Tuesday, November 23, 2010

November 23, 2010

Thinking about forgiveness tonight, and how badly I struggle with bringing my heart to forget transgressions that haven't been atoned. I can forgive a person that's sorry. I can forgive a person that is ignorant. But I struggle a lot more with forgiving a person that is knowingly and intentionally hurting me on a regular basis without any showing of remorse. God commanded me to forgiveness today, and I responded with a "butbutbut" - How do I forgive someone that continues to offend? I find myself asking God to equip me with proper forgiveness to this person, so that I may speak the word forgiveness to him and let it ring true in my soul.

But that's not how it works.

It doesn't need to ring true in my soul, I don't need to "feel" it.
Forgiveness is truthfully a lot more like love- real, weathered love. Love is not something that I speak of and am magically filled with the feeling of. Love is something that I am privileged to speak of because I work for it.

Example: Carson is going through a crazy, trying stage right now (I've heard it's called "being 2"). I can't recall the last day that he didn't experience some kind of time-out. Before, during, and after every time-out I have ever given him, I affirm over and over, "I love you."
And it's not a lie.
I love him while I'm spanking him, I love him while I'm confining him to his bedroom, I love him while we're having serious talkings-to. I love him through the process, in spite of his behavior.

It is possible to love someone "through the process" of unloveable behavior.
So my logic says it must be possible to forgive someone through the process of hurtful behavior.

I don't speak it into existence, and it doesn't always feel peaceful in my soul, but so long as I am resolved to working through the process, I must be in a state of forgiveness.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Zach & I have always assumed that a dog would eventually be a part of our family. We spent some time searching for the perfect puppy last year, only to decide that we were too near our honeymoon to bring a dog in, move it out for a week to a kennel, and then bring it back in. So we decided to wait until we got home from Vegas. We got home from Vegas pregnant. Then we decided that I would probably be too exhausted while chasing three kids and in school to bother with training a puppy (and we were right. I was too exhausted). So we chose to hold off until Codie was no longer a newborn and our family was a little more settled. That time is now.

Call it an act of God (but it would really ruin the end of this story if you did), my sister found a stray dog Sunday night. He fits the description of last year's search for the Perfect Dog to a T. Short hair, non-shedding, Yorkie (with a bit of Schnauzer), over a year old, out of the chewing stage, previously owned and potty trained, great with kids, etc. It's such a perfect fit it hurts.

Here's why it really hurts - someone else in my family (namely, a precious 3-year-old) has also fallen in love with Perfect Dog (who, to protect her identity, shall be referred to as "Rhubarb" from here forward - the dog, not the child).
I spent a good amount of time last night and this morning mentally pitching the perfect argument as to why we've been wanting this dog before we even knew it was available, and why we deserve it more, etc. etc. It felt as though the Rhubarb of our dreams stumbled right into our lives, yet was being stolen from under our noses.
And then I changed my mind.
Knowing that I'd rather lose adding to Rhubarb to our family than lose a relationship with an existing member, God ordered me to let it go.

Amazing thing happens when you change your mind.
In my mind, Rhubarb went from being "stolen from under our noses" to a precious gift for a precious 3-year-old (who really does have too rampant of an imagination to NOT have a Rhubarb yet). Having something beloved stolen from you is painful, but giving something beloved to someone beloved is joyous.
Change your mind.

At house church a few weeks ago, we talked about repenting. A basic definition of repent is to change your mind.

I'm just now understanding what Sister Hazel meant in their great 90s song:
"If you want to be somebody else, change your mind."
Me of last night is a different somebody than the me of today.

Repent, change your mind, be somebody else - somebody willingly transformed in Christ.

Monday, August 2, 2010

August 2, 2010

Never expected to relate to an Adam Lambert song, but my theme today is "What do you want from me?"
I've had this notion for the past couple of weeks that I need to learn to speak Spanish. I feel that it would make me a much more valuable witness and volunteer (someday). I prayed on this Friday night and very clearly heard back, "Why learn to talk to them if you don't know how to speak to them?"
One of my signature strengths/weaknesses (because they are the same thing, after all) is that I am horribly uncomfortable around people unlike myself. I tend to take on the personality of my company and often end up misrepresenting myself. I can get away with this when the company I keep is similar enough to me, but it's the core reason why I'm scared to diversify my life. It's not that I fear other cultures, it's that I fear offending these people/making an idiot of myself by trying too hard to relate. Just think of Steve Carrell in... well, any role he's ever played. Remember the episode of The Office with Prison Mike? Exactly. He's at least taller than 5'1 to back up some of that facade.
So the point is, God needs me to not just learn the language. He needs me to learn to represent Him and myself strongly and without compromise. I decided that I'd put off learning the language until I'm in a stronger position. Then I passed a sign yesterday advertising free Spanish lessons on Saturday mornings.

How in the world do you decide if something is a sign from God, or a sign that you're looking too far into things?

I decided to go ahead and proceed with Spanish lessons. We get free Rosetta Stone (thank you, USAF) and I've talked to a lot of other people interested in learning. The idea here is to be fluent in communicating with other cultures before I become fluent in talking to Spanish-speakers.

How do you know God's on my side today? I babysat 6 kids aged 5 & under, wasn't tempted to beat any of them, and didn't even cry! Progress!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

July 13, 2010

Guess who's back... Back again...

Alright, here's the thing - I'm burned out on formalities. I've been way too concerned with the formal text of these blogs, and way too concerned with having a new and relevant topic on a daily basis. This is not how God operates. I don't have a coin-operated God. He does not dispense wisdom on demand when I put a quarter in. He dispenses wisdom when my life experience brings me to my knees in the realization that I have no idea what I'm doing- that this world is not designed for me to sustain without Him.

That being said, how in the world can I command a daily revelation from the Lord? The pressure of forcing myself into "growth" every day, just for the sake of a blog, does nothing to glorify Him. The pressure of filling an hour of focused, moving prayer while not allowing the kids to kill themselves or each other does nothing to glorify God. Rather, in my personal life, it's disrespectful to Him. The Lord has put under my responsibility four children that deserve to see Him operating in love - not to be pacified and distracted by TV for an hour so I can have alone time. His will for me as a caretaker and mother simply does not coincide with my former will for me as an all-star contributor to the DNI team.

The point is, I am shedding structured expectations of my walk with my Father. We may spend 5 hours together some days, we may spend 5 minutes together others. Who can put a standard of time over the Creator of time? I may advance leaps and bounds with God some days (today), some days we may be lucky to tread water (the last month). Who can measure whether God is at work?

I'm so tired of attempting to live up to these self-imposed expectations of what God needs to be doing for me. I'm so tired of feeling like a failure when I haven't pushed Him enough. I'm so tired of forcing my life with Him, instead of just living it.

I have no idea when I'll update next. But I can guarantee that when I do, it'll finally be God speaking instead of me.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

July 1, 2010

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a hallelujah

July 1, 2010

Things aren't going so hot. Dropped my DNI times and let go of the sense of responsibility I had for the blog. Given the ages of the kids I am caring for right now, I literally do not have sixty consecutive minutes in the day to concentrate on anything. Sixty consecutive seconds to use the restroom can be a stretch (literally- Carson gave Codie 30 doses of Mylicon Monday while I was in the bathroom). Our computer is in our basement, and it's not babyproof enough to have the kids down here. I can't leave them unsupervised for any amount of time, so I'm lucky if I get online once a week to balance the checkbook. Daily blogging, following an hour of focused prayer, is simply not a possibility at this stage of life. Returning to school seemed like a good idea to keep me occupied & challenged, as being a housewife can get pretty mundane. Instead, it's trumped everything. I care about God, Zach and my family far more than I care about education. And yet, those are the departments I'm sacrificing for education. Pray for me? I'm not so good at this time management thing.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

June 9, 2010

Whoohoo! Productive prayer time this morning. God must've known the meltdown I would've had if today turned into another yesterday. Honestly, haven't felt much of a "Daily Bread" today. Just a continued conviction to demonstrate His love more fully.
Also- I'm horrible at reading Scripture, or maintaining good habits. Going to start trying a new method. Leaving a Bible in the bathroom, and reading a chapter every time I'm in there. Chances are I can spare three minutes, right?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

June 8, 2010

Today is HARD. Two kids whining nonstop, Carson playing in the toilet every time I sit down to breathe. I cannot keep my mind focused for the life of me. Zach & I had a good ten minutes of prayer, but the rest of the hour has been utter disappointment. It's only 40 minutes in, and I'm giving up. While writing this, I had to stop three times - Carson took Codie's paci and dunked it in the toilet, Codie needed help with gas pains, and Carson was in the utility room playing in the dryer. And now, gotta get Carson out of the DVDs... Child care and ability to focus on anything simply do not go together well.

