Thursday, September 1, 2016

Singing my Song

"The LORD is my strength and my song;
He has become my salvation"
Psalm 118:14

You, Lord, are my strength:  my power, might, boldness, my firm foundation.

And my song:Forgive my lack of musical knowledge, but I would like to break down at least some of the structure of a song!)

Title:  I carry Your name, I'm made in Your image!!  With Your name, Father, I can declare You to others.
Lyrics:  You are The Word.  You give me words to speak Your truth.
Overture:  You are my beginning (my Alpha!) You are my climb, You heighten my anticipation in life.
Melody:  You are the principle part of my life, You make my life to be filled with beauty.
Harmony:  You not only lead, but you work with me and make me sound good.
Tempo:  You alone decide the timing, Your are the beat, the rhythm of my life.
Chorus/refrain:  You give me structure and are willing to continue to patiently repeat so that I can learn.
Dynamics:  You, Lord, give me a higher level of dynamics and activity.  You lead me to times of being "fortissimo" - strong and loud and yet You also bring me to times of "pianissimo", being soft, quiet, and gentle.  
Verse:  You are the details of my life, my story, my image, my emotions, and my support  You give me insight (You ARE my insight!) and move my story forward.   
Bridge:  You are my connection and build me up.  You give me a new harmonic pattern, You give me contrast and transition, freshness, and new life!
Rest:  You lead me beside still waters and give me rest.
Pitch:  You keep me in tune.
Treble Clef:  You take me to to high mountain tops to meet with You, and give my life joy!
Bass Clef:  You plunge me to the depths of Your love and wisdom and give me strength.
Keys:  You are my most significant chord, my Triad and tonal center.  You are my major notes and also my minor notes to balance out my melody.  
Coda:  You are not only my beginning but you are my end (my Omega!) You expand me.

You have become my salvation:  You are my deliverance, my prosperity, my success, my victory!!

Help me, Father, to sing my song well! 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

"Have You Considered..."



  " Have you considered My servant Job?  No one else on earth is like him, a man of perfect integrity, who fears God and turns away from evil." (Job 1:8)

As I read the story of Job again, I began to ask the age-old question of  why God brought Job to Satan's attention.  Why did He??   Satan had been busy roaming about the earth and enters into God's presence when God asks Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job?"  Where was God's protection when he bragged on Job before Satan?   It looks as if God is setting Job up for an attack, so how is God guarding his favored servant, Job, in that?

So I began digging a little. 

 The Bible gives us a little background information on Job before his suffering begins.  It tells us that he is a man of perfect integrity, a man who feared God and turned away from evil.  Job was a family man, a father that showed love and care for his children by offering burnt offerings for them. He was a man of wealth and influence.  In fact, the Bible says "Job was the greatest man among all the people of the east."  I looked up the meaning of "the greatest man" and it can mean that he was the oldest man but it can also mean that he was a man of importance, distinguished, influential.  He was the man who had the greatest influence of all the people in his society! 

 Job's name means "hatred".  I think what Job hated most of all was evil!  God pointed out to Satan in Job 1:8 that he was a man that "turns away from evil".  So, again, I used my handy dandy app and looked up "turns away from evil"  and one definition for cuwr (turns away from) is "to abolish".   So, here's what I think.... Job  was not only a good man who feared God, he was a man who was claiming territory for God.  A father using his influence to claim territory for God at least in the mountain of family - and probably in other mountains as well.  He was abolishing evil!!   He already had Satan's attention.

When God asked Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job?"  He was bragging on Job, delighting in who Job was.  He loved Job deeply!  In God's omniscience, he knew the answer to the  question he posed to Satan was yes!   Yes, Satan HAD considered Job. In fact, Satan immediately responds with information he already knows about Job.  He knew that there was a hedge of protection against Job; how would he know that unless he had already tried attacking him?   I think in essence God was saying, "I KNOW you have considered my servant Job, let's deal with this once and for all."  I think God was calling Satan out on his attempts to take Job out!  

After this, God allowed Satan to attack Job, but put limits in place for Job's protection.  Job was already a man of influence, but God allowed Satan to attack, allowed  the pain and suffering because he wanted to increase his influence even further.  God had a plan for Job's good!  (Romans 8:28).  In fact, the end of the story tells us that the Lord blessed the last part of Job's life more than the first.  He died old, and "full of days" (Job 42:17)  He experienced abundant life, seeing not only his children, but their children to the fourth generation!  

Basically, Job was under hardship not because he had done something wrong, but because he had done something right.  He was living life well, conquering evil. It was hard for Job to see purpose during the hardships, but eventually he was rewarded for his faithfulness.

