Monday, November 30, 2009

Trust in the Lord, not Yourself

Recently, I was faced with a very difficult decision.  I was faced with either compromising my relationship with a friend or compromising my relationship with my Lord God.  If I chose my friend all things around me would remain the same and there would be no break in our relationship. However; if I chose to keep my relationship safe with my friend I would be in direct disobedience of what God was specifically telling me to do.
After agonizing over my decision, I knew what I had to do & ask the Lord for strength to obey.  He answered my prayer.
The days & weeks following my decision were horrible.  My relationship with my friend was broken and will never be the same again.  This was agonizing for me.  I prayed that God would restore our friendship, that one day she would understand why I made the decision I did.  She weighed heavy on my mind.  As I continued to pray a verse I didn’t expect began to flow through my mind.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and hi will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
I had done a study of this verse last year in preparation for a talk I gave to a mom’s group.  I went back to my notes to review and was surprised by the reassurance I gained from it.
Trust= the act of leaning on.  Not standing in your own strength or abilities.  To relay on someone or something for support and strength.
My visual picture in my mind is my leaning against a strong mature tree.  The tree is supporting most of my weight.

Trusting in the Lord means I do not trust in myself and I definitely do not trust in others more than I trust in the Lord. I do not rely on myself or others for wisdom and strength.  I don’t do what seems right. I don’t do what feels right.  I do what is right, because I am trusting in the Lord.  The decision I had to make didn’t seem right or feel right, but it was clear what I was to do and I know have to trust the Lord that He knows what is right.
with all my heart”
Trusting the Lord with all my heart means that I don’t sort of trust him.  I don’t trust him when it is convenient or easy.  I don’t trust him in some area’s of my life and not in others.  I trust him with all my heart!  With all of me, my mind, emotions, spirit; I trust him.
Lean not on your own understanding”
This tells us what not to do, because if we are doing it we are not trusting him with all our heart.  Do not lean on your own understanding. Remember the tree?  Trusting him is like leaning against the big strong tree.  The tree is obviously my God.  It supports me, provides shelter and rest.  If I am leaning on my own understanding, that is like leaning against a small new tree.
This tree in the picture looks much like a tree in our front yard.  It is very small with a small trunk & if I leaned against it, I would push it over.  It cannot provide me with shelter or rest.  It would not support me at all.
If I am depending on my own understanding, it is much like me relying on this little tree to hold me up. My understanding is covered in sin and selfishness.  My understanding only brings me trouble.  It is very dangerous for one to depend on human wisdom alone. 
Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”
Our world is all about doing what feels right.  Or doing what others think you should do.  Many times in the life of a believer, we will stand alone as we trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not on our own understanding.
“In all your ways acknowledge Him”
This is a call for total, unwavering commitment in trust for obedience in all things.  ALL THINGS.  Not some things, not just the things that will make us look good to others, all things.  In all we do, acknowledge him.  This is a mental and emotional awareness of who God is.  I can tell you that as hard as it was to go forward and obey what God was telling me to do, the reassurance of knowing  my God is what gave me the strength I needed to obey.  I knew he knows better than I do, I knew that he knew my friends’ heart better than I did, I knew that he is sovereign and His will is always done.
By obeying God, I was acknowledging him as the Sovereign Lord in my life.  By trusting him and not relying on my own wimpy understanding and as I obeyed what he told me to do, I acknowledged him.  The rest of the verse is the promise of a blessing when we trust him.
“…and he will make your paths straight.”