Friday, June 4, 2010

June 4, 2010

Three parts today:
1) I started an Anatomy & Physiology class at night this week. We're only on day two, and the last two days of basic chemistry & biology review just have me speechless, in awe of God's intelligent design. I sit in His presence on the drive home and just worship His might. This class is going to be great for my faith. As we were discussing cell membranes last night, the teacher was comparing the membrane to barriers in our daily reality - fences, walls, etc. And I realize that everything man has made for his own convenience, in some way, mimicks the design God has created. Not only is He the Creator of our earth and our bodies, He has created the fundamental science that allows for "man-made" inventions. Romans 1:20 explains that God has put so much of Himself into nature that anyone on this earth will be able to see Him, through his surroundings. I'm taking that a step further. Anyone that enjoys being inside a home can see the way that being protected by walls reflects the cell membrane that exists to protect the cell's nucleus. Anyone that uses a key to unlock his front door can see the way the key is a perfect match to its one and only lock, just as enzymes are a perfect match to their one and only molecule set. There are no ideas that are truly original to man. Everything we create as a mankind, whether intentionally or not, reflects the design of the Creator. What glory this must bring Him.

2) My post a few days ago was misleading. I said that it's okay when I'm busy, God & I just pick up where we left off. Although I know God is patient and understanding, He also deserves a higher priority in my life. The things that keep me busy are parenting, housekeeping, and schoolwork. I perform in these roles far better when I am primarily maintaining my role as a child of God. When I seek to please Him, the rest falls into place.

3) I see the DNI mission as a relay, running the torch. I often feel like I'm failing the team in my leg of the race because I am so frequently interrupted and distracted. There is no such thing as a quiet place with 4 children under 4 in the house. God put it on my heart this morning that there's no minimum distance in my leg of the race. I can travel six inches or a mile, and both bring Him glory. All that matters is that I not drop the torch. To me, this means keeping myself in a state of open communication with Him. If I have to change Codie's diaper mid-prayer, I can pray thanksgiving for a healthy baby. If I have to discipline a kid mid-prayer, I can pray for conviction on my shortcomings, or for justice to those perpetuating darkness. God is perfectly capable of keeping up with the pace in our household, and shifting His focus as mine is shifted. Just don't drop the torch.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

June 3, 2010

I was thanking God this morning for financial provision and career opportunities when I got a bit convicted of the significance of these things. They simply aren't that important. In the list of my blessings, I often include air conditioning (especially when it's been repaired and the previous day our house was 83 degrees, but let's not get too specific here), reliable transportation (especially when it's just been repaired and the previous day had no car, but let's not get too specific here), and financial security. Although I am very appreciative of these things, they aren't the core blessings God has provided me. They're measures of comfort. I was born into a circumstance that allows for comfort, some aren't. Some are born into nations of persecution, some are born into poverty, some addiction. God is still their God. They may not be in circumstances as comfortable as mine, but they are still just as blessed. Which has me thinking today (when I can think - really, this four kids + prayer hour thing is hard), what are the core blessings God provides? Unconditional love, forgiveness via salvation (or is it salvation via forgiveness?), the unfailing presence of the Holy Spirit. I'm so quick to be thankful for my comfort that I overlook the biggest blessings I have. I can only hope that I would still feel so blessed if I were to lose my air conditioning, car, and financial security. To find my comfort in Christ alone is ultimate faith-living. I need to get there.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

June 2, 2010

Didn't make it very far in prayer time this morning. The bottomless potty training method sort of takes away from my ability to focus on anything this week. I've got a sense of calm about it - not in a complacent way of settling, but in the way of fitting God into my reality. It reminds me of the way I see my marriage - it's not an option, but a fact of my life that is with me forever. There are days that we don't see each other much or find time for good conversation, as well as times when he's out of town altogether (thank you very much, USAF). This doesn't mean he's no longer my husband. It means we're on pause, and we'll pick up where we left off when time allows us to. God is still my God. I'm going to have a chaotic week of transitioning to four kids in the house, potty training a toddler, handling a newborn with acid reflux, starting night school and maintaining the house. God sees that, understands that, and will wait for me. My challenge is to not take advantage of his patience, and still prioritize the time I can make for Him.

Update: Prayed with Carson last night and Zach this morning - one day in, whoo hoo!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

June 1, 2010

I mentioned in a note quite a while back the question that constantly plays in my head - Would Carson know that his parents are Christians?
When this thought first came to me, its intent was pretty obvious to me. I was being called to invite Christ into our home more - to make him a resident rather than a guest. I felt a distinct urging to show Carson prayer in different forms. I was to have him witness me in prayer for the world daily (DNI time), Zach & me in prayer for our family together, and to engage Carson in a prayer of thanksgiving every night. I'm not sure if we've modeled all three of these in the same day yet.
This morning I got heavily convicted on this again, and asked Zach to keep me accountable to it. Even if the prayers are not something he is called to do, supporting his wife's obedience to the Lord most certainly is. This is something I've failed to do many, many times, and really need to take more seriously.

Irrelevant sidenote: Genesis 2:16. God's first commandment to man was one of freedom. Restriction is a secondary order. God does not want to stifle you with rules. He wants you to thrive within the boundaries He sets.

Monday, May 31, 2010

May 31, 2010

Got a great reminder yesterday of the message from Easter service, and developed it a little further on my own. Very cool to see the recurring themes within the Bible.
Let's define the Adam race. All humans are traced back to Adam himself, and Adam made a decision that titled his bloodline as sinners. The label of "sinner" was a problem for me before I understood it. It struck me as a very negative, dirty word that described a self-defeating cycle we are powerless against. A "sinner" was someone anxiously awaiting the opportunity to cheat, steal, manipulate. Hardly the image of God. I refused to see my Carson as fitting under the umbrella of "sinner." What I came to understand changed everything - We aren't sinners because we sin. We sin because we are sinners.
It's not that Carson is a dark child that seeks to do evil. Carson is a child of God, born into a world of satan, that is inevitably going to miss the mark in this life. He will fail, because he is only human. This statement is synonymous with "He will sin, because he is a sinner." failure = sin, human = sinner.
So how does one defeat the sin nature of being in the Adam race? Don't be in Adam. Be in Christ.
Jesus was born to the Adam race. He defeated the Adam race, and became the Christ race by resurrection. He laid down into a grave, and was raised from it. The motion reminds me of a windshield wiper - lays down, then returns upright.
This is completely parallel to baptism. A believer is to lay down into water, and then be risen from it. A believer's baptism is his own resurrection. Put the Adam inheritance to its grave in water, and rise clean in Christ.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

May 27, 2010

I was given a pretty clear reminder this morning to be in the Word more if I want to know God better. Spent the last twenty minutes of prayer time in Acts, reading the letter written to new Gentile believers. It sends a message of baby steps. The letter is short and commands very little of the new believers, as to not throw them headfirst into the deep end. In my past I've tried jumping in to faith - going from very cold to very hot, as to avoid being lukewarm. It gave the same effect as jumping into a cold pool after being in a hot tub - I went into shock. It's too great of a transition to expect it to take place instantly. It's wiser to ease in slowly. Follow what you understand, pray for clarity on issues you don't understand. Trust that God is in control and has wisdom far greater than ours.

Sidenote: What's the greatest thing God's ever done?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

May 26, 2010

Again, a delay in posting. Again, I'm really struggling with focus. Although it seems like an innocent enough thing to be distracted by, it's really difficult to stop staring at Codie for a full hour and focus on anything else.

So this morning I cheated. The first 15 minutes I stared at Codie to my heart's content, and just thanked God for every little detail. The way He designed my body to ready itself for childbirth, and the way He's provided Codie nutrition and further developed her immune system via breastmilk. The way our noses are placed above our mouths so that we can smell food before consuming - a way to defend ourselves against poisonous produce or food gone bad. The way that these noses protrude from our faces so that, as infants, we don't suffocate when pressed against our mothers' skin to eat. The way newborn vision is so limited, so that while nursing all they can see is mom's face. The way our torsos are arranged, so that we can cradle baby while nursing. The way babies weigh so little, so that even a postpartum mother still in recovery can lift the infant. The way the babies grow so gradually, so that mom can grow her strength at a matching rate so that baby doesn't become too heavy to be held until it is walking age. He's much smarter than me.

