Thursday, August 10, 2017

Like a Splash of Cold Water

I have called you friends.
John 15:15 (NLT)

Like an icy cold splash of water in my face, the lyrics awaken me to the stunning truth.

The One who reigns forever,
He is a friend of mine.
- Chris Tomlin

It’s beyond comprehension.

The God who created mountains and oceans and galaxies also thought the world needed one of me. The glorious, perfect, everlasting God listens to my prayers and walks beside me. The One who provided nourishment and protection for the Jews as He led them toward the Promised Land guides my steps too. The God who clothed Himself with skin so that it could be bruised and bloodied knows my name.

He calls me friend.

The One who reigns forever is a friend of mine. (tweet this)

My icy splash was a worship song by Chris Tomlin called Whom Shall I Fear. It’s no coincidence that God jolted my awareness of His love with this song - I have concert tickets to worship with Chris Tomlin in October.

#SeedsofScripture #heisafriendofmine #ChrisTomlin

Whom Shall I Fear [God of Angel Armies]
Chris Tomlin

You hear me when I call
You are my morning song
Though the darkness fills the night
It cannot hide the light
Whom shall I fear?

You crush the enemy
Underneath my feet
You are my sword and shield
Though troubles linger still
Whom shall I fear?

[chorus] I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side
The One who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine

My strength is in your name
For you alone can save
You will deliver me
Yours is the victory
Whom shall I fear?

[chorus]

And nothing formed against me shall stand
You hold the whole world in your hands
I’m holding on to your promises
You are faithful
You are faithful

[chorus]

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

My Bursting Heart

Shout with joy to the Lord, O earth! Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before Him, singing with joy.
Psalm 100: 1-2 (NLT)

My son is home.

I rushed to him at passenger pickup with a big squeezy hug and a bursting heart. My excitement surprised me since he’s only been away 6 weeks. I’m very happy we’re together again.

Which got me thinking….

When was the last time I was this excited to be in God’s presence?

I enjoy attending weekly services and I love to study scripture. I often feel overwhelming gratitude for God’s love, forgiveness, and blessings. But when have I been giddy for the chance to be near God? When have I run to Him smiling from ear to ear as if I’d hold Him tight?

Why do I take His presence for granted? Why don’t I fully appreciate the privilege it is to know Him personally, to have the Spirit dwelling in me, to know His presence in worship, and to meet Him at the communion table. When two or three are gathered, He is very close. Why am I complacent?
 
I want to praise God with authentic, uncontrollable joy! (tweet this)

I want to wake my senses up to the wonder of God. The Creator who reigns over the universe knows my name and wants to spend time with me. His love is unconditional and unfailing. The same God who led Abraham, Moses, and King David guides my life. Jesus, who left heaven to walk among us, blots out my sin with His blood. He is infinitely greater than anything else that excites me. 

God deserves my joyfully unrestrained praise! (tweet this)

Does your praise reflect your appreciation for Him? If not, what needs to change?

#SeedsofScripture #praiseGod #HeIsWorthy

Monday, July 31, 2017

They're For Your Own Good

Your regulations remain true to this day, for everything serves your plans. If your instructions hadn’t sustained me with joy, I would have died in my misery. I will
never forget your commandments, for by them you give me life.
Psalm 119:91-93 (NLT)

Nothing good happens after midnight.

Are these your mother’s words? Have you spoken them to your teens?

This was our family mantra as my children became teenagers and wanted later curfews. We weren’t trying to be killjoys, but hoped to steer them away from the kind of mischief that often happens late at night. We were helping them avoid awkward and/or dangerous situations, difficult choices, and actions they might regret.

The midnight curfew was meant for their good.

It’s the same with God’s commands. We often think of them as limiting our freedom. But they’re meant to lead us away from temptation and toward a fulfilling life.

God’s instructions guide us toward fullness of life. (tweet this)

We can still choose to ignore God’s instructions, but we’ll face unnecessary difficulty. Consequences.

Real joy and peace can best be lived by following God’s way. (tweet this)

What do you think? Are Biblical instructions still relevant? Are they limiting or life-giving?

#SeedsofScripture #followGod #fullnessoflife

Sunday, July 23, 2017

When I Realize I Need God

But as for me, I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God. You are my help and my deliverer; Lord, do not delay.
Psalm 70:5 (NLT)

With palms upturned to receive His grace, I humbled myself before God along with 800+ worshipers who sang “I need you, oh I need you. Every hour I need you.” We surrendered to God, both as a group and individually, professing our inability to do it on our own. As the chorus repeated, God’s healing, strengthening presence was palpable.

We like to be in control, run the show, be in the driver’s seat, and make the rules. Being in control feels secure and not having control feels uncomfortable. Society says accepting assistance is a sign of weakness and attaches a negative connotation to humility.

We think we can handle things on our own. But we can’t.

