Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Fire-breathing...

Fire-breathing dragons are a common-enough fantasy creature, although I'm not sure how many people realize they're Biblical.

But how about star-breathing God?

I challenge you to watch this clip (in two parts) from a Chris Tomlin concert. Chris Tomlin is a worship leader/singer/songwriter who wrote the songs "Indescribable" and "How Great Is Our God," and in the beginning of this clip he introduces Louie Giglio.

Then tell me... does this change your perception of the God who loves you? Who gave up His glory to die for you?



Part 2:


Want more?

Part 3 moves from the largest things in the universe to the smallest... miracles inside your body.

Part 4 is a continuation... did you know that in Colossians 1:15-17, when Paul said that in Jesus all things hold together... that it was scientifically literal?

And Part 5 quickly winds it up.

So tell me... does this change your perspective of God?

Friday, November 21, 2008

The glory of God's pardon...

"I'm not worthy."

Versions of that sentiment are some of the most powerful lies that keep us from fellowshipping with God. So often, we feel that whatever we've done is one too many for God to pardon. It's above and beyond what we believe is forgivable. We've done it one too many times. Or maybe, God will forgive us tomorrow, but right away is too much to ask for.

I'd like to describe a scene from a movie.

One Night With The King is a dramatized version of the story of Esther. Many of you have probably heard of it, and some of you might have seen it. It's accuracy to the Biblical account is questionable, and many criticize the movie in other ways. I'm not here to tell you it's an amazing movie. But none of that stopped one scene from affecting me.

In this movie's version of Esther's story, Esther and the king fell in love. They have now been married for several months, at least, but they have become estranged. It has now been over a month since they have last seen each other.

Haman is deep in several plots. One is to destroy the Jews, and another is gaining power for himself. By this time, he's successfully become the king's right-hand man.

In addition, the historic battle between Persia and the Greeks, at the height of the Persian empire's power, is looming.

So Esther has been fasting for three days, in preparation to risk her life and go before the king on behalf of her people. Then, she suddenly receives news that he is leaving for Greece. She realizes that she has no time left. She must go before him now, or lose her chance.

It's a rainy night, and the Persian palace at Persepolis was set up with many courtyards to let light in and smoke from the fires out. In the Bible, it says Esther put on her royal robes, but in this movie, she goes in the clothes she had on, at that moment. Clothes that looked fine when she'd been in her chambers, but that don't remain so. In fact, by the time she crosses these courtyards and reaches the throne room, she is bedraggled and shivering, with water pooling at her feet.

She pushes open the doors to the king's throne room, interrupting a royal speech and thereby earning herself an instant death sentence. That was the law. All the king had to do was remain seated, and she would be instantly killed.

She slowly makes her way toward the throne, between the nobles who line the room. The room is silent in shock, that she would dare to come before the king! She reaches his throne, Haman points out that she has broken the protocol and deserves death. At that reminder, accusations are hurled at her from all directions. But she looks up at her husband and waits. He stands there, knowing that she is now under sentence of death. Knowing that she has asked for it by her actions. Yet he also knows that he loves her, despite what has happened between them.

Just as the sword starts to fall, he reaches out his hand and stops it, and he extends his scepter to her.

But afterward, his nobles level accusations at him, saying he should not have done it. It is his response that I love. He reminded them that he was the king, and that he could lower his scepter to whomever he wished. Case closed.

That is the wonderful thing about God's pardon. He is the King, not those who level accusations against us. He created the universe and dictated how things would be. He is the only One who can issue pardons.

He sent Jesus to issue them on our behalf... an infinite number of them, to anyone who was willing to receive them. All the person had to do was come to His throne room bearing one of those pardons.

Any time we even think of going, however, the devil is waiting. Accusations of what we've done are hurled from all directions. We've broken the law. We're not worthy. We should be punished.

Yet all we have to do is go there anyway, carrying the pardon of what Jesus did on the cross. God reaches out a hand and welcomes us into His arms. And if anyone dares to argue with Him about that pardon, His answer is the same. "A King can pardon whomever He wishes!"

Who will you listen to?

The ones hurling the accusations?

Or the One who made the law and issued your Pardon?

Monday, November 10, 2008

The glory of hope...

One of the reasons that I write this blog is because I desire to show the world what being a Christian is really all about. There are some who thing it's following a strict set of rules. (It's not, and I plan to post someday on those "rules.") Then there are those who think that it's just going to church and following a not-so-strict set of rules.

Then there are those who are frightened into "becoming Christians." They're told of the reality of hell, given the truth that God doesn't want them to go there and told that if they pray a prayer to accept what Jesus did for them, they can go to heaven.

All that is true. But it's only part of the story. You see, not only is the prayer you pray supposed to include turning control of your life over to God, but what you get in return is so much greater than simply a change of destination when you die!

And that is the purpose of this blog... Salvation from hell has been made available to me, and all I must do is accept it. But there's more. Salvation from from hopelessness, fear, despair, worry... all the things that drag us down... salvation from those things is also available to me, if I will accept it. Daily available!

I'd like to share this example from another blog I follow. Confessions of a Pioneer Woman is one of the most followed blogs in the world. It's a hodge-podge of daily life, as seen by a woman whose daily life is drastically different from most of ours (she lives on a ranch in the middle of no-where), yet whose life isn't all that different... all seen through a sense of humor.

Recently, however, her husband (whom she calls Marlboro Man) went to the Dominican Republic with their two oldest children. She asked him to send back pictures and updates on the trip, so she (and all her blog readers) could, in a small way, participates.

And there, in a tiny shanty in the Dominican Republic, I found what is, perhaps, the clearest example of the kind of salvation that Jesus has to offer people every day, no matter what circumstances they find themselves in.

A Tale of Two Houses

That is what Jesus will do for you!

Will you let Him?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

If My people...

Religion and politics are the two things that are generally taboo conversation. The funny thing is, they’re also two things that are “supposed to be separated.” Right? Isn’t that what we’re taught? The separation of church and state?

I’m sure I could start a debate on here as to what that phrase means, but I’m not going to do that. Instead, I’m going to share an idea I don't hear all that often.

I believe God’s people are supposed to look at politics through religion. Well… not religion, but rather, the eyes of the Spirit. Many people will say this is religion, but I hope that you all know that religion and a living, breathing relationship with God – one that allows Him to show you things the way He sees them – are two totally different things.

There’s a prayer that I’ve prayed for years now. Father, let me see the world through Your eyes.

Has anyone else out there prayed it?

Have you prayed it in connection with politics?

