Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thursday, March 31, 2011 - I've Got You Covered

"If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, 
he should pray and God will give him life." 
1 John 5:16
     Reading this verse (1 John 5:16) makes as many questions pop into my head as the second and third grade choir students had last night when we tried to explain the name "Ancient of Days" for God. They wanted to know how God came into being, when He came to be, how could He not be old but still be the Ancient of Days, and other unanswerable, mind-blowing mysteries we've all wondered. I almost ignored Mr. Chambers (My Utmost for His Highest) today for choosing this verse but one glowing treasure outshone the questions: the power of our intercessory prayer.  "He should pray and God will give him life." Be with that a moment. 
     Think of all the ways Satan tries to side-track us from praying. Don't you wonder why he's so dead-set against believers spending time in prayer that he comes up with all kinds of red-herrings and substitutes to keep us from attaching to God's power in our own or someone else's behalf? Psychology is a perfect example. Analyzing someone's personality, experiences and habits may help us understand them, feel compassion for them, and even change our attitudes or behavior toward them but it stops short of helping them. Enabling people is another feel-good substitute for intercessory prayer that actually increases their problems and undermines our faith. We think, "I have to take care of this person because it's the Christian thing to do," when God wants us to pray for the person and trust Him to intervene. Criticizing people is another less "noble" substitute for prayer. When we criticize them we've labelled them "in need of prayer" but we don't pray for them.
     Since having this "aha" moment and understanding Satan's fear of the power of prayer, I plan to take every opportunity presented today to cover people with God's power through prayer. 

Lord, You empower us with prayer and we must make Satan's day when we leave this gift to gather dust on a shelf or when we pray only on shallow, selfish levels. Help us not stop short of interceding for people. Guide our minds to develop Your thoughts and goals for them. Teach us to pray for people instead of criticizing, analyzing, and enabling them.  Increase our faith in You and our devotion to seeing You work in people!
In the Name of Jesus who prayed and prayed and prayed in the Power of God to see a world saved from sin!


"Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him." Psalm 34:8


"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful." Colossians 3:15


Inspired by My Utmost for His Highest
photo from my Italy album, taken in Vatican City

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - My Fervent Prayer

When I was a child I prayed as a child . . . 


Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen

God is great, God is good.
Let us thank Him for our food.
By His hands we are fed.
Give us, Lord, our daily bread.



Now I live in a grown-up world with grown-up problems and to be a mature pray-er I must remember and accept that I'm a priest - interceding for others to God and living a life of obedience to God before them. 
"The reason many of us leave off praying and become hard towards God is because we have only a sentimental interest in prayer.  It sounds right to say that we pray; we read books on prayer which tell us that prayer is beneficial, that our minds are quieted and our souls uplifted when we pray; but Isaiah implies that God is amazed at such thoughts of prayer."  (Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest)
"Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.
The LORD looked and was displeased that there was no justice.
He saw that there was no one,
He was appalled that there was no one to intervene; 
so His own arm worked salvation for Him, 
and His own righteousness sustained Him." 
Isaiah 59:16
"Worship and intercession must go together, the one is impossible without the other. Intercession means that we rouse ourselves up to get the mind of Christ about the one for whom we pray." (Chambers)  
     If this statement is true, and I believe it is, we have a lot of "rousing" to do. No more lazy prayers as we aim to prove the truth of James 5:16 that "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." In other words, I won't pray rightly for others if I'm not trusting (worshiping) God and I can't be right with God without wanting to intercede fervently for other people. 
     Jesus' prayer in John 17 demonstrates the vibrant and divine relationship between worship and intercession, between personal obedience and intervening for others.  Praying as Jesus would pray for ourselves, our children, our parents, siblings, friends, our church family, co-workers, people who get on our last nerve, those who are sick and dying, people who've strayed and people who've never found the Way requires mind-of-Christ trust that comes from unity with the Father. Only as His Spirit flows through us can we pray effectively and only when we pray and act in behalf of others do we pray as Jesus prayed. All other prayers are hit-and-miss.
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;" 
Proverbs 3:5
Father God Who reigns supreme, Who reigns eternal - fill us with Your Holy Spirit and make us one with You. We want to be right with You so the rest of our lives are an outpouring of You in whatever direction You point us.  Teach us to pray effectively and not vainly or selfishly. Guide us to think Your thoughts and to see people as You see them. Fill us with mercy and compassion so our prayers reflect Your heart.
In the Name of Jesus Who prayed for Himself, for His Disciples, for all believers and Who intervened by dying and rising again and Who intercedes for us at Your throne.