He will guide us, strengthen us and give us the wisdom we need to handle whatever comes next.  That is where I am right now; trusting God to give me the wisdom I need to handle the effects my decision had on my friend of whom I love so much.
My God is so faithful even when I am not, why would I not want to trust him.  He has never failed me. It is I who has failed him, yet he continues to keep his promises to me.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.  Proverbs 3:5-6

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Letter From Jesus about Christmas

  This letter was posted as a comment on another blog by a writer named Liz.  I don't know if she wrote it or where she got it.  If you do know please let me know so I can properly site the author.  But I thought it was good enough to post here. ~Dana

Dear Children,
It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My name out of the season. Maybe you've forgotten that I wasn't actually born during this time of the year and that it was some of your predecessors who decided to celebrate My birthday on what was actually a time of pagan festival, although I do appreciate being remembered anytime. How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don't care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth, just GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER. Now, having said that let Me go on. If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn't allow a scene depicting My birth, then just get rid of a couple of Santas and snowmen and put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn. If all My followers did that there wouldn't be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town. Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree, instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all trees. You can remember Me anytime you see any tree. Decorate a grape vine if you wish: I actually spoke of that one in a teaching, explaining who I am in relation to you and what each of our tasks were. If you have forgotten that one, look up John 15: 1-8.
If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My birth here is my wish list.

Choose something from it:
 1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me all the time.

2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don't have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.

 3. Instead of writing George complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out this year, why don't you write and tell him that you'll be praying for him and his family this year. Then follow up. It will be nice hearing from you again.

 4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can't afford and they don't need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth, and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.

5. Pick someone that has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.

6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don't know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile; it could make the difference.

7. Instead of nit picking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren't allowed to wish you a "Merry Christmas" that doesn't keep you from wishing them one. Then stop shopping there on Sunday. If the store didn't make so much money on that day they'd close and let their employees spend the day at home with their families

8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary- especially one who takes My love and Good News to those who have never heard My name.

 9. Here's a good one. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no "Christmas" tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don't know them, buy some food and a few gifts and give them to the Salvation Army or some other charity which believes in Me and they will make the delivery for you.

10. Finally, if you want to make a statement about your belief in and loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian. Don't do things in secret that you wouldn't do in My presence. Let people know by your actions that you are one of mine. Don't forget; I am God and can take care of Myself. Just love Me and do what I have told you to do. I'll take care of all the rest. Check out the list above and get to work; time is short. I'll help you, but the ball is now in your court. And do have a most blessed Christmas with all those whom you love.

post signature

Friday, November 27, 2009

Creating Space for God

As mothers, we are used to fighting for time for ourselves.  But, do you fight for time with God?  How much trouble do you go to so that you can spend time with Him in prayer & Bible Study?

I heard a guy talking about his father on the radio one morning.  He was describing to the audience of how important it was to his father to spend time alone with the Lord.  He explained that his father would dismiss himself every night about 9 o'clock to go to bed, so that he would be rested enough to get up early the next morning for his quiet time.  I thought that was great!  I know what you are thinking!  He is a man, he is not the one putting the kids to bed, making lunches for the nest day of school or trying to get that last load of laundry folded & put away.  His commitment is what I admire.  He knew what he had to do so that he was ready to spend time alone with God & he did it.

I have written about this before, but if you truly want that time with the Lord, pray and ask him to show you how & where & when.  He will show you.  Once he shows you & you are able to establish a great new habit, you now need a plan.
I recently was sent a link to a website of a fantastic woman who is passionate about helping others develop a meaningful quiet time.  Catherine Martin of Quiet Time Ministries is an author & speaker.  Visit her site!  You will be blessed.  Sign up for her "7 Days to Energize Your Quiet time"  In Day 4, she advises you to make a plan, & this is what she shared...

Henri Nouwen made a very important statement that offers an incredible perspective for your relationship with the Lord. Henri Nouwen defines discipline as the effort to "create some space in which God can act. Discipline means to prevent everything in your life from being filled up. Discipline means that somewhere you're not occupied, and certainly not preoccupied. In the spiritual life, discipline means to create that space in which something can happen that you hadn't planned or counted on."

