Friday, February 25, 2011

Annie Oakley I'm Not...But Learning

"Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you-guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit Who lives in us."  2 Timothy 1:14 (NIV)

There's an ongoing saga throughout my blog archives of my squirrel-y battles.  Oh, if my neighbors are watching me, they either laugh hysterically...picture my pink robe, bedhead still glaring, hair completely askew, armed with my Red Ryder BB gun... or they live in fear of my sanity.

My husband and I love birds.  We try to provide abundantly for them, especially during the winter months.  But we have an ongoing war with the squirrels and their gluttony.  Hence the Red Ryder.

So this first free Friday in several that I earmarked for sleeping in a little (actually glad that didn't happen), leisurely time in the Word, an appointment to do some writing, and perhaps take a walk on this lovely day.  I grabbed my my favorite Sonny's Grill mug...and headed to my "office"...that is actually my recliner, about 6 feet away from the bird feeders (with a window between us, of course).

As often is the case...don't know why I feel the need to confess to the masses that read my blog (lol)...the internet got in the way of my plan.  First I thought, "I'll just glance at my email."  Well, there was an email from a friend who just got married and had posted pictures of her wedding on Facebook...which I'm not on...but can go through my hubby's inactive see if my daughter is "friends" with her.  Complicated.  Of course I got distracted by looking at various people's photos and walls...the reason that I don't have an account of my own!  Then I read a couple of blogs.  Poof!  Over an hour gone and no quiet time in the Word or writing done!

So the Holy Spirit had to intervene (refer back to the verse above)!!!

He did it through squirrels...persistent little critters.

So here's how He used them:
1)  Laughing as I write this get me up and moving...part of the exercise I need to prevent "recliner booty"!  Yep!  Repeatedly I have lowered the foot rest, jumped to my feet, gotten out of slippers and into street shoes, snuck (Is that a word?) briskly out to my screened in porch, and raised the Red Ryder, cocking it repeatedly.  Surely that counts as both upper and lower body movement!

Now, I must interject here that as I wrote the remainder of this point and part of point 2, my internet went totally wonky.  I prayed for God to save my post...which kept blaring to me in angry red words that it could not save.  I kept pressing "Save Now"..."Save Now" no avail...hmmm, another post for another day.  So...while I was hoping for my internet to somehow miraculously reconnect and save my post, I figured that the Holy Spirit was moving me to get on some clothes and get some real exercise.  And I did.  Loved it...though I'm dreadfully out of shape.  The birds...and me...were lifting some sounds of praise.  The wind enveloped me with the Father's love.  Aaaah.

Yes, I've got to take care of the temple of the Holy Spirit...physically..."to guard it well, for it is my life."  (Proverbs 4:13)  That verse actually applies to instruction..."to hold on to it and not let it go"...which applies...and leads me to the next point.

2)  Because I think like a devotional writer, my mind was all over what lessons I could take from my determination to guard those bird I was led to search the word Guard on  Mission accomplished!  God got me into His Word!!!  I think I read almost 200 verses with some form of the word "guard" in them...instructing me...challenging me...reminding me...and encouraging me.

Let me share some!

First, this is just so cool!  Psalm 97:10 tells us that "...He guards the lives of the faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked."  In Deut. 32:10, we are told, "...He guarded him as the apple of His eye."  Don't you just love being reminded that we are the apple of His eye...and watched over by God!!!  And then in Proverbs 7:2, we are given a reciprocal challenge..."Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye."   I am His...and He is mine.

I love this, too.  One of my favorite hymns (which I just don't hear enough of these days) is the one that says "I know Whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I've committed unto Him against that day."  I found the basis for those words in 1 Timothy 1:12, which in the NIV says that He "is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him".  And amazing...the words (from my key verse above) call us to "Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you."  He guards.  We must in return also guard.

Thirdly, the reminder to "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."  Prov. 4:23  We must.

And finally, the challenges to "Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous, be strong."  1 Cor. 16:13  And to "Be on guard!  Be alert!  you do not know when that time will come."  speaking of His return!! (Mark 13:33)  Come, Lord Jesus!

So, yeah, all this from squirrels and a BB gun.  God works in some crazy ways!!

Thank You, Lord, for your persistence in drawing us into Your presence.  Thank You for standing guard over our lives...and all we have entrusted to You.  Help us to be on guard and in steady pursuit of You, keeping You and Your instruction as the apple of our eyes!