Inspired by My Utmost for His Highest

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - God Cares About $2 Problems

    "You also must be ready, 

because the Son of Man will come 
at an hour when you do not expect Him." 
Luke 12:40
     Saturday, Tom, Nick, Dave Ramsey and I went shoe shopping for Nick. We found plenty of shoes but not any on which Dave and Nick could agree. Payday's tomorrow and this $0 Cash Flow budget really worked out for us this month, meaning there is zero cash to flow during the last few days of the month. With $23 in the envelop we looked and hoped for a miracle. We found one pair of shoes Nick liked at Shoe Carnival for $25.00 and Nick was excited until I reminded him we had $23 even after I scoured both cars for loose change. It was TOUGH to say "no" over $2.00, but we stuck to our guns and didn't pull out the technology to transfer money from savings to checking. We moved on but those shoes haunted Nick, and me, too. I liked them: they WOULD be good for church, and they WERE the only pair like them in the clearance section. 

     Nick talked us into going back to Shoe Carnival to see if he could spin the wheel and get a big enough discount to buy the shoes. If you've never been to Shoe Carnival be warned, they mean "carnival." Employees use their best D.J. voices to advertise specials and to announce trivia contests, competitions or races in which the winning customers get to spin a game wheel for discounts or prizes. As we walked through the door we heard an employee announcing that the first customer to get to the wheel wearing his or her shoes backwards could spin. Nick quickly slipped his left foot in his right shoe and had his right foot halfway in his left shoe when some Bozo ran past us claiming the prize. A lady stood behind Nick still slipping her feet into the wrong shoes when the employee, God bless him, announced three winners. Bozo grudgingly pointed out that Nick didn't have both feet inserted completely into his shoes (discount hog!) but our kind sponsor let all three "winners" spin. As Nick spun, Tom tried to hypnotize the wheel by repeating, "Stop on $5, stop on $5." The same employee kindly stopped the wheel before it slipped from a $4 discount to $1 discount. We were ecstatic when the shoes rang up for $17 because unknown to us, all clearance shoes were an extra 20% off that day in addition to the $4 from the spin. Nick thanked the employee, I thanked the employee, Tom thanked the employee and we all thanked God for appearing and working in a shoe store, especially in one named Shoe Carnival. 

     If we had pulled strings and gone against the discipline we're trying to develop, we would have missed a golden opportunity to experience God work in our lives. Our family's faith grew in a shoe store where God showed us He cares about $2 problems, rewards discipline, and comes through with more than we could hope for or imagine. In a culture accustomed to forcing blooms and buying on credit, we miss miracles God has in store for us in His time.  

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:" 
Ecclesiastes 3:1
In this Shoe Carnival contest for discounts, customers competed on the hoola-hoop.
Thank goodness Nick's contest wasn't that challenging!
     Sovereign God, You know our hearts and how prone we are to figuring things out or rationalizing our way to solve a problem. You know what a time we have preparing our minds and hearts for You to work, yet Your Grace-acts in our behalf bring Peace and Security. Your Kindness when we least expect it, leads to rest and Joy. Your Provision satisfies us when our manipulating and string-pulling leaves us dry and drained. Transform our hearts into trusting vessels. Change our minds about our roles in the way You work. Open our eyes to see You on Your throne wherever we go.
In the Name of Jesus, Who graciously saved those who followed Him from the beginning as well as the dying thief on the cross!

