One in a Million-A Miracle

November 30
Sunday, over lunch, the Israelites grumblings came up in our discussion.
Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt?...For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.  Exodus 14:11-12
My husband related the similarities in attitudes to those of many Americans.  They'd rather be enslaved to the government and allow it to make all the decisions and provisions by going further in debt and raising taxes, than having the freedom to work and make something of their own lives.  So sad to see "The American Dream" slip away.

When the Israelites looked out upon the impassable body of water before them and heard the thunder of the advancing Egyptians before them, they felt gloom and doom...not God's divine hand and impending deliverance.  How often in our trials do we call out "Why God?" instead of crying out with positive expectancy "What's next God?"

I don't think we talk enough about the miracles we have seen.  Shirer shares this definition:

 "A miracle is a divine supernatural occurrence in which God overrules the natural order of earth to reveal His presence and power."


Shirer writes of several Biblical situations where the main characters did not grumble, but believed.  In each of these stories hope seemed futile, yet God got the glory in a big way and the people got a miraculous glimpse of his power.

"Noah built and ark when there was no rain.
Esther stood before a king with an outlandish request.
Daniel was in a lion's den with no obvious protection.
David ran for his life from an angry, jealous king.
Mary and Martha's sick brother died.
Paul and Silas were trapped in prison at the midnight hour."

I remember our honeymoon to the island of St. John.  We left Roanoke at 6AM the morning after our wedding.  Flew to Miami, then Puerto Rico, then St. Thomas. From there we took a boat to St. John and arrived at the resort after dark.  We were taken to our room and when we entered it was full of bees!  The young man who had brought us and our luggage by golf cart, told us to wait there.  Exhausted, we closed the door and waited outside on a step in disbelief.  The honeymoon was not off to a good start.  God worked it all out for good....we were upgraded to a room right on the beach!  So often we grumble when gratitude is really in order!
Priscilla Shirer explains,
"Often the Lord purposefully allows the nourishment provided by this world to taste like bitter water to us so that we come to understand the importance of His touch on our circumstances. Without God's influence, nothing in this world can really quench the deep thirst of our souls.  God's goal for our journeys is not that we only see the miracle of His deliverance at our Red Seas but that we experience the miracle of  His provisions beyond them. When Moses cried out on behalf of the people, the Lord gave a solution.  He turned their bitterness into sweetness (Ex. 15:25).  This is what God does when we cry out to Him, displaying our vulnerability during seasons of distress and giving Him our need for emotional healing in the face of disappointment. He is the One who can turn the bitter into the sweet."

On God-tube this week there was a video of what the people in attendance at this jewelry store are calling a miracle as a toddler misses death by seconds.
http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=09B2JFNU

What would your Christmas miracle look like this month?  And don't answer winning that $500 million dollar power ball lottery!  Yes, I was tempted to play!  The miracle may need to take place in our own hearts.

One In a Million "Oh, No!"

 "Oh, no! Mama Boo has on a BIG hat!"

November 29
"Oh, no!" is a favorite quote of our grandson when something falls or one of his Thomas the Train engines derails.  I am beginning to feel a similar need of utterance, as again and again God is dropping messages to me through Bible study, Sunday sermons, my quiet time on the topic of following Him in the wilderness.
For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are My ways, declares the Lord.
Isaiah 55:8

The Bible study title for week two of One in a Million is "Welcome to the Wilderness".  The author begins: "If you've made a decision with me to leave Egypt and fully embrace the journey with God, I have a warning: This journey will not be easy.  It will test your faith, stretch your belief system, and challenge your level of commitment-but onward we must go.  We know that God's destination will be filled with everything we need and so much of what we want. Is it worth this difficult journey? Absolutely!"
This week's study expresses the reality that the Israelites anticipated a fairly short journey as they were led out of slavery to the Promised Land. Shirer writes, "From Israel's present location on the east side of the Red Sea to southern Canaan was approximately 150 miles, which had the people gone directly, would have taken less than a month to traverse...Note that the Hebrews didn't just happen upon the wilderness...God led them there, directing their steps according to His divine plan.  (Exodus 14:1-4).  When lifted against the backdrop of our own standards, thoughts and expectations, the road God chooses for us is often not the road we might expect.  He often chooses a wilderness journey for us to give us an opportunity to experience Him in a way we might miss in a place of ease and convenience."

She continues, "God allowed the people to camp in Etham to prepare for their wilderness trek.  From Etham Israel had a clear view of the vast and dry wilderness stretching out before them.  They could see the difficulty they'd face if God continued to move them in that direction.  Their hearts probably palpitated with anxiety as they considered their future.  With Egypt behind them and a wilderness before them, they had to do a heart check.  Would they follow God even if the way was difficult? Only wholehearted devotion would ensure their entry into the promised land.  I believe Etham describes the place where God gives a vision of what's coming.  It's the place of final decision where God lets us camp out to consider the challenge ahead.  Whether He's asking us to stay in a rough marriage, to mother difficult children, to accept singleness, to choose full-time ministry, to let go of friendships, to suffer illness, or to navigate a situation we feel we can't survive, we have to decide if we will follow where He is leading and trust that He knows what He is doing.  Etham is the place where you don't know all of the details of the life God is choosing, but a quick look at the tumbleweed blowing across the landscape lets you know it will be dry."