Next time you feel under attack, consider the possibility that your influence (and blessings!) may be straight ahead!   

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

30!



Did you know that in the Bible 30 is a significant number?  It often symbolizes the beginning of a ministry and God's redemption.  It is the age of maturity, a time that you are ripe for leadership.  Here are a few examples of  30 being used that I found by searching the Bible at biblegateway.com:

•Jesus started His ministry at about the age of 30. (Luke 3:23)
• Elizabeth was 6 months pregnant when the angel came to Mary, so, John the Baptist was about 6 months older than Jesus.   Since Jesus started his ministry at 30, John was probably right at 30 when he came out of the wilderness to prepare the way for Jesus. (Luke 1:36)
• Joseph was 30 years old when he became second in command to Pharaoh in Egypt. (Genesis 41:46)
•Priests did not enter into service until age 30 (Numbers 4:1-3)
• David became King over all of Israel at the age of 30 (2 Samuel 5:4)
•Ezekiel was 30 when the windows of heaven were thrown open and he saw visions of God and began his ministry as a prophet. (Ezekiel 1:1)

It's interesting to me that Joseph was so mistreated right up to the age of 30.
He was sold into slavery by his brothers, falsely accused of rape and thrown into prison. There had to be days he was pretty discouraged and wondering where God was.  His life had been confusing, hard. He was in prison one day and suddenly remembered by a fellow prisoner who commended him to Pharaoh.  The next day Joseph is second in command in Egypt. Instant transformation!

David was anointed king by Samuel at a young age (some believe as young as 8 to 12 years old at his first anointing.) but spent a lot of years waiting to sit on the throne.  He earned Saul's jealousy by simply trusting God.  He faced Saul's rage while working in the king's service and finally had to run and live life as a fugitive before becoming king. He faced many hardships and trials before his coronation.

It is compelling that these men and  others had such a big change in their lives at the age of 30. One minute discouraged, feeling beat down and wondering if anything good could come from their lives then suddenly, in an instant, God steps in with power and authority and completely changes their direction giving them favor, blessing, and power.

Today, my husband and I are celebrating our 30th anniversary.  We've been through some tough times but many more incredible times in our journey as husband and wife.  We've been richly blessed with five remarkable  children and an awesome daughter-in-law.  Together we have watched God work miracle after miracle in our lives.  Yet, we've spent the last few months in a season of uncertainty wondering what will come next in our adventures.  Today I was reminded of the importance of  the number thirty.  I don't know what things lay before us in our 30th year, but I'm convinced they will be incredible!  I'm hoping for that instant transformation, looking for that role of leadership or change of direction.  What will happen?  Only God knows, but I can say with certainty that I'm blessed to be able to face this coming year with Mark!  I love you, Mark Alan.  Happy 30th!!!




Wednesday, June 1, 2016

God is....Immanent & Active!



I am so thankful that God is at hand actively working  through even the small, minor details of my life.  He is interested in even the trivial, nitty-gritty details that bore others - down to knowing the number of hairs on my head.  He doesn't just sit back on His throne twiddling His thumbs, observing. He is present and actively participating.  There is absolutely no place or situation that is beyond the reach of His  protecting, helping hand!  

Jeremiah 23:23-24The Voice (VOICE)

Am I only a God who is close by, and not a God of the farthest reaches?  Am I a God anyone can hide from? Do I not see what happens in secret? Am I not everywhere, filling heaven and earth?


Sunday, May 22, 2016

God is Love


Sunday morning as I taught the beautiful story of redemption pictured in Ruth's life, the essential doctrine in our Sunday School lesson was "GOD IS LOVE".  The curriculum,which is geared toward high school students, had a short paragraph on that doctrine concerning God being the essence of love.   So I asked God "how can I say this in a way my 6th grade girls can understand?"  and this was the answer:  "God is NOT a picture of love; love is a picture of God!"  God can't be limited He is the immeasurable "I AM" and therefore isn't defined by the interpretation of any concept - He is not a picture of love - He is love!   

I John 4:7-10
My loved ones, let us devote ourselves to loving one another. Love comes straight from God, and everyone who loves is born of God and truly knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
 Because of this, the love of God is a reality among us: God sent His only Son into the world so that we could find true life through Him.  This is the embodiment of true love: not that we have loved God first, but that He loved us and sent His unique Son on a special mission to become an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

So You're a Pastor's Wife

My sister asked me to be a guest on her blog "So You're a Pastor's Wife".  The purpose of this GREAT blog is to encourage and support pastor's wives.  You can read my post here.   I highly encourage you to check out the site especially if you are a wife to or are someone on staff at a church!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

One Year


What a difference a year makes! Only 8,760 hours.  This last year has felt more like a lifetime to me. A lifetime of learning and growing.

