joy, Joy," and "Joy Like a Fountain." By the time we got there burdens were light, attitudes improved. Joy oh joy, the power of praise.

And then PTL - I say, PRAISE THE LORD, we got the wonderful news that Neal could come home! Yay! Of course with the promised land always comes the fight, and surely someone tried to start one, but joy - it is FULL in the presence of God and could not be taken away.

You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11

We have battles ahead. Neal has to miss a week of work which will be hard on our finances among other issues it causes, and I don't look forward to the day that the bills from this event start arriving in our mailbox, but I choose to trust the Lord, who will meet all our needs according to HIS glorious riches. God is faithful.

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

Last night late in the night, after all the kids were in bed I just went to sing at the Lord's feet. It was a joyful and refreshing time. When things started to go awry this morning with the flooded bathroom and the worry Neal might not be released there was a moment I felt a crack in me. But after my begging text for prayer I sat on the side of my bad and just chose to refocus. Peace and strength just flowed into me. It was wonderful.

God took care of the plumbing issue (thank you Lord for the warranty) and the damage will dry. I am thankful Jake left a towl on the floor that soaked up a lot of the watr that could have caused more damage. My car will be taken care of at some point, it's running, and the recurrent exhaust issue has to be taken care of before I can smog it in September. It will work itself out.

I choose not to stress about debt. We have it, there is nothing we can do about it, it is manageable. We will continue to be faithful in our tithe and trust God to take care of the rest. He is trustworthy.

God is good... all the time...
All the time... GOD IS GOOD!

30 Days of Praise - Day 15 Part 1

Though my heart breaks for Neal being away and inthe hospital - I will praisde you!
Though the stomach flu tries to wreak havoc in our home - I will praise you!
Even when the bathroom toilets breaks and floods the bathroom, I will PRAISE YOU!
And I will thank you for towels left on the floor that soaked up a lot of the trouble! I thank You for my teenage son who left it there!
I will praise you for check engine lights that came on AGAIN!
I will praise You in and through it and even FOR it because you are God, my God, and You are FOREVER FAITHFUL.
I will not ask why, I will only wait, because I put my trust in you.
Thank you for the Psalm You showed me last night, thank You for reminding me of it right in this moment! I will praise you, I will praise You, I will praise You!
YOU are worthy of my praise!

Psalm 13
1 How long, O LORD ? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3 Look on me and answer, O LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;
4 my enemy will say, "I have overcome him,"
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.

6 I will sing to the LORD,
for he has been good to me.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

30 Days of Praise - Day 14

It's been a long weekend, but on the other hand it went by really fast. Neal's still in the hospital, and although there has been a little encouraging news, everything is still very much up in the air.

I am perplexed by the way I have been feeling. I will be honest, circumstances have seriously hindered my prayer life these past few days. Well, they have and they haven't. Sometimes the whole thing just confuses me. There's been no bowing to the knees, but there has been conversation thrown out to the One I know is there and listening. There's also been a lot of listening to and singing along to worship. That's an incredibly encouraging thing to do.

We missed church today, couldn't go because of Victoria's flu yesterday, but she did make it through today without any probelm, and for now at least, no one else seems to be coming down with it. I'm thankful for that.

These last couple weeks I have been really seeking the Lord, and have felt really connected. I feel now like He drew me to that to better prepare me to handle this difficult challenge. Tonight as I drove home from the hospital I made a stop at the drive-thru. I found myself laughing and joking with the guy in the window, and it occurred to me, that isn't my usual way. Stress tends to make me unbearable - evenmean, and through this crisis, it just hasn't been the case. Even with my kids, I usually get so tense in challenge I snap and I bark, and somehow that hasn't been the case. What's changed?

So here I my possible theories. Maybe the fact that I was focused in an easy time has sustained me to be more spirit led? My other theory is that I am being sustained by the prayers of my loved ones and friends who are praying for me. Or maybe it's both.

I don't really know, but I do know whatever the "difference" is, it is the work of the Lord, and not me. I am thankful for a God who strengthens and sustains.

Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved. Psalm 55:22