Friday, August 27, 2010

Did God Say, "Duh?"

"From the ends of the earth I call to You, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I."  Psalm 61:2 (NIV)

At the point of exasperation, I uttered, myself...right out loud, "Sometimes all you can do is pray."

I'm not really sure what God did at that moment...if He said, "Duh"...although I kind of doubt it...or maybe He smiled and said, "She's finally got it."...or possibly just shook His head and said, "You really don't know me, do you?"

It is easy to get caught up in the turmoil of life...sometimes it comes in floods...threatening to swallow us in its depths.  Our mind can run wild with scenarios of what could happen as a result of our circumstances...or those of our loved ones.  We want to do something...feel some sort of control.

But...sometimes all we can do is pray.  And what could be more powerful than prayer?  What greater peace can come than the peace that God is in control...that nothing is a surprise to Him...that He is able...and that He loves us...and our loved ones...more than we can begin to fathom.  Prayer is enough.  His "grace is sufficient...for [His] power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9

"I love the LORD, for He heard my voice;
He heard my cry for mercy.
Because He turned His ear to me,
I will call upon Him as long as I live...
I was overcome with trouble and sorrow.
Then I called on the Name of the LORD:
O LORD, save me!
The LORD is gracious and righteous;
Our God is full of compassion.
The LORD protects the simplehearted;
When I was in great need, He saved me.
Be at rest once more, O my soul,
For the LORD has been good to you."  Psalm 116:1-7

LORD, You know our needs.  You know our troubles and our sorrows.  We cry out to You...knowing of Your grace, Your mercy, and Your compassion.  We remember how good You have been to us.  Give us peace and rest.  We love You.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Oven Needs to be ON to Cook the Food!

"I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing."  John 15:5 (NIV)

The timer went off.  Yay!  Breakfast was done!  Or so we thought.  I opened the oven, pulled out the Baked Oatmeal, only it wasn't baked.  What on earth??  I knew that I had preheated the oven...but, as it turns out, when setting the timer, in my haste (and hunger), I pushed the hour button instead of the minute button.  I had to start over.  I pushed the "Cancel" button...which didn't cancel the timer, but did cancel the temperature control.  I corrected the timer, but didn't realize that I had cut off the heat.  So there we were...after 45 minutes of waiting...with a dish of partially-cooked oatmeal.  I reset the oven and the timer and we settled in for a little more wait time.  It was worth it.  Our breakfast was delicious!

You know, there are so many times that God gives us a tasty morsel...a word from share with others.  Excitedly, we "cook up" a plan...and believe that we have God's blessing.  We just charge right ahead.  All of a sudden, it becomes our "recipe" instead of His way. We jump right in, make an agenda, and then just ask God to bless it. We "cancel" His power, without even realizing it. Somehow our finger just grazes that button of ,"I'll take it from here," and we are left powerless. 

God's works are frequently "set to a timer" that is different than our own.  Many times we have to really spend some time walking the journey of the message before we are ready to present it.  We have to confirm the message and His plan for its delivery.  It is imperative that we stay connected to Him...relying on Him as our source of all guidance, direction, and timing.  Let's cling to "The Vine"!  Apart from Him, we can do nothing.  We sure don't want His message to come out half-baked!

Lord, thank You for allowing us to share the message of Your love with others.  Keep us close to You...our hearts intertwined with that we may be effective.  Guide us each step of the way.  Prevent us from any attempts to move forward in our own strength.  Have Your way in us.  We love You!

Would you like a new recipe???  This is one of our family favorites!!!  It came from a dear innkeeper in Mt. Joy, PA!  I'm going to give you the standard recipe, and in parentheses, give you increased amounts needed if you want to make more servings.

Baked Oatmeal
Stir together:
1/3 cup oil  (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup sugar (1 cup)
1 large egg, beaten (2 eggs)

Add, stirring well:
1 1/2 tsp baking powder (2 tsp)
1/2 tsp salt (1 tsp)
3/4 cup milk (1 cup)
3 cups oatmeal  (4-5 cups)

Pour into 9x9 inch pan (13x9 if increased recipe).  Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes (to an hour if larger).
*My daughter, Rachel, discovered that you can just mix it right in the same dish that you bake it in!!  Fewer dishes to wash!

