Saturday, February 28, 2009

Heed the Warning! (edited version)

"Whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of the LORD." Psalm 107:43 (NIV)

On the back of my heating pad it says:

Burns will result from improper use. To reduce the risk of burns, electric shock, and fire, this product must be used in accordance with the following instructions. Do not use while sleeping. Burns may occur regardless of control setting...blah, blah, blah....This pad is not to be used by or on an invalid, a sleeping or unconscious person, or a person with poor blood circulation....blah, blah, blah...Place pad on top of and not under the part of the body needing heat...and on and on.

I've read the instructions several times over the years...but really didn't heed the warning. I have a nice blister to attest to that fact.

I have gotten into the habit of putting the heating pad in the bed before I get in to warm it up. (John even moves it around from one area to another to spread the warmth. He really spoils me! And yes, we have thought of getting an electric blanket.) One of the main reasons that I do this is that I have Raynaud's (hmmm, has something to do with poor blood circulation) and my feet (and hands) exude COLD. You know how some people radiate heat from their bodies? I radiate...or rather refridger-ate...cold! Well, the other night I was having some hip pain, so after I warmed up the foot zone, I moved the heating pad up to my hip. I laid on top of the heating pad to ease the pain...and fell asleep. Now the heating pad was on the lowest setting...but if you'll just review the instructions above, you'll note that it doesn't matter. I think I broke 3 or 4 rules!! And I suffered the consequences.

So what does this have to do with God? Well, He set forth some rules and some warnings...for our own good...and safety, for His glory, and because of His great love for us. In Deuteronomy 30:16, Moses says, "For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you...." We are told in Deuteronomy 11 of the blessing that comes with obedience and the cursing (or consequences) of disobedience. I encourage you to read Deuteronomy 6 and 11. Here's a little snippet. Moses says, "Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts." (Deuteronomy 6:5-6) He wants us to be intentional in our thoughts of Him, to love Him above all else, to hide His Word in our hearts (Yes, that means delving into His Word and memorizing Scripture!), and to obey Him...wherever He leads, whatever He says.

The passage goes on to say, "Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." Deut. 6:7 He wants us to be diligent in sharing His plans, His love, His Word, and the importance of obedience (to Him, to parents...Eph. 6:1...and to those in authority...Heb. 13:17) with our children. No matter what their age, they need to know that they belong to God. He has a plan for their lives...which requires obedience. He created them and has gifted them in unique ways to serve Him, be blessed by Him, and be a blessing to others. We must model obedience and guide them toward their own.

Proverbs 16:20 tells us, "Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD." Let's do it!

Lord, we thank You that You have chosen us as Your "treasured possession" (Deut. 7:6b). We thank You for Your great love for us...a love that provides boundaries...and guidance. We thank You for Your mercies that are new each morning...and for Your amazing grace. Help us , Lord, as we seek to obey. Help us as we teach your commands to our children and show them the way. We want Your blessing in our lives...and in our families for generations to come!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Eating Like a Bird

"How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" Psalm 119:103

My man got me the best Valentine's Day gift!!!!!! He was definitely speaking my "love language"!! Birds thrill me! I love to watch them. I love to hear them sing! They bring me such delight. They just make me think of the lyrics to a song that Travis Cottrell sings (written by Marty Sampson):

"All creation cries to you, worshipping in Spirit and in truth. Glory to the faithful one, Jesus Christ God's son. All Creation gives you praise. You alone are truly great. You alone are God who reigns for eternity. God is great and His praise fills the earth fills the heavens and Your name will be praised through all the world. God is great. Sing His praise all the earth all the heavens, 'cause were living for the Glory of Your name, the glory of your name. All to you Oh God we bring. Jesus teach us how to live. Let your fire burn in us, that all may hear and all may see. Holy is the Lord! The whole earth sings. The whole earth sings."

Birds just lead the way to praise!!

Now as you can see, John didn't just get a simple little bird feeder. He built that wood support with his own sweet hands. Yep, he love me (love me, love me...line from Phantom of the Opera...quirky, I know!) And then he bought a variety of feeders and provisions for a veritable smorgasbord for the birds! And they are flocking in...all kinds...bluebirds, chickadees, cardinals, sparrows, finches...even a red-headed woodpecker! And, yes, just in case you're wondering...the squirrels have found it too.

Well, this morning I spied a squirrel on the very top feeder. (I have nothing against squirrels. They're cousins to groundhogs, you know...uh huh, I love groundhogs too!) I just kind of thumped on the window (something in my genes...from my grandmother...funny) to shoo him off the feeder. In his haste, he knocked off the roof! But that's okay because it led to such a precious sight for me.

A bird spied the open feeder and flew right down into it. That bird was just revelling in that feast! It just laid right down in it! It ate. It wriggled. It laid down again. I was so thrilled that I laughed right out loud!

