Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Keeping It Real

The truth of the matter is, we all come to prayer with a tangled mass of motives--altruistic and selfish, merciful and hateful, loving and bitter... God is big enough to receive us with all our mixture. Richard J Foster from Prayer-Finding Your Heart's True Home

This statement from Richard J Foster hit the nail on the head for me. I think many of us can relate to praying but being distracted by hearing something going on in the next room or thoughts pop into your head about a conversation you had with someone or you start off on a tangent of thinking about what you need to do today. It seems like I am constantly being pulled out of my conversation with God to a conversation with myself. I correct my course over and over again and finally end it quickly as I have taken too long and it is time to get ready for my day or whatever is next. The truth is God is big enough to handle the how, where, when and what of what we pray. It doesn't matter if it's in the shower, car or as you are washing dishes. It doesn't matter if it's short, long or a mess of emotions. It doesn't matter if all we seem to be praying about is ourselves and our family. Richard Foster says, "the only way we move beyond "self-centered" prayer is by going through it, not by making a detour around it. We have to stay on the path of prayer whatever it may look like. Joseph Schmidt notes, "There are dangers on the right road. We must move with some caution but not turn back."
So, I will keep at it as I pray you will and follow the advice of CS Lewis who says, "lay before Him what is in us, not what ought to be in us."
Keeping it real. Amen.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Humbling Yourself with an "I Don't Know"

"I don't know" is often the only reply we can give to explain the mystery of Christ. Our personal relationship with Christ is often the only apologetic we can offer. Our lack of knowing is the beginning of humility and the very essence of the spiritual life. ---Messy Spirituality, Michael Yaconelli
The real truth in this statement is the ultimate humility is knowing you don't know anything. We are always going to be "works-in-progress". So, it's okay for all of us to say "I don't know" even when we are thought of as the know-it-all in the family or the well-versed in scripture amongst your bible study friends. When someone asks those questions about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit and anything in God's Word, we are not experts so it's okay to say "I don't know" and "I don't know that the answer is in the bible. Some questions we just cannot answer this side of Heaven. But you can share what you do know. I know that once I felt unloved, unworthy and disconnected from the source of all good things but now I know I am loved, worthy and connected to my Father, thanks to Jesus who was the mediator that brought us together. Share what you know and leave the rest in the hands of the Almighty Creator of all things.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Fresh Start

I started working this week after being out of work since the end of January. I am actually working for two different places: my church's preschool and a senior care agency. I am working as a substitute preschool teacher and/or teacher's aide and on the other end of the spectrum I am working with the elderly as a senior care provider (non-medical). I am using my day planner like never before because I have to know the days and times I still have open when I get a call from either place. Eventually, I will work into getting more permanent clients with the senior care agency and there's also the possibility of being a teacher or aide at the preschool next school year. It has been a week of new beginnings which seemed so appropriate being it is the week after Easter. I am thankful to my heavenly Father for these opportunities that will not only provide the necessary finances for my family but will be filled with good people and great learning and practicing experiences for my future counseling practice. God will take you to where He wants you; you just have to follow.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Unexpected Surprises

Our sermon on Easter morning was about how we can look at life like it is a tragedy or we can live our life like it is a comedy. Comedies always show how something turns out better then expected. We often expect the worst and are therefore living as if tragedy is our life. But the comedy brings surprises, the unexpected. The Bible is a comic book if you really look at it. There are tons of examples of surprises and God doing the unexpected from blessing Abraham and Sarah with a son in their very old age to Moses and the parting of the Red Sea, to the king of all kings born in a barn. Life brought me an unexpected surprise this Easter morning. I got on the scale hoping to see that my 10lb weight gain from our family reunion cruise had decreased in the last 7 days since our return. I had to get on the scale twice and then ask my daughter to get on it just to be sure it was working right. I proclaimed it to be an Easter miracle! I lost the full 10lbs and was back at the starting weight I had before the cruise. Unbelievable. As I thought about this wonderful blessing, I realized that my sun poisoning and swollen ankles probably contributed a bit of water weight which was why it seemed like I gained so much. No matter the reasoning, it was a glorious unexpected surprise! I saw another surprise that God brought to a family in Nebraska. We went and saw the movie Heaven is for Real. 4 year old Colton Burpo had seen heaven with details that are unbelievable but our Father loves surprising us with the unexpected. Who says you have to die to go and see Heaven? There is no limit to what God can do. I pray that you will come to love the surprises and the unexpected and live for them and for God.