"I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." 
John 16:33
     


Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday, March 28, 2011 - How Much Can You Take?

     I get a little nervous and even suspicious of people who give and give and give without expecting something in return. Most of the time there's a catch, a calling in of the favors.  Too many "givers" have too many strings attached to the gifts they give.   
     Our giving God asks us, "How much are you prepared to receive? How empty of you are you? How ready are you? How thirsty for Me? How big is your cup?"


"I tell you the truth, 
anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God 
like a little child will never enter it." 
Mark 10:15
"You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, 
because he trusts in You."
Isaiah 26:3
     Then, as God gives and gives and gives we find ourselves overflowing and looking for someone to receive the overflow. It's a flood of blessing we couldn't withhold if we tried. 
"But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering 


on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, 
I am glad and rejoice with all of you." 
Philippians 2:17
     Father, my own lack of faith keeps me from being completely receptive to what You can give. I think in human terms and question too much. Just for today, Lord, help me keep my mind openly and obviously staid on You as You give and give and give. Help me not to clog the flow of blessings with doubt or self-absorption.
In the Name of Jesus Who poured out His Life and held nothing back when He died on the cross!

Inspired by Jesus Calling

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday, March 27, 2011 - Mr. Wheeler's Warm-Ups



"After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. 
And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, 
'Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.' 
At once I was in the Spirit, . . . " 
Revelation 4:1-2a

    
 I was privileged to be part of the choral program under Mr. Harris Wheeler at North Cobb High School in Acworth, Georgia. Mr. Wheeler's reputation for being one of the finest choral teachers in the state preceded him and his students held him in the highest respect. At first what Mr. Wheeler asked of us in vocal warm ups made me feel self-conscious and strange. Sitting on the edge of our seats, backs straights, feet flat, the crowns of our heads and our eyebrows lifted, we sang 'mah-may-mee-mo-moo" and hummed to make our heads buzz. As an immature and shy freshman who was new to these bizarre singing techniques, I had a hard time not giggling during the first week, especially when I glanced around at my classmates. After all, in what other class is a high schooler asked to put aside normal behavior for the sake of the group? Only on oral report days in history or English, but Mr. Wheeler soon had us all keeping our eyes on him as we sang variations of warm-ups for what seemed like half the class time. Eventually we took pride in warming up properly by rounding out our "ooos" and stretching our mouths to a near yawn for the "aahs." Only when properly warmed up did we move on to apply these  techniques to singing "real" songs. Then Mr. Wheeler taught us how to add expression through dynamics and to enunciate so people could understand what we sang.  
     God calls us to warm up with Him each day by restraining ourselves from jumping too quickly into singing our "real" songs. He opens the door to His throne room and says, "Do something strange and bizarre: come up on this higher plane with Me and let Me prepare you to sing the Song I've given you. Don't expect the rest of the world to participate or understand."   
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, 
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. 
Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - 
His good, pleasing and perfect will." 
Romans 12:2

Warm-up time with God prepares us personally by transforming our minds and characters, but spending time with Him also prepares us to sing the mystery of Christ within us clearly so people understand.
"To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles 
the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."
 Colossians 1:27
When we accept God's invitation to "Come up here. . . " we say to Him, "I love You," "I respect You," "I need You," and "You're Number One in my life."  Ignoring His invitation says He's slipped from first place and we think we can live this day without Him. 
"Yet I hold this against you; you have forsaken your first love." 
Revelation 2:4
     God doesn't want us to "come up" from a sense of guilt or obligation but because we passionately and fervently love Him and are ready to invest a deeper devotion to renewing our minds on a higher plane. The better our warm-up, the sweeter we sing the Song He gives us.
Father, Your Song is the only one worth singing. Fill my mind with higher thoughts and aspirations than just surviving the day. Renew us - our love for You, our energy in telling You, and our fervor for sharing our testimonies with others. Lift us up where You are, where we belong even as You help us deepen our love and devotion to You. Lord, Your Love lifts us and the hope of glory in Christ carries us above the heartbreaks we face for now. May we learn to "tune our hearts to sing Thy praise!"
In the Name of Jesus, the Song we sing with all our hearts!
"Every day with Jesus is sweeter than the one before.
Every day with Jesus, I love Him more and more.
Jesus saves and keeps me, and He's the One I'm living for.
Every day with Jesus, is sweeter than the one before." 
Inspired by Jesus Calling, My Utmost for His Highest and my years under Mr. Harris Wheeler's training
photo from photobucket.com