Then I thought, "Lord, You have opened Your Word wide! I just want to dive right in! I want to feast on it!" It just made me think of Isaiah 55:2 that says, "Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare." I just want to "Open wide [my] mouth and [let Him] fill it." Psalm 81:10 Oh, let's "Taste and see that the LORD is good!!" Psalm 34:8

Lord, thank you for the treasure...the feast that we have in Your Word! Oh, let us strive daily to indulge in its goodness! Draw us, Lord. Make us hungry for You!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Don't Wear Slippers on the Treadmill

"Stand firm...with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace." Ephesians 6:15

Yes, I did it. I got on the treadmill with my slippers on. I was on there, all hooked up with that little thingy that you clip onto your clothes so that in case you fall that other thingy on the opposite end of the cord will pull out of the machine and cut it off. I punched in my speed (I'm not sure that you can really call it speed!) and pushed the Start button. Then I realized that I hadn't changed into my walking shoes. At first, I thought, "Oh, what difference will it make?" I kept walking. So are you hearing a loud thud? Are you envisioning me face down on my treadmill...possibly cartoon style being rolled right off the end of it? If so go ahead and get a good laugh. And then, shame on you! I'm sorry to disappoint you, but after a minor slip, I decided to turn off the machine, put on my sneakers, and start over...ready to walk safely...and firmly.

I couldn't help but think of how that relates to our daily "walk." We never know what we are going to face as we get up each day. It is so important that we make ourselves ready for whatever may come our way. I love how Ephesians 6:15 says that we need to have our "feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace." We need to be prepared...strengthened through the that when the road gets rough and troubles come...and they will (John 16:33)...that "in [Him] [we] may have peace." We don't need to wait until we are on a slippery slope or headed toward the pit to seek Him. We need to be ready ahead of time.

As Paul said, "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power." Ephesians 6:10 He is our "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6 Let's seek Him. Let's cling to His Word. Let's pray without ceasing. Let's get ready!

Father, we are so thankful for all you are to us...our Father, our Prince of Peace, our help and our shield (Psalm 33:20)! Lord, make us ready to walk daily in Your strength and in Your peace. Please fill us with Your Holy Spirit and Your mighty power!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What's Crippling You?

"Great crowds came to Him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at His feet; and He healed them." Matthew 15:30 (NIV)

It was really quite pitiful. Our little dog, Cocoa (who is around 13 years old), was limping around for a couple of days. Her gait was strained and she held her little paw up as she walked. When I first checked it out, I couldn't see the source of the problem. I pressed the pads of her paw. I checked the bones of her leg. Neither seemed to cause any pain. This morning I decided to take another look. I noticed that she had a nail (toenail? paw nail?) with a pretty substantial crack in it. (Her "parents" aren't very faithful in nail trimming...and she is a nail-biter.) I got the doggy nail clippers and cut off the split edge...and voila! She was all better!

As I held Cocoa there on the floor, I was struck by the revelation that we, too, can be crippled by things left untended...relationships...physical health...our walk with Christ.

Relationships can be among life's greatest well as greatest heartaches. Without "tending," cracks, split places, divisions can occur. We all need love. God created us that way. We all need to be shown love, have loving words spoken to us. Those around us do too. In Ephesians 4:2-3, Paul says, "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." We all need forgiveness. Jesus was the ultimate bestower of forgiveness...even when we didn't deserve it. We need to forgive others...or ask others for forgiveness. We must "Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances [we] may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave [us]." Colossians 3:13 Love isn't always easy. Forgiveness surely isn't. But through the power of the Spirit within us, we can. Have you laid your relationships at His feet?

It is obvious that we need to tend to our physical health. In 1 Corinthians 6:19 we are reminded. "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." We need to exercise, eat right, get proper rest. We need to see our doctors for those tests (pleasant or not) that detect things in our bodies that shouldn't be there. And I love the words in Proverbs 4:20-23 that remind us,"My [daughter], pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a [woman's] whole body." As we are encouraged and instructed in His Word, it brings nourishment...physical, as well as spiritual!

Our walk with Christ has tremendous bearing on our relationships and can work wonders with our frame of mind regarding our physical well-being. Over and over in the New Testament we read of faith being the source of healing. (Ex. Matt. 15:28, Mark 5:34 and 10:52, Luke 8:48) To develop our faith, we must grow in our relationship with Christ. The ultimate goal of our relationship with Christ is to become like Him, and in 1 Corinthians 49-52, we see the promise of that fulfillment...that in "the twinkling of an eye" we will "all be changed" and "bear the likeness of the Man from heaven." But until then, He has great plans for us. If our walk with Christ is left untended...lack of prayer time, spending time in His Word, fellowship of other believers...we can be crippled in our pursuit of the dreams He has given us...with fear, doubt, lack of motivation. We must put on the full armor of God (Eph. 6:1) to take care of the crippling enemies. We must walk daily in the light of His Truth and lay our very lives at His feet and be crippled no more.

