You are currently browsing the monthly archive for November 2007.
Three years ago I began a new personal Christmas tradition. I became a Candy Cane Crusader for Christ. I’d love to share this tradition with you in hopes that you’ll want to be a Candy Cane Crusader for Christ, too!
To find out how I got started and how you can join me, read my post at:
Scroll down to ‘Previous Posts’ and click on ‘Candy Cane Crusaders for Christ’.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. – Jeremiah 29:13
Some of the sweetest moments of my day come when I pick my young son up from school. Usually I arrive by dismissal time and wait outside the building’s entrance. He knows where I’ll be and his face lights up when he sees me there waiting for him. After giving me his backpack he takes my hand and we proceed to the parking lot while he chats about his day.
One day I arrived late and had to go through the carpool line. By the time my car entered the parking lot he’d been waiting for a while. I was able to see him sitting on the school bench. My heart sank when I saw the worry and anxiousness on his face as he expectantly looked in the other direction for me. He’s only in first grade and this was the first time I hadn’t been there at dismissal. I could see he was getting scared. As the line moved and I got closer I tried to get his attention to let him know that I was indeed there, but his gaze was set in the other direction. If he’d only looked around he’d have seen me. Instead he focused only on his expectations and caused himself unnecessary worry and grief. By the time I finally made it to the pick-up zone he was one of the last children left. He was both relieved and upset when he saw me.
This situation caused grief for me, too, when I couldn’t get his attention. I wanted to relieve him by letting him know I was there, but he wouldn’t look my way. I could have assured him of my presence if he’d considered finding me in unexpected places.
We often make the same mistake when we seek the Lord. We become so set in our own expectations of how He will reveal himself to us that we fail to look around and recognize His presence in other ways. The ancient Hebrew people did the same thing. For generations they’d been foretold of a King who would come to save them and make them the greatest nation of all. They envisioned a majestic king who would be impressive by the world’s standards. Instead, they received a King who was majestic by their Lord’s standards and they failed to recognize him. It is hard for us to understand how this could have happened. He walked among them, taught them, touched them, and healed them, but their gaze was set in another direction based on their own expecations.
Jesus must have felt great frustration with the Hebrew people. Like me in the carpool line that day, He surely wanted to yell, “Hey, you! I’m here for you! You don’t have to be worried or anxious anymore because I’m here!” But he could not get their attention. Sadly, there are many times Christ still experiences these frustrations. We, too, become so set in our expectations of how He will reveal Himself to us that we fail to notice His presence in our lives when He comes in unexpected ways. Like my son, we spend unnecessary time in worry and grief waiting for him to appear when He’s right there among us. We just have to seek Him without self-imposed limitations so we can truly seek Him with all of our heart.
Precious Lord, Help me not to mistakenly turn my gaze away from You. Help me to be open to all possibilities and to recognize You in whatever ways You are present in my life. Amen.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; acknowledge Him in all your ways and He will direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
Our church is going through turmoil as a result of two recent major changes. First we were informed via a statement by our Bishop that our Senior Pastor would not be returning from a 90-day renewal leave, which is a program offered by the Methodist church to pastors. We are now in the process of waiting for a new Sr. Pastor to be announced. People were stunned and shocked when this was first announced, but the congregation pulled together and was moving forward in positive ways. Then, today we received word that our Youth Pastor had been fired. There are no known charges or accusations against him. He has been a highly respected and much-loved Pastor. The sermon he delivered two weeks ago was excellent. Possibly one of his best that I’ve heard. Budget constraints were cited as the reason for his dismissal.
This is upsetting to me, and I want to react. I want to demand to know what’s going on, but this is not about me or what I want. As much as I want to respond with emotion, God keeps me in check by reminding me to trust in Him.
Our prayer group met this morning at the exact same time the meeting was taking place when our pastor was being let go. I knew crucial decisions were being made, so we began by specifically praying that those who were making the decisions would be God-led. We lifted our hopes and concerns to the Lord. Now we have to trust in Him.
I worry about what will happen to our youth pastor and his young family. But I know God loves them and holds them in His care. He has a plan for them (Jeremiah 29:11). I have to trust in the Lord.
The church is now in turmoil with people wanting to retaliate and reverse the decision. I love those people, but I love God more and will not bow down to man. I must maintain my trust in the Lord.
