Saturday, September 29, 2012

1 Chronicles 28:20

I came across this verse a couple of weeks ago and I was struck by something it said. This is David speaking to Solomon as he gives Solomon the plans for building the temple. Solomon was chosen by God to build the temple and David was leaving all the plans and all the materials he had collected for that purpose in Solomon's care.

In 1 Chronicles 28:28, David says these words to Solomon, "Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don't be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He won't leave you or forsake you." (HCSB)

It was the second part of the phrase that jumped off the page at me when I read it. Not only was David telling his son not to be afraid, but he was calling him to do the work he needed to do. This was a call to do something.

I started to think about our lives in relation to this. God has called us all to live lives that are pleasing to Him and that means living different from the world around us. That takes courage and strength. Sometimes God calls us to something specific - maybe something we don't think we can do. To do what God calls us to takes courage and strength.

But, I think we can often get stuck with asking God for courage and strength to do something. We ask, but we don't go beyond that. We forget that the next step after we ask God for that is to actually do what He asked us to do. If we just ask for it and then never do it because we don't think we can, we're not really being strong and courageous. We're being fearful and timid. I don't like those descriptions of what we're doing, but it's the truth. If we're going to be strong and courageous, then we have to actually do it!

In your life, what is God asking you to do that requires you to be strong and courageous?
Have you asked God for courage and strength?
Now, for what I have to come to believe is the most important question in this: Have you done it? Have you stepped out and actually started doing the work?
Or are you still sitting there, waiting for you to feel like you have courage and strength?

If there's one thing I've learned recently, it's that sometimes to courage and strength to do something only comes when you take the first step of obedience to God and begin to do the work He's asked you to do. And once you take that first step, it's easier to keep going.

What are you waiting for? "Be strong and courageous, and do the work."

Thursday, September 27, 2012

paying attention

It's been one of those times recently where everywhere I turn the same thing keeps coming up. Whether it's a sermon at church, a book I read, a blog I follow, a conversation with a friend . . . it seems like the same thing keeps coming up. One thing I've learned is that when that happens, I need to pay attention, because it usually means God is trying to say some thing to me.

And when God is saying something that's definitely the time I want to be listening to Him. Even if what He's saying isn't what I really want to hear, it's always what I need to hear. It's worth listening when He speaks. Sometimes what He's saying can change everything in a big way. But, often what He's saying changes little things in your everyday and that changes everything too.

How are you doing at paying attention to what God is speaking about in your life?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

all for God

A few nights ago, I was reminded of how we need to give God everything. He is the One Who deserves all of us. This short poem was part of my response to being reminded of that.

Sold out all for You
That's how I want to live
Everything up to You
That's my praise today
Give it all for you
That's my life today
Declaring who You are
Bringing all my praise
All of me is for You
Nothing held for me
You and You alone
Deserve my everything
I cannot imagine
My life any other way

Saturday, September 22, 2012

eating the seed or reaping the harvest?

I read something in a Bible study I'm working through that struck me. The author shared a story from her experience working in Africa and how she was told that the people often eat the seeds they are given rather than planting them and reaping the harvest for food. The author then applied it to a parallel in our spiritual lives.

It's something I know I've experiences myself at times in my life. I hear a message, read a book, or have a conversation about something and I think it's really good. I agree with it. I declare how important it is. But, it doesn't change anything in my life, because I don't actually apply it to my life. I eat the seed I was given in the message, book, or conversation, rather than planting it in my life to produce a harvest.

But, Scripture talks over and over about the harvest that comes when the time is right. For that harvest to come, we have to plant the seed, not eat it. Galatians 6:9 says, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." I would say that those words of Paul make it pretty clear that the harvest takes time, but it's worth it if we patiently pursue it.

I don't have experience with planting a seed and doing the work required to reap a harvest. I haven't ever grown something on my own. But, what I do know is that doing so takes time and energy. And I know that the same is true in our lives with God's Word. We have to take what we hear or read and apply it to our lives if we want the harvest that comes from God's Word at work within us.

What about you? Are you eating the seed? Or are you reaping the harvest from it?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

you love me anyway

For the last few months, there's been a song that I keep hearing that I like more and more everytime I hear it. I really like the words to the song. Just take a few minutes and listen to the words of this song.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

adventures with God

I just noticed that it has been almost a week since I posted anything here. Oops. That was not the plan, but other things in life took my writing time for the last week.

