Friday, January 13, 2012

Intimate God

How do you picture God?

Do you imagine Him far off and distant? Uninterested in your daily life? Do you picture Him as the the Great Disciplinarian? Watching over you angrily, waiting for you to make a mistake so He can being down His holy hammer and punish you? Think a moment about that one. When something goes wrong, do you immediately assume it's because He is displeased with you? The car breaks down because you forgot to write your tithe check? Sickness comes because you aren't faithful enough in your prayers?

Maybe you think He isn't interested in the little details of your life. He's too busy concerning Himself with war and famine and "important issues" to pay any mind to what concerns you. Hard hearted and official? Like a bean counter for eternity, a naughty and nice list for heaven? How do you see Him?

When my oldest child was a toddler I used to pray about how to make God real to my son. One of the things I find hardest as a parent is passing on the "reality" of faith, the tangible sense of knowing God. Jacob used to carry around this little green frog with him. It was not bigger than a quarter, and he LOVED it. Needless to say, it was easily misplaced. One day Jake was beside himself after having lost it. The "thought" occurred to me, we should pray to find it. So we did. He stood before me as I sat on the couch and we bowed our heads and prayed together, he asked God to help him find his "froggie." After our "Amens" I lifted my head and looked across the room. I saw a glint of green that caught my eye. I walked across the room and found the frog wedged between our other couch and the end table. Froggie was added to the list, he "once was lost and now was found."

Sincerely though, it was a beginning, God revealed Himself not only to Jacob but to me. He cared enough about Jake's little heart to help us find it. Not because it was important, but because it mattered to Jake. And Jake matters to God. In the sixteen some years since then, we've prayed for many lost things. Just last year we went over to a friend's house and found her keys for her after they had been missing for a day and a half. We drove over and found them literally within minutes. I believe the lesson for me was if I would listen, God would lead.

That's an important lesson, and one God simplified in little things, so that I would have confidence to listen to Him in bigger and much more difficult tasks. I could dismiss the "still small voice" or I could train myself to listen, and learn to respond in faith.

That's how this blog was started. After a very difficult season of not being able to serve in my gifts, I was hurting and frustrated, and crying out before the Lord. It was alone in a hotel room at a women's retreat that I heard Him whisper, "write." Then He spoke to the heart of a trusted friend who knew nothing of what I had thought I'd heard, and praying for me, she felt she heard God encourage her to exhort me to "blog." It was a confirmation, and it was the direction I asked for, because when God said, "write," I asked "write what?" He answered.

Does that sound nuts to you? It shouldn't. The Bible says, My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. (John 10:27) The Lord still speaks. He told us to follow Him,and so He leads. The Holy Spirit lives INSIDE of believers! I don't believe He lives there silently. In fact I wonder how often the still small voice goes unnoticed.

I've noticed alot lately how noisy and busy life has become these days. "Still" and "quiet" are words that only describe the dead these days. TV's, iPods, laptops, smart phones- often all at once. Even as I sit here now typing this on my laptop, the TV is on, I keep checking Facebook and Twitter and text messages. I don't fully focus one thing, much less fully focus on Him. I think about how often my husband sit in a restaurant at dinner both fiddling on our phones while we "talk." Facebook, Words With Friends, the "net," all distracting our focus- we barely focus on each other and we're sitting there face to face- how much harder is it to focus on the Lord?

I've been working a lot to still my heart and my mind, taking quiet walks with the Lord, trying to listen. I've stopped taking my phone in my room at night, I don't go and retrieve it in the morning until I have spent time reading the Word. Even still, I find my mind running a thousand directions. I know in my spirit, the Lord is calling me to come, to be still, to listen for His voice. Why? Because he cares about the things that concern me... because He cares about me.

But know that the LORD has set apart for Himself
him who is godly;
The LORD will hear when I call to Him.
Be angry, and do not sin.
Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.

Psalm 4:3-4

Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
The LORD of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

Psalm 46:10-11

Selah is a musical term, it is a rest, a break. I believe it is made in anticipation of what is coming next. Like a gasp of air before submerging under water, it is a gasp for the breath of life before entering fully into Him. Perhaps? Could it be like the whispered beckon. God is our refuge, breathe deep, enter in. And listen for your Shepherd's voice.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

100 Verses - Week 18- Anchored

Congratulations! I want to congratulate every one of you who has been participating in the 100 Verse Challenge. Whether this is your 2nd week of our 18th, you are making a wise decision to hide God's word in your heart. And whether you have all 33 verses firmly established, or some smaller amount, there is NO failure when it comes to learning the Word of God. And I applaud you for your effort. And I suspect even if you don't feel confident that you have learned every scripture, chapter and verse, I am confident that it has been hidden in your heart for the Lord to draw upon in the moment He requires it. Your treasure box is getting fuller, and with it you are getting richer!

We are entering into a new division in Robert J. Morgan's 100 Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart this week. The new portion is titled "Promises: Verses to Stand On." And truth be told, that is EXACTLY why I started the Challenge. I think having verses to hold onto, or "stand on" in life make all the difference in our "walks of faith."

I had a conversation with a friend earlier this week. It's someone I have "kept my eye on" consistently since we met not long after his conversion. As a new young believer there have been times when I have tried to direct him toward the Word in his struggles with his new found faith. Often I have been extremely maternal toward him, one of my "spiritual kids." He told me about some changes going on with him. When I responded that I wasn't worried about him, he seemed surprised and found it to be a "new experience." I told him he seemed anchored to me, to which he replied, "I feel shaken up, but I know what to do." And I know what he meant, he's finally grasped that his answers are in God's Word.

That really is what "anchored" means. It does not mean that you are not tossed about by the waves, it just means the waves don't have the power to move you away from where you need to be. When you are anchored to the Word, standing on the promises of God, you can be secure in any circumstance. Taking God at His Word is a major faith empowerment. (And He does, after all, deserve that confidence.)

I'm going to be honest, I already have both of this week's verses established firmly in my heart and mind (which is convenient also because I need a little more work on the verses from the past 2 weeks while the kids were on break, but I digress.) Both of these verses are very dear to me. The first verse is one I have recited continually during financial difficulties and during seasons where I have battle anxiety attacks (specifically along with the first verse we will be working on next week.)

The 2nd verse from this week is one of my life verses. It's a verse that I have held to, and seen proven in my own life since my return to Christ in 1992. This verse has been constantly intertwined throughout my entire testimony regarding the spiritual healing of my abortion, my infertility struggles, and through Ethan's adoption. It is one of the first anchors the Lord ever gave me in "My Walk of Faith."

I suspect both of this week's verses will be familiar to you, if not, I am excited for you! But even if they are, and you already have one or both of them memorized, I encourage, meditate on them this week, think about how they have proven true in your own walk, and allow them to remind you of the goodness and faithfulness of our God! So here we go:

Verse 1:

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.
Matthew 6:33

Verse 2:

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:28
emphasis mine

Thank you all who are continuing on (or joining in) this journey on the 100 Verse Challenge with me. God bless you as you grow your hearts by filling it with God's Word!