146 Seconds with God | Finding joy.

This needs to be done. That is checked off my list. What am I going to get them for Christmas? I still need to make this gift. I wish for a more simple, Christ-centered Christmas. My growing, gnawing heart-pounding need to find joy and peace seems just out of my reach. I wish for this and long for that. I'm going full speed ahead and I need to find my way through the maze - the haze - of discontentment that has been slowing making its way westward into my spirit like the covered wagons on the Oregon Trail, slow, persistent, cumbersome, burdensome, killing - my joy.

"How much will we give for our year-end offering above our tithe and offerings? Lay them in the manger symbolizing laying a gift at the feet of Him Who was born King of the world.

A spark ignites.

"Did you know Compassion International has income generation animal bundles?"

"Oh, really!"

"Yes!" And in my heart, "I could also sponsor a child..."

Another spark of joy fueled.

Coats for the homeless.

No longer a spark but a small flame.

And each spirit of giving, each time I drive through a restaurant and pay for the person behind me, the flame is fanned. With each gift wrapped. Fanned. With each hour served. Fueled. With each sacrifice...

Joy is no longer lost.

Joy replaces discontentment.

Joy is fueled by giving.

Discontentment can be wiped off the face of my heart by giving.

Want joy?

Start giving.

 

 


146 seconds with God | grace.

0c0516b26265eb55d886bbec30ecb888

Photo Source

God's grace.

Cháris is the Greek word for grace.

Grace is

Particularly that which causes joy, pleasure, gratification, favor, acceptance, for a kindness granted or desired, a benefit, thanks, gratitude. A favor done without expectation of return; the absolutely free expression of the loving kindness of God to men finding its only motive in the bounty and benevolence of the Giver; unearned and unmerited favor. Cháris stands in direct antithesis to érga, works, the two being mutually exclusive. God's grace affects man's sinfulness and not only forgives the repentant sinner, but brings joy and thankfulness to him. It changes the individual to a new creature without destroying his individuality (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:8-9; The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament, 1469) ...not only this.

But this...therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel..(2 Timothy 1:8-10).

Grace given [to me] [and you]...in Christ Jesus...before the ages began.

Before the ages began.

Before 'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth' (Genesis 1:1).

Before time began.

There was grace.

That gives me such joy, such pleasure...I am grateful and thankful...for His grace.

 

 


the other side of Marah.

61da8818316f4c5497331e411cae8f4e

"Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah.) So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?” Then Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became fit to drink. There the Lord issued a ruling and instruction for them and put them to the test. He said, “If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.” Exodus 15: 22-26

At the time I was completing Beth Moore's study, A Woman's Heart and the day of study I was introduced through the word of God to the Jehovah-Rapha, the God Who Heals, I was experiencing my own Marah. Or, in fact, I had already drunk from the waters of Marah, those bitter waters that offered no refreshing quench. My thirst may not have been for the physicality of water but bitterness, anger, and toxicity needed cleansing. I needed someone to throw a piece of wood into the bitter water. Like Moses before, I cried out to the Lord. I waited, craving something cool and sweet and refreshing to drink. Craving peace.

I waited.

And I waited.

When I feared it was too late...

Then, "Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became fit to drink," - a piece of wood was thrown into the bitter water.

Those bitter waters full of anger and toxicity was made sweet. Jehovah-Rapha heals. God demonstrated His power over the most common disease from which I was suffering - bitterness. Moore writes, "Bitterness is spiritual cancer, rapidly-growing malignancy that can consume your life. After it consumes the soul, it begins to eat away at the body. It is so contagious that we can pass it to our children...no amount of distractions can treat this disease." This was me. It was a malignant cancer consuming me from the inside out.

"Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there near the water." Exodus 15:27

On the other side of Marah came my Elim. Refreshing, abundant, sweet, overflowing waters. Jehovah-Rapha, the God Who Heals. Psalm 147:3 says God heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He does. Oh, yes He does!

On the other side of Marah - peace!


146 seconds with God

Gratitude
sometimes we have such a hard time with this whole happiness thing. but it really is simple. how do you see God in every situation? this defines your happiness. am i saying i should be grateful in the diffiuclties, in the trials, in the pain? Yep! absolutely! it's that whole, "consider it pure joy when faced with trials..." thing from James 1 in the Bible. most of the time we just can't find the joy, the happiness in the middle of those situations. but that is when we need to find them, see them, because that is when we'll see God for who He really is. and we'll be grateful. that is when we'll know for certain we'll get through it. we'll have the perseverance to persevere.

have you ever been grateful in a trial? thanked the Lord for the difficulty? praised the Lord for the tribulation? if you have, i'll bet the situation didn't seem so bad. you had God on your side.

but, then you began walling in your situation again. the worries began. you lost your joy, your happiness.

hello.

you left God out - again.

then you were reminded somehow to be grateful, thankful, and you praised the Lord.

what happened?

you found joy. you found joy and happiness in your circumstances.


contentment.

