Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Psalms 16:11

You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.

This verse actually boggles my mind.  living forever...I can't comprehend it.  What it will be like to be in God's presence -- forever...finally fulfilling our purpose...Peace, Joy, Love....The best my mind can come up with is an image of bright sunshine...warm and enveloping....and even that won't compare.  What an amazing gift...Thank you Lord.

Nehemiah 8:10

And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!”

The joy of The Lord is my strength...I hear the song in my head so clearly.  It's truth can get lost much easier it is to face a challenge -- or even just the day -- if our attitude is positive...when we delight in The Lord...we have all kinds of strength...we will run and not grow weary...we will mount up on wings like eagles...we can climb every mountain (yes I shifted from the Bible to Broadway)

But it is so very true!  Celebrate and share...share joy.  :)  

Monday, December 16, 2013

1 John 1:4-7

We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy. This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

I think these are some of the most powerful verses in the Bible.  They certainly need to be heard over and over and over again...especially in the church today.  We've fallen prey to a clever trick...getting caught on the tiny things and forgetting what is the most important message of God...He loves us, He wants a relationship with us, He wants us who know Him and to share Him with those who don't know His love so they can have a relationship with Him.  But we've focused on what separates us from others...usually putting ourselves above those different then us....and then totally forgetting that we are to show -- not our love (which is so weak) but God's love...which is bigger than we can begin to know.

A new favorite song from Mandisa starts with these lyrics...."This is not another song about all that we've done wrong, we already know.  It's time for us to celebrate the freedom of letting go.  Let's take some time to think about our blessing...Joy Unspeakable"   There are other lyrics...and I'm going from memory so I might be a little bit off...but you get it. 

I know I fail God on a daily basis....but His love never fails...Joy Unspeakable. Amen.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

John 12:35, 36

Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.

The devotional content on the YouVersion app today is wonderful.  Jesus is telling the disciples that his physical time with them is coming to close.  I can't even begin to comprehend that have been physically present when God became flesh and moved into the neighborhood.  I'm afriad that I would have been pretty thick headed and as confused as the disciples at times.  It's so easy to look back on someone else's experiences and think you would have acted differently forgetting you have the benefit of seeing the "whole" picture.  I do wonder what it would have been like to feel that amazing love in that physical see His example in all the little details, the stories that didn't make the Bible.  One of the ladies at church last week shared that she had learned that Jesus had 4 brothers and 2 sisters...this was big revelation for her (I didn't know the numbers either...just knew that there were brothers and sisters) and that it changed how she viewed the Christmas season.  For me, it makes the fact that He was sinless...even with siblings... more of a miracle.   :)  

So this description of Jesus as the light is really something...we hear it often but sometimes the comparison fails to impress...I think about the time I was touring a cave...and to demonstrate what it would be like to be lost in a cave...they turn off the lights.  I was amazed by the true darkness...I could see nothing...only black.  Terrifying.  That is life without the light of Jesus...  He loved us so much that He gave himself for we wouldn't have to face that place of cold and isolation...the very pit of despair.  What an amazing gift of hope and love.  Thank you Jesus...Indeed...thank you.

Zephaniah 3:17

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Great verse!  What wonderful promises....God is with me.  He is the mighty warrior who saves -- girl, way better than any knight in shining armour! He takes delight in me!  Old Latin says delight means charm...God is charmed by me!  He loves me so much he won't criticize or express disapproval of me or my behavior...he's loves me so much it makes him want to sing.

Um...if you are ever in a low place...this is the verse to remind you how precious each of us are to God.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Psalm 119: 105-106

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws.

Mmmm...Love the first verse.  I think of my new path that Bill built for me from the that it's easier for him to shovel...but also it's a more level easy to walk path.  We've discovered that if we leave the garage light on it shines brightly on the path and makes it even easier to navigate.  The bible provides us the light for us to follow God's laws more easily. 

The second verse reminds me of yesterday's lightly do we treat the word of God and his commandments.  I answer for myself...I know I haven't been as faithful as I should.  The amazing thing is that God doesn't stand over us like a angry, scolding parent shaking his finger...he wraps us up in his arms and tells us "Welcome child....come walk with me..."  True love.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Mark 12:28,30

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

Another wonderful challenge.  If you are following on You Version, the devotion from Good Morning Girls talks about being able to tell where our heart lays but how our time and treasure are spent.  This is not a new revelation...I've heard this before...but it is always a good check...and with this as the most important commandment...

Another thought pops into my head too...the word commandment and command.  We use it a little as parents, animal trainers...but I think it's strongest and most familiar use (not including Church) is in context of the military.  If you were a member of the military -- to disobey a command has serious consequences.  And do we treat the commands of God.  Wow....this thought I'm going to have to chew on for a while.  God wants us to have a "familiar" relationship with him...but not so familiar at to disregard what He is teaching us.... me respect and follow your commands and your example of love.  