After my morning nursing love-fest, God spoke to me via breastpump (TMI?). Zach claims I'm hearing things, but my sister backs me up - the motor in my breastpump speaks. It repeats "let it go" as it performs its suction cycle (creepy, right? Also very appropriate). As a result of my two-week hiatus from prayer, I've become more and more bitter toward people around me lately. I was praying from my hardened heart this morning and just heard (through the Medela motor, of course) "let it go" repeatedly. What a relief it is to sit still for ten minutes, listen to God's reminder to "let it go" and just release the hate.

Couple of tidbits from the past few days: (heard on radio) God does what is good for you, not what is good to you. It is dangerous to pray for your wants (or what you may perceive as needs) and expect fulfillment of these.

It is okay to be in perseverence mode. It is okay to struggle to bring yourself to prayer, and to struggle to stay in prayer. The important part is simply getting there- continuing to strive for glory to God. I'm in perseverence mode, and it's nothing to be ashamed of. It's something to be proud of. The temptation to slack is here, and I'm making efforts to work through it. God is not ashamed of that.

Friday, May 21, 2010

May 21, 2010

Forgive me for the brief hiatus - I was busy birthing new life. Actually, the labor part only took a couple hours on Mother's Day, May 9. Since then, I've just had a really hard time doing anything but staring at my baby. My focus has actually become an issue in my prayer life, and I would love prayer & encouragement over it.
This morning was my first real effort at prayer time since Codie was born, and it was incredibly rewarding. I was praying over certain strongholds and calluses in my heart, and just had this incredible freeing sense of exposure. The visual I had was being in the place of a slide under a microscope with God being the scientist. There's nothing invasive or nerve-wracking about it, though. Just a sense of peace that He's in control.
I was thinking yesterday about parenting methods. There are a few families in our church that have phenomenal children- obviously the product of Kingdom-based parenting. I've asked about their methods before and been directed to a book. I've never actually read the book because the title reminds me of training a dog, and it strikes me as degrading to the child.
I was also very reluctant to read Love & Respect because it struck me as degrading to wives. So I survived in a mediocre, unhealthy relationship for a year. Then I read the book and came to appreciate God's design of marriage, and his plan for Zach & me. Our marriage has been revolutionized.
The point of all this is to show how much I need to abandon the thinking of our society. The society that taught me that women don't need to respect their husbands, and deserve to be leaders over submissive husbands is the same society that can't keep half of its marriages intact. The society that taught me that children need friends instead of parents, and pardons over spankings, is the same society with more behavioral-health issues than any preceding generation (or is it simply more awareness? Touche). Abandon society thinking. There is nothing healthy about becoming more adapted to an ill world. Society is wrong about marriage. Society might be wrong about child-raising. Psychological theories come and go in trends, but the Bible is an unchanging, everlasting standard that has never failed.
Bottom line, I need to read the book.

Friday, May 7, 2010

May 7, 2010

Continuing on the theme of "Who do they say I am?" I've been reading from Matthew (because when I flip through the gospels, it's the one I notice with the most red text, meaning Jesus's direct words). So far I've read about Jesus being baptized. John the Baptist asks him why John should be baptizing Jesus, rather than vice versa. Jesus replies "It is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." He didn't have to - his salvation certainly wasn't riding on it, but chose to do so in order to set an example. There's today's daily bread.
Jesus is the example of spiritual living in a flesh body.
I often hear things about conquering the grave, defying death, etc. These are words that I've heard so often they no longer bear weight (and were always a little over my head anyway). So I'm backing it up to kindergarten level.
Since Eve decided she juuuuuust couldn't help herself (because wouldn't we all accept produce from a talking snake?), mankind has been on a downward spiral of sin. It is now in the genetic nature of our flesh body to entertain darkness. It is the easiest thing in the world to sucuumb to the temptation of the flesh body and disregard God's commandments for pure living. It is the hardest thing in the world to overcome the flesh body and fulfill every one of God's commandments for pure living, without a single falter. It is so hard that only one man has ever accomplished it. In the battle of darkness vs. light, flesh vs. spirit, he is the only man to ever emerge with a 100% success rate. The people I look up to most and consider spiritual leaders probably have a 75% success rate - only a good day. I'm probably running in the 40% range (still good enough for the MLB, might I add). Why in the world would I aspire to the example of someone with a 75% success rate when I have access to the documentation of the only perfect score in history? Respect your pastor, revere your Christ. Jesus is the example of spiritual living in a flesh body.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

May 6, 2010

First and foremost, I know I missed yesterday. And I have enough to write about today that I could do a post for yesterday and lie on the datestamp, but that's supposed to be something I'm improving on. Truthfully, I just woke up at 10:40 and was lazy with my husband and boy. I'm disappointed that I didn't fulfill my promise to the DNI team, but don't feel like it interfered any with my growth with God. I am allowed to pray other hours of the day, too.

Had a vision this morning of a loved one shooting a gun. Someone that's not likely to shoot a gun at all. It was moreso a message to me of aiming for perfection, and the need to be slow and steady while doing so. I learned that the word "sin" is an archery term used to describe only "missing the mark." It doesn't say how far off you were, or that you're a horrible shot for not making a bullseye. Just simply that your shot wasn't right on. This is how I view conviction. To me, it's not a shameful process of being condemned. It's simply an encouraging little guidance that tells me I can do better. Conviction is God's advising on how to aim better for the mark - what could be more loving than that? He does want to see us succeed.

I've been meaning to write about this for weeks, and have yet to actually do it. It tugged on my heart more than ever this morning. I've been guilty of living a Christless Christianity. In Matthew 16:13-17, Jesus asks "Who do they say I am?" I have the standard "right" answers on hand - Messiah, Christ, son of living God, etc. But those words have no depth to me. It's just a programmed response. I'm jaded to the concept of Christ. I relate it sort of to Santa Claus. As a child, you're enthralled by the idea of a mystery man bearing gifts, and love him dearly. The older you get, you can still conjure the vision of St. Nick on a Coke ad, but that nostalgia is gone. You've grown so adjusted to the idea of Santa that it's hard to appreciate him anymore. Now, I know one is a ficticious fat man in a red suit and the other the Sacrificial Lamb for all mankind, it's just a basis for understanding. I've grown so accustomed to what Jesus did that I no longer appreciate it fully.

So this morning I spent some time breaking down what I do understand. I understand that, before Jesus, man had to offer a sacrifice as payment to cover his sin, and therefore, have communication with God. Post-Jesus, we can call on the Lord in any time of need and simply charge it to Jesus's account. I understand that Jesus is the means by which we are allowed to develop intimacy with the Father. John 14 gives record of Jesus promising to send a Helper (the Holy Spirit) that will allow this.

I started to develop more of an understanding of the forgiveness of sin this morning. If Jesus paid the debt of sin (I visualize this as literally paying off the balance of a credit card for me), he therefore is the rightful owner of said sin - just the same as he would rightfully own my car if he paid off my car loan (this is obviously hypothetical. If you know me, you know that I would never take out a car loan). Anyway, that ownership of our sin ties back to what was said in church a few weeks ago that is so liberating.

"We have no right anymore to lay claim to being disqualified. It's covered by the blood of the Lamb. We have no right to lay claim to being disqualified. It's not our stuff. It's one of the reasons why Lord Jesus, on the cross, in the midst of all the intensity, in the pain of not just his death, but the burden of the weight of sin that was on his shoulders at that point, says out loud to the Father, to the world, to the Heavens, "It's finished. It's done." If the Lord Jesus says it's done, there is nobody who can call that back. There is nobody who can disagree with that." - Brock McKay (see 4/18/10 post for more on disqualification)

Jesus paid for our sin, and therefore took ownership of sin to do with what he wish. He wished to free the world from the weight of it. By this logic, I am not permitted to take the weight of my sin, even if I so desire. He's made that decision for me.

"Who do they say I am?" I say he's the means of intimate communication with the Living God, the sender of the Holy Spirit to the earth, and the payee and liberator of my sin account. Who do you say he is?