Personally, I think God places me in the wilderness to humble me, strip me of my pride and bring me to a place of submission before Him, so he can get on with the process He intended for my life.  

Oh, no! Where in life do I need an Exodus?  Show me Lord...preferably without taking me into the wilderness.

One in a Million

November 28
Normally, this time of year Bible Study groups phase out until the first of the year, because of hectic holiday schedules.  I became very convicted of how we let the hustle bustle of the season, edge our Jesus time out of the picture and I decided to delve deeply into a six week video series by Priscilla Shirer called One in a Million-Journey to Your Promised Land.  The first day I gulped down a whole week!
It was for freedom that Christ set us free;
therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.
Galatians 5:1
The author desires to see us release the chains that bind, believe in the power of the Holy Spirit and go for more spiritual gusto than we ever dreamed of.  She writes:
With each divine interruption in my life and in my theology, I received a golden sealed invitation to see God out of the box. He wants me to expect to see His power in supernatural ways, anticipate miracles in my everyday existence and hear His voice with startling clarity.

We are to inspect the company we keep and make needed changes, ridding ourselves of sin and any hindrances, human or otherwise, which are holding us back from experiencing the journey God has for us.  I loved the challenge which was extended at the end of week one.

One of the most gracious things the Lord has done for me is to strategically place individuals in my life who help me on my journey to Canaan.  My connection with associates who aren't serious about experiencing God have waned, and I am carefully holding fast to those whose pursuit of God encourages my own.  I call them my "wild women."  These are ladies who pray and then believe.  They ask and then expect.  When my questions need answers, these women provide a safe place where I will not be judged as I explore the depths of God and His work in me.  Using the truth of God's Word and the maturity gained in their own experiences, they guide me.

 If you don't have a "wild" group of nuts for the Lord in your life...ask the Lord to provide some!

Performance


November 27
Because we are such a large family, we decided two years ago that instead of buying expensive presents we would make handmade gifts for one another. It has been so much fun.  One son arrived home two years ago, having procrastinated and had no gift.  He grabbed his Pop's chain saw and headed to the woods and sawed up a large limb.  Then he took a picture of himself and one of girlfriend.  I am guessing he ran up to the drug store and had copies made and then he shellacked them to the pieces of wood and everyone received a pair of drink coasters!

This year I decided to make a gift I would give early.  I contacted a neighbor whom I knew had a workshop and asked if he would instruct me in cutting out seven, twelve piece nativity scenes.  He felt I was in WAY over my head, but I persevered, broke two of his blades (which I paid to replace), and was thrilled with the outcome.

Yesterday, I was sanding another wooden project.  Sanding, like weeding, is a great activity which affords you the opportunity for contemplative thinking and being still before the Lord.  I began to pray for the young high school quarterback I've told you about.  His team will play in the South Carolina State Football Championships Saturday.  Throughout the season it has been a blessing to pray for this young man.  He already has a scholarship offer from LSU!  
While praying, the Lord gave me the word performance.  My mind was drawn away from football for a moment to this time of year.  Whew.  Christmas brings about a lot of performance (cooking, gift giving, decorating, parties, musicals, programs) and not enough being still with Jesus.  God doesn't care about our performance  he cares about the condition of our hearts.  Check out Psalm 51:15-17 in the NIV and The Message. 
Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; 
a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.  

I thought back to this fabulous high school athlete. We put so much unneeded pressure on ourselves. God doesn't care how great a performance this young man puts on the field.  He does care about his character and how he humbles himself and prays for the other players before the game though.  God cares deeply about the condition of his heart!

Here is the same passage in The Message Translation.
May it bring you joy today and relieve you from any stress you are placing on yourself 
to perform perfectly in some area of your life.  


Soak me in your laundry and I'll come out clean,
scrub me and I'll have a snow-white life.
Tune me in to foot-tapping songs, set these once-broken bones to dancing.
Don't look too close for blemishes, give me a clean bill of health.
God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.
Don't throw me out with the trash, or fail to breath holiness in me.
Bring me back from gray exile, put a fresh wind in my sales!
Give me a job teaching rebels your ways so the lost can find their way home.
Commute my death sentence, God, my salvation God, 
and I'll sing anthems to your life-giving ways.
Unbutton my lips, dear God; I'll let loose with your praise.

Going through the motions doesn't please you, a flawless performance is nothing to you. 
I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered.
Heart-shattered lives ready for love don't for a moment escape God's notice.

Into the Unknown


November 26
Breakfasting with our granddaughter at Chick Fil A Saturday morning, I appreciated her spunk. She is not tall enough to crawl up into the tubular play ground the conventional way and slide down, but she came up with "Plan B" and ventured into brightness of the unknown. Don't panic, I was quite aware there was no one coming down the slide or I would have put on my grandmama boots and gone to the rescue.

Her courage/inquisitiveness to head out on a great adventure was inspiring.  How often does God call us on the simplest of adventures and we back away from the challenge spouting off excuses for how we are ill-equipped, too busy, or just out of our comfort zone?  The Moses syndrome. (Now, I am not saying wandering in the desert for forty years is a simple adventure.)