I know that not all of you are US residents. Your politics are different, perhaps, than ours. You’re probably still watching ours, though… the whole world seems to, which is kind-of a strange feeling. Especially when you read the comments on news websites around the world, and see that people outside of your country see your country differently than you do. Perhaps they see things more accurately, having more of a “birds-eye view,” so to speak. Or, perhaps they haven’t the slightest idea, being forced to get all of their information through whatever bias the media they read adds to things... having, perhaps, never seen the consequences of various policies on a daily basis.

But do either of us see things the way they really are? The way that only God sees them?

A while back, it began to dawn on me how many verses in the Bible said that God’s people would see and discern the signs of the times… that His people would not look on world events with confusion or despair, but would see them for what they truly are. Daniel 12:10 says, “Those who have insight will understand.” Jesus, in Matthew 16:3, called those who cannot discern the signs of the times hypocrites!
When I read that, I got worried. I had to admit that I did not see the signs of the times. Sure, I saw that the same general evidence that everyone talked about… wars and rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes, storms, etc… all of which some Christians can argue. I knew that Israel becoming a state was a sign. But I felt like something was missing… that I wasn’t seeing what I was supposed to be seeing.

So I added another dimension to my prayer. I “reminded God of His word,” (see Isaiah 43:26) and I told him that, if my relationship with Him was real… if I wasn’t being a hypocrite by claiming that relationship… then I needed to be able to discern the signs of the times! I needed my eyes opened. He said I needed this!

Since then, it’s amazing the things I see as I read world news. It’s not about fortelling Jesus’ return. It’s not about figuring out whether the rapture is pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, or post-tribulation.

It’s about things that are so much more important.

I began seeing spiritual laws, as taught by Jesus, and as stated repeatedly in Proverbs, at work behind world events.

I look at the state of world economics, and I see that it is not the fault of Democrats, or Republicans, or bankers, or capitalists, or Wall Street traders, or people who didn’t have the wisdom they now wish they had, when they took out their mortgages. I see that it is the result of greed and materialism. If it is the banker who wanted another zero on the end of his paycheck, then it is also the middle-class citizen who wanted more than he could afford, and so used his credit card. If it is the fault of an official in government, then it is also the fault of the voter who was too busy to pray for his elected official.

In fact, every problem with the world can be traced back to sin… and the wages of sin is death. Death physically, death economically, death spiritually, death of marriages and families, death of nations… it is the product of he who comes to steal, kill, and destroy.

And so I look for an answer. And I see that if sin is the root of all this, then neither Democrat nor Republican can fix it. For God did not send either to save the world. He sent Jesus. That is why Jesus is the Prince of Peace.

Yes, I will vote. But the most effective thing that I can do is allow Him to change me, that I might not be a contributor to the world’s problems. I can allow Him to shine through me that more might be changed by His power. And I can pray as He leads.

“For if My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways. I will hear from Heaven, and forgive their sins, and heal their land.” -2 Chronicles 7:14

Friday, September 05, 2008

The glory of being His slave...

The other day, I was praying about a number of issues in my life, and I felt like I was going round in circles again. I said, "Lord, I don't want to go back to this place of confusion! The devil is the author of confusion, not You. What do I do?" I then rebuked the devil from my mind and began praising and thanking Him for those things that He had most recently done for me.

The thing is, I wanted to pray for these situations! I wanted to actively do something. Yet, I was torn. Did I need to intercede and fight against the devil's activities? Or was it God's doing, working His will to shape my life, teach me important things, and show me what I can't see any other way?

Then God reminded me again that He's given me the gift of my prayer language for just these sorts of situations. So I began praying that way. And as I did, God flooded me with His peace and began to speak to me.

He was saying that He desires me to fully realize that I am a slave... and the more that I prayed, the more I began to see what that means.

We think of slavery as a bad thing, yet the concept of slavery is all through the Bible. It seems to be a paradox. How can we be "slaves of Christ" (Ephesians 6:6 and 1 Corinthians 7:22) when Paul said that "It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery." (Galatians 5:1)

The Bible talks about slavery in several different ways. There are natural slaves, which existed in both New and Old Testament times. There are all the times when Jesus and Paul used the concept of slavery to describe the hold that sin has on us before we accept the freedom that Jesus died to give us. (John 8:34 and Romans 6:16)

The thing is, Paul also used the concept of slavery to describe our new relationship with God in several interesting ways. We were "bought with a price." We are to use our freedom "as bondslaves of God." We have become "slaves of righteousness." Even Jesus, in His parables, often used slaves to symbolize us! (See Matthew 18:22-24, Matthew 21:33-37, Matthew 22:1-10, Matthew 24:42-51, Matthew 25:14-30.)

The amazing thing that God is showing me, is how realizing that I am His slave is part of the freedom that Jesus died to bring me!

Think of what it means to be a slave. A slave does not concern himself with those duties of the household that have not been entrusted to him. If his job is to act as a messenger for his master, he does not concern himself with his master's investments, or whether the house is getting cleaned appropriately, or whether other slaves are being obedient. Or rather... if he does concern himself with them, it does him no good... he would only be taking on more worry and responsibility than he is being asked or equipped for. He has been given specific duties to fulfill, and his job is to fulfill those only.

I am no different. As a slave of God, He is asking me to always be listening for directions, always obedient, always ready to be His representative, willing to accept whatever responsibility He deems me able to fulfill, and just as willing to surrender all those concerns that He has not asked me to care for.

Sometimes He might place me in control of a large, steady cash flow and ask me to learn how to administrate it for the good of the household. Other times, like now, He is asking me to focus on other things and allow Him to take care of the finances that affect my life. And it's the same with any other issue I may ever struggle with. Sometimes He may give me the resources to actively work in that area, while other times He may ask me to sit back and simply trust.

It's that trusting that seems so difficult, for it is in total opposition to the world's wisdom. Never, ever are we told to simply sit back and "let life happen" to us. We're told to take charge of our health, our finances, our time, etc. Yet a slave is not really in control of any of those! His master is!

But here is where the hope and freedom lies. My master is not an error-prone human being. He's not even a successful and perfect human being. My Master is the oldest, richest, most knowledgeable and perfectly successful "landowner" in existence! For, as Psalm 24:1 says, "The earth is the LORD'S, and all it contains; The world, and those who dwell in it." And He knows how to run His household!

So... if He chooses to entrust me with knowledge of the full workings and future glory of His household, so be it. But if He chooses to keep me in ignorance of everything except what He desires me to do minute by minute throughout the day, I should be just as content, just as at peace, and just as full of joy. Because whether I know His plans or not won't change the future of His household. It will prosper, simply because of who He is!