Saturday, March 26, 2011

Saturday, March 26, 2011 - Living Above Our Means




"Do you not know? Have you not heard? 
The LORD is the E V E R L A S T I N G  GOD, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. 
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary
they will walk and not be faint." 
Isaiah 40:31 



"The LORD is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him; 


it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD." 
Lamentations 3:25-26

"You have made known to me the path of life; 
You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand." 
Psalm 16:11
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." 
Matthew 5:8
LORD, GOD, Almighty Creator of all that is, was or will ever be, because of You we can live above our means. Purify us, Lord, from all that weighs us down and trips us. Unshackle us from weights of worry and past failures. We can take the next difficult step because You pour Your strength into us. You don't expect us to find it in ourselves but to hope in You. As we wait in hope, help us develop pure hearts - unburdened, healed, open, forgiven, light hearts.  Forgive us for living as though we do not know You are God or that we haven't heard and learned that You are the LORD, Creator. Let these truths sink deeply into our souls and lift us up to soar like eagles. Teach us to live above our means.
In the Name of Jesus Who told us if we ask, we'll receive.

Inspired by the day's verses in Jesus Calling and My Utmost for His Highest
graphics created from images on photobucket.com; photo from photobucket.com

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday, March 25, 2011 - Vital Connections

     When Tom's parents came to visit for a week, I was nervous about how to entertain them and make their long trip worthwhile. I prepared a few ideas, made a meal plan, cleaned house, bought groceries, and prepared the guest room. As we sat around the table at dinner the first night, I brought up possible plans for their week in Benton. Dad said, "We don't have to do anything, we just came to be with you." He reminded me of Tom before we married when he said, "The thing I look forward to most is being in the same room together even if we're not doing the same thing." One sign of a healthy relationship or fellowship is the contentment and comfort we find in simply being together without having to be constantly entertained or talking.
     Our Bridegroom, Jesus, longs to enjoy this comfortable relationship with us. He asked us to abide in Him: 
  “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing." If you do not remain in Me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples." John 15:1:5-8
"Sometimes there is nothing to obey, the only thing to do is to maintain a vital connection with Jesus Christ, to see that nothing interferes with that. . .
 Christian work may be a  means of evading the soul's concentration on Jesus Christ. Instead of being friends of the Bridegroom, we may become amateur providences, and may work against Him whilst we use His weapons."  (Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest)
In Jesus' day, weddings weren't performed by the clock, nor were they centered on the bride. The bridegroom could arrive at any moment to take his bride away and the suspense was intense at the bride's house. She, her parents, and their guests had to stay vigilant and ready. Impatience or a grouchy bride could have made waiting long and painful. The bride's family could easily have ended up irritable or caught napping instead of looking for the bridegroom to arrive. 
"The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less." John 3:29-30
Like John the Baptist, we're also friends of the Bridegroom who wait and watch in anticipation and then respond with joy when He appears. 
"And do not grumble, as some of them did -- and were killed by the destroying angel." 1 Corinthians 10:10
    We like to know the plan and then act on it but sometimes the Bridegroom says, "Abide in Me. Wait and watch for how I'm working. Don't rush Me and don't complain about how long I'm taking to work. Don't step in and try to explain My "delay" or try to help Me accomplish My work more quickly. Abide in Me. Let Me be in control and relax. Be grateful I'm working and enjoy the relationships and provisions I've given you. Abide in Me - I Am Your Vital Connection to Peace and Contentment." 
"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our 'God is a consuming fire.'" Hebrews 12:28-29
Inspired by My Utmost for His Highest and Jesus Calling
photo from photobucket.com