To serve:
Spoon baked oatmeal into individual bowls.  Spread on some peaches (prepared ahead of time...sliced with sugar and refrigerated).  *Rachel likes it best with strawberries.  You can use your favorite fruit...blueberries, bananas, etc.  Then pour milk over it. And eat!!!  Yum-O!!

That serving process may sound a little weird, but trust me.  It is oh so good!!!  You've covered several of the food groups...grains, fruit, and dairy...and helped to lower your cholesterol!!!  Enjoy!!!

Monday, August 16, 2010

God's "Love-call"...Will You Answer?

"One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek Him in His temple."   Psalm 27:4 (NIV)

It broke my heart.  Her answer was "not right now...maybe tomorrow."  I just wanted to see her face.

My daughter lives in Texas temporarily.  It's only been 3 weeks since I've seen her, but I miss her terribly.  We both have computers with webcams, so I decided to sign up for that I could see her as well as hear her sweet voice.  Excitedly, I called her on Saturday.  I really wasn't surprised that I didn't get her.  She and her husband had gone to a waterpark for the day.  I figured that they were really tired when they got back.  I left a message on her phone...maybe even two...saying that I had Skype and couldn't wait to see her!  No response.  I called her last night (on my cell phone), to ask her to "get on" to Skype.  She said "not right now...maybe tomorrow."  I still get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when I think of it.

Now, let me just say, in my sweet baby's defense, she wasn't feeling well...bad cheese fries, she said.

This morning, as I still felt the longing to see her, I couldn't help but think how often God...our Abba Father...must feel exactly the same way.  He's waiting...excited to see us...longing for our face to look toward Him...and we just say, "Not right now...maybe tomorrow."

Interestingly, as I went to one of my favorite devotion books (Jesus Calling by Sarah Young) this morning, the second paragraph read like this:

"When you seek My Face in response to My Love-call, both of us are blessed."

He knows how I feel...and I know how He feels.  We are His children.  He doesn't need technology to see our faces.  He just needs our obedience...our desire to see Him too.  I'm so sorry for the times that I break His heart.

LORD, thank You for longing to see me.  Forgive me for the many times I've rejected  Your "love-call."  Draw me Lord.  You bless me so richly.  Oh, how I want to bless You back.  I love You.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Unsure of "What" I Am...Certain of Whose I Am

"I have summoned you by name; you are mine."  Isaiah 43:1b (NIV)

I think I'm an enigma...but I need to look the word up in the dictionary.  Recently at work I took one of those personality know the ones with confusing questions...that sum up "what" you are in 4 letters.  Well, I don't know if I answered the questions incorrectly or just what happened, but I didn't match my correlating letters...or even the other combination that my numbers nearly added up to.  I can be both an "extrovert" and an "introvert" being with people...but love being alone.  Typically, I would rather just stay in my own little "home sweet home", but once I leave that place of solace, I am energized and love the interaction...most of the time.  The quiz showed clearly that I am "sensing"...which I don't completely understand...but I'll just take to mean, "I've got good sense."  (A chuckle here is appropriate.)  There is some question as to whether I am "thinking" or "feeling".  Am I smart enough to be a "thinker"??  It seems that I am more "judging" than "perceiving"...which supposedly means that I can make decisions...which just totally cracks me up!!!  I can't even decide what to have for dinner!  I do have to say that I was relieved that it didn't mean that I'm "judgemental"!!!  Anyway, after my dear boss charted letters...on the board...we just couldn't quite figure my totals out.  So I left not knowing "what" I am.

It humored me some...then perplexed me a bit.  "What" am I???

And then it all just didn't matter.  I may be unsure of "What" I am, but one thing is absolutely certain...I know "Whose" I am!!!  And that is all that truly counts.

Just listen to these reminders from His Word...for me...and for you!!

"I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well...How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God!  How vast is the sum of them!  Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand."  Psalm 139:14, 17-18

He says to us, " are precious and honored in my sight, and...I love you."  Isaiah 43:4

"...the LORD has chosen you to be His treasured possession."  Deuteronomy 14:2

You are a part of "the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise."  Isaiah 43:21

"'You are my witnesses,' declares the LORD, 'and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am He....'"  Isaiah 43:10

"And you also were included in Christ when you heard the Word of Truth, the gospel of your salvation.  Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession-to the praise of His glory."  Ephesians 1:13-14

Doesn't that make you feel like praising???  We are His...God's very own possession!  The Creator of the universe calls us by name.  He loves us!!  He treasures us!!!  His Holy Spirit dwells in us...and empowers us to do whatever God calls us matter "what" we are.  We belong to Him!