It takes faith follow! Also,  belief in the stories of our forefathers who must have sung..."Step by step He leads me and I will follow him all of my days."  By faith, Noah hammered away (wait, did he even have a hammer or nails?) building a boat beyond belief.  By faith, Abraham gathered up his gang and traveled to an unknown new home, having no idea where he was going.  By faith, Rahab hid unknown spies on her rooftop and believed in their God (Hebrews 11:7-10, 31).

This week let's take a faith challenge into the unknown with God.  Grab a notebook and get up a little earlier than usual  (oh, don't groan...it's not a sacrifice compared to what Jesus did for us).  Ask the Lord to speak to you and take you on an adventure with him each day.

Today, as I was praying, God gave me the phrase "clean slate".  Immediately, I praised Him for how the sacrifice of Christ's blood cleans our sin slates each day.  A young man I've been praying for came to mind and I asked the Lord to help him see himself as a clean slate full of hope for the things God plans to write with his life.  Then I remembered a little slate board in our daughter in law's kitchen on which she writes scripture verses and encouraging messages for her family to meditate upon.  God has placed upon my heart to purchase some chalk boards and I bet what he calls me to do with them, will be out of my comfort zone!
The Message translation of the Bible has an exciting entry in Isaiah 42 titled "The God Who Makes us Alive with His Own Life."  We have a God who goes with us through the unknown.

Sing to God a brand-new song, sing his praises all over the world!...Make God's glory resound; echo his praises from coast to coast. God steps out like he means business.  You can see he's primed for action....But I'll take the hand of those who don't know the way, who can't see where they're gong.  I'll be a personal guide to them, directing them through unknown country.  I'll be right there showing them what roads to take, make sure they don't fall in the ditch.  These are the things I'll be doing for them-sticking with them, not leaving them for a minute.



Dig It.

November 24-25
Our grandson had a fabulous four year old birthday party today. The theme was "Diggers and Donuts".

 His father borrowed a friend's excavator!
His mom piled sprinkle donuts high as an alternative to a cake!  They were yummy.
Once again I busied myself so in grandchildren glory that I didn't have much time with the Lord, except a prayer that went up here and there throughout the day.  Before I closed my eyes tonight I took time to reflect on the day and thought about how I had not done any digging into God's Word.
Searching the word "dig" in the contemporary Message translation numerous passages came up, but the one which really caught my eye and penetrated my heart was: Deuteronomy 32:6-7

 

 1-5 Listen, Heavens, I have something to tell you.
    Attention, Earth, I’ve got a mouth full of words.
    My teaching, let it fall like a gentle rain,
        my words arrive like morning dew,
    Like a sprinkling rain on new grass,
        like spring showers on the garden.
    For it’s God’s Name I’m preaching—
        respond to the greatness of our God!
    The Rock: His works are perfect,
        and the way he works is fair and just;
    A God you can depend upon, no exceptions,
        a straight-arrow God.
    His messed-up, mixed-up children, his non-children,
        throw mud at him but none of it sticks.
6-7 Don’t you realize it is God you are treating like this?
        This is crazy; don’t you have any sense of reverence?
    Isn’t this your father who created you,
        who made you and gave you a place on Earth?
    Read up on what happened before you were born;
        dig into the past, understand your roots.
    Ask your parents what it was like before you were born;
        ask the old-ones, they’ll tell you a thing or two.

Best I Can Remember


November 23
Since we alternate major holidays with the in laws of our married children, this Thanksgiving was an off year for us.  One of our son's was able to be with us because his wife was traveling on business and my 92 year old father came for the day.  When he was heading out the door to go back to Roanoke he kissed me and said, "This is one of the nicest Thanksgivings I can remember."  That caught me off guard because usually, all the children are here and sometimes other family members.  Before I could process the comment much further, he made another....."It's the only Thanksgiving I can remember!"
What a great sense of humor!

God is a lot older than my Daddy yet, he forgets nary a thing.  He remembers the day he formed us in our mother's womb and has us engraved in the palm of his hand.  Amazing!


Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.
Isaiah 49:15-16

Likewise, He doesn't forget our work and the love we have shown him.

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the 
love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. 
Hebrews 6:10

Yes, God remembers the good and forgets the bad.  May we seek to be like Him.
 I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, 
and remembers your sins no more.
Isaiah 43:25



 

Happy Thanksgiving

November 22
Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; 
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.  
Let us come before him with thanksgiving and 
extol him with music and song.    
Psalm 95:1-2  

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly 
as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom 
through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, 
singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
Colossians 3:16  

I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in
Christ Jesus.  For in him you have been enriched in every way-
with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge.
1 Corinthians 1:4-5

The Same-LOL

Ole LOL
November 21
Before leaving for work, my knight in shining armor headed out the door at 5:45 AM to grab some
forgotten grocery items I needed to prepare the Thanksgiving meal.  We'd been up and at it since 4:45AM.  Moses, was sprawled out on the floor by the bed.  I said, "Why don't you take ole Lump of Lard with you in the car."  (Car and boat riding are his favorite past times.)  This was not to be the day for the ole fellow, but my husband said, "You've just given a whole new meaning to LOL."