Monday, December 9, 2013

1 John 4:7,8

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

Okay…so this week's theme is love.  And oh my…it is amazing to me how God weaves messages together when we really need to hear them.  :)  Last week, I really needed to remember about Hope….(and understand…it's not like my "hope" issue is done -- but I've learned new things now…so "hopefully" I've taken a step forward.)  Yesterday's message at church was about why Jesus came in the flesh and moved into the neighborhood…and one of the reasons was love (of course)…but Pastor Kirby included the caveat that if we are not loving one another we cannot claim that we know the love of God.  Whoop…there it is.  And it cuts me right to the bone.  Sometimes my love for others looks more like Ebenezer Scrooge than Jesus…ouch.  Which is because I'm relying on me…and me doesn't cut it.  I need Jesus to do this for me….through me…Yes, Lord.  I surrender.  Amen.

Good Morning Girls

Friday, December 6, 2013

Romans 15:12-13

And again, Isaiah says, “The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; in him the Gentiles will hope.” May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

I love the benediction of Verse 13...The God of HOPE, that we may overflow with HOPE.  We are to be filled with all joy and peace.  What am I missing most in my life lately?  Hope, joy and peace.  Not just because things haven't been a rose garden...but because I forgot to focus my attention on God.  And that is the source of true Hope, Joy and Peace.  The world's version of these things just leave us wanting....they are only dark images of what God has promised to us.  But it is up to us.  Not only does He give us true Hope, Joy and Peace, He gives us true freedom.  It is our choice to make...and even when we make the choice to accept His gift of salvation, we still have our free choice to focus on His plan and make the most of the gift or to not.  He still welcomes and loves us.  However, we are far better off exploring and learning about His gift and love than to just let it sit in a box unused and under appreciated.  Without being's sorta like my cell phone.  I can use it just as a phone...and that's good....but if I take time to study and learn, there is so much more that I can do with the phone....if I don''s me that missing out....I still get the main use of the phone....but there's so much more.  And the cell phone example is at best a weak and pale comparison to the immense present of God in our life.  

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Isaiah 60:19,20

The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.  Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end.

This is such beautiful imagery and language.  What catches my attention is the very last statement…"your days of sorrow will end."  If you've been reading my blog lately, you know that I've been struggling and feeling really parched.  So that would be the first reason that promise jumps out at me.  But then as I read it again and again, I really find it's inclusion in this poetic passage about futures compelling.  I think about the times in the Bible (a few I can recall without aid) about eternity and God wiping away all our tears…so I read that to affirm there are going to be seasons of life that just aren't easy…and then I'm struck by wondering how the "prosperity gospel" folks work around this.  The other idea that grabs me is the contrast of God as being light -- with no darkness.  This is definitely a passage about hope…our hope that is to come.  Yes Lord, help me hold on during the dry seasons clinging and trusting in your promise of hope filled with light.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Jeremiah 33:14, 15

“ ‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah. “ ‘In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land.

"In those days and at that time..."  It is God's timing.  Somewhere in the bible there is verse that calls it his perfect timing...define perfect.  Guess what...not my definition.  We want God to be like a slot machine...put our request in, pull the lever, and see three cherries come up...PAY OUT.  And somehow, God just shakes his head and loves us anyway...and says.."wait child...I know what I am doing and it's not your way or your is mine."  And when put into perspective, know this is the guy who created this whole universe, knows the number of stars in the sky, grains of sand on the beach and knows the hairs on our head (all x billion of us), it makes sense that he'd know when, where and why...  But (yep big butt) in our silly rebellion we still think we know best.  You know when you flick a piece of dirt off yourself...I'm am constantly amazed that God stays mindful of us in all our silliness and doesn't just flick us away.  The advent season is about hope...for me this year it is shaping up to be about being humble...and maybe starting to appreciate an inkling of God's love for me...

Monday, December 2, 2013

John 1:9-12

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.

The good news in this passage is definately the last sentence.  I wonder at times as a human how Christ felt about the rejection he experienced...And as that thought crossed my mind I realized that not only did he have to experience that rejection...he knew even before he left all the glory of heaven what was going to happen...the rejection, the crucifiction....and yet he came.  What really floors me...if I believe what we are told is true...he made that decision knowing me.  Kristi.  Not just a group of creatures that would occupy this space called earth...but me.  How is it even possible?  He knew what he was giving up...and he did it because he loved me.  When we say we worship a great God...those words are barely adequate.  And yet, those inadequate words are sweet praise to Him who was before

Sunday, December 1, 2013

John 1:1-4

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.

This is the NIV version.  Typically I like the NLT...but these are the verses the way I know them by I went with tradition.

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  That sentence staggers me.  It really is almost more than I can even begin to understand.  He has always been, will always be, is complete....and yet...he wanted to love even more...and that took the form of us.  If that doesn't humble you...bring you to your knees or cause you to leap with joy....then I got nothing.  He is life and light.  And he loves and knows each of us.  He is hope fulfilled.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

One of my all time favorite Christmas hymns.  There are other arrangements I like better...but I really love the images with this video.  :)  Enjoy

2 Corinthians 4:18-19

For our present troubles are small and won't last very long.  Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever. So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen.  For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.  

