Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Monday, February 22, 2010

Deal With It!

There's something God wants me to deal with in my life, and I believe I'm currently avoiding it at all costs. "That's crazy!" you're probably thinking. "You're deliberately disobeying God!" This is true. I know. I fear the LORD; and yet, I really don't want to deal with this "something" in my life. In fact, I don't even want to ponder on it long enough for it to take shape in my mind. I definitely don't want to disobey God; and at the same time, I definitely don't want to deal with this "something." Why?

This "something" has always been a part of me. It's kinda like a security blanket. I never go anywhere without it, and if I didn't have it, I would feel lost. If I dealt with my "something", then I wouldn't have anything to blame for all the things that aren't working in my life. My "something" has always been there. Dealing with it would take away a comfort, even if it is a distorted one. Anybody with me on this?

I think many of us are afraid to deal with the "somethings" (or someones) in our lives because we think it'll be too hard, too uncomfortable and/or too painful. Yes, I believe it would be challenging, unpleasant, and painful. But I really believe the reasons we are afraid to deal with our "somethings" is that we don't want to let go of what has been the source of every failure, every problem, and every wrong thing in our life. What would we do without a reason for all the bad things that happen? Is anyone else seeing how this is twisted truth?

Satan doesn't desire for us to deal with the "somethings" because he knows when we do, we'll call on God for help and strength, we'll clear the path of righteousness, we'll begin to move forward in faith, and we'll experience love and peace, which will refuel our spirits. Satan would most certainly shrink. Therefore, he will do whatever it takes to detract and distract us from dealing with our "somethings".

This is just like God to speak truth to me when I'm trying to speak it to others. I should know better by now. I, thankfully, can't avoid the omnipresent God. I, thankfully, am learning--even now as I write--to deal with the "something" so that God won't eventually have to deal with me. Whew! Isn't that a more fearful thought? I better get to dealing!

"And when a prayer or plea is made by any of your people Israel—each one aware of the afflictions of his own heart,
and spreading out his hands toward this temple-then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive and act; deal with each man according to all he does, since you know his heart (for you alone know the hearts of all men), so that they will fear you all the time they live in the land you gave our fathers."

1 Kings 8:38-40

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Seizing Success

"Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed."

I'm not sure who said the above quote, but I do hope that you look at your life today with a new perspective. Stop focusing on the obstacles, and begin focusing on the successes. Praise God for them; this will keep you moving. "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him." James 1:12

Thank God for the failures as well. For without failures, we would never know truly what it means to have success or strength. Most of all, continue to persevere through the things that are difficult. God's hand is extended. Take hold and be blessed!

"This is the day the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.

O LORD, save us;
O LORD, grant us success.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.
From the house of the LORD we bless you."

Psalm 118:24-26

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Last shall be First

"Indeed there are those who are last who will be first,
and first who will be last
Luke 13:30

My heart is downcast at the moment. Today was my basketball team's first game of the tournament, and we lost. Which means we are now out of the tournament, and we came in last place. This team, that I've been coaching for the last four months, is not a losing team nor should they be labeled last. But alas, this is how we will be to the world.

Isn't Christianity much the same? Aren't we labeled as "losers" and made to feel that way at times? I know I have been, plenty of times. I've been called a "goody-two-shoe" more times than I can count, and somehow that has stamped me a "loser." Why do we feel that being good and doing the right thing is equivalent to being the loser in the crowd? Why are we casting out the righteous instead of encouraging them? If I choose to walk away from a group who's participating in an activity that would be displeasing to God, then why am I the loser?

Christ knew this would happen. He knew we would be labeled this way; He knew we would be last in the things of this world; and He knew we would be treated as if we are the defeated. Jesus told us, "All men will hate you because of me. But he who stands firm to the end will be saved." (Mark 13:13)

Jesus understands what it means to be a loser in this world. He, too, was labeled one. He died with that label, but He rose victorious. His defeat in this world means our victory in eternity. His sacrifice to be separate, to not fit-in with the ways of this world, and to be a "goody-two-shoe" meant our security for citizenship in heaven: "Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body." (Philippians 3:19-21) This lowly, loser body can't wait to be like His glorious body!

My heart is not feeling so downcast anymore. My beautiful team may have been defeated out on the basketball court, but I know with certainty they are not the defeated ones.
They have victory in Christ. They represented Him at every game this year, and I couldn't be prouder of them. So even though my girls will not be receiving a physical trophy this year, nothing compares with the reward that awaits them in heaven.