LOL (Lump of Lard), you're so funny!
(People will have no idea you are calling them a name!)

Now that's not nice:  
Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.  
James 3:10

Thinking about the very same letters, holding totally different meanings led me to praise the Lord that:

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Hebrews 13:8  

Praise the Lord, Jesus is the real deal...
there are no substitutes for him and He is the only substitute for our sin. 

Grocery shopping, which I seem to have done a lot of this week, leads you to comparisons where  you wonder if products are the same.  My proposed making of a coconut flan, which required coconut cream, had the Kroger management on a treasure hunt!  There was coconut extract, coconut pudding and coconut milk, but I knew in my heart those were no substitutes for the coconut cream ingredient!  :)  Giving up, I decided to switch to a different recipe. A new assistant manager came running up to me in the check out!  "I found it!" she said.  Obviously, none of the seekers were pina colada drinkers or we would have found it sooner on the drink aisle!  I made a new friend through the adventure though and need to let her taste my delicious coconut flan!  Coconut cream is not the same as coconut milk!

When a word of phrase gets in my brain I take it to the Word.  This morning I had a delightful time of meditating on 271 the same related verses!  I want to leave you with three which I found most encouraging.

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.  We want each of you to show the same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for my be fully realized.  We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.  Hebrews 6:10-12

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.  That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.   Ephesians 1:18-20

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.  May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus
Christ.   Romans 15:4-6

The Check Up

Take care of your toothies!
November 20
Yesterday, I sat in the dental chair for my semi-annual cleaning.  As the hygienist scraped away the unwanted plaque, my fists were clenched and my body tensed.  While I knew this process was good for my health, it was not enjoyable.  The correlation to the repenting of sin came to mind.  No fun, but good for our souls.
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.
Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace 
for those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12:11

Chuckling to myself, I thought back to dental appointments in the "olden days" (my school days).  In my purse (we didn't have backpacks) would be toothpaste and a toothbrush.  Before heading to the dental office I would slip into the school bathroom and scrub away in hopes the dentist would not be able to see my lack of flossing and brushing.  The last minute outward action could not hide what was happening on the inside.
Is there a correlation to our spiritual lives?  Are we putting on pretenses outwardly hoping to fool the others and the Lord?

The Lord does not look at the things people look at.
People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7

 Just as the dental x-rays expose the formation of cavities, irregularities and gum disease, God's Word does a good job of convicting us of the areas of weakness in our hearts. If we don't go to the dentist we will not reap the benefits of early detection and correction.  If we don't position ourselves daily to read and/or hear God's Word we will miss the early detection signs of sin.

We can brighten our teeth and make them look good from the outside, but inwardly decay and disease my be causing destruction.  We can get up Sunday morning and go sit in a pew, but if God's Word is not daily penetrating our minds and our hearts; and we are not humbling ourselves and repenting, sin may be rampantly ruining God's plan for our lives.

Lord, we come before you today for a check-up!

Miss Attitude


November 19
Shopping is not one of my favorite past times, but giving is a joy and coupons are tempting this time of year. Venturing off to the city last week with my list in hand,  ToysRus was the place to get out of the way first. Whew, now I remember why my mother and I did the children's Christmas shopping in October.  In need of comfort, Chick Fil A was where I headed.  The drive thru was packed, but I've been battling a virus and wasn't up for heading inside.  Placing my order for a Spicy Chicken sandwich and a sweet tea I pulled around and paid at the window, then I was informed my sandwich would take 2 minutes and I was asked to pull around the corner and wait.
Six minutes later I was rather frustrated. Locking the car, I grabbed my purse and headed inside in search of the manager. While not outwardly rude, inwardly I felt I had not gotten what I deserved!!!!!
Ooo, missy...got herself an attitude!  Asking for the manager, I explained what had happened and stated I would like my money back.  He happily complied and pulled out the cash.  Are you kidding me, I thought, that's all...just a smile and here's your money." I started to walk off, but leaned back towards the counter and said, "Out of curiosity, what happened to my sandwich?"  The reply, "Hmm, I have no idea, there are plenty of them right there, here why don't I give you one."  Taking the sandwich I walked out.

