Friday, April 18, 2014

1 Samuel 25b- Pull over!




In I Samuel 25:1, Samuel died and the people mourned. And now, even though David's calling is yet to be realized, life still goes on. The people have practical needs. David's army is hungry. David attempts to provide for them, calling in a favor from a man he had helped in the past. This man, Nabal, however, refuses. Now what? Instead of praying for guidance, David relies on what he knows. He prepares for battle. He will get what is due him by force. Providentially, however, Abigail, Nabal's wise and winsome wife, gets wind of what is going on. Upon hearing of her husbands refusal to help David, she knows his actions will likely bring disaster to her family. So she collects some food and supplies, and sets off on foot to hopefully stave off any potential harm. And it works. David is moved by her kindness. He is thankful. And consequently David is saved from making a big mistake.

There are many lessons to be learned from this passage of scripture. First of all, David did not seek God first about this potential battle. He just barreled on full steam ahead. God, however, had other plans.

A man plans his way, but the Lord directs his path.”

Too many times I have gone ahead and made plans without truly seeking God and been stopped right in my tracks. Sometimes it was not a pleasant stop, but I was stopped nonetheless. How good is God to warn us when we are headed in a way that leads to destruction?

When I was a teenager I couldn't get away with ANYTHING. Not one thing. That praying mom I mentioned here? The mom that was always fighting for our family? I blame her prayers. Whenever I did anything dishonest, it was sure to backfire. That verse “Be sure your sin will find you out?" That could have been my life's verse.
Yet there was a girl in my high school who had the opposite life. She was allowed to do anything that she wanted. I was so jealous. One day while we sat waiting for our respective rides home on the bench after school, I let her know how lucky she was that her parents didn't care what she did. Staring off down the road she answered soberly without skipping a beat, “Yeah, they don't care.”
And I understood. That short conversation has stayed with me all of these years.

Hebrews 12:6 for the Lord disciplines the one He loves and punishes every son He receives.

And in this moment, my heart is overwhelmed with His love for me. Seriously. This passage in I Samuel. Today. I am just reading through I Samuel. Who could know the relevance for this my life right now? God. That's who. A sovereign loving God who has treasures in His word, waiting for us, just to read and receive.

God warns us. He woos us. He calls us. He does this because of how much he cares. But sometimes, we chose self. We choose an immediate pleasure over longtime love. We choose instant satisfaction over ongoing sanctification

How many times has someone come to you with a complaint about your character, only to be dismissed. Was it a coworker, an overseer, a spouse, your child? What happens in our hearts when we are confronted  by someone who thinks our intended path is wrong? In my own heart my first reaction might be defense. “How could you say that about me, don't you know I......(fill in the blank with excuse or justification.) Or accusation “Who are you to tell me that? ”

But oh what amazing growth would happen in our life if the next time we were confronted with a need for change we reacted like David.

Praise the Lord who ......restrained His servant from doing evil.

David could have ignored Abigail, he could have hung onto his hurt pride and charged forward to make Nabal pay. He could have chosen vengeance over mercy. But he didn't. He let go. David's pride was in check. His response?
Praise.
 Praise to a God that kept him from doing evil.

How did the Lord keep him from doing evil? He sent someone to remind him of who he is and the high calling on his life. She goes to him in meekness and grace.

28 Please forgive your servant’s offense, for the Lord is certain to make a lasting dynasty for my lord because he fights the Lord’s battles. Throughout your life, may evil not be found in you.

She takes responsibility for the sins of her husband,Nabal. She reminds David of who he is anointed to be speaks a blessing into his life.

What would happen church, if the conflicts in our home, our work place, and within all of our relationships were handled this way on a daily basis?

Approach with grace and receive with praise.

Wow.

I pray that we would be receptive to correction, taking it to the Lord for true clarification. I pray that when we have an issue to bring before someone we would do so with humility and grace, knowing that our Lord in heaven, came to us, he washed our feet. And while I rejoice in a God that loves me just as I am, I am eternally grateful that he loves me too much to let me stay that way.



Tuesday, April 15, 2014

One thing I learned from Bob Coy.

