Saturday, March 31, 2012

Again? Really?

One of the reasons I have been reluctant to start writing again is because in my heart this is a willing invitation to the Lord to do what He needs to do in me. I know that He will anyway, but this is my way of saying yes to that work. I have been anticipating what He will bring up and am a little surprised that it is forgiveness, again. I know all the right answers and reasons for why I should forgive. The Lord has forgiven me of a debt far greater then any debt against me. Evidently I have to do this again though. The bright side is that the wounding pain of it is not as deep. The sad, mourning is not there as strong and I think that is a testimony to God's healing in my life. The obsessive mental rehearsal of offenses is back though and I don't really want to fight it. It is easier and feels good, in a way, to hold on to that anger. To hold it close as if it were precious. I know that is wrong and I know it grieves God so I am sad. Praying that He will enable me to WANT to forgive and let go of the anger and then that He enables me TO forgive, as He has forgiven me...I know He will.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Red Mountain Music

I would like to share with you an album I discovered that I really love. It is called Help My Unbelief by Red Mountain Music. The album is full of hymns from Gadsby's Hymns, a collection of hymns from the mid-1800's. The musicians are from a church community in Birmingham, AL and the album is available for free (and completely legal) here.

The reason for my love is summed up beautifully in this description:  "Many of the texts in these particular songs carry themes of doubt and longing. We believe that the Christian life is a complexity of emotions, a marriage of sorrow and joy. Valleys and mountaintops. Light and darkness. The hymn writers of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries seem to have captured these tensions with more honesty and depth than many contemporary writers."

This Sunday I will be sharing with Grace Church, "My Raptured Soul." It is a a joyful song of longing for being called home to Christ. It brings me to tears often because I am so hardened by sin and this world. There is such great suffering and perseverance is hard and sometimes I forget that Heaven is REAL! Jesus is truly preparing a place for me and I will someday soon (very soon, in light of eternity) be with Him. Too often I do not live in the hope of this reality.

Pastor Martin is preaching through Revelation right now and it is helping me to see what an awesome and glorious God I serve. Too often I am consumed with the view that is 6 feet and under and I am weighed by heavy burdens. I long to say with Paul, "My desire is to depart and be with Christ..." and actually mean it. How quickly I jump to the "but" and dwell only there, only in the trials of today.

I pray that my fear of man and my fear of imperfection will not harden my heart to the joyfulness that comes from desiring to be with Him and KNOWING it will happen one day:

If Jesus kindly say,
And with a whispering word,
“Arise my love and come away,”
I run to meet my Lord.

My soul is in my ears;
My heart is all on flame;
My eyes are sweetly drowned in tears,
And melted is my frame.

My raptured soul will rise up,
And give a cheerful spring,
And dart through all the lofty skies,
To visit Zion’s King.
To visit Zion’s King.

He meets me with a kiss,
And with a smiling face;
I taste the dear, enchanting bliss,
And wonder at his grace.

A soft and tender sigh,
Now heaves my hollowed breast;
I long to lay me down and die,
And find eternal rest.

Words by: John Berridge

"They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
     the sun shall not strike them,
    nor any scorching heat. 
 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
    and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”   
                          -Revelation 7:16-17

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Boasting in the Lord

Tonight I have a little story of praise to our Lord. I often feel overwhelmed. With five voices calling "Mommy" all day, seven people making messes, correction and ministry needing to happen, odd jobs needing to be done and daily chores continuing to pile up it gets crazy. I long for the ability to enjoy the craziness. I also look forward to the days when we can sit at a dinner table and have a pleasant, calm, even deep conversation as a family. I know that I should live in this moment and be thankful for these special days and times and I am but competing stories, repetitious three year old's jokes, complaining about the food and screeching about little offenses gets old. I am looking forward to a different kind of chaos that is coming in the future and hoping that someday we will have dinners like my family sometimes did that ended in side splitting laughter and lasted much longer then it took to eat the food in front of us. Tonight God blessed me with a glimpse of that.

It was a "clean out the fridge" stew and I was nervous but there was low volume as we ate. There were "building up" comments and laughter and by the time we were mostly done I didn't feel the compulsion to get up and clean up and move on to the next thing. There was no complaining, just encouragement that this meal, though different and new, was good and appreciated. The kids were calm and not arguing. They sat and listened and giggled as we told stories of what so and so did when they were a baby or what he did when he was Anna's age. At one point I almost got up to get moving but the Holy Spirit stopped me and the Lord allowed me to look around at His gift, to make note of it and to give Him thanks for it. It didn't have any specific correlation to what I read in the Word today. It wasn't anything because of me, in fact it was another day of freaking out, sinning and repenting for me, but this dinner, this was a blessing from my Lord and it was a good.