The only thing that I can control is whether I will be a smoothly functioning (ie: obedient) part of that successful household, or whether I will force my Master to constantly discipline me, call me back when I stray, or capture me when I run away.

Lord, teach me to hear Your voice that I may obey!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Forgiveness can be easy...

This is something that's been rattling around in my heart for quite a while now. I just haven't managed to post it until now.

My pastor was recently talking about the seriousness of unforgiveness... how it not only hurts the one holding onto it, but if you take Jesus's parable in Matthew 18 literally, might keep the unforgiving one out of heaven. He was talking about how forgiveness is often so difficult.

Yet, for me, forgiveness is usually not difficult (at least not compared to how I see others struggle with it), and I wondered why. I thought it had something to do with the compassion that often fills my heart toward those who have wronged me or those I love... knowing that person is miserable inside - often more miserable than the one they wronged.

But then we "happened" to get to Matthew 18 in the Bible reading I (sporadically) do with my kids. Once again, God showed me things through the questions my kids asked. (For those that don't get anything out of their Bible reading, I really do recommend that you sit down with an adult translation and just read it to your kids. It's absolutely amazing what you'll start to see, as you read it through a child's eyes.)

This parable starts out saying that there was a king who wanted to settle accounts with his slaves. The king, of course, represents God, the slaves represent us, and the debts the slaves owed represent sins we have committed against others and God.

A slave was brought to him who owed ten thousand talents of silver. Now, when you read the Bible to kids, you have to expect that they won't be satisfied with simply being told that talents was the kind of money they used in the Bible, so ten thousand must be a lot. They want to know how much... which means you, as the reader, have to find that out. So I looked in the references of my NASB, read that a talent was worth more than fifteen years' wages, multiplied that by the 10,000 that the slave owed, and suddenly realized that this slave owed 150,000 years worth of money! That makes the simple biblical statement that it was more than the man could repay seem totally inadequate.

So take your yearly income, whatever it happens to be, and multiply it by 150,000. Now imagine yourself owing that amount of money to a king. Let's say you're Average American Joe and you make 32,000/year before taxes and insurance and all the rest of the bills that must be paid before we can even throw anything against our debt. If that's so, you would owe that king 4.8 billion dollars. Eeeek!

Let's continue. In this story, the slave was going to then be sold, along with his wife and children, to pay back a small portion of the debt. The man fell on his face and begged the king for mercy. He vowed to repay everything, even though he had to have known that only a miracle would make that possible.

What did the king do? He didn't say, "Okay. Keep working and paying as much as you can. I'll take what I can get." No, he had compassion on the man and forgave him the entire 4.8 billion dollars.

The man then went out and happened across another slave. This slave owed him one hundred denarii. Once again, my kids wanted to know how much that was. The references said that a denarius was a day's wages. So one hundred denarii is a little more than one quarter of a year's wages. So Average American Joe is owed roughly $8,000 by this person. That's quite a bit of money. If someone owed me that, I would be hoping and praying that they would be able to pay it back to me.

And Average American Joe wasn't much different, except he was more forceful. He began to choke the man, demanding the money now. The other slave fell on his face, and begged for mercy and more time, but the man said, "No!" and had him thrown into prison. This is symbolic of what we do when we do not forgive... even an $8,000 offense.

The scary thing is what happened next. The king heard of this, and condemned Average American Joe to torture!

So many Christians read this story and are instantly hit with guilt. They are having trouble forgiving someone of something, and they know it. Or perhaps they've never understood the significance of what happened to the slave in the end, and they've been unwilling to forgive someone something that the person did, or should have done and didn't do. (Those are often the hardest to forgive.)

What I want to share is that forgiveness can be easy when you remember the beginning of this story.

What if someone walked up to you and handed you $10,000? You'd be thrilled.

Then, what if that person then told you to give someone else $8,000 of it? Could you do it? Would it be easy?

I'd like to think that I could, but I know for a fact that it wouldn't be easy. Sure, I'd still have $2,000 left over, but $8,000 is a lot to give up!

But what if, as you were thinking and struggling with giving up the $8,000, that person informed you that the $10,000 was only a small portion of what he'd really given you. He opened up his laptop, logged into a Swiss bank account in your name, and showed you the balance. 4.8 billion dollars.

Then would giving the $8,000 be easy? Of course it would!

And that's the point I'm trying to make. When forgiveness is difficult... when it seems that it's just more than we can manage... when we simply don't know how, or don't think it's even in us to offer... there's an easy answer.

I think sometimes we're guilty of thanking God for the $10,000 He's forgiven us. Or perhaps we're very conscious of where we've been and what we've done, and we're so grateful that He's forgiven us $500,000 worth of sin. In reality, I don't think any of us really have a clue. If we could truly see that 4.8 billion dollar bank account of forgiveness... a bank account, I might add, that never dwindles, no matter how many withdrawals we make... it will be easy to forgive.

All we need to do is ask God to give us the revelation of how much He's forgiven us, and forgiveness just gets easier and easier.

Monday, July 28, 2008

New revelations on an old story...

The story of David and Goliath is one of those that most of us have known since we were wee little. And if you’re like me, when you come to a story you’ve heard thousands of times, it’s really, really hard to actually pay attention to it

But somehow, this story keeps coming to my attention here and there the last few weeks, and each time I realize something that, if it's not new, has been so long since I thought about it that it may as well be.

The first thing that struck me recently, was that Goliath was not the “big problem” that David was facing. He was merely the face of the problem.

To realize what the real problem was, you have to go back to the beginning of the story. Why was David being sent to the battle lines to begin with? He was being sent because his three oldest brothers – along with the rest of the fighting men of Israel – were at the battle front. Let’s think about their background. Saul was the king of Israel at this time, but he was the first king. It couldn’t have been too many years since the days of the judges, when Israel was continuously overrun and made slaves, and then set free again and again and again.

Since Saul had become king, he had continuously been fighting the Philistines, and the people of Israel knew all too well what would happen to them if the Philistines conquered them. They’d become nothing more than slaves again.

Jesse was understandably concerned about what was going on at the battle lines, both regarding his sons and regarding the fate of Israel. So when David went to the battle lines and discovered that Goliath was there and that all the men of Israel were cowering, he knew that it was more than just a giant facing them. It was a lifetime of slavery for the entire nation facing them. That’s why Goliath worded the challenge the way he did.

