Sunday, February 15, 2015

Day 18: Drawing Closer to God (An Arm's Length Away)

I read in The Jesus Code about how lifeguards are trained to stop within a few feet of the person they are coming to rescue and wait for them to stop moving. I did a little more research on this and found that they are indeed trained to watch the actions of the person before attempting to rescue. There is a difference in the responses you will see of a person who is truly drowning and a person who is in aquatic distress which is closely related. A truly drowning person will not have the ability to wave or shout as they are truly doing all they can just to come up for air one more time. In any case, there are many cases of a lifeguard going out to save someone only to be drowned themselves by the victim because they grab hold and won't let go. It is the natural human response to maintain control. We think we can save ourselves. I love how O.J.Hawkins put it in The Jesus Code: "We know we're going under, but we continue to kick and scream. We see the Lord an arm's length away. Why doesn't He do something? He may be waiting for you to come to the end of your self. He may be waiting for you to acknowledge that you are more in need of a rescue than you realized."

Lord, when I am feeling discouraged, down, depressed, it is time for me to stop kicking and screaming that you aren't doing anything. If I just rest in you, you will be there to rescue me. In your precious name. Amen.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Day 17: Drawing Closer to God (Battle of the Mind)

The book of Romans is one of my favorite books of the bible. It has a wealth of information about who we are as believers and where we came from. I see this a lot in my counseling of clients, the idea of our mind doing battle. Our sinful nature is a power within us that we have to battle to over come. It is the wrong in us that does everything it can to get the right in us to follow along and do the wrong. Because we as human beings have the power to choose, when presented with the wrong path as the snake did to Eve in the Garden of Eden, we, with the sinful nature within us have no means on our own to over come the sinful nature so we will choose the wrong path as Eve did. But our loving God, gave us a warrior who does the battle for us. I think of God looking down on his only son on the cross dying not because he was a criminal and did anything wrong like the other two beside him on their crosses but because he was doing the ultimate battle right than and there with sin. He died on that cross taking all our sins with us and went to Hell. He won the battle the day he rose from the dead and walked out of Hell. As a believer in Jesus, we are connected to him like a tea bag that needs water to produce any tea.  When we accept Jesus into our hearts his living water is poured into us. We now have the means to do battle with sin in our own minds. We just have to pick up the sword to do the battle each day. With Jesus, we are like a cup or glass of tea and the power of the Holy Spirit can heat up the tea to bring us comfort and peace and it can ice up our tea to give us inspiration and conviction. The sinful nature is still there within us but we have the connection to Jesus and the Holy Spirit within us to do the battle and help us choose the way of the righteous.
Romans 7:23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

DAY 16: Drawing Closer to God (Loving No Matter What)

Most mother's out there can attest to the frustrations of dealing with a preschooler. They have a tendency not to listen, not to sit still when asked, not to follow direction, get angry or upset at the drop of anything, call their friends names, play the blame game, tell on their friends and so on. They have SO much to learn. I remember the trying times with my own kids and am thankful to God that we made it through relatively intact and sane. Now, as a preschool teacher assistant, it is taking the power of God to seriously keep me from wanting to blow a gasket. My frustrations, mind you, are expressed to my fellow teacher who is also at the end of her rope so we manage to keep our cool and maintain an even keel. Today, I walked them through the story of the Good Samaritan with little Lego figures. They were engaged for the moment which was a total blessing but the rest of the day brought anger, cutting in line, blaming, not being kind to each other and so on. There are constant teaching moments in a preschool and especially when you have several students that have special needs at this time in their life. At the end of the day, I was to conclude the lesson by letting them take two chocolate hearts from a gold shaped heart bowl that I told them was God's love. We got back from music and the other teacher was in the frame of mind that no chocolate was going to go to the kids but I called on her to trust me and I sat down with them and talked to them about being frustrated and not very happy about how their behavior had been today. I told them that although I could choose not to let them come to the bowl and receive some love from God and also take a chocolate heart to give to someone else, I told them that I prayed to God and asked him to help me love them right now despite the not so good behavior they had presented this day. They were listening intently. As, I called them up one by one to get their hearts of chocolate, I noticed one girl waiting and crying. Did my talk get through to her? Hmmmm? I suppose maybe we will see in the days ahead of how setting the example of loving no matter what will hopefully take root in their hearts.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Day 15: Drawing Closer to God (Good vs Pefect)

It is a question that comes up sometimes in counseling of my clients. Why would God make us with weaknesses? I woke early this morning and tossed and turned in bed hoping to get back to sleep but ended up thinking about this question. My early morning thinking is by far the clearest and often God gives me such clarity on things in those early morning hours when I don't yet want to crawl out of bed. I rejoice in the Lord for this time of clarity on perfection and weakness. I, myself, have always just thought of humans as imperfect and we are but only because we have our sinful nature that has been passed down to each of us from Adam and Eve. But, this took me back to when God created Adam and Eve and the whole of creation. His comment about what he created wasn't it is perfect; he said "it is good". My answer to the question really remains the same as what I have been instructing my clients. God created a "good" creation that was designed to be in relationship with him. To have this relationship, we have connect to him through our spirit's because God is a spiritual being. Adam and Eve had that connection from the start. They had all of their needs met and any weaknesses they had were overcome solely because they were dependent on God. But they wanted their independence and our sinful nature had begun. Our sin keeps us from connecting spirit to spirit with our holy God. However, God knew even as he was creating Adam and Eve of what was to come and already had a plan in place to send his son to us, that we may regain the connection to his spirit and be back in real relationship with him. Jesus was the perfect man. This is possible because like Adam and Eve before the fall into sin, he was connected and relying on his Father. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, therefore he had the connection from the womb and on into our fallen world. It is through Jesus that we can regain the connection and allow the Holy Spirit to overcome our weaknesses, enhance our strengths and fulfill all our needs.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Day 14: Drawing Closer to God (The analogy of a light bulb)

