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Month: February 2013

Peace In the Midst

Peace In the Midst

Have you ever been in a hurricane before or better yet, a tornado?  My husband and I were in a hurricane back in 2004 while down at college.  Whoa, talk about scary!

Our college had buildings that were made to withstand hurricane force winds and while my husband stayed in his dorm room I stayed in another building there on campus.  There was an eerie calm, a quietness before the storm came.  No wind, no rain, just an overcast sky was the sign that a storm was brewing.

Sometime in the wee morning hours the hurricane came full force.  I mean this storm was angry!  I could hear the wind howling, tree branches flying, glass breaking outside, it was crazy!  Yet, in the midst of it all there I was in this building, completely safe from it all.  That hurricane was recorded as a 4 or 5, which is pretty bad!  When we were able to leave the building later the next day the damage was so intense!  Trees were fallen, homes were ripped apart, trees were in the middle of homes!  Cars had broken glass or were smashed due to flying object crashing into them at full force, power lines were down, you couldn’t drink the water, most of the time no water would even come out of the tap!  It was a bad bad storm that left much damage in it’s wake.

Through this growing time in the life of my husband and I it seems kind of like a hurricane is going full force!  Everything is blowing all around at a quick pace and our life story is not being written how we thought it would be.  However, my heart is at complete peace.  You would think this would not make sense at all, and realistically, without the Lord, it wouldn’t make any sense!  My husband is without a job, we are selling our home, a move is in our near future, I mean the winds are really blowing!  Yet, here I sit in complete peace.

My lifes verse is Psalm 27:4, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.”  I truly desire to seek after the Lord, no matter what the situations are around me.

In my devotions I was reading a story about a woman who was lamenting over the numerous trials going on in her life.  Wondering why so many?  The Lord brought her to a vineyard that was overgrown and producing minimal fruit.  He explained that when a farmer is done with a vineyard he no longer prunes, trims, cares if there are weeds, he no longer waters and looks after the vineyard because he is done with it.  He expects no more fruit and no longer needs it.  The Lord looked at the woman and asked, “Is this what you want?  Do you want me to leave you alone?”  Wow!  How many times have I been that woman?  How many times have I cried out, “Lord, I just want a break from all of this!!”  Yet, the Lord is not done using me.  In order to use me better for His glory, in order to produce more fruit, He must constantly be pruning, cutting off things in my life that He sees are not helping me live for Him.  Cutting off more of myself so that more of HIM can be clearly seen. So that more of the beauty of Him will be seen through me to others.

I have no doubt that this trial we are in the midst of is involving more pruning.  Pulling away what isn’t needed in our lives, testing our faith, stretching our trust in God.  When a steady paycheck is coming in it is easier not to depend on God to provide it.  Yet when that paycheck stops coming we are again forced to realize that it really is GOD who provides!

It is odd to me that I am not worrying about anything right now.  I mean, I can be a GREAT worrier!  Yet, Isaiah 26:3 is so true, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

The peace of God will pass all understanding if we allow it too.  If we keep our minds stayed on Him, even through the hurricanes life may bring our way, His peace will surround us and surpass our understanding.  What a great God we have!

I can’t but HE can

I can’t but HE can

Have you ever been told “You can’t ___” and then you fill in the blank?  Whether it’s you can’t be in the Olympics or you can’t have that last hot fudge sunday, many times when we are told we can’t do something, or don’t do something, we find our flesh saying, “Oh ya?”

It is evident in the life of many 2 year olds that this is often how our flesh works!  I remember when my oldest daughter was not quite 2 and we were all sitting down to dinner in our home.  Her high chair was close to the wall and she was sitting between her dad and I.  We were having some kind of dinner with red sauce and my daughter thought it was a GREAT idea to help paint the off white walls red!  I suppose she thought our walls were too boring and we needed an accent wall.  My husband looked at our daughter and said, “No, don’t touch the wall.”  Our little Miss gave him those big beautiful puppy dog eyes as if to say “Me, Daddy?  I would NEVER disobey you!”  We went back to chowing down on our delicious meal and we saw her once again stretch out her sauce covered hand to touch the wall.  My husband again said, “No!” very calmly, but very stern as well.  This time when she looked at her Daddy her eyes seemed to say, “Watch me” and she stuck out one chubby little finger and poked the wall.  She was disciplined for doing this because it was direct disobedience, but it proves my point.