And what did David see? He saw that out of all of the men of Israel, he was the only one who believed that God was greater than Goliath. If I had been him, I would have walked away, trusting that God would somehow look out for me as my country was overrun, because I trusted in Him. It wouldn’t have occurred to me that my trust in my God was enough to save my country.

Yet that’s what David did.

Let’s move on.

We all know what happened next, and how the story goes. How David went before Saul and offered to go fight him. How Saul was flabbergasted that his young shepherd-harpist wanted to fight the giant. (I really can’t blame him... how many harpist-warriors do you know?)

But here’s the next thing that jumped out at me. What did David repeatedly call Goliath? He called him an “uncircumcised Philistine.”

For the first time, I realized how significant this is. It tells us why David was willing to fight him.

We must remember that circumcision was the symbol of a covenant – the covenant that God made with His people, to protect them and provide for them and guide them.

So David’s willingness to fight Goliath wasn’t because he was extraordinarily brave and courageous. It wasn’t because he’d been anointed as the future king of Israel.

It was simply because he saw things as they truly were. It didn’t matter that Goliath was a giant of a man with scores of victories under his belt, or that he represented the people who were determined to make Israel their slaves. What mattered was that Goliath was not part of God’s covenant and not under God’s protection. And he, David, knew that he was. He’d seen God’s faithfulness in the past, and he had no doubt that God would continue to be faithful to His promises.

Which highlights the one other thing that David knew.

He knew His God.

That’s all there really is to this amazing story. That in all of Israel, there was one man who knew His God. One man who, because of that, was able to see things for what they truly were. And that’s all God needed to save His people.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Another amazing song...

I hope all of you who read this blog (whoever you are) are also worshipers. If you've never yet discovered the awesome things that can happen when you give yourself up in worship to the God of the universe who welcomes you into His throne room, then ask Him to take your hand and lead you in! It's like experiencing the greatest wonders of the universe.

An online friend of mine sent me this link, and now I'm passing it on to you. It's called "Healer," but it is simple and powerful, no matter what you're facing.
(If you'd rather, you can watch it on YouTube.)


You're my Healer

Hold my every moment
Calm my raging seas
Walk with me through fire
Heal all my disease

I trust in You
I trust in You

I believe You're my Healer
I believe You are all I need
I believe You're my Portion
I believe You're more than enough for me
Jesus You're all I need

My Healer, You're my Healer

Nothing is impossible for You
Nothing is impossible for You
Nothing is impossible for You
You hold my world in Your hands

(If you're interested in reading my thoughts on other songs that have ministered to me, just click on the songs label, and the blog posts will be listed, from newest to oldest.)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

God used a mosquito...

In this past week, I've upped my "quest" to hear God's voice more clearly. It's only been four years or so since I even realized that God wants to speak to me, but I don't feel that I've made much progress. Jesus said that "My sheep hear My voice." For me, this is what I think I need most... to be able to hear and instantly recognize the voice of the One who orders my days.

A few days ago, I visited Bring the Rain, and again, I was blessed. She talked about the significance of what Samuel said. "Speak, Lord. Your servant is listening." I realized that it's really that simple, so I resolved to make that prayer my own throughout the day.

So yesterday I went across the road to see if I could find my daughter's bouncy ball for her. There is a small hill at the edge of our property, and the cars tear over it at 40+ mph, so our kids aren't allowed to cross the road for any reason. (They'd be totally out of sight of drivers until it was too late.) Consequently, she had to let the ball go until I had time to go look for it.

So yesterday she was in our yard, telling me about where it bounced. I walked up and down about 20 feet of grass and weeds, trying to find it and failing miserably.

After a few minutes, I said, "Lord, You know where this ball is. Can you help me find it for my daughter?" I walked up and down, asking again, and saying, Lord, I'm trying to hear Your voice. Let this be another exercise in recognizing it. Can You tell me where it is? I really want to find this for my daughter... Your daughter. Should I give up? Where should I look? What about-"

"You might hear Me if you can be quiet for a minute," He said.

I shut up and listened.

"Step to your left."

I stepped to my left and looked and looked. I still couldn't find it. Which set me to wondering if it hadn't been God who said to step to the left. What if it was just me? I really didn't know.

I started thinking about giving up again. But just then, a mosquito buzzed around my left arm. I looked down and swatted at it.

And as I pulled my hand away, there, another step to the left and exactly beyond the mosquito... was the ball.

I had to laugh. A mosquito! "Lord, it was You who said step to the left. Somewhere, in all that re-hashing what I had or had not heard, did You say to step to the left again? I don't know, but thank You. You are more good to me than I deserve."

I tossed the ball to my daughter and told her that God used a mosquito to show me where it was.

And last night, my husband wanted to know if I killed God's messenger.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Upside-down...

I know... two posts in three days! I've got so much tumbling around inside of me lately, and I'm having trouble getting it all out, except to those who have shared it with me! (Like my new pastor's wife and already-dear-friend, whose ear I've talked off half-a-dozen times in the last few weeks. Sorry, Angela!) The result of all of these confirmations is an overall confirmation from God that I am where He wants me to be... here, in Ohio, and a part of At His Feet Christian Center. (Isn't that an awesome name?)

Anyway... Saturday's post made it out, and my sister's comment actually leads right to one of the other things jumping excitedly around in my brain/spirit/soul. She said, "God's been showing me so many things in creation off and on, and it's cool because ... I'm really seeing that humans see life upside-down of what it really is. Things here on earth ... they're a picture of heaven, right? So we think something like, "God's Word is so much like eating." When really it's, "eating is so much like learning God's Word." See the difference? What difference does that make? Well ... just knowing where the reality lies, I guess. It makes a difference. :)"

That's EXACTLY what the pastor who visited yesterday said during his message. Well... one of the things he said.

This man is involved (to a degree I quite honestly am unsure of) in Kenneth Copeland's ministry. Now I must admit that I have had some serious problems with the "faith message" since I was a girl. I clearly remember our church calling up a man who had one leg longer than the other, and who needed crutches. This precious, gentle man of God was prayed over, had his crutches taken away, and told to walk if he had faith. When he fell, he was blamed for not having enough faith. I, as a child watching this, KNEW it was not right, although I hardly knew exactly where our church had gone wrong. But as the years went by and I watched and heard more and more people turning faith into a work... taking the glory away from God and lavishing it on anyone who had enough faith to accomplish God's work for Him... burning and blasting God-seekers left and right, I quickly got to the point where I wanted nothing to do with anyone who claimed to be part of the faith movement.

Since that time, God showed me that I had thrown the baby out with the bathwater. I resolved to stop judging men of God, and just be very, VERY cautious about who's authority I accepted over me, looking for confirmation every step of the way (which is another revelation in and of itself).

