Ungrateful

August 30, 2010 § 2 Comments

I hate to admit it, but I am ungrateful. Often I do not appreciate how hard my husband works, nor do I thank my children when they are kind to each other or pick up after themselves. No, I expect those behaviors. I expect as part of our marriage contract that my husband works outside the home so that I can work inside the home. I expect my children to do what I tell them, but I do not give them an incentive nor show appreciation when they try hard. I often look over the things done well to the next thing we need to tackle. It is as if I have a check-list in my head, now that we are not bickering, check, lets move on to picking up after ourselves. Instead of basking in the glory that is an hour or two without fighting or arguing among the siblings in my house. When it comes to my husband I may think, “Wow, he is doing a great job taking out the trash. Now if only I could get him to put dirty dishes in the dishwasher. Check.” I say, to myself, “Yes he did a great job, but there is still work to do.” I miss out on honoring and praising my family, in the midst of my check-list, my schedule, my plans.

I do it to God as well. Sure Jesus died on the cross to save me. Yes, I was a hopeless, helpless sinner and He made a way for me to live forever with God. So He died when I was His enemy and He calls me to draw me near to Him. God made a way for me to have an eternal hope. Yeah, but… It is so crazy that I am not on my face, beating my chest, every day saying, “Thank you for dying for a wretch like me.” Instead I have myself convinced that I am doing God a favor. I am writing this blog to spread His word, I am teaching Sunday School to fifth and sixth graders, I am teaching my kids about God. I pray and read God’s word. Oh, but I miss being grateful that God sent His Son to die for a wretched, blind, bull-headed woman like me.

1 Peter 1:6 says, “In this you greatly rejoice…” The “this” is the living hope we have in Jesus. It includes the “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading inheritance” we have in heaven AND the “power of God” that is currently protecting those who know Jesus as their personal Savior. We have a future hope and a present protection even if we are currently facing storms in our lives. So my question is, “Am I GREATLY rejoicing in my hope of heaven and the protection God is giving me?” Or am I ungrateful for the work Jesus did on the cross? Am I satisfied with thinking I can do favors for God or am I rejoicing that He uses me in His eternal plan?

Father God forgive me for being ungrateful. Forgive me for taking the cross for granted. Forgive me for thinking that I can do You a favor. Please fill my heart with wonder and rejoicing at what Jesus did for me on the cross. May my life be an outpouring of humble gratitude for Jesus’ sacrifice. Thank You for Jesus. Amen.

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It Isn’t Fair…

August 27, 2010 § 2 Comments

If I had a penny for the number of times I have said, “It isn’t fair,” I would be a rich woman. Then if I add in the times I have heard it from my kids, my friends, my family, even some of my patients (back in my nursing days) I would probably be richer than Bill Gates. Life isn’t fair. People who try hard to get ahead, scrimp and save do not always get ahead. Cancer attacks young, old, mommies, daddies, and babies alike. I often want justice, but most of the time there is no black and white, fair and unfair. I have seen it with my kids.
Mooooommmmm! He kicked me,” she bellows reverberating through the house.

NOT FAIR!

“What did you do to him?” I investigate.

“Well…”

You get the point. Even though “he” shouldn’t have kicked “her” there is a back story and the back story is often soiled gray. Both have some culpability and most of the time there isn’t someone who is innocent.

However there are the inexplicable things that come in life. The young child who has cancer, the older woman fighting her third battle with the dreaded disease, the freak accident, or a tsunami that devastates a region. It isn’t fair. So we call out to God. We tell Him, it isn’t fair. Why me, them, or why this situation? God, You are all-powerful so why? Often God doesn’t answer why. So what do we do with our whys? We can hang onto our sense of justice and shake our fist at God or doctors or anyone in our paths. We can allow our whys to turn us into bitter people. People who feel wronged and robbed of something we deserve. However, there is an “or” option. We can let our whys turn our thoughts to heaven.

We have to remember sin has tainted this world. In this world, very few things are fair. That sense of injustice should increase our longing for our true home. For those of us who know Jesus as our personal Savior Earth is not our home, heaven is. Heaven, where God lives, where there is no pain, no tears, no night (Revelation 21:4, 23). Heaven, where we will know fully, our whys will be answered (1Cor 13:12). Heaven, glorious wonderful heaven, where I get to feast with God in eternity (Rev 19:9). Heaven, my true home!

So the next time we ask why, let’s use it as a reminder of what is to come. Heaven. Let us not focus only on this Earth. Let us become more heavenly minded and rest in God’s faithfulness, even when we cannot understand the why.