PS Bit of honesty: Remembering verses is NOT my talent, and I do have to Google keywords to find the Scripture I'm looking for. It's humbling.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

May 4, 2010

Few short bites this morning-

*I used to feel guilty that my prayer hour wasn't spent in a dark closet, rocking back & forth and waiting to hear an audible, booming voice from the Lord. It took me a while to figure out that God has been speaking to me all this time, regardless of whether I'm in a quiet place or changing a diaper. He is not restricted by atmosphere - that's simply an element that affects my focus.
I've felt like it's more respectful to try to spend my prayer time in a quiet place, if possible. The only quiet place in our house is my bedroom. Cozying up in bed without kids does not help me focus on the Lord. It helps me nap. So this morning, as I'm laying on the couch to get to my "still, quiet" place, I'm inevitably getting tired. God spoke so directly to me, telling me to "Just keep moving, just keep moving..." (it was actually to the tune of "Just keep swimming" from Finding Nemo. Apparently God's an Ellen fan, too). So a load of dishes, two loads of laundry, swept and mopped floor later, I focused on my prayer far better than I have in a long time.
He speaks to me, and I hear from Him, in a different way than I expected. He's still speaking, and I'm still hearing - and that's all He's asked for.

*I was praying a thanksgiving for the changes I've seen in Zach. They're nothing short of a miracle to our family. I was trying to explain to God just how exciting it is to see him bearing fruit, and had to stop and realize how much more exciting it is to God to see Zach bear fruit - who do you think planted it there?

*My talents do not lie in the understanding theology area. I can understand the parables that are pretty obvious, but find myself reading through ancient law and genealogy and just failing to understand the relevance of any of it. As a result, I have no opinion on creationism, speaking in tongues, baptism, etc. My talent lies in blind faith - I have no problem with accepting that my brain isn't equipped to understand God's full operations. Full understanding would put me on the same level as God, and that's not a place I'm designed to occupy. I've started to wonder if there is danger in this naive faith, and whether God would rather I thirst for the facts so I can represent Him more fully. Jury's still out on this one.

Monday, May 3, 2010

April 25, 2010

I updated a few weeks ago on the topic of temptation, and the freedom from sin I feel. Although I closed by discussed personal responsibility in reaction to temptation, I don't think I did a good enough job emphasizing this. It was presented brilliantly in church this morning. I, of course, didn't take coherent notes and therefore will try to piece together something logical here and edit when the sermon audio is available online.

The heart is the most fertile place on earth. What seeds fall into the heart will manifest there - be it good seed or bad. Although I don't believe I am responsible for the temptation that presents itself to me, I am responsible for whether I entertain this temptation. Matthew 5:27-30 (the "I tell you that anyone wo looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart" verses) makes it pretty clear that entertaining the idea of sin is introducing the sin to yourself. As that idea takes seed in your fertile heart, it is bound to grow like wildfire. Why is it that weeds are so hard to kill and blooms are so hard to keep alive? The important message from this morning is that sin is more than the moment of relapse - it is more than the instant gratification and then repentance that sometimes follows. Sin is allowing the darkness of the enemy to take root in your heart and spread. Guard your heart. Protect it and weed it and fertilize it so it can be pure.

May 3, 2010

For those that don't know, I'm 39 weeks pregnant and taking two online courses. Next week I'll be having a baby - during finals week. So Saturday I emailed an instructor asking how he felt about letting me take his final a few days early, since it doesn't officially open until the same day I may be getting induced. I logged back on to the online system this morning to find that he'd written back Saturday that yes, he'll open the final early for me, it needs to be done Monday evening.
It's Monday morning.
I still have two chapters to complete, at three hours a piece, for that class before I'm ready to start studying for the final.

Talk about a pleasant way to start a Monday morning.

So why in the world am I not working on those right now?
Because God never told me to be a straight-A student. God never told me to be a student at all.
God did tell me to start a blog, and to publish the things I learn from Him. I slack on this duty - a lot. I'm guilty of only updating once a week, and then changing the date stamps to look like I've updated daily. I'm guilty of putting Facebook, housework, homework, phone calls, even naps before Daily Bread. It seems silly to put a blog on God-status, but it is one of the few things in my life God has called directly upon me to do.

So here's today's Daily Bread, courtesy of a church brother named Paul Miller: "Stop and listen, you who busy yourselves with endless tasks. As Martha did, are you doing things your Father hasn't even asked for? Are you seeking to attain His love through works? Are you consumed with desire to be recognized and praised by the people around you rather than the one true God? Do not conform any longer to the patterns of this world and the patterns of a religious system. But be transformed by the renewing of your minds."

No excuses. No distractions. Just obedience.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

May 1, 2010 - Submission

This is, by far, the most important concept I have ever understood, and I hope I do it justice in the way I present it here.

In both my relationship with God and in my marriage, I believe in submission. Nothing is more important in my life than understanding the importance of obedience. I am not number one in my life, or in any aspect of the world.
This starts with the Creator. Proverbs 3:5-6 makes it pretty clear that we don't have to understand God's plan, we just have to agree to trust Him. This often contradicts my earthly will - particularly in my daily prayer hour. Boredom and household duties often tempt me to spend time away from prayer. I got a great email this week from my friend Lizzie, offering encouragement in dedicating to prayer time. "I was given a word by my husband this week to press through being obedient to prayer if I don't feel like it, just like how we would brush our teeth or shower when we don't feel like it. The Lord revealed to me how dedicated and thorough I am in my brushing my teeth, but how quick I can be to slack off in prayer."

Our God is a beyond sufficient provider, and will not leave us in need. All He asks of us is an obedience to Him in return. We don't have to agree with His will. We just have to submit to it.

Submission is an intimidating word because of the social stigma in our post-sexual revolution culture. We dare not give up our personal freedoms to compromise to anyone - the generation before mine burned many bras and marched many miles to free me from submission. No offense to the feminist movement, but to me, submission is nothing to hide from. To me, submission is the manifestation of trust. That's the most important part, so let's repeat. Submission is the manifestation of trust. There is nothing compromising or oppressive about the intimacy of a trusting relationship. There is only love and security there.

From 2/26 in my journal: Within my marriage, let me embody respect for my husband and his calling to lead our family. Let me know that submission is not a form of oppression, but a showing of trust in the plans Zach has for us. The more I show him this respect, the more his heart will desire to love me to my deepest needs. When I fail to submit to my husband, I am showing him that I don't respect him or trust him as a leader. There are times that Zach is wrong, but it is not my responsibility to place blame or take authority. I pray for him earnestly, follow him faithfully, and let him recognize the mistake in his own time. He is a good-willed leader that wants the best for our family, and I trust he will make that happen. I have never had a prayer for Zach's heart that wasn't answered in a matter of days.

I think this is what it means to love someone else more than you love yourself. I have so much trust in Zach that I would rather see his needs met first, and know that he'll take care of mine in return. A year ago, we couldn't stop arguing because I was so afraid that if I gave in, he'd walk all over me. I honestly thought I needed to drive my point into his brain or he wouldn't get it.
Zach's a more intelligent man than this. He knows me, and knows my priorities and interests. Since I've stopped the nagging, he's actually been more responsive to my wants. We realized today it's been a long time since we've had a real argument. We still get snappy with each other, and then we improve our moods and apologize. There's no tension in our home anymore. We're living with joy in our marriage, and no longer just surviving the days in it. I've never found him more attractive.

I read the Five Love Languages book by Dr. Gary Chapman before understanding the submission concept. It gives its reader the opportunity to understand both his own and his spouse's "love language" - the way they prefer to show and receive love. The five love languages are: Quality Time, Acts of Service, Words of Confirmation, Physical Touch and Gifts. Zach's is acts of service. Mine is physical touch. Nothing is more cozy to me than cuddling on the couch and watching a movie. Nothing is more comforting than being hugged when I'm upset. Before the submission concept revolutionized our marriage, I came to understand that I would feel more loved if Zach would spend more time with me in physical touch. I made efforts to meet his needs for acts of service, and just could not understand what kind of heartless husband would refuse to meet his wife halfway. I used to count the days since I last received the touch I desired, and would hold the count against Zach as a proof of spousal neglect. We had many, many fights over this and I shed many, many tears over it.
I realized a few days ago it's been weeks, if not at least a month, since I've received the cuddle time I would consider sufficient for my physical touch needs. And yet, I've never felt more loved. Although my love language is not gifts, I feel so loved when Zach brings me home a Dr. Pepper because he had to stop at the gas station and knows how much I love fountain drinks. My love language isn't acts of service, but I know he loves me when he does the dishes because I've been complaining about my back hurting. My love language isn't quality time, but I feel so treasured when he gets a babysitter for Carson so he can take me to a baseball game and relax together. I mean no disrespect toward Dr. Chapman's ideas, I'm sure they've been a blessing to other marriages. In my marriage, however, I didn't need any help identifying how I wanted to be loved. I needed help identifying how he already loves me.