Every time my mind starts to question and doubt the reasons for this situation, God responds again by reminding me to trust in Him.
We are so limited in our knowledge about the things around us. Only God can see the whole picture and only He knows the plans He has for us (Jeremiah 29:11). Job questioned God and was sternly rebuked. Who am I to question He who surveyed the depths of the oceans and placed each star in the sky, set the world to revolve from day into night, keeps the seasons in place and created every living being, plant and organism? God can even keep the seas within their boundaries! Yes, God definitely knows so much more than mere men and can do things so great that our limited human minds cannot fully comprehend His greatness. So without hesitation I put my personal emotions aside and choose to trust the Lord with all my heart.
Friends, when you are faced with challenging and difficult situations, especially those which you don’t understand, reflect before you react by turning to the Lord in prayer. Be honest about your feelings when you go before the Lord and seek His will for your situation. He will give you words to say if you need them, or lead you to proper action if action is to be taken. Or He will do with you what He did with me, which was to quiet my concerns by reminding me to trust in Him.
Dear Lord, I may not always like or understand the situations You put before me, but I realize these things aren’t about me or what feels good to me. I must trust in You for the greater good of Your plans and purposes. Thank You for keeping me strong in faith. Amen.
My alarm goes off at 5:00 most days with no time for more snooze.
I shower, dress, tend cat and dog, will later see the news.
By 6:00 my boys are up for school. Buy 6:30 they’re fed and dressed.
I rush to fill a lunch box, get to the bus stop, then catch my breath.
The day is just beginning as I pray to the Lord.
He will guide me through this day. That’s what I’m thankful for.
Now it’s home to tend to child #2 and clean messes he’s already made,
Prepare his lunch, put clean dishes away, and make some lemonade.
Start the day’s laundry, take out the dog, go to the freezer for dinner meat.
Let’s go! It’s time for the carpool line! Oh, no! I still need to eat!
Each morning it’s a rush, it seems, to make it out the door,
But my kids are great and I can keep up. That’s what I’m thankful for.
With both boys in school, my brain’s free to think. For a while my time is my own.
I hurry to run my errands so I have time left to spend at home.
Back home I find the house is a mess with toys strewn everywhere.
The counter’s piled high with who-knows-what. If something’s lost, look for it there!
At time I stress about the mess, but we live once and life is too short,
To fail to be glad that I have a full life, and realize that’s what I’m thankful for.
My husband works hard at what he does. His job fills most hours of his week.
But the free time he has is spent being with us. Family hours he does well to keep.
When he travels we talk by phone as we can, and send email to share 4-1-1.
The boys miss their dad when he is away. He’s the one they look to for fun.
He manages well the schedule he keeps, and it’s us that works so hard for.
He may be busy, but he’s loving and caring, and that’s what I’m thankful for.
Some days I get tired and all I want to do is fuss at my husband and boys,
Focusing on things that seem to be wrong, and lose sight of all the joys.
Then I think of the love and laughter we share, how my family brightens my days.
I think of the things my boys say and they know, for each day they keep me amazed.
I’m grateful for my husband and sons. Truly I could not ask for more.
God blessed me with a wonderful family. That’s what I’m thankful for.
There are always piles of clothes to wash, and “pending” stacks to tend to,
Crumbs to sweep, a family to feed, and lots of email to get through.
There are things for church, and things at school, and things for family,
A Bible study to keep up with…Hey, where’s my time for me?
Yes, things are crazy and hectic, but as I lift my feet off the floor
And snuggle them under the covers at night, I say prayers for all I’m thankful for.
– Renee Myers 11/04
This is a time for ‘thanks’ and ‘giving’. As God has blessed you, be a blessing to others. – RM
I love this time of year! Autumn is my favorite season. Particularly pleasing is the fall foliage. While admiring the magificent colors of the trees as I drove through our neighborhood yesterday, I was reminded of the following Bible verse: John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” The verse refers to a grapevine, but the beautiful fall trees spoke the same message to me.
Those beautiful leaves, boasting brilliant colors, can only do so because of the nourishment supplied by the trunk of the tree. The leaves will go through changes with the seasons throughout the year – even dropping from the branches so that new leaves can be formed in the spring – while the trunk (vine) remains the same, strong and healthy, continually growing and providing nutrients to the rest of the tree. Once a leaf, twig or branch drops from the tree, it is cut off from its source of nutrition and life, and it dies. But as long as these things remain with the tree, they will receive all they need to thrive, be productive, and bear much beauty (fruit).
