Wednesday, December 15, 2010

From Self-Centered to God-Centered



Finally, Saul the son of Kish was chosen. 
But when they looked for him, he was nowhere to be found.
The people prayed, "Our LORD, is Saul here?"
 "Yes," the LORD answered, "he is hiding behind the baggage." 

1 Samuel 10:21-22 cev


But some scoundrels said, 
“How can this fellow save us?” 
They despised him and brought him no gifts. 
But Saul kept silent. 

1 Samuel 10:27 niv


"Self-consciousness constitutes the opposite of God-consciousness.
Rather thank gratefully rejoicing in the privilege 
God was freely extending to him,
Saul's concern ran to himself
and what others would think of him."

-- Beth Moore from the study "David"



This stuff of self
pulls and drags
holding me down,
miring me in the muddiness of this world. 

Pleasing people
is an endless rat-race,
running on an endless wheel
that exhausts and does not fulfill.

Living up to the pictures in my head
is impossible and so defeating. 
I cannot do it.

Focusing on self
brings death.

What is the remedy?
What brings life and peace?




"You can't worship two gods at once. 
Loving one god, you'll end up hating the other. 
Adoration of one feeds contempt for the other. 
You can't worship God and Money both.
If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, 
it follows that you don't fuss about what's on the table at mealtimes 
or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. 
There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, 
more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. 
Look at the birds, free and unfettered, 
not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. 
And you count far more to him than birds. 

What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, 
to not be so preoccupied with getting
so you can respond to God's giving. 
People who don't know God and the way he works 
fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. 

Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. 
Don't worry about missing out. 
You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, 
and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. 
God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes"

Matthew 6:25-26, 31-34 msg

Monday, December 13, 2010

Passionate Patience



There's more to come: 
We continue to shout our praise 
even when we're hemmed in with troubles, 
because we know how troubles can develop 
passionate patience 
in us, and how that patience in turn 
forges the tempered steel of virtue, 
keeping us alert for whatever God will do next
In alert expectancy such as this, 
we're never left feeling shortchanged. 
Quite the contrary—
we can't round up enough containers 
to hold everything God generously pours 
into our lives through the Holy Spirit! 

Romans 5:3-5 msg




O how I wish I could say 
those Words above are mine.

Patience is not my first choice,
especially in the midst of chaos,
when my tension is rising,
things need to get done,
and kids need to be kept on track.

I feel the pull down
into the whirl of it all
and far too often I lash out.

My discomfort 
becomes all I see.

Oh Lord,
You are right there
waiting for me to come to You,
to wait on You. 

If I choose patience
You will build endurance
and that endurance grows into character.

Please help me to choose to 
hold my tongue and wait.

Help me to choose patience.




But that's not all! We gladly suffer, because
we know that suffering helps us to endure. 
And endurance builds character, 
which gives us a hope that will never disappoint us. 
All of this happens because 
God has given us the Holy Spirit, 
who fills our hearts with his love.

Romans 5:3-5 cev

I asked the LORD for help,
   and he saved me
   from all my fears.
    Keep your eyes on the LORD!
   You will shine like the sun
   and never blush with shame.
   I was a nobody, but I prayed,
   and the LORD saved me
   from all my troubles.
   If you honor the LORD,
   his angel will protect you. 

Psalm 34:4-7 cev


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I Have Nothing



One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. 
When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, 
"Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples."  
He said to them, "When you pray, say: 
" 'Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. 
 Give us each day our daily bread.  
Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. 
And lead us not into temptation. ' " 
 Then he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, 
and he goes to him at midnight and says, '
Friend, lend me three loaves of bread,  
because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and 

I have nothing to set before him.'  

"Then the one inside answers, 'Don't bother me. 
The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. 
I can't get up and give you anything.' 
  I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread 
because he is his friend, yet because of the man's boldness 
he will get up and give him as much as he needs. 
 "So I say to you:  

Ask 

and it will be given to you; 

seek 

and you will find;

knock 

and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks receives; 
he who seeks finds; 
and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
 
"Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, 
will give him a snake instead?
Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?
If you then, though you are evil, 
know how to give good gifts to your children, 
how much more will your Father in heaven 
give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

Luke 11:1-13 niv




 I was reading the verses above 
this morning.