Monday, April 21, 2014

We Are Hardest on Ourselves

Encouragement came when I needed it and I didn't even know that is what I needed. As I was reading the chapter about Prayer of Tears in Richard J Foster's book Prayer-Finding the Heart's True Home, I found  myself in tears from the words he wrote. Here is a little excerpt:
Be encouraged by the observation of Thomas a Kempis that "habit overcomes habit." You are building new habits of prayer, and patient, kind, firm persistence is what you need with yourself.
Tears came as I read these words. I had been disillusioned and down on myself for my seeming inability to stop and prayer, to go to Him, to rely completely on Him. I was being too critical of myself, not forgiving myself for my humanity but these words brought a peace to my soul. It's okay. I am a sinner, I am human, I am not perfect but I can overcome because I have Jesus on my side. But, that is a life-long pursuit that will not be fully achieved. I can only keep striving to overcome the bad habits with the good ones, to rely and trust in my Father. It is with patience and kindness towards myself that I can continue to be persistent and keep moving forward and growing into being more Christ-like.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Death Has Been Conquered

As I sat in church this morning for Easter service, I was watching as a little 3 year old girl who was in her daddy's arms and hugging him tightly around the neck. We were singing and it suddenly felt like Jesus opened the door and I ran in to my Father and embraced him with a hug of sheer joy and love just as this little girl was hugging her daddy.  This is what Easter truly means. Jesus took that last lock that is on the doorway to the Kingdom of Heaven, the lock called death and conquered it. With that key, he has opened the doorway to the Kingdom of Heaven. Now, it's our turn. Do you run in towards your Father thrilled at being with Him again or do you freeze in place, turn away? He gives us the choice because He loves us. Thank you Jesus for unlocking the doorway and allowing us to be together again with our Father.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Quote for Saturday

As best as I can discern, tears are God's way of helping us descend with the mind into the heart and there bow in perpetual adoration and worship. Richard J Foster Prayer-Finding the Heart's True Home

More to come on this... I am sick and will get back to sharing with you on this.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Quote for Good Friday

We are not sinners because we commit sinful acts, rather, we commit sinful acts because we are sinners. Richard J Foster Prayer-Finding Your Heart's True Home

The door to the Kingdom of Heaven has a few locks on it. The first key to the doorway to the Kingdom of Heaven is accepting that you are a sinner and always have been and always will be.

Thanks be to God for a love so great that He gave up his son for us so that we may enter into the Kingdom of Heaven and be with him forever.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Are You Digesting God's Word?

Study is a discipline that we in today's culture do not tend to make a priority. How often have I and my fellow bible study friends said we read the lesson right before coming. Reading scripture is the beginning of study but how often do we follow through on what we read. In the book Prayer-Finding Your Heart's True Home by Richard J Foster is a chapter about the Prayer of Examen. At the end of the chapter he suggests that we journal as that tends to help most of us get out our thoughts and feeling and fully digest them. We are eating God's Word but are we fully digesting it and getting all the nutrients it can give us? I am going to commit to making time for journaling each night at 8:30 to examen my day, actions, inactions, words, sins and my readings so I can fully digest and grow as God intends. What will you do to ensure you aren't just eating empty calories but digesting God's word and gaining the nutrients he wants to give you?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

God Meets All of Our Needs

Matthew 6:30 "If that is how God clothes the grass of the field which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you. O you of little faith?

I love this verse as it is such a great reminder of how much God cares for us. He does provide all we need. This isn't just our physical needs but our emotional, mental and spiritual needs as well. We should be trusting God with all of these needs: to be loved, recognized, affirmed, valued, respected and so much more. Thank you Lord for giving me all I need. Help me to trust in you and to look to you for my every need. When I don't recognize the need in me that is not being met, I pray you will shed light on it and help me to see that you provide for that need whatever it may be. To you all praise and glory be. Amen.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Getting the Recognition We Need

Matthew 6:1 "Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

This verse always makes me think of how I have in the past "bragged" about my giving. I would not admit that it was really bragging but justifying it by thinking of it as sharing to inspire others. The truth is when we are speaking to others about our giving we are in need of recognition for doing something good, however, our recognition should come only from God. We have to remember that when we give as God wants us to he will be saying to us "well done, my child". Lord I am sorry for taking my bragging to those around me when it is only you that I should seek recognition from. Help me to hold my tongue and speak my proud of myself for giving moments to you. Amen.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Scripture of the Day

My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying you heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge and understanding.
Proverbs 2:1-6

Friday, April 11, 2014

Quote of the Day

The only way we move beyond "self-centered prayer" is by going through it, not by making a detour around it.
Richard J Foster Prayer-Finding the Heart's True Home

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Quote of the Day

There are dangers on the right road. We must move with some caution but not turn back.
Joseph Schmidt

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Quote for the Day

The truth of the matter is, we all come to prayer with a tangled mess of motives--altruistic and selfish, merciful and hateful, loving and bitter.  ...God is big enough to receive us with all our mixture.
Richard J Foster Prayer-Finding the Heart's True Home

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Monday, April 7, 2014

Quote for the Day

The movement inward comes first because without interior transformation the movement up into God's glory would overwhelm us and the movement out into ministry would destroy us.
Richard J Foster Prayer-Finding the Heart's True Home

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Faulty Wiring

In the study guide for Celebration of Discipline by Richard J Foster in the chapter on the discipline of prayer, he talks 5 misconceptions about prayer. Here’s a summarized list:

1.       Prayer mainly involves asking things from God. (It’s okay, ask away!)

2.       Prayer must always be a struggle. (Let it be however it is between you and God)

3.       The idea that we live in a closed universe, that everything is fixed. (Nothing is impossible with God and he uses what we do for Him)

4.       The idea that our faith will crumble if our prayers are not answered the first time. (Persistence is an attribute of God that we must cultivate in ourselves)

5.       Prayer only needs to be done once. (Keep praying for whatever it is until God responds and be open to hearing and seeing God’s response)


He gave a good analogy about the 4th misconception. It’s like walking into a room, turning on the light and it doesn’t come on. You would assume something may be wrong like a burnt out bulb or a faulty wiring connection. When we pray to God and the answer doesn’t come right away, it is not an indication of God not answering our prayer. He is God and will do it in His time and in His way. If you think your prayer should be answered in your time and your way, you probably have some faulty wiring that needs some fixing.