So...I threw a temper tantrum.  A pretty good size one too.  Guess didn't get me anywhere. And here's what I really hate...teachable moments that come in the middle of a snit.  Really?  Sometimes I think God's sense of humor isn't all that funny.  In retrospect it kinda is...but again...Really?  Sigh.  I think this season for me has been about teaching me that the one person whose approval I should seek is God's.  And that the one person I can count on to not let me down is God.  Human's fail.  It's just the plain truth.  Too often I spend my heart time seeking human approval and human support.  Don't get me wrong.  I think being able to trust and care for others is important...and God given.  We are to live in a loving supporting community....but anytime we put seeking an earthly thing (be it support, love, worship, desire, approval) ahead of seeking those things from our's gonna be a problem.

Is the hurt and betrayal I was feeling real? Yep.  Were they from actions of other humans...Yep.  Did I need to surrender them?  Yep...big time.  Did I succeed?  I'm not sure -- we'll see next time this button get's pushed.'s the total truth...I didn't make it through without some sinning and hurting of others by myself. That admission is a little hard to take when I'm wanting to get all uppity on my self righteous moral high ground.  Ugh.  I forgot to focus on the things we cannot see...I forgot that these present troubles -- while real -- are small and won't last very long.  I forgot that my King forgave my way greater sins...because He loves me.  But He doesn't just love me...He loves each of us...where we are...even in the middle of ugly.  I believe this with all my heart and it overwhelms and humbles me.  I know He wants to protect and provide for each of us.  I sometimes hear that and think that it means that I have to always open myself up in ways that can lead me to be hurt by other humans.  I don't think that is what it means...but I'm still wrestling with it.  I'm wresting with how I can protect myself from those who don't have my best intentions at heart and still be faithful to God.  A counselor once told me it was "boundaries" that I had trouble setting.  I think that is still true. Somewhere along the line I picked up the idea that setting boundaries was against God's will.  I don't think that is true.  I think it may be a "false" teaching....but I don't know.  See, once upon a time, I had a person in my life who was extremely clever at perverting God's word to their own a game of win-lose...and guess who was on the losing  Maybe that is one of the tests we have to use...if there is a winner and a loser...maybe its best to walk away.  Clearly this is not something I can wrap up in a neat bow...its still a path I'm still walking and weeding....and it amazes me how deep and long some weeds'roots are and how they still can reach out and twist and mislead.  Well, I guess that's why it's important to spend time with the actual author and perfector of our faith.  All this from a temper tantrum.  Yep.  Oh Lord, please walk with me and teach me your ways. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

2 Corinthians 9:11-12

Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.

I don't feel generous. I don't feel joyful.  I just feel despair.  Oh and lots and lots of anger.  Note to self...think long and hard before starting a study on thanksgiving next time.  I hurt.  I feel cornered...because I don't feel like any action I can take in a situation is going to be okay.  And I'm angry because I feel that any action I take will make me look like the "bad person"  I didn't create the situation.  I didn't take the main actions...but I'm stuck.  I don't know if I can be gracious enough to handle this.  I'm mad.  Other people involved have lied or said mean things or acted in ways that I don't think are right...and now boils down to what I do. How I act.  How I respond.  And I'm mad.  I'm mad at the situation. I'm mad at the people involved.  And I'm just plain mad.  I'm mad at God -- I wish I didn't feel the way I do.  I wish he hadn't made the way he did...that this situation hurts me so bad.  Because at the bottom of mad is hurt.  I feel abandoned.  I feel like the people who should be defending me are the ones who put me in this no-win situation. I don't feel enriched.  I feel betrayed. And I just feel like I'm wrong and failing and alone.  So no.  I don't feel gracious or generous of thankful.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Philippians 4:6-7

Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Do you ever feel particularly thickheaded?  I do.  I don't know why I have to plow the same ground over and over again.  I have an insight or break thru…and it seems like 5 minutes later I'm back in the same rut….totally forgetting what I've just learned and discovered.  It is frustrating to me.  I can't even imagine how God looks at it.  I am thankful that he doesn't treat us the way we deserve.  Boy howdy…I would be in a world of hurt…because when I think about my stubbornness and thickheadedness….I just want to shake me.

Still struggling with thanksgiving…and letting go.  Being willing to extend the grace that has been extended to me.  I guess I'm being a miser.  I want others to deserve my grace….even when I received it through no credit of my own.  Again with the growing pains.  This is hard work….and I just wish I could stop falling prey to the same old tricks and weak spots.

Thank you Lord for not treating me the way I would if it were left up to me.  Help me be humble and gracious in the same manner you have extended to me.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

2 Corinthians 4:15

All this is for your benefit.  And as God's grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.

There are a lot of things I want to write…and honestly, earlier yesterday afternoon, this would have been a whole different post.  You see…I wasn't feeling thankful.  Not in anyway shape or form.  I was in a snit…and just so you know…I'm being very kind to myself by just calling it a snit.  And I wrestled with what I would write.  Should I be honest???  But if I was totally honest…in all my ugliness…would that help anyone?  I'm not sure the details really would…in fact, because this is public and as I tell my girls…in writing is forever….it could at some point actually hurt someone.  And as much as I tell myself in the middle of my snit "that I don't care if it hurts someone else…they are hurting me"  I don't really believe that….although appealing to me to be the bigger person makes me want to jump and down and say, "NO! I want to be the small, petty, mean person who gets her way and then sleeps well at night!" (because I imagine the mean people must sleep well at night…it doesn't ever seem like the "good" people do)  Did I mention I was having a snit.  Um…yeah.  It was a heck of a snit.  It even veered into a pity party for po' lil ole me.  My perfect picture wasn't happening the way I thought would be perfect.  Instead it was being messy and all too human.  Ms. Martha Stewart wouldn't approve.