And so it is with Christ and us. Christ is the strong and enduring ‘trunk’ of our lives. As long as we remain with Him and Him with us, He will give us all we need to thrive, be productive, and bear much beauty – or fruit – for Him. Even though we might get weathered and go through seasons of change, Christ is always the same, always there to provide for us, enable us to do His will, and give us strength. (Hebrews 13:8, “Christ is the same yeseterday, tomorrow, and forever.”) But as the verse above says, apart from Him we can do nothing. Like the branches, twigs and leaves that sometimes fall from the tree, if we fall away from Him, we will be cut off from the Life of His existence.
Do you want to be a tree that displays bright, brilliant colors for your Lord and Savior? And one who can gracefully change with the seasons of your life? Then let Christ be your saving grace and provider for your soul.
Dear Lord, Thank You for the beauty that surrounds me, not just the beauty of the physical world, but also the beauty You allow me to see every day by Your presence in my life. I want to remain with You always and in all ways, that I, too, can show Your beauty to others. In Your precious name I pray. Amen.
Suggested reading: 1 Kings 19:1-18
You can find this in the Old Testament of your Bible, or go to www.biblegateway.com and enter 1 Kings 19:1-18 in the ‘search’ box.
(Please note that this is being posted in its original form without being proofed or edited. I’ll be back later to ‘polish’ it. Please excuse any mistakes you might find until I return. Thanks! And blessings to all. – Renee)
When I read the Bible, my main purpose is to gain a better understanding and perspective of God, hear what He is saying, and learn about how He reveals Himself to us. Doing so helps me to recognize His presence in my life and the world around me.
The suggested passage was part of our Bible study reading for yesterday’s class. We were asked to think about how Elijah felt throughout this passage. As I continued to think this passage and our discussion about Elijah, I began to realize how much this passage also tells us about God.
Elijah was a prophet, a communicator of God chosen to confront King Ahab about his sinful ways. King Ahab was the current King of Israel and the Hebrew people. He was an evil King and was married to Jezebel. She is considered by many to be the most evil woman of the Bible.
In contrast to King Ahab and Jezebel, Elijah was a very righteous man who lived by the words and teachings of God. The Hebrew people were not as righteous as Elijah. In addition to worshiping God, they also bowed down to pagan gods and idols. This broke the commandment of the Lord to worship only him.
In 1 Kings 18:40, Elijah gathers all the prophets of the false god Baal and kills them all. This angers Jezebel and she threatens to kill Elijah. This begins the passage of 1 Kings 19:1-18. Elijah fleas from Jezebel, going into the desert alone. Eventually he lays down under the shade of a solitary tree and prays for God to go ahead and take his life. Then he falls asleep. Later he is awakened by an angel who told him to get up and eat, that there was a long journey ahead of him. Elijah ate the warm bread and drank the jar of water he saw before him. Then he traveled forty days and nights to Mount Sinai. There he spent the night in a cave.
The Lord spoke to Elijah in the cave, asking him what he was doing. Elijah told god that he had zealously served Him, but the people of Isreal had broken their covenant with the Lord by worshiping other gods, torn down His altars, and killed every one of the Lord’s prophets, leaving thim the last surviving prophet, and now they were trying to kill him, too. (1 Kings 19:10)
God called Elijah out of the cave to stand before him on the mountain. Mt Sinai is a tall rocky mountain, one that would not be easy to climb or comfortable for standing. Yet Elijah stood before God on the mountain. God passed by and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. Rocks were torn loose. Then there was an earthquake, and then a fire. Elijah remained on the side of the mountain. Then he heard a whisper, and God was speaking to him in the whisper.
Again God asked why Elijah was there. Again Elijah answered as he had before. Then God told him to go back the way he came and gave him orders to anoint three other men – two to be kings and Elisha to replace him as a prophet. God also told Elijah that he would preserve 7000 others who had never bowed down to Baal.
Looking back over this passage, we see a prophet who so wants to serve God and save His people that he becomes discouraged and wants to die when he feels there’s no more hope for Israel. He doesn’t despair for himself, but for the cause of God’s people. In response, God sends and angel to Elijah! God also shows provision by providing warm bread and water as Elijah sleeps in the desert. God provides enough to sustain Elijah as he travels for 40 days and nights – a time period associated with transformation in the Bible.
