Wednesday, October 20, 2010

His Glory in the Heavens

     Never have I seen such a phenomenal display of lightning and have been delighted with such booming thunder. Pure magic. Except it isn't an illusion and we know the "magician" is none other than our Heavenly Father. To state it better, it is more like pure glory.
     I am quite convinced God is having fun as I speak with putting on such a fantastic display of His might and glory. "Great is our Lord and mighty in power." Psalm 147:5 My daughter had to memorize that verse for AWANA last year. It is simple and easy to repeat, but the connotations are powerful.  Looked at further in context, Psalm 147:4-6 states,  "He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.  Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit. The LORD sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground."
     Children fear the lightning. For a bit this evening I was frightened too. The house actually shook from the thunder. For a moment I found myself thinking that maybe this was a prelude to the Rapture. The thunder boomed as loud as I imagine the Lord's voice could. The lightning was as if it was a glimpse of His shining glory that one day I will gaze upon.
     As an adult, one would be wise to remember to fear the Lord as they watch His display of might in the sky. When I watch the lightning I stared in awe at first and began thanking God for such beauty. The longer I stood there though, the more I was amazed at His power and might, sovereignty and justice. True reverence and fear overtook me.
     Psalm 19:1 proclaims, "The heavens declare the glory of God,..." Tonight God's glory was certainly on display for the world to see. How anyone can watch such a show and not see God, I'll never know. Apparently, they are looking, but unable to see. Yet, His majesty is right before us everyday. This storm has been a powerful reminder.
    For the display of God's works, for His mercy and grace, beauty and justice, I am forever grateful.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Book Review: Meeting Us Where We Are

     I was excited to be among the first to read The Grace of God by Andy Stanley which was given to me by Booksneeze on behalf of Thomas Nelson Publishing. I realize the God's grace can't be quite captured in a book, yet Stanley definitely delivers a taste of His grace. Stanley brings God's grace to you, the reader through biblical accounts and thought provoking questions. If someone is looking to delve into the grace of God, then this book is a good place to start.
     I often find the book I am reading is in my hands for a reason and this again proved to be the case. Grace is exactly what I needed. Every Christian knows God's grace is waiting to be received, as Stanley demonstrates throughout The Grace of God. Yet, often we take it upon ourselves, as is in our nature, to try and remedy any and all of shortcomings. God is there waiting to hand us as a gift His love and comfort that is far beyond our wildest  dreams if we let go any misconceptions and accept to trust in Jesus Christ.
     I have had a knowledge of God's grace, however I still forget to lean on Him for my every need. I usually let my needs, emotions and attempts to get in the way of grace. As I read through each chapter I found myself more involved in each biblical narrative, even the ones I am familiar with. I also saw my need within that story.
    Andy Stanley's style is a bit like Max Lucado's with even more historical detail. His theological studies definitely show, as does his love for God and His word. Overall, I was impressed with The Grace of God and with Stanley. Grace has definitely found me more intimately than when I started.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Rebooting My Mind

    Everyday we go through trials of some sort, great or small. Most have heard the whole "mind over matter." However, I am thinking it is more like "soul over matter." The difference may be one word, yet it makes all the difference in your world. When you use your mind, you are relying on your own reasoning and not God's. Where as when we hand our problems over to God, His thinking takes over.  Isaiah 55:9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."
    Often I find that I still want control. Even though my heart and soul know without a doubt that God is mightier than little old me, my mind still pulls on the reins. Then after this tug-o-war goes on for sometime, I get tired and relent. My mind takes over and I end up sitting in my own wonderful puddle of muck. It's funny really. I get so frustrated for such a long time and then wonder what am I doing wrong.
    Really? Am I that into my own little self that I can't see what I am allowing to happen? Shame, o shame. How I hate thee.  Philippians 4:6-7 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Then once I am in so deep I have nowhere to look but up. His embrace, His grace and love, they envelop me like a blanket on a cold, stormy night. My mind finds peace. He has calmed my storm.
    That's not to say my problem doesn't linger. It does, but in another way. Once I stop the crazy thinking and hand God my troubles, I find He takes control. Maybe He leads me to an appropriate Scripture or whispers one into my heart. Or a solution is found during prayer and meditation. God does truly provide. He does lead the way.
    Earlier I was praying. I asked God to help me reboot my mind. My brain gets so clogged up and tired that I can't think through things properly. I find distress and anxiety in my heart.
    It is like when your computer gets overloaded with information, tasks and commands, it gets tired and weary. What do you do? You reboot your computer. You give it a clean slate. That is what Jesus came to do for us. He gives us a clean slate, over and over. When we find ourselves overloaded we can pause and reboot. Pray and ask forgiveness. Let Christ purify your heart and mind.  Allow yourself to give Him your cares and anxieties. Then we can start up again and find His way in our lives.