"Blessed are you when men hate you,
when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.
Rejoice in that day and leap for joy,
because great is your reward in heaven."

Luke 6:22-23

Thank you ladies for a tremendous season. I'm so proud of you. You will always be champions to me. I love you.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Words of Wisdom II

Words from George Herbert:

"He who cannot forgive another breaks the bridge over which he must pass himself."

May troubled waters not keep you from moving forward in faith. Forgiveness isn't always easy, but it is always possible.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Obedient to Death

"And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!"
Philippians 2:8

"Obedient to death." These words stand out to me like a red stain on a white shirt. I can't seem to fully wrap my mind around them. To be obedient would mean to dutifully comply to death's commands. There aren't many people in this world who go willing into death.

Death, rather, is something we fear and try to avoid at all costs. Those who are willing to be obedient to death are most often viewed as heroes. Jesus is no exception. He faced death like no other human had ever and will ever face, and He became obedient to it.

His love for you and me was His willingness to pay such a price. What a response it would be from us if we loved Him in the same way; because really, if we are facing death, aren't we simultaneously facing life?

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Onto the shore
I wash up
from the wreckage.
I look down
to see wounds
some deep, some surface.
I know healing will take place
and scars will be left,
what I don’t know is
how I survived the storm
without the comfort of my boat.
above the steely waters,
the Sun begins to stretch itself.
I turn my face to it
dig my feet into the sand
and stand.
There on the shores
with the coming dawn
a newness is born

within my soul,
a separation is felt
within my mind,
a trust is rebuilt
within my heart.
Remnants from my voyage
wash up onto the shore
and crash against my feet.
They are pieces of a life
I no longer want to live.
I bother not
with picking them up
but leave them
for the birds to peck at.
Instead I walk on
toward the hills.
With the whispering wind
brushing my face
I know with certainty
the next time the ship sails,

I’ll stay behind.

..AMY. 2009

Friday, February 5, 2010

Respite for the Soul

"This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says:
'In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength...'"

Isaiah 30:15

Ahh...those words from Isaiah are like a soft, fluffy bed with extra blankets for me to wrap up in. On a day like today they bring extra comfort and warmth. Outside the sky is gray, the air is ice cold, and the freezing rain/sleet seems to be dragging the earth down. A picture of what it looks like sometimes within my soul.

Isn't it wonderful to know that our Sovereign LORD wants us to have rest and quietness? He didn't design us to have a life of constant busyness of deadlines, activities, and schedules to keep. We do not find our value in that kind of a lifestyle. Our value is found in repentance and rest, in quietness and trust. "But you would have none of it" says the last part of Isaiah 30:15.

We foolishly carry on as if the busier we are, the better we are and the more we do, the more we'll have. We'll definitely have more--more stress, more stuff to keep up with, more health issues, more distractions, and more time spent away from God. If we would dedicate ourselves to one day of complete rest that included repentance, quietness and trust; then, we would discover joy, love, contentment, peace, salvation, and strength.

By the hand of God our weary, needy souls would be restored, redeemed, renewed, rejuvenated, and refreshed. More importantly, our souls would be ready to handle any gray days that come our way. For me, since I have the day off today because of the weather, I'm going to cozy up in my bed with the Good Book, wrap warm blankets around me, and pray with appreciation: "
Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you" (Psalm 116:7).

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Rock Solid

"There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no one
besides you;
there is no Rock like our God."

1 Samuel 2:2

Just a couple of months ago I traveled to Israel for the first time. I was amazed by the beauty of the land and the pride of the people. What amazed me even more was the constant presence
of rock! When I signed up for the 10-day tour through the Holy Land, I had no idea that I would be hiking up rock, crawling through rock caves, digging through rock, observing rock structures, and arriving back to my hotel at the end of each day covered with sediments of rock. As the trip came to a close, I had a whole new appreciation for rock and a whole new understanding of the phrase "the LORD is my Rock."

Rock is everywhere in Israel. It surrounds, hovers, and upholds cities over there. Rock is used to
build with, to build on, and to build out of. It is visible and plentiful. Certain rock in Israel is fought over because it is sacred. Rock is a resource familiar to all, available to all, and needed by all.

