Saturday, October 4, 2014

Mama said there'd be days like these.... I Samuel 30

I Samuel 30-Friday, October 3


I have been having a week.  I am pretty sure you understand because I have seen you at the store, and you look as tired as me. And when I ask how you are doing, you tell me the truth. Life is not easy. There are many blessings. Many. And I try to squeeze the guts out of all of them. But in this world you will have troubles. That was a promise. From God made flesh. I don't always ask God why. In fact, I hardly do. But today I did.

What is going on, Lord? What do you want me to do?

Oh, right. I know the answer to that one. It is the same answer He has graciously, lovingly, generously pointed me to over and over, especially this last year.

Go to the Word.
And I know. I know that an answer awaits.
So I open the next chapter. Chapter 30 and read this:

 David and his men arrived in Ziklag on the third day. The Amalekites had raided the Negev and attacked and burned down Ziklag. 2 They also had kidnapped the women and everyone in it from the youngest to the oldest. They had killed no one but had carried them off as they went on their way.
3 When David and his men arrived at the town, they found it burned down. Their wives, sons, and daughters had been kidnapped. 4 David and the troops with him wept loudly until they had no strength left to weep. 5 David’s two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelite and Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite, had also been kidnapped. 6 David was in a difficult position because the troops talked about stoning him, for they were all very bitter over the loss of their sons and daughters.

That is a bad week. Awful. David was kicked out of Philistia into the fire.
Ready or not.
And just as he feared, everything was heading south.
Family? Gone.
Belongings? Gone.
Friends? Ready to stone him.
Yet how did he respond?

But David found strength in the Lord his God.

Yes. David. Of course you did. Of course I can. I don't have to understand. I don't have to agree. I don't have to know how on earth I am going to do this. But I can stop. And find strength in the Lord. I can. I will. But how?

7 David said to Abiathar the priest, son of Ahimelech, “Bring me the ephod.” So Abiathar brought it to him, 8 and David asked the Lord: “Should I pursue these raiders? Will I overtake them?”
The Lord replied to him, “Pursue them, for you will certainly overtake them and rescue the people.”



As I keep seeing this “Ephod” in scripture, I realized I didn't quite understand the significance/symbolism and how it relates to us today. This is what I found out.
The Ephod was a garment the high priest put on before going to the altar.
David saying “Bring me the Ephod” is like me saying, “Someone go get my guitar!!!! We need to worship, people!”
More importantly, we know Christ is our great High Priest (Hebrews 8:1-6). The ephod is symbolic of Him. The colors point to His deity, the blood He shed, and His royalty.
When the priests put on their ephods, they were putting on Christ! And Jesus made the Way to the Father possible for all men. We can therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, to obtain mercy and find grace in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).


Here is where God blows my mind once again.
Three days earlier, I was distracted, annoyed, fighting bitterness in my heart. And I felt the Lord telling me to get my guitar. Fine. But I don't know where any of my sheet music is, or my ipad. What am I going to play? Reluctantly, I grabbed my guitar off the hook on the wall and walked into my bedroom. And stood there. Staring. Waiting. And then. Just like that, a song started playing in my head. A Bible verse I had put to music months ago,playing clear as day in my head. You might recognize the words:
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.




I must have sang and played it ten times that night. My bitterness gone. My spirit lifted. My soul strengthened. In the Lord.


My mom is always right. “Turn on your praise music,” she says. “A garment of praise casts off a spirit of heaviness,” she says. And it turns out, she was right. 
Here is the song that was in my head so now it can be in yours! :)
 *****EDITED Saturday, October 4th TO ADD.....
 Jesus wasn't done. Every once and a while I feel compelled to write. Sometimes I find out why, mostly I don't. Last night was one of those nights when I.had.to.type.

 Worship. 

This was God's word for me. He whispered to me in my spirit a week ago as He led me to sing a song in the privacy of my bedroom erasing anxiety, pain, and the sadness that can sometimes be contained in the everyday trials of life.  Then a few days ago He showed me through the life of David as he put on his Ephod, his garment of praise, strengthening his spirit and finding direction. I heard the words of my mom (yes moms, your words have life way beyond the moment) telling me that "Praise stills the avenger."  So I wrote. I wrote to cement these lessons into my brain. I wrote to organize my thoughts, and I wrote to declare His glory, because He is so full of Glory. I marveled at how He had been weaving my circumstances together as He laid out this tapestry of grace before my eyes. I thought He was done. I loved my lesson. 

But today. 

Today was a memorial service for a very special lady. She lived out the Gospel in joy and with purpose. Her faith. Her faith was as limitless as her God. Her outer beauty was documented regularly all over the world, but it didn't hold a candle to the beauty of Jesus love lived out in her. The light in her smile was lit with the power of the Holy Spirit, and every moment was a moment to shine for Christ. Even in her last months, weeks, and days, through years of incredible pain and suffering, there was one thing that every person who spoke of Ashleigh today referred to. 

Her love for worship.

 The intricacy of God's design is sometimes easily missed. But not today. Today I marvel at the twists and turns. I take note of His awesome glory as He tells His story of redemption and Sovereignty.