IMG_2839
the barn is almost complete

IMG_2845

i cannot tell a lie. i have had mixed feelings about this barn. on the one hand it has been an amazing project that hoosier man and georgia boys have been able to put together from start to finish: from drawing up plans to putting the roofing on. the work done has been well-thought-out, well-constructed, and just plain good. hoosier man saved a ton of money by using 'free' windows, and hand me down siding. go hoosier man! but, after all is said and done it still has been a chunk of money.

my mixed feelings come in when i look at our front and back of the house and we still have no deck after living in the house for 14+ years (which we have talked about and talked about but because I haven't saved for it, it hasn't happened); the discontent there is we didn't save for the barn either; then there is our carpet throughout living room and hall. it is thread bare (i mean you can see the backing); no wood floors to replace it. because i haven't saved for it. and the lone cabinet still lays in the garage unfinished and not put together...

i know the source of my discontent.

i just haven't found that place in this situation of contentment. so when hoosier man is super excited i truly am excited for him but that discontentment creeps into my being trying to rob the excitement i want to freely give; to freely have.

nothing i can do about any of this except give my discontentment over to my God - and rest in His provisions. it is only their I find contentment. it is there i don't see a thread bare carpet but the roof over our head that shelters us from the storm. the home God blesses as we open our doors to a small group of believers for the study of His word. i don't see the lack of back porch or front porch but his amazing creation as i walk out the door: the clouds he regales me with just because he know how much i love the clouds; i don't see a barn instead of...(place discontentment here) but I see a labor of love, a time of bonding with his sons, proof again and again hoosier man is hard working, full use of gifts honed over the years.

so flee discontentment. get behind me. you're not welcome here.


do not worry - one hundred forty six seconds with God

72981198_lg9WQfLP_c 

it is how i live my life. i just can't worry about it. it sucks the joy right out. i'm an optimist. pessimists worry. they see trouble a mile away and worry long before it gets here - even if it never does. see. joy gone. worrying just doesn't get us anywhere except loss of sleep, loss of joy, loss of a good day, loss of a smile, loss of laughter, loss of happiness. look - God tells us He's got it and to stop worrying. why do you think he'd tell us that. well. because he's got it and we need to stop worrying. what? don't you trust God? you really don't - if you worry.

hey. i got an idea. pray instead of worry. when you are done praying you have effectively given over the situation, problem, worry - whatever - to God. and may i remind you here: HE IS A BIG GOD!

 

(picture from pinterest.com)

(words: from the heart)


a different perspective

A-different-perspective 
life is rough. sometimes we go through things and we ask, "why?" oh, we know why but we get caught up in those why's. as a christian even we often don't see the end game so to speak and fear rushes in. we really do need to look at the rough patches in life with a different perspective. not a world view perspective but look at the situation through the eyes of our Lord. hard to do. so very hard. when we're knee deep in fear.

and too there is the different perspective of just a photograph. two little boys sitting at the table dangling their feet. guess i could have taken a picture of their faces. but i needed a different perspective.


Love this...

10562444_UDzVRaRr_c 
(from Pinterest.com)

I love C.S. Lewis. Hey, he wrote the Chronicles of Narnia!! Amazing, amazing books to fuel the imagination, and spur the heart, and touch the soul. And this is a great quote. I love the idea of never saying enough with dreaming or goal setting. Someone once said regarding 'retiring' that no where in the Bible did anyone retire. That God never intended man to 'retire'. That kind of goes along with this quote. I don't think God would ever want us to stop dreaming or stop setting goals. I mean we can never be finished becoming like Christ until we stand face to face with him so we are never done growing and if we're never done growing than there is always more. Just more. So dream more, set goals more, and grow more.

Imagine if you set a goal to read the bible every day for 1 week. And you checked off each day for 1 week. Then you set another goal to read the bible every day for 1 week and you accomplished that goal. Are you seeing where I'm going. You don't ever stop setting goals and you don't stop growing. God's word tells us that His word will not return void so those two short term goals you set and accomplished will produce much fruit in your life. Ah, love it.