Anyway... Saturday I shared about how this pastor's wife's message was so much a beautiful confirmation of so much that God's shown me, all summed up in the fact that we are not of this world, but ambassadors of another. Well, the pastor's message yesterday was also a gift from God to me, showing me that there are, indeed, some that came from the "faith movement" who haven't screwed everything up. His message was a beautiful explanation of how we've turned everything upside-down, focusing on the promises instead of the Promise-Maker... seeking the provisions instead of the Provider... glorifying the healings instead of the Healer. In fact, he warned about what happens when we do that... the consequences of which I've seen all my life.

That famous passage in Hebrews that talks so much about faith... the one that is often cited as an example of "what faith accomplished." He pointed out that Abraham had no scripture, no pastor preaching an amazing message. Rather, Abraham's faith was real because he knew God, so when God spoke, he had no reason to doubt him. It was that way for every man of God throughout the Bible. As he said, it's not what we know, it's who we know, which is oh-so accurate! Yes, we need to know truths... but God's promises would be empty if He wasn't who He is. And they are empty in our lives until we know who He is.

He so wonderfully stated it this way: Faith comes in hearing the word of a God that you know. Jesus didn't die so that we could be healed, or so that we could prosper, or so that we could come to church. He came and died so that we could be restored to fellowship with the God who wants us to know Him. When we do, and He speaks to us in revelation, we don't waver. Isn't this so much what David said in Psalm 37:4? "Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart." We look at this whole thing upside-down, all too often!

As I listened, I received my own explanation of 2 Cor. 5:7: "We walk by faith, not by sight." So often, we think of faith as a tool, but in reality, it is merely knowing that we are now children of God, knowing that we are ambassadors of His kingdom, and knowing the other truths that that God has shown us. It means that we pattern our lives and walk daily according to truths that the world does not recognize - truths that cannot be seen or understood with the natural mind no matter how hard we try - truths that must be seen with the eyes of the Spirit and known through God's revelation. When we have no money for our daily needs and we are worried about how we're going to pay our bills, we are walking by sight. But when we can truly rest in His peace, knowing that He will care for us no matter what happens because He has revealed this to us in ways that we cannot deny, that is walking by faith. It does not come after we hear someone teach it, and it does not come if we can only convince ourselves of it. It comes the same way the faith for our salvation does... as a gift from God, given to us as we come to know Him more and more.

Then, when God shows Himself mighty on our behalf, we sometimes make a further mistake! We look at what He did from the outside in, instead of the inside out, as He does! We say, "Look! God blessed me today when I was able to buy $150 of groceries for only $60." Instead, the reality is that we ARE blessed, and therefore He made it possible to purchase the $150 of groceries that we needed for the $60 that He had given us.

See the difference?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Ambassadors in a foreign land...

Confirmation is a beautiful thing. ::heartfelt sigh::

I just got back from a Saturday women's meeting where a woman I've never met before shared. She and her husband are friends of our pastors, and they're in for the weekend. I, quite frankly, had never heard about them before this church (which is probably a good thing) and still managed to hear very little about them until today. So I went to this meeting open-minded but cautious, like I am with every other speaker I know nothing about. And during our little worship beforehand, I asked the Lord for freedom from something that still held me bound... He could choose the thing... it could even be something that I didn't know bound me!

What I got was total, total confirmation of practically everything God's been showing me for the last three years.

There have been so many times that I've wondered if I'm the only one He's showing this stuff too. All the things I've shared here about learning to trust completely... about the ever-increasing importance of learning to hear His voice and follow His lead... about the idols that we set up in place of God and what they do to us... about everything that He has for us, yet how we can't receive it unless we give all of ourselves to Him... how everything He has for us is everything that He knows we need, so we need to stop expecting it to look like what we think we need... and I got the summary of it all today.

Not Of This World. That's what she called this message, yet it could just as well have been called The Summary And Confirmation Of What God Has Been Showing Katie. Yet it is so wonderfully obvious that this IS what God has been showing me... that not only are we not of this world (John 17:16), He has made us ambassadors of His kingdom (2 Cor. 5:20). And that is, perhaps, the sweetest confirmation of the whole morning.

What is an ambassador? An ambassador is a representative of a ruling authority, and those in authority have chosen to send that person to another country. Yet, no matter how long the ambassador lives in that country, he never becomes a citizen of it. An ambassador also has the right to expect that the authority that sent him will supply his needs. He does not make his living from the country he resides in, he relies totally on those who sent him. In return, he is expected to represent the agenda, plans, and viewpoint of that government. He is not to advance his own ideas or follow his own itinerary or have his own agenda.

And that's what God says He has made us! When he chose us, we became strangers and aliens here on earth. (Eph. 2:19) We are now citizens of heaven, with both the responsibilities and the rights of that citizenship. Take finances, for example. We are not supposed to be looking to our paycheck to supply our needs, for God is obligated to provide for us, since He has made us His ambassadors!

Would you like more verses about how we are not of this world, and what it means?

Hebrews 11:13-16 - God says that because we desire a country better than the world, He is not ashamed to be called our God. (I have to say that the flip side of that is something to be dreaded... that if we are content with the world, He is ashamed to be called our God. Father, forgive us!)

John 15:19, John 17:14, and Matt. 24:9 - The world will hate us because we don't belong here. We need to understand why we have the effect that we do on others... why they often hate us when we haven't done anything. We need to stop getting offended and stop acting surprised, because if we are acting as proper ambassadors, it has nothing to do with us! Rather, the world can sense who and what we are. In reality, we've got a major problem if the world loves us!

John 16:33 - God has chosen us, and He tells us to be of good cheer and courageous when the world persecutes us, because this means our citizenship is truly with Him... and He has overcome the world! It might not look like that on the natural realm, but we must learn to look at things from God's perspective... that our time here on earth is a limited assignment we've been given, and the victory is already won in the final scheme of things.

More verses that say we are strangers and aliens: 1 Pet. 2:11, Psalm 39:12, Ephesians 2:19, and 1 Peter 1:17.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Bruised Apples...

I got this in my email inbox this morning. Perhaps you've already read it, but I wanted to share it, because it's so thought provoking.

Once, a group of salesmen went to a regional sales convention in Chicago. They had assured their wives that they would be home in plenty of time for Friday night's dinner. In their rush, with tickets and briefcases, one of these salesmen inadvertently kicked over a table which held a display of apples. Apples flew everywhere. Without stopping or looking back, they all managed to reach the plane in time for their nearly missed boarding.