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thursday, March 24, 2011 - Saint Not Savior, or "No Mo Co"

     It's time to burn Joan of Arc at the stake again. Saturday I wrote about a Facebook quiz I took called "Which Woman in History Are You?" My result was Joan of Arc and I knew it would be. It's not because I'm saintly or have a martyr complex but because I've struggled most of my life with a perfectionist complex and the driving urge to be everyone's go-to gal. I like to get things right and do things well. I enjoy connecting needs with resources, questions with answers, and problems with solutions. I love the satisfaction of accomplishing something demanding and big. I'd like to be Wonder Woman.
     Now go back to that first paragraph and compare the number of personal references in it with the number of references to God. Smacks of me, me, me and that's why Joan must be burned again and why Wonder Woman must be grounded. 

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. 
The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, 
Who loved me and gave Himself for me."
Galatians 2:20
      When John the Baptist's followers pointed out that the crowds were leaving to follow Jesus, John got this one right and responded, 
"He must increase, but I must decrease." John 3:30
These words roll easily off my tongue and I'd like to believe they're my heart's desire, but my actions seem to say I think Jesus has bitten off more than He can chew and needs my help. My lack of faith in His interest in and plan for people's lives leads me to act more like the brothers James and John who sought to increase WITH Jesus by sitting at His right or left hand. Wanting to  "help" in Jesus' Name is right as long as our "help" teaches them to depend on the One Who truly helps. "Doing good" is great when the good we do leads people to worship our Good God instead of to them depending on us to do more and more good. 
     As a minister's wife I've had a little trouble finding the balance between doing good for people and overdoing it so they look to me instead of to the One I serve. "Doers" and "fixers" like me struggle with trusting God enough to slip to the back of the stage or out of the picture completely, but any other way results in an unhealthy merry-go-round of co-dependence. Authentic trust that "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" and has a plan for each individual's life leaves no room for co-dependence or savior complexes in His children. Relax, child of God, we're His children, not His clones. We're saints, not saviors. We can say "no" to co-dependence and we don't have to be wonderful. He designed the universe and the people in it which makes Him the go-to God for every situation. Strike the match; Joan's got to go.
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." Hebrews 13:8
Inspired by Jesus Calling and My Utmost for His Highest
graphic from photobucket.com

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wednesday, March 23, 2011 -What Lies Beneath


     We're using this unexpected time at home to discover what's in this fabulous yard. The Browns who lived here for years were putterers and gardeners who planted beauty in every nook and cranny. However, since we moved here in mid-October after the blooming season, we missed the blooms and arrived in time to see the results of an August drought. Later, we watched the leaves and snow bury what remained.  The yard started blooming a couple of weeks ago in spite of the drought. First up were the weeds as they swallowed the grass alive. Then, here and there, yellow buttercups and red tulips surged through the blankets of leaves in triumphant color. This cool week is perfect for peeling back thick layers covering entire flower beds to discover the potential treasures they hold. The violets in the photo were choking on bahai grass and flowering weeds behind dead azalea branches.
     We didn't know in October when we were unpacking boxes inside the house what March would bring outside our doors and windows. Mr. Brown worked hard to make his yard a Garden of Eden and now we're enjoying the flowers of his intense labor. Did he do all this work for us? No, but we're loving it. Was it guaranteed that the next generation would appreciate what he did? No, he could only hope his work wasn't in vain. Did he plant it all in one day? No, it took years to plant and care for everything in this yard.
     It's spring, friends, and it's planting time. Each prayer we plant over a lifetime makes a difference somewhere - even if it's in our own hearts or in some way we'll never see or enjoy. "The more you pray, the more answers you can receive." (Sarah Young, Jesus Calling) Our God of details plants beauty in us only He can nurture to maturity but I'm staying busy pulling back the layers of worldliness to let Him shine His Light on the abundant life He planted in me. He works in us and others through our prayers.