I have always been a big fan of analogies because I like to have the visual aid. I thought of this analogy a while ago and have it in my collection of analogies that I envision using someday to use in a bible study that I will write and present. A devotional came to my inbox about the verse from Galatians 5:22 The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. It talked about how this fruit is a product of us abiding in Jesus. I will let the visual that I put together speak the rest and pray it will bless you.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Day 13: Drawing Closer to God (Twists and Turns)

It's okay to fall of track. It happens. Life is full of unexpected twists and turns and potholes that can get us off balance. I have felt a bit overwhelmed with my schedule lately because I have added a few hours of work and added several new counseling clients and am so looking forward to next weekend when I have a three day weekend. But I have been shown how very much I just have to let the family know and call on them to help me as I adjust and regain balance. It doesn't help to throw being sick in the mix but I will just call it God's way of giving me some rest.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Day 12: Drawing Closer to God (Practice Makes Better Not Perfect)

Today, I found myself with the opportunity to talk about Jesus to a 5 year old in my preschool class who was having a bad day with his anger. To work on calming him down, I had him go into the library section of the classroom which is cozy and comforting with the extra large teddy bear. I felt convicted to work on getting him to focus on Jesus so I got a plaster cross that I had given to him way back when this adventure started with him in my class. He responded well to it then so it was worth trying again to regain a sense of calm. It did help and it led us to talking about Jesus. He wasn't convinced that Jesus was in his heart and at five I am not sure they will fully understand but I felt it was worth talking about in the hopes that some seeds would be planted. I walked him through how we all sin and Jesus died on the cross to take away our sins allowing our spirits to reconnect with God's spirit. Well, it went as well as it could have gone considering this boy's anger problem which I am starting to wonder if it might be a biological/chemical issue. In any case, I am thankful to God for this little experience witnessing to this 5 year old. It was good practice in learning how to witness to someone about Jesus.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Day 11: Drawing Closer to God (Hands Need Gloves)

Various things in God's Word, my studies and my counseling of clients have been reminding me over and over again how God provides for our every need. I came across this quote in an article I read today on worry that just struck me with this conviction that I cannot do it on my own: God meets us at the end of our ability and the beginning of our need and he will provide. I am like hands going out into a cold world. I cannot warm myself by my own means. The hands under the arm or blowing hot breath into my hands is only a temporary fix. Ultimately, I need the comfort and protection that gloves can give my hands. God is the gloves and I have to put them on.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Day 10: Drawing Closer to God (Communicating Challenges Faced)

This evening, 19 years ago I married my husband in a magical Renaissance themed wedding. As I sat across the table from him at dinner, I was struck with how far we have come and overcome. It is easy to see God's hand in things after the fact but I can honestly say that I was seeing God's hand in our conversation tonight as it was happening. Learning to communicate is by far the most difficult thing for a  majority of people. It certainly has been challenging for me because I have a natural tendency within my temperament to not express my needs. Not being able to express yourself comes back to bite you in the butt with anger, resentment, bitterness and the love fading from your relationship. Thanks to knowing about how God created me, needs, weakness, strengths and all has been the catalyst to the most growth I have ever had including those super growing physically years when you are a baby. My weaknesses are being overcome with my understanding of God and his word, with relying on Him more and more. My needs are being met because I no longer have the fear of rejection and can assert what it is I am needing. My limitations are fully recognized and accepted for what they are and how they are the very reason I need God. I love my husband no matter his imperfections and he loves me no matter mine and God is working on each of us to grow towards the perfection that can only be found in Jesus Christ.

Day 9: Drawing Closer to God (Far from Perfect)

Although, my own walk with the Lord is far from perfect, I am so grateful to him for the baby steps that seem to happen every day from over coming fear and anxiety on what to say to people to not beating myself up for my own limitations. I am seeing firsthand how focusing on the Lord and his love for me conquers those fears, clears away the worries and helps me to see myself as the Lord sees me: unique, beautiful, child of God. I feel like I am really living out what Jesus wants for me and he is given me more and more confidence in what he has called me to do. So, I sing his praise because without Him it would not be. He is my strength, my confidence and my peace.
Phillipians 1:6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Day 8: Drawing Closer to God (Life Rhythms)

The sermon today was about life rhythms and how God sent Jesus to us, how God and Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to us and how God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit send us out to others. The passage about Jonah going through Ninevah telling everyone that God said Ninevah would be destroyed in 40 days. The interesting part is that they believe him and declare a fast and put on sackcloth to show their sorrow. They ended up stopping their evil ways. Jesus sends us out like sheep amongst the wolves and we don't know what their response will be but we can be certain that the Holy Spirit is working on their hearts before we even get to them to sow the seeds. Whether they receive it well or out right reject us, the point is we did what God asks us to do and we have to remember that he takes care of the rest in his own time.

Jonah 3:1 the the Lord spoke to Jonah a second time. "Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh, and deliver the message I have given you."