As usual, floating around in my head
are the concerns I often 
think about.

Mothering is a huge task.
  
As I read the verses above,
these words jumped off the page:

"I have nothing!"

 I want my kids to speak to each other in love. 

I want peace to fill my home.

I want my kids to hunger for God and 
live their lives in His power and strength. 

I want to produce Spirit fruit in my life.

I have nothing
that will cause any of this to happen.

Over and over in His Word 
God tells us to come to Him.

He knows I have nothing.

He wants to give me
everything I need.

I simply have to come to Him.




We have a great high priest, who has gone into heaven, 
and he is Jesus the Son of God. 
That is why we must hold on 
to what we have said about him. 
Jesus understands every weakness of ours, 
because he was tempted in every way that we are. 
But he did not sin! 
So whenever we are in need, 
we should come bravely before the throne of our merciful God. 
There we will be treated with undeserved kindness, 
and we will find help. 

Hebrews 4:14-16 cev 


We have a great high priest who is in charge of God's house. 
So let's come near God with pure hearts 
and a confidence that comes from having faith. 
Let's keep our hearts pure, 
our consciences free from evil, 
and our bodies washed with clean water.  
 We must hold tightly to the hope that we say is ours. 
After all, we can trust the one who made the agreement with us. 

Hebrews 10:21-23 cev 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Exactly as He Said



He said, "Don't be afraid. 
I know you're looking for Jesus the Nazarene, 
the One they nailed on the cross. 
He's been raised up; He's here no longer. 
You can see for yourselves that the place is empty. 
Now—on your way. 
Tell His disciples and Peter that He is going on ahead of you to Galilee. 
You'll see Him there, exactly as He said.

Mark 16:6-7 msg




Bewildered,
they were completely shocked
that You weren't there.

You had already told them
what to expect.

You told them You would be killed,
You would be dead for a little while,
but that You would come back.

You told them You would meet them in Galilee.

You did exactly as You said.

Thank You, Lord, that I can trust You and Your Word.

Thank You that You do exactly as You say You will do. 

Help me to hear Your voice.
Give me a heart that seeks You,
listens to You 
and believes what You say.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Keep Choosing Life and Peace




My dear friends, we must not live to satisfy our desires.  
If you do, you will die. 
But you will live, if by the help of God's Spirit 
you say "No" to your desires
Only those people who are led by God's Spirit are his children. 

Romans 8:12-14 cev

It's voice is always there
telling me how to feel
telling me to look out for myself
telling me to make myself comfortable,
"I deserve to take a break...."
"Why do I have to do it all?"
"What about me?"

Listening to my old self
leads me down a dark road
lined with false promises of comfort
and happiness and relaxation.

But that road leads to shame

and death.

Having feasted on the flesh
I stand covered in carnage.
Hanging my head
filled with despair 
"What have I done?"

Will I ever end this love of myself?


People who are ruled by their desires think only of themselves. 
Everyone who is ruled by the Holy Spirit thinks about spiritual things. 
If our minds are ruled by our desires, we will die. 
But if our minds are ruled by the Spirit, we will have life and peace. 

Romans 8:5-6 cev

I have a choice.

I do not have to do what my feelings tell me to do.

I have the power in me;
not my power, but the power that raised Christ from the dead —
the Holy Spirit —
to turn and do what He wants me to do.

Then I will be filled with life and peace,
instead of death and chaos. 

This is what the Lord says—
      your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
   “I am the Lord your God,
      who teaches you what is good for you
      and leads you along the paths you should follow.
 18 Oh, that you had listened to my commands!
      Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river
      and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea.

Isaiah 46:17-18 nlt



Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, 
“I am the light of the world. 
If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, 
because you will have the light that leads to life."
 
John 8:12 nlt

Friday, November 26, 2010

Deciding How to Live



When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway,
deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw
he couldn't do but on what God said He would do.

Romans 4:18 msg


Abraham was certain that God could do
what He had promised.

Romans 4:21 cev


There has never been the slightest doubt
in my mind that the God who started
this great work in you
would keep at it and bring it to 
a flourishing finish on the very day
Christ Jesus appears. 

