Thursday, July 3, 2014

Sing a New Song. Thoughts from a 7 Minute Sabbath



Our Connect Group lessons this past week were on the Sabbath.  I was convicted that I was not being intentional about taking a Sabbath.  Over the past two years, I have heard several Bible teachers/pastors speak on Sabbath and the importance of taking a Sabbath. I KNOW what God’s word says, but in this area, I have not been a doer of that word.  That changed this week. 

This week, instead of taking an entire day as a Sabbath rest, I have incorporated a daily Sabbath into my routine.  I call it my 7 Minute Sabbath. For the most part, I end my quiet time with this. The 7 Minute Sabbath is simply about being still and listening.

This morning was one of those moments when a very familiar scripture seemed to come off the page during my Bible study, but it was during that 7 minute Sabbath that I felt God make it personal for me. 

Psalm 33: 3

                Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings with loud shouts.

I have loved this particular verse for years.  It was my justification for practicing piano before doing homework in high school.  However, today it was the first part of the verse that absolutely tugged at my heart. 

                Sing to him a NEW SONG.

What God impressed in me this morning was that a “new song” doesn’t always mean NEW lyric, NEW style, or NEW as in just written or freshly composed.  Those are great and I am a firm believer in using freshly composed music!! 

But sometimes, in our personal life, we sing the same song over and over.

Have you been there?  God delivers or heals you in one area and it is incredible! That particular time becomes a spiritual milestone, a building block of faith.  You sing that song of deliverance or healing over and over.  AS YOU SHOULD! 

BUT…sometimes we take those milestones and building blocks of faith and just set up camp. We glorify the THING we were delivered from MORE than we glorify the ONE who did the delivering.

There are mile markers on this journey that we miss because we are so focused on what he has done in the past that we miss what he is doing today.

Please hear me, we should never forget what God has done. We SHOULD look back with thanksgiving and celebration and say look how far he has brought us.

BUT, looking back for extended periods of time and not fixing our eyes on Jesus TODAY, is dangerous.  I believe with all my heart constant focus on the past keeps you from seeing the hand of God working in your life TODAY. 

What is he doing today?  Where is he taking you in this season of life? What area is he teaching you to trust him more? 

At the end of this week, will you have a new song to sing? 

 

 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Happy New Year!

Hope. It has been my word since October of 2012.  Last year especially, God gave me ample opportunity to bask in hope as well as share hope. I feel like it is "my" word. :)  My theme.  Who knows, maybe a song will come from this.

As we ended 2013, I began to ask the Lord if HOPE would be my theme/word for 2014 or was there something different.  Over the last weeks of the year, the word TRANSFORMATION slapped me across the heart. Clearly, this was my theme for 2014. 

I'm journaling my thoughts on my neglected blog this year simply calling them Transformation Thoughts. All will be based on what God is showing me in through his word.  Most of it, like today's will simply be raw nuggets of what God is teaching me. 

Do not conform 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

Transformation Thoughts #1

LOVE STEADFASTLY.   BE FAITHFUL.
          Proverbs 3:3-4 (from ESV) tells us:

Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.  So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.

It is January.   A new year. A fresh start. I have some goals set for this year.  I bet you do too. For me, this is the year of transformation.  Transformation in health, business, and my spiritual life.  If we were together, you would probably share something similar. 

As I read the above verses in Proverbs this morning, I was struck with verse 4. It says, So you will find favor and success with GOD and MAN.

Favor and good success with God and man are the result or consequence of two things:
  
Steadfast Love.
 Faithfulness.

Steadfast love. Faithfulness. Those things, at least for me, are hardest in the everyday. In the routine. The bed making. The laundry. The dishes. And for me, feeding the dog. (Sorry, just being honest)

Steadfast love and Faithfulness. In relationships where you just aren't sure where you stand. 

Steadfast love and Faithfulness when each day presents a new challenge. 

Steadfast love and faithfulness when it would be so very easy to simply wimp out, stay in bed and watch reality t.v. 

Why bind it around our neck and write it on the tablet of our hearts?

Favor and good success in the sight of God and man. Reminds me of Luke 2:52
And Jesus increased in wisdom, and in stature, and in favor with God and man.

Here was my question from this morning:

Do I want to accomplish my goals for this year? Well, yes! Of course I do!

Then I MUST STEADFASTLY love God and THEN love others with that unwavering, steady constant love. Even when rejected....choose LOVE.

I MUST be faithful (consistent, reliable, available) in relationships.  This will come from an overflow of my relationship with God.

