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.