Sunday, April 25, 2010

His Presence in the Storm

Many of you may know that over the past 2 years I have struggled with what has felt at times like a debilitating fear of tornadoes/thunderstorms.  This struggle was allowed by the Lord in my life two years ago when driving home from school (I was working in Fairfax at the time) I drove through my first real VA severe thunderstorm/tornado warning.  It was a traumatizing time for me as I pulled over on the side of the road screaming out "Jesus, please don't let me die now, don't let me die." It may seem silly to some but I has never experienced such a scary storm and being in my 1st year of marriage in a new state and 2 weeks into moving to another new area I felt a loss of safety/comfort in the unknown surrounding me.  The Lord, as He promises, protected me. He was my shelter from the storm. However, it has been 2 years of deep struggle with anxiety spurred by that event.  God has a plan for me in this time.  Recently, after hearing our Pastor Lon Solomon speak about why God sometimes chooses not to answer our prayers in the time or way we would like I realized the main reason I still have not been able to overcome this struggle.  God is still trying to teach me something.  Now please understand God is not trying to teach me something in the sense of him punishing me in some way.  God is teaching me a lesson out of his love for me and desire to see me become more like Him.  I have said numerous prayers pleading with God like Paul (2 cor. 12:8) with the "thorn in his flesh." However, God has not taken this time of struggling from me.  He has, however, put upon my heart more an earnestness to pray "God what are you teaching me? What do you want me to learn?" He has already taught me many things... 

1. I am out of control
2. I am out of control
3. He is in control
4. I am out of control 

Sounds kind of funny but this one lesson has been repeated over and over again in my life over the past 2 years.  Now, I am sure I will always struggle with control at one time or another but I have been learning that I want God to be in control and not myself.  For this I praise Him. Tonight it is thundering and lightening out.  I am in our living room listening and watching.  I am not panicking as I normally do.  There's not panic attack rising up within me.  Tonight I am trying to meditate on seeing God's presence in the storm.

Meditate Psalm 29 with me as I try to remember God's control and turn away from my fear.  I hope you also will be encouraged to turn from your fears, remembering who God is.

 Ascribe to the LORD, O mighty ones, 
       ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; 
       worship the LORD in the splendor of his 
 The voice of the LORD is over the waters; 
       the God of glory thunders, 
       the LORD thunders over the mighty waters.The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; 
       the LORD breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
 The voice of the LORD strikes with flashes of lightning.
The voice of the LORD shakes the desert; 
       the LORD shakes the Desert of Kadesh. 
The voice of the LORD twists the oaks 
       and strips the forests bare. 
       And in his temple all cry, "Glory!" The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; 
       the LORD is enthroned as King forever.
The LORD gives strength to his people; 
       the LORD blesses his people with peace.

Enjoy the beginning of your week! 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Psalm 37

I wrote a song last week after meditating on Psalm 37.  The song based on what God put on my heart as I chewed on the truths I read.  The two verses I spent most of my time meditating on were verses 4 & 5 "Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun."  We typically spend most of our time reading v.4 and thinking "God will give me the desires of my heart!"  We take on a christian consumer-like attitude that begins to focus on getting from God instead of giving to God for all He's done for us! We even an have the nerve in our pride to think we deserve to get our way, whatever it is even if it might be something God knows wouldn't be good for us!  Take time today to focus on the beginning on v.4... It's when we delight ourselves in the LORD that He will give us the desires of our hearts.  As we begin to know who God is, believe who He says He is and understand all we have in Him (unconditional love, forgiveness, grace, mercy, redemption, joy...just to name a few...) then our hearts will begin to desire more of what God desires for our lives.... those things that are good for us... as He promises in Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works together for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.  

Hope you enjoy this unfinished song God places on my heart... it has served as a melody to daily remind me of the truths in Psalm 37 :) 

V1:                Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart
                      commit your way to the Lord trust in Him and He will do this

Pre-Chorus: He will come through
                      He won't break a promise
                      He is who He says He is

Chorus:       He is our God; our only God
                     He is our strength; He is our peace
                     He is our joy; and all the hope we have
                     He will come through; He will come through

Sunday, April 18, 2010

For more than the ordinary...

Mike and I started reading the gospel of Matthew together last night (join us on the Matthew journey :) ) Here's just one thing God put on my heart from my quiet time in his Word last night. 

In Luke 1 we read about Mary's interaction with the angel Gabriel who tells Mary she is favored by the Lord and will give birth to Jesus who will "be called the Son of the most High." Mary's reaction goes something like this...
1st shock - v.29 "Mary was greatly troubled and wondered what kind of greeting this might be" ... v.2 tells us that the angel says to Mary "Do not be afraid"... I don't know about you, but seeing an angel would be pretty out of the ordinary, I think I would be pretty afraid at first too.  Please don't miss how amazing this initial interaction is... Mary is being spoken to by an angel!!! 

2nd- Confusion/denial v.34 "How will this be...since I am a virgin?"  The angel goes on to tell Mary of the miracle that will occur in her through the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is part of the trinity, 3 in 1, the Holy Spirit is used in scripture interchangeable to refer to God himself and indeed is God himself. This is complex for us to wrap our minds around but instead of giving into thoughts of unbelief let's praise God for how magnificent he is! He is immeasurable and complex and worthy of our worship not our criticism or critique.  

3rd- Acceptance- Mary says, "May it be to me as you have said."

Now for Matthew's account from Joseph's perspective.  