Read "Love & Respect" by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. Before opening the book, spend some time in prayer and ask God to help quiet the selfish cultural voice in each of us. Ask Him for revelation in His design of our psychology and how we interact as a result. Mostly, ask Him for help in planting the seed of submission, and that it bloom something beautiful for you.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

April 29, 2010

I was thinking today, I'd probably be a better child of God if only I weren't American. Darn you, stars & stripes, freedom & civil rights. Kidding - I truly am thankful to live in the States (so please don't kick my husband out of the military, Department of Defense). But really, think about what choice does to us and our standards.
You would have a much easier time eating bland rice and beans if you didn't have the realistic option of pizza and burgers. If only given the choice to wear mom jeans or nothing, mom jeans would win in my book (depending on the temperature and the present company, anyway). I would have a much easier time following God if I weren't born into a nation that allows me the personal liberties to believe what I want.
Self-righteousness is one of the greatest evils that separate us from God in the modern world. We've gained this sense of entitlement that leads us to believe we deserve everything we want, rather than being grateful for having what we need.
I'm by no means harping on treating yourself - I believe whole-heartedly that winding yourself too tight with self-sacrifice will only cause you to burst. But from your probably padded chair in your probably air conditioned space on your sufficiently operating computer, let's give it some thought.
What are your standards? Do you believe that you deserve a professional massage because you made it through a chaotic work week? Do you deserve a new wardrobe because you met your goal weight? Do you deserve forgiveness, just because you gathered up the nerve to ask? Do you deserve salvation, because in our culture we've grown numb to just how big of a favor this is?
Yes, we live in a nation of great accomplishment that allows us many liberties and personal choices. This is by the grace of God alone and does not mean that we necessarily deserve the cushioned lives we are allowed to live. Are you willing to drop some of your cushioning and take on more raw intimacy with the Father?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

April 21, 2010

I was excited when God gave me the "Daily Bread" title because the theme lent itself to a bit of relevant creativity - food for thought, something to chew on, etc. I mainly liked that I can reference the Lord's prayer in a whole new way. 'Give us this day our daily bread' is no longer just about financial security to me, but calling on the Lord to reveal Himself to me in a new way that can be of use to others. It needs to be my anthem, and the first thing I call on God for every morning. Today, the Lord provided my daily bread through my friends Laura and Brandi. To be honest, I was not up for writing today. My energy is tapped out, and I never got a strong lead on what to say. Truthfully, I've been warning myself that not many people read this, and certainly not often. That means no one would really notice if I skipped a few days, right? So, with no intention to log onto blogspot tonight, I just checked my gmail account and saw encouraging comments from friends, and was given a whole new energy for this. God is reminding me how dangerous it is to fall into a place of complacency. Although it's not realistic to expect enthusiasm from my flesh on a daily basis, I do expect even "perseverence mode" to consist of a great desire to please my God. This leads back to prayer time (April 15, 2010 post). It's okay to have to drag your mortal mind into engaging in prayer. Once you're there, your spirit will be reminded of how satisfying it is to offer yourself back to Him.

PS I just had to double-check the definition of complacency with Zach, and have a new appreciation for exactly how well fit it is for this topic. Expect it in my Facebook status before too long.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

April 20, 2010 - Temptation (my favorite post to date)

I don't hear from God in conversation form often. Imagine my surprise to hear from Him so direct this morning:

Me: Hey, God, I'm not reading out of my Bible, so I'm not sure exactly where I left off in Acts. Where do you want me to read this morning?
God: *silence*
Me: Uhhh... ya hearin' me, buddy?
God: *crickets*
Me: Alright then. I'm just... gonna... roam... I guess...
God: Roam on into Romans.
Me: That was almost as punny as Howie Mandel. Really, God, you're gonna have to bring your A-game humor to impress me.

So anyway, I 'roamed into Romans' (so glad I'm not responsible for that phrase) and found a great excerpt on temptation. Paul, a significant and respected figure in the Bible, admits himself powerless against his sin nature in Romans 7:15-20. In order to understand what this means to me, let's backtrack a bit.
In the last 10 years, I have had more than a few ups and downs with God. The most recent "down" lasted about four years and was due largely in part to sin nature. Why in the world would a God create a man with biological, physiological impulses and then instruct him to never, ever give into these impulses? What kind of a set-up for failure is this? Certainly not one a loving God would provide. I struggled with this for four years, and never did find a straight answer. I ended my girlfight with God in February of 2009 with no resolve on this issue, but just an agreement to "lean not on your own understanding, but trust in the Lord God with all your heart" (Proverbs 3:5-6). April 2010 finally brought me some breakthrough in this area. Prepare yourself for the most elementary revelation ever: We do not get to choose our areas of temptation. I know, right? Obvious. If we got to choose, it wouldn't be a struggle. I think I would choose the temptation to eat too many vegetables, and spend too much time in prayer and volunteerism.
Point is, I used to take responsibility for my sin history, and the shame I find in it. It was my free will that erred, and my flesh that acted irresponsibly, and my reputation that suffered as a result. Pile on top of this guilt the pressures of keeping secret my past, and there's a tension mounted within me stretched to its breaking point. Of course, under such strain, I'm bound to fall again and boost the vicious cycle in its spin. It's no wonder I couldn't maintain a stable relationship with God. So there's the negative cycle, and here's the relief part again: We do not get to choose our areas of temptation.
This is the "freedom from sin" concept. You did not invite the world's darkness to your doorstep. You did not go begging society to please fall further away from God's will. It happened out of your control, and you happen to be an impacted bystander. Nobody blames a burn victim for simply being present when the fire raged out of control, and nobody judges the scars as the victim's responsibility. To have freedom from my sin history and the weight of its responsibility allows me to engage in a positive cycle with the Lord. One in which temptation does come, as it came to Jesus Christ himself, and I am not to blame for this.
My responsibility lies solely in my reaction to the temptation. It is my opinion that God is most flattered by honesty. What could be more rewarding to God than to take your deepest, darkest secrets and expose them in His light? The less responsible I feel for my temptations, the less personal the temptations become, and thus, easier to combat.
Praise God for freedom, and for the provision of this daily bread.

Monday, April 19, 2010

April 19, 2010

Acts 16:4-5: As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.

This doesn't initially strike me as a powerful verse, but I know there are no wasted words in the Bible. The more I reflect on it, the more I appreciate it. Of all the messages Paul and Silas could have delivered in their traveling, the one that was chosen was obedience. I was thinking yesterday about the pressures of raising good kids, and all the different lessons I'm going to have to teach them someday about right and wrong. Then I realized that all it boils down to is obeying the Spirit over the flesh. God understands that our mortal flesh has a certain response system that has been influenced by our brainwashed society. It is not a sin to be tempted, nor is it a sin to feel any emotional response. What God seeks is that we choose to obey Him rather than obeying the desires of our flesh.
This was also brought up in a different form last night. The way my mind had formed it was emotion vs. commitment. There are a million different forms of temptation that can play on my emotions and attempt to interrupt my commitment to Zach, Carson, God, whomever. Although there is instant gratification in satisfying my emotional wants, it just doesn't hold up to the joy of knowing that I've honored a commitment I've made. Obeying our commitments is where we find stability, maturity and wisdom. It goes against all we want, but provides for us all we need.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

April 18, 2010

I am on month four of a lifelong prayer schedule that God has been using to impart to me certain truths. I was initially excited to be of use to Him, and felt like I was closer to understanding my grace giftings and place in His Kingdom. Then I went to house church with a group of young adults that are more developed in their spiritual walks than I am. I watched them join around each other and share giftings from God that seemed so much more powerful than mine, and came so much easier. I got intimidated, vowed to not go back, and started reconsidering His purpose for me. I struggle so much with not being the best at something, I'd rather quit than be in second place. It was a challenge to my comfort zone to actually start this blog, but God's not interested in my comfort. He's interested in my character. While registering a blog name, I first tried many other variations of dailybread that were all taken. I've wondered a few times as to whether those blogs are the same concept as this one, but I'm too scared to look at them to know. What if they're better written? What if they aren't as trivial and "I" focused as mine?
God provided a security for me this morning with service at New Life. A church brother spoke very passionately about how we cannot disqualify ourselves to God. It's an insult to Him to talk down His creations, even when that creation is me. Within the next few days the service mp3 will be on newlifeequip.com, and I'll be able to edit with an actual quote of what was said. It's much more impressive in His words than my own.