Driving to my next stop in my car with a license plate which says "Iam4joy," I pulled into the Target parking lot and parked to eat my sandwich.  Thanking God for my food, he chatted with me.  "Do you really think you DESERVE special treatment and service wherever you go?"  Yuck...I do hate these conversations.  Before we could continue, I notice a small toddler crawling around alone in a mini van parked next to me.  Here came the attitude again...
What mother would leave her child in a car and out of his carseat?  By now he had crawled into the driver's seat and I had decided to remain in my car to be sure he was alright.  The minutes ticked away as my mind raced with ideas of just what I would say to this mother.  Finally, she approached the vehicle.  With list in hand my gumption wavered and I decided it best to get on with my day. Maybe 10 steps out of my car I stopped and thought about the $5.19 I'd just gotten back from Chick Fil A. Memories of motherhood came rushing back...the time I left a pre-schooler in the car to run in the paint store and came back and the car was a block down the road...still locked, but the pre-schooler out of the carseat.  I walked around the mini van...this mom had not closed her door, because she was putting out her cigarette. She had a good 80 pounds on me and more tattoos and piercings than a paisley pin cushion.  Standing there in my cute Talbots' turquoise puffy vest, I asked politely if I could speak to her a moment. Beginning my story with "Being the mother of seven..." I was interrupted when I reach the part about my parentless car observations..."I love my child, I'd never do anything to hurt him..."  "Wait, let me finish," I requested.  The conversation progressed with me expressing how difficult motherhood is and how all I wanted to do was encourage her in the task she had undertaken and I wanted to give her some money to do something special for herself and her child.
"Well, God bless you!" she said as she got up out of her seat and give me a big hug.
Walking away, I felt much better than had I berated her for her stupidity and the endangerment of her child.  My cute vest still smells of cigarette smoke and cheap perfume, but that's ok...God figures I need a reminder to adjust my attitude and love others as Christ does!

Driving around with that license plate stating, "Iam4joy" ...I best act like it.

PS...I should have told her to go to Chick Fil A for lunch!

One Tough Mudder or Mother

November 17-18
Let's make all things work together for GOD.
"Do not be anxious, do not be anxious, do not be anxious"....(I am repeating this like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz saying "There's no place like home".)  I am not a tough mother when it comes to some of things in which my offspring involve themselves.
Please tell me why an intelligent, godly, young man, with a gorgeous family would want to compete in Tough Mudder and make his mother worry..  For those of you saying, "What is a Tough Mudder?"  you can check out this Youtube video about last year's championship, which benefits the Wounded Warrior Project.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzfRgz-q3KY

While we are very proud of him for finishing in the top 5% of the team competition in Wisconsin last spring (amongst 11,000 competitors) and thus qualifying for the World Championship; it is worse than waiting for a baby to be born to see if his team will complete this 24 obstacle course without being injured.  As I am pulling up our cozy comforter on our bed, I am wondering if he is crawling through drain pipes full of mud, or under barbed wire mud or swimming through frigid waters in the dark.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situations, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  Philippians 4:6

Talking to him Thursday before the team, which is sponsored by their employer, Target, flew to NY I told him the three words the Lord had given me to be praying for them.  Strength, unity and wisdom.
It takes physical strength to compete in this competition, teamwork to encourage one another through and wisdom to map out a game plan as obstacles arise.  Sharing that he was the only team member who is a Christian, anticipation for the opportunity to be the example of Christ to his teammates in a territory which is a far cry from pews and hymnals became part of our prayers.  Friday he called and was so excited that he had seen posted on the website the opportunity Saturday AM to gather at the Prayer Warriors Tent and pray with fellow believers before the beginning of the Mudder.  Sweet Jesus...He shows up everywhere!

There are so many was to make memories...a Tough Mudder will not be on the bucket list for this Mother!  For this son, who longed to serve our country in active duty, but had  color blindness, asthma, allergies and a partial missing toe block him from that dream, I rejoice he has found this outlet as a way to serve and honor soldiers around the world.  I also rejoice as a mother who knows this mudder has done it in a way that is pleasing to the Lord.




Statement of Faith #3

November 16
So why do we associate with a church (a body of believers)?  Just as your Mama told you to drink your milk, so you'd have strong bones, God knows that being united in fellowship is nourishment for our souls and carries out the plan for his Kingdom.
Jesus outlined our commitment to Him in a commandment and through a commission.

The Great Commandment: Jesus said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart...soul..and mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.  Matthew 22:36-39

The Great Commission: Jesus said, "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you."  Matthew 28:19-20

The church membership program I've been sharing from states:
To "Love God with all your heart" is WORSHIP
To  "Love your neighbor as yourself" is MINISTRY
To Go..make disciples is EVANGELISM
To Baptize...is to INCORPORATE INTO FELLOWSHIP
To teach them...all things is DISCIPLESHIP

How churches carry out these acts varies, as do the gifts of each believer.  You know at Shiloh, we believe a church is not a building, but the body and one of the beauties of being associated with the body is we can be found anywhere and unite to carry out the Great Commandment and Great Commission.
We are certainly able to worship alone, but there is a "level up" experience when we praise the Lord together.

Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.
Matthew 4:10

Take time this weekend to do a self-check and see how deep your commitment to Christ is.
Have I worshipped God today?
Am I currently involved in ministering to others?
Have I encouraged anyone recently to call on the name of Jesus and be saved?
Have I been baptized or shared in the celebration of baptism with someone recently who has made that decision for his or herself?
Who am I currently discipling to know more about Christ?

Statement of Faith #2

November 15
As we ponder the state our world is in, there is a direct Biblical correlation...we are sinful!  The membership class I was telling you about yesterday goes on in Part II to state "Our Problem".

"Man has a natural desire to be the boss and ignore God's principles for living."
"Look out for #1. Do you own thing."
"If it feels good, do it-regardless of what God says about it."
"It's my life and I'll do what I please!"