Overtime I will see that my perception of "good success" will change.  It will be transformed into God's plan. He WILL transform my heart, my mind, my desires bringing them into complete obedience to his plan.  (That by the way, is when he will give me the desires of my heart.)

Even as I studied this passage...the term success is not what my American,goal oriented mind wanted it to mean!  (Financial accomplishment; achievement; promotion. WINNING!)

Nope it is talking about gaining a good name. Good repute. Being held in high regard. The Hebrew word literally talks about being WISE.  Gaining WISDOM.  Knowledge, understanding, discretion. See how God changed my perception in this?  My human thoughts went straight for the tangible...while God was saying dig deeper there is more!

My nugget for today:

Ask God to transform the way I love. Love steadfastly and be faithful.

Success may not look like what I thought it would.  BUT...when my perception has been transformed by Jesus, success is better than anything I could imagine. 


Monday, September 2, 2013

We Left the Front Door Open



One week ago today, I woke up a little before my alarm went off.  I decided that I would enjoy the quiet time and headed downstairs.  When I got to the bottom of the stairs, something to my right caught my attention.

The front door was open.  Not open as in unlocked.  Standing wide open. Open. As in I was looking outside at my front yard. I called for Chad and we immediately we checked the house out.  Nothing appeared out of place. 
We both were completely unsure of why the door was open and the alarm was off.  After a few minutes, we decided that we just got distracted when we were locking up and in the process of letting Paddington (our canine son) out, we just totally missed it.  Really, there is no other explanation.  

You better believe that come Monday evening, we double checked everything! After the last recheck, I settled in and went to sleep much faster than normal. 
Shortly after midnight I woke up after the single most disturbing, terrifying, heart wrenching dream I have ever had.  While I will not get into the details of that dream (mainly because they were so Biblically inaccurate) I will simply say…God used it to imprint something on my heart.  THAT is what I am sharing here. 
First of all, it has taken me a week to process the two events and see that He was using them to teach me something.  Honestly, I wasn’t even going to blog about it, but the overwhelming urge to do so this morning has overruled my desire to just keep it to myself. 

Tuesday morning after God woke me up from this dream, I went to check on my girls.  I did something that I haven’t done in a while, but after what I had just experienced, I HAD to.  I curled up on their bed besides them and prayed over them.  Then I got in the floor in the hallway between their rooms and prayed. By this time I was wide awake so I headed downstairs.
 I cannot begin to explain the pressing on my heart. This urgency for my daughter’s purity and protection. It was stronger than I have felt in a long time.  So I did the only thing I knew to do, grab my Bible and start reading.  I hit Proverbs and since it was the 27th of the month, I started there.  And boy, there is some meat in the first verses!  LOVE it…but where God begin to have me settle was on down around verse 12.

                The prudent sees danger and hides himself, the simple go on and suffer for it.
In other words, when you see danger you don’t knowingly walk into it! Especially, when your children are at risk.  I love what Master Procter and Master Holland teach our karate students, “The best defense, is to not be there.”  But when you ARE there, you need to know how to protect yourself. 

The next verse that really stood out to me was verse 23. In context it is speaking to wealth and being a wise steward, but I read this verse, the Lord challenged me . The challenge was to see my children, and the children he has placed in my care as my flock.

 Verse 23 says:

                 Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds.
While we want our girls to live for and radiate Jesus right now at 15 and 12 years old, our goal is for them to leave our home and be confident in who they are with Jesus. This is training time.

 It is our calling as parents to train them, discipline them, and protect them. Proverbs 22:6a says, Train up a child in the way they should go. That training will not always be easy, or fun and honestly sometimes it is exhausting. But, the conclusion of Proverbs 22:6 says

 even when he is old he will not depart from it.
 I believe God used two events last week to remind me that my guard was down a little in some areas.  That I had “left the door open” so to speak. In today’s world, his reminder was that I need to resist the urge to be a “logged off” parent.  I needed to be aware of what is going on with my girls! 

Several years ago He gave me a lists of things to keep me from being THAT logged off parent.  Maybe you need the reminder too.

1.       Do I know my girl’s friends?  I mean KNOW them.  What are their parent’s names?  What’s going on at home?

2.       Do I know what my girls are doing on-line?  I make no apologies for “stalking” their Facebook, Instagram and any other form of social media.  And I don’t just mean what their pages look like.  I look at their “followers”, “friends” and find out what they are posting as well.

3.       Text messages…….we spot check these.  And no, my girls don’t like it but they know right now we are not their friends. See number 4.

4.       Be a parent not a friend.  There will be plenty of time for friendship later…right now, I am their mom charged with their care, training and protection. Their father and I will answer to God for how we parented them. 