At the end of his journey he is in a cave on Mt Sinai, where Moses spent time with God. God listens to Elijah’s reasons for being there, then calls Elijah out to face him. While Elijah stood on the rocky ledge of Mt. Sinai, God passed by followed by a strong windstorm, earthquake and fire. Surely Elijah felt vulnerable standing on the side of the mountain, likely looking for God in each of those scary experiences. Then Elijah heard God’s whisper. God’s whisper! God did not scold Elijah or rebuke him with a booming voice. In fact, he did not scold or rebuke Elijah at all. He spoke in a whisper to say, “I see things have become difficult for you, but you must go back just like you came. I will send three others to help you and will preserve 7000 others – not just a few, but 7000! – who have not bowed down to pagan gods. Wow. Elijah, in his disparity, thought he was the only one left, but there were 7000 others!
So what does this story tell you about God and man and how we exist together? It tells me that even the best of God’s servants can become weak and discouraged. Even though God had just shown himself in a mighty way in a showdown against pagan gods, Elijah felt alone when Jezebel threatened to kill him. Elijah did not turn to God when he felt threatened. Instead he ran and sought God to take his life, for he felt he would soon be killed by Jezebel and then there’d be no one left to save God’s people. I interpret Elijah’s sense of hopelessness to be about the people of Israel, not his own self.
So God shows compassion by sending an angel to tend to him and feed him, then lead Elijah to Mt Sinai where God could meet with him. God patiently listened to Elijah, then called him out to stand before God and face him. I believe God sent the wind, earthquake and fire to remind Elijah of his power and might (since Elijah seemed to forget what God could do when he was threatened by Jezebel) and to show Elijah that, as he stood alone on the rockly ledge of that mountain, He was with him. Surely Elijah feared for his life, but God kept him from harm. Then God came in the most gentlest of ways – in a whisper – to tell Elijah that he needed to go back, but that it would be ok. God saw his needs and would provide for him. And God provided in a big way, preserving 7000 others to support Elijah.
This passage tells me that our God is a loving, patient, gracious and provisional God who is faithful to those who are faithful to Him. He is there in the times that make us feel vulnerable, and when needed, He lifts up and restores those who are righteous and who keep His commands.
Additional note written 1-5-11: Three other things this story tells us: 1) God might not speak to us when the storms are raging around us, but He is still there with us. Elijah could have been swept off the face of Mt. Sinai by the force of the wind, fire, or earthquake, but God kept Elijah in His care. 2) God could have stopped these occurances from happening, but it seems that God allowed them. Why? Possibly to humble Elijah, remind Elijah of God’s awesome power, and to show Elijah that He is in control. 3) Often we’re desparate to hear from God when we’re in the fearsome part of a storm, but that wasn’t when God spoke to Elijah. God spoke to Elijah in the calm that followed the storm. In that calm, Elijah was so still, and quiet, and listening, that God could speak to Elijah with just a whisper.
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You for loving us despite the failures of our human ways. Thank You for reminding us of Your power and assuring us of Your presence and protection when we are weak and vulnerable. You truly are a loving God of compassion and provision. Amen.
I still remember my encounter with a woman in the laundry detergent section of the store. Without any prompting from me, she began to tell me that she was the mother of two baseball players and had found the best way to get stains out of their white baseball pants. Her method consisted of using a combination of preferred products, used in a certain order and applied in particular ways. She went on to share the laundering tips she’d gotten from other ‘baseball moms’ and was proud to have combined the best of these tips to achieve the best process for cleaning her sons’ soiled pants. This all seemed confusing and complicated to me!
Well, friends, like our laundry, we often bear stains, too. The stains we bear are usually those of our sins. Other times they’re stains of shame for events that might not even have been our fault, times when we’ve been victimized by others. When faced with these stains, we’re often like the woman in the grocery store and seek ways to bleach, scrub, and blot them out. Some of us do so with denial, or try to forget and go on with our lives. Others might successfully hide the original stains, but then live with the stains of guilt, shame and sometimes anger or resentment. These feelings often lead to other sins, adding to the stains we bear.
Billy Graham tells a story about cleaning white garments, too. He remembers, as a boy, when his mother took him out to the clothes line where their laundry was hanging outside to dry. She showed him the different shades of white items. Despite her best cleaning efforts, none of the items were perfectly white. Then she told him there was a way for us to become whiter than snow, and reminded him that God can remove all our sins leaving us as white as snow.