 

With so many new visitors on my site, I wanted to say hi :) and share with you why this blog is here.
I started this blog, like most,  as an outlet for my opinions, a place for my point of view. I started blogging in August of last year tackling different topics. That in and of itself was terrifying. Then in November, I felt the Lord nudging me to start logging my personal Bible study for accountability on the blog as I work through the Bible chronologically.

You see, one thing that has been imparted to me throughout my decades at Calvary, has been the need and love for reading through and studying scripture. I loved listening to Bob Coy teach. But contrary to popular (and condescending) opinion, it was not for his jokes.  Let's be honest. After 20+ years, I have just about heard all of his jokes. And when he tells that one liner again for the millionth time, I would normally just smile and roll my eyes like I do with some of my dad's jokes. The real reason I loved listening to BC teach is that he dedicated so much time behind the pulpit to actually reading the scriptures. So many preachers start with a verse, and then talk about that verse for 45 minutes. But the real life changing power of preaching is in presenting the scripture- and lots of it. (I also developed a love for alliterations under this guy! Can you tell??) But how, you may ask, could God use a man that was living in sin for whatever length of time? The answer is simple. God can use anybody or anything, like a donkey, the stars, a rock. Anything! That truth goes for you too, by the way. So the next time you feel particularly proud of yourself for being “used” just consider the company with which you keep.

Since having started this online devo blogging, I have learned so much. The process of really searching out the scriptures to discover more about God's character and then expressing it in words has been incredibly edifying and educational for me. It has also deepened my appetite and awareness for how desperately I need that time in God's word! Feeling anxious? Get in the word. Feeling sad? Get in the word. Feeling blessed? Get in the word. And really, get in it! Meditating on it all day, remembering the lessons extracted from the living breathing Word of God that morning, that is powerful.

Our Father longs to comfort us through His promises, teach us through His commandments, encourage us through His exhortations. But friends, we have to read it. And not only read it. Search it. Hold on to it. Meditate on it. Share it. Here's why. ;)

 the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

But know this.  I am not a professional blogger, writer, theologian, or grammar specialist. So adjust your expectations accordingly. :) Nevertheless, I do consider myself an apologist because this:

a·pol·o·gist
əˈpäləjist/
noun
noun: apologist; plural noun: apologists
  1. 1.
    a person who offers an argument in defense of something controversial.
Synonyms


Defender, supporter, upholder, advocate, proponent, exponent, champion, campaigner:
Oh, and for fun look at the antonym given : critic …...Ouch.
I would love to have you join me on this study through God's word and life in general. Each section of scripture is so full, and I am not doing a verse by verse exposition. So there will be other elements of God's character or lesson to be learned from each passage that I don't cover. In the comment section tell me what you saw, or if you can relate with what I saw, tell me how.

 I am so grateful to those of you that have “held me accountable” thus far even by simply reading through the devo posts. Just knowing you are there reminds me to keep going. And if we have learned nothing from these past 2 weeks, I hope we have learned the importance of accountability.



Saturday, April 12, 2014

Secrets of a Mega Church From an Insider.

With so many articles and blogs showing up exposing the dangers of "Mega Churches,"  I felt compelled to finally come out with all of the secrets that I possessed. You see, I have gone to Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale for over 20 years. Who better to show the hidden world of the .....dun dun dun......MEGA CHURCH...then me. I have even obtained video footage!! You won't believe your eyes!


Did you know that my mega church  ministers to those with special needs? Every week! Volunteers come and serve weekly just to give the parents a break???? How dare they! Watch this video and see if you aren't outraged! (sarcasm intended)


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Not only that, but some other people at that church dared to start an amazing radio station that doesn't just play the same top ten Christian songs on regular rotation! This mega  radio station uses worship songs and gospel messages to uplift and encourage the community! Outrageous. And if that isn't bad enough, a listener of this radio station named Miguel heard the need of a caller on an afternoon radio show, and Miguel actually tracked this man down to meet his need!!!! WHA????? Yes, it's despicable, I know. (Watch this only if you would like to cry like a baby)


And then one day Christians from that mega church opened a school where the gospel is taught daily, hourly even! So reckless. All that gospel has resulted in serious transformations. Exhibit A: This student published an incredible, unbelievable children's book and gave the money to help orphans! Orphans!  What are they teaching them at that mega school!!! (Watch this only if you want to be really really proud of the ministry of Calvary Christian Academy)




As if all of that wasn't enough, that pastor, of that mega church, began a foster kids program, and those people that go to that church? They take in children. Over 17,000 kids have been helped in the last 15 years. Psh. Figures right???