5.       Be willing to pull the plug, cancel the account.

6.       (this is a hard one) Ask other adult friends/parents to TELL you, show you…contact you if they see your child doing questionable things on-line that you may have missed.  This one is hard…but as iron sharpens iron….

7.       Encourage girls to use on-line activity to bring glory to God.  Yes, have fun…post fun pictures be silly!  BUT…keep it clean. If it doesn’t pass the P4:8 check then it doesn’t need to be there.
Monday morning’s discovery of the door being open was scary. Walking through the house, I made a mental list of “What If’s”. It included the stray cats wondering in my house, the coyotes we know roam the woods around us, random people walking up and down the street… my imagination was in overdrive.  We had left that door open and exposed our family to who knows what.

Tuesday’s morning dream was a check asking me if I was confident of the condition of my children’s hearts.  Their spiritual heart.  So Tuesday morning at breakfast I made each person in my house look me in the eye and answer some questions.  They kind of giggled at me, but could tell the urgency I felt.

Interestingly, this passage was in my last blog post in July.  I questioned using it again, but God keeps saying USE THIS...so here is I Peter 1:13-15 (ESV)

Therefore, preparing your minds for action and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.

 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Reminders from a 14 (almost 15) year old.


I knew this day would come. I just didn’t expect it so soon.  The day where my teenage daughter would render me speechless.  Over the last several days we have had opportunity for some great conversation. Chunks of time spent simply chatting about anything and everything under the sun.
Part of our conversation has been about purity. It stemmed from some discussion about social media and the crazy stuff girls post there. I will admit I came into the conversation with my “mom” answers and opinions. All are based on what I feel like God has clearly stated in the Bible and some are personal convictions. Yes, I know “social media” is not mentioned in the Bible but gossip, slander, sexual sin? Those are and those things?  Well….sometimes social media is a breeding ground for those things.
During our conversation on keeping our hearts, minds and bodies pure, this child drops a concept on me that caused me to question who the adult was.  Her comment was this:

Mom, I need to check my notes but at D-Now, one of the speakers taught us that purity is not a place we just arrive at. Purity is a direction.”

Purity is a direction.

Oh mercy. My heart skipped a few beats and I got excited because that statement opened the door for some of THE best conversation we have had on this topic.  For the sake of my memory, and the simple fact I have another child a year away from the teen years….I’m jotting down some of the things we said. AND because I love a list as much as my husband loves a spreadsheet….I making a list!

1.       Purity is a direction.

2.       According to Andy Stanley in The Principle of the Path, “Direction-not intention-determines our destination.”

3.       Often times, purity is a second by second choice to put one foot in front of the other and FLEE, or RUN FOR YOUR LIFE from things that do not line up with Philippians 4:8. (Things that are: true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, worthy of praise)

4.       Purity is more than NOT having sex. (Oh mercy…if you know me you know this is where I pick up a pillow and hide. This involves MANY banned words in my vocabulary!) God’s idea of purity includes our minds, our words, our thoughts, as well as our actions. And once again, the child spoke a word even grown adults need to hear. “Posting your have naked pictures on Facebook or Instagram with a seductive body position and look on your face is something my guy friends and my dad do NOT need to see. Put some clothes on.”  Biblically speaking she means...do NOT be a stumbling block.

5.       Contrary to what our peers may believe or say, God is FOR good sex. (Here we go again.) Good sex…well that happens when a man and woman have committed to each other and to God.  Anything happening outside those boundaries is NOT good.  It’s like craving Mexican food. You have a choice. Go for the instant gratification of the Taco Bell which is across the street OR, you could wait and drive 15-20 minutes and have On the Border or Aubella’s!  There really is no comparison.  Taco Bell is a cheap imitation of the good stuff!
 
6.       People who tell you choosing a life of purity is easy, are liars.  This is NOT easy! Especially in today’s world where we are given entire TV series based on scandals, mistresses, and “pretty” liars as entertainment options. In my opinion, we are no longer shocked. Nothing seems to make us blush.  THAT concerns me. 
 
      God’s word tell us in Luke 6:45 that “for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” What we allow IN is what will take root and eventually come OUT.  Thus the reason we line it all up with Philippians 4:8. (P4-8 it all) Proverbs 4:23 says we are to, “Keep your heart will all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” 
 
      I must say here that ALL of us make mistakes.  We ALL have compromised in the area of purity at some point in our life.  As we said earlier, purity is more than NOT having sex.  It's our thought life, our actions, our words..... One of the most amazing thing about God is that He is READY and WILLING to forgive.  All we have to do is ask.  If you have stepped off of the path of purity, it is not the end of your journey! You CAN repent.. or TURN from the impure, ask God to forgive you. I promise He will.  If we confess our sin...He is FAITHFUL to forgive.  AND He will clean us up and set our feet back on the path headed in the direction of purity again.  No condemnation my friend!  He loves you so much!