 You see it was years ago that I heard Ashleigh teach a lesson I never forgot. She spoke on the power of a purposed devotional life. 
Every day she would pour into scripture and write down 3 things. 
1) God's character displayed
2) An area in her life that needed to be molded in to that character trait
3) what she was going to do to be transformed into His image. An action plan.

 She shared countless stories of how God took those daily lessons and brought constant opportunities to minister to others through the power of his word. It was this small teaching that comes to mind every time I sit down at God's feet to meditate on His word. Her faithful example has so impacted me and changed me through the cleaning power of Scripture.  Every devo blog I have written has been influenced by those powerful words I took to heart all those years ago. 


This can't be missed.

All week God has been teaching me about the power of worship.

Sunday night He quietly led me to my guitar to show me in tangible way the power of worship in my own life. 

Wednesday-Friday He shows me in scripture the power of worship in David's life.

Then today, He displays to me and hundreds with me, the power of worship in the life and death of one of his saints. But not just any life. The very woman who God used to influence the way I study the Bible, the way I just blogged about worship. 

The title of this blog, Apologista, exemplifies my goal for it. To persuade and prove to all the reality of Christ's deity. However, I have come to understand that the real proof happens in our hearts when we watch Him move, and love, and orchestrate experiences that we could not have imagined. Yes, Ashleigh is in heaven now. Her healing took place there. But you could not speak with her for one moment without knowing that every day of her life was filled with miracles proclaiming the power of the gospel and as I learned today, the power of worship. 


I have seen God today in a manner I will never forget. I have experienced His presence in the most undeniable ways. I pray that you too will dig into His word. Look for His character. Watch Him radically change you and your world around you. And live a life of worship that could never be denied.  



Saturday, September 27, 2014

Stuck in the Middle with You- I Samuel 29


I Samuel 29

Life is so busy.

So I have been stuck.

I know that it is incredibly important that anything I put out there on the world wide web about scripture not be done in haste. For that reason, it has been a while since I have devo-blogged. (totally not a word)
Apparently,  I have taken “meditating on a portion of scripture” to the next level as I have been “stuck” on I Samuel 29 for quite some time now.
But isn't God funny?

Why? You ask. Well, Read I Samuel 29 and get back to me.

Ok, did you? Well, I will have to take your word for it. In I Samuel 28, David made a really crazy decision. Because he was afraid of Saul, he ran to the Philistines for safety. Yeah. The same Philistines that lost a mighty giant. The same Philistines that pretty much hated Israel. David ran there because his destiny was scary and uncertain. And now he was stuck. David's decision to run to a known enemy, because of an unknown fear, made no sense. But we all do it. We run to whatever brings us comfort. It could be as devastating as drugs or as mind numbing as television, but we run to something, anything when we have a fear of the future. Jonah did the same thing. Nineveh was a terrifying place to go. Instead Jonah decided he was going to head in the opposite direction. But God had a plan. And ready or not, Jonah's time was now. Same with David. David needed a little motivation to move because he had grown comfortable in this place of hiding out. In chapter 29 David is ready to go so far as to fight with the Philistines ...against Israel because he has totally forgotten the call on his life. Consequently, it takes one of the Philistines to call him out and tell him he is out of place. He doesn't belong there. And he has to move on.

Moving on is scary. I know this because we are doing it. It would be comfortable for my husband to keep his job as a mechanic. For the last year and a half he has been working part-time at church, and full time at Audi. (that's too many “times”, for those of you keeping track) and it could not go on like this forever. Being spread too thin, Paul knew it was time to change. But the question remained, which way? He was either going to go back to full time at Audi only, or switch to full time at the church.

Here's the thing. 
I know Audi. It's not perfect, but it's familiar.  Paul has done well there, and had opportunities to move up. The reality is that we have a lot of ballerinas, and swimmers, and they eat a lot! Audi is comfortable. Audi makes sense.

But God gave Paul a dream many years ago. And it wasn't to be a mechanic. That was his waiting place. Deep in his heart was a desire, given by God, to be a pastor. He has a pastor's heart. He loves. He forgives. He is unwavering in preaching God's truth and has done it wherever God has placed him.

Two weeks ago a choice had to be made. Paul was offered a full time position at our church.  Thankfully, through it all, God has been so faithful to show us time and again through His word, through His people, and through His Holy Spirit the way that we should go. 

Isaiah 30:21 tells us that we will hear a word saying “this is the way, walk in it.” 
We had heard that word. And we knew it.

The timeliness of this chapter in Samuel blows me away because it reiterates two basic and timely truths:

God's watches over His Word to perform it. Jeremiah 1:12
A man plans his way but the Lord directs his path. Proverbs 16:9

More prevalent than a fear of the unknown is the fear of choosing the wrong path. Therefore it is with great comfort I read this passage. God is in control, and He was directing David's path.

God is in control,and He is directing our path.

I have been “stuck” on I Samuel 29 which is about David being “stuck” with the Philistines. If you have been studying these chapters in Samuel with me you know this isn't the first time these words, inspired by God, thousands of years ago have been so perfectly timed for my life and yours too. Some of you have told me. And now I rejoice to watch David moving forward, ready or not, trusting God to fulfill his calling. It is also with great excitement and anticipation that we follow the Lord  out of this waiting place trusting Him to continue to lead and direct us through the unknown. And it is with great love and humility that we ask for lots of prayer from you!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

I've never.....