And after wrestling and wrangling and stewing and a little venting…I may finally be seeing the light at the end of my snit tunnel.  I was looking at the wrong picture.  I need to focus my eyes on God's picture…not Ms. Martha's.  "For our present troubles are small and won't last very long." and "For the things we see now will soon be gone…"  Maybe I can be a little thankful that the source of my snittiness (and yes that should be a word) will soon be gone.  And that maybe, I am growing just a little more into the person He designed me to be.  But holy cow…it is not easy.  THANK you God…that you are here for me…even in the midst of a snit…to show me once again for how much I have to be thankful.  Lord you are so kind and gentle to me, your child. thank you.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

1 Chronicles 29:11-13

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things. Wealth and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and at your discretion people are made great and given strength. “O our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name

I think out of these three verses the item that stands out to me is "at your discretion people are made great and given strength."  I'm not totally sure why this struck me particularly today.  But it did.  The whole passage was really something.  In fewing it solely as a prayer it really encompasses so much of how we should pray -- but even more really magnifies God and his power...David really lays it all out for God.  Wealth and honor come from you  A headline and opening paragraph caught my attention today...Sam Walton and Warren Buffet...two incredible rich men, never really desired wealth.  That wasn't why they did what they did or do.  I'm not sure for either man if they put God first..but I think of so many -- and myself included -- consumed by the desire for wealth.  Just a little more each month would make a differnce, I tell myself.  Ha.  it's a lie.  Pursuing it doesn't bring wealth.  Sorta like the Samaritan and acceptance wasn't working for her...until she met the Son of God who gave her love everlasting.  It's amazing to me how thickheaded I can's all right in front of us...God has created it all, it belongs to him and him alone.  If we seek him first he will provide for us.

Wow...and I will be thankful.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hebrews 12:28

Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshipping him with holy fear and awe.

Mmm..what is holy fear and awe?  Seems very "Old Testament" terminology to me.  Something that seems so far removed from our "casual" world.  Jeans in church were a big no-no in my mom's world...and honestly I still don't wear jeans to church...  I can feel Mama Dee's reaction to the idea of actually having the pastor preach in jeans. There really isn't anything wrong with coming as we are...and it's probably a good thing to not have appearance be a barrier to the gospel...but do we take our casualness too far?  My mom once told me that if we dress up for work or going out..the least we can do is dress up for God.  And by this she meant show him respect by treating coming to church as something just as important as our other every day events.  I guess there always needs to be a balance...dress code shouldn't be there to exclude...but I wonder if sometimes we forget that it used to be much more difficult to come before our God...we are blessed that he has provided a much easier way...and that is definately something to be thankful for!!!

PS...Thanks for the prayers...we made it safely to Cincinnati!

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Always be joyful.  Never stop praying.  Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

Okay…just a couple of easy verses today.  Yeah right.  Always be joyful….be thankful in all circumstances.  Describes me to a T.  Bwah ha ha ha…I've also got swampland in Florida for sale.  So…the obvious confession for me is that it's much easier to be thankful when it's good circumstances. I've covered that pretty extensively this week.  So then I started wondering…what is the purpose of God always telling us to behave this way?  The easy answer is that it is a better way to demonstrate the gift of love and salvation we've received through Christ.  Easy answer…not easy action.  But I do wonder if there is more to it than that.  I don't have an answer.  And it seems that He has frequently encourages in that direction…which made me realize…if it's necessary to repeat it, people of the time and frankly the rest of us too just don't get it.  I hate that.  I like to get things right the first time…so clearly I do a lot of un-likeing of my behavior.  Then I also had a mom moment…How often to do I tell my kids to "knock it off - quit fighting - be kind to one another."  A lot.  Then I get silly and wonder if God would ever tell us…."I'm gonna pull this car over"  No…he just tells us…keep praying.  Be thankful, be joyful.  Life is better that way…maybe it is just that simple.

We are driving to Cincinnati today.  I'd love some additional prayers for a safe journey!  In fact….I'd be thankful!  Just add it to your always praying list.  :)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Colossians 3:15-17

And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts.  For as members of one body you are called to live in peace.  And always be thankful.  Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives.  Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives.  Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.  And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

I read this passage over after having typed it out…and I just feel this warm sensation….like a big hug of comfort.  Peace.  Yes Lord -- Peace.  If I relinquish control and let Christ rule in my heart I can have peace.  Just reading those words - thinking those thoughts its as if I can feel the weight lifted and to be able to breathe deeper.  What a comfort.  And yes Lord, I am thankful.  Now, I just have to remember to think on these things.  Easy as pie (mmmm….well maybe not) All too human here.  But together we can encourage and counsel each other.  Now the singing thing I can do….not well mind you…but I can make a great joyful noise!  I love the older hymns.  I miss them.  And boy howdy do I love that some artists are doing new arrangements for these treasured songs.  Singing Come Thou Font of Blessing.  Awesome!  And the couple of new arrangements with Amazing Grace.  Fabulous.  And still some old classics drift through my mind…Standing on the Promises…that particular hymn has been rattling around in my brain…because I've needed those classic truths.  And I am thankful God has gifted these poets with the ability to put my hearts thoughts down on paper and even compose music to go along.  Yes Jesus…I am thankful.  Amen!