All of them, that is, except one. He paused, took a deep breath, and experienced a twinge of compassion for the girl whose apple stand had been overturned.

He told his buddies to go on without him, waved good-bye, and asked one of them to call his wife and explain that he was taking a later flight. Then he returned to the terminal where the apples were all over the floor.

He was glad he did.

The 16-year-old girl was totally blind! She was softly crying, tears running down her cheeks in frustration as she helplessly groped for her spilled produce. The crowd swirled about her; no one stopping and no one caring about her plight.

The salesman knelt on the floor with her, gathered up the apples, put them back on the table, and helped organize her display. As he did this, he noticed that many of them had become battered and bruised. These he set aside in another basket.

When he finished, he pulled out his wallet and said to the girl, "Here, please take this $40 for the damage we did. Are you okay?"

She nodded through her tears.

"I hope we didn't spoil your day too badly," he added.

As the he turned to walk away, the bewildered blind girl called out to him. "Mister..."

He paused and turned to look back into those blind eyes.

"Are you Jesus?"

He stopped in mid-stride, and he wondered. Then slowly he made his way to catch the later flight with that question burning in his soul. Are you Jesus?

What about me? Do people mistake me for Jesus? That's my desire - that I can show the world who Jesus really is. And I suppose that's showing the world who the Father is, since Jesus said that's what He came to do!

As the email went on to say, this is our destiny... to be so much like Jesus that a world that is blind to His love, life & grace cannot tell the difference.

Are you Jesus?

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

New every morning...

First, to update those who follow this blog and might not know, Grandpa did accept salvation, and went home to be with the Lord on March 31st... much, much faster than the doctors thought it would happen. It was difficult, as all deaths of loved ones are, but we are trusting that God knew the way to bring Grandpa to salvation, and that this was it.

On to other things...

I'm sure that I'm not the only one having to hold back a shriek when I see gasoline prices... or food prices. Actually, I KNOW I'm not. A recent 'question of the day' for a group I'm part of asked what five things had been on people's minds. Every single last one of us mentioned finances.

The front page news doesn't seem to be saying too much about the rising cost of groceries, but everyone else is talking about it. I have no idea if the economic indicators include the cost of gasoline and groceries when they figure out if we're in a recession or not. All I know is that, recession or not, these two bills-that-aren't-bills are (combined) now higher than my mortgage is every month. Not only are we paying more for gasoline, we're also paying more for everything that requires gasoline to bring to our shelves. The falling value of the dollar is making us pay more for anything that comes from overseas, as well. It's enough to scare almost anyone.

Right now, I am extremely grateful for everything God has shown me throughout my life about trusting Him. I'm even more grateful for the more recent lessons on trusting Him for provision. He's shown me how worrying about money hampers our effectiveness for Him. He's proven His faithfullness to us over and over again. In March of last year, I felt that God had revealed to me a reason why He was allowing so many Christians to go through difficult financial times. Looking back, I have to say that that revelation was right on - for me, at least. I have grown leaps and bounds in trusting Him in these last two years.

So here's what I'm realizing this morning. What if, instead of two years of learning to trust God every week for the money to buy food and pay bills, we had instead had two more years of the plenty that we enjoyed three and four years ago? How would I be handling this?

I think that I'd be almost overwhelmed with worry right now, rather than resting in the knowledge that my God owns the cattle on a thousand hills.

Just the other day, I read Lamentations 3:22-23, which says:
"The LORD'S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness."

I'm very familiar with that verse, yet I always thought it applied to the forgiveness of sin - that every day is a fresh start.

But the other day, when I read it, I saw for the first time how it applies to God's provision, too. It doesn't matter if gas prices are higher tomorrow morning. It doesn't matter if rice is being rationed in stores, and if it's more expensive when I go to buy some tomorrow morning. It will affect me, but it's not an excuse to allow the sins of worry and fear into my life.

Why? Because God's faithfulness is new every morning, too!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

My heart is breaking...

My heart is breaking...

If this blog is worth anything, then I can't share only the wonderful moments, can I? I also have to share those moments when hope is hard to find... when I must trust God and believe that hope is there somewhere, simply because God is a God of hope.

My husband's grandpa has been given, at most, six months to live. He may be my husband's grandfather, but he's mine, too... the last one I have. I've known my husband's family since I was thirteen, and I think I met Grandpa when I was eighteen. So he's been part of my life for a long time.

It's supposed to be easier to go through things like this when you have a large network of loving family members. But the thing is, that's 30-40 times more hearts that are hurting. Truthfully, I can hardly feel my own pain... it's overwhelmed by knowing the greater pain of Grandma, Mom (my MIL is the only mother I have now) my husband and his brothers, his sister (who is my best friend), sixteen children who dearly love their great grandfather, and at least a dozen more family.

I lost my last grandfather to heart problems six years ago and my mother to cancer 2½ years ago. So this prognosis brings back some not-so-ancient memories. I know all too well what this dearly beloved family of mine will be facing in the weeks and months ahead. I know the questions that they're asking... the impossibility of imagining how life without Grandpa would be.

So I opened up my journal again this morning, to ask God how I should pray. Of course, I can pray for his healing, but it's not that simple. Grandpa is one of the very few in the family who has not accepted the gift of salvation. He knows all it, but he's always wanted to wait until later. He's beat milder forms of cancer a number of times. He's survived heart problems and been through open heart surgery. And still he waits, while the rest of us continue to pray.

And therein lies the paradox. I know that God is a God of healing. But He is a God of mercy and salvation first. He doesn't want Grandpa to die without accepting salvation any more than I do. What if this prognosis is the only thing that will convince Grandpa that he can't wait any longer? What if God heals him, and Grandpa continues to wait until death takes him suddenly in the night? What if this prognosis is, in reality, the answer to our prayers... God, in His mercy, choosing a death that will give Grandpa ample time to realize that he can wait no longer? Most people would rather slip peacefully away one night... just fall asleep and wake up in Heaven. But what if you haven't yet chosen Heaven for your destiny? All of a sudden, that peaceful death isn't quite so peaceful. As much as we don't want to lose Grandpa, we know we will someday, and we want to make sure that we're going to see him in heaven.

Does this mean that I've accepted this prognosis? That I don't have any faith for him to be healed? Not at all. I have simply acknowledged that a higher and more important issue is at stake, and that only God can be trusted to know the best way for those issues to be handled.