Oh Heavenly Father, there are so many things we do not understand and that do not seem fair. Lord we lay those things at Your feet and we pray that those reminders will help us long for heaven more. That the whys and the injustice of this world will drive us towards keeping an eternal worldview and help us to rest in Your faithfulness and loving-kindness. In Jesus’ powerful and precious name we pray. Amen.

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Healthy Fear…

August 24, 2010 § 1 Comment

I have mentioned in the past that I have been writing things down for YEARS. In fact I have some thing I wrote in grade school squirreled away in a notebook. For grins I started reading some of the things I wrote back when. Unfortunately I rarely wrote a date on things. However the fact that I have not only a pencil and paper version, but also a dot-matrix printed version of this article, dates it to high school or early college. I will attempt to edit it some, but for the most part this is exactly what I wrote.

Remember how scared you were of your dad when you were little? Let’s face it, he could spank harder than mom and he was BIG!!! The thing was that the fear you had for your father never stopped him from loving you nor you from loving him. He was the guy that showed you how to play basketball or softball, who would read you bedtime stories, and who would give you a hug and a kiss before he tucked you into bed. He often frightened away the monsters in your dreams. He was wonderfully scary. You respected him because you understood that when you did something wrong he would spank you. At the same time you knew he loved you and would never let you down. So why do we often forget that fear is part of the whole father package? Look at how we as Christians treat God. We are often lackadaisical towards sin and how we treat Him. Sometimes we forget that God can spank harder than even our dads and that He is MUCH, MUCH bigger than our dads ever could have been. So why should we are about fearing God? God is the author and pure picture of love. Without God there would be no you or me. Nothingness would reign. We forget that God gives us air to breathe, families, and friends to love and most importantly His son to die for our sins. God not only loves, He also disciplines. God is perfect and holy and He is not beyond disciplining His children. Since God has everything under His control His discipline can hurt much more and cut much deeper than our own earthly father’s spankings. So in fear of God lies complete love and trust. Without the fear of God no one can get to know God. You must come to Him in fear and trembling!! Understanding why you should fear God brings you one step closer to knowing and understanding Him. If we fear our earthly fathers, how much more should we fear God, our Father, the Father of the universe?

Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”

So I ask you, do you have a healthy fear of God?

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Blessedly Frustrated

August 22, 2010 § 6 Comments

I have to admit that lately I have felt FRUSTRATED! I have made no less than nine calls to service departments for repairs around the house in the last month. Not to mention that my van’s paint job is peeling, the CD player broke, and the breaks are starting to squeal. Then there is the cleanliness of the house. Toys, clothes, dirty dishes all screaming, “put me away,” or “clean me then put me away.” It is overwhelming, and when things don’t work or break, my frustration only mounts. My heart feels tight, my heart rate increases, my shoulders and neck tense up. I am irritable, short-tempered and generally no fun. Really? Is the frustration over things worth it? Sure I expect the things I purchase to work, but allowing myself to get so upset because they don’t is ridiculous. It is just like watching my children throw themselves on the floor crying because I told them they can’t have a snack. Is it worth it? NO. However, they are children. I am an adult and I have better coping mechanisms, at least I should.

I let my life get hung up on what I expect and what I want, and I miss out. My joy becomes wrapped up in capricious electronics, appliances, vehicles, children attitudes, or my spouse’s choices. I can choose to live in frustration or I can learn the lesson of Proverbs 14:4. It says, “Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox comes an abundant harvest.” So where there is no house there are no broken windows or messed up appliances. When you do not have a car, there is no paint to peel. There is no need for toys if there are no children. There would be no mess, no frustration, but there would also be no blessing, no joy, no abundant harvest.

So here is the challenge to all of us. When we start to get frustrated, let’s take that as a clue to stop and thank God for something. Instead of saying, “UGH, the air conditioning isn’t working again.” Then allowing the weeping and gnashing of teeth begin. We will stop and thank God for a house and the fact that we live in a country that air conditioning is an option. When the dirty laundry and dishes are about to drive us batty. We won’t allow our blood pressure to sky-rocket, no we take a deep breath and thank God for clothes and dishes to wash. This way we can be blessedly frustrated.

What is something you are blessedly frustrated over? Leave a comment and let me know.