I recently found out that this was a "drinking" game. Funnily enough, the first time I played it was at a women's Bible study, except you earned toothpicks instead of chugging alcohol. Let's say I start off the game with a statement "I've never broken a bone." Anyone playing who HAS broken a bone before must give me a toothpick. Then the next person gives their "I've never _________." statement and anyone who has ever _________ will give that person a toothpick and so on and so forth until one person holds all the toothpicks. Technically that person is the winner, but winning isn't the point of the game. It's about having a hilarious time getting to know all your friends' dirty little secrets.


Recently I came up with a twist on the game. It doesn't involve toothpicks, yet it is more scandalous than drinking. Instead of giving someone a toothpick, you give someone......dun dun dun duunnnnn.... MERCY!!! And instead of doing this when someone declares what they *haven't*  done, you give it when there is something that they *have* done.

Let me explain.


Scenario #1

Someone cuts you off in traffic. Your blood starts to boil. You may even consider cutting them off. But wait....it's time for a rousing game of "I've never!" Here's what you do. Think carefully. Can you say....I have never cut someone off. Ever. Or made any driving infractions. No Mistakes. Never taken a wrong turn. Never Fallen victim to a blind spot. You have? Okay here's how you play.  At that point, forget about drinking or toothpicks. Pull out a large helping of mercy and give it out.

Scenario #2
 You try calling your spouse/friend/cousin/daughter/sister/neighbor. And they don't pick up the phone. In fact, they NEVER pick up the phone. UGH!!! Especially when you need them. Like NOW! Pick up. Pick up. Pick up. No. Nothing. So annoying!! Wait......right when you feel that temper tantrum kicking in (yes, that's what I called it) it's time to play "I've never_________"  "I have never been unreachable when someone tried to call me. Ever. Never left my phone home. Never left the house without the charger. Never been on a call and not clicked over. Never been in the bathroom when the phone beckoned. Never not once." Nope. Not likely.  Okay, pull out some mercy. And give it up.

Scenario #3
You get an email. And immediately you "hear" the persons tone. They are so rude! How could they "talk" to you like that! So disrespectful. But wait. Before you get ready to blast them back an email, or share this one with all of your friends....it's time to play...."I've never!" Have you never had someone misunderstand your written word? Or taken something you emailed the wrong way? Because that has definitely happened to me. You see, I am a pretty straightforward person. I have to really try to add a "Bless your heart" here or there in emails, because I have learned that my "Get to the point" nature can come across as rude in writing. So much so that I was once kicked out of a Freecycle group (I kid you not) because of my "tone" in an email. If you are not familiar with Freecycle, it is a group where you can give away items, and even ask for items. Their one basic rule is that you can't "ask" for an item until you have given something away. After giving a ton of items away, I decided to test the waters and post a "wanted" ad.  The powers that be refused to post it because they said I had never given anything away. "That's easy," I thought, and I quickly emailed them all of the "evidence" I had of the items I had given away. They then accused me of "only giving away items so that I could get items." Lord have mercy. These people are crazy. I tried to resolve it quickly though and just got to the point. I emailed quotes from their rules that showed I hadn't broken protocol. Next thing I knew I was kicked out. When I asked why, they wrote that my "tone" was aggressive.  I read and reread these emails, even had my husband read them and we could not figure out what "aggressive tone" they were talking about. So yeah. I guarantee that your intentions for an email have been misunderstood. You just may not know about it.  Knowing this little tidbit from my life however, before you assign "tone" to an email, it's time to give it up. Mercy.

Scenario #4
 You hear of how someone has been wronged. You hear all the sordid "details." You are furious. How could that person do that to them? Don't they know that such and such is wrong! Just plain wrong. That's it. You are never talking to them again, and you are going to make sure everyone knows what a jerk they are for behaving so ungodly. But wait! This is the perfect time for "I've never!" It is amazing to me how popular the saying "There are two sides to every story" is, yet how quickly people are to dismiss this reality. And like wildfire rumors are spread. Assumptions are formed. Character maligned. All because we latch on to one side of the story. I used to be the first one in line to do this. Until, that is, God put me with a man who never did. I would tell him these atrocious stories that should have evoked the same outrage in him that I was feeling, and he would be slow to jump on board. He knew there was likely another side to the story. That attitude used to frustrate me to no end. Mercy. How could he extend mercy to someone so clearly in the wrong?  Until it was me to whom he was extending mercy. Then I got it. It took me too many years, but I finally got it.

What is my point? We live in a world, where people get incredibly bent out of shape over the smallest offenses. And not only are these infractions not worth the anger they provoke, but they are also sins that we commit ourselves, regularly. Thoughtlessness, selfishness, pride, carelessness, laziness, distractability, forgetfulness. No one is immune to this list. And when we are the offenders? We want Mercy. We expect Mercy.

Ok fine. Not you. You don't do those things, or at least not as bad as that other person. But let us remember the enormous debt that we all have accrued, illustrated best in the story of the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18:21-35. We have all received an immeasurable amount of mercy. And to those who have been forgiven much, we must love much. This truth is emphasized beautifully in James 2:13

For judgment is without mercy to the one who hasn’t shown mercy.
 Mercy triumphs over judgment.
I dare you to play the game tomorrow. I guarantee you will have an opportunity! Comment here if you do! I would love to hear about it. I am sure I will have a chance also, and I pray that God would flood our minds and hearts with His mercy, and that we would faithfully extend it to others!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Why I agree with Richard Dawkins and feel thankful that he finally said it.