So in a nutshell, ask for anything, ask for everything, just talk to Him, be patient and persistent and listen.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Notes on the Nose

Warning: This may ruffle your sensibilities.

Everyone has to pick their nose. You cannot say you have never done it or ever will again. It is not the picking the nose part that is the issue. It is the “what you do with the booger once you’ve dug it out of your nose” that is the concern. Some of us will take the booger and lead it into our mouth to get rid of it. Others will nonchalantly try to do something in a natural way as they get rid of it, like rub it on the bottom of the chair they are sitting on. Still others, will excuse themselves and go get a tissue to deposit the little or big booger into. Where am I going with this? The nose is like the outward demonstration of the condition of our heart and soul. Those boogers are the sins and negatives like anger or fear in our hearts that are clogging things up. They are not allowing your heart to shine with God’s glory. If you deposit the booger somewhere else like under your chair; it is like a person who is attempting to hide their sins. If you put the booger back into your mouth; it is like a person who is denying their sins and burying them back inside themselves. If you get up and put the booger in a tissue which goes to the garbage; it is like a person who goes to the Lord with their sin, asking the Holy Spirit to put it in the dumpster. Jesus comes and hauls out the trash of our lives, all those tissues with boogers inside.

Our nose has a way of clogging up with snout when the seasons change and allergens are in the air. Like those boogers, that snout has to go somewhere too. You may swallow it in a not so pleasant way. You may sneeze a sneeze and out it comes whether you want it to or not (funny side story: my daughter has a tendency to sneeze when we are somewhere without a tissue. She sneezed once and out came a foot long glob of snout that just hung there. Ahhh, no tissue. Another mom at the bus stop saved the day.) Or you may voluntarily go to the bathroom and blow your nose. This snout is representative of the busyness of our lives. We can get so bogged down with stuff that needs to be done that we forget that we have to feed our souls too. We have to stop and blow our noses. This clears our minds and hearts opening them up to listening to God, to breathing in the spirit of truth through His Word and feeding our souls with all the fruits of the Spirit.

When we get sick with a cold or the flu our noses and the stuffiness or runniness is what we tend to focus on. They are only symptoms of the cold. Our hearts are the same way in that they can be darkened by sin, guilt and shame. They are sick and the symptoms will show in us with our behavior like our moodiness, angry outbursts, depression, etc. These are just signs of a bigger issue with the condition of our souls. Have we accepted Jesus as our Savior? Do we have a relationship with God? Are we feeding our souls consistently with prayer, worship, study, meditation and so on? Or have we let the sins of our past and/or our anger and fears build up inside of us so much so that it starts to show on the outside in our noses and other physical ailments?

What is the health status of my nose/heart/soul? I remember my mom telling me to go blow my nose. I would let it drip and sniff it up over and over again. Having a heart and soul at peace takes some effort on our part. The relationship with the Lord needs to be fostered. We need to blow our nose, clean out the boogers and deposit them in a tissue and we need to exam our hearts and souls when we are showing the symptoms of heart/souls being sick so we can get our noses cleared out and our souls in balance with our spirit and body and especially with God.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Meditation Enlightens

I tried out the form of meditation outlined in the study guide for the book Celebration of Discipline by Richard J Foster. The basic premise of this biblical meditation is to focus on a piece of scripture and go through it imagining it happening. As you do this, you want to try to focus on adding the attention to detail by focusing on all the senses, sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch. I did this for the story of Jesus feeding the 5000. Thoughts and questions just started coming and I rolled with it. The Holy Spirit showed me how it is impossible for humans to have faith on their own power. Despite all the miracles the disciplines had already seen by the time of the feeing of the 5000, they did not really believe completely that Jesus was the son of God. I have always thought “how could they not believe?” but now am clear on why they could not. They were blocked by their own expectations of who they thought the Messiah should be. They wanted Jesus to be the kind of Messiah that was going to liberate them from the authority of the Roman Empire. They could not understand the truth that Jesus didn’t come to save our bodies and our lives on Earth but came to save our souls and give us eternal life in Paradise. The disciple’s minds were filled up with the darkness of their own misconstrued expectations. But the gift of the Holy Spirit to them changed that. That is what the Holy Spirit does. He clears up our understanding of God’s Word so we can better live out our lives in service to our Lord which will in turn help plant more seeds so that more of God’s children can be reconciled back to Him. What about my expectations? Do they align with your will Lord? If I have expectations that are blocking me from a clear understanding of your Word and will, please shine your light on them so they can be shaped into your truth. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen. 

Try out your own meditation time with God’s word and let me know what the Holy Spirit shows you.