Monday, November 28, 2011

Highly Favored...

When Mary heard the angel say "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." - You would think it would go to her head and she'd be all pumped up.  However, if you keep reading, Luke 1:29 says "Mary was greatly troubled..."  Probably because she was familiar with God's history, and how He tends to put those who are highly favored by Him under some tough assignment.  If we remember Noah, Ruth, and Job - they were favored by God, too.

According to a recent sermon by Steven Furtick (Elevation Church)  When we have God's favor, it pretty much means that our lives won't be a cakewalk.  How can a mighty God show His strength in us if nothing ever goes wrong in our lives.  We have to have a mountain to climb; a sea to swim; a game to play - as the underdog; in order for Him to be shine.

Can you imagine having to tell your family and friends that you were pregnant, not married, and your child is God's?  Or having to build an ark to save the human race - when it had never rained before.

I love being in God's favor - I think my life has constituted being able to say this.  It is definitely more exciting because I know with being favored that I am promised His presence through every storm; and He will continue to show Himself strong!

Like the little cub in this picture who looks like he just got hurt...  But look at the confidence and comfort of his mother.  That is what our heavenly Father promises to those who are favored by Him.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Do You Have Enough?


I'm reading a book called Naked Spirituality, by Brian C. McLaren, and, as God should have it - I happen to be on the two chapters regarding the word "thanks".  The italics are his, and there are a lot simply because his words are way better than mine, and today is a great day to share them.


Why are the kids in this picture so happy?
"It's not the amount of stuff you have, it's the amount of appreciation you have that matters."
That is why you can go to a third world country and see genuine smiles on peoples faces - then come back home and see a grumpy kid eating to his hearts content, playing on his Wii in his mansion...


"Consumerism robs the soul of happiness while it sells the soul more stuff."
The goal here, is to make us feel that we need more in order to be happy.  Anytime we feel like that; advertising has succeeded.  I love my DVR because we can fast-forward commercials.  Any time we watch something live, the kids watch the commercials and always see something that they really want to have - drives me nuts.  My oldest is a mall-walker.  I can't stand it.  To me, it creates greed in our hearts seeing all the stuff we don't have, so I avoid it at all costs.  Catalogs - another one; I am now (used to keep and circle and covet) tossing them as soon as they exit the mailbox; definitely helps me to fight greed.  And, it is actually very freeing - kinda unchained, if you will - not allowing myself to be pulled into this helps me maintain a spirit of gratitude.


In the simple words, "Give us this day, our daily bread," Jesus invites us to radical nonconformity, which means radical liberation from this never-enough system.

Dayenu is a Hebrew word meaning "it would have been enough".  Though it is from a Jewish song sung at Passover, recalling all that God had done for them through the generations, it can be used another way too - If God had sent His Son to die for us and did nothing else...  dayenu.  But He has done more, way more for us!
May you spend today basking in all you have to be thankful for, and not able to stop...  And truly believing that.

PS.
"Giving" - there is another half to this word that we celebrate today.
I think, in giving, we realize our thanks.  Maybe it should be called "Thanks (comes from) Giving".

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Spinning Unchained

When I started this blog a few months ago, I had no idea how many ways "Unchained" would relate to my life.  Now that I'm back in the saddle - this title has taken on a whole new meaning.
There are several different types of stationary cycles out there for group exercise.  Some involve a chain and a 40# fly-wheel, and some involve a band that can tighten or loosen on the wheel to increase or decrease resistance.
When you get going really fast on a bike with a chain, it is very hard to slow down.  You can actually take your feet out of the toe cages and the pedals will keep going while your legs are not doing a thing.  The speed of the chain is maintained by the heavy flywheel going really fast; which actually caused me a nasty leg laceration several years ago.

When we live a life bound in chains, we are going with the flow of our life.  If our lives are spiraling downward, we don't really notice and just go with it.  It is hard to get out.

Living Unchained, nothing is holding us back from being who God made us to be.  Our joy comes from being in relationship with the One who made us.  "Religion" has a root "lig", from ligament, meaning joining together, connected, united.  Re = again.  True religion bonds us together to our Creator again  (McLaren).   False Religion bonds us to other things; like the nasty flywheel that the chain is attached to - pulling us in directions we weren't meant to go.

May the freedom of chains being broken by the One who wants you connected to Him alone, drawing your strength and energy from Him alone, awaken your hearts to what you were made for today!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dive In!

"Do I love others enough to share with them what God has done in my life?"
That is the question I was posed with this morning listening to my podcast on my walk.  That convicted me, because, my answer usually is, no.

According to Bill Hybels in his recent book Just Walk Across The Room, "The single greatest gift we can give someone is an introduction to the God who asked His Son to go the unthinkable distance to redeem them."
Greg Ferguson was also quoted in this book with the lyrics of a song he wrote called "Peacemaker" -

Peacemaker, Fear-taker, Soul-soother, Storm-smoother
Light-shiner, Lost-finder, Cloud-lifter, Deliverer
Mind-clearer, Sigh-hearer, Hand-holder, Consoler
Wound-binder, Tear-drier, Strength-giver, Provider
Heart-healer, Kind Father.

Who wouldn't want at least one of those in their lives right now?  Someone could be all these things to them!  And, then, why don't I love enough to tell everyone about HIM?

The thought that came to my mind was that of jumping off of a diving board.  When we haven't given our lives fully to Jesus, it's like living on the board - careful, limited, contained.  But when we get the courage to jump off, it's like giving up everything for the pearl of great price - more than we could ever have experienced on the board, to go after the promise.

"Give your life to following Jesus because giving our lives to anything else will be far less than what you were created for!" (Summit Church, Orlando)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Are You Trying to Fit Into Something That You Have Clearly Grown Out Of?