Giveaway: Homeschool Crew

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Doubts and Trials

   I'm not sure where to begin. My husband and I are having a power struggle with our 4-year-old son. I expect children to try and establish their independence. But, oh my goodness. This child of mine is more than I can bear at times. We have been consistent with our discipline, which worked well with our other two. We have even tried adjusting our method for trial periods.
    Now it seems it has come to a head. I have ended up in more tears in the past two weeks, than I have in my entire motherhood journey.  My husband, David, has been very helpful and supportive. Sometimes I think he is even getting through to our son. Yet, here we are contemplating whether we should seek counseling. Maybe that just means we are more normal than I care to admit. Or are we admitting defeat?
   What bothers me the most is I am finding myself not being patient and tolerant as I have been in the past. It's scary in fact. I begin to doubt if the Spirit is within me when I  find myself so short of the fruits of the Spirit. Where did my gentleness and long-suffering go?
   Last night, I was praying and found myself repeating, "Help me, Lord." Over and over, that's all that I could manage at times. Today I woke up with a joyful spirit that could have only been the work of God.  My spirit was renewed. I am happy to report that renewal helped me to get through and endure the day. God never leaves me, nor forsakes me. (Heb. 13:5)
   I am sure God will provide us with the strength and guidance we need. This life was never promised to be easy. Trials will come in various shapes and sizes. The solutions I seek are always from the same source, my heavenly Father. My hope for the future lies in Christ, as does my assurance to endure tomorrow's trials.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Moving Along the Motherhood Trail

    As a mother, better yet, as a person I have my ups and downs. Frankly, it annoys me. I realize life isn't one glamorous ride or even a smooth one. Overall, now this may shock some of you who know me, I am a relatively content person. I accept motherhood as a journey with mountains to climb and triumph and valleys to trudge through. There's literal and figurative baby muck to clean up and tears to dry. Best of all there is laughter and moments of glory when I realize every moment I have cringed has been worth it.
    I have days, such as this one, where I had moments where I needed grace extended to me, more than the kids needed it extended to them. I prayed not only for serenity and sanity, but for self-control and contentment. This morning began as yesterday ended with doubt in my mind as a mother and wife. Last night I prayed as I always do, to do better and of course, for a huge dose of forgiveness. I am sure everyday I need the Lord's forgiveness, grace and love to patch up anything I have done wrong.
    There isn't a "perfect" day in motherhood. Every day is a journey in its own right. When my youngest, Jacob, made his first trip or two to the ER for asthma, I was a mess. Now, I have a plan. Instead of freaking out that my husband is not home to tend to the other kids, I have a network of neighbors and in-laws who are there in moment's notice to aid us. When our homeschooling day ends up not as planned, that's fine by me.
    Then there are the days that are filled with peace in my heart, you know the kids still argue. The kids' laughter is the greatest sound to a mother. Their hugs warm me up on the coldest of days. And the wonder of learning upon their faces is all the motivation I need to keep on moving.
    Motherhood has been more work than I could have fathomed. I expected some, but not to this extent. I love it. Every triumph is that much sweeter. I have drawn closer to the Lord and have found His grace to be a lifesaver. Now when I begin to feel alone in my journey, I call upon His name louder and clearer than ever before. My purpose rests in Him, as does my value as a mother, a wife and daughter of God.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Wonderful, Tender Grace

     As I look back I realize that grace remained an elusive term for quite a while. I knew when I came to Christ that my sins were forgiven, but grace still wasn't a part of me or my walk in a deep, intimate way. The word is so frequently tossed around in Christian circles, yet rarely is it defined.Yet, for some reason I was at a loss to completely receive the fullness of His amazing grace.
     So what else is an avid reader to do but, read. I am still reading up on it. Then I heard it. It wasn't until this past Easter when the sermon hit upon sin that I began to absorb the reality of grace into my heart. Our pastor put it so bluntly I about bolted out of my seat. Though, I was so riveted I couldn't move. A tear or two began to form around my eyes and inside my heart was weeping. My sins drove the nails into Christ. What? Ouch! It isn't until the understanding of sin sets in, that the fullness of God's grace can be received.
     I had been praying for the reality of the Cross to penetrate my being during the Easter season. It did, probably more than I wanted. The sheer magnitude and breadth of my sin, my guilt hit me and broke me in the process. There on the sidelines was God waiting for me. They say God always meets you where you are. He did. I imagine my heart hitting the floor and shattering into a billion fragments and God waiting with a broom to clean up my mess. I thank Him for that because some days my messes are too big for me to clean. There is God waiting for the right time, when I let Him in. He's always waiting, always there.
     The awesome thing about God's grace is that it doesn't just clean you up, it restores you. Imagine every one of your sins lined up on a store shelf, probably more like shelves. On each sin hangs a price tag.  You step up to see exactly the price. How much did each one cost you? What did it cost Him? DEATH in black marking pen.Your hand trembles as you inspect each tag. Did I do this? Certainly I deserve it...I suppose.  I didn't know a little lie to my teacher cost anything. Maybe my dignity at the time, but death? "For the wages of sin is death." Rom. 6:23 That verse starts ringing in your ears and resonating in your heart.
     Honestly, I didn't mean to. As you look up to the Cross, something miraculous happens. You look back down with puddles at the corner of your eyes, you see in what appears to be red ink stamped FREE on the tag. You race down the aisle looking at each one - FREE - FREE - FREE - FREE!
     I want you to take a closer look. Is that red ink or...blood? Yes, that is Christ's DNA on that tag. It hit me hard. The worst of it was my sins put him there. He took my punishment, your punishment, the punishment of anyone who hears God's call and who trusts in Him.
     What's even harder to grasp is that Jesus was willing to set aside his heavenly glory for this purpose. He loved us so much. He loves us so much. That's grace. There isn't a more perfect display of grace. I am given a second chance every time I ask for forgiveness, every time I sin. My slate is wiped clean. Do I deserve God's favor? Of course not. Nor do you, but God gives it out of his love for you. Every child is precious in his eyes and way too precious to lose.
     When I came to experience His grace and felt it pouring upon me, it was then I realized what a vile sinner I truly am and most of all how utterly and desperately in love I am in with my Savior Jesus Christ.