I’ve been thinking a lot about some of the adventures in life God takes us on lately. A question at the beginning of a Bible study I just started, asked what we were excited about on our next adventure with God And then about, what scared us the most about our next adventure with God.

Those questions started me thinking about this. It’s true that life can look like an adventure with God. But, it’s also true that life can look like anything but an adventure with God. We can get so comfortable with where we’re at and with staying safe that we miss any adventure God would have for us.

I know I do this easily and far more often than I would like. When things seem to be good and I feel like I know what to predict is coming, I want to stay in that place. I work hard to stay in that place. And in the process I miss things God may have for me, because they require me to leave that comfortable, safe place.

But when I reflect on my life, I realize that the times in my life I look back on with excitement and the times when I know I learned something, are the times when I was willing to go on the next adventure God had for me. The times when I took the first step away from the comfortable, safe place and followed God. Maybe not easy, but looking back, definitely worth it.

What excites you most about your next adventure with God?
What scares you most about your next adventure with God?

I think my answer to those questions is the same. I’m excited to see where God takes and the way He teaches me to depend on Him more completely to do things I don’t think I can do. That’s also what scares me the most about my next adventure with God.

How would you answer those questions?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

can't think of a title

On Monday nights for the last few years, I've gathered with other women from my church for an evening of Bible study and spending time together. It's one of the things I look forward to each week. What follows is something I wrote in spring as I was reflecting on these evenings. It's just a tiny glimpse into what these evenings look like from my perspective. My words probably don't describe it perfectly. There's just too much to contain in a few short words that comes from an evening spent with other women who want to study God's Word together.


Pulling into the parking lot about a little less than an hour before things officially begin, I see a few other vehicles. Other people on the team to make this a great night are already here. When I walk up the stairs into the room, there's the smell of coffee brewing, the sounds of food being prepared, and the activity of getting everything ready. Conversation going on all around. It's the beginning of a new season and we're all excitedly preparing for the ladies coming to begin to arrive.

As the ladies begin to arrive, people are ready to welcome them, give them a name tag, and make sure they have their book for the study they've chosen to take. Time to grab a coffee and a snack on their way to take a seat at a table. The buzz of conversation grows as more women arrive.

It's time to begin. A few announcements and a welcome. Some time to worship together and then it's off to our different studies. Time to get to know one another better as we dig into God's Word sitting around tables. Sharing life with one another - the good times and the bad times. Praying for an encouraging one another.

It can't be time to go home already. The evening went by so quickly. Good-byes are said as people leave - already looking forward to the next week when we'll do this all again.


When I think about things like this, I feel that this is a picture of the church being the church. Just a small sample of it. I know it happens more than these Monday nights. It happens across the world, in groups of all sizes, for different purposes. And it's what should be happening.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


On Thursday I wrote a bit about new beginnings. As I've reflected on things since, I've come to see that with new beginnings often comes the end of something. It can be the end of something big or the end of something small. But for something new to begin, we often have to let something else end.

As much as I struggle against allowing something new to begin, I struggle more with letting something end. I don't like change and when something ends that means things are changing. Besides that, ending something means saying good-bye to it.

But if we never let things end, we'll find there are no new beginnings. Or that many new beginnings won't really take root because there isn't enough room for them the grow and flourish. We have to let things end so those new beginnings can happen.

In my own life, I've found that the most important thing about allowing something to end is that I do it well. If my time serving in a ministry is coming to an end, I give it the same level as before right up to the end. I don't stop doing things I said I would - I keep commitments to the end. That is the way to let things end well.

Ending aren't always fun. Sometimes they're hard because we don't want the end to come. But endings are a necessary part of life. And we need to learn how to end things well.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Isaiah 55:10-11

As the rain and the snow
     come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
     without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
     so that it yields seeds for the sower
          and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
     It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
     and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
(Isaiah 55:10-11, NIV)

God's Word always accomplishes that which God sent it out to accomplish. His purposes will always happen. When we spend time in the Word, God uses it to change us.

I don't know about you, but even though I know that, I need to be reminded sometimes. I find it easy to forget that. In the midst of life when things don't seem to be going as I planned, I need the reminder that God has said His Word will achieve the purpose He sent it for.