This self-centered attitude is called sin and is has been around for a long, long time.  :(

All of us like sheep, have gone astray, and each of us has turned to his own way.  Isaiah 53:6

If we say that we never sin, we are only fooling ourselves, and refuse to accept the truth.  1 John 1:8


"Sin breaks our close relationship with God.  
It causes us to fear God and try to live our lives outside of His will.
When our relationship to God is not right, it causes PROBLEMS in every area of our lives-
marriages, career, relationships, finances, etc.
When people have problems, they often try many different ways of coping before turning to God."

There are ways that SEEM right to man, but they only end in death. Proverbs 16:25

Sin didn't catch God by surprise. He had a solution and came to earth in human form to carry it out.

Right now we are looking for solutions to the way it appears our nation is heading.  For those with a Biblical World View, we are praying fervently for what God wants us to do.  How we should be prepared.  Fortunately, here at Shiloh we are zoned agricultural, so I may be getting chickens and a cow for Christmas.  :)  The one preparation that matters most is our spiritual preparation.  When we are in discussions with others a great question to toss out is:

Do you believe Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and that no one comes to the Father except through Jesus?  John 14:6

There some old song lyrics coming into my head...
"Wherever we go, whatever we do, we're gonna go through it together."

As long as we ADMIT we are sinful, BELIEVE God is aware of this and loves us so much is made Jesus the solution and we ACCEPT this gracious gift by INVITING Jesus in and give him control we will...Oh no..here comes another song from the past...

We will NEVER WALK ALONE!

Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. Romans 10:13

So if you are feeling bashful about sharing..that makes Jesus sad...but you can use me anytime (since most people already think I am nuts about this Jesus thing) and pass these along.





Statement of Faith #1

November 14
For 25 years we attended a mega church with 5,000 members (that was mega for our city). We were really plugged in and were pleased to participate in creative programs, hear great preaching and be the recipients of fabulous fellowship.  When we moved away to the country we never found the same feeling.  A new church plant began this fall and held its' first new members meeting last week.  The next couple days I want to share some of their statements of faith and challenge us to look deeply into our own statements of faith.
What does it mean to be a Christian?
"Many people live their entire lives without ever knowing "WHY".  They exist year after year with no idea of why they live of God's purpose for their lives.  The most basic question a person can ask is.
"What is the meaning of life?"
Everyone wants to be happy. People try many ways.
...Some look for happiness by acquiring possessions.
...Some look for happiness by experiencing pleasure.
...Some look for happiness by gaining prestige and power.

But real happiness comes from understanding our real purpose.  We are here because God made us to love him.  God says, I have loved you with an everlasting love!  Jeremiah 31:3
We were created to enjoy a personal relationship with God and all of the rest of God's creation.
I have come in order that you might have life-life in all its fullness! John 10:10

"When we know and love God, and live in harmony with His purpose for our lives it produces tremendous benefits in our lives."

Clear Conscience 
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1
Life and Peace
The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 
Romans 8:6
Help with Weakness
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.  Romans 8:26
Purpose
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
Confidence
What then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Romans 8:31
Security
Neither height nor depth nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:39
Power and Strength   
I can do all this through him who gives me strength.  Philippians 4:13
Fulfillment
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of this glory in Christ Jesus. 
Philippians 4:19
Freedom  
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free in deed.  John 8:32, 36

When I truthfully survey my life and look at the happiest of times they are spread out on two spectrums...Family triumphs and encounters with God.  The interesting thing is that the deepest, life altering, encounters with God, the get down and get really personal exchanges where the verses above come into play, usually occur in the midst of a trial.

If someone asked you today, what is your statement of faith, how would you respond?

Is it a FACT your FAITH is FOR REAL?





Seeking a Deal-Taste and See

November 13
In the past 5 years our family size has tripled, which puts a challenge on the birthday and Christmas budget.  We have a couple Thomas the Train lover grandsons, so I was seeking a deal comparing prices at Target, Amazon and ToysRus.  Interestingly one item might be $3 less on one site and another less on a competitor's site.  It was exhausting.  I also was trying to purchase enough at each company to qualify for their free shipping...another "deal". Minnesota is the real deal when it comes to clothes shopping.  They have no clothing tax.  Unfortunately, the airfare or gas to get there would probably be more than the tax on the clothing we'd purchase.

Shopping in Kroger last Friday night, I lucked into a real deal.  The Boar's Head meat distributor approached me in the produce section with three bags of deli turkey...a new holiday blend, jerk and chipotle. I must have had a concerned look on my face, because she quickly stated, "There is nothing wrong with this meat, we are just having a special promotion and selecting people to try these flavors."
She even found me later and had warmed up some ham and wanted me to try a special brown sugar and mustard glaze. :)  I must have looked hungry.

Jesus' love, as hard as it is to imagine, is the real deal!  Jesus sees the eternal picture and thus saw suffering and dying for us as a very worthwhile cause.  Until we have tasted the sweetness of fellowship with Him, it is difficult to comprehend the uniqueness of his love.

