Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Proverbs 30:1-9

"The man declares, I am weary, O God;
I am weary, O God, and worn out.
Surely I am too stupid to be a man.
I have not the understanding of a man.
I have not learned wisdom,
nor have I knowledge of the Holy One.
Who has ascended to heaven and come down?
Who has gathered the wind in his fists?
Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is his name, and what is his son's name?
Surely you know!
Every word of God proves true;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Do not add to his words,
lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.
Two things I ask of you;
deny them not to me before I die:
Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty or riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
lest I be full and deny you
and say, "Who is the Lord?"
or lest I be poor and steal
and profane the name of my God."

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dog Sitting Days Pt2

I have been debating all night and morning with myself whether or not to write this post. I guess it's obvious which side won out. I am still dog sitting for my best friend, and it has been a LONG two weeks, for more than one reason(by the way they come back on Thursday!! :D :D :D). The isolation has been difficult. I want to share what God has been teaching me this last week in particular. As you might know from my testimonies I have been very excited about getting married someday and what that will look like. I thought I had a healthy God honoring view of marriage. It wasn't an obsession like it had been at one point. It was something that I "waited for with patience and anticipation". I have been doing this bible reading challenge called "The 3560 Challenge." Basically its a bookmarking plan where you read ten chapters of the bible a day and by the end of the year you have read 3650 chapters...which means you've read the bible several times over. (it's a clever name I know ;)) You read from different sections of the bible...each chapter from a different book. The books are separated typically by type...ie the Pentateuch is one book mark...The Minor Prophets is another...etc. I have loved it.

Anyway...my reading the other day started in Matthew where Jesus is talking about marriage, and towards the end he says that it is better to remain single, if you can receive that receive it. I don't know why but this really stood out to me. I suddenly was gripped with fear that God was asking me to give up the one thing I wanted more than anything else. I immediately thought of Abraham and Issac...when God told Abraham to sacrifice the one thing that mattered most to him, his son Issac. Abraham of course complied without comment or complaint. It bothered me for several days. I began to ask myself, "what if God is asking me to be single the rest of my life?" It was a tough question for me. I realized that all I felt after that question was unendurable sadness and depression. Though I am not proud of it, I will admit that the thought "what am I here for then?" cropped into my head. I tried to put on my Spiritual face and say well God is my provider and I will trust Him to provide for all my needs...emotional, physical, etc. So I need not be concerned about this because I can do the rest of my life alone as long as I have God.

That attitude lasted for about the rest of the week...I had a mantra going in my head...every time I thought of marriage I would say to myself "I probably am not getting married so I need to stop thinking about this." But in the very deepest part of my heart, I hoped...I hoped that this was like Abraham. That God would still give me what I wanted I just had to prove that it wasn't as important to me as God. Haha...I love how we think we can lie to God as easily as we lie to ourselves.

A few days later...I was content with my "remaining single life" and so joyful in it. I thought this will be over in a few days. Oh how arrogant. Monday morning...I began my Bible readings...the third chapter I read was 1 Corinthians 7. If you are familiar with this chapter then you will know what I am about to say. Paul is writing to the people in Corinth and in this particular chapter he is talking about marriage...Paul goes on to say how divorce should work etc...then he starts talking for a majority of the chapter how it is better to be single. It's not for everyone, but he was encouraging people who were not engaged or already married to not seek it. So that they could be devoted completely to the Lord without the distractions and the anxieties of marriage. My heart sank. Then I read the next chapter on my list which was James 1. "Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds..." I started to bawl. I couldn't give it up. For six years I had been looking forward to it...had scripture to back me up that that was where God had been leading me. How could he now just decide to throw that all out the window? I realized then how much of an idol marriage has been in my life. My whole world revolved around the distant future event that now I could not guarantee would actually happen.

I immediately sent an email to my mentor explaining what was happening. My desire to trust God on this, but the battle that raged within me to be angry with him that he had brought me to a place with all these desires and emotions and was just going to deny me what I wanted. I went to shower...because that is where I think best...and after calming down and thinking about it I decided I was just going to trust God.

In all her vast wisdom my mentor called me. She began to share with me that what I was trying to reconcile was huge. My entire existence. She said when she feels overwhelmed with those kind of proportions she brings it back to today. God has given us strength to get through today. Not the future. He doesn't walk us through our imaginations. He walks us through actual events. She said today you can receive it. Today you are single. She said whether or not I get married will not change my life that much. That the goal was to serve in Kingdom work. To be obedient to Christ, and to seek to be a woman of God. She said none of that will change regardless of my marital state. So she reminded me that we live in right here, right now, and we should focus on what we have before us at this moment. Right now I am single...I have the advantages that Paul talks about. I am free from the distractions and anxieties of marriage. Today I can receive it. So I pray that God will use me today. Use me for Kingdom work today in my availability right now.