When I saw Richard Dawkins' tweet that outraged the masses, this one:



I admit, my initial response was mostly emotional. What a disgusting thing to say! I have friends that have children that are beautiful and happy and also have Down syndrome. I was furious for the pain that they endure, not because of their child, but because of idiotic comments like the one from the best and brightest the atheist world has to offer.

And while I am a woman and definitely an emotional being, I also love math and logic which is the real reason why I had a definite problem with Richard Dawkins comment. Now, don't get me wrong. I am under no delusions that for one moment I could win a logic dance-off with RD, but his claim....it's a mess!!

Let's look at it:

“It would be immoral to bring it (a child with Down syndrome) into the world if you had a choice.”

He then goes on to explain that it is simply for the welfare of the child that he came to this conclusion. How generous.

So let me see if I can figure this out.

Children with Down Syndrome suffer.
Bringing a child into the world that will suffer is..... immoral.


Well Mr. Dawkins, I actually agree with half of it. Children with Down Syndrome suffer. It's true. You know how I know that? Because every human on the planet suffers. But do you know what other types of children suffer? And arguably more then a kid with DS? Children of divorce. You know what other type of children suffer? Again, arguably more? Spoiled children of rich parents. You know what other type of children suffer? Child actors. They are a mess!! I wonder if there is a prenatal test for the genetic predisposition to go into acting? Then Richard D. could campaign their abortions too. I mean, all this poor misunderstood lover of humanity wants to do is end the suffering of children by killing them. Don't be so hard on the guy.

Yes, children with Down Syndrome suffer, but hey Mr. Science and Reason guy, can you measure suffering? Because, if you can, wow, that's impressive. What is the formula for that? Oh wait, you can't actually measure suffering. But yet you are sure this one group of people are better off not existing because of their degree of suffering, right? All of them? They suffer so intensely that they would be better off non existent? None of them are ever happy, and sweet and actually the most unconditionally loving people you could ever meet? Yeah, just admit it. That comment was not only absurd, but also very un-sciency. Suffering. You can't measure it. And yet even if you could, what algorithm, exactly, would you use to determine if ones suffering renders their existence a total mistake? Here's an idea. Why not ask a grieving parent who lost their child, if they are suffering? Now ask them if they wish their child would never have been born...ya know...because then they could have avoided all that suffering. Here's the thing.

Suffering does not equal lack of joy or purpose.

 But now I am using all kinds of crazy words. Joy. Purpose. Sorry about that.

Ok, I know, it sounds like I don't agree with Mr. Dawkins, and now you are frustrated with my misleading “bait and switch” title. But wait! I really do agree with him! Here is the quote with which I completely agree.

"What I was saying simply follows logically from the ordinary pro-choice stance that most of us, I presume, espouse."

In other words, he is merely taking a pro-choice philosophy out to it's logical conclusion.

Case and point:
 If that unborn baby, that fetus, has no value, has no rights, is not a life,  then who cares what the reason is! Just abort it. Wrong gender? Abort it. Wrong timing? Abort it. Going to interfere with your modeling aspirations? Abort it. Going to have a chromosomal abnormality? Of course! No brainer.


As foolish and revolting as his initial comment was, this fact remains.

That comment flows perfectly and naturally from his evolutionary pro-choice stance.

So why, pray tell, is everyone so shocked? Why is there such outrage?

The reason is simple. Hardly anyone takes their pro-choice philosophy out to its logical conclusion.
They say things like, “It's a baby if you want it to be.” (So scientific) Or  "yes, decapitating babies is gross, but who am I to tell a woman what to do with her body." Huh?
 No matter how obviously illogical these statements are, people  continue with these ridiculous arguments for abortion. because they must cling to their "freedom" whatever the cost. The cost in this case is logical inconsistency.

I have to admit, when I took to the twitterverse and saw all the magnificently dissenting opinions, I felt relief. Ahhhh!! People do have souls! Yay! The internet can still distinguish evil! Hooray! All is not lost! But then it happened. The only way I can describe the feeling I had next would be to liken it to the day after our most recent presidential election As I stood in my neighborhood, covered in Romney signs, all I could do was shake my head and wonder what went wrong. I thought we all agreed? It hit me. My comfort was fleeting because I knew the truth. I sat there at my computer confused.  Yes, the majority of tweeters are using their twitter handles to blast Dawkins and his morally depraved views, but does that really match popular opinion? Does it accurately reflect what happens statistically? Or is everyone just mad that he said it out loud? Are they just in disbelief that he pulled the curtain back only to reveal a little atheist of a man whose pro-choice view of life is cold and black and empty.

This one statistic is what brought me back to reality. I read it recently, and it is horrific.
Ninety percent.......(you know what I am going to say right?) Ninety percent of unborn babies diagnosed with DS are aborted. So you know what that means?

The internet is a liar. 