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.  Psalm 34:8

God's voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding.   Job 37:5

James Doesn't Mess Around


November 12  
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produced perseverance. Let perseverance finish work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  James 1:2-4

Beth Moore's latest Bible study is on James.  Our daughter in law is facilitating a group in her home town and loaning me the DVD's in January to do the same here at Shiloh.  Inquiring as to how it is going her reply was priceless: "James doesn't mess around, that's for sure!"

James is the half-brother of Jesus and became a leader of the church. The lessons he challenges us to learn in this book, which some think was most likely the first New Testament book ever written, are not for sissies or Sunday morning pew sitters.  This book reminds me of a banner my husband hung in our kitchen, shortly after he came to know the Lord.  "God said it, we believe it, that settles it."

The Woman of Faith Bible has this to say in an introduction of this book: "Our Actions Matter". 
"With practical guidelines and penetrating insights, James exposes the wrong motives and shaky foundations of these confused Christians.  He calls believers to live out their faith day after day, holding to God's promise to provide the wisdom to do so (James 1).  He states matter of factly that faith without corresponding deeds is "dead" (James 2).  He urges his readers to avoid self-centeredness and to be careful not to slip into gossip or hurtful words, recognizing that placing their own interests above others' displeases God (James 3). He reminds his readers that those who submit to God will come under God's care (James 4) and that prayer needs to be a priority in their lives (James 5)....Living in faith should pair adoration with action and supplication with service."

Bring on January and this exciting study.

Angel Flight

November 11
The video below is in honor of Veterans' Day and all the men and women who have sacrificed so much for our freedom.

http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=0JC99CNU&utm_source=GodTube%20Today&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=11/10/2012

Contagious Acts of Love

November 10 
The godtube video below is such a wonderful picture of 1 John 3:17-20

This is how we've come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us,  This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves.  If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God's love? It disappears.  And you made it disappear.
My dear children, let's not just talk about love; let's practice real love.  This is the only way we'll know we're living truly, living in God's reality.  It's also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it.  For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we  do ourselves.


http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=WDZDD7NX&utm_source=GodTube%20Today&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=11/08/2012

 The video launched me into action last night. Driving with my compassionate husband to Kroger for a "big load" grocery run, he shared with me some excellent points Rush Limbaugh had made on his radio show yesterday afternoon.  One was on illegal immigration.  I am not going into details or using this devotional sight as a platform, but wanted to share what happened to us 3 minutes after this discussion.

We pulled into the Kroger gas pumps and he began filling us up, when up drove one of my very favorite illegal immigrants.  I leaned out the window and said to my husband, "Please don't say anything, but would you go over there and fill up that illegal immigrants car and tell her Boo loves her.?"  With a "where in the world did that come from" look, he did exactly what I asked.  God gave me such a good man and God is always up to good and working on our hearts!

What will happen?


November 9
"Pray for them to have a hunger for my Word."
Somewhere last month I read this quote and jotted it down.  Such a simple statement, which when taken into action it can change lives and even change the direction of a nation.  
Yes, get it, God's Word, sharper than a two edged sword!
My great niece accompanied me on a grandbaby sitting gig this week.  This beautiful eight year old brought her Bible and two devotional books, which she faithfully read each night at bedtime.  Her sincere hunger for the Word amazed me.  "Would you like me to recite Psalm 23 for you, Aunt Boo Boo?" she asked.  Without missing a beat the Word of God elegantly rolled off her tongue.  Desiring to highlight some verses in her Bible she asked me for help.  It was a delight to show her my life verse and that of her great grandmother.  

Two other key passages we highlighted were Romans 3: 23   
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
"Everyone sins?" she questioned.  Then she quickly added, "But not Jesus!"
We continued on to Romans 6:23.   
The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We got giddy thinking about heaven and all that is happening there.  Grasping the gospel, she knows there is an alternate plan for those not in love with Christ.  The hard question came forth from her lips:  "What will happen to my friends who don't love Jesus?"

The burden of that reality seemed heavy at that moment.  She knew the answer.  Trying to stay upbeat, I expressed with enthusiasm that God would provide her the opportunity and appropriate times to share with her friends the truth she had come to cherish.  "When you have friends spend the night or you are at their house and they see you reading your Bible and cherishing your devotional time, they will be curious and a door will be opened." I spoke.
More than likely, those of you reading this today are not 8, but closer to 18 or 80!  Let's ask ourselves today: "What will happen to my friends, who don't know Jesus?"
Then set in place a plan of action to share of God's love.




Weary, Worried, Wondering or Wandering

November 8
 My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.  Psalm 119:28

"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things."
Luke 10:41

Little Miss "Be Joyful Always" was in a stupor yesterday and is still struggling to be released from a funk this morning. States legalizing recreational marijuana, recognizing gay marriage and a health plan which has our tax dollars paying for abortion have me biting my lower lip and looking up to the Lord out of the corner of my eye saying, "Sorry, Father. We've failed you as a nation. We deserve Your wrath."  

Where we have strayed, as a nation, which was founded "under God", will not be changed by an individual in the White House though. History shows us that God's people have been set out to wander before.  Wandering can lead to wondering, which can work in us to seek wisdom!