Exactly one year ago today, one of the hardest days of my life, I was headed to the hospital to have treatment for thyroid cancer.  I would need to be in isolation for 3 days.  I could only have 15 - 30 total minutes of contact a day.  So, the nurses bringing in my food and checking me with a Geiger counter (not kidding...) a few minutes each day would be all of the contact I had.  As we began to prepare for the isolation, Mark, (my husband) and I got the phone call that my big brother, Bob, - one of my heroes - had died, and I couldn't leave, but Mark had to go.  It was miserable but I was NEVER alone! I needed a hug but I knew that God was with me.  It was a hard time, a very hard time, but I'm not telling you this for your sympathy, I want to tell  the "why" of it all.

When I got out of the hospital I began counting how many people had been praying for me - I've forgotten the numbers but it was hundreds - some even out of the country - many I didn't know.  One gentleman I didn't know who worked at the hospital was even stopping to pray at my door each day as he passed by while working.  So humbling.  Unbeknownst to me, God was beginning a work in me that day.   I missed my big brother and family, I was sick and lonely, BUT GOD. . .

God began to teach me through my pain and grief.  He began to show me a strength that I never knew I had:  a strength and ability to lean in on Him for comfort, for encouragement, for my every need.   I began to see how small my trust in Him had actually been.  He began to gently lead me to deeper levels of trust and healing. Even though I knew some of these truths and had been taught them all of my life, I didn't really KNOW them.  God showed me He was big enough to hear me cry out to Him, "You hurt me!" without being disappointed in me or turning from me.  He showed me that He understood and wasn't leaving or changing.

God began to show me that He wanted me to begin asking bigger questions.  Rather than always asking "why?" He wanted me to begin asking "what do you want me to learn through this?", "how do you want me to respond in this situation?", "where were you, who are You to me during this season?" and "Where do I go from here?".  He has used this year - my time of having absolutely no energy - to give me opportunity to draw near to Him, to begin to know Him, to be still, to listen, to grow and to rest.  God didn't shy away from my questions, in fact I believe he delighted in them and rejoiced to be able to answer some of them for me.

I was taught that I had a choice.  I could either look at my problems and feel sorry for myself and seek sympathy or I could look at the size of my problem as being the measure of how big of an opportunity it is for God to work miracles and bring changes.  I learned that I have a voice and that I'm not invisible.  That my voice and my story need to be heard.  I know that other people have been through so much more, and even still my story of how God worked in my life can be an encouragement to others.  I can now do as others did for me.  I can say THIS is what God did for me THIS is what God taught me during this time of pain.  I can tell you that God is still in the miracle business and that if He can do this for me He can do the same and even greater things for you and through you.

So many have helped me this year.  People have prayed, called me, sent cards, driven me to Dr. visits, loved on my children, opened their homes for me, cooked for me, given to me, sponsored me to go to Bible conferences, taught me, coached me, listened to me complain, cried with me, encouraged me, - in short have loved me and given me room to grow.  So, thank you.  Thank you for your prayers and all of your encouragement.  It made a difference.

I still miss my brother, and I still have moments of regret, but I have been brought to the point of being able to say I am so thankful for this year.  For every moment of the hard times, for the pain as well as the joy.  I know I have a long ways to go and many more things to learn, but now I know that I have a purpose and a voice. More importantly, I have God walking right beside me teaching all along the way. He can do the same for you.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Door


Jesus doesn't open up doors of opportunity for us, He IS The Door. We can go in and out freely and we WILL find pasture.

John 10:9Amplified Bible (AMP)

"I am the Door; anyone who enters in through Me will be saved (will live). He will come in and he will go out [freely], and will find pasture."

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Take me out to the ballgame


Tonight I was thinking on the subject of peace.

 The first time I was facing the possibility of cancer was several years ago when the Dr. thought I might have breast cancer.  (I didn't.)  I confess to you that while I waited for results of tests, I literally lived frozen in fear, unable to do much more than wait, sitting on my couch day after day jumping every time the phone rang, waiting for the call.   Fast forward to July 2014:  while I waited on results of  tesst to see if I had thyroid cancer (I did.) - I suspected the results would be positive and yet I was still able to function.  Why?  Because I thought that I had heard the Holy Spirit tell me, "cancer will not kill you."  Really?  That is supposed to be a comfort?  But, surprisingly, it was.  Did you know that one of the names for Holy Spirit is The Spirit of Truth? (see John 16:13)   He is nothing if not truthful!  Baby step by baby step I'm learning to truly trust. 