Lord, thanks don't seem to begin to be enough to offer back to You upon the remembrance that I am Yours...that You treasure me...that You love matter "what" I am...that You created me.  You formed me.  You made me "what" I am...and You will continue to work, as a potter with clay, to make me into the likeness of You.  I praise You!  I love You!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Days of Doubt

"Stop doubting and believe."  John 20:27 (NIV)

Do you ever have doubting days?  Days that you doubt yourself?  Days that you doubt God's call on your life?  Days that you doubt that God even has a call on your life?

I'm having one today.  I shouldn't be surprised.  Last weekend I attended Proverbs 31 Ministries' She Speaks conference...along with 607 other women that feel a call from God to write, speak, or lead in women's ministry.  It was outstanding!  Wonderful worship...fabulous speakers...amazing testimonies...precious prayer moments...great girl time!  It was chock full of encouragement, equipping, Spiritual empowering.  You have to know that the enemy isn't going to let an opportunity to "bring you down" after a mountaintop experience like that pass him by.  Today he started planting the seeds of doubt in my mind.

Now I must admit that when I sat down at the opening session, I was struck with the thought, "What on earth am I doing here??"  All of those perfectly coiffed, stylin' women with really cute shoes...and purses...and belts...and flashy jewelry...surely had book proposals ready for meeting with an editor or agent...or a perfectly polished speech to present to their speaker groups...or some incredible vision for the women's ministry at their church.  Their testimonies all seemed extraordinary (spoken like Angela Thomas)...truly worthy of sharing.  And I thought, "Why am I here?"

And then God answered...through a workshop that will be tremendous preparation for an upcoming women's retreat speaking engagement.  Through the words of other writers and speakers who shared their fears, doubts, and inadequacies.  Through newly formed friendships with Jennifer and Terri...fellow writers...joined "by chance" to critique each other's writing.  Lord, thank You for bringing them into my life!!!  By allowing me the privilege of hugging the necks and seeing the lovely smiles of women that I've prayed for, yet never met face to LeAnn and Marybeth.  Through God strengthening the bond of camaraderie and fellowship with my writer's group girlfriends, Cara and Tatum.  Only a God like ours could have orchestrated the time we shared.  Then there were the times shared with my dear sisters in Christ, Tara and Wendy, over breakfast and lunch...blessing upon blessing.

Yes, I was supposed to be there.  I remember it now.  And this written trip down memory lane has been good for me.

And yet I feel that tugging of doubt.

But through a little Scripture searching, I see that I'm in pretty good company.  The first, obvious, example is Thomas...a disciple of Christ.  He doubted.  (John 20)  And then there was Peter, another disciple....another doubter.  (Matthew 14)  When "the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go...they saw Him, they worshipped Him; but some doubted." (Matthew 28:16-17)  Before Jesus ascended to heaven, He asked the eleven, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?" (Luke 24:38)  Doubters.  Many have gone before us...and they were encouraged to "Stop doubting and believe."

As Paul challenged the Galatian church (in chapter 5:7-8), "You were running a good race.  Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?  That kind of persuasion does not come from the One who calls you."  "The One who calls you is faithful and He will do it." (1 Thessalonians 5:24)  He has given us His Word "so that the man [or woman] of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:17)

We need to remember Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 1:26-30, "Brothers [and Sisters], think of what you were when you were called.  Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.  But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things-and the things that are not-to nullify that things that are, so that no one may boast before Him."  Let's trust in "His divine power [that] has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness."  (2 Peter 1:3) 

May God "equip [us] with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him."  (Hebrews 13:21)

Well, I hope that your days of doubt may be mine...through the encouragement of God's Word...into days of determination to believe!

Lord, I just have to say thank You for Your "amazing grace that saved a wretch like me."  Thank You for loving me, for drawing me, for entrusting me with Your message to share...however You see fit.  Help me to believe...and to obey.  I love you.