She is so wise. :) I don't know if I will ever get married but I realized that it is wrong for that to be my biggest concern. I should be concerned with the Lord's work. I encourage you, if you are like me, to seek his kingdom today and not waste the valuable time you have as a single person "waiting with patience and anticipation" for your spouse to walk into your life. If it comes it is an added blessing to your life, but your true fulfillment and provision comes from the Lord you serve today.

I read this this morning and I wanted to share it with you because it made my heart sing. I hope that it encourages you to go in today and follow the Lord who is good and great!

"Lift up your heads, O gates!
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The LORD, strong and mighty,
the LORD, mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O gates!
And lift them up, O ancient doors,
that they King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The LORD of hosts,
HE is the King of glory!"
Psalm 24:7-10

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Ultimate Woman...

I've never done a full study on Proverbs 31, but I would really like to at some point. The woman who is described there is someone I hope one day to aspire to. Unfortunately I don't think about this often enough, but again I was sent my daily devotion from Wisdom Hunters and I felt it was too good not to post.

If you have not looked at their website or have not subscribed to their daily email devotions...I highly recommend it.

"“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.” Proverbs 31:10

A woman of character is not easily found. She is rare and valuable. Because of her appealing attributes, she is a gift from God. Thank Him often if you are blessed with this quality of woman in your life. She is rare because we live in a self-crazed culture, yet a woman of character is others-focused. For the follower of Christ, selflessness is expected. But for our society as a whole, it is an anomaly. She refuses to demean herself to a standard of mediocrity.

Her goal is excellence in living. Duplicity is far from her thinking as she serves with authenticity and industry. No skills or gifts remain dormant in her active life. She channels her energies into the welfare of her family and is resourceful with financial opportunities. A woman of character is an anchor for her family. Her character provides stability when challenges creep into her home. She is determined to do the right thing regardless of the difficulties it may require. Character is more important than compromise, therefore she models the way for her friends and family. She is a rock of hope and consistency because God’s Word has become that for her.

However, be careful to not take the world on your shoulders—that is God’s job. Also, do not hold a standard of perfection over your head. Leave yourself some wiggle room for mistakes. You will make mistakes. Let mistakes be a reminder of what to do and what not to do in the future. They are reminders of your dependence on God. Your goal is not to live a mistake-free life but a life that loves God and loves people. Let Him continue to develop your character and grow you into a mentor of other women. Don’t waste your wonderful experiences. Share them with younger women so that they can grow in their character.

Husband, love your wife of character. Tell her often how proud you are of her. Do not be intimidated by her level of spirituality. On the contrary, celebrate her passion for life and her spiritual maturity. Allow her life to challenge you and inspire you to the same level of character development. Your virtuous woman is a tremendous asset. Your best and most strategic business decision occurred when you married a woman of character. Her wisdom is unparalleled. Her discernment of human nature borders on the divine. She is uncanny in seeing things you do not see—and saving you a ton of money and time (that is if you listen to her).

Her influence is ever-present in her work and home. Encourage her burgeoning influence and opportunities. Become her biggest cheerleader. If she wants to start a business, help her start a business. If she needs some help with the house and lawn, make that investment. Free her to do what she does best. It may be teaching, mentoring, being a mom, sewing or serving in a variety of capacities. It may be to take care of her parents during the latter stages of life.

Allow her to reach her full potential. Give her the cash, confidence and resources to reach for her dreams. Be grateful. A woman of character is not to be taken for granted. Yet this is easy to do. Make a big deal out of her accomplishments, because they are a big deal. Help her to pace herself and protect her from the encroachment of those with warped motives. Her character is a valued asset that needs to be managed with care. Care for her as she cares for you!"

I hope this encourages you as it did me. Not only to see what the standard is for us as women of God, but also how we should encourage one another in the same way. Making much of others obedience to God and their striving to be like Christ.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Dog-Sitting Days...

Among many freelance art projects and my full time job that I have, I also find myself dog-sitting quite often. I usually stay at the house where the dog lives until the owners return. This often leads to much time spent alone, and almost always ends with me spending most of that time talking to the dog. I am currently doing this for my best friend and her husband who are currently in India with both my sisters on a mission trip. So basically everyone that I talk to/spend time with regularly are out of the country, and my companion is their black standard poodle Gracie. It has been one day officially and I have already begun to talk to her. haha.

Typically when I have this much time alone, my mind spirals into places it should not go. Such as pity-parties about not having things to do, lots of friends to call, or lots of friends calling me. Also self-loathing because I have far too much time to focus on myself and all of my many and varied flaws, and past mistakes I have made. I do not make close friends easily. Several years of being burned in friendships have left me wary to dive into new ones. So I have lots of experience with these feelings of self-pity/loathing because I spend a fair amount of time by myself. As I said I am on day two of dog-sitting and have already found myself in these places several times.

I don't know if you struggle with things like this. Perhaps you don't, in which case I am supremely jealous of you ;). But, if you are like me and find yourself in deep dark pits because you have dwelt too long on things that are not honoring to God, I would like to encourage you.