Because if people were honest, there would have been no backlash. There would have been no blogs on Huffington Post making a joke out of the whole debacle. If people were honest, 90% of them would have “favorited” his comment. Because statistics say that most people agree with him. And that is that sad truth.

Yes Dawkins, you are right when you say that your comment flows perfectly from your world view. And I can imagine how shocked you were when you were attacked by the very people that are normally on your side. You will have to forgive them because they are just not smart enough to take your espoused views to their logical conclusions. And to you, I am truly thankful. I am thankful that you said it out loud. I am thankful that you exposed the pro-choice philosophy for all that it really is. Because of you, I know right now someone out there finally gets it.

So before I conclude, that person is the one with whom I need to talk. With all this media attention, all this talk of aborting babies because they had down syndrome, all the apparent outrage over taking the life of an innocent, there is someone else out there that may understand now what they didn't realize then. You see, like many others,  we too were told that our first baby girl had all the markers for down syndrome. But we refused an amnio because we didn't think knowing was worth the risk. Any baby from God deserved a chance at life. That was an easy decision for us. But I know that it is not an easy decision for all. I know that there are women and men, mothers and fathers that agonized over that same decision. I know that some decided to get the amnio, and in turn, due to complications, lost their baby, a baby that actually did not even have DS. I also know that others chose a drastically different route. They chose to end the life of their child. They believed the lie. They really thought they were doing the charitable thing. They were deceived by men “smarter” then them. Doctors. Midwives. Family members. All lied. And just like that a life was gone. This was a baby, with eyelashes and fingernails and smiles and toes. A baby that was brutally murdered. If that was you, if you made that choice, but now, thanks to Dawkins, you have seen the lies exposed for what they really are, you may feel so much pain that you think you will die. But I need you to know one thing. There is forgiveness at the cross. There is healing from the hand of God. You can find freedom and peace. I promise you. Yes, I am glad Dawkins said what he did. I agree that pro-choice philosophy logically leads one to his exact pitiful and nauseating comments. And I am thankful that he drew back the curtain for all to see the ugliness that comes with the pro-choice world view.But more than that I pray that those that were deceived, would find healing. And I pray that those that are in that valley of decision, would choose life.  

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The top 15 reasons it's tough to be a lefty.




 In honor of Left handers day I thought I would try to educate 90% of the world on what it's like for a minority like me. If you're a righty, I don't expect you to understand. But if you are a lefty, I know you will be nodding your head, and reliving tragic childhood memories with me. Seriously people. My grandfather had his hands smacked with a ruler for using his left hand. But because of it, I think his genes doubled down and produced a ton of lefties, including both of his children, and all three of his grandchildren! My poor right handed mother. The craftiest woman known to man had to teach two lefty daughters how to knit, crochet, and needlepoint backwards! One hundred percent of her children were lefty! Can you imagine? The social implications? In our house it was the opposite of the rest of the world. In our house 75% of the population was lefty! For my sister and I, it was a utopia of sorts. But I guess my mom could have used this this:


Yeah, there is a whole book dedicated to helping parents raise lefty children in this right handed world. So here ya go. I know that only 10% of my readers will be interested in this list, if that! But for once, there is something designed just for us, and not the other way around. So I dare you, my fellow lefty, share with pride! Let's stand in solidarity! Go lefties!!!
  1. Erasable pens.Yes they are in our past, thank God, but what about my memory? That is permanent, and so are the ink stains on my hand.
     
  2. Teachers lamenting that my handwriting skills are doomed.
     
  3. 3 ring binders- These are like some kind of medieval torture device. Could you write neatly with your arm stuck in between 2 giant metal hoops?

  4. Spiral bound notebooks- ouch

  5. Desks- Where does my elbow go?

  6. Scissors- I always had to fight that other lefty for the rusty pair of left scissors. Or share. That works good. 
     
  7. Realizing your belt buckle is upside down.

  8. Dealing with traders- people who write with their left and play sports with their right.

  9. Feeling used- "Oh you're a lefty? You can hit to right field, right??"

  10. Never being associated with a correct answer. “You're....... not right” Who wants to be “left” out?

  11. Always being associated with liberals. “Those lefties”

  12. Lame jokes to help us cope. “At least I am in my right mind”

  13. Nobody wants to sit next to you at meals. 
     
  14. Spending 90% of your life using doors, cup holders in cars, computer mouses, knives, pens, pencils, belts, pant zippers, can openers, playing cards, etc. that have been specifically designed to NOT work for you. 
  15. Googling " famous lefties" and realizing Justin Bieber is a lefty.
     (because everyone knows that the best way to invoke sympathy is to link yourself with Justin Bieber)
Justin Bieber




Saturday, August 9, 2014

It's a cruel...cruel cruel summer.....-time to review! I Samuel 26-28, and some Psalms

It's a cruel, cruel, cruel summer....

Summer....it can't be over yet. Seriously, where did it go? What did I do? I keep trying to remember, but the thing is, this has been one of the hardest summers of my life. Hands down. A lot of loss. A lot of pain. A lot of trying to keep my head above water and keep doing laundry when all I wanted to do was cry.  But there was also a lot of joy, love, and beauty in the midst of the pain. I haven't done a devo blog in about a month. But when I sat down tonight to do one, I realized it was time for a recap. (I try to recap every 5 chapters or so to really meditate on what God is teaching me, and it has been more than that.) The crazy part is that these 7 or so devo blogs I needed to review, covered the entire summer.  So as I am trying to recall and review what exactly what happened to this summer, I sit down to type out a devo and what is up next for me to study? A review  of what *God* taught me this summer. Pretty cool. Pre-tty cool. God's timing. It's amazing.