1st- shock/hurt- Joseph was betrothed to  Mary.  The ESV study bible explains what betrothed means. There were 2 stages to betrothal.  The 1st stage was different from engagement, the parents chose who their son would marry.  The 2nd stage involved official arrangements and prenuptial agreement, "a legally binding contract that could only be broken by a formal process of divorce." Now that we have a better understanding we can imagine the shock Joseph feels!At this stage is their betrothal Mary is referred to as his wife and now he finds out he is pregnant! Devastating!   At this point he doesn't know that the child conceived in Mary is from the Holy Spirit, we see this in v.19"And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly." 

2nd- fear - An angel appears to Joseph in a dream and his first words are, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife..."

3rd- obedience/acceptance v. 24&25 "When Joseph woke up from his sleep he did as they Lord as the Lord has commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son."  

Upon hearing from the angels the news of Jesus' miraculous birth Mary & Joseph could have been disobedient in unbelief.  Rather, Mary said, "The Lord called has called me blessed" and Joseph, "did what the Lord had commanded."  Both accepted the hardship and suffering ahead as they prepared to have the Son of God in their family who many would reject (eventually crucify) and some would embrace as their Savior.  God picked Mary & Joseph to be Jesus' earthly parents and by their responses to His call He knew who He was choosing (of course, since He is all knowing :) ).  He was choosing who He knew would be obedient and endure hardship because of their fear of the Lord (fear of dishonoring the Lord). 

The Lord calls us to do the extraordinary for Him when he knows we are ready to be obedient to His call no matter what the cost!

I hope this encourages and challenges you as much as it has both encouraged and challenged me. 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

What fills you up?

Isaiah 55:1-2 "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul with delight in the richest of fare." 

Food for thought :) I will blog tomorrow :) 

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Comfort Food for the Soul

The challenges of being a couple in ministry often surprise me.  When Mike and I were first dating all we desired to do was meet together to share what new thing we learned in our quiet times in the Bible about God's love for us, His power, His justice, the hope only He can give.  When we were 1st dating I was sure to let him know that God came first, then my family, my girlfriends and then of course him.  Luckily he felt the same way.  We wanted to love God first and didn't want our friends to feel left out or like now as a couple we were some how too busy for them.  This is where our hearts were focused.  We would hang out with our roomies/close friends every night of the week and weekend and then eventually after we had quality time with them we would meet up, usually at midnight or 1am (did I mention I was also a nerd about my grades in college?) and talk for an hour or two just about our devo time that day.  We were overflowing with desire for more of God.  We would repeat this cycle all week long. However, one day  our roommates/best friends eventually ended up together or dating other people and then taught us a true balance of being in a relationship and still making our friends feel treasured :) As we ventured on in our relationship we still had a love and desire to share with one another what God was teaching us, praying together and being in God's word together, however, as we entered marriage and the life of a couple in vocational/full-time ministry we learned quickly how difficult maintaining these practices can be. In the past two years we have struggled to have time in God's word together, prayer together and sharing together regularly, mostly b/c we spend much of our days sharing with others we are pouring into what God is doing in our lives and can be tired by the time we have time to share with one another.  I do miss that college energy, pace & schedule that allowed us to have meetings at 12am/1am if we did that now our weeks would be wrecked! It was a cool time though :) 

All of the above leads me to share with you the best part of my week.  Last week while Mike and I were in Boston for my spring break from school we had a long heart to heart about our desire for our days of sharing and encouraging one another in the Lord when we were still in college.  We confessed how we had let business, even ministry commitments, get in the way of the ministry we are called to and dearly love & enjoy as husband and wife.  So on Monday my hubby came home.  We ate dinner.  Then we went on a walk to this adorable park in our community and sat down with bibles and journals looking up scriptures about God's promises Mike had prepared just for us that day.  One of the best hours of my life having that special focused time once again. You can bet we are fighting for it now more than ever!

All this leads me to what God has put on my heart to share.  Consider it a hearty meal of comfort food for your soul.  God makes us an incredible promise in Isaiah 41:10 "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you by my righteous right hand."  This promise is amazing just in taking it in in this one single verse, however, we can gain a richer taste for the depth and reliability of this promise by flipping ahead to the chapter that precedes this promise.  In Isaiah 40 the LORD is speaking comfort over His chosen people, Israel, below are His words of comfort, savor them:
v.10 "See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power and his arm rules for Him.  See, His reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies Him."
v.11 "He tends is flock like a Shepherd.  He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to His heart..."
v.12 tells us, He measured the waters in the hollow of His hand
v.12 continues, He marked off the heavens with the breadth of his hand
v.12 He has held the dust of the earth in a basket
v.12 He has measured the mountains on scales 
v.18-20, 25 God is so amazing, powerful, loving that He can be compared to no one for He is far greater then we can imagine 
v.22 "He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers.  He stretches out the heavens like a canopy and spreads them out like a tent to live in." 
v.26 "He brings out the starry host one by one and calls them each by name" 
v.26 "Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing" 

These are the words of a huge God, of the only God, of a loving God, of a powerful God of a one-of-a-kind, only Risen God, speaking comfort over his people.  

Now understanding more of who God is and his heart for you, taste and be nourished by this promise once again:

Isaiah 41:10 "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you by my righteous right hand."  

Have a wonderful night of sweet rest & a Happy Friday!

PS- LeAnne thanks for the encouragement to write another post :)