Edit: Quote from Brock McKay on disqualification, courtesy of newlifeequip.org:
"It shortchanges the possibility for people to walk out this incredible identity that each one of us has and we have no right anymore to lay claim to being disqualified. It's covered by the blood of the lamb. We have no right to lay claim to being disqualified. It's not our stuff. It's one of the reasons why the Lord Jesus, on the cross, in the midst of all the intensity, in the pain of not just his death, but the burden of the weight of sin that was on his shoulders at that point, says out loud to the Father, to the world, to the heavens, "It's finished. It's done." If the Lord Jesus says it's done, there is nobody who can call that back. There is nobody who can disagree with that."

Saturday, April 17, 2010

April 17, 2010

I woke up at 4:30 this morning in dire need of a bathroom break and chocolate milk. Totally normal, right? Upon not being able to return to sleep/stop drinking chocolate milk, my mind somehow started psychoanalyzing my husband. Also totally normal, right? The way I was able to understand him at 5 AM made me love and respect him more than ever before. Warning: The following are assumptions based off my perception of Zach. I haven't actually run any of this by him before publishing on the internet. Don't all great love stories start with unauthorized publications about the other? Or was that just 27 Dresses?
I was thinking about how different we are in how we manage stress. I am a warm bath and chocolate relaxation kind of girl, he is a tear out tree stumps and manly things kind of guy. I often wonder what in the world can be relaxing about manual labor and reorganizing the garage for the tenth time in a week. I realized this morning that some of the greatest stress Zach faces are in regard to school and work. In both circumstances (as with most things in life), he often has to answer to a higher authority. Sometimes the judgment of these higher authorities is not in agreement with Zach's judgment, something he finds frustrating and powerless over. When he comes home, he's put into a setting in which he is given authority. Sometimes that situation is something as seemingly trivial as the length of our grass or the arrangement of the garage. To Zach, though, he has control over making some element of our home life perfect for our family to enjoy. Ultimately, his yard work and cleanliness equal out to his desire to make things perfect for us. For me. How can I not be flattered by that? How can I not respect that?
This may seem pretty irrelevant to movements in faith, and maybe it is. I'm just excited to develop a further appreciation of the way God designed my husband to provide for me. We don't have to speak the same language to understand what the other conveys.

PS Did read the Bible yesterday. Read about the mission work of Paul and Barnabas in Acts. I didn't feel a great revelation from what I read, and that's okay. If I am submitting to what God has asked of me, I am still doing His will. How can He or I be ashamed of that?

Friday, April 16, 2010

April 16, 2010

So remember how I've been struggling so bad to stay in perpetual prayer? God gave me an answer this morning, and it's a shocking, mind-blowing, GENIUS revelation: read the Bible. Duh, Jen. In the last two weeks, I've read at least 3 John Grisham novels and not a page of the Word. Doesn't take rocket science to see the connection here.
So now that I have put on the internet that God's told me to read the Bible today, I'm under a good amount of pressure to have a reading report by tomorrow. Thank God for accountability (He's smarter than me).
Change of topic: God's able to use me where I am. There have been so many volunteer opportunities or Bible studies I've wanted to participate in, and can't because of my responsibilities as a mother. I've been under the impression that I will be given my purpose in the Kingdom when the kids are older and my days are freer. Once again, He's smarter than me. This fellowship blog mission is easily and readily available from the home, with the kids here. Thank God for unexpected growth opportunities.

Today's Honesty: I'm quick to put God on the back burner to school and parenting, because I know He's a lot more forgiving and a lot more patient.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

April 15, 2010

I'm convicted today of failing to stay in a "perpetual prayer" mode. As a member of a day and night prayer team, I've signed up for the responsibility of being in prayer from 10-11 AM Monday through Friday. Although this has done great things for my prayer life (nearly everything written here originates in the 10-11 time), I'm also restricting myself with it. It's become an appointment in my time management, and all prayer-related items are pushed into the 10-11 slot. If I wake up at 8:00 with the Lord urging me to spend time in prayer on something, I "save" the material for my 10-11 hour. I understand this to be direct disobedience when God is asking for me here and now. Still, it's a habit that I've become stuck in and struggle to break. The daily tasks of homework, cleaning, and child care tend to occupy my primary focus, and prayer is all but forgotten from 11 until 10 the next day. I desperately need to get back to a perpetual prayer mode, and am seeking ways to do that. Any tips?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Give Us This Day

God just told me to start a blog. Although I can't say I foresaw this when I woke up this morning, God's outsmarted me once again (Him: infinity, Me: 0. And I thought my March Madness bracket looked bad).
I've been keeping a journal for the last several months of truths that God has told me in my prayer times. Each journal entry has brought me a great deal of reflection, conviction, encouragement, and, most importantly, a better understanding of the character of our Lord. Each entry has also made me crave fellowship with other believers - what child of God doesn't love to conversate with others about her experiences and insights?
I've searched a lot for the purpose of my journals. I know God isn't revealing Himself to me for His words to lie still on a page, never shared with others. I considered leading a Bible study, or publishing a book, but never felt that the Lord was 100% behind this. And so I asked Him again this morning what to do with His words, and was told very clearly a blog was the answer. Impressive how my Heavenly Father is at least 2000 years older than my earthly father, and is MUCH more in tune with technology. Sorry, dad. I'll take it back when you learn how to turn off the TV instead of cable box.
The more I think about this blog, the more excited it gets me. It resolves the logistics of the Bible study I couldn't possibly start - the one that includes friends across the country, the one that has too many members for all to possibly give feedback, the one that couldn't find a good child care solution, the one that would never meet simply on schedule conflicts alone. It also utilizes the never-ending boundaries of the Internet to glorify God by congregating His believers.
The vision I see for this blog is for readers to comment with their feedback (revelations, experiences, prayer needs) and we can encourage each other in that way. I believe you can post a comment without Google membership, but it will not send you an email alert for any responses. If you leave your email address with your comment, I will email you any responses so we can engage in truer communication. I am starting this blog on April 12, 2010, but am going to (attempt to) upload my back-dated journal entries. I'm completely new to blogs, so please bear with me as I get more familiar with its operations.
I strongly feel called to honesty in these writings. A grouping of vulnerable, imperfect, worldly people encouraging each other to live for Christ will do more for His Kingdom than us pretending to have it all together and needing for nothing.

Today's honesty: I am really reluctant to publish this. If I don't have a strong following of readers/commenters, it'll make me feel foolish and look like a loner. My flesh says it's important to be popular, and that makes me want to hide away from all that is not socially safe.

Take My hand and we'll make it, I swear
Living on a prayer,

Saturday, April 3, 2010

April 3, 2010

My aunt Karen is in town for the Easter weekend, and I've had the joy of visiting with her about faith and the way God moves. She is, what I consider, a very traditional and conservative Southern pastor's wife. I am, what I consider, very contemporary and liberal.
The church body I belong to, New Life, is very forward-thinking and out-of-the-box with their practices. We attend service at the middle school auditorium because they've never heard God tell them to build a facility - nor have they found need for one. Our pastor, Sam, regularly disregards the notes he's planned for service and just wings it because he hears God telling him to go down another path that particular morning. It's too improvisational and unstructured for a lot of more traditional believers, but to me, it speaks as genuine.
Being able to dialogue with Karen about her beliefs has opened me to recognizing that New Life is not the only congregation in the world that is doing it right. In fact, there are many Southern Baptist congregations, far more legalistic than my comfort zone, that are also "doing it right." There are believers gathering in tents in Middle Eastern countries with no doctrine at all that are "doing it right."
Here's my breakthrough today: We have one universal God. And He hears from us equally. He is just as glorified by hymns as he is modern worship music. The fire and brimstone delivery of sermons speaks His word just as honestly as Sam's improv sessions. To be relevant and covered by all different cultures is just beyond my imagination.
I try to picture one man walking the earth that fits with all cultures, loves all people, and is relevant to each and every person in our civilization. I simply can't. God is too big to be placed in the "box" of human limitations. He is contemporary and traditional. He is conservative and He is liberal. He is compassionate and He is just. He is soft and He is stern. He is more than any of us are capable of being - and maybe that's the point.
Our God is an awesome God.