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Singleness of Heart and Action

August 20, 2010 § 2 Comments

I am weird. No really I am. I like Star Trek, and Lord of the Rings. I enjoy basketball, football, and reading. I love Jane Austen books and have read some of them 3 times or more. I appreciate the movies based on the books. I am a kindred spirit of Anne of Green Gables, but I also dig the Matrix. The human body awes and amazes me. I feel God’s smile when I sing, speak, and write all about God. I hunger and thirst after God’s word. The things I enjoy do not seem like they should fit into one person. I can’t help myself. Diversity is good right? However diversity in the things I enjoy can result in me being a scatter-brained mess. I struggle pinpointing my Spiritual gifts or my personality. What does God want to do with a crazy, Trekie who loves Jayhawk Basketball, enjoys a great Jane Austen novel, and studying her Bible? How do you figure that out?

Well, I cam across something AMAZING last night in my Bible reading. Judah is under siege by the Babylonians. Most of Judah has already been taken into captivity and the final hold outs are still in Jerusalem, still refusing to obey God by surrendering to the Babylonians. However, God in His amazing patience tells them what is going to happen after He banishes them. Jeremiah 32:37-39 says, “I will surely gather them from all the lands where I banish them in My furious anger and great wrath; I will bring them back to this place and let them live in safety. They will be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me for their own good and the good of their children after them.” So God, dealing with these crazy sin-loving Israelites – these people he likens to prostitutes – relents. He doesn’t punish beyond measure or out of the ordinary. No, God calls them His people, but even more He gives them Singleness of Heart and Action. Oh that I would allow God’s Holy Spirit to give me singleness of Heart and Action. This singleness doesn’t mean that I have to only like football and stop reading Jane Austen. I don’t have to give up singing to speak or speaking to write. No! It means that God is going to make my purpose and direction into something that brings me more in love and in awe of God. Then I can make an impact on the next generation. God doesn’t only want me to draw near to Him for my sake, but for the sake of those coming after me. He also says this fear will also result in good for both me and those who are coming after me.

God’s singleness of heart and action results in my fearing, loving, being in right relationship with Him AND it results is good for me. It also affects those around me. O Father God, I pray that I would have the kind of singleness of heart and action that draws me closer to You and draws others closer as well. Father I desire, through all the crazy things I enjoy, to honor and fear You. May my relationship with You draw others to fear You and find Your goodness. Thank You Father God that You use a sinner, football loving, Jayhawk cheering, girl like me. Amen.

If God can use a crazy woman like me, I bet He can use you too. What is it He is calling you to do to draw others nearer to Him? I’d love to know so I can pray for you!

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A Song of Praise

August 18, 2010 § 2 Comments

Psalm 40:1-3 “I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.”

I am in a season of change. I often feel like nothing will be the same and I honestly am not sure I like it. Do not getme wrong, most of my changes are good ones. Some however are not so good. All change for me is scary. I prefer to keep things the same. I am comfortable there, I even find comfort in the slimy, miry pit that God has rescued me from. Sometimes I start making my pit homey. I add my pictures to the walls as I cling to the things of this earth for my comfort. I get satisfied with life that is less than victorious. LIfe that is not full of purpose or meaning for eternity, but life that is comfortable.

I am thankful that God doesn’t leave me like that, in the miry pit decorating muddy walls. Instead He rescues me from myself. There are times He shakes my world. He changes the road I pictured long and straight takes a sudden bend. I call out to Him and He rescues me from my pit. However life outside the pit is now on a firm rock. I love it, but I also fear it. On this rock I do not have my comfortable sin. I have firm places to set me feet sure, but the sun is also brighter out here. It hurts my eyes. I have to be willing to let go of that past. Let go of the sin or just the way things used to be, so I can cling to the Rock. Jesus.

The amazing thing to me is that once I truly let go and accept the change God is doing in my life or circumstances, He does put a new song in my mouth. Can you see the psalmist and me? We are in the pit we are crying to get out, but once change occurs I struggle at first. God puts me on a rock, then gives me firm places to step. The journey isn’t over from the pit to the rock. It has just begun. As I walk in that change and accept the change from the pit to the rock, God changes my heart. He puts this song of praise in my mouth. Why a song of praise? First because God deserves the credit for rescuing me, changing me, bringing me a firm purpose and direction. Second because I need Him to remind me He deserves the praise. Honestly, it is easy for me to claim the praise for myself. I want to think I pulled myself from that pit, I figured out which rock to stand one, and I have discovered the firm paths. In reality it is God. God rescues me from the pit of my sin, my circumstances that are holding me back, and even myself. Finally God puts this song of praise in my mouth so others hear.

