Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Are You a Big "Purse Dog"?


My dog is a wimp. He is 100 lbs and scared of a leaf that is blowing the wrong way. My neighbor who owns a Basset Hound calls him a "scaredy cat". He barks at himself in his window reflection, and barks when we go upstairs without the poor little thing... Has he not seen himself? Does he not know how big he is?

Then God said... You are much bigger than you think you are because I am living inside of YOU! Do you not see Me in there? Why do you consider the opinion of others? Why do you belittle that reflection you see? I am living inside of you - your forever companion; why do you get lonely? Do you not know how big I AM?

Bask in that one today - enjoy My companionship, My strength, My sufficiency! - God


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Katie Davis

I cannot get this girl out of my head.

Her heart and her life are truly a life lived "Unchained".
If you haven't heard about Katie Davis; check out her story. She is founder of Amazima.org; is 23 years old, lives in Uganda, fosters 13 girls; and it all started when she took a "short term" missions trip there at 18 yrs of age!
I heard an interview with her yesterday on the Brook Hills Church podcast with David Platt, and have been in awe of how God is using her, as she has given her heart to Him!
She has just released a book called "Kisses from Katie" (kissesfromkatie.blogspot.com), and I'm going to go find it. Anything that reminds me how much I have, and how much of that God wants to use for His Glory is worth buying!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Old Maid


I have had somewhat of a grumpy 5 yr old lately. Doesn't like to listen to books much (though we still read); doesn't like to play by herself (still make her); and doesn't like many games - except Old Maid. She will play Old Maid forever, so we often do. She plays very confidently when the Old Maid is in her hand; always smiling waiting for me to grab it, re-arranging her cards to put it where I've been picking from. But when I have the Old Maid, she always hesitates in taking a card from me; worrying and trying to be very careful not to pick it, and choosing from different places instead of always the right hand side.

Then I heard a sermon from John Piper regarding Judas, and he got me thinking along the same lines... He was talking about John 6:70 when Jesus says that he chose the twelve, knowing Judas was an enemy. God put Judas in the midst of the twelve and he will do what God tells him to do. Stated more powerfully; "He reigns over the resistance" (Piper)

In Job 1, we see that Satan needed God's permission to pretty much destroy Job's life. And again in Luke 22:31 "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat." This shows us that these trials had to go through God first.

It's true - He holds the cards, AND He holds the Old Maid (The Enemy). And, when we are on His side - we can enjoy the peace of knowing He is sovereign; we don't have to live life worried about what card we will pick next; but knowing completely, that He is in control.

"This should be a sanctuary for our souls when all hell breaks loose in our lives!" (Piper)


The Power of a Good Coat


I have lived north of Chicago for over 20 years now and have finally realized the truth in this title. I hate (bad word in our house, so it must be fiercely felt) being cold. Coming from Florida, I just figured people in the north were always cold and they just dealt with it. Once I had kids; I would send them to pre-school partially just to get the outside play time in the winter because I wasn't about to go out into the frozen tundra and play with them. You go play, I'll look out the window and make sure the snow plow doesn't hit you.

Last year I got two new coats (and cool snow pants) and they have changed my life! I can go out in the cold and actually enjoy it. I am not phased by the snow or freezing rain hitting me. I am protected so I can go down sled hills until the kids are done, not until I'm done. I can walk the dog early, before it warms up to 10 degrees. And I can actually enjoy watching the girls play soccer in the cold! It only took me 20 years to figure this out.

I think this is what God wants to show us in Ephesians 6. "Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes" v. 11. "Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll still be on your feet" (v. 13 MSG).
Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, the Bible and prayer are God's coat for us. When we put on those things; He gives us the strength (and joy) to brave the elements!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Let the Earth Shake!


My new favorite piece of exercise equipment is the Bodyblade. When I recently switched health clubs, it was the only thing missing, so I purchased my own and love it. Why? Because it strengthens what matters. You have to shake it and force it to move, requiring your body to stabilize itself to counteract the force you're putting on it - enhancing your core strength. (It is actually supposed to strengthen the muscles in my neck and core to prevent further injury after my lovely slipped disc.)

I recently listened to a sermon entitled "Shakedown" by Steven Furtick. He was teaching on how when our world is shaken it is often to reveal the treasure (2 Cor. 4:7) that is inside of us. Everything that is not solid - falls off; things like people, money, or stuff that we depend on too much.

While the bodyblade helps to strengthen our core (where all of our physical strength comes from) by shaking what's around us - God uses the earthquakes in our lives to strengthen our grasp on our treasure, letting anything superficial fall off.

The Old Testament refers to shaking the dust off of our feet before we go somewhere new; something that has to be done before we are free.
Amos 9 - throwing Israel into a sieve and shaking them good - shaking out all the sin.
Isaiah 52:2 - "Shake off your dust; rise up...Free yourself from the chains on your neck..."
Nehemiah 5 - talks of a man be shaken out and emptied.

God is constantly shaking things up to see what's inside; to get rid of the wasteful things; to show Himself golden to those who are clinging to Him. He's the only stable thing there is - and because of that, He's a treasure worth holding onto with all we've got.