Sometimes there are instances when we are told “no” or “You can’t” or “Don’t” because it is for our own good and protection.  Other times people tell us this because they want to discourage or they truly believe we can’t!

I shared with you in my previous post that my husband is reading a book entitled In Desert Places and in it the author, Paul Chappell shares many a story about his life and the lives of others.  When he was in his late 20’s the Lord called him to Pastor a church that seemed to be headed down hill, it was in the desert and the church was actually about to foreclose!  Many people, friends and family shared their opinions and tried to discourage him from taking this Pastorate.   They honestly felt he was foolish for stepping in and taking over this crumbling church.

As my husband shared with me this story a thought struck me.  First of all, everyone was looking at the situation.  A foreclosing church is not an ideal situation to step into, living in the desert can be miserable (hello 118 degree summers!), and there literally seemed to be nothing there for this young pastor and his family.  Second, those who were discouraging this young pastor were looking at him as a man.  He was young, he had a good job already,  he would have to move his family to the middle of no man’s land, and they felt he was not yet ready to take on a pastorate.  They were looking at the man, instead of his GOD!

We were recently discouraged from being in ministry.  My husband was actually told he had missed his calling and he needed to plug himself into a secular line of work.  I am not saying that working a secular job is wrong, obviously a secular line of work is important!  However, if my husband believes he is called to ministry then it would be wrong because he would be stepping outside of God’s will for his life.  These words were very hurtful and discouraging and caused us to question our call and seek counsel.  Maybe they are right, is what we thought.  However, the problem with this is that the only thing we were looking at was ourselves.

My husband cannot Pastor a church in the way God intended by doing it himself, in his own strength.  Looking at ourselves we see our flaws, we see our weaknesses, but the problem is, when we are looking at ourselves we are not looking at God!  We get tunnel vision and seem to only see what we “can’t” instead of what God says we “can” through Him!

Look at the story of Peter in the New Testament.  Here these disciples were in a boat out on the water and off in the distance they saw a man, walking on the water!  That would truly be something to see, would it not!  Peter called out and asked if he could walk on the water out to Jesus and he did!  He put one leg over the side of the boat and landed on the water, only it didn’t sink.  Slowly he put his other leg over the side of the boat and soon, he was standing on his own two feet on top of the water.  Can you imagine?!  He took his first step, then his second and third all the while his eyes were on Christ.  But then out of the corner of his eye he saw the waves, he saw the vastness of the body of water, he saw how far he would have to walk to reach Jesus, he looked all around him at his circumstances and began thinking, “What have I gotten myself into?” and what began to happen?  He began to sink.  He took his eyes off of the One who was holding him up and he sank like rock.  He cried out to Jesus for help and our good Lord helped him.

That is kind of like how my husband and I have been this past month.  Before this month we knew we are supposed to be in ministry. Before this month came we had no doubts.  But once these words were spoken to us, once the circumstances of our lives was turned upside down we took our eyes off of the one who called us to this in the first place.  We put our eyes on ourselves and realized “No, we can’t!” and the weight of discouragement, defeat, and heartbreak began pulling us down into a sinking quick sand.  We began to doubt God’s calling on our lives only because of one man’s opinion.

The truth is, we can’t!   Looking at ourselves we definitely cannot do God’s work on our own!  But here’s the thing, greater is he that is in me!!  1John 4:4 “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world”.  God CAN use us.  God CAN work through us.  God WILL work through us if we are emptied of ourselves and allow Him to!  I can’t, but HE CAN!

I have an amazing God living inside of me!  I have a God who, despite my serious failings and flaws, WANTS to use my life!  One mans opinion is just that, one man’s opinion.  Ultimately, what is important is what GOD thinks on the matter.  Men can lead us to Christ, men can be used of God, but men can also lead us away from what God wants for us and men can fail us.  That just comes with human nature.  God never fails though.  God never leads us astray.  God will direct our steps every step of the way if we put ourselves aside and simply trust and obey.