I Samuel 26- Excuse me, your fear is showing.

In chapter 26 David displays a healthy fear of God when given the opportunity to end Saul's life. He feared God more than he feared Saul. And this was to his great credit. We could learn a lot from David here.  Too often we fear man more than God. This truth is displayed any time you try to hide a sin from someone, or fear admitting a mistake. Newsflash: God already knows! Yet too often we can try to hide sin from man, foolishly thinking it matters more what man thinks than what God knows.
Here is a list of things that we fear, and how we show that we fear man more than God:
Pain- afraid of pain? Drink it away.
Disappointment-afraid of disappointment?  Don't love others. Than you will be safe.

Loneliness- Afraid of loneliness? Date that guy/girl that you know is wrong for you. At least you won't be lonely.

Failure- Ignore God's calling. It's too scary. You might fail. 
 

Yet fearing *God* leads to freedom!
David knew that Saul's days were limited, because of God's promise. David knew his victory was going to come directly from the hand of God. He feared God, not man. He was free.
So many things that stress me out during the day are related to fear. I would challenge you to think about  this as you go through the day and find your own stress building.  Don't let that moment pass you by. Examine yourself before the Lord as we are told to do time and time again. Discover what is causing you to fear. Revisit the above list. Identify the misplaced fear and replace it with freedom. 
Fearing God leads to trusting God.

Just like our actions give away our source of fear, our actions also display our lack of fear. If you do not fear God, it will show.

This is what the Bible says about those that fear the Lord.

Prov 14:26-27 He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death.
Ps 34:9  Fear the Lord, all you his holy people; for those who fear him lack nothing.
Prov 19:23  The fear of the Lord is life; he who is full of it will rest untouched by evil.
Ps 118:4  Let those who fear the LORD say: "His love endures forever."

I Samuel 27- Enough already!

The first five words of this chapter tell us all we need to know about where David is headed. These words here:
Then David said to himself,
This is where the trouble begins. This chapter would tell a different story if it had a different beginning. Oh how I wish this chapter started with ….
Then David sought the Lord”
Because I am just a little tired of people seeking their own hearts for counsel. It is a recipe for disaster.
Humans have this amazing and simultaneously ridiculous ability to convince themselves of anything.
But back to David:
Now I will perish one day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than to escape into the land of the Philistines. Saul then will despair of searching for me anymore in all the territory of Israel, and I will escape from his hand.” 
 
David felt like he had no choice but to follow his feelings. He acted powerless. So for protection he ran to the Philistines. Seriously David? I mean, you don't have to be a Bible scholar to know that the Philistines are not who he should be running to for protection. Did David forget his famous standoff with one giant of a Philistine? And now he is running to them for protection. How embarrassing.
 
 
So I refuse to seek my own heart for counsel. The heart is deceitful and wicked. Who can know it?
Instead I will:
Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
Isaiah 55: 6-7

Read what John Piper wrote in his blog about seeking the Lord:
Seeking involves calling and pleading. O Lord, open my eyes. O Lord, pull back the curtain of my own blindness. Lord, have mercy and reveal yourself. I long to see your face.
The great obstacle to seeking the Lord is pride. “In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him” (Psalm 10:4). Therefore, humility is essential to seeking the Lord. 
 
 

When I see you smile..Psalm 17

 
 
I love the Psalms because David feels every emotion and shares every emotion with God and consequently with us. Nothing is sugar coated. But in the end, he encourages himself in the Lord. And that is where I need to be. In that place of encouraging myself in the Lord. At the beginning of chapter 17 we find David in this place of desperation. Running from Saul he took refuge with the Philistines. Why David? How deceived do you have to be to seek refuge with your enemy. He is at the end of his rope. He doesn't want to fight anymore. So he cries out to God for us to read in Psalms 17
Hear a just cause, O Lord,
Attend to my cry;
Give ear to my prayer which is not from deceitful lips.
Let my vindication come from Your presence;
Let Your eyes look on the things that are upright.
HEAR ME!
Uphold my steps in Your paths,
That my footsteps may not slip.
HOLD ME UP!


I have called upon You, for You will hear me, O God;

O You who save those who trust in You
From those who rise up against them.
8 Keep me as the apple of Your eye;
Hide me under the shadow of Your wings,
Listen to me.
Show your loving kindness.
Keep me
Hide me.
Arise, O Lord,
Confront him, cast him down;
He has run out of ideas. He doesn't know what to do. All He knows is that He wants God to do it for him.
And I can relate.
Lord, I am out of ideas. I don't know what to do. I am praying. I am seeking. I am reading. And I am tired. But you. You are good. Hear me. Hold me. Keep me. Hide me.
As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness;
I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.
I want to be changed into his image. And the truth is that I become most like him when I have partaken in the fellowship of His sufferings. Sometimes we are called to act. Sometimes we call out to God to act on our behalf. But always, He goes before us. And He is able! And through it all, in this world filled with pain, I will be satisfied in Him. I will see His face in righteousness. And that is enough.


