put out the fire and tear down the walls

Recently I realized that there was something missing in my life.

Some walls that I had built, some anger I had harbored for years was gone.  Just gone.  Crumbled. Vanished. ……..gone.

Had I been working on removing it?  Not really.  I had prayed a couple of times about it, but I wasn’t thinking about it a lot or praying about it recently.

I just came to the realization this past Sunday that the raging fire of anger was just…gone.  I couldn’t even dig up the embers.  And believe me I tried.  When I first realized the anger was gone it was almost like a friend had moved away.  My first thought was how to get the anger back (which makes NO SENSE, I know)  It had been something I quite literally cherished.  A fire that warmed me.   If I stopped being angry, was I admitting that the person had actually done the right thing all along?

No.

Letting go of the anger is not the same thing as agreeing with the event or the actions of the person that I was angry with.  Letting go of the anger was just that.  Letting go.  Nothing more.

What happened?  How did it go away without me even noticing?

Frankly, I don’t know.

Perhaps it had something to do with listening endlessly to the same sermon (one of Beth Moore’s Sunday school classes called called “Thieves of Joy” ) over and over for the past few months.

Or perhaps it had something to do with the Bible verses I have been concentrating on for all of last year.  There are many, but the very first one that has been with me since January of 2009 is

II Chronicles 7:14
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land”

Called by my name – I am a Christian.  I have been begging God to help me be a better representative of His Holy Name.  This is what Witness means by the way.  To represent, to bear witness, to testify.  In our case, those who are called Christians are meant to bear witness by our actions and lives to those around us.

Pray and seek His face and turn from their wicked ways – I have been seeking.  Filling my mind with His words (memorizing scriptures), filling my ears with music that glorifies Him (making a deliberate choice to keep my CDs to only praise music this year).  And keeping my mouth shut.  One of the most sinful areas of my life is my mouth.  I speak sarcastically and hurtfully in the name of humor far too often.  Partially due to illness and partially as a personal choice I have been trying to keep my mouth shut recently.  In effect – turning from my besetting sin.

Heal their land – I believe this is what happened.  Not literal land, but my spiritual land.  My land, the place my heart and mind was dwelling in was filled with fires of hatred and anger.  God has honored my seeking by healing this area of my life.  This scorching anger that has been consuming me for so long, the wound that would not go away, in part because I could not let go…..God loosened my grip and helped me let it go.

Which brings me to an example that my pastor Richard hunter used in church this Sunday –

Ever noticed that when you hold your fist closed tightly around something for too long it actually hurts to move your fingers in the physical act of opening your hand?  Try it.  Just make a fist.  Make it really tight.  Put a lot of effort into it.   Hold it for 60 seconds.

Then uncurl your fingers.    Relax your hand.  It hurts doesn’t it?  The word “relax” just doesn’t even seem to apply.

It actually takes effort to perform the physical act of opening the hand.

I think too often we generalize “letting go” as an effortless act of freedom.  And the result absolutely is freedom, but the act of releasing our grip on something, someone, or in my case – some emotion can actually be an effort.  In my case it was too much for me.  I cherished that anger.  I wanted it.  I was not about to let it go.

But God knew it needed to go.  It was standing in the way of joy.  And I hadn’t put any limits on God when I prayed from II Chronicles.  I just asked for His healing.  I didn’t say what needed healing.  I wasn’t trying to be clever, I just had no idea what God needed to do in my life.

I’m posting this today, even though it is not Easter related, because this really did just happen this past Sunday.  And I wanted to share the joy.

Fill your mind and heart with scripture, any scripture.  Don’t put any limits on God, and see what amazing things come of it.

Bible verses for Ginny

After spending all of last year working on memorizing Bible verses, it has been on my heart that I need to make sure Ginny gets started on this sort of thing as early as possible.

We already sing the blessing to her at every meal, and greet her every morning with “This is the day that the LORD has made”.  Also the last thing she hears every night is Martin singing a blessing over her based on the text from Numbers 6: 24 & 25 (the LORD bless you and keep you).  So we know she is getting some basic truths repeated over and over from the beginning.

But that is just a beginning.  Scripture memorization needs to be a joyful habit very early on.  Fortunately I don’t have nearly as many scripture memorized as I would like and the more I look for verses for Ginny, the more I am finding ones that I personally would like to learn too!

But then comes the winnowing process and the question of which ones to start her on first.  We are already doing a lot of Bible verse songs, but not everything we want her to learn has been set to music.  So I appeal to you my readers (all three of you)

What verses do you think a child should learn first?

When did you start being deliberate about scripture addresses? (one of the most frustrating things for me is knowing that I know a scripture, but I have no idea where to find it)

And

Do you know them as Bible songs? Or did you learn them as just straight verses?

Here is a list of ones that I think would be important in the first five years or so.  Let me know what you would add to this list –

  • Philippians 4:13(kjv) – I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
  • Psalm 51:10 – Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
  • 1 John 1:5  – This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.
  • Psalm 4:8 – I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety
  • James 4:7 –  Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
  • Joshua 24:15 – But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD
  • 1 Corinthians 10:26 – The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it
  • John 3:16(kjv) –  For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.
  • Exodus 14:14 – The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent
  • Colossians 3:20 – Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the LORD
  • John 14:15 – If you love me, you will obey what I command
  • Genesis 1:1 – In the beginning God created the Heavens and the earth.
  • Psalm 56:3 – When I am afraid, I will trust in you.
  • Psalm 56: 11 – In God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?
  • Hebrews 13:8 – Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.
  • Colossians 3:2  – Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
  • Psalm 18:32 – It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.
  • Ephesians 4:32(kjv) – Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you
  • Matthew 7:7 – Ask and it shall be given unto you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened unto you
  • Isaiah 40:31 (KJV) – But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
  • Proverbs 3:5&6 – Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight
  • Colossians 3:23 – Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men
  • Proverbs 27:2 – Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips
  • Proverbs 3: 5&6 – Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
  • Proverbs 20:11 – Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right
  • Psalm 145:8 – The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.
  • Ephesians 4:32(kjv) – Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you
  • Matthew 7:7 & 8 – Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened
  • Psalm 40: 1 & 2 – I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand
  • 1 Timothy 4:12  – Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity
  • Psalm 34:10 – The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.
  • Psalm 62: 1 & 2 – My soul finds rest in God alone;  my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
  • Psalm 34:18 – The LORD is close to the brokenhearted  and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
  • I Cor. 16: 13 & 14 – Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.
  • Psalm 46: 1 & 2 – God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea
  • Isaiah 41:10 – So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
  • Mark 12: 30 & 31 – Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these
  • Isaiah 40:31 (KJV) – But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
  • 1 Corinthians 10:31 – So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
  • Numbers 6: 24 & 25 – The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you