This man was right, we CAN’T, but he failed to remember that GOD CAN!

Have Faith

Have Faith

faithDuring family devotions tonight my husband shared part of the story of Abraham from the Old Testament.  He shared about when God asked Abraham to pack up his family and move.  Okay, no problem!  Where are we going, Lord?  Abraham was not met with an answer, instead he was met with “Trust me.  I’ll let you know when you need to know.”  Wait, what?  Who does that?!  Who packs up their family without knowing what direction they are headed?  Abraham, a man of faith.

Hebrews 11:8-10,  By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; 10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

It was a long day today.  We are getting ready to put our home on the market, packing up the place we have loved and called home the past 3 years.  We are doing what we need to so that when God decides to let us know where He wants us we are ready to go!   I have often found myself asking, “Okay, I’ll pack my home and family up, but where are we going, Lord?”  The Lord has chosen to answer us in a similar way as He did with Abraham.  “Trust me, I’ll let you know when you need to know.”   lightWait what?

This can be kind of scary if you ask me!  I am the kind of person that likes to know well in advance what the “plans are”.  I enjoy knowing when, where, how, and a lot of times why!  I take pleasure in planning and organizing.  Color coordinating plastic tubs so I know what rooms they will eventually go in is my forte so this whole “trust me, I’ll let you know in time” is throwing me completely out of my comfort zone.

Putting faith in action.  How much do I really trust God?  How much do I depend on Him?  If I have no problem trusting Him with my eternity, why do I tend to struggle with trusting Him in the here and now?

My husband is reading a book by Paul Chappell right now entitled “In Desert Places” and last night he read two sentences to me.

“When God wants to perform a miracle, He always begins with a problem.  The bigger the problem, the greater the miracle.” 

We are waiting for that miracle.

trustWhile we wait I will continue to allow the Lord to grow my faith.  While we wait we will seek His face just as we have been doing.  While we wait we will trust, and when our humanness begins to take over and cause doubt, we will pray and ask the Lord for the faith needed to keep trusting Him.  While we wait I am sure there will be tears shed as Christ keeps on pruning our lives to reflect more of Himself through us.

I leave you with a quote I read from Streams in the Desert this morning.  Man, I am finding these devotional thoughts to be SO applicable to my life right now!

“Difficulty is sent to reveal to us what God can do in answer to the faith that prays and works.” ~ Cowman

A GREAT devotional

A GREAT devotional

So my last post I shared a bit about something that we are going through right now and then later on that evening I found an app for my android that has daily devotionals.  I am up all hours of the night sometimes and while I feed my sweet little baby I have to stay awake!  So I’ve been reading my Bible on there but a devotional is also a great way to spend my time!

I think it is not a coincidence that the very day I read this devotional is a day that I was really struggling with being silent and not “sticking up for myself”.  I love how God works.  I love how His reminders are so gentle and the day I downloaded that app is the very day I needed to read this devotional thought!!

This comes from Streams in the Desert by L.B. Cowman

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves (Rom. 12:19).

There are seasons when to be still demands immeasurably higher strength than to act. Composure is often the highest result of power. To the vilest and most deadly charges Jesus responded with deep, unbroken silence, such as excited the wonder of the judge and the spectators. To the grossest insults, the most violent ill-treatment and mockery that might well bring indignation into the feeblest heart, He responded with voiceless complacent calmness. Those who are unjustly accused, and causelessly ill-treated know what tremendous strength is necessary to keep silence to God.

Men may misjudge thy aim,
Think they have cause to blame,
Say, thou art wrong;
Keep on thy quiet way,
Christ is the Judge, not they,
Fear not, be strong.

St. Paul said, “None of these things move me.” He did not say, none of these things hurt me. It is one thing to be hurt, and quite another to be moved. St. Paul had a very tender heart. We do not read of any apostle who cried as St. Paul did. It takes a strong man to cry. Jesus wept, and He was the manliest Man that ever lived.

So it does not say, none of these things hurt me. But the apostle had determined not to move from what he believed was right. He did not count as we are apt to count; he did not care for ease; he did not care for this mortal life. He cared for only one thing, and that was to be loyal to Christ, to have His smile. To St. Paul, more than to any other man, His work was wages, His smile was Heaven.
–Margaret Bottome

Wow, did I ever need that bit of encouragement!  How about you?