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And lastly, the attendees would bring their friends to this church for these mega Christmas and Easter services. Then that mega pastor, who thought he was so funny,  would preach the Word, the uncompromising Word of God, and his hilarity brought clarity. People let their guards down, and God's Word did not return void.The evidence is right here. This Muslim couple was invited by a friend, and frankly, you won't believe what happened next. You just have to watch. Ugh. So typical!



So there you have it folks. I told you it was shocking. However, if you are like me, maybe you didn't even watch any of the videos, you just read to the end. But seriously, you have to watch these videos. At least one. Any one. They will all leave you feeling the exact same way.

But wait there's more!

I couldn't upload all of the video footage, so if you click here, you can watch the story of a woman with panic attacks that found peace and now helps others, a drug addict now clean, a suicidal woman stopped in her tracks and now living in victory, a Liberian child soldier that was adopted by one of our pastors. Yes you will find story after story of lives changed by the power of the gospel.

But that's not even the half of it. There are more. There are thousands and thousands of people whose story has not been captured in video form. If you are one of those people, like me, whose life has been forever been changed through the power of God working through the people at this mega church, than for the love of all that's good and right.....start telling people! We have to get the word out. God is good, and we have been blessed. Don't keep it to yourself. Ready......set...go! And make disciples!

(P.S. I am in no way insinuating that my church or pastor were perfect in anyway. Far from it. Obviously. But I am just tired of all the negativity from all the Monday morning arm chair quarterbacks. So if you would like to comment on all the pitfalls of a mega church, then find a different blog. There are hundreds of them.)

Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.







Sunday, April 6, 2014

A time to mourn.


I Samuel 25:1
As I have been reading through I Samuel chronologically, there have been a few stops in Psalms. Those of you that are on this journey with me, know that I have been aching to get back into I Samuel. I feel like I left David hanging. He is hiding from Saul, and I need to get back there to get him to safety. :) Nevertheless, God had many beautiful lessons and comforts for me in the Psalms, for which my heart is glad.
So finally, FINALLY, today is the day. I am back in I Samuel. And what is the first verse? The first three words I read?
Then Samuel died;
Wait, what? No, no no!! Samuel can't die. Not now. David needs Samuel. He is the one who has mentored him, anointed him, prayed for him. Samuel. What will David do without Samuel? Oh the feelings that must have surged through David's heart. Will the calling still be fulfilled? Who will take his place? What will happen to the people? What now?

and the Israelites gathered together and lamented for him

What happens now? The answer is simple, but it might surprise you.
What do they need to do first before anything else?
 Mourn.
 It has to be done. Nothing else can happen until it does. And this verse, this one, matter of fact verse, seemingly separate from the rest of the chapter, bears more relevance to me and a million other people in the world right now than most of us would care to think about.

What is mourning?  It is the outward expression of grief.
Who is mourning? Well, it might be easier to answer ......... who isn't? 
 
Mourning happens as a result of loss. The death of a loved one is the most commonly spoken of reason for grief, but there are countless other losses that evoke this same type of feeling.
The loss of a dream. The loss of a home. The loss of a marriage. The loss of a job. In David's case? The loss of a leader.
This great loss.....
The Bible specifically mentions those that mourned loss.

In Numbers 14:39,  The Israelites mourn the loss of entering the promise land. Dreams and expectations shattered.

In Psalm 119:136, the Psalmist mourns the sins of God’s people. He says, “Tears stream down from my eyes, because they do not keep Your law.