Likewise, the LORD is everywhere: "The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good" (Proverbs 15:3). He surrounds, hovers, and upholds us: "The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold" (Psalm 18:2). The LORD, knowing the purpose and lasting power of what He builds, desires for us to use Him in our building process if not be our Builder: "Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain..." (Psalm 127:1); "For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything" (Hebrews 3:4). He is visible if you have divine eyes to see, and He is plentiful in His love, His grace, His mercy, and His forgiveness. The LORD our Rock is most certainly sacred, and He is familiar, available, and needed by all: "The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the LORD will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them" (Isaiah 41:17).

There's no question about it; rock is certainty. After my first day's experience with the rock in Israel, I knew I could count on one thing: I would encounter it again and evidence of it would be on me. So it is with Christ. "Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal" (Isaiah 26:4).

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Fighter's Faith

"With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles."
2 Chronicles 32:8

Based on 1 Samuel 13:16-14:14

According to Ephesians six, faith is referred to as a shield. A shield is a defensive weapon. It protects, but only if used. In other words, we have to move our shield to guard ourselves from the flaming arrows of the enemy. It takes action to have protection. It takes active faith (James 2:17, 26) to conquer enemies (Romans 8:37).

Jonathan had such faith. He was proactive. He didn’t sit and hide as the other Israelites did. He didn’t lose confidence in the physical evidence that he wasn’t well equipped for battle or that he didn't he have a full army behind him. In fact, all he had was his young armor-bearer with him. If I’m not mistaken, armor-bearers were not warriors, they were more like servants. Jonathan did not allow his impulsiveness lead him, the thought of how grand he may look if it works out for him, or how everyone will marvel at his greatness when or if he overcame the Philistines. No, he let the Lord lead him. If they called for him to climb up, then he would climb because he knew that would be the sign from the Lord and he knew "nothing can hinder the LORD from saving, whether by many or by few" (1 Sam. 14:6).

The Philistines did call, and Jonathan did answer. He confidently climbed up the hillside to the ready and waiting Philistines, which in battle is suicide since the advantage goes to the ones on top. Jonathan not only successfully makes it up the cliff, he and his faithful armor-bearer successfully defeat the Philistines, the odds being 1 to 10.

So many of us want to keep quiet and stay in hiding when the enemy seems to be bigger, stronger, tougher, and more equipped than us. We forget that our God will fight for us, and His army is bigger than any other army (2 Chronicles 32:7-8). God will not hand us over to our enemy. If He wanted to do that, He would never have sent His Son to die for us. What an ultimate warrior to sacrifice His life for us!

Jonathan had an active faith. He faced and fought the enemy with the confidence and the victory of the Lord within him. Where’s your faith right now? Are you still in hiding, afraid to step-out exposed before the enemy? Do you have mountains to climb? Do you feel ill-equipped? Be assured that if you step-out in faith, the Lord and His powerful army are with you. If you begin to climb that mountain, the Lord will hand over your enemy. If you feel ill-equipped, have faith because the Lord is sufficiently equipped, and He will fight for you.

Sometimes we are called to be more "hands-on" in our faith and sometimes we need only to be still, "The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still" (Exodus 14:14). Nonetheless, an active faith is required in these motionless moments of battle. How else will we be able to protect ourselves from the flaming arrows of the enemy?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

"Light Shining Out of Darkness"

I love this poem by William Cowper...

God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs,
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning Providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan His work in vain,
God is His own interpreter
And He will make it plain.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Chained Captives

"...let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles..."
Hebrews 12:1

Sin is like a shadow in the night. It creeps up on us sometimes so unexpectedly, and then, it easily entangles us to the point we are captive to it. The chains of captivity are hard, cold, and uncomfortable. Yet, so often, we allow these chains to become a part of us until they are comfortable to us.

Hebrews 12:1 commands us to take action by throwing off everything that hinders and entangles us. This action can only come if we confess first what it is that hinders and entangles. We need to take a good look at the chains that are bound to us. Most likely at the end of these chains we'll find worldly things and self-indulgences.
These are the gods we are captive to, the gods we worship, the gods that cannot free us.

Since the beginning of time, God alone, our Maker, has desired to be the only god we serve, "Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God, " (Exodus 34:14). He also knew we would become captive to other gods, which is why He sent His Son, Jesus, to free us.

There is a key to free us from these chains and these other gods we serve. It has always been within us, we just need to use it. "I [Jesus] will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven," (Matthew 16:19)

Let us , then, not only "throw off everything that hinders," but also "fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2) so that we no longer live under the cold shadow of captivity but the warm Light of Freedom.