Proverbs 3:33 "The Lord's curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the dwelling of the righteous."

1 Corinthians 1:29-31 "So that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Who is against you?

Wrong thinking is so difficult to correct. Even when I have come to a conclusion that truth is truth my old way of thinking creeps in and I have to remind myself...this is wrong. Today was yet another example of this.

Last night was a little rough. Coughing children and a sick husband made for difficult sleep. There have been worse nights but when morning came we concluded that letting everyone sleep in would be better then struggling through the normal routine...which includes Bible study. I would rather do that well later then force myself to stay awake, trying to re-read things to understand and feeling frustrated the whole time all because "that's the way I always do it." Anyway, breakfast, school, lunch, a new toy (a trampoline that needed cleaning) and a beautiful 80 degree day and by 2:30 the house is a mess of dirt, dishes and school stuff. I put the girls in bed for a nap while the middle two are outside jumping and then the battle begins. It is quiet in here. It is cool in here. It is a MESS in here. I stare at the dishes. I stare at the floor. I stare at the garden that needs weeding. I stare at my to do list. Reluctantly I turn away from it all and take my Bible and sit down on the couch. Before I even open it I wonder to myself at the anxiety that is welling up in my heart. I cry out in my head, "THERE'S TOO MUCH TO DO."

Then I opened my Bible and had a great time with the Lord.

Um, no, not quite. I started off reading Acts 2 and 3. I don't remember what I read. My heart was filled with frustration at feeling like everything else was more important then spending time listening to God from His Word. I had to council myself that this was more important then anything and that there is enough time to clean up. It only really matters to me and there is no one telling me it has to be done this very second. I may not want to do it later but isn't that part of living a self-sacrificing life? Yes, all that while I was reading the Bible. Then I was frustrated because I wasn't paying attention to what I was reading.

This is where God started to work. I moved on to 1 Samuel 18. I noticed some very interesting things. David was being attacked. Saul was jealous of him. The king was jealous of David and was trying to make him suffer. As I think about Davids life this was a recurring theme...battles, jealousy, suffering, enemies. AND YET...the Lord was with David. I moved on to Psalm 140 after this. A psalm of David pleading for deliverance from his enemies. More suffering, more battles, more people seeking to destroy him and yet David sought the Lord in it all for his salvation and the Lord granted it, the Lord was with him.

God is amazing. He knows how to take a person like me, who feels like the world is against me. It seems on most days that all of life's chores and responsibilities are too much and that even trying to do the right thing is impossible. I give into the temptation to think that not only is the world against me but God is against me too. After all, He knows that I want to obey Him, please Him, do what is right and still life is so difficult...therefore He is against me!??! Then I see David and I am reminded that suffering does not mean God is against me. The Lord was with David and see how desperately and continually He needed the Lord, pleaded with the Lord and relied on the Lord.

He is not against me. He wants me to need Him, plead with Him, rely on Him. David was not perfect but by God's grace he got one thing right. He knew WHO to plead with, WHO to rely on, WHO would redeem him. I do too and through Jesus Christ, He is with me and for me.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Romans 8:31-32

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

And We're Back...

I have been putting this post off for a while. I took a break a few weeks back with every intention of getting right back into things but sin has a sneaky way of making it's desires known and God has an amazing way of using that for His glory.

I took this break because of what God was doing in me through this blog. He was dealing with deep, deep, painful and scary idols in my heart that I did not want to give up. It was exhausting. It was hard. It hurt. I wanted out. My Dear Husband was noticing this strain and suggested that I take a break from blogging. I agreed. The weeks that followed were nothing short of amazing...and not in a good way.

I continued to be faithful to reading the Word, mostly but I stopped processing it. I stopped seeking His Kingdom through His Word. I stopped internalizing and really learning and knowing God through His Word. It became an act of righteousness to check off my daily list. Then I became ill, very ill (not deathly) but enough that for 6+ weeks I was out of comission. My poor family just survived and so did I. It was convicting that I didn't want to read the Word and fought harder for the energy to make dinner or do laundry then for the energy to even open the Bible.

As I got better friends started to ask me what about the blog. I had to admit that there was no good reason why I hadn't started again. It was easier to listen to all of life's struggles and my selfish desires then to go back to allowing God the freedom to work in me as He was before.

I don't want to run anymore, that's why I started this to begin with. It's not that I am something special so I think the world needs to know what God is doing in me but I have proven that unless I have some outside motivation to help me, I will give into the tyranny of the urgent. No more! No more breaks and no end in sight...until Glory!

Hebrews 12:1-3 (ESV)

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.