Friday, February 26, 2010

February 26, 2010

Jude 9 shows that the spiritual war between God & Satan takes place on this earth and in us. It's easy to think about war as far away and foreign, but we truthfully acknowledge war's nearness in the Lord's prayer - "deliver us from evil." The "horizontal" concept of fighting in spiritual warfare means to rebuke the darkness we see around us, day to day. This is the way to defeat Satan.
I've been praying for spiritual warfare all this time without realizing it. I haven't been asking for evils drawn out, but rather, light to be drawn in. My personal prayers for those around me, and within myself, are good vs. evil prayers.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

February 25, 2010

I'm reading a biography of Eva Braun, the woman that wed Hitler hours before they committed suicide together. Diary excerpts are included in the book. On some of Hitler's most historically significant dates, Eva wrote diary entries that say only that he didn't call that day, and she was very disappointed. She was so obsessed with who Hitler was in her life that she was blind to who Hitler was in the world. His affairs with Poland were of no gain to her, and therefore no interest. She missed out on understanding a lot of Hitler's character because of this self-centeredness. I need to know God in the world, not just my world.

Monday, February 22, 2010

February 22, 2010

I've been questioning whether my visions & metaphors are truly from God or from my own wandering mind. The truth is that God does not always speak to us in a way we expect- which makes it all more of a challenge to hear when it is from Him. I was doubting His words today by telling myself that I can look at anything and create from it a metaphor about God, the way a paranoid person finds suspicion in anything. The Lord told me this is nota bad thing or preoccupation, but a blessing. To be able to find God in any situation is to be able to relate His word to any person's life, therefore bringing glory to His kingdom.

Asked the Lord how much to let my mind wander during prayer time. Some of the most groundbreaking truths have come through while my mind is floating, but I don't want to disrespect our time together by not paying attention. The Lord reminded me that I always get convicted when I veer to a place that's not constructive, and set back on His path. Just listen to His calling and obey.

Friday, February 19, 2010

February 19, 2010

1 Corinthians 14:3- "But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort."

I need to live this.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

February 18, 2010

Heard on the radio: No one ever became a Christian because they lost an argument. Evangelism isn't about out-debating someone, but about modeling the love of Christ for them to see.

(The following was written on 2/18/10, and is being uploaded on 4/29/10. It took me a few detours to figure out exactly where my journal writings should be headed. This is one of those "scenic routes.")

Answered prayer for direction and clarity of my purpose in the Kingdom. I believe these writings are a gift of prophecy- to speak God's truth. My attention to voice in writing, overly analytical approach and tendency to view everything from all sides as a potential debate are blessings sent to prepare and nurture my ability to prophesy.
My flesh is uncomfortable with the idea of attention and leadership. I fear failure and rejection. My flesh is of this world and, because Satan was cast to the earth, my flesh is tainted. My spirit, however, belongs to God. It is crucial that my mortal mind make the decision to answer to my spirit instead of my flesh, especially when my flesh is most uncomfortable. Satan attacks strongest that which intimidates him the most. An existence with God in which your flesh is content is not a growing relationship. Saying it again. An existence with God in which your flesh is content is NOT a growing relationship. The strain of flesh is a healthy trait of spirituality - it is how we measure our growth. Aim for stretch marks. Let the inside grow faster than the outside can contain.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

February 17, 2010

God asked me something this morning, and it is just rubbing me raw.

Would Carson be able to tell his parents are Christians?

Is our household one that proclaims His name boldly? Do we pray without hesitation? Are we modeling Christ's compassion to one another in the privacy of our home?

I don't think so.

Heard: Move within the body and assume leadership positions. Leadership is not something that we are comfortable with, but something that we've done before when necessary (as in, Numana events).
Urging to create a better prayer life for our family and home. Specifically, I need to model three different forms of prayer life for Carson. He needs to witness me praying to God individually, strengthening our personal relationship. He needs to witness Zach & I praying together, so that one day he can understand how to lead his wife in this way. Lastly, I need to be praying with him regularly, on his level. The level of an 18-month-old may be simply "thank you for food and a bed and parents" (that may even be over his head), but by meeting him at his level, I'm giving him an opportunity to grow individually in his prayers. The goal is for him to see where he is at, and where his parents are at as adults, and to bridge this gap with a maturity and submissive spirit for the Lord.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

February 16, 2010

I've struggled as a non-believer with the idea of blaming Satan for every non-believing rationalization that I had. I wanted credit for my own logic and didn't see myself as simply a pawn between good and evil.
2 Corinthians 4:4- "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God."
This tells me that I was designed to know God as truth and exist in agreement with Him. Satan took the world and blinded men to the truth of God, so our minds no longer discern the truth easily.
We are still responsible for our choices and loyalties, but the concept of relying on the world's logic did not originate within us. For a period of my life I chose to follow darkness. I did not create it.

*Also* I've been planning for some time to write a memoir for my descendants. The last weeks, I've come to realize that God is writing it for me in our time together.

Monday, February 15, 2010

February 15, 2010

"God will not give you more than you can handle."
I disagree. The most minimal task of living a pure life in an impure world is more than man can handle. We are supposed to be overwhelmed by living independently of God - man is designed to rely on the strength of God. We are guaranteed to face situations that are more than we can handle. My rewrite is:
"God will not give you more than He can handle."

Thursday, February 11, 2010

February 11, 2010

Called to: Find my place and get moving. This knowledge is not meant for my salvation, but for my spreading the Word. Move from an audience to an army.

(This was written on 2/11/10. I didn't find my place until April 2010.)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

February 9, 2010

Prayed: To be so broken to fully appreciate the Lord's value, worth & beauty as in 1 Peter 2:9- "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness and into His wonderful light."
Heard: God has already designed me to do this. It's in my nature. I need to ask for deliverance from lies of the world, distraction and the fog of darkness. I need to see clearly.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

February 7, 2010

Sonogram technology offers expectant mothers glimpses of their babies before birth. Two-D sonograms measure length and width to get an image of a baby's profile - exciting, but not very personal (honestly, you know they all look alike). Three-D sonograms measure length, width & depth to create a much more realistic snapshot of the baby's face. Sweet as it is to see the baby's face, many moms opt to take it a step further and watch their baby in motion in utero. This is done by applying the fourth dimension, time. If you want to know about God, you can get a 2-D image by hearing about Him from others. If you want to see His face & know Him, you can read the Bible and get a great account of things He's done in the past (emphasis here: in the past. A snapshot is always of a moment already passed). But if you want to watch God move in you in the present, the only way is by applying the fourth dimension of time. Invest your time in prayer and worship, and experience a living God in motion today.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

February 6, 2010

I received a metaphor from God on perseverence sometime mid-January.
See faith as a roller coaster (I know, cliche, right?). In order to gain enough momentum to complete a loop, cars must be dropped from a great height. The ride to the top isn't thrilling or any great experience at all, but you wouldn't dream of climbing out mid-ascension because you're bored. Persevere through the climb, and that effort will become momentum.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

February 3, 2010

Heard: Have a TV-free week. Leave the laptop downstairs.
Be still, and know that I am God.
Get off the couch, and into the day.

(He had to bring this up during Winter Olympics, didn't He?)

Added on 4/29/10: I did complete the TV-free week, and was eager to have it end. After day 7, TV was back on as usual. Only a few days later, Cox randomly audited our neighborhood, realized that we don't actually subscribe to cable, and unplugged us. We don't care enough about TV to pay for it, and therefore now only have channels 2-22. TV hasn't been a distraction since February. When it's not an option, it's not hard to ignore. Pretty sure God took care of that for us.

Monday, February 1, 2010

February 1, 2010

I need an eternal perspective. Look beyond the earth & its trials that eventually pass. Focus on the permanence and adequacy of the Lord that remains.

Prayed today for: a passion and a fire, as prayer life just feels dead.
Heard: I already have that fire if I'm still here, seeking the Lord during hardship.
Reread Love & Respect, this time with Zach.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

January 26, 2010

A phase of the prayer cycle I follow is referred to as the "Readiness of the Church" for her groom, Christ. I've never really understood how to pray for said "readiness." Today I asked myself what a bride does to prepare for marriage.
She grows up.
Pray for members of the body to reach a spiritual maturity and to recognize God's calling for individual lives, so that we may grow into a mature body prepared to lead the thousands of lost in our communities.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

January 20, 2010

Matthew 5:27-48: Control the sin while it's in your mind. By the time it becomes your actions, it's controlling you.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

January 19, 2010

Sometimes it doesn't take a lot of words to make a point.
Listen more. Filling an hour with words directed toward God is not a living prayer, nor is it effective.