Lord, draw us near. Hold us close. Remind us of Your great love. Heal our relationships. Heal our bodies. Heal our hearts. Help us as we walk with You, not to walk as crippled women, but to live fully in Your presence. Lord, You are great and greatly to be praised!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Heart of Thanks

"Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good. His love endures forever." Psalm 136:1 (NIV)

It was shocking! I couldn't even stay there. I had to get right out! Let me explain. Last Saturday we had a lazy day at our house. We had an evening dinner engagement, so the time came when we all needed to get bathed and ready to go. Our nine year old asked if she could get a bath...instead of a shower (The girl loves a good long bath!) and I said, "Sure. But you won't get to stay in quite as long as usual." Time passed and I went in to get ready to take my shower. She was still in the tub...a garden tub which was filled almost to the top with water. Her hair was all nice and soapy and she was ready to rinse. As she turned on the faucet, which pumps water with the force of Niagara Falls, I said, "Honey, try not to use much more hot water. Daddy and I both have to take showers." Well, I was too late. I turned on the shower. I turned the handle as far as it would go in the HOT direction. I stepped in and waited a bit, to no avail. It was so cold! I had one hour to get ready. A shower was an absolute necessity. What would I do? I asked John, who according to Melea "knows everything," how long it takes for the hot water to refill and reheat. He said that it should only take about 10 minutes (which I didn't have to spare). I waited...doing everything I could to make wise use of the time...and decided that shaving my legs and washing my hair would have to wait for another day. When I got in, the water was a little warmer, at least tolerable. By the time John got in, the water heater had done its job. I was a little jealous. Anyway, we managed to get ready and make it to the dinner on time.

The next morning when I got in the shower, I really appreciated the hot water! I thanked God for hot water heaters...and a warm house...and the cozy bed I had slept in...the coffee that was brewing...the cinnamon toast that I would soon enjoy (compliments of a wonderful husband who takes such good care of us in the mornings...and always.) I was so aware of all of the things that I take for granted way too often. I spent that morning thanking God for one thing after another. I've tried to be very intentional since then to have a thankful heart.

As Valentine's Day approaches this week, I have an assignment for you. (Sorry, that's the teacher in me!) I hope you will attempt least mentally, if not physically. Grab a piece of pink or red construction paper...or just any type of paper. Fold it in half, like you did as a child, and cut out a big heart. Just take a little time to jot down the things that you thank God for...big and small. Put it on your fridge or bathroom mirror or anywhere that it might serve as a reminder and a prompter of the thanks we owe to God. He is so good! And His love does endure forever. Let's join together in giving God big hearts of thanks this Valentine's Day.

And as Paul prayed for the church at Ephesus, "I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:16-19 (NIV)

Lord, the greatest Valentine of all time, thanks for being ours. Thanks for claiming us as your own. Thank you for your unfathomable love for us. Lord, fill our hearts with Your love. And fill our hearts with gratitude for all you have done for us.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

True Confessions

"So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 (NIV)

Okay, so I'm going to confess my downfall right here on the blogosphere (Or is it technically in the blogosphere?)! Anyway, I'm quite embarrassed to admit this. Today I gave into a ridiculous temptation! I obviously was not practicing my Proverbs 31 "She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness." Well, first I was eating the bread of idleness. Yes, even with laundry and dishes to be done and papers to be graded, I was just sitting...idle. I flipped on the TV. There was nothing on of any interest, but coming up in the next 10 minutes was one of my favorite talk shows. I went ahead and changed over to that channel. There was a soap opera that I had watched in my younger days, before my walk with the Lord brought the conviction and wisdom of Paul's words, "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." Well, I saw a familiar face...a little interesting drama...and I was hooked. Not only was I idle, but I was "watching the affairs" of another household!!! (Can I just say that some of those people look the same as they did over 20 years ago...and some, well, they don't!)

After I watched that 10 minutes, I thought, "Nothing has changed. Twenty some years later I tuned in to see the same stories being played out over again." That brought a verse to mind. (Yes, God recaptured my mind...and "provided a way out" (1 Cor. 10:13) and redeemed the situation.) In Ecclesiastes 1:9, we read, "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun."

And here's the encouragement in that. Whatever we face...whether it is temptation or circumstances that seem to be overwhelming and spinning out of has been faced before (and will be again) and we can have victory! We must remember His Word, remember His promises, remember His faithfulness. "For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." Romans 15:4 (NIV) Oh, that we just turn to His Word and realize the hope! Deuteronomy 7:9 (NIV) says, "Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep His commands." The heights and depths of His love are far greater than we can imagine. He is our God, and we are His children. "God, who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful." 1 Cor. 1:9 (NIV) He will carry us through, and we "can do everything through Him who gives [us] strength." Philippians 4:13 (NIV)

Abba, Father, Help us to remember the hope that is in You. Help us to remember Your covenant of love to us. Help us to remember Your faithfulness...that reaches over thousands of generations. Lord, You are good and Your mercies endure forever!