Yes I said others hear. I realize not everyone sings on key. The song is a metaphor for the praises God deserves from us. Did God work out circumstances so that you got the job you currently have? Praise Him. Has God freed you from addiction? Praise Jesus. Has God worked in ways only He could to provide you with money and groceries. Thank God. However the next line in Psalm 40:3 is quite important. God isn’t asking us to praise Him in the shower or in our hearts, He is asking us to do it out loud so others can hear. He is asking that we tell our stories. The stories where God did amazing things like rescuing us from the pit of ourselves, from the pit of addiction, from the pit of complacency. When we do share those stories the end of Psalm 40:3 says, “Many will see, and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.” Our stories of change, of pit rescues, of redemption, even of victory through painful times, can help others put their trust in God.

Father, help me to sing a song of praise to You that others will put their trust in You. Amen

Active Patience

August 16, 2010 § 4 Comments

“I waited patiently for the LORD; He turned to me and heard my cry.” Psalm 40:1

My simple mind read that verse and thought I know what waiting patiently looks like. You are quiet and still and waiting. Right? That is what I teach my children.

My two year-old whines, “Milk-y, milk-y, milk-y.” (I do not understand why things have to end in “y”, they just do).

“Is that how you ask?” I respond (some days seething, other days rolling my eyes, and some blessed days with the patience of…Job).

“Milk-y pwease,” he lisps his toddler-ese.

Waiting is TOUGH Business

“Ok, son, but I have to finish this, just one minute,” I lay down the law.

Then a fit ensues, time-out and screaming occur. Finally when the screaming has cleared the room, I moralize, “Son, you must have patience.”

My two-dimensional version of patience is when you will have to wait and so you do, quietly, with hands folded in your lap. There is no weeping, no gnashing of teeth. Just silence. Nothing active, but expecting the cup of milk mommy promised to deliver. Oh, but this verse is different. Can you see it? The first thing is that the Psalmist says he waited patiently for whom? For the LORD. The LORD is faithful to fulfill His promises. We often do not know what form those promises will take, but we know He will fulfill them. So we can wait patiently quietly in hopeful expectation, because God WILL do what He promises. However this is interesting, the last phrase says, “He heard my cry.” Wait. Isn’t the Psalmist waiting patiently? Why would he be crying out to God if he was waiting patiently?  Maybe my idea of patiently waiting is totally wrong.

So I start digging into what the Hebrew means. I am NOT a Hebrew scholar, but I have some pretty great resources that help me understand the words. This type of waiting patiently is in hopeful expectation. Not bump on a log-ish. NO! Hopeful anticipation. The root of the words translated patiently waited meant, twist, stretch, then tension of enduring, waiting, cord, be strong. Can you see the rope being made? Can you feel the tension, the anticipation? My idea of patiently waiting doesn’t include hopeful expectation. It wouldn’t allow for crying out to God, it isn’t realistic. I am seeing that more and more clearly. I see it in my kids again. When they are hiding from me, but want to be found. It goes something like this:

“Moooommmmmyyyyyyy,” bellows a blessing. “Come find me,” she giggles.

I can’t come right away, but in her hopeful anticipation, in her patient waiting she continues to call in her sweet tone, “Moooommmmmyyyy, you can’t find meeee,”

We can cry out in anger and frustration ruining our waiting patiently and hopeful anticipation. We can lash out and scream. We can allow bitterness to fill our waiting time rather than patience. I will not say the discipline of waiting patiently is easy. It is full of pitfalls. Things that want to steal our joy, doubts that God really is ABLE or FAITHFUL. Waiting. Oh, but I am so glad that waiting patiently doesn’t have to mean waiting quietly, not moving. It means crying out to God, not in bitterness or anger, but in hopeful anticipation. As we cry out this verse promises that God will draw near. Do you see it? He draws near or inclines to us as NAS says. God is near us as we wait and hope in Him. Psalm 40 in NAS goes on to say, “He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear And will trust in the LORD.” Actively waiting on the LORD results in some amazing things. He draws near, He brings us out of the pit of destruction, He sets our feet upon a rock. He also draws others to Himself through our example.

Oh Lord, forgive me for misunderstanding waiting patiently. Father help me to cry out to You in my need. As I cry out I know that You are faithful and that You are able to meet my needs. I will wait in expectation for You to rescue me from the pit and put my feet upon a rock. I will trust that You will show me what is next. I pray that my waiting can bless others who are watching that they may come to trust in You. Thank You for drawing near to me! Amen.

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