Psalm 99:1 says "The Lord reigns... Let the earth shake!"



Monday, October 17, 2011

Thank you Sir, may I have another?


I heard this line this morning in the gym and a huge grin spread across my face. An older gentleman was saying this (in jest) to his trainer as he was doing step-ups. It made me smile because I remember the days of enjoying putting my clients through painful workouts, and smiling when they'd return a few days later saying how sore they were (yes, people thought I was somewhat demented that way). Deep down, however, I know that the pain was for their good - it would make them stronger! I loved it when my clients wanted to work harder because they knew that that was how results would come.

I have personally gone through this a lot. With each meniscus tear, torn fascia, slipped disc... God has taught me something new. As a Christian, I have grown spiritually from every physical injury I have had. I actually caught myself saying something like this to God the other day: "Bring it on, if that's what You need to do to get me where you want me to be. Or, Thank you, God, may I have another?" I realize this is a dangerous prayer, but it's worth it!

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Squeaky Violin


My middle daughter has started the violin. I was spared this luxury with the oldest, who chose the Upright Bass; a nice, low tone.
I think I'm getting old because I'm not too bothered by it. I'm actually just thrilled when she practices, knowing discipline is not her middle name.
Last night, however, I totally enjoyed it. Why? Because she was teaching her little sister, who she's not been too fond of lately, how to play. She was acting like the master teacher, and her sister was actually listening and responding; not saying "I can do it myself".
It was beautiful. I just sat there and soaked it all in.

I think that's how God looks at us with our brothers and sisters in Christ. He has made each of us really good at something and others better than us at other things. When we let them teach us and are responsive, I think he gets that joy that I did. Likewise, when we use what we have or know to teach those who haven't learned that yet, He beams for us.
Listening to my kids argue makes my heart heavy. Listening to them learn from each other is a high I can ride for a while.
There will always be someone who we can teach, and always someone we can learn from.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Full Moon


As I arose from slumber yesterday, I knew there was a full moon. I knew it because it was lighter in the house than it usually was at that hour, and I didn't knock over anything.
When I walked Moose, it wasn't as dark as it usually was (quite helpful on the skunk look-out).
The full moon was awesome, I couldn't get my eyes off of it; so I did a little research...

The moon has no light of its' own; it's made of rock; it only reflects the light of the sun.
The illuminated side of the moon is constantly facing the sun no matter where it is in it's rotation around the earth, while the earth, of course, revolves around the sun.

When the moon is new (hardly seen by us), it's illuminated side is facing away from the earth towards the sun, and it is between the sun and the earth.
When we see a full moon, the earth is actually between the sun and the moon. The illuminated side is facing the earth and is completely lit up by the sun - and the earth does not get in the way of the sun's illumination! That got me.

Maybe, even though the world seems bigger than us; when we are completely allowing the Son to illuminate us (the way we were made); the world (earth) can't get in the way! We can shine fully. Sometimes we need to be alone with God (prayer/study) to feed our spirits - between the earth and facing the sun. While other times we need to get out and shine His light to the world, not letting the world (and its' desires) come between us and The glory of the Son!


Hebrews 1:3 says "The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word."

Monday, October 10, 2011

God's Physiology


I have found a few ways to utilize my Masters Degree in Exercise Physiology! Here's lesson one:

"Hearts are stronger after broken..." - Needtobreathe (Slumber)
(That was not what I learned)

Our skeletal muscles are broken down in weight training, and they grow in recovery. The strength comes from repair (sleeping). If we didn't work them hard enough to stress them; they won't grow in the repair process. (That's what I learned)

The Needtobreathe quote is saying the same thing about our heart. When our hearts are broken throughout life, they grow stronger. This does not mean physiologically (pumping harder), but spiritually. The more we let God repair our brokenness, the more He gets to touch our heart and repair it with His Master Hands. And the more our hearts are touched by the Master, the stronger they get.

So, what is a strong heart good for anyway? Well, what is our heart made for? Yes, pump blood, but that's too simple. What about love? What is the greatest commandment? Deuteronomy 6:5 "Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength". What if the more our hearts were broken, the more the Master could repair it, and the more we'd be able to love? As long as we bring it to the One who made our hearts, He will grow a broken heart in love.

Paul says it best in Ephesians: "I ask the Father to strengthen you by his Spirit - not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength - that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God." (3:16-19 MSG)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Amazing Grace!

Apparently some churches are hesitant to preach the true grace that God gives us. That He loves us completely, no matter how much we mess up would possibly urge us to not really care about holiness. Having this amazing grace in our head and hearts might keep us away from studying the bible on our own, or staying away from sin, or not really go to church since we don't really need it.

Others think Christianity is a bunch of rules. They think it is all about keeping us from happiness. Do's and don'ts; keeping us from freedom. A road too narrow to follow.

John Eldredge blends these two thoughts in a great quote:
"It's not that God doesn't want us to be happy. He does. It's just that He know that until we are holy, we cannot really be happy."