Philippians 1:6 msg


No, we neither make nor save ourselves.
God does both the making and saving.
He creates each of us by Christ Jesus
to join Him in the work He does,
the good work He has gotten ready for us to do,
work we had better be doing.

Ephesians 2:10 msg




It comes so easy:
the despair
the overwhelmed feeling
the dullness. 

Looking down,
looking around,
looking within,
all is lacking.

It is so easy to see.

What is not seen is real.
It is solid,
it is what I can depend on.

I must decide how I will live,
each day,
each moment.

I am not the source,
You are.
You created me.
You saved me.
You gave me work to do.
You do the work in me
and through me.

Only You can make
something out of nothing,
speak life into death.

So I decide to look up,
to trust,
to believe.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Just as I am, He loves me



Peter blurted out, "Even if everyone else is ashamed of you 
when things fall to pieces, I won't be."
 Jesus said, "Don't be so sure. Today, this very night in fact, 
before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times."
 He blustered in protest, "Even if I have to die with you, 
I will never deny you." All the others said the same thing. 

He came back and found them sound asleep. 
He said to Peter, "Simon, you went to sleep on me?
Can't you stick it out with me a single hour? 
Stay alert, be in prayer, so you don't enter 
the danger zone without even knowing it. 
Don't be naive. Part of you is eager, 
ready for anything in God; 
but another part is as lazy as an old dog 
sleeping by the fire." 


Now Peter got really nervous and swore, 
"I never laid eyes on this man you're talking about." 
Just then the rooster crowed a second time. 
Peter remembered how Jesus had said, 
"Before a rooster crows twice, you'll deny me three times." 
He collapsed in tears.  

Mark 14:29-30, 37-38, 71-72 msg




I know so well that eager desire, 
jumping in, signing up, ready to be and do
all that God wants me to.

I think I am so much more than I am.

Just like Peter, sometimes.

Yes, Lord! I'll give my life for You!

I'll do it!

I'll go!

Here am I, send me!

My heart leaps in excited joy,
thinking of all that I will do for Him.

But then, reality hits. 

There in the shadows, around the warming fire,
I am questioned, 
the time has come to show my allegiance.

Shaking and quaking, I back away.
I am unable. 

Humbly I see how unwilling I truly am.

I seek comfort.

I desire the warmth of His presence,
forgetting that it is not always felt. 
But it is always there. 




Trust God, my friends,
and always tell him
each one of your concerns.
God is our place of safety.
We humans are only a breath;
none of us are truly great.
All of us together weigh less
than a puff of air.
Don't trust in violence
or depend on dishonesty
or rely on great wealth.
I heard God say two things:
"I am powerful,
and I am very kind."
The Lord rewards each of us
according to what we do. 

Psalm 62:8-12 cev

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Embracing This God-Life



Jesus was matter-of-fact: "Embrace this God-life.
Really embrace it, and nothing will be too much for you."
"That's why I urge you to pray for absolutely everything,
ranging from small to large. 
Include everything as you embrace this God-life,
and you'll get God's everything. 
And when you assume the posture of prayer,
remember that it's not all asking.
If you have anything against someone,
forgive — only then will your heavenly Father
be inclined to also wipe your slate clean of sins."

Mark 11:22, 24-25 msg

Faith grows when I embrace You.

Circumstances loom so large
jumping in my face
my sight is so limited
when I see only when is in front of me.

I was created for risk.
Safety comes from following You,
not shrinking back,
hiding in a box. 

"Bring it all to Me.
Every single, little bit."

Looking around 
I want so much to point fingers
to compare
to blame.

"Forgive them," You whisper.
"Forgive, and you will be forgiven."

I am not the judge.
Do I know what is deep inside?

Planks block my view.
Take my hand
let's go together
to the only One who can 
make things as they were meant to be. 


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Help My Unbelief



And Jesus said, [You say to Me], 
If You can do anything?

[Why,] all things can be (are possible) to him who believes!

  At once the father of the boy gave 
[an eager, piercing, inarticulate] 
cry with tears, and he said, Lord, I believe! 

[Constantly] help my weakness of faith!

Mark 9:23-24 msg


Oh how strong my faith seems
as I sit in the quiet
alone with You.

My faith may seem to tower
as I type out what 
You have whispered to my soul
from Your Word.