Check out this video -- LOVE IT!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Psalm 100: 4, 5

Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise.  Give thanks to him and praise his name.  For the Lord is good.  His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

I am giving thanks today.  The Lord is good.  But it's not just because the biopsy results came back negative.  Although that does make me want to do a happy dance and I have thanked him profusely.  The Lord is good because he loves me (us) forever and without fail.  I don't even know that I can begin to comprehend that idea.  I guess the closest understanding I can think of is with my girls.  There are times when I can feel the depth of my love for them to the point I want to burst and I come close to tears.  They are precious beyond measure to me…and that is only a shallow imitation of how God sees us.  Unfathomable.  And for this reason and so many more….I am Thankful.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

I Chronicles 16:8-11

Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.  Let the whole world know what he has done.  Sing to him; yes, sing his praises. Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds.  Exult in his holy name; rejoice, you who worship the Lord.  Search for the Lord and for his strength; continually seek him.

Is it easier to give thanks when things are good?  I think so.  It is certainly an "easier sell" to proclaim greatness when you are on the winning side of the equation.  Of course, the challenge is then how to define "winning."  If the cancer has come back…I pause and wonder what do I say when I "let the whole world know what he has done."  I don't think I believe God gave me cancer…either time…or indeed if it has come back.  But, I do have to adjust my thinking.  When I hear, write, say the verse "Let the whole world know…" I kick in to sales mode….and I find myself baffled by how I would let the world know…does that mean that maybe deep down I blame God.  I don't like to think so.  But it wouldn't be "a position of strength" that I'd be selling from.  As you can tell my nature as a press secretary comes out when evaluating these verses.  I remember a study with Lysa Terkurst and the "aha" moment of understanding I don't have to praise God for illness…but I can praise Him for being God in all situations…good or bad.  So I know this…but I guess I don't feel confident to tell others.  If the cancer is back…I certainly don't see that as a wonderful deed…but I still know that God holds it in his hand.  And more to the point…if the answer from the doctor tomorrow is yes it's back…I know that I need God's strength to get through.

There are so many thoughts that run through my head.  Most I am ashamed to voice…because I feel by thinking them, feeling them and then giving voice to them I'm being weak and disobedient.

Perhaps, by focusing on one issue, one bad thing…I miss the bigger picture and therefore the answer…that God is God…no matter what…and his love covers us.

Monday, June 24, 2013

It's not's me

I'm stuck.  Honestly I feel like I'm covered in tar....that or being smothered...heck why not just go with both.  For some reason, I'm living in a season of deep anger.  I can't even name what is at the heart of what I'm feeling...but it's ugly.  I'm not sure where it's coming from....if it's my lack of forgiveness for past hurts....frustration in a world filed with injustice (this sounds more noble than it really is....) of some other disappointment.

And to be clear....I'm not mad at God.  I'm just mad at everything else....including me.  And it's paralyzing.....the funny thing is I know it's that paralysis that is keeping me stuck.  I know eventually I'll break free.  I believe that God will pry open my eyes and show me the source of this crap.....and He'll be able to help me release my clenched fists that seem to be holding on to the anger, refusing to let it go...against all common sense.  But it's what I know...and I'm scared to let go.

I know God will provide the strength...but right now I can't even look to his word...the anger brings shame....and I can't believe I'm worthy of the freedom God gives.  How whack is that.

I'm scared, hurt and angry.  I don't like it....but it's where I am.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Philippians 2:5-6

Sigh....powerful verses. It makes me think of all the times we sarcastically declare -- "It's not like I'm God" or accuse someone of playing God....and I know I don't usually give it a second thought.  But then I stop and think....of course I'm not equal to God....but how many times do I refuse to surrender, refuse to let go....and behave like a toddler -- "me do it me-self" I never realized that when I try to handle things....I'm trying to make myself equal to God.  Yikes

Lord, I humble myself.  I don't fully understand what I continue to grasp at...but help me realize that it is You I yearn for and it is You alone that can lift and fill my soul with peace.  Amen.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Philippians 2:3-4

Well more of Paul's instructions as how to achieve that community that we should aspire to in Christ.  When we concern ourselves with others and how we can affect them, we walk a little closer to Christ.  It's good to remember tho....that as much as we care about others, we'll never be able to love them as much as we are called to love them unless we allow Christ to love them through us.

I've been struggling lately with the issue of anger and accountability.  I feel like there have been times that I've surrendered myself and maybe it wasn't the choice that was in my best interest....times I should have stood up and said....this behavior makes me angry and it's not okay.  I find myself wrestling with the love we are called to show and actually perverting it with my attempts to "love" by not being angry with actions that hurt me.

I'm not sure that there is a hard and fast rule for when it's okay...and when it's "turn the cheek"

So...Paul says "don't look out ONLY for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too."