This is wonderful; after my 47 before I'm 48 goal list; and our 100 days of summer list to realize that I haven't stopped dreaming and haven't stopped goal-setting. What hit me when I saw this quote though was my mom hasn't either. Although it's been just over a year since my dad passed away Mom is still dreaming and still goal setting too. Love it.


146 Seconds with God and The Uncommon Woman

The-uncommon-woman 

From my bible study, the Uncommon Woman, by Susie Larson: the chapter on believing His Promises are True, tells this story, “James is the most amazing man of faith I have ever met. He knows what he possesses in Christ. It’s like he brings an increased sense of God’s presence with him wherever he goes. His understanding of the promises and the purposes of God surpasses anyone I know.

     “James was invited to Africa to minister to some missionaries there. The people felt depressed and oppressed and couldn’t seem to get out from under the dark cloud that had descended upon them. They were desperate for James to arrive.

     “The plane landed on the tarmac in Africa, and when the door of the plane opened, a man was standing there waiting to meet James. The host weakly grabbed James’s hand and said, ‘Brother James, we’re so glad you are here. We’ve been so depressed, Brother James. Now that you’re here, can you feel the darkness and oppression in this land?”

     With a pregnant pause, excited to tell us the best part of the story it was said, “James stepped onto the tarmac, looked this man square in the eye, and said, ‘You listen here. I have the living, powerful God of heaven alive in my soul. When I step foot on this land, that oppression feels me.”

(The disclaimer here is that we are not defective disciples if we come upon times of oppression when we need someone to loan us their faith in order to help us stand).

However, this story challenges us to “more firmly, more resolutely…walk in the Lord’s presence as I live here on earth” (Psalm 116:9). God’s presence is rich with promises, provision, and protection…when we lay hold of what we possess in Christ we will also believe that everywhere we place our feet, God’s Kingdom comes to bear. James’ story can be ours! 

Point 1: Ms. Larson also goes on to remind us that “when we keep Jesus on the throne of our life every single day, and when we determine to be done with attitudes and activities that are beneath you, you will be positioned to march into your next place of promise.” Some of the foremost attitudes and activities that come to mind are worry and fear. I worry very little. But I fear about certain things. When I do I dethrone my King from His throne.

 

Point 2: The Israelites took forty years to take a journey that should only have taken them a week or two. Their delayed journey more than likely was a direct result of their rebellious fears and unbelief. “The people refused to enter the pleasant land, for they wouldn’t believe his promise to care for them. Instead, they grumbled in their tents and refused to obey the Lord” (Psalm 106: 24-25, NLT). The Israelites refused to believe the promise and then they grumbled because their lives had no promise. Do we grumble without a promise and not even consider taking our need to our Father too? Do we worry instead of believe and therefore delay whatever journey God has planned for us – and possibly will never see because we are worrying instead of believing?

 

Point 3: God absolutely detests grumbling and complaining. You know why? Because God is the source of all things and we are the object of His affection! The Lord is our Shepherd and we shall not want. 2 Corinthians 1:20 says that all God’s promises are “Yes” in Christ. If we are grumbling and complaining once again we are saying God doesn’t get it right. Or he breaks promises! Wow, I don’t want that.

I could proceed on continuing to rewrite Ms. Larson’s entire chapter – it’s that good and full of a heart-full of – well – goodness.


146 seconds with God

Proverbs 11:2

'When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.'

The book of James quotes another scripture in Proverbs; 'God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble.' Also in Proverbs is 'Pride goes before destruction...' (16:18).

When I was reading this verse and the idea of pride coming before disgrace and before destruction, and that God opposes the proud I was struck - no dumbfounded by where my thoughts went with this verse:

Do you remember the grade school outside game, Red Rover? I asked my boys if they knew that game (I wondered if they still played the game). They do!!

This is what I thought of: Satan calls out 'Red Rover, Red Rover send pride over.' Pride runs toward Satan's battle lines. Pride is heading straight for disgrace. Disgrace is locked arms with destruction. Disgrace and destruction hold on and consume Pride. So Pride takes its place between disgrace and destruction on the side of Satan.

On the opposite battle line is God. God calls out, 'Red Rover, Red Rover send humility over.' Satan is happy to let go of humility because humility weakens his line of battle. Humility runs straight for wisdom and grace. Humility gets engulfed by wisdom and grace.

It may be all fun and games - until Pride causes hurt, destruction, and disgrace. All too often destruction consumes the proud and takes everyone around with him, and he is disgraced. 

Leave pride behind. Humble yourself.