7.       Purity is WORTH the fight and hard work!!!  AND YOU are WORTH the fight.  To the unmarried person, your future spouse  and marriage is WORTH the fight and hard work.  To the married couple, your marriage and family are WORTH the hard work! Do not give up! You WILL reap a reward.

8.       Isaiah tells us God’s ways are higher than ours. When we choose to walk in obedience to what He commands, there will be blessing.  It may be years down the road and in some cases we may not “see” a tangible reward until we see His face. BUT…His way is so good.

9.       It is important to be more concerned with your character than your reputation.  Character is what you REALLY are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are. (This was a quote on a friend’s Facebook page. They gave credit to John Wooden)
           
10.   God’s Word is the final authority on everything.  When we think purity we automatically think holy.  Here are the verses we discussed. 1 Peter 1:13-16 First from the New King James Version

 
Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.

 
And here are the same verses from the Message

 

So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives. Don’t lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn’t know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, “I am holy; you be holy.”

 
This morning I was reminded of our conversation and the importance of NEVER ever forgetting that purity is not just for our young adults. It’s for me, an almost 40 year old mommy.  We lead by example. To live in the direction of purity I must be in the Word more than ever before.  Proverbs tells us over and over to get wisdom, insight, discretion, knowledge, and understanding. Why? Because as I read this morning:

 

They will be LIFE for your soul. (Prov. 3:23) and after getting them,

 

THEN you will walk on your way securely, and your foot will not stumble. (Prov. 3:24)

 I LOVE Proverbs 4:4
 
Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments and live.”

Oh how I pray our girls hold fast the Word! I pray they love it because it is the written word of their Creator to them.  I don’t want them to keep a bunch of rules out of fear…but out of an overflow of LOVE and desire to obey the ONE who died for them. 

Purity is a direction on a path customized for YOU and for ME by the one who knit us together in our mother’s womb.  You CAN trust that His path and plan is FOR you. 
 
“Choosing the right path begins with submitting to the One who knows what’s best for you better than you know what’s best for you.” Andy Stanley in The Principle of the Path.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Raw, unedited, picture of my brain....and it's ugly.


This is a raw, unedited, picture of my mind today. 

This week I am alone most of the day.  Both girls are out of town and I am seizing the opportunity to catch up on some neglected areas.  One of those areas was to finish a study I have been working my way through.  Boy have I needed this time.

The last month has been full of ups and downs. Highs from incredible times of service and lows from the most bizarre situations. Situations that have left me face down before the Lord, crying out for His healing hand.  In the last week, my phone has blown up with prayer requests ranging from tragic accidents and marriages in crisis, to friendships navigating misunderstandings. 

My heart is heavy and my mind spinning with questions particularly in one area. The only thing I know to do, is to go to His word.  I have searched the scriptures and asked God to help me understand the "why" of a specific situation.  As He promised, His word gave the answer and understanding I needed.  But I still found myself wrestling with how Christians could stoop low and especially adult Christians act a particular way.  Today He answered in a way that astounded me.

This quote from Beth Moore's "Jesus, The One and Only, explained exactly what God's word had already put on my heart.

Compromising people can't stand the site of excellence, and miserable people can't stand the site of happiness.

Not only did God use this (along with the rest of this day's homework) to help me understand....He slapped me in the head and pointed out some areas where I was compromising. 

And it hurt. It hurt because I had not even realized I was compromising!  Funny how sly the enemy is isn't it?  

We stand proudly behind our church attendance, position, title..... and look soooo put together on Sunday. But outside the walls of our church our lifestyle really doesn't look any different than the next person.

We have compromised. 

Our Twitter or Facebook updates are asking for prayer or quoting some cute spiritual saying one minute, and the next our updates and pictures are questionable and quite frankly, grieve the heart of God.

We have compromised.

And not only have we compromised, we poke fun of Christians who have not.  Why do we do that?

Personally, I believe it is because we see in them exactly what we know we should be doing. It makes us uncomfortable. 

We have, as God convicted me again today, sacrificed personal holiness on the altar of relevance. 

God did not call me to be relevant.  He called me to be holy. 

