All By Myself…

July 26, 2010 § 4 Comments

I like to think I can pretty much do anything I try, by myself.  I don’t need help to open jars or get on ladders.  I can do it myself.  I like to think that I am helpful to others, but that I don’t need help.  I like to think I have it all together.  Look at me, Angela.  Blog writer, book writer, speaker, mom, Bible Scholar (well, sort of in the I am teaching myself and listening to God way).  The thing is that anything I do of myself is broken.  Anything I try to do outside of God is doomed to failure.  No Biblical knowledge or clever analogy is going to amount to a hill of beans. unless God is in it; unless God is the source of it.

Often I am satisfied with just me.  My version or attempt at doing something for God by myself, without help, from anyone, even God Himself.  As if I don’t know there is anything better than mud pies, when God has a wonder feast awaiting me.  Sometimes I even come to a passage and think I have this one.  I know what it means and I put on MY glasses and see it only from MY view.  When that happens I find a distorted version of God’s truth.  I find things the way I like them in neat little boxes, but again, it is like playing in the mud when there is a beautiful sandy beach.  I just miss out.

It reminds me of what God says in Jeremiah 2:13.  “‘My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.'”  We have access to a spring of living water.  It is good to drink from, it is always new and refreshing, it never stops.  It is LIVING WATER!  Instead, I settle for my broken cistern.  I can take pride in the fact that I made it myself, but it holds no water.  There is nothing there to refresh my soul, to quench my thirst, to draw me to God.  It is empty and broken.  However I often bring others and say with pride, “Look at my cistern.  See what I made!”  Oh that those who see my broken cistern would say, “But there is something better, Angela.  Something not made by your hands, but by the hands of your Creator.”  Oh that I would NOT be content with my broken cistern, that I would NOT pretend God needs me to do something for Him.

What is amazing is that through Christ, I have that spring of living water in me through the Holy Spirit.  Father may I do all things through Your spirit and not wallow in my cistern.  Forgive me for trying to do it myself.  Thank You that You do not want me to do it alone, but that You want me to grow more and more dependent on You.  Thank You for being the spring of living water in me!

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Got Floss?

July 23, 2010 § 2 Comments

Confession time again. Dental health workers please do not hold this against me. I am not an example for dental health practices. Do not try this at home. I do not floss. I hate to floss. I promise I have tried. I find it time-consuming and uncomfortable. Instead of flossing, I have found that mouth wash does the trick. It keeps my gums healthy, and I don’t have to do the tedious, and sometimes painful work of flossing.

apples are good for your teeth

Unfortunately that is how I can approach sin in my life. Maybe you do it too. At times I say a blanket, “God for give me for my sin” prayer. Nothing specific. Nothing examined. Just God forgive me. That is like shoving my mouth full of mouth mouthwash, in hopes that it dislodges the huge piece of broccoli stuck between my teeth. Then walking away without checking the mirror. I have even heard myself tell God, “I know I won’t be perfect today so please forgive me for sin I am going to commit.” That is like expecting the mouthwash I swished and spit in the morning will keep my teeth clear of debris all day.

Much like our teeth need to be examined after eating a large salad, so our lives need to be examined. God doesn’t want us living on auto-pilot, not even realizing when we sin or offend. David had it right when in Psalm 139:23-24 he says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” This examination and searching is often painful. Sin festers, like infected gums, when left in dark places of our hearts. Mouthwash may clean around the area, but it won’t dislodge sin stuck fast. Especially, the sin to which we hold fast.

My husband recently informed me, that the current  recommendation is that you floss at least twice a day. WHOA! What would happen if we devoted the same amount of time to examining our lives? What would happen if twice a day, every day we did a sin check-up? What would God do with a people devoted to asking Him to show them their sin? We may actually repent and truly turn from our wicked ways. We may actually live in the victory that Jesus wrought, when He died on the cross. We may live in such a way that others want to know about God. Jesus did say He came to give us abundant life (John 10:10). Maybe through examining our lives we could really live that out day-to-day.

However, we must first get over ourselves, our pride, and sometimes our laziness and do it. We are not to examine our lives compared to others around us, mind you. Otherwise we will be like the Pharisee who prayed that he was glad he wasn’t like that tax collector. (Luke 18:9-14) NO, our example is Christ. The one without sin (Hebrews 4:15). May we, like David, ask God to show us our sin, then repent. May we look to Christ, our example, and pray that, through the Holy Spirit, we can confess and repent from sin that entangles us. (Hebrews 12:1)

Father, forgive me for attempting to mouthwash my sin, instead of examining my life and truly confessing it. Lord may I be specific in confessing sin to you and to others I have offended. Lord search me, and show me if there is unconfessed sin in my life. When you reveal my sin, give me the wisdom and strength to confess it, and turn away from it. You alone are holy and You LOVE ME! Thank You for loving a wretched sinner like me. Thank You for the forgiveness I have through Christ. Thank You for the victory I have in Jesus. Amen.

So have you flossed today?