What discipline will help you create that space? The discipline of a plan - a very simple plan for your quiet time. The Lord gave me this plan many years ago and it has been incredible in helping me to draw near to God. You can remember it according to the acrostic: P.R.A.Y.E.R.:

Prepare Your Heart

Read And Study God's Word

Adore God In Prayer

Yield Yourself To God

Enjoy His Presence

Rest In His Love

Prepare Your Heart is necessary at the beginning of your quiet time. It allows you to turn your eyes upon Jesus as the hymn goes. There are many ways to prepare your heart including reading a devotional or a psalm. Then Read And Study God's Word to hear God speak to you. Adore God In Prayer and respond to what you have heard Him say. Then Yield Yourself To God as a response to what you have learned in His Word. Enjoy His Presence and take all you have experienced in your quiet time throughout the day. Then take God's promise and Rest In His Love. 

Establishing a good habit of drawing away & spending time with the Lord won't happen magically, we must be disciplined with our time & priorities.  But it will happen, just don't give up.  Your life is at stake here & the lives of your family.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Simplifying Again

I have a little bit of a break from my ministry work at church, so I thought it was time to try & update my blog & simplify it.  I realized that my other template just took too long to load so I have gone back to my original look while I work on a new design.

I hope that you are able to enjoy the holiday season as we celebrate with our families the amazing things God has done for us.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Send a Christmas Card to the ACLU!

What a clever idea!
Yes, Christmas cards. This is coming early so that you can get ready to include an important address to your list.

Want to have some fun this CHRISTMAS? Send the ACLU a CHRISTMAS CARD this year.

As they are working so very hard to get rid of the CHRISTMAS part of this holiday, we should all send them a nice, CHRISTIAN card to brighten up their dark, sad, little world..

Make sure it says "Merry Christmas" on it.

Here's the address, just don't be rude or crude. (It's not the Christian way, you know.)

125 Broad Street
18th Floor
New York , NY 10004

Two tons of Christmas cards would freeze their operations because they wouldn't know if any were regular mail containing contributions.  So spend 44 cents and tell the ACLU to leave Christmas alone. Also tell them that there is no such thing as a " Holiday Tree". . . It's always been called a CHRISTMAS TREE!

And pass this on to your email lists. We really want to communicate with the ACLU! They really DESERVE us!!

For those of you who aren't aware of them, the ACLU, (the American Civil Liberties Union) is the one suing the U.S. Government to take God, Christmas or anything Christian away from us. Help put Christ back in Christmas!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Raising a Modern Day Daniel

 Daniel 1 details a wonderful story of 4 very strong and dedicated teenage boys.  These teen's were in their early teens, but according to their culture were considered men.  There was evil in Jerusalem.  For many years it had been ruled by kings who were wicked and God handed Jerusalem over to the king of Babylon.  2 Kings 24:14 says that, "He(King Nebuchadnezzar) carried into exile  all Jerusalem: all the officers and fighting men,  and all the craftsmen and artisans-a total of ten thousand. Only the poorest people of the land were left." "Among these were some from Judah: Daniel,  Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. (Daniel 1:6)
After arriving in Babylon the young men were gradually stripped of their Jewish heritage.  First they received new Babylonian names, and then they were to eat the Babylonian food.  Daniel and his friends, I'm sure, were not happy with their new names, after all they were much harder to pronounce, but they could live with it.  But when the new menu was set before them they knew they couldn't defy themselves.  It would go against everything they had been taught.  The Mosaic Law was very clear about eating unclean foods; "Don't do it"!  In Daniels mind, there was no choice; he could not eat the Babylonian food.  His friends agreed with him and together the 4 of them rebelled, respectfully of course, against eating the fine foods of the Babylonians.  They knew that their God was bigger than even the mighty Babylonians.  They had a very healthy fear of their God.
They stood before the overseer of the court of officials and asked permission to not defile themselves.  The God they so strongly believed in softened the heart of the officials.  This Daniel was a very wise man.  He made a bargain with the official.  Is that not like the typical man?  Daniel tells the official "Please test your servants for ten days by providing us with some vegetables to eat and water to drink.  Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who are eating the royal delicacies; deal with us in light of what you see."(Daniel 1:12,13)  It worked!  They got what they wanted.  Even better, the whole plan worked.  They were able to show that their simple diet of vegetables and water made them stronger than the others who ate the food of the Babylonians.  Then the official removed all of the junk food and they all ate the healthy food.  After all, the King didn't need fat, lazy Jewish men in his court.  They were no good to him like that.
Because Daniel remained faithful to his God, did not conform to the pagan culture, and took a stand against that which he knew was wrong he was blessed over & over for the rest of his life.  Read about his life in the book of Daniel.  It is fantastic.  I didn't say it was easy, but it was blessed.
As a mom, I have to wonder what kind of mom Daniel had.  Did she know that she had raised a young man who was so strong in his convictions?  Did she know that her son was capable of making such a difficult, yet brave move against his enemies?  Did his father know that he had prepared his son to lead others in truth and conviction?  How did he teach his son to not follow others, but to lead even if you are standing alone?  As far as we know Daniel never saw his parents again.  They may have never known what a mighty man of God their son became.  What do you want to bet Daniel would be called "strong willed" in today's times?