Hosea 4:3 tells us that the land mourns because of Israel’s sin and because of the consequences that have come upon the land as a result of that.

More often than not, feelings of grief are ignored and left unidentified causing decades of damage.

I have felt deep grief a handful of times. And those early days? When you are going about your day, and  all of a sudden remember that your life is never going to be the same again? Those moments that take your breath away and make you literally shake your head in disbelief? That is grief. Even if no one has died.

Disclaimer: I love my brothers and sisters in Christ. In fact, I dare you to find a more ardent defender of the bride of Christ than I. But this needs to be said.  Allowing others to mourn, is not our specialty.  Grief makes us so uncomfortable. 

It usually takes about 3.4 seconds after hearing the news that someone's loved one has died for them to hear the following exchange:

Was he a Christian?
Oh good.
Well, at least he's in a better place. 

Or how about a women that cannot bear a child? How many times has she heard a flippant, “Well, you can always adopt right?” This is not compassion.

Look, I am as big a fan of Pollyanna's glad game as anyone, I am just saying, it would be a good idea to apply scripture in these instances.

Bear each other's burdens.
Mourn with those that mourn.

 Mourn.

Not without hope. No. We have hope. We have The Hope. But some rush so fast through the “We mourn” part of that verse and only express the “hope” part.

Recently I gave a mom permission to cry her eyes out after the death of her son. Her response?  Relief and surprise. It's ok, I stressed to her.  I needed her to know that she wasn't somehow less spiritual because of her deep sadness. The fact that she didn't know this was a wake up call to me. How did she not know that it is within her absolute right as a mom, nay a Christian mom, to sob uncontrollably for what she has lost? What have we done when a mother feels guilty for appropriately mourning the loss of her son?

Why are we rushing people past their God given imperative to mourn, just to put on a happy face? Don't do it. If you are mourning, take it to God. Let Him walk you through it. If you know someone who is mourning a loss, any loss, mourn with them.

Don't rush me.  I won't do it. I am allowed to mourn.  No matter how often you tell me God has a plan, I will just tell you that I know He has a plan, and mourning is part of it. Mourning doesn't make you any less of a Christian. It doesn't mean you don't have joy. Or strength. Or faith. On the contrary. It takes faith to let yourself sob, heaving uncontrollable sobs, on someone's shoulder. It takes strength to reach out to someone and let them know you need help, that you need a burden bearer. 

Grief isolates. Mourning brings people together. 

Mourning does not look the same for everyone. I am not an expert. I only know what it looks like for me.

Writing
. I have to write. I have to organize my thoughts. 
Talking. I need someone to know I am sad and be sad with me. I need to be understood and be able to express my thoughts.
Crying. It cleanses me. 
Praising. I have never reached my hands higher to God than I have in those lowest of low moments. Praise songs rise from my lips as tears fall to the floor. And I am healing.
Meditating on scripture. I need a go to verse.
Laughter I don't want to brag, but I have some of the funniest friends on the planet. And with one word, they can make me laugh out loud, erasing the pain, if only for a moment.

There are a lot of wounded people walking around that have never allowed themselves to mourn, and some actually feel that this is the godly way. 

My dear friend is always saying "We need more burden bearers." And I couldn't agree more. You don't need the perfect words to say. Just be there. Hug. Sit. Pour a glass of water.

Ecclesiastes 7
It is better to go to a house of mourning
than to go to a house of feasting,
since that is the end of all mankind,
and the living should take it to heart.
Grief is better than laughter,
for when a face is sad, a heart may be glad.
The heart of the wise is in a house of mourning,
but the heart of fools is in a house of pleasure.

In your moment of mourning. Take note. Learn. Oh there is so much to learn. Soak in the presence of God. Feel every feeling. Invite your family and friends to mourn with you. Turn to each other, not on each other. God promises to turn our mourning into laughter, our weeping into dancing. He says there is a time to cry. It will not last forever, but it. must. be.

If we do not mourn properly, grief turns to bitterness and despair.
 