Monday, January 18, 2010

January 18, 2010

A prayer for myself - that I no longer fear the coming of Christ. Is anyone else just terrified at the thought of the earth crumbling away under our feet and having to rely on the unseen? I appreciate God, but I really appreciate the predictability that I rely on thanks to physics.
Heard back: How great is life today with God? He's keeping promises and answering prayers without being physically visible. Imagine when He's here, there is no enemy, no more prayer over conflict or darkness. He no longer has to prove Himself to us through works that defy our earthly logic, because our earthly logic has already been defeated. Physics is defeated. Everything in the world is in agreement with His logic and there are no more contradictions.

God never promised us health, wealth, a perfect earth or an easy life in this age. Devastation, boredom with God and frustration are all normal cycles in the age of darkness. All God has promised is that He is faithfully with us, we are not foresaken, and the earth will be His someday. He has never and will never break these promises. Although we often get "stuck" or in ruts, we owe it to Him to remain faithful as well. (Although this was originally written on 1/18/10, I'm typing it on 4/29/10, and it's just what I needed to hear today. Well planned, Big Guy.)

Prayed over: Our finances are mysteriously low this month. Paychecks are what they should be and bills haven't increased, but numbers are just lower than normal.
Heard: Satan is using his tool of money/greed to try to come between Zach & me. We are on a good trajectory for God for the first time (individually and as a team), and money is the top earthly thing couples fight over. We must trust that God will provide, be responsible with what we are given, and rid ourselves of the need to find security in savings.
Heard: Push ourselves to something radical with our savings account. Stop using it as a comfort. Find comfort in God alone.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

January 17, 2010 - Answered Prayer

I was driving Friday night (1/15) from Ark City to El Dorado, taking a route I'm unfamiliar with. As I drove further away from town, I noticed that the fog in the air was becoming increasingly thick. Eventually, I could only see a car length or two in front of my face. Limited visibility + dark + 2-lane country highway + high speed limit + deer in area - experience with this highway = White knuckles on my steering wheel, and racing pulse. No end in sight. After about five minutes of near-cardiac arrest, I finally remembered that there is SOMEONE out there that has control over the fog. I prayed, terrified, that God would lift the fog and banish fear from the car. Before my prayer was even over, it was crystal-clear conditions that lasted the entire drive. This is the first experience I have with an answered prayer in this context - a direct, physical command being performed by God's authority. Praise God! I couldn't wait to tell Zach about this, and did so the next morning. That night (Saturday 1/16), he was driving home from work in El Dorado and also encountered fog so thick he couldn't drive the speed limit on the turnpike. Whaddya know - as soon as he prayed it, that fog was lifted. So metaphorical for living in a earth enveloped in "fog." We feel powerless against this fog, and can only clutch the steering wheel and hold on. Then God steps in and reminds us that fog has no authority when compared with Him. What an AWESOME weekend.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

January 16, 2010

I am a member of what our church family refers to as a "Day and Night Intercession." Among about 100 believers, there is a non-stop 24-hour-a-day, 7-days-a-week prayer being lifted until the return of Jesus. A pamphlet has been published to offer suggestion of how to develop an hour of prayer. Obviously, first and foremost develop on where the Lord is leading you, but anyone that's spent an hour a day in prayer knows that there are times you feel a little lost. Anyway, the seven suggested "phases" of prayer are as follows:

1) Praise and Prayer for the Glory of His Name
2) The Readiness of His Church
3) The Salvation of the Lost
4) The Nations
5) Money
6) Spiritual War
7) The Return of King Jesus

As I moved through the phases this morning, I started to appreciate the logical order of their arrangement - one flows into the next easily. The one that really sticks out most to me is that phase one has you begin your prayer with praise for His name. Although it is important to give thanks and praise where it is due, I don't think that God needs my personal "seal of approval" to know He is doing well. The more I delve into the subject, the more I think that praise to God is actually a process for me. By starting my prayers with an admission that God is all-knowing and all-powerful, I am submitting to His authority. It is a process of putting things in their proper order, and coming into agreement with the Lord. When I get myself on the same page as my Father, it is only natural that we would grow and make progress together. This applies easily to daily living - I need to let every morning start with an admission of God's authority and an agreement with His will.

Booklet available at http://projectone28.com/Day_and_Night_Prayer.pdf
More information on the Day & Night Intercession at http://www.newlifeequip.com/?p=369

Friday, January 15, 2010

January 15, 2010 - Answered Prayer

In our marriage, I am the spender and Zach is the saver. Not that I am reckless or he is stingy, we just have slightly different comfort zones with finances. We've been discussing recently some upcoming financial opportunities we are anticipating and the directions to take these. We'd talked about saving up for the down payment on owning a home, and decided this was responsible. Then God came along and interjected His opinion into our perfectly reasonable earth plan. Conversation was as follows:
God: Give this money as an offering.
Me: I don't wanna.
God: You don't need a nicer house with better flooring. You need to offer your blessings to those in real need.
Me: Okay, deal. But how do I tell Zach this without guaranteeing an argument?
God: I'll convict him when he needs convicting.
Me: Ha, good luck.
Four days pass with me sending regular prayer for a breakthrough to Zach, but no actual word of it to him. Today Zach approached me to let me know that he felt convicted to greater financial offering, however that may be. Conversation was as follows:
Me: silence
God: Zing! I win.

I have the gift of gab, and spend a lot more time talking than is really necessary. God reminded me today that His words do a lot more good than my words.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

January 14, 2010 - While Praying for Haiti

I cannot imagine the terror that ensues when the earth shakes. For many Haitians, the earth is the only truth they have, the only constant resource on which they can rely. Where do their spirits sink when their earth betrays them? Haitians need food, water, medicine, education. In their desperation for these resources, some are blind to seeing what they lack most desperately is the Lord. There is a God powerful enough to ease hunger pangs, quench thirst without water, heal the sick and teach without textbooks. There is a great enough God to know and heal every one. There is a God great enough to cover their sin and protect them in His love when the bitter earth wages war. There is a God great enough to be the real solid rock when even the earth shakes under our feet. Do not trust anything in your sight- even the earth will betray you. Hold on tight to the Lord, who does not betray. Haiti was not forsaken. God never left.
God is bigger than the earth. He brought it into creation under His rule and His power. Gravity may fail, floods may cover the earth, asteroids may collide. It is not out of the realm of possibility that the earth will fall away from under our feet. God is still alive. Hold on tight, He will not let you go.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

January 13, 2010

I've been in regular attendance at my home church for a year now. I still don't know 85% of the congregation. I am introduced to the same people regularly, and the same people forget who I am by the next week. I'm frustrated with this, and my flesh feels like the members of the church are self-absorbed and not interested in growth. I spent time in prayer this morning for these members to be more welcoming of growth and to see outside of their comfort zones. Then came the part where God reminds me that my flesh response is not always in agreement with Him. He reminded me that one my flaws is a desperate need for social acceptance. When in social situations, I completely adapt to what is expected of me and often betray the Lord's interest. Had I become intertwined in the social operations of the church family in the year 2009, I would have lost focus of the Lord. I now understand that God has been keeping me away from the social circle of the church family as a means of ensuring my best growth in Him. He's smarter than me.

Monday, January 11, 2010

January 11, 2010

My theme this morning is difficult for me to put into words. The Lord is telling me that I don't need to fall more in love with Him to strengthen our relationship. I need to understand better how He loves me. When I see the way my mother/husband/son loves me, it doesn't take any effort to love in return. I pray today for clear vision that can better see His beauty. The more I know Him, the more I can reflect and radiate this beauty to those around me.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Friday, January 8th, 2010

It's dawned on me today that, as a man, Jesus also had human emotion. He experienced fear and apprehension, and gave us an example of how to overcome these flesh responses. As a human, it is not a sin for me to get angry, sad, confused. My duty is to take these emotions to God honestly and ask for guidance to handle them. Gospel of Matthew tells of Jesus's anger upon visiting a church that had become more of a trading post for business transactions than a place of worship. He referred to it as a "den of robbers" and overturned tables in his rage. This anger served the Lord's purpose, and was not sinful. Many prophecies were fulfilled on Matthew 2 and 3- in these, Joseph was warned in his dreams multiple times. He had fear and doubt about these visions, yet still followed God's will.
Edit: Psalm 2 confirms this as well.