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The Beginning of Confidence…

July 21, 2010 § 3 Comments

Since my post on confidence was so memorable for some, and well liked by others, I decided to share the prayer I mentioned in the Confidence post.  My prayers don’t come out in correct grammar or with proper punctuation.  So please forgive me line editors.  Just know this came from the heart.  I tried to clean it up some.

Here it is:

Lord God; Heavenly Father; God of all creation; Merciful Father; Righteous Judge; all-knowing, omnipotent, Creator of beauty from dust and ash; Lord of victory in what appears defeat; gracious, abundant, overflowing Giver of life.  Rivers run at Your direction, mountains stand at Your word.  The earth and all it contains is held together by You; and You love me!!  You call me daughter.  You sent Your only Son to die for me!  If I was the only one to sin, You still would have sent Him.  Your ways are beyond knowing.  Your thoughts are too big for me to understand; and You desire me to know You.  Lord, You made me!!!  You created my in-most being.  You know me better than I know myself, and You love me!  You ask me to come to You.  You desire me to know You.  You made it possible for me to come to You.  How AMAZING!!  How indescribable!  How truly AWESOME!!  Oh Lord, fill my heart and mind.  Please keep my eyes fixed on Your love, Your wonder, Your majesty, and yet on Your desire to be with me, on Your desire for me to call You daddy!  Help me to run to You.  Help me to remember that in You and You alone can I be complete.  Help me to know that in You alone can I run this race.  In You alone can I be victorious, and in You alone can I be truly loved!!  Amen.

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July 20, 2010 § 3 Comments

Envision a bright, sunny, winter day.  Snow is on the ground, and the sun creates a magnificently brilliant, and blinding glare.  That is the day this idea came to me.  I was walking between classes at college, without my sunglasses on, and God seemed to tell me.  “The reason you can’t look at My holiness, and My glory is that you are not wearing your Son-glasses.  That is why the world didn’t recognize Jesus as God when He came to earth.  They weren’t wearing their shades”  Only through the lenses of God’s Son, Jesus, can we hope to “see” God.  Ezekiel 1:27 mentions a vision of Jesus on his throne, and says that “brilliant light surrounded him.”  God is that amazing!  God’s glory is brilliant, too brilliant for our human eyes to see.  That is why Moses only got to see God’s back. (Exodus 33:12-27).  Only through the redeeming blood of our Savior, Jesus; only through the Son-glasses of salvation can we see God.

The thing is that we often think we are smart enough to put on our “Son-glasses.”  That somehow, we had something to do with finding salvation.  Ephesians 2:8-9 says “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  The  first “that” in the verse is referring to our faith, not God’s grace.  So our faith is THE gift of God.  If our faith itself comes from God, then how can we say, I am better or smarter than those who don’t choose God?  No we are all in need of grace.  At some point we are all deceived by sin.  We are blessed to accept Jesus, not smart enough.  Yes, God in His sovereignty allows choice some how, don’t ask me how.  The point is that we need to be gracious to those who don’t know God.  We need to show them how salvation affects our daily lives; how we live out our salvation in all we say and do.  They don’t need condemnation.  They don’t need a watered down version of the truth.  They need to see God’s kindness which leads them to repentance. (Romans 2:4)

Oh, that I would live a life full of God’s kindness.  That I would live a life viewed through the Son-glasses of salvation so I can be intimate with God.  As I view life through those wonderful, grace given, Son-glasses, I pray my heart and my perspective will change to be more like God’s.

Now are you wearing your shades?

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July 17, 2010 § 8 Comments

I am treading uncharted waters.  I have felt God’s call on my life for years, but have not known which direction this call would lead.  In the past I have thought it would lead me down certain paths, only to discover I was WRONG!  I have waited and prayed for God’s direction.  Now I know that He is calling me to write.

Honestly, I have been writing poems and short essays since grade school.  Oh, but I have rarely if ever shown anyone anything I wrote.  In high school, I got a notebook in which I put my poetry.  When I showed anyone something I wrote, I would take that one or two pages out of my notebook and let them look at it.  I can only think of one time I handed over the whole notebook.  When I did, I couldn’t even stay in the same room while my friend read.  I don’t consider myself squeamish.  I am not one to run from a challenge or to shrink back from the stage.  Oh, I get butterflies and I get nervous, but I don’t shrink back.  So to be knee-knocking frightened of someone reading my “stuff” was out of character, but part of me.

I’ll be honest, my husband still hasn’t read everything I have written.  I haven’t read everything I have written, but God did something to me a few years back at a ladies retreat for church.  We had just finished our individual quiet times and I felt God had really blessed me.  I had written a prayer of praise and desire to grow more like Him.  In the process, I felt Him telling me to show it to the director of women’s ministry.  **GULP**  I really didn’t want to do that.  I tried to reason with God that Debbie was too busy and I didn’t want to bother her.  I tried to tell myself I was being presumptuous.  I mean we were getting ready to check out, she didn’t need me in her face with so many other things going on.  However God’s still small voice would not allow me to say no.  So, I approached her with shaking knees and hands.  I can’t remember what I said, but I know what she told me after she read it.  She asked me to read it to all the women at the retreat!!!  ME, the girl who doesn’t let her husband read her “stuff” now is going to read the prayer she wrote in front of 100+ women.  I couldn’t say no because I knew it was of God.  I was shaking like a leaf, but I did it!  I read my prayer in front of all those women.  Several women came to me afterward to ask me to e-mail it to them.