Standing in worship
surrounded by fellow believers
it is so easy to sing out 
my trust in You.

But as the day wears on,
and the tests and trials come 
my responses reveal what I 
truly believe deep down in my heart.

Worries whirl in my head
as I lay in the darkness.

Complaints spill from my lips
when things don't go 
the way I want them to.

Fear creeps in
taunting me,
calling me to follow.

Humbly I join that father
on his knees before You.

I do believe.
Please, help my unbelief. 




Dear God, my Master, 
You created earth and sky
by Your great power —
by merely stretching out Your arm!
There is nothing You can't do.

Jeremiah 32:17 msg

Monday, November 8, 2010

True Rest



 The apostles then rendezvoused with Jesus 
and reported on all that they had done and taught. 
Jesus said, "Come off by yourselves; 
let's take a break and get a little rest." 
For there was constant coming and going. 
They didn't even have time to eat. 

 So they got in the boat and went off 
to a remote place by themselves. 
Someone saw them going and the word got around. 
From the surrounding towns people went out on foot, 
running, and got there ahead of them. 
When Jesus arrived, he saw this huge crowd. 
At the sight of them, his heart broke—l
ike sheep with no shepherd they were. 
He went right to work teaching them. 

When his disciples thought this had gone on long enough—
it was now quite late in the day—they interrupted: 
"We are a long way out in the country, and it's very late. 
Pronounce a benediction and 
send these folks off so they can get some supper."
Jesus said, "You do it. Fix supper for them."
   They replied, "Are you serious? 
You want us to go spend a fortune on food for their supper?"
But he was quite serious.
 
Mark 6:30-38a msg 



It all just seems too much
this clambering crowd—
their endless needs,
always one more thing to do,
one more meal to make,
one more mess to clean up.

I need my time.

I deserve it.

When I want it.

How I think it should look.

Right?

I work hard.

I'm with them all day long.

I should be rewarded.

Right?

Where do I find the strength to do one more thing?




And taking the five loaves and two fish, 
He looked up to heaven and, praising God, gave thanks 
and broke the loaves and kept on giving them to the disciples 
to set before the people; 
and He [also] divided the two fish among [them] all.

   And they all ate and were satisfied.

Mark 6:41-42 amp 


"Bring what you have to Me."

That is what I hear You whisper 
to my heart. 

Look up to heaven,
praise Me,
give thanks for what you have been given. 
I can provide all you need.

Let me lead.


Then he told them what they could expect for themselves: 
"Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. 
You're not in the driver's seat—I am. 
Don't run from suffering; embrace it. 
Follow me and I'll show you how. 
Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, 
my way, to finding yourself, your true self. 
What good would it do to get everything you want 
and lose you, the real you?

Luke 9:23-25 msg

Friday, November 5, 2010

His Touch • Mark 5



To a man filled with screaming demons
You stop and ask his name.

Once he was free 
You told him to go to his 
home and family and tell them
about Your mercy and all You had done.

To a woman who had been unclean
for so long, who had dared to touch Your robe,
You did not let her slink away.
You sought her out, acknowledging her faith,
urging her to step out into health and freedom.

To the suffering man, who was just told 
his daughter had died,
You calmly told him to ignore the crowd and to trust You.
Gently, You led him to her
as you raised her up into new life.

Chaos becomes Calm

Hopeless becomes Hope Full

Unclean becomes Clean

Dead becomes Alive

At the touch of Your hand.




Jesus asked him, "Tell me your name."    
He replied, "My name is Mob. I'm a rioting mob."

They came up to Jesus and saw 
the madman sitting there wearing decent clothes 
and making sense, no longer a walking madhouse of a man. 

Jesus said, "Go home to your own people. 
Tell them your story—what the Master did, 
how he had mercy on you."




She slipped in from behind and touched his robe. 
She was thinking to herself, 
"If I can put a finger on his robe, I can get well." 
The moment she did it, the flow of blood dried up. 
She could feel the change and 
knew her plague was over and done with. 

Jesus said to her, "Daughter, you took a risk of faith,
and now you're healed and whole. 
Live well, live blessed! Be healed of your plague." 