"You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, 
are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?"
 1 Corinthians 3:3


Father, we don't want to live mere, normal lives with no surprises and no new growth. Please, guide our prayers to please You and help us remember to pray about anything and everything, knowing You hear us and will answer abundantly. You don't do anything halfway - help us pray with all our hearts in Your Will. May others be blessed by the results of Your work in us and the prayers You lead us to pray for them. 
In the Name of Jesus Who fed 5,000 people abundantly from a single boy's lunch and Who died so our lives could be anything but normal and predictable.  


"I will bless her with abundant provisions; her poor will I satisfy with food." Psalm 132:15


"When they had all had enough to eat, He said to His disciples, Gather the pieces that are left over. let nothing be wasted." So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten." 
John 6:12-13
Inspired by Mr. Brown and Jesus Calling
photo from our family album

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011 - Music in My Chicken Wings

"Let us come before Him with thanksgiving
and extol Him with music and song."
Psalm 95:2 

Nick posted this photo on Facebook to explain why he chose the saxophone over all the other instruments in the band: "It looks like a chicken wing. I like chicken." It's true. He loves chicken.
     When Julie was seven or eight, a little girl who spent the night with her told her, "Y'all sure sing a lot." I never thought about it before but music does crop up in one form or another throughout almost every day at the Noland house. I mean, it's pretty bad when a chicken wing reminds us of a musical instrument, don't you think? We used to say Julie lived her life to Disney background music and now Nick provides a stream of rhythmic and joyful noises to entertain us. When the kids were little and fearful at night time, we sang praise songs and hymns to them and taught them to sing themselves to sleep. In the mornings, Tom's vocal warm-ups are magnificent and, since everything reminds me of a song, I tend to burst into one-liners in the middle of normal conversation - all during the day - in public or privately. I know no shame. 
   Julie, knowing no other way to live, married into an entire family of musicians, "The Akins." Nick A. and Julie's wedding and reception filled the air with worship, romance and fun.  As wedding favors, they gave CDs they made of the worship song they sang in their wedding and three love songs Nick A. wrote for Julie. 
We have traditional family CDs for summer ("Walking on Sunshine") and Christmas (Carpenters, all the way). We watch concert DVDs when we get together. We go Christmas caroling. For my birthday one year, Tom made a CD of my favorite Latin dance music and for Christmas he gave me a CD of "Lady in Red" attached to a gorgeous red dress. This year for Christmas we made a memory at the Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert. We can't help it; music is rooted deeply into our personalities. The good news is we like or at least appreciate all music genres so we're never bored. I praise God for music to express exponentially our feelings ("Shout to the Lord!"  "Holy, Holy, Holy!" "I Love You Lord") with melody, harmony, voices, instruments  - or a cappella - alone or with one or two others, in a choir or congregation. Playing or singing upbeat praise music broadens my focus from the end of the sunbeam where I live to the Son, the Light, the bigger picture ("Take the shackles off my feet so I can praise You! I want to praise You! I want to praise You!"  "Who Am I?"). 
Father, thank You for using music to soothe and to energize, to comfort and convict. Help us give this gift back to You in adoration of Your Holiness but also in the joy of Your salvation. May we let You play the background music for our lives and provide the beat by which You want us to march. May we use the incredible tool of music to minister to Your heart with a show of our harmony and unity as Your family.
In the Name of Jesus Who kicked off His time of ministry by dancing at a wedding but also sang a hymn with His disciples at the conclusion of the Last Supper.     