After reading the story of Daniel in the first chapter to my children one morning I wondered to myself if they would be able to make the bold stand that Daniel & his friends did?  Am I equipping them to stand for what they know is right no matter what the costs?  If given the choice would they gobble up the kings' food or would they ask for a diet of clean foods?  Am I raising my sons to be leaders or followers?  Their dad plays the major role in teaching them to be men, but I still have a role as I am with them more than their dad, especially while they are young.
When you throw seeds in a pot of dirt you hope that what comes up is what is on the package.  You have an idea of what to expect, but is that really what will grow out of the dirt?  You water it, watch for bugs, and shield it from too much sun.  You nurture & care for it and before you know it up pops a little green shoot.  As it grows it looks like what you expected & you are feeling quite successful as a gardener.  Then it blooms.  It doesn't quite look like what you thought it would.  What do you do?  You keep nurturing your plant and you wait and trust the direction on the package.
This is how I see my boys(& girls).  I have these ideas of how they should turn out and some of my ideas are just not panning out.  I'm getting worried.  I don't want to raise jail bait.  I want to raise future men of God who will make an impact on others.  God reminds me, just as I am sure he reminded Daniels mother to trust him and continue to raise them according to his scriptures.  Teach his laws and promises to them.  Believe and live according to them myself.  Teach them to guard their heart, to capture every thought that could lead them into foolishness and that whatever they do, do it as unto the Lord.  Talk to them about what we believe and why, and then expect them to live this way because it pleases the Lord and no other.
This is not what our society teaches at all.  The Christian is expected by God to live to please his God and in return receive blessings untold. Society expects us to live for ourselves and do whatever pleases us.  I don't know if I am raising modern day Daniels, but I'm trying.  I see a passion in the eyes of my sons that I pray constantly will grow into a passion for their Lord.  I see a zest for life that I pray will grow into a zest for Christ and I recognize their natural God given hunger for adventure that could bring them to the point of history changing adventures.
I pray that even though my sons must live in this world, they will not be conformed by the world.  I pray that they will guard his heart, resist the temptation to conform, and learn to love his God with his whole heart, mind and strength.  It is all up to God. 

That They will Trust in You

Lord God,
I come before you lifting up my children.  I want so badly for them to trust you with ALL their heart.(Prov.3:5)  I want them to be passionate about you.  I pray that they will not lean on their understanding but will acknowledge you in all their ways(Prov.3:5).  I want them to learn early that their ways will surely bring them failure and disappointment, but it is your ways that will bring life and joy.  I want them to learn that when they trust in you, you will direct their paths, you will guide them and that they will be satisfied and fulfilled with your love for them.(Prov.3:6)  Protect them from the wicked ways that may stray them from you and bring them back when they do stray away.  I pray that they are able to shun evil and bring honor and glory to you.(Prov.3:7-9)  I pray all this in your trusted & blessed name.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

My Little Big Birthday Girl

Today is Gracie's 5th birthday.  She is the youngest girl at the end of 4 boys.  When we found out we were pregnant with a girl, I was in total shock!  I had not had a girl in 10 years & never thought I would see little pink bows and baby dolls in my house again.