No, I am not referring to clothes.

I recently heard a quote from John Piper that I wrote and put on my fridge:

"Be careful of harking back to what you once were when God wants you to become something that you have never been."

Are we so used to our way of doing things that we don't give God room to get rid of the old and put on the new?  Are we scared of what He may have planned for us, or excited?  They (pastors) always say...  "If you don't answer when God calls, He'll just ask someone else."
Wouldn't it be exciting to be used by God!  To be one of His "go-to" people that is always listening and obeying Him?  Or is it easier just to do our own thing and not take the risk?

I recently took a risk by switching email accounts.  Wow.  I never would have known what a pain my old one was until I switched to my new one.  All the glitches that drove me crazy with the old account are gone.  I dealt with them, figuring that was just the way things were.  There are even new things on the new account that I never knew existed.

I also started teaching spinning again, and making the "tapes" is now so much easier.  I used to have to go through song by song, recording them, and if one didn't work in the ride, I would have to re-do the whole CD.  Now, I just drag and drop, or delete if one doesn't work - it's awesome - NEW!

And, I changed cleaning supplies.  Switched to Norwex.  Amazing!  An investment in the beginning, but cleaning the house is so much faster now; and actually kinda fun (really)!

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland."  Isaiah 42:18-19

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Are You Waiting?

I walked into the "Y" this morning with Mia in tow and she got all pumped up because she saw her little friend to play with in the parking lot.  But before we went down to the play room, her friend got to stop at the vending machine and get a pack of cookies.  Smile turned to frown.  As she looked down at the lame bag of pretzels in her hand that she was no longer grateful for, she drearily sulked down to the playroom.

When I picked her up an hour later, she was happily playing, said her thank-you's, grabbed her coat and left.  I asked her if she enjoyed her pretzels and she said "yes; oreos are not healthy right now anyway"; to which I agreed and said, don't you think you'd rather save your sweets for that yummy M&M ice cream tonight after dinner?  Yes!  She said.

Titus 2 says "God's readiness to give and forgive is now public.  Salvation's available for everyone! We're being shown how to turn our backs on a godless, indulgent life, and how to take on a god-filled, god-honoring life.  This new life is starting right now, and is whetting our appetites for the glorious day when our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, appears.  He offered himself as a sacrifice to free us from a dark, rebellious life into this good, pure life, making us a people he can be proud of, energetic in goodness."  The Message

Patience is often referred to as "long-suffering".  It is not one of my strong points as a mom, but I do understand the long-suffering part, especially when someone is whining incessantly...  am I indulging my flesh by blowing up? or suffering long, by breathing slowly while they go on a rampage?  Indulgent usually refers to getting what we want NOW, instead of waiting, and can refer to a number of things.

Are you settling for vending machine cookies, or waiting for something much, much better?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

ACTIVATE

So, I have a gift for Faith that I've been hiding in the closet for a few days - it's very valuable but hasn't been "activated"  so, it's pretty much no good right now.  It's just siting there, in the storage room with the 4th of July and Easter decorations collecting dust.
Today is activation day and she has no clue - and I'm so excited. (Especially because she was pretty grumpy earlier).  Giving gifts that you know your kids totally want is a blast.

I've been reading a book by Ravi Zacharias called The Grand Weaver, and my favorite quote is this:  "Jesus does not offer to make bad people good, but to make dead people alive!"

I've also been listening to a lesson from Bob Hamp of Gateway Church, and he's been talking about Genesis 2 and 3 (Adam & Eve/The Fall).  The source of all thoughts in the Garden was the Spirit of God in them, to them, and through them - BUT when they ate from the forbidden tree, they changed their source to the knowledge of good and evil, which is NOT life, unplugging from the true source of God's Spirit, and plugging into what the tree represents!

Jesus came to get us plugged back in to where true life comes from (Hamp).  He wants us to understand that we were born to be activated by HIM!  When our source is knowledge of good and evil, that's not life - we're wrapped up sitting in a storage closet.  John 10:10 says that Jesus came so that we could have life to the full, where He is the source of everything we think, say, and do!  And, I bet He has a blast of party when He sees us actually get it!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Under The Umbrella

I was pretty excited when I noticed that I would not need my puffy coat this morning to walk, so I put on my lighter one and headed out the door... I took one step after opening the door and who was there to greet us? Yep, Mr. Skunk, on my front door stoop! He scurried away, I held Moose back with all the strength I had and that was it - no spray - disaster averted! Besides the heart attack I was having.

The stories I've heard of dogs being skunked are when they are off-leash. So, maybe, since when we walk in the morning, he's on a leash, we have nothing to worry about...?

Moose was pretty bummed (understatement) that he couldn't go get Mr. Skunk, and he actually whined in pain because of his pinch collar, but thankfully, it worked. He doesn't know it, but that pain in his neck, is far better than the nightmare that he (and the rest of the household) would have experienced had he been free to go do whatever he wanted.

Beth Moore teaches about the umbrella of God's protection. As long as we stay under God's umbrella/His rules for us, we don't have to experience the nasty weather. We are free to go wherever, without getting hit by the elements while under His umbrella. They are for our protection.

Another children's story I've been reading to the girls talks about a dog playing in his yard. What happens if we got rid of the fence, or left the gate open? The dog could run out and get run over, or lost. But, in the boundaries of his yard, he can play all he wants, freely, not worrying about what will happen to him.

Often, when God does not give me what I want, I whine or get depressed or grumpy. But if my eyes could see what God's eyes see, I'm sure it's to keep me safe, close to him, and living freely and abundantly in His love!