I find the ONLY encouraging.  It means I don't have to be a doormat...but the balance is....I don't treat someone else that way as well.

Things to chew over....

Philippians 2:1-2

Okay -- gotta say...Paul cracking me up here.  In my head, I can almost hear him....and I love how he argues his case.  I have to wonder...did Paul go to law school.  :)  Bill always tells me one of the golden rules (ha golden) is never ask a question you don't already know how it's gonna be answered.  And that's what Paul does.  But he doesn't stop there...he lays it down...if we answer affirmatively -- which as Christians pretty much must...then here's where the rubber hits the's what we must do...oh snap.

And you know it's just little things he wants us to do to make him and Christ happy.  I wish.

How to apply this....In many ways, I think it's really the "yes" answer to the final question that sets us up to succeed with Paul's list of happiness makers....If my heart is tender and compassionate I am much more open to being loving to my "brothers and sisters."  Working together with one mind and purpose...   Wow...what an amazing challenge.

Lord, only you can bring these changes.  Only you can lead us to working together with one mind and purpose.  Amen.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Philippians 1:30

We don't struggle alone.  Is that comforting?  Sometimes.  It comes down to the battle over self.  When I want it to be all about me....I don't care that others are having a tough time too.  However, knowing you aren't the only one can be a comfort....because there are others who understand and can offer support -- and it's possible to return the support....forming community.

The other important fact to remember is that Christ first struggled and died for us.  So, we aren't alone.  We have a Savior who first carried the burden and will still carry us.....pretty amazing...and comforting.

Lord, help me cling to the truth of your strength and love when struggles come my way.  Amen.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Philippians 1:29

Mmmm...the privilege of suffering for Christ.  I gotta say I don't look on this as a selling point.  But from my reading in James, I understand that the trials and testing are ways we learn and grow closer to Christ and closer to perfection.  Suffering doesn't sound like a great option....but it's the tough times that prompt us to change....when circumstances are good we don't look to change things because that would really make no sense.  It's the struggles and discontent that prompt us to try to change or improve.  In addition to the privilege of suffering FOR Christ.  We get the privilege of trusting him.  We know He has us in His hands....and He has great plans for us.  He has told us so.

Lord, thank you for the opportunity to trust you.  Thank you for challenges that create opportunities for growth.  Amen.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Philippians 1:28

"Don't be intimidated by your enemies" There are many things that run through my mind as I read those words and ponder them.  There has been a thorn in my side for several months...and to compound the complex problem....the thorns loudly proclaim their Christianity.  I was tempted to put the word Christianity in " " but.....that is really not fair.  I don't know their hearts and their relationship with God is between them and God.  But I have mentally railed.  I've been frustrated by the pain and hurt done by these thorns trumpeting God as their banner.  I feel helpless and I hate how their witness hurts people I know.   I'm confused and discouraged by the ability of the thorns to get away with their behavior. So I'm not sure what to do with this verse...or even what follows...about being defeated and destroyed....I play the what if game....and I stew.   Don't be intimidated....don't give over the victory.  Perhaps that is what I can hold on to.

Lord help me remain faithful even in the face of cunning opposition.  Amen.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Philippians 1:27

"Standing together united for one purpose" I wonder how sad Paul and Jesus himself are when the see the petty squabbles that church congregations get efficiently it leads us astray from doing the work of fighting for the gospel which is the Good News. I know I've gotten involved with church squabbles...and I regret some of the actions I took in defense of my opinion. I can only be responsible for myself and I'm pretty confident that I let Jesus down. I certainly wasn't blameless. Thankfully, I'm forgiven by God. and hopefully, I've learned a lesson, learned from my mistakes -- after all there are so many new ones I can make. And if only that were a joke.

Oh Lord, thank you for your immense patience and love for us. I know we don't deserve it and yet you freely give it. Amazing love. Give us the strength to continue to strive and grow into the people you created us to be for your Glory. Amen.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Philippians 1:25-26

Greetings.  I read these verses very humbly because I think there could be a great temptation to take them out of context when applying them to my life.  This is Paul speaking....and I find much to take from his example but I can really see a wrong path potential springing from these verses.  The wrong path I could see is attempting to apply this with the death of a loved one -- especially someone very young.  Not that I don't think the truth of Paul's statements could apply -- but I just see the possibility of someone -- albeit well meaning -- trying to tell a grief stricken person that their dead loved one's purpose had been accomplished and that's why they died.  It may be true (although we won't know that for sure until Christ's return) but I think we fail in compassion when we try to explain away the pain.  I think that is at the root of my caution in approaching this verse.  I also feel cautious because I don't feel my life is fully reflective of suggesting that I am living this out makes me uncomfortable and feeling somewhat as less than worthy.  Here's where I have a choice...I could wallow in the defeat of my brokenness....or I can place my hope in the author and perfecter of my faith and continue to challenge myself to humbly rely on Christ's victory and His mercy, grace and strength to grow more fully into the person He created me to be.