God has already extended Grandpa's life and given him another chance time after time again. The most recent was this past Monday night. He went in the hospital for a diagnosis, threw up some sort of drink for a test when the nurse wasn't there, breathed it in, and was in a coma and on total life support before anyone knew what had happened. All week long, we've been holding our breaths, praying that he will pull out of the coma, and quadrupling our prayers for his salvation. Every day there's been a slight improvement, and he's now looking at people in the room, obeying occasional requests, and helping the breathing machine. Hope was surging.

Then we got this news of the cancer diagnosis last night, and hope was suddenly tangled up with painful questions. Memories of what I faced and the ways my faith was challenged when Mom was fighting cancer flooded back through me. I watched with a bleeding heart as my husband started facing the same questions that I found myself asking. I thought of my best friend and knew that she, also, was now facing them.

Questioning can be healthy, but it can get dangerous if the devil's lies and deceptions are accepted as answers. No matter what happens... whether Grandpa regains full use of his body tonight and is miraculously healed of the cancer as well, or whether he dies tomorrow... whether the doctor has made a mistake and he's fine, or whether the doctor is right, yet Grandpa fights and hangs on for years... no matter what, this will affect every person in the family in one way or another, and a lot of it will have to do with the questions they ask and the answers they receive.

And that is where I can pray. I'm sure I'll pray for plenty of other things, but He gave me a prayer that I might never have thought of on my own... prayers that will be needed as so many who are dear to me face the questions that this trial will bring. I can pray against the lies and deceptions that damage people's faith and relationship, and I can pray the truth in everyone's hearts and minds. I can pray that as those questions are asked, Truth is revealed. Truth that sets the asker free... that my loved ones will grow through this, and not be harmed.

I suppose that's where the hope lies. That even though my heart is breaking, God is still here for each one of us.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

God's goodness is amazing...

Well, we're somewhat settled in our new house, and God is proving Himself faithful to us over and over again in so many ways. I haven't written during this last month of moving and unpacking, but only because there seems so much to share, and no way to start. I'm sure it'll make it all out eventually, but for the time being, I'd like to share a little something that happened about a week and a half ago.

As anyone who's ever moved knows, (and I think that means everyone,) moving entails boxes, boxes, and more boxes... and then frustration when you can't find things in those boxes! Well, this series of moves hasn't been any different. Sure, I tried to stay organized, labeling boxes and keeping a notebook of important things and which box they're in, etc. And of course, I packed boxes in order from least-needed, to most-needed, so supposedly I could get to the things I'd need first, without having to sift through the things I could do without.

The problem with this, is that this means that the things you use most often don't get packed until last minute, when you're so stressed out and distracted that you're lucky to be able to find the marker, let alone label the box correctly.

So, I've found myself in the position of knowing exactly where all of the things that I don't need are, while going weeks without being able to find things that I used every day before we moved! (Case in point, my kid's plastic drinking cups, and our iron.)

Before I continue with my little story, however, I need to take a little detour and mention another complication of moving.

Taxes.

Yes, we found ourself needing to think about tax filing, amid three changes of address and hundreds of boxes. (Yep, I forgot to think about taxes when I was packing boxes last fall.) So this means I had to deal with figuring out which address every 1099 and W-2 was being mailed to, and would it be forwarded, and where in the world did I put last year's tax return?

That last question is where my story begins.

I've done our taxes using TurboTax for the last seven years or so, and used TurboTaxOnline for the last three. Each year I e-file, and when it's accepted, I print the thing off, AND I save a PDF copy of it to my computer and a CD, along with every single digital file that had to do with the tax return. Well, by the beginning of 2006, I'd gone totally digital, meaning that every bank statement, every credit card statement, our checkbook, and everything else was saved on my computer as a PDF. I loved it, as it's soooo much easier to keep digital paperwork organized than real paperwork! So last year's tax file was quite small. Just the printed out back-up of our 1040, the W-2 and the few 1099's that were mailed, a small envelope of receipts, and a CD that held everything else.

I blithely started this year's tax return, and breezed through it until I came to the "Did you sell a house last year?" I answered yes, and came to a screeching halt. For various self-employed purposes that I won't go into, I needed to reference our tax returns for the last six years that we'd owned the house. Uh... where are those, again? I sighed and put off doing our taxes for a week. I put it off for another week. Finally I tackled it and was relieved to have found the tax returns with relative ease.

Except 2006's wasn't in there.

I searched through every folder, thinking that maybe, because it was so small, I'd stuck it in another year's folder.

Nope.

So I thought, no big deal. Sure I'll have to find it eventually, but I'll just boot up the computer (currently sitting on the floor of an unfinished basement) and pull up the digital files. I went down there, and the kids already had it started up through their login. Well, I've got the thing set up so I can still access all of my files from their side, so I clicked away and located my tax file from 2006. I double clicked on it, Adobe Acrobat opened up, and I got a little pop-up saying, "This file cannot be opened."

Uh-oh.

I tried again, just in case I had double-clicked wrong. Is that possible?

Same message.

Okay. Well, surely it had gotten backed up on one of the many backup CD's I'd made since March of last year. I took a deep breath and started digging through more boxes. I located six or seven backup CD's. Nothing.

Now I was starting to get frantic.

Then I had the idea that maybe TurboTax Online had saved a copy in my account. I logged back in and searched around, but I couldn't find anything. So I searched the help files, and sure enough, it says that it DOES save last year's return. It took me half an hour to find the link (talk about poor interface planning) and, relieved, I clicked on it.

"You have no 2006 tax file on record. Either you used a different login last year, or you did not file last year."

I started panicking again. This login is several years old! I KNOW I filed our taxes last year! Hubby would NEVER have let me forget to file for his tax refund! I searched and searched, and started to think that last year might have been a dream. No printed tax file, and no saved tax file, except one that wouldn't open. What if the one that wouldn't open wasn't finished?

I began looking for proof that I really had filed a return last year. Well, if we filed, then it should be easy to find the refund deposit in our savings account statement, right? So I went back to the computer to pull up our bank statements for March 2007.

"This file cannot be opened."

I tried another file, and another. NONE of 2006's files could be opened!

I thought about the fact that I'd encrypted them, just in case a hacker got onto my computer. Maybe that's why they won't open. Maybe if I un-encrypt them first!

They stubbornly stayed encrypted.

At this point I'm about ready to agree with my husband that computers just might, after all, be evil. I also have to leave the house and get some library books returned before they are overdue.

So I left the house, and my mind is in turmoil the whole way there and the whole way back. But finally I realized that I wasn't trusting God at all. I surrendered, turned the whole thing over to Him, and prayed, "Lord, I need that tax return, and I can't find it. You know why those files won't open. You know where that copy I printed off is. Forgive me for freaking out like this. I surrender it all to you."