Sometimes God Is Silent

Sometimes God Is Silent

Not long ago the life of our family was turned upside down yet again.  It was not the loss of another baby, no, this time it was something much different.  It put us in a situation that we had never been in before.

We have been speechextremely hurt not just because of what happened but also because of the attack not just on my husband, but on our family.  Personally I was attacked for the very way God has made me.  Though I know I am a work in progress, my personality is not a loud and outgoing one, but I have been trying very hard to work on becoming more outgoing.  The Lord gave me the personality I have and I know I will never be one vying for the center of attention, yet I know the Lord gave me this personality for a reason.  The old saying “Sticks and stone may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is definitely not true. This has been a very trying time.  Talk about throwing our family right off the mountain top high we had been on since the arrival of our sweet baby girl just three weeks prior from when this all began.

Satan attacks.  His attacks are very real.  Sometimes God’s own people are used to aid in Satan’s attacks when they are not living as they should before God.  One person even told my husband that he was trying to discourage him.  Yes, he really did admit that was his intent, to discouragebeyou.  What are we supposed to do when that happens?  Can I tell you how difficult it is to keep silent and let the stones be thrown?  Everything in your flesh cries out for *justice* and to set the record straight.  Keeping the flesh under control has taken much help from the Holy Spirit.

Since this event took place 3 weeks ago I have found myself crying out to God for understanding.  For direction.  For wisdom.  I admit, it seems like the walls of Heaven are silent.  We cannot see clearly through this fog we are in and we do not understand why God has chosen this path for our lives.

When I first found out about this situation my mind thought of Proverbs 3:5-6 which talks about trusting in the Lord and not leaning on our own understanding.  It is hard to not have all the answers, is it not?  It would be so great if when we asked the Lord why, that He would answer in an audible way instantly.  I suppose if He did that then we would not have to trust Him as much, would we?  If He always explained the moving of His hand then we would be more prone to lean on our own understanding.

praymoreAs a youth Pastor my husband has often challenged our teenagers to trust the Lord with their lives.  To put their future in His hands and leave it there.  He has encouraged them to not make plans for their lives based on what they want, but rather what God wants.

How can we teach this to young people and not live it out ourselves?  When the rubber meets the road, are we all talk or do we choose to walk that talk?  Do we choose to trust the Lord with our lives?

I’ll admit, worry and fear have crept into my heart more times than I care to admit.  My heart has felt overwhelmed as I try to think of ways to help *fix this problem* in my own strength.  However, even though I have battled with these different thoughts, my heart honestly says, “YOUR will GOD, not mine!”  Do I know what that will is right now? Um, no!  Do I wish that I DID know His will right now? Oh YES!

This situation conducthas driven me to my knees so much more throughout my day.  This situation has stretched my faith immensely.  I have asked God what He is doing and why He has chosen for us to walk a difficult path so much more often than what it seems other people do.  At the end of the day though, I look up to the Heavens and I plead that God would help me to trust Him and that I would have the faith needed to walk this path so that everything about it would bring glory to God.

Sometimes it seems that God is silent.  Sometimes that silence is tough to deal with, but just because it seems that God is being silent that does not mean He is far away.  His presence is very real and when my mind is stayed on Him His peace surpasses my understanding.  For now He has chosen to only light our path right where we are standing and that is all.  I am learning to be okay with that.

I have found great comfort in passages of Scripture all over the Bible! In the wee morning hours when I am up with my newborn I find myself reading Psalms and finding huge doses of encouragement.  If you are ever feeling down, pick up God’s Word and check out Psalm 61, or Psalm 91 or even Psalm 46!  I also have enjoyed 1 Peter lately.  I am purposefully reading passages of Scripture that I know are full of encouragement.  Encourage yourself in the Lord your God!

We will climb back up this mountain, God will eventually show us the path He wants us to take.  In the meantime, here we are praying, trusting, waiting.  As I hold my newborn baby girl I am reminded again and again that God DOES hear and answer our prayers, she is living proof! While we wait I will continue to enjoy these newborn baby snuggles!  Don’t mind if I do!