I pray for those that are mourning, by name. I know so many of you. Too many. Join with me. Lift up your brothers and sisters in prayer. Call. Email. Text. Love. Bear burdens. We are the church. We.Are.The.Church. We are family. And they will know we are Christians by our love for one another.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

I'm not missing you at all.

This week was the last meeting of the year for our Classical Conversations Home school group, and if I am going to be totally honest, there are a few moms there that I am just not going to miss during the break. But for the sake of time, I will just mention one.

Her name is Eunice. Eunice and I are total opposites in so many ways. She says things like “when we finished all our school work before noon,” or “when I was writing lesson plans” and “when I finished cleaning,” …..all things I have never said. She has three boys about the ages of my three girls. Did I mention she is blond and Southern? Hailing from Texas,of all places, that drawl comes out once and a while standing in stark contrast to my New Yorker speed talking. I couldn't tell you exactly how it started, but all of a sudden she became the go-to recipient of my weekly, “Hey, I am running late” text on Tuesday morning, to which she would reply with grace and and smiley face :) She was the one who laughed at my silly comments at our Tutor meetings when I thought no one was paying attention. Yes, before I knew it, or could have predicted it, we were friends. I felt understood by her, and I have learned from her.  I want to be more like her when I grow up. Parting for the summer can be sad with this type of friend, but on that last day, she tried to make me feel better by letting me know that she had a feeling...... she wouldn't miss me. Did you read that? Yup, She said every word of it. “Wait, that came out wrong,” she said. “I mean, I have a feeling I am still going to see you.” Oh, ok. Yes. That's better. We fumbled through some get together ideas, until I finally invited myself, with children, over to her house to swim. Satisfied, we hugged and parted ways.

It was then that I determined that I was going to not miss some other ladies from my wonderful group of Tuesday Family Friends. Life is so busy with stuff. But this summer, I want it to be busy with friends. Old and new. Intentionally. Normally, I am the queen of the last minute invite. “Heading to the park, are you free?”  Even though it is hit or miss, at this stage of life, it is usually all I feel capable of coordinating while swimming upstream in a sea of laundry and dishes.
I have often just shook my head when hearing of other hyper planners that do things like....plan....Planning is something my mother does. I mean, if I have to, I will plan things, but it is painful. Some people love to plan, like my first born daughter. Imagine that. But it is not in my nature, for a number of reasons, not the least being, I am the baby of the family. The end.

But not this summer. Look out. I am tired of saying “We should get together” and knowing almost instantly that it won't happen. I am going to start hunting some of you down and penciling you in. You have been warned, especially if you have a pool. :) And when we get together, I want to know more about you. I want to know how you found Jesus. And how you met your husband. And what was your major. Why did you chose that? What do you want to be doing when your kids are grown? I want to know more about all these beautiful faces that I see in the hallway, once a week. I want to know what we can learn from each other. I want know what you have learned about the character of God in your life.

Let's go deeper this summer, building relationships, sharing life, sharing prayer requests, and making memories,   all the while allowing ourselves to see a person beyond preconceived ideas and superficial differences.

What are some ideas you have for getting together so you can not miss your friends when your school year is over? Share in the comments!


Monday, March 31, 2014

Burning Down the House.




Time after time, the Lord has stopped me in my tracks with the words from my own mouth as I preach them to my children.The trend seems to be that only moments after those words escape my lips, I find myself hearing them again in my spirit, but this time from my Father's heart instead. And in that moment, I can hardly breath at the thought of how great His love is for me.

It happened again today. And I am so grateful.

It's Monday. I knew that going into today, I even took some steps to curb the Mondayness of the day, extra cuddling, an extra cup of tea, however, there is no completely erasing the power of Monday. So as I rotated another laundry load I heard more fighting, more whining, more bickering coming from the kitchen. As my temper rose, I forged into their midst only to see them fighting and pushing and pulling IN FRONT OF A HOT STOVE. Dear Lord. That is it. What on earth could be that important?

After separating and assessing , I launched into the following lecture:

Do you have any idea how dangerous that was?
Do you know how bad a burn hurts?
You think that scratch hurt yesterday? That's nothing. A burn doesn't stop hurting. It burns and burns and burns.
What could be that important?
(And then the finale...)
It is amazing what you will sacrifice to get your own way!