Lord, thank you for your promptings, your challenges, your reminders of your greatness.  Give me your strength as I am too weak to fulfill this journey on my own.  Thank you, beyond my words, for your grace, mercy and love for me and all of your people.  It is beyond my understanding Lord, but give me the courage to live based on the truth of Your words.  Amen.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Philippians 1:21-24

"To live is Christ, to die is gain."  I'd consider this statement one of Paul's more famous quotes.  I like reading it in the context.  It does tickle me because it sorta sounds a little conceited on Paul's part...but I guess if you've had a personal experience with Jesus like Paul's probably okay to tell folks they still need him for teaching. 

Of course -- the main focus he has is being able to continue his work for Jesus.  That is an amazing singular focus.  I think about all the different things I think about when I look at my to-do list....laundry,  dusting, vacuuming, knitting, writing, and other work types of things...I get pretty distracted and lost in those minor things and forget about being as single minded that all I do is for Jesus.  I have been trying to think this way at my work.  Especially on days I question my purpose and may be a little dissatisfied in the daily grind.  If I approach my paperwork or my relationships with coworkers as if I'm working for Christ the desired effect would be that I work in a way that would bring Him honor.

Lord, I want to honor you with my life.  Please work through me so that my action bring you glory.  Amen.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Philippians 1:18-20

"I trust my life will bring honor to Jesus Christ"  Could I say that? mmmm.  I don't believe I can say that with confidence.

"the message of Christ is preached either way, so I rejoice"  This makes me wonder how many petty fights within the body of Christ we could avoid if we all put this idea first.

And there is the rub....when we put Christ first, we win -- we bring glory and honor to him.  When we put ourselves first....well...for a while it may seem okay -- but it won't last.  A couple of years ago, Bill said he thought selfishness was the true definition of evil.  The more I see, the more I live, the more I really find that to be true.  When it is a me first attitude we can truly be capable of terrible things that hurt others -- some irreparably.

Dearest Lord, help me to rejoice when you are being honored.  I pray that my life will be an honor to you Lord.  Help me to continue to surrender my "me-oriented' agenda and love as you first loved me.  Amen.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Philippians 1:15-17

"Preaching out of jealously and rivalry" -- Yikes.  What a sad commentary on someone's intentions.  How far some would go because of their own issues.  Not only out of jealousy but also with the intent to make someone else suffer.

At first this seems remote, a trap it would be hard to fall into....but then I think about the temptation to use scripture to "beat" someone down and not love them as God intends....and I know I've fallen into that trap.  It can be tricky -- we need to correct each other....but our motives and out attitudes say it all.  I think of Jesus vs. the lifted up the hurting, the other lifted up themselves at the expense of the downtrodden.  I can be far too easy to misuse gifts we've been given, knowledge or experience we've gained.  This is why it is so important that all we do is for God's glory....

Lord, create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit in me.  (Psalm 51:10)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Philippians 1:12-14

Paul tells us that everything that has happened to him has spread the Gospel.  Just stop and think about that for a's staggering.....he has taken every challenge and used it for Jesus's glory.  I think about the words of James, echoed by Paul -- to greet trial with Joy because of the opportunity it presents.  I am in awe of how Paul had lived this out.

Not only has Paul's boldness changed the lives of his guards...the Christians have not been silenced by the they are even more confident.  What an amazing turn...the exact opposite of what you'd expect to have  happen.

I am many times have I "boldly spoke God's message without fear".....My only answer can be...not enough.

Lord, please give me the courage to speak your message boldly and without fear.  Amen.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Philippians 1:9-11


The verse 9 is on point for me right now.  I'm delighted that I have it to focus my attention on.  It is a challenge to feel like I overflow with love.  It is continually tempting to overflow with something besides love :)  By working on loving more, I do learn more....part of that comes because I have to work hard at loving more...and part of doing that is challenging myself to see another person's point of view, walk in their shoes so to speak and open my mind to recognize their experiences that have formed their point of view and heart.  It also can push me to recognize their pain.  Doing this definitely causes me to grow in knowledge and understanding....which helps me love deeper.  It also helps me to pause before I jump to a biting response, or in all reality -- my real response which is usually shut down and withdraw...becoming pretty cold.  I kid myself that it's not a noticeable.  That would be what we call denial....and that's a whole 'nother topic.  What it certainly isn' love like Jesus has demonstrated.  Our actions can either bring glory and praise to God -- or not.  I know where I want to stand....and that means loving with His heart.

I love you and praise God for you.   Amen.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Philippians 1:7-8

Have to admit I'm really struggling with fatigue.  But this was such a warm passage.  It is so loving and sweet.  I was struck by how genuine it feels...not "hallmark card" schmaltz in the least.

I would like to be that loving to other Christians.  I can only achieve that through Christ.  I do not have the ability on my own.  I'm too impatient.

"tender compassion"  Yes Lord -- Thank you Lord...I need that compassion and I also need to show that compassion to others.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Philippians 1:6

Love, love, love this verse and the hope it represents!  He began a good work in us and will bring it to completion!

I suffer from restless project syndrome.  I'm good at the start but soon lose interest and have trouble getting something, once begun, across the finish line.  As I write, there is a partially knit cowl on the floor, books that have been started (on subjects from Gardening to Grammar) and not finished on my bedside table....I joke that my flowers need to develop a strong root system because around the Fourth of July I've tired of them and no longer regularly water them.  When it's a formal situation (like a class) I'll hang in there and finish -- but if it's just up to me....well let's just say my track record isn't stellar.