We can’t shed our regret, experience real joy, or express unconditional love without Him. We drag guilt around and allow shame to shape our identity. We look for happiness on the internet, in the refrigerator, or in a relationship. We stay angry and resentful toward those who have hurt us.

Only God can pour grace over our unworthiness. Only God can fill the longing in our soul. Only God can help us see our tormentors with loving eyes.

We need you, God. Oh, how we need you. (tweet this)

Our inability to admit our need blocks our ability to experience a personal relationship with Him.

We draw close to God when we realize how much we need Him. (tweet this)

In what way do you need God? Is it hard to give up control?

#SeedsofScripture #trustGod #control

Monday, July 17, 2017

When Our Prayers Aren't Answered

Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:3-4 (NLT)

Why do our prayers sometimes go unanswered if, as the psalmist proclaims, God gives us the desires of our heart?

Well, have we followed the steps outlined?

Step 1: Trust God. Believe that He loves you and can work good from any situation. Trust displaces worry, but isn’t permission to sit idly waiting for a solution to drop from the sky.

Step 2: Do good. Focus on others. Don’t wallow in the struggle but reach out to others and serve. I have always found that serving someone else lifts my spirits. I recently guest blogged about the health benefits of volunteering.

Step 3: Settle in where you are. Live in the present. Don’t disengage while waiting for something better. Make friends. Get involved. You may be exactly where God wants to use you.

Step 4: Delight in the Lord. Praise God in every circumstance. Establish a habit of gratitude. Find joy in Him alone.

Then.... God will give you the desires of your heart.

There’s a good chance those desires have changed while you’ve trusted God’s plan and started looking for His purpose in this season. Perhaps you’ve rekindled an old dream or discovered a new passion. You’ve invested yourself in the community and may have forged an unexpected relationship. You’ve experienced blessing in the waiting and learned a few lessons.

And in God’s perfect timing, He will fulfill the desires He placed in your heart. (tweet this)

Do you have an unfulfilled dream? What have you learned while waiting?

#SeedsofScripture #trustGod #dogood

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A View From My Empty Nest

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NLT)

Incredibly, my last blog post was two months ago.

It’s been a busy season transitioning to an empty nest. I never before imagined putting the words busy and empty nest together, but busy empty nester describes this season so far.

My youngest child graduated from high school. Two weeks later we drove to the University of Iowa because Division 1 gymnasts train year round. Addison has already started classes and had his first tornado warning. Yes, we drove to Iowa and back, visiting my brother in Indiana and my niece in Rochester.

With my nest empty, I attended a preaching workshop, sold $1100 worth of plants for Amilia’s Light (amiliaslight.org), donated platelets 3 times, and slept over twice with Family Promise (familypromisemetrowest.org). I celebrated with several high school graduates, spent 24 hours with a dear friend visiting from CA, spent 3 days with my aunt at her lake house, and saw Crowder in concert on the Cape.

I have gardened quite a bit these past two months and have eaten lots of garden lettuce and peas. I helped my son Corey, a recent college graduate, launch his job search and helped my daughter, Steph, plan an end-of-July road trip in search of a wedding venue. Yesterday we cancelled the entire trip and started from scratch with a new vision.

And today, I completed my essays and submitted my application to start seminary in the fall, a long held dream. I took my first Bible study when my youngest started preschool and I’ll start seminary as he starts college. I’m very excited.

For everything there is a season. (tweet this)

How has your summer been so far? Are you renewing yourself for the fall?

#SeedsofScripture #emptynest #summer

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Becoming an Engaged Listener

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry.
James 1:19 (NLT)

Are you quicker to listen or to speak?
Do you listen to understand or to respond?

Some of you are excellent listeners. You’re attentive and curious, eager to understand the speaker’s meaning. You sense emotion in body language and empathize with their perspective. Well done!

I don’t always listen well.

My mind sometimes drifts. I envision my to-do list and glance at the clock. I glimpse a friend and remember I have something to give her. I formulate a solution rather than simply affirm your feelings. Can you relate?

While mulling over this scripture and evaluating my listening skills, this quote crossed my Twitter feed. It’s a God-incidence, a jarring thought.

Christians who can no longer listen to one another will soon no longer be listening to God either. – Deitrich Bonhoeffer

If we won’t listen to each other, we’ll soon stop listening to God. (tweet this)

I’ve never considered applying good listening skills to Bible reading.

When God speaks to me in scripture, do I consider His perspective and His intention behind the words? Do I react too quickly, impulsively, defensively, selfishly? Am I fully involved, understanding context and emotion? Or am I checking my to-do list and watching the clock?

We often hear from God by reading scripture. But sometimes we need to dig deeper in study because we can misinterpret God’s message when we don’t understand the context and intent. Good listening is crucial.

Let’s be engaged listeners of God’s Word. (tweet this)

How can you improve your listening skills? Do you think listening better to your friends will help you listen better to God?

#SeedsofScripture #listening #Bible