While he was still talking, 
some people came from the leader's house and told him, 
"Your daughter is dead. Why bother the Teacher any more?"
Jesus overheard what they were talking about 
and said to the leader, "Don't listen to them; just trust me." 

He clasped the girl's hand and said, 
"Talitha koum," which means, 
"Little girl, get up." 
At that, she was up and walking around!

Excerpts from Mark 5 in The Message



Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Seed — The Word



"And those sown on the good (well-adapted) soil
are the ones who hear the Word and 
receive and accept and welcome it and bear fruit --
some thirty times as much as was sown,
some sixty times as much,
and some [even] a hundred times as much."

Mark 4:20 amp




And He said to them, "Be careful what you are hearing.
The measure [of thought and study] 
you give [to the truth you hear] 
will be the measure [of virtue and knowledge]
that comes back to you -- and more [besides]
will be given to you who hear.
For to him who has will more be given;
and from him who has nothing,
even what he has will be taken away [by force].

Mark 4:24-25 amp




Your Word is Life

Your Word is Truth

Your Word brings Light
and understanding.

It nourishes me,
making my life produce
life-giving fruit.

Cultivate the soil of my heart,
remove the weeds,
shoo away the distractions,
till up the hard places.

Make me ready and receptive
to Your Word.

Please give me ears that hear,
a heart and mind that
receives, accepts and welcomes
Your Word.

"I know I'm filled to be emptied again,
The seed I receive I will sow."



Then He added, 
"Pay close attention to what you hear.
The closer you listen, 
the more understanding you will be given —
and you will receive even more.
To those who listen to my teaching,  
more understanding will be given.
But for those who are not listening, 
even what little understanding 
they have will be taken away from them."

Mark 4:24-25 nlt

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Teaching the Crowd



Once again, Jesus went 
to the shore of Lake Galilee.
A large crowd gathered around him, 
and he taught them.

Mark 2:13 cev 




As I read Mark 2 today
the verses above seemed to tug
at me more than any other.

"Father, what do you want me to 
learn from these verses?"
I asked in my heart.

"Feed my sheep."

It popped into my brain
as clear as day.

I can relate to wanting to take a quiet walk by the lake
and being followed around by a crowd.

What do I teach them?
How do I teach them?




Write these commandments that I've given 
you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you 
and then get them inside your children. 
Talk about them wherever you are, 
sitting at home or walking in the street; 
talk about them from the time you get up in the morning 
to when you fall into bed at night. 
Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; 
inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 msg



Father, I am so humbled by this responsibility 
I have been given. I confess that I have not 
been as purposeful as I could be about 
teaching my kids about You.

Please fill me up with You,
so that I have Words of Life to give them.

Please teach me how to teach them.
I want it to be so natural that You 
are part of our daily, every day conversations. 

This is part of my dream,
to have my kids know You, love You and follow You
with their whole hearts and lives.

This is my heart's desire.

Trust the LORD and live right!
   The land will be yours,
   and you will be safe.
    Do what the LORD wants,
   and he will give you
   your heart's desire.
   Let the LORD lead you
   and trust him to help.
   Then it will be as clear
   as the noonday sun
   that you were right.
  Be patient and trust the LORD. 

Psalm 37:3-7 cev

Friday, October 29, 2010

Psalm 62



Only God can save me,
   and I calmly wait for him.  
 God alone is the mighty rock 
that keeps me safe
   and the fortress
   where I am secure. 

    I feel like a shaky fence
   or a sagging wall.
   How long will all of you
   attack and assault me?
   You want to bring me down
   from my place of honor.
   You love to tell lies,
   and when your words are kind,
   hatred hides in your heart. 

  Only God gives inward peace,
   and I depend on him.
  God alone is the mighty rock
   that keeps me safe,
   and he is the fortress
   where I feel secure.
   God saves me and honors me.
   He is that mighty rock
   where I find safety. 

 Trust God, my friends,
   and always tell him
   each one of your concerns.
   God is our place of safety. 

    We humans are only a breath;
   none of us are truly great.
   All of us together weigh less
   than a puff of air.
   Don't trust in violence
   or depend on dishonesty
   or rely on great wealth.

  I heard God say two things:
   "I am powerful,
 and I am very kind."
   The Lord rewards each of us
   according to what we do. 

Psalm 62 cev