I don't have anything more to say about this today. God's Word is enough. My words don't always have anything of value, but God's do. Rest in that today.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

new beginnings

I don't know about you, but in some ways the beginning of September seems like more of a time of new beginnings than the change of years on the calendar in January. And so, to me, it feels like this time right now is a time of new beginnings. A new year at school begins for some people. Or a new time of life begins when you don't go back to school for the first time. And in the church, it's often the beginning of a new ministry year as well. Programs, Bible studies, classes for all ages start up again or start for the first time.

It can be a time of new beginnings for us personally as well. As new things begin or things we've always done are thing we move on from, we find ourselves in new situations and experiences and meeting new people. And God can use these times to change or begin something in us.

As someone who is not really a fan of change, I'm not always a fan of new beginnings. In fact, I usually try to avoid them if I can. But, I've started to learn that life gets boring if there are never new beginnings. We get stuck in the rut of doing the same thing all the time, and eventually we can reach the point of just going through the motions in life. At least, that's what happens to me.

But, if we allow God to begin new things in us and the things we spend our time on, we can learn things about ourselves we never would have otherwise. And we learn things about what God has for us in life and how He wants to use us and work in our lives that we never would have otherwise. It's worth the challenges that come with the new beginnings.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

physical expression in worship

In the last few months I've noticed how often Scripture talks about people having a physical expression in their worship. Worship didn't just consists of standing in one spot singing. Many times where was a response that came in a physical manner, whether it be dancing, clapping, raising hands, shouting, or falling facedown on the ground. They didn't seem to be concerned about others around them when they responded in those ways. Their hearts were responding to God and nothing else mattered to them.

Probably on the more well-known passages that records one of these times is 2 Samuel 6. The ark is being returned to Jerusalem where it belongs and David is worshipping God. 2 Samuel 6:14-15 says, "Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets." (NIV). David was worshipping God with everything he had in him. Later, when he was asked about it by his wife Michal and accused of doing something inappropriate in his dancing in worship. David responded with these words, "It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord's people Israel. I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes." (1 Samuel 6:21-22, NIV). David's dancing was a response to God and the people who may have seen it were not his concern.

Leviticus 9:22-24 records another response to seeing God' glory of the people of Israel. It was the beginning of the ministry of those God had called as priests. The people saw God's glory in a great way. The en of Leviticus 9:24 records the Israelite's response to what they saw, "And when the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown." (NIV). Seeing God's glory caused two responses in the people of Israel - they shouted for joy and then they found themselves on their faces in worship before God.

As I reflect on these passages, along with countless other passages of Scripture that speak to the same thing, I've found myself thinking about my own life in worship of God. Am I really able to allow myself to respond in worship to God in the way that other's around me may not be? What do I think when I see others respond in such a manner?

I realize that in the Christian church today there is a wide range of view points on what may or may not be appropriate ways to respond in worship. I'm not going to get into that. What I think we can all agree on is that Scripture records a physical aspect to worship of God and there may be times we also feel the need to physically respond in worship to God. It's a part of worship, not the whole of it - but definitely important.

Obviously when we are in the midst of corporate worship, we need to be respectful of those around us who are also there to worship. And that may mean our physical expression of worship is more contained than it may be at other times. A physical response in worship should not be an excuse to cause a scene and shift people's attention to you rather than allowing them to keep their focus on God.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

James 1:25

"But whoever looks into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues in it - not forgetting what they heard, but doing it - they will be blessed in what they do." (NIV)

"But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don't forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it." (NLT)

"But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does." (NKJV)

"But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but one who does good works - this person will be blessed in what he does." (HCSB)

Am I a forgetful listener?

That's the question that keeps coming to mind whichever translation I read James 1:25 in. It's a challenging question to ponder. It's a question that digs deep.

Am I forgetful listener?

It's easy to sit in church and listen to a sermon and then walk out and forget everything that was said. It's easy to read Scripture either on your own or in a Bible study and then walk away and forget everything you just read. It's easy to be a forgetful listener.

But, James is cautioning us against that in this verse. The larger passage that this verse is a part of talks about how we need to not just listen, but also live out our faith (James 1:19-25). We cannot live what Scripture teaches if we're forgetful listeners. We must study God's Word intently so we can do what it says because that will bring true freedom in our lives.