God made us. He made us to glorify Him. God's ways are way higher than I could ever imagine, but I do know that I am way more drawn to holy, happy people, than grumpy, ones. He alone can fill us with true joy when we make lots and lots of room for Him by getting rid of the stuff that doesn't really matter...

Have a wonderful Sunday living in His Amazing Grace, pursuing holiness and being filled with happiness.


Friday, October 7, 2011

Slumber

This is my favorite CD right now! One of the reasons I like it so much is that I can ride my bike to it - hard. At least half of it is "bike-able" for me, so totally worth it! I also like it because I can jam to it in the car with the girls and their friends and no one is embarrassed about it. If you listen carefully, it's all about living for Jesus, and the life He brings.

"Able" is a great cool down song and one to listen to every day about how we are not able on our own; but He is! A great way to end a morning workout and start a new day.



Another great one is "Slumber":
"Days, they force you back under those covers -
lazy mornings, they multiply -
Glory's waiting outside your window -
Wake on up from your slumber, baby open up your eyes!"

I love this! The beat picks up and forces you to wake up! See the glory all around you - it's waiting for you - OPEN YOUR EYES! I'm pretty sure it's taken from Romans 13:11 & 12 "The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber... The night is nearly over; the day is almost here!" Go for it! Have an awesome, awakened, Friday!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Skunk!


Since two of my best friends have had the experience of their dogs being skunked recently, when I take Moose out early in the morning, we start our walk with the prayer "Lord, keep the skunks away from us, and keep us away from the skunks". You would think they are lions or something the way they freak me out. We see about one a day; and each time, they are either running away from us, or I spot them from far away and direct Moose on a turnaround or go to the other side of the street. So far, so good; God is answering my prayers, and to that I am very thankful!

Listening to David Platt (Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, AL) this morning, he said "It is a scary thing when God gives man over to his sinful desires". It's been all over the Bible, God gives men over to their evil desires; He doesn't make us love and choose Him; He wants us to love and choose Him. He knows that is what will ultimately fill us. He also knows what will hurt us, and often shields us from those things; but sometimes their staring at us in the face and we have to choose.

I totally see this in my dog. If he spots the skunk first, he wants to move towards it. Thankfully, I have hold of the leash! Sometimes, I spot the skunk before he even sees it and steer him quietly away from it. If he spots it; he wants to go to it - it's interesting, looks like fun to play with - but I know better than he! If I give him over to this desire, he will be skunked (and I will have a huge job ahead of me)!

Sometimes, I wish God had me on a leash; totally protecting me from every selfish desire that would hurt me. The more I make these poor decisions, the more I learn how much they hurt me. And, the more closely I am walking with God, the more I am focused on Him, and in joyfully walking with him, my aroma stays sweet.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Sink or Swim?



For those of you who know me (probably all of you), I am not a high-maintenance person. This is good or bad, depending on who you are. One of the areas I really could care less about is soap. Until now. I rotate my soaps and shampoos all the time, just because I get bored with the same thing. I don't really care if it's 99 cents or $5; but I do stay away from the salon stuff (I don't have enough hair to warrant that).
I rotated back to Ivory Bar Soap a few days ago and it has changed my outlook on soap. It cleanses me better than anything else. I used to have to wash a couple times to get the squeaky clean. Ivory does it in one lather - I love it.

They (Ivory people) advertise being pure and able to float. Primarily because it is whipped with air. Yes, they have added some glycerin now so it doesn't dry you up as much as it used to, so it doesn't really float like it used to; but I don't play that in the shower anyway; so they don't lose my business there.

Pure is defined as being free from dirt, defilement, pollution, or foreign elements - containing nothing extraneous - complete.
I think it's pretty cool that something (us, too) can be complete when we contain nothing extraneous.

God made us so that we are complete when we have Him in us (that God-shaped hole in each of us). We don't need anything else. We can try to let other stuff or people complete us, but they won't. Actually, the other stuff we add will defile us, making us impure; and can even make us sink.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Tailgate Shepherd



I had the pleasure of attending a tailgate party this weekend. My two youngest did not find their friends, so they were following me everywhere. It got a little (okay, a lot) irritating because they were practically stepping on my feet trying to not miss anywhere I might be going so they didn't lose sight of me. At one point, my youngest lost me, so she just stayed put and got really sad. We went back to find her (approximately 40 seconds later) right where we had lost her, and all was recovered.
I don't think God gets irritated with us following Him.
I think He really wants us to follow Him closely; He probably likes it when we are so close we step on His feet.
John 10:4 says "When he has brought out all his own (sheep), he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice."
When we stop following Him closely, we get lost, or make no progress. We become stagnant, not going anywhere, or go the wrong way. And are pretty unhappy in that state. We are secure when we keep our eyes on Him - not letting anything distract us.
And how do we do this?
We know His voice.
We know the comfort and love of His voice.
We know that His voice and His leading is the best for us because He has proven that to us.
And we don't let other ones get in the way.
May we all experience the joy of following Our Shepherd closely today!