Today, more than ever before I feel this overwhelming urgency for believers to be willing to step to a deeper place with the Lord. A place that will demand that we look different, act different, entertain ourselves differently... A place that will demand us to be set apart... Please hear me NOT a list of rules, we have tried that and it obviously didn't work. 

Rather, have a life that lives Matthew 5:16. I love it here in the Amplified Version

Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven.

Something tells me we don't have much time left here.  We must, I must, live in a way that consistently points people to Jesus Christ. 

Our pastor challenged us Sunday morning to stop simply singing the words trust and obey and DO THEM. 

My "obey" this week was to stop compromising in a very specific area and trust that God is enough to handle the consequences to my obedience. 



Thursday, June 6, 2013

Just Thinking - Pillars


Maybe because both of my girls are invading my closet to borrow shoes, clothes, belts......

Maybe because I am looking them eyeball to eyeball without bending over....

Whatever the reason, this summer I feel time passing faster than ever before.

More than ever before I find myself drawn to pray for my girls. And not just my physical daughters, but also the sweet middle school girls God lets me love on during the school year in small group Bible study.

As we ended our Bible study for the summer, I shared with them a verse from Psalm 144 that I pray for my daughters as well as my middle school girls. It is verse 12 and it says


Let our sons in their youth be as grown-up plants, and our daughters as corner pillars fashioned as for a palace.


I look at that verse and when I see corner pillars I immediately think of a few words:

                  support system            carved/ornate          custom designed    strong

Towards the end of the school year it hit me that we have entered a more intense "training" stage of parenthood.  We have very few years left before we send them out. 

More than ever, I feel the urgency for them to be grounded in their faith.  They will be the support system in their homes, to their husband...I want them to be a strong, pure, holy, beautiful support system.  Pillars confident in who God says they are, and what God has called them to do.  Corner pillars that are solid and structurally sound, completely capable of holding up the area God entrusts to them. 

My prayer is that they are wise women who build their house on the rock, not the sand. (Luke 6) I pray that as they are strong pillars. I pray they understand that until they see the face of Jesus, they must continue the building process! The foundation must go deeper.  The support beams must continue to be strengthened and added or the corner pillars will begin to crumble. 

But just like God always does...the more I pray this over my daughters, the more God reveals weak areas in my foundation.  Areas that need attention.  Areas that need to be reinforced.

And it sends me straight to my knees.

I am the corner pillar in my home. 

Am I a strong, pure, holy support system to my husband?

Am I confident in who God says I am and what He has called me to do?

Am I solid, structurally sound and completely capable of  holding up the area God has entrusted to me?

Am I consistently working on my foundation? Adding support beams?

Am I checking myself for weakened areas? 

In other words:

Am I, the corner pillar in this household, spending enough time with the Father?  Am I giving my girls a clear picture of what a strong corner pillar looks like? 

I want, as Ezra 7:9-10 says, the good hand of the Lord on me! Changing me, making me stronger and capable to do the thing He has called me to.  Verse 10 of that chapter in Ezra says "Ezra set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to practice it and to teach His statutes and ordinances."

I am convinced and convicted that for my girls to become those beautiful corner pillars this mommy MUST:

Set my heart to

STUDY

PRACTICE

TEACH

This summer is taking a turn in a direction I had not anticipated. :) And I am so very glad.  Something tells me it will be one that will impact our family for generations. 









              

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Welcome!

Happy Summer!!!!!

The last few days there have been quite a few new friends stopping in here. You and I both know what brought you here and well..I want you to know that you are very WELCOME. With all sincerity I say, grab a cup of tea and stay awhile!   I hope you will take a look around. 

Before you start looking around here are some important things to remember:

1. We love Jesus.  Not just in a bio on our twitter feed or in our social media updates.  We LOVE HIM to the depth of our very being.  We can. not. take a step without Him!

2. We want YOU to do more than know Jesus, we want you to experience LIFE with Him.  He is one wild ride! There is no high like the most high is a favorite saying from a Bible teacher I greatly admire. She is absolutely correct! Nothing compares to Jesus Christ. 

3. In this house we do forgiveness.  Whether you ask for it or not.  We believe that holding onto unforgiveness brings bitterness, anger, discontentment....  So, as hard as it is...we forgive.  

4. YOU have been prayed for.  Yep...I pray for the people who somehow wind up here.  Whether you like it or not. :)   Today, I am asking that God would make His presence known to you.  That you would realize just how precious you are to Him.  God sent his is one and only for YOU. His desire is a relationship with you.  Chad and I would LOVE to talk to you about that. 

So....

Welcome new friend.  Take a look around.  Leave a comment if you would like.  I'm glad you are here. 

Stephanie