Monday, February 21, 2011

Who's In Your Cloud?

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith...."  Hebrews 12:1-2a (NIV)

I just returned from an amazing weekend of fellowship, learning, and inspiration!  Our annual Write2Ignite! conference was fabulous!  We were greatly encouraged through our Keynote speaker, Marybeth Whalen, to seek the Lord diligently and run hard and boldly toward the dream He has placed in our hearts.  Through the lineup of workshops, attendees were instructed in a broad range of topics from beginner "how-to's" to what agents want to the ins and outs of  publishing contracts.  We were able to meet with seasoned writers, editors, publishers and agents.  It was a blessed time of meeting with fellow Christians pursuing like interests.

As I reflect on the weekend, my heart is filled with thanksgiving for new friendships made...reunion with those whom I don't get to see as often as I'd like, and the thoughts of  "who's in my cloud"!

It's so important to consider who we are hanging out with! 

Do those around you help you as you "throw off everything that hinders"?  Do they hold you accountable in keeping away from "the sin that so easily entangles"?  Do they encourage you to "run with perseverance the race marked out for [you]"?  Are the people "in your cloud" ones that challenge you to "fix [your] eyes on Jesus"?  Are they the ones that support you so that "you will not grow weary and lose heart"?

Think about it.  Who's in your cloud?

If you are surrounded by that "great cloud of witnesses," give thanks and praise to the One who sent them your way.  If you are in need of some thickening of that cloud, pray for the Lord to provide!  Be watching!  He will bring them into your life!

Our heavenly Father, thank You for Your amazing love for us.  Thank You for the race that You have marked out for us...for Your desire to live in work through us.  Lord, please send those our way to encourage us in our walk with You...down the path that You've designed.  Fill our clouds, Lord!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Call Me a Prude...Please!

"I will set before my eyes no vile thing."  Psalm 101:3 (NIV)

This verse played in my head for a couple of weeks.  I couldn't understand it.  I try to be careful what I watch on TV and of the books I read.  I really don't hang around in places that house a lot of "vile" things.  Why was that verse resounding in my brain?

Weeks passed.

Then I knew.

God foresaw the situation that I would face...and worked to prepare me.  He wanted to protect my heart.

My hairdresser was running late...about 10 minutes, he said...did I want to look at a magazine? Interestingly, every magazine on top of the table in the waiting area was written in Chinese or Japanese...or some language I couldn't read. So I reached for the ones in the side bin. I expected to find the latest copy of People, which for a prude like myself, is a guilty indulgence reserved for waiting rooms. Instead, I found a magazine that begins with Cosmo and ends with politan. (I can't even bear to write the full word!) Just a fashion magazine, I thought, remembering the days back in college when I purchased a few. Well, even then, it probably pushed the limits of acceptable literature for one who wants her mind to remain pure. Anyway, I opened it up. I shouldn't have. The article titles on the cover should have stopped me in my tracks.

I wish that verse had played one more time...before I looked.

The uncomfortable feeling that I had sitting next to someone that might see what I was reading should have caused me to stop.

But no.

I set before my eyes vile words...thoughts...images.

That type of magazine should be behind a counter in a brown cover...not just out where teenagers...or 51 year old women could get a hold of it!  (Actually, it should not be written in the first place.)

I slapped it closed.  I put it back in the rack.  I wanted to wash away what I had allowed into my mind.

As the my hairdresser scrubbed my head, I imagined the scouring away of those thoughts from my brain.

Our generation has reached a point where vile often has become accepted...even the norm.  That's disturbing.

It makes me mad that when I get a gift card (from my darlin' hubby for Valentine's Day) to buy books for my NOOK that I have to scroll through book after book of smut.  It's appalling!

Friends, let's heed the words...the warning.  Those vile things come between us and the Lord.  They cripple our walk.  Let's protect our minds...our hearts...our homes.

Father, help us to remember that You are all-seeing, all-knowing...that we never escape Your presence...that Your eyes search to and fro across the earth for those whose hearts are fully committed to You.  Help us to be fully walk in absolute obedience to Your Word.  Thank you for the words of warning that You send our way.  Cleanse our hearts, oh God.  Purify us.  Guard our hearts and minds.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day...from me...and God!