I took a deep breath and peace flooded over me. Then this thought 'occurred' to me, less than a second later. Maybe the encrypted files wouldn't open because you weren't logged in on your side.

Uh... Lord, was that You?

I pulled into the garage, rushed downstairs to the computer, and waited less-than-patiently while the computer logged off of the kid's side and logged in to my side, ran it's virus-update, started up the firewall, started up Google Talk, and everything else the thing is set to do. I opened up Windows Explorer, went to those self-same files, and double-clicked.

They opened.

I sighed with relief, thanked God profusely, and made dinner. And after dinner, I went to get some paper out of a folder somewhere and found the printed off copies.

Do you ever shake your head at yourself and wonder when you'll ever learn?

Later that night, I was telling my husband all this (attempting to vindicate computers in his eyes) and, in order to avoid an argument, I changed the subject. I asked him how often he thought God is just waiting for us to quit freaking out and surrender the situation to Him. I don't remember which of us mentioned my iron that I'd been searching for since we moved in, but I agreed and said that I supposed I should ask God where my iron was.

I paused for a moment, and the words came out of my mouth, "Maybe it's in the box with my serger."

Need I say that that's where I found it when I got home?


Sometimes it amazes me how patient God is. He's shown me numerous times through my life that He's always there for me, yet so often I still totally forget Him. I get all worked up about a situation and either forget or refuse to turn it over to Him and trust Him. If He were me, He'd be tempted to teach me a lesson and say, "I've told you to come to me numerous times, and you refuse to do it. You can do it on your own this time, and maybe next time you'll remember!" But no, He didn't. In both cases, He didn't even wait a full minute to tell me how to open my tax files, and to tell me where my iron was. Granted, I still haven't found the plastic cups, but since I've got three that didn't make it into the missing box, my glasses are still safe. I just have more room in my cupboards! (Which really isn't a bad thing, after all.)

God's goodness is amazing...

Friday, February 01, 2008

Hope is calling again...

Sunday, the pastor led us to the first verse for his message. I went to the top of the chapter to see the context... and the whole chapter leaped off the page, feeding my spirit with comfort and hope. I've been trying all week long to get a good Internet connection long enough to post this... so now that I have, I'd love to know which verse(s) in this chapter speak to you.

This is what David wrote when his circumstances were beyond terrible. He had seen great things in his past - and among them was killing Goliath of Gath, the champion of the Philistine army. Yet at this point in his life, Israel is so against him that the only place left to flee to is Gath, pretending to be insane so the king wouldn't kill him!

And this is for any of us who, like David, choose to take our eyes off our circumstances, remember God's lovingkindness and faithfulness, and trust the One who holds our past, present, and future in the palm of His hand.

Psalm 34:

I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul will make its boast in the Lord;
The humble will exalt His name together.

I sought the Lord, and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces will never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
And saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him,
And rescues them.

O taste and see that the Lord is good;
How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
O fear the Lord, you His saints;
For to those who fear Him there is no want.
The young lions do lack and suffer hunger;
But they who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing.

Come, you children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Who is the man who desires life
And loves length of days that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil
And your lips from speaking deceit.
Depart from evil and do good;
Seek peace and pursue it.

The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
And His ears are open to their cry.
The face of the Lord is against evildoers,
To cut off the memory of them from the earth.
The righteous cry, and the Lord hears
And delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the Lord delivers him out of them all.
He keeps all his bones,
Not one of them is broken.
Evil shall slay the wicked,
And those who hate the righteous will be held guilty.
The Lord redeems the soul of His servants,
And none of those who take refuge in Him will be held guilty.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Holding on...

How many of you are holding on to something that God has shown you, or promised you? I'm guessing that many of you are... which means you know some of where we're at right now. Yes, we're here in Ohio, but God hasn't given us a house yet. I must be totally honest and say that, financially, Ohio has fallen short of our expectations... specifically in my husband's job. They weren't exactly telling him the total truth when they offered him the job here.

So we've found ourselves struggling to keep from slipping down the avalanche of doubt... clinging with all we're worth to what feels like a small ledge on the mountain... reminding ourselves that God knew exactly what the job would be like up here, and He does have a plan to provide for our needs, and can't lie. He has not failed us yet... not in the smallest particle. He just hasn't seen fit to show us how He will provide next month, or the month after.

So what do you do when your expectations fall through?

Do you blame God? I know many people do, but I honestly don't see the point in doing that. Who am I to think I have the right to tell Him what He should and shouldn't do? I'm human; He's God. I have a partial memory of my past, a limited knowledge of my present, and only hopes for my future; while He's got better than 20/20 vision on all three, for every human who ever has and ever will walk the earth. It makes sooo much more sense to trust Him...

But can you trust Him when your expectations fall through? That is sometimes more difficult, although it shouldn't be. Either you trust Him and are willing to submit to His will, or you don't and you fight Him your whole life long. Either He knows your future as well as your past and loves you and wants the best for you despite that past, or... well, there is no “or” because He does, even when our free will gets in the way and we jump down that avalanche of doubt. Even then, He's there waiting for us to “lift our eyes to the mountains, where our help comes from.” (Psalm 121:1) Me... I'd rather keep holding on and trust that His hands are also surrounding me, even when I can't see them.

He doesn't seem to mind when we ask for a little sign of some sort just to give us a glimpse of those hands, either. Want to hear a story?

My husband works outside, and Monday was another difficult day with little work. Early afternoon came, and with it came a gentle snowfall... which isn't good. He can't finish a job when there's any type of precipitation. It interferes with the urethane and literally makes doing the job impossible. So he prayed: Lord, I really need this job, and I can't do it in this snow. Can you please stop it just long enough for me to do what I need to do?

Moments later, the snow stopped... for the five minutes he needed to finish the critical part.

He called me up, excited. “Guess what God did!”

I listened, grinning madly. “Well, obviously, God put his hand out over you to hold the snow back over your job for you.”

“Yeah,” he said, “but when I finished, it didn't just start snowing gently again, it was dumping.”

“Of course!” I answered. “The snow that He held back had to come down still. It was catching up! Just remember this next time you're tempted to doubt that God cares about little or big things.”

He was quiet for a few seconds. “Yeah, I guess you're right.”

But I've been holding onto that this week, too... just another reminder that God IS in control, and He IS looking out for us, and He DOES love us. That little – or not-so-little – gift He gave us has made it so much easier to trust.

And you know... that ledge we're holding onto isn't all that small after all. Not when it's really the Rock of Ages.
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