Gracie is all girl, but can run with the boys also.  We joke that she has a purse that she keeps her hotwheels in.  When the brothers go to spend the night with Mamaw, Gracie goes with them.  She the brothers jump on the trampoline, Gracie jumps with them.  When Gracie wants to play baby dolls she makes the brothers play with her.  LOL!

Gracie is a strong willed little girl, but has a sweet heart & spirit.  She takes care of her little brother Sam (even though he is as big as she is).  She is a petite little girl with a very big voice. :)  She keeps us laughing and amazes us with her wit.

Happy Birthday  Baby Girl!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Decorate a Cookie

Need a little practice on your cookie decorating skills? This is a neat website that I found this morning. Decorate an E-cookie & send it to a friend to just keep decorating more cookies. Your kids will enjoy this.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Picture of Peace

If you were to paint a picture of what peace looks like to you, what would you paint?

I found a story that goes something like this...

Two artists set out to make a picture representing perfect peace.  The first painted a canvas depicting a carefree lad sitting in a boat on a little placid lake without a ripple to disturb the surface.  The other painted a raging waterfall with winds, whipping the spray about.  On a limb, overhanging the swirling water, a bird had built its nest, and sat peacefully brooding her eggs.  Here she was safe from her predatory enemies, shielded and protected by the roaring falls.

The world paints a picture of peace that is very different from the picture that is painted in the scriptures.

According to the world peace is the "absence of war or other hostilities" and also explained as "inner contentment, serenity; peace of mind" (Webster's)  The worlds kind of peace is caused by created things and the manipulations of carnal beings.  In other words, according to the world, we create peace.  Peace comes from us.

Here is the picture the world paints of peace.

Do you know the history of the peace sign?  It is a really popular symbol today that is worn on our clothes, jewelry, cars, etc...  Read the history & decide for yourself if you still want to wear it.

The spiritual peace found in scripture paints a different picture. I don't know about you, but I like this picture better.

Strongs Lexicon defines peace as
"The tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot of whatsoever sort that is"

A Bible Dictionary defines it as;
"Freedom from worry, harmony in personal relations, freedom from evil disturbances."

I love the thought of being free from all worry.  I am not there yet.  It is a daily walk, a daily choice to walk in His Spirit.

According to Scripture...
~God is the God of Peace - 1 Thessalonians 5:23
~He ordains peace - Isaiah 26:12
~Christ is the Prince of Peace - Isaiah 9:6
~Christ is our peace - Ephesians 2:14

Peace accompanies...
~Faith - Romans 15:13
~Righteousness - Isaiah 32:17
~Acquaintance with God - Job 22:21
~The love for God's law. - Psalm 119:165
~A Mind set on the Spirit - Romans 8:6

Saints (those who belong to God by his grace through faith)
~Have peace in Christ - John 16:33
~Kept in perfect peace - Isaiah 26:3
~Enjoy peace - Psalm 119:165
~Kept by peace - Philippians 4:7

There is only one picture that I can think of that paints a perfect picture of God's Peace.

(taken by my daughter, Sarah)

When Jesus was crucified on the cross he fulfilled the prophecies, thus bringing peace to the hearts of all those who believe in Him.  No longer did they have to abide by a strict code of law, his shed blood provided the atonement they needed.  When we believe that Jesus is our Lord and Savior and we trust him with our life we are then sanctified and made holy in His eyes. (1 Corinthians 6:11) We then can experience His perfect peace in our lives.

There is much more to this, but I will post it later.  My next post will focus on the how's of experiencing God's peace.