 Scripture tells us in Galatians 5:22 that the Holy Spirit produces the fruit of peace in our lives. But what does that really look like? Peace should not be determined by our circumstances. I can have bad health, live in poverty, have broken relationships, or even live in times of war and still have peace. Peace really is not an emotion either. I can be sad and still have peace! Even though I DEEPLY desire joy, health, a peaceful atmosphere and comfortable surroundings, I need to quit looking at my surroundings and look to God because true peace is allowing Holy Spirit to reign in my heart. It is knowing Him intimately and trusting Him no matter what the circumstances are. My peace is anchored in God.

A book I've been reading, The Holy Spirit, An Introduction points out that Colossians 3:15 tells us to let the peace which comes from Christ rule in our hearts. The amplified version actually says "And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts". So I looked it up on a nifty app on my phone (Blue Letter Bible). And the word "rule" in Greek is βραβεύω (brabeuō) and can actually mean to be an umpire. The author said to imagine being in a baseball game and behind you squats the Umpire of Peace (Holy Spirit) and each ball the pitcher throws at you is a decision that needs to be made. Then he asked "How important are the Umpire's calls?" (hint: they're pretty important....)

Now I know absolutely nothing about the game of baseball so I was asking my husband about it and said "you'd think that the comparison would be to the coach instead because the coach tells you what to do before the ball is ever thrown." But Mark reminded me that the coach is just guessing at what will happen as he's giving instructions.  The Umpire is actually IN THE GAME and the one in charge. He is making calls as the ball is being thrown. So taking the baseball comparison a step further, in a game it is the umpire's full decision on a call and if I argue with him I can be kicked out of the game. Without an umpire, the game could become total chaos. So I must fully rely on the Holy Spirit to guide my decisions, step by step, as the ball is coming toward me. I must  trust Him and obey Him in my circumstances, without argument, to be able to remain mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually calm and peaceful in the midst of this "game" called life. I don't know about you, but I'm thankful that God the Holy Spirit is in the game with me bringing peace.

 I have to admit I never dreamed I'd blog about baseball!

Peace be with you.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Some Pig!


When I hear the word humble, I can't help but think about Wilbur the pig in the book Charlotte's Web.  Charlotte the spider is trying to save Wilbur's life and begins spinning words in her web to show the world what a great pig Wilbur really is.  One of the words she uses to describe him is "humble".  She says, "Humble has two meanings.  It means 'not proud' and it means 'low to the ground'.  That's Wilbur all over."

As Christians, I think that is often how we view humility, being low to the ground, inferior, a pig wallowing in the mud.  After all we ARE told to be humble more than once in the Bible.  So we become proud of being humble, of seeing ourselves as lowly and self-incriminating.

At a retreat I was recently able to attend, the leader pointed out that we are made in God's image. There are over 7 billion people living in the world today, and each of us is a unique representation of part of God's greatness.  It has taken well over 7 billion people to even begin to  express the greatness and image of God.  I am (and YOU are) a unique reflection  that is unlike anyone else.  We have the enviable job of finding the greatness of God in others and in ourselves.  We practiced doing that at the retreat.  We sat facing each other in groups of four, sitting knee to knee declaring to each other, "the greatness of God I see in you is...."  And I have to tell you, it was life changing for me.   But how does being humble, "low to the ground", fit in with seeing greatness in each other and in ourselves?   The answer is really quite simple.  Instead of a pig wallowing in the mud, being low to the ground looks a lot more like this:


It's saying the greatness that we have in us isn't about us at all.  It is boasting on God's greatness in us and being thankful for it!  My sister said it well,  "That's  worth telling people about.  And if I dismiss His greatness in me...I'm just displaying false humility.  I'm taking away His glory."  

What better way to use the voice God has given me than to declare the greatness of God I see in others?  So, I've decided I want to be like Charlotte the spider.  Because in the long run, that's really what she was doing - seeing the greatness of God in His creation (Wilbur) and declaring it - "terrific, radiant, humble, some pig!"  What better place than to start with my own family, my children?  So, on a personal note to my kids:  when you start getting texts, phone calls and messages from me for the next few weeks, know that I am sincerely telling you that YOU are made in God's image, a special reflection of God's greatness and that I see the work God is doing in you, and it is GOOD!