"Those who know Your Name will trust in You, 
for You, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek You." 
Psalm 9:10
Inspired by Jesus Calling, Music of all kinds, and chicken wings
photos from the family album

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday, March 21, 2011 - Surely Not Surly

     Since I usually write these blogs before morning light, I reread and proof them several times throughout the day to correct the pre-coffee mistakes I make. Inspiration certainly doesn't guarantee perfection. Spell check doesn't catch typos like "untie" when I meant "unite," or "surly" when the verse says "surely," but the meaning changes drastically. I caught where I had typed "surly" instead of "surely" in the first verse today and praised God that we can surely count on Him not to be a surly ("sullen, irritable, inclined to anger or bad feelings") God. 
"Surely You have granted him eternal blessings 
and made him glad with the joy of Your presence." 
Psalm 21:6
     The two verses from Psalms sing in harmony of the security, joy, and salvation we enjoy in God's anything-but-surly Presence. 
"Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. 
The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation. 
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation."
Isaiah 12:2-3
    Surely God, Our Salvation, our Strength, our Song doesn't deserve surly children - even on a Monday, but it's especially on Mondays we find it difficult to make the sacrifices Jesus calls for and keep a bounce in our step. Galatians 2:20 leaves us no excuse for bad attitudes or irritability when we're serving God or working to get along with our brothers and sisters in Christ.   
"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. 
The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, 
Who loved me and gave Himself for me."
 Galatians 2:20 
     Because Christ lives in me and I'm dead to self, I can't be surly and still say I'm living by faith in Him. I died to all the law demands, praise God,  but I tend to forget I'm also dead to the things that stir up irritability and anger - even on a Monday. 
     Lord, Your blessing bottle keeps pouring out strength, music, joy and assurance into our undeserving lives. I trust You because You've never let me down. I'm not afraid because You're always with me. The future holds nothing You can't see us through victoriously. Satan loves to practice the wrong kind of resurrection by talking us into being oversensitive to the wrong stimuli. Deaden us to what's not important to You and awaken our souls to breathe in Your Holy Spirit as we live our new lives in You, by the faith You've given us.
In the Name of Jesus Who lives in us and expresses His faith through us
Inspired by Jesus Calling, My Utmost for His Highest and typos
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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday, March 20, 2011 - The Lighthouse

This house was our home for 12 years in Daphne, AL. It was Tom's and my first and only real estate purchase. It's the only home Nick knew until we moved to Benton, AR. It was our headquarters, our hideaway and it was located in the heart of our neighborhood (see map). We called it the Lighthouse because it sat on a little bit of an incline and because God drew people to our porch who needed Him or who needed us because of what He was doing in their lives and ours.  
               Prospective buyers liked the house when they saw it Thursday and they're going back for another look today. We would love to sell the house for many reasons but we want this transaction to be a blessing for both parties. Today I'm asking you to pray for God's will concerning 230 Maplewood Loop. We want a win-win outcome. We have precious neighbors and friends on that circle who could still use a Lighthouse. It would be easy to ask you to pray simply for God to sell the house, but I'm asking you to pray God fills this empty house with His Spirit again so the work that was started may continue. It's a big prayer, but one I believe God will bless. Thank you for praying with us and thank you for the encouragement you give me by reading here.


Father, my carnal nature wants to beg You in desperation to sell the house so we can pay off a lot of bills and move on, but that would be a selfish prayer from a selfish heart. Have Your way in the heart of everyone involved today. May Your Spirit guide all decisions. May Your character be upheld. Bless everyone by what happens today. Be glorified either way. You know our hearts' desire is to sell it and make huge strides toward financial peace by being debt-free. So many people have been generous to us and we'd love to be financially equipped to be generous to others. May Your will be done to achieve the greatest glory for You and Your kingdom.


"Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose 
and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come." 
2 Corinthians 5:5

"Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High." 
Psalm 50:14