God had used my writing, despite my lack of confidence.  I actually started writing prayers for my friends who were experiencing difficult times.  I decided that was how God was going to use my writing, but I was wrong again.  You are reading the blog He has called me to write!  I am writing a book that I feel led and qualified by Him to write.  It is a miracle that in only a few short years, God has brought me to this place of confidence.  I do not know where God will take this writing journey.  Maybe I will be published, but maybe I will be writing for my sweet family.  No matter what I am writing for, I know that I will be rewarded.

Hebrews 10:35-36, 39 “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded,  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised…But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.”

The Hebrews needed confidence to face persecution.  I need confidence to share what God is putting on my heart.  For what do you need confidence?  Pray with me that you can hold fast to your confidence so you can do the will of God!  It will be richly rewarded.

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Mittens in Summer

July 11, 2010 § 6 Comments

I have yet to understand marketing and why mittens were available in the summer.  It was the end of July and I was out clothes shopping for some kiddos I love. One of my sweet blessings noticed the most awesome pair of fuzzy

The right time, but not the right place for mittens. 😉

mittens she had ever seen. She just HAD to have them. Since she had behaved so well shopping and since I didn’t have any mittens for her for the impending winter (about five months in the future), I decided that she could have them. Besides the price was right.

I never imagined she would want to wear them that very day, inside, at the play area in the mall. I could fight the battle and say NO or I could attempt to reason with her.
Me: Don’t you think it is a little too warm for mittens? I thought we bought those for the winter.
Her: I want to wear them NOW! PLEEAASSSSE Mom!
I could see my chances at dissuading her were slim, so I gave in to her pleading. I thought that after she realized she couldn’t really play with them on, and when her hands were burning up, she would take them off. Oh how wrong I was!

Remember how I said these mittens were fuzzy and that it was July. Well, in a few short minutes my sweet child was sweating up a storm and yet she refused to take her mittens off. Soon I realized that as she pushed her hair out of her face she was leaving fuzz on her face from the mittens. The next thing I know, she has puked all over the play area at the mall. I have never seen that place clear so fast, nor have I ever received so many dirty looks. Everyone thought I brought a sick child to the play area, when in reality the fuzz from the mittens got in her mouth and choked her.

So what’s my point? Simply that we often see something we think we need or want and God knows it isn’t the right season yet. Sometimes we see others in different seasons of life than our own and we want that for ourselves. We want the pink fuzzy mittens in the middle of summer. The ones that if we wear them now in our current season, they may make us sick. God is saying wait my child those are for winter not for the season you are in now. Isaiah 64:4 says, “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.” We are so impatient for God to work in our time in our way and yet He knows what is best. He knows what you need and desire. He knows the right time for those things to take place. So wait on Him! He acts on behalf of those who wait for Him and His perfect timing!  The key is waiting for Him, not for what WE want, for what HE wants.

I’m not so good with the waiting thing.  However I have to trust God to know the season.  I have to trust God to know the perfect time.  If I don’t wait for God, I may often get sick on the fuzz of something that would have been perfect for winter, but not for summer.  O Father, help me to wait on You and Your timing.  May I not get frustrated or dismayed or disheartened in waiting.  May I trust in You for what You have planned for me!

What are you waiting for?  I’ll start….

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Dressing Rooms

July 7, 2010 § 1 Comment

I have a confession. I don’t like shopping for clothes. In fact if I could afford a personal shopper who was my

Didn't fit right 😦

exact size and shape, so I never had to step into a dressing room again, I would be a happy woman. I realize this may seem strange since I am a female, but it is true. I step into that room filled with hope and excitement over how great the clothes I chose will look. I can picture myself looking smaller in the right places and…well, curvy in the right places. However, I generally step out with low self-esteem and frustration that “they” don’t make clothes that fit me right.

Is that sometimes true of your expectations of God? You start thinking, I am excited about what God has planned to show me today. However God has you reading Job and the difficult things he went through as a righteous man. It is easy to think, this doesn’t fit. I wanted something upbeat like “no weapons formed against you will stand.” Instead God is leading you to “though He slay me, yet again I will hope in Him.”  You leave God’s word frustrated and confused.  It doesn’t fit.  So you feel God’s word doesn’t work, or doesn’t fit for you.  I have been there.  I have come to the feast of God’s word only to not exactly “like” what I found.  However God has hard lessons for me to learn.  Lessons about His faithfulness through the difficult times and about how His ways are much higher than mine.  Oh, that I will NOT walk away from those hard lessons and harden my heart, but that I will have a teachable spirit.

Lord give us today teachable spirits as we read your word.  That we can know You more intimately.

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