But, luckily, this most important work is not up to me!  Hooray!  God promises he'll finish and if he said it, I believe it.

Lord, thank you for beginning this amazing transformative work in our lives.  Thank you for how much you love us and your commitment to us.  You are awesome God.  Your mercies are unending.  Your faithfulness exceeds our understanding.  Thank you Jesus!  Amen.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Philippians 1:4-5


I flip back and forth between different bible translations and I have to say, I really prefer the NLT on these two verses...not that the NIV isn't good...I just prefer the NLT.

The loyalty of the relationship between Paul and Philippians is very uplifting -- what a great example.

Joy -- one of the footnotes I have talks about the joy that Paul is describing is not dependent on anything in this world...rather it is our relationship with Jesus.

So -- my very straightforward application is to continue to pray for those who are part of my faith family.  Also, instead of the discontent I feel in earthly things, to focus on the joy that has been given to us by our relationship with Christ.  Again...the encouragement against divided loyalties.  :)  Definitely feeling a theme!

Dearest Lord, help me to remember that I will not find real joy in earthly things, that my transforming joy is the reality of the love you have for us and your gift to us of eternal life, that we may spend forever with you.  Jesus, thank you so very much for the wonderful faith partners you've placed in my life.  I ask that you hold them close to your heart.  Bless them Lord as they've faithfully shared your love and encouragement with me.  Lord help me return the same to them. Amen.

P.S.  Renee's (A Confident Heart) devotion this morning used two verses from Philippians.  :)  I love it when that happens.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Philippians 1:1-3

Good Morning!  I have a dear friend who still sends cards and letters.  She doesn't miss a holiday and I so cherish these real "snail" mail arrivals.  From the background on the letter of Philippians, the church was being persecuted but had taken a collection to send Paul a gift in his imprisonment.  This is the Philippians "thank you" letter and a message of encouragement.  Boy howdy, I need the message of joy to refresh my thirsty, dry as bones spirit.

Paul calls himself (and Timothy) slaves of Jesus -- a slave being totally devoted to serving Jesus.  Having just finished James -- a good portion of his message was about not having divided loyalties and here is Paul saying the same thing -- trust God completely.  :)

"Grace and peace to you."  Yes Lord, I need your grace and peace.  My last week has been a rough and tumble time at work and personally.  I've found myself wearing my porcupine coat...and I know that in my angst I've been prickly to others including those I hold most dear, which causes the blech to deepen and piles more shame on top of the negative thoughts already roiling inside.

I need to surrender the anger and hurt, allow God to calm the storm raging inside.  It's easy -- once I let go.

Oh Lord, I failed again.  Please help me to let go and hold on to your truths.  The truths that reassure me that I am your child, you love me and it's not because I've earned it.  It's because Jesus paid the price for my shortcomings, my failures, my anger, my sins, my darkness...He has wiped it away because You love all of us that much - including me.  Lord, help me to reflect that love, help me to set aside my anger, help me to trust your justice and hold tight to your mercies so I can devote myself to you completely.  Amen.

PS -- I don't always get this in-depth...especially just on "Greetings, it's Paul here."  I just really needed the grace and peace part in case you didn't figure that out already.  Please share your observations, applications and prayers in the comments.  It may be me who is first to post, but I really learn from all the different thoughts and observations from others.  :)

Sunday, March 31, 2013

About Philippians

First -- I may actually get the spelling correct by the time I'm finished with this!  This is considered the NT letter on "JOY."   Written by Paul to the church in Philippi.  Paul was imprisoned when he wrote this letter but it's not clear which time of Paul's imprisonment.  Paul established the church there during his 2nd missionary journey.  He also visited Philippi during his 3rd missionary journey.  Interesting fact, Philippi was established by father of Alexander the Great and was the first Christian church established in Greece.  There were not many Jews in the area and to reflect that...Philippians contains no Old Testament references.

Around the area there were many retired military it's sorta like San Diego.  :)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

1 Peter 1:18-19

S - For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. (1 Peter 1:18, 19 NLT)

O - Empty life is a term that really catches my attention. My first silly thought is about all the books, tv and movie dramas where they have the scenes reading the will of the dearly departed and some relative throws a hissy fit because they got nothing. Well that's what we've gotten from our ancestors...the big fat nada. But we aren't stuck with nothing. We have so much more, bought with a price higher than I can begin to comprehend. Precious Blood. Wow. Amazing.

Sinless....I also reflect on the fact that Jesus was without sin. Sometimes I'm lucky to get from one breath to the next without committing at least one lead a human life and be sinless. Beyond my comprehension.

A - How do I apply this verse? I can't see of anyway to live this verse unless you start with exalted worship and thanksgiving to God.

P - My prayer ...."Dearest Lord...thank you. I fall to your feet amazed by your grace, mercy and love. Oh the Wonderful Cross...I cannot fathom the suffering you took on because of your love for us. Amazing love you showed us Lord. Dearest Jesus, we have nothing to offer that can even be considered worth this gift. Yet you said we are worth this sacrifice. Thank you Lord."