Don't Settle for Substitutes! Psalm 35

Plead my cause, O Lord, with those who strive with me;
Fight against those who fight against me.
2 Take hold of shield and buckler,
And stand up for my help.
3 Also draw out the spear,
And stop those who pursue me.
Say to my soul,
“I am your salvation.”

Say to my soul. "I am your salvation" 
I AM. 
He is. Whatever you need. He is.

"I am your salvation"

This is definitely my new "Print it out in about size 80 font and stick it on the wall verse."
 I need to see this all.day.long!
When I fail - He is my salvation.
When I am weak- He is my salvation.
When I feel strong- He is my salvation. 
It is just Him.

7. For without cause they have hidden their net for me in a pit,
Which they have dug without cause for my life.

The enemy is digging pits. And he knows exactly what bait to use. His goal? To substitute. To get you to fill your God given craving with a second best substitute. How? Ok, for you it may not that need for communion. For you maybe it is love. We all have that need to feel loved. It was implanted by God so that we would draw close to Him. But when we feel that need for love, where do you turn?
 Or what about approval? Validation? Defense? 
When someone wrongs you, do you take it to Jesus? Do you cry out like David, "Stop those who pursue me. Fight those that fight against me." Or do you pick up that phone as fast as you can so that someone can know how wronged you have been?


9. And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord;
It shall rejoice in His salvation.
10 All my bones shall say,
“Lord, who is like You,
Delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him,
Yes, the poor and the needy from him who plunders him?”

Where do our souls find joy? In the Lord. In the Lord. In the Lord! JoyFULL. Then we are full. We are free to pour out that joy, that love, on others.


His name saves- all day long! Psalms 54





54 Save me, O God, by Your name,
And vindicate me by Your strength.
2 Hear my prayer, O God;
Give ear to the words of my mouth.
3 For strangers have risen up against me,
And oppressors have sought after my life;
They have not set God before them. Selah
4 Behold, God is my helper;
The Lord is with those who uphold my life.
5 He will repay my enemies for their evil.
Cut them off in Your truth.
6 I will freely sacrifice to You;
I will praise Your name, O Lord, for it is good.
7 For He has delivered me out of all trouble;
And my eye has seen its desire upon my enemies.
The power in a name.
There is power in my name. "Mommy said!"
There is even more power in my husband's name. "Daddy said!"
Power.
In the spirit of full disclosure,however, in most circles, my name does not hold any power. Zero. But in my house, in my family, in my own little world, my name holds a lot of power.

But there is One whose name does hold the ultimate power.
 This is His world. His creation. His name.

Save me O God, by Your name.

He saves my soul. He saves my sanity. He saves my heart, my mind. All of it. I need to be saved. All day long. From myself. From my flesh. From temptation. And that is ok. Because His Name.
It saves! But why?
Because:

It is good.
An earthly name has power, but it is not always good, and a bad name holds destructive power. Yes there are certain names that you do not want to be associated with. Names can even  go from good to bad 
in.an.instant.
 Names can even hinder you, not help you.
But not God's name.
Jesus' name. It is good. Always. His name is sweet. Say it out loud.
His name is the quickest prayer. The quickest call for help. And the most powerful.
Jesus.

And what is the proper response?
I will freely sacrifice to You.
I will praise Your Name, for it is Good!
Call on His name today. All day. Every day. Praise His name. Praise it to all that you meet. Tell of His Good Name! And because we are saved, we will sacrifice, freely.
 

Thirsty? Psalm 63

Psalm 63
 O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;

This is such a powerful realization. I believe that this awareness is a key reason why David was God's choice for king. Above all, he recognized his thirst for God. We all have this thirst. Eternity is written on our hearts. But we try to quench that thirst with the things of the world. And they sustain. For a moment. But it doesn't last, and not only is the initial thirst magnified, but now we add in the frustration that comes from failing to fill that need. If we go to God first, what refreshment we will feel. Over and over David acknowledges His thirst is for God.We would save so much disappointment if we went to God first to fill our needs. Not to a spouse, a family member, a friend, a social network, and shopping trip, a refrigerator, a drink. God. Early we should seek Him because it is HIM for which our souls thirst.



2 To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.

Approach God with expectations of seeing His power and His glory because we have already, so many times.

3 Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.
4 Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.

Do we believe this? His lovingkindness, better than life? The only response will be praise.
Praise.
 Lifting our hands in His name.


5 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:
6 When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.
7 Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.
The last devo blog was on the power of the name of Jesus. And as is the norm, that devo was mostly for me. But I had no idea how much. I have been so anxious these last few weeks. Anxiety is real. You can tell yourself that your problem does not compare to "real" problems. You can remind yourself that it will be over soon. But in those moments, trying to sleep, trying to function, trying to focus, what helped me? What word kept escaping my lips in a cry for help?
Jesus. One word. Meditating. He was my help, and I will rejoice!

8 My soul followeth hard after thee: 
 
So that's where that song came from!

Thy right hand upholdeth me.