Then the Lord said to Moses, Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth,  between Migdol and the sea.  They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon. Pharaoh will think, "The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert."  And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and he will pursue them.  But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.  Exodus 14:1-4  

It's what we do with our desert times that makes a difference. Personally, I am ready for God to beam me up and be done with this earthly existence at any time, but it is this role as  grandmother He has bestowed upon me that has me wanting to keep on keeping on.  More to come on that thought process.  Right now, I've got to get on into my "Martha mode" momentarily this morning, after being gone all week...but I will continue some of these thoughts tomorrow.
For now we ask this question..can we say...

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods of your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living.  But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.  Joshua 24:15

Our Existence


November 7
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness:for they shall be filled.
Matthew 5:6
God made us in such a way that we couldn't exist long without food.  Man can exist about forty days without food, about three days without water, and only eight minutes without air. 
In the spiritual realm of eternity, how long can we exist without Jesus?  Not for a moment!

Our pastor is doing an excellent series called "White Picket Fences" on the best way for families to exist in accordance with God's plan.  Week one touched on the importance of believing God's word and recognized Him as supreme over our individual lives and thus our family unit.  Week two pronounced the importance of the husband being the spiritual leader of the home.  For the husband to love his wife in a sacrificial manner, which would then have her willingly submitting to his authority. Week three he minced no words when laying the responsibility of our children's spiritual upbringing on the parents.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord out God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you life down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.    Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Our challenge question for today: Do we put as much emphasis on what we are feeding our families spiritually as physically?

Are we willing to post at our front door the secret to our existence:
But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15

Camouflage


November 6
A few weeks ago Nancy Leigh DeMoss had an excellent devotional on camouflage.  Today let's us God what we may be trying to cover up in our lives and allow him to help us come clean!

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Did you realize that the first clothing was designed to be camouflage? Adam and Eve hoped their fig leaves would allow them to blend in to their surroundings and hide from God. It seems ridiculous, but sometimes we do the same thing. Do any of these sound familiar?
“So . . . I made a little mistake.”
“That temper just runs in the family.”
“Everybody cuts a few corners.”
Nancy: Our natural tendency is to make excuses, to cover up our sin and make ourselves look better than we are, but God sees it all. He asked Adam and Eve, “Where are you?” Of course, He knew where they were and what they had done. But He was giving them a chance to admit their sin. He gives us the same chance.
When God convicts you of sin, are you honest, or do you try to hide from Him? Remember what Jesus said in Luke 12, “Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.”
With Seeking Him 

Shepherdless

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, 
because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Matthew 9:36

May the Lord, the God who gives breath to all living things, appoint someone over this community to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the Lord's people will not be like sheep without a shepherd.
Numbers 27: 16-17

November 5
Tensions are high in our nation with the impending election having the propensity to lead us down such different paths.  Tomorrow night, if the results carry sufficient evidence to announce a winner, one half of our nation could be gorgonized.  What will it take to placate those individuals? 
For those of us who love the Lord and have been called according to His purpose, if we have studied the issues and voted for the man whom we believe is the one God would appoint to lead our nation, we can step back in peace as we trust in His sovereignty.
For the One who leads us says:
 I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
John 10:11







Lessons In Football

November 3-4
Watching my husband's alma mater on TV last weekend (we were loosing, which is never fun) I said, "This is really sinful.  We haven't put near the time today into God's Word that we have into sitting in front of this TV."  "Do you want me to cut it off ?" he offered.  There were only a couple minutes remaining.  Fortunately, we watched to the end and saw one of the most exciting finishes ever to a football game.  
Read as reported:
After another UNC timeout, Giovanni Bernard went back to return the punt with 30 seconds to go.  Bernard took the punt 73 yards for the TD putting Carolina up 43-35 after the extra point snap was low and the holder rolled right and found a receiver.  An exciting ending to a great back and forth game in Kenan Stadium.
Bernards return was a historic moment in this great rivalry we will see replayed over and over throughout the years.
Any chance of a NC State miracle was erased when the ensuing kickoff was fumbled and recovered by UNC.

Instead of sinful conviction, there was pure elation in our family room!
Proverbs 17:22 must have been written for the fans of sporting events!

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

 Our football gluttony continued as we listened to highlights on one of the sports channels. Prayers poured out of our mouths as we listened to reports of the devastating knee injury SC super star, Marcus Lattimore incurred.  Waking up the next morning this young man was still on my heart, so I googled to get an update on his condition. What I found was a very profound quote which had been issued by this team leader to his teammates that very day before the game.  
"Act like every play is your last play."
Football fans across America hope this isn't true for Marcus.  There is a similar thought line "of eternal value" which could alter how we live our lives.
"Act like every day on earth is your last."

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?
You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
James 4:14
 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed-
in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.
For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
1 Corinthians 15:51-52

Would we be bolder to share about Christ if we knew we were about to exit earth and not be around to be ridiculed by others?  If we knew today was the day we'd see Jesus face to face how would it look differently?  
Maybe our first thought would be..."I should have absentee voted."

My last devotional might read like something out of John 14.

"Do not let your hearts be troubled, for I have believed in God and Jesus.  God's house has many rooms and Jesus has my place ready and is coming to get me.  I do hope you love Him and will be joining me soon. I will check on your accommodations when I get there."  Boo