Walking away after I doled out the consequences, I was still irritated, still frustrated, still discouraged. However, it doesn't take long for my mind to wander. With the idea of pain still thick in the air, my mind landed upon a different type of pain. My thoughts went to all the pain around me stemming from divorce. My heart breaks for the women that gave all they could. My soul mourns for the men that were betrayed and left broken. But mostly my mind turns to the children, some that are too young to understand why, they only understand that it hurts, some just old enough to blame themselves, but all forever impacted. So what? What can be done? How does this change? It seems impossible. I pray, nearly every day for miracles in those homes already divided. I have seen God do the impossible. Over and over. So I don't give up hope. Yet divorce after divorce is the modern day reality, and while some are caused by dramatic one time events that destroy their union, but mostly? The cause? Irreconcilable differences. One difference after another. Little and big. Daily. Moment by moment. Differences. Little foxes that spoil the vine. The straw, a tiny straw that finally broke the camels back after hundreds of tiny, stupid, little straws. And I think of my own marriage. Even with a man as wonderful as my own, we are different. And almost constantly we see things differently. And way too often, I demand my way. For what?

And in my spirit I hear the Lord say:

Do you know how dangerous that is?
Do you have any idea how bad divorce hurts?
Do you think not getting your way is painful? That was nothing. Divorce doesn't stop hurting. It hurts and hurts and hurts.
What could be that important?
And then....
It is amazing what you will sacrifice to get your own way.


Divorce starts at every disagreement. Ever selfish insistence. Every disrespectful comment. Every unloving gesture. All those little tiny seemingly insignificant straws. Until, it breaks the marriage in two.
DISCLAIMER: I am not talking about Abuse, Addiction, or Adultery. Those are not little straws by any means. But I am talking about the little things I hear ladies complain about. Personality differences, temperament differences, perspective differences.

So my challenge to myself and everyone is this. Stop. Stop being offended. Remember why you chose your spouse. Choose to love. Choose to respect. Let go of control. Give it to God. Every moment. Every thing. Speak in love. Treat kindly. And remember what you are risking, to get your own way. 

 "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."- Ephesians 4:2-3

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Psalms 142- What To Do When You Are Feeling Overwhelmed.

 



Ever feel overwhelmed? Sometimes I wish I was southern, because I so want to be able to pull off a “ya'll” once and a while. Here's where it would fit nicely.

Ya'll, we are in this time and space where everyone walks around almost constantly overwhelmed with life. Little things overwhelm us, big things overwhelm us. Decisions, consequences, sickness, and disease can leave us just crying for help. If you don't believe me, walk into a church on Sunday. I bet they play a song called “Oceans” and when the first few notes hit and everyone realizes what song it is, listen for the collective sigh. Listen for the strongly sung chorus proclaiming that we will “call upon Your name and keep our eyes above the waves” because we all have waves we are trying not to look at. 

The clincher in that line is to “call upon His name,” because without that, there will be no keeping our eyes above the waves. This will be my verse tomorrow. The one I print out and meditate on.

Psalms 142:3 When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then You knew my path.


He knows. He sees and He knows. Sometimes, all we need is to know that someone knows, someone understands, and someone sees. And it is enough. All day long my children clamor for my attention. They want me to know everything that happens. If they did something right, I need to know. If they have been wronged, I need to know. And just me knowing, quite often is enough. This fact is what propels the success of Facebook. Someone has to know that I got my checklist done today, saw that movie, achieved that goal, lost my phone, found my phone, whatever! We need someone to know. And Someone does! When I feel like a failure, when I blow it, when I am lost in all my responsibilities and the impossibility of getting them all done to my standards, He knows. He has seen my path. He knows where I have been and where I am going. He has been there the whole time. And He defends me.

Every day the enemy's goal is to overwhelm us. And our Lord's plan is that we run to Him and His Word. His Word is life. Don't take that for granted. Read it. See how God's character is displayed and grab that verse to hold onto throughout the day.