Today I am thankful for God's mighty hand that upholds me. I am thankful that His well of living water does not run dry. I am thankful that while I may be surrounded by noise and distraction, His voice breaks through, and He responds with power when I call out His name. Fill yourself with the Living word of God. Quench your thirst in His presence with a position of prayer. And you will see His glory and His power! Amen!!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Two things that should scare you more than flesh-eating bacteria in the water and dry drowning!!

Whenever someone posts anything dramatic on face book, I am instantly skeptical and have to check about three websites before I will believe it or even think about sharing it!  Google people. It is your friend! Statistics bring amazing perspective.

Living in Florida, I have seen two headlines hitting my newsfeed over and over.

Flesh eating bacteria in the water 
and 
dry drowning.

 If I am going to be honest with you I have to admit that my first reactions were a typical knee-jerk response. 

Like this:

FLESH EATING BACTERIA AT THE BEACH??? BUT I WAS SUPPOSED TO GO TO THE BEACH TOMORROW!!! NOW WHAT???

Then I remembered this one small fact. Please, if you take anything away from this blog, remember this. We live in the most sensational country ever. People actually NEED you to click on their article to make money. Therefore, (here comes your “takeaway”)

***The headline of an article is rarely 100% true.****

 In other words, it is likely 99% misleading.

The blog post that reads “10 reasons why I don’t homeschool,” is written by a homeschooling mom who is going to tell you a bunch of reasons that aren’t the reasons why she homeschools, and then she will tell you why she does.

 “Israel Violates Ceasefire” is the title of an article that will likely mention that Hamas had actually never even observed the ceasefire to begin with, so technically there was no ceasefire for Israel to violate.

Or even this from a “Christian” website:

 “Bob Coy update: Cocaine addicted, alcoholic….”
 and that is all you seen on the homepage.
   That one made my blood boil!! Because what does it sound like? It sounds like they are giving you an update. But that is his actually information that is 30 years old that they are chronicling in said article, not an update. But they got a bunch of people to click on their link and made money. Pretty disgusting if you ask me (Christiantoday.com. ) But I digress.  
My points are the following:

1. Never believe a headline.
2. Pay attention to the details.

Which leads me to the sensational (but 100% true) title of this blog post.

What is *more dangerous* than going in water where you could contract a flesh-eating bacteria at the beach?

 Driving to the beach.

Yes. Let’s look at the numbers that prompted the headline...

 “Florida Officials: Watch out for flesh-eating bacteria” from Florida Today:

Wow, I have to watch out for it? Ok. It must be everywhere!
Of course I had to google to find out how many people had actually died from this ailment in Florida over the course of a year. The answer? 11.

Now, please understand this.  I believe that every one of those lives is important, and I am not dimishing their value. My question is merely this, do the headlines and fear mongering match the likelihood that it will actually happen to you.  And furthermore, are their suggestions for avoiding this disease practical?
So how do you avoid flesh eating bacteria? Don’t go into the water during the summer with a scrape or open wound or if you have a low immunity. Like, the whole summer? Any scrape? What if I don't know I have one? Full body scans for all of my 5 children before letting them in the water??
 Because...11 people...in the whole state…. over the course of a year?

Let’s contrast that now with the number of fatalities that have occurred during that same year in Florida from driving accidents. Over 2,300.

So mathematically speaking, you are 209 times more likely to die on the way to the beach, then actually from a flesh eating bacteria at the beach.

What does that mean?

Go to the beach for the love of Pete.   But be careful on your drive there!! That’s what the headline should have read! Or maybe this:
“Stay in the ocean this summer to avoid being killed in a car.”

But instead we get:
“Watch out for flesh eating bacteria.” Oh boy.

Next, let’s cover dry drowning. Dry drowning occurs when a person inhales a small amount of water during a struggle. The results can be fatal. But you know what else is fatal? Real drowning. In fact, of all drowning cases, 99% of fatalities are typical drowning cases. But if you could see my face book feed you would think it was the opposite. Maybe one or two people mentioning that it is a good idea to get swim lessons, and everyone else is making sure I know about dry drowning.

 *Once again, the warning is not proportionate to the risk.* 
A better use of everyone's newsfeed would be to encourage others to make sure their kids learn how to  swim, like really swim, not with floaties.  Here is a statistic that actually should scare every single person in Florida. Drowning, the real kind, is the number one killer of kids under 5. Number one. Not cancer, not vaccinations, not flesh-eating bacteria, not even car accidents. Drowning. You must have your kids vaccinated to get them into school to make sure they don’t spread polio. But polio isn’t what is killing our little children. Water is.

There are a lot of people clamoring for our attention. And trust me, as an information junkie, I think information is absolutely important. I just think it should be proportionate to how it affects us and the world at large, and also what we can reasonably do about it.

This may surprise you, but I actually do believe that for safety reasons certain people should stay out of the water at the beach. But unlike Florida officials, my reasons aren’t because of flesh eating bacteria. The reason that people, kids especially, should stay out of the water is if one cannot swim!  Do not despair though, because “not being able to swim” is curable!! So find a good teacher. A good teacher can get your kid swimming in a week, not over the course of a million weeks. Do it now. Do it fast. Yes, it costs money, but seriously people. What is more important?

***Check out Miss Leigh's Swim School on FB  We used her on all five of our children. This is the youngest last summer.