Mrs. Graham was likely referring to the words of Isaiah, the prohet of God who encourages us with the following words in Isaiah 1:18-20: “Come now let us argue this out,” says the Lord. “No matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can remove it. I can make you as clean as freshly fallen snow. Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you as white as the wool. If you will only obey me and let me help you…I, the Lord, have spoken!”
The methods by which we seek to remove the stains of our sins are often similar to those described by the woman I met. We try to absolve our stains by the methods suggested by others, making things confusing and complicated, instead of going straight to the Lord who can wash our sins away with just the simple offering of our hearts to Him in prayer.
Dear Lord, Yes! We hear You and want You to remove the stains of our sins. We want to obey You and offer our hearts to You so that You can help us. Thank you, God, for loving us so much that You want to remove our stains and make us as white as snow, so that we can be fresh and new, bringing glory to You. Amen.
“You would not be pleased with sacrifices, or I would bring them. If I brought you a burnt offering, you would not accept it. The sacrifice you want is a broken spirit. A broken and repentant heart, O God, you will not despise.”
– Psalm 51:16- 17 written by David
If you watch tv you’ve probably seen the credit card commercials that ask, “What’s in your wallet?”
God is asking, “What’s in your heart?”
The Bible says that David was a man after God’s own heart. We first meet David as a young shepherd boy who is chosen by God to be anointed as a future King. What an unlikely choice he is! He’s a child and a lowly shepherd. Why would God choose him to be the king of His chosen people? Most likely it’s because David had a heart that was pleasing to God.
At a young age David had the faith to do what no soldier could – stand up to a giant. Armed with only his faith and a slingshot, he used the skills he learned as a shepherd and claimed faith in God’s provisions, and slayed the giant! David grew up in the palace serving Saul, the king before him. Even though Saul became jealous of David and tried several times to kill him, David paid honor and respect to Saul when he died (2nd Samuel 1:19-27). Eventually David took over the throne as king and led the Israelite (Hebrew) people in godly ways. He found favor in the Lord’s eyes and was given victories in battles as well as many earthly blessings, too. David was respected and prospered as a king.
David wasn’t perfect, though. He made his share of mistakes. Despite his faith and love for the Lord, he sinned, then sinned again to cover up the first sin, creating a snowball effect of sins. When confronted by a prophet about his sins, David immediately felt great remorse and offered God his repentent heart. He poured out his heart in prayers seeking the Lord’s forgiveness, but he still had to face the consequences of his actions. David bravely faced his consequences, and again turned to the Lord in prayer, wanting to do only what would be right and pleasing to the Lord.
David also failed to tend to his children and discipline them as needed. He allowed them to commit sinful acts and to live less than godly lives. He also failed at times to heed God’s directions for him.
Yet, despite all these sins, wrongful acts, and bad decisions, the Bible says David was a man after God’s own heart! How could that be after all the sins he committed and mistakes he made?
To me, the answer is simple. It’s because God knew David’s heart. He knew how much David loved him and sought to please him. David didn’t dwell on past mistakes or losses. He offered the proper times of repentence and mourning, humbly accepted the consequences for his actions, then got right back up to go in the direction God called him to go. He gave God credit for his blessings and openly praised Him. God knew that David’s greatest desire was to please Him.
What about you? What’s in your heart? Is it your desire to live in a way that is pleasing to God? Can you push out negative feelings that are destructive? Is it in your heart to bravely face consequences? Do you allow the Lord to discipline you and trust Him to lead you and provide for you? Do you find reasons to offer God praises for the things He has done?
In the credit card commercials, potential victims escape attack by keeping the right the right credit cards in their wallets. We, too, can avoid being victims of bad situations by keeping the right ‘cards’ in our hearts. Again, I ask. What’s in your heart?
The story of David is found in 1st and 2nd Samuel. The offerings of his heart to the Lord are found in Psalms.
Dear Lord, My greatest desire is to have a heart that is pleasing to You. Please help me fill my heart with the goodness of Your Word and Your love, so that I can do my best to avoid trouble and mistakes. I pray that I will bravely face consequences and be grateful for Your intervention in my life when needed, and that I will always be full of praise for You and Your provisions in my life. Amen.