They are posted on my remind me of God's promises...verses that I love...ones that encourage me daily to remember that He has a plan for me...that "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him."  There are verses to remind me that there are treasures hidden in darkness.  Verses to challenge me to see that He constantly is doing a "new thing."  And many more.

But this morning my eyes were drawn to one that had almost gotten hidden behind my Kleenex box.

"I have loved you with an everlasting love...."  Jeremiah 31:3a

Happy Valentine's Day...from both of us!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Let Him Be In Charge...A Response to "What's A Girl To Do?"

Do you believe that God talks out loud?  Okay, so I didn't hear an audible voice, but I just have to share what I black and white...yes, penned by someone other than God, Himself...but the words were so God.

I love Sarah Young's devotional book, Jesus Calling.  This was the entry for yesterday...the day that I wrote my "What's a girl to do?" post. 

"Come to me for rest and refreshment.  The journey has been too much for you, and you are bone-weary.  Do not be ashamed of your exhaustion.  Instead, see it as an opportunity for Me to take charge of your life.

Remember that I can fit everything into a pattern for good, including the things you wish were different.  Start with where you are at this point in time and space, accepting that this is where I intend you to be.  You will get through today one step, one moment at a time.  Your main responsibility is to remain attentive to Me, letting Me guide you through the many choices along your pathway.

This sounds like an easy assignment, but it is not.  Your desire to live in My Presence goes against the grain of 'the world, the flesh, and the devil.'  Much of your weariness results from your constant battle against these opponents.  However, you are on the path of My choosing, so do not give up!  Hope in Me, for you will again praise Me for the help of My Presence."

Romans 8:28 (AMP); Psalm 42:11 (NASB) 

On the same date...words from Beth Moore in her devotional book, Praying God's Word Day by Day...

"Refuse to let your enemy pluck away the seeds God has planted.  Let these truths take root, and cultivate them with belief.

Oh Lord, You have searched me and You know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise.  You perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down.  You are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue, You know it completely.

You hem me in--behind and before.  You have laid Your hand upon me.  I do not need to feel shame or fear in Your intimate knowledge of every detail of my life, because Your Word says that your knowledge of me is wonderful! (Ps 139:1-6).  Thank You, Father.

So please forgive my self-loathing.  Help me to praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Your works are wonderful.  I know that full well (Ps. 139:14).

Thank You, Lord!  Thank you, Sarah and Beth...for being His instruments of encouragement.

Girlfriends, His knowledge of us is wonderful...even though He has "intimate knowledge of every detail of [our] life"!  That makes my heart glad!

Monday, February 7, 2011

What's A Girl To Do...Or Not To Do?

"I want to do what is good, but I don't.  I don't want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway."  Romans 7:18b-19 (NLT)

Do you struggle with it too?  Wanting to do what's right...and sometimes you just don't. 

I'm referring not to some big, bad sins, but to stuff like eating healthy meals for your family (more than 3 or 4 times a week). 

And even more important stuff like spending quality time in God's Word...praying in the proper way, with more praise and thanksgiving, and less asking, asking, asking...serving however God has called you to serve...even when you're tired...using the gifts He has given you...nurturing and growing those gifts and sharing them to the fullest.

In my NLT Bible, Romans 12:13 says, "Don't just pretend to love others.  Really love them.  Hate what is wrong.  Hold tightly to what is good.  Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.  Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.  Rejoice in our confident hope.  Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.  When God's people are in need, be ready to help them.  Always be eager to practice hospitality."

I had to just write "Help me." in the margin.

I'm afraid that sometimes I pretend to love.  I don't know that I always hate what is fact I wasted about 30 minutes of my evening watching pure junk (and that includes fast forwarding through commercials) on TV...and in the middle of penning these words.  Do I love with genuine affection?  Do I take delight in honoring others?  And be lazy???  Work hard and serve enthusiastically?  Be patient in trouble?  Help those in need?  Always be eager to practice hospitality???  But what about the dust bunnies?  The dog hair?  Always...Really??

I can't do any of it on my own.  Can you?

There is answer...THE answer..our help..our victory!

"Thank God!  The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord."  Romans 7:25a  "And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness."  Romans 8:26  And "overwhelming victory is ours through Christ'!  Romans 8:37b (NLT)

Lord, how it helps to know that in our weakness You are strong!  Lord, fill us to the brim with You, so that we can have the Mind of Christ...and the actions that follow.