First that God is sufficient to satisfy you in loneliness, in your depression, in your mistakes, in feeling insufficient, or unnecessary, even feeling lost in where you are in life. He is the only one who can satisfy your heart completely. Be satisfied in his word, and in his complete and total trustworthiness.

Second that he has a purpose for each season of your life. He does not do things for no reason, or without or outside his plan for you. "He works all things for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose." Not meaning he will only ever give us "good" things in our understanding of good. But our ultimate good which is being made like his son, and our sanctification.

I read this from Wisdom Hunters this morning and I hope that it will encourage you the way it has encouraged me.

"“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm—my great army that I sent among you.” Joel 2:25

God can make up for wasted time. He specializes in redeeming rough seasons in our lives. What has become a torturous transition, He can use to love you into a closer relationship with Him. Where else can you go for eternal life than to the one who is eternal (John 6:68)? Allow God to backfill this blot on your past. He can rebuild what has been broken, and even destroyed.

You may have been embarrassed and humiliated, but nothing is beyond God’s long arm of restoration. Injustice may have invaded your unsuspecting life. Unaware and unexpecting, you lost everything you had spent a lifetime building. Poof, in a twinkle of an eye, it was gone. Your career was gone. Your family teetered on division. Your reputation was tattered and all but obliterated. Your joy was gone, your finances depleted, your energy sapped. And your faith was shot full of holes. Your desire to move forward in life was severely stalled. Worst of all, you wondered where the Lord was in all this reversal of fortune. You were on the fast track to bitterness because of your feelings of betrayal. You may have hit rock bottom, and now there is nowhere to look but up.

Look up to Jesus. He is your hope, your rock, and your refuge. Look up to the Lord, even though He may seem a million miles away. Now is the time to practice what you told others all those years. Trust God during this time of turmoil. God wants to backfill your loss. He can fill your pit of pity with hope (Psalm 40:2). Your broken relationships that are buried in a cistern of hurt, He can retrieve with forgiveness. Into your financial black hole, He can shine the light of His provision and opportunity.

In Christ, your best days lie ahead. Submit to His healing. Let go of your hurt and pride, and hang on to Him. He is the best thing you have going for you. Let these failures forge a stronger faith in you and in your family. Face the fact that you are forgiven, and move forward in the power of the Holy Spirit. Lean on the Lord. He can handle it. He is your stability in this storm of insanity. God is there for you to rebuild your reputation, and to give you daily doses of hope and encouragement. Your eruption of raw emotion will cultivate you into a more sensitive and compassionate follower of Christ.

He has brought you through this crisis of faith to allow you to coach others through the same. You are a living and breathing testimony of the grace and love of God. Project His faithfulness onto other fledgling followers of Jesus. Let the Lord backfill the hole in your heart and life with His love and faithfulness. His filling of right attitudes and actions will bar the door of your mind from bitterness and backstabbing. Invite the Holy Spirit to backfill your soul with His fruit of love, joy, peace, self-control, purity, forgiveness, and humility. What God fills proves faithful. What God fills, He controls and comforts. Use the lessons of the past as a reminder for the Holy Spirit’s filling in the present. His backfilling results in faithfulness going forward."

Monday, January 9, 2012


This past week I was able to go to the Passion Conference in Atlanta. For those who may not know what this is, it is a Christian conference for college age students. I had my hesitations about going...mountaintop experience among other things, but I am so glad I went. God really moved and did a work there and in myself.
I guess what I really want to talk about was a few things that hit home with me yesterday. I was in my church service, my father was preaching on joy. How joy isn't based on outward circumstances but on an inward condition. He asked us a very potent question. What brings you the most joy? I thought very hard about that. What did bring me the most joy? After coming off a week at Passion (my mountain top) all I could think was the times in my life when I have been most joyful are when I am most satisfied in Christ. The times when I spend the most time in his word and soak up every sentence. When my heart sings praise to him all day. Those times the joy is inexpressible. It surpasses the most epic movie I could ever see, the most awesome of roller coasters, etc. Because with all of those things there is an end to the "joy" it brings, and I think in my heart I know it is coming to an end and therefore the "joy" is cheapened a bit. But with the joy from a relationship with Christ that joy is eternal and fresh everyday.
Here is a quote from Wisdom Hunters again.
"Our joy is in our Lord and King, Jesus; we choose no lower delight. The religion of men remains dead in sin, sad, and contingent on circumstances. We however serve with gladness, a risen Savior who rules by grace and truth. Gladness comes when you go to God to govern your life. It is the Lord you look to when life is spinning out of control. Children of God are happy to be His. Be glad your Maker made you for Himself.
He wants you, He desires you, and He invites you into the joy of His presence. Time with Jesus in stillness and solitude generates joy in your soul. Your glad heart will make music, and sing praises to your King. You may find yourself dancing with the stars under the canopy of heaven. Sing the new song written on your heart by the Holy Spirit, and you will be glad in God."

“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” Psalm 100:2