don’t wait

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere

just read that sentence and you can hear the song in your head.  Or if you can’t, click on the video.  Enjoy.  I’ll wait.

 

A concept that resonates with just about everyone.  We all get it.

Somewhere in the world, it just turned 5 o’clock, so its okay to let loose, party and perhaps consume an adult beverage or three.

Fun idea,  and not too difficult to understand.

Now I want you to consider applying this concept to a Bible verse.

yes, a Bible verse.

Lamentations 3: 22 & 23 (ESV)  to be exact

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases,
His mercies never come to an end
They are new every morning
Great is your faithfulness

 

How many times have we heard people say “His mercies are new every morning” and mentally applied it like this:

“wow, I really messed up today, but tomorrow I can start fresh”

“ugh it’s only 9:47 a.m. !  Today has started off horrible!  So glad tomorrow will be better”

Why wait?

The earth is round.

You are on the earth.

the sun is coming up SOMEWHERE

so

DON’T WAIT

Claim it right now.  His Mercies are new right now.

You don’t have to wait till tomorrow for the Faithfulness and Mercy of our Living God.

This is one thing it is okay to be impatient for.

 

 

 

because i promised

I recently got a message from a friend who reminded me that I hadn’t posted on the blog in a while.

That same day I had submitted my written testimony as part of a job application to a Mission organization that I really would love to work for.  In the process of writing the testimony, I handed it to my pastor to see if he had any edits or suggestions.

He handed it back to me and to my utter shock said this

“Don’t change a word. Oh, and I want you to read this during my sermon this Sunday”

Can you spell shock?  or how about flabbergasted? that’s a good one.

So I did it.  I read it in church.  My husband says it went over really well.  I wouldn’t know.  The whole experience is somewhat of a blank to me.  Something about the dark room and that spotlight just erased my brain I think.  Anyway, here is the written version.

Streams of Mercy, Never Ceasing…..
As a Christian child, I loved the Jesus of Sunday school and songs, but my faith had no depth, so my adult choices resulted in two failed marriages. At my lowest point I was living in a sinful situation, with no repentance or desire for God.  I thought God was all about “no” and rules.  Eventually my wrong thinking took me somewhere I had never planned to go.  Friends and family alike were fed up with my continuing disasters.  My life was a mess, and it was my fault.

I was alone.

God then poured out His mercy on me through one friend – Barbara.  She made it clear that she deplored my choices, but Barbara also made it clear and that she, and God, loved me. And she set out to prove it.  After unsuccessfully inviting me to church many times, Barbara decided to kidnap me.  Every Sunday she got her family up early, drove to my home, rousted me out of bed, and took me to church.  My unwilling ears heard truth at that church.

Sometimes I would come home from work, expecting a silent, lonely house and I would find instead a home full of Barbara’s family.  The kids were happy to see me, dinner was on the stove and I had a family to eat it with.  We would read, talk, and fellowship.  My hardened heart saw love made tangible.

Because of Barbara’s deliberate ministry to me I began to want to know God.  I finally read the Bible, and found out about a God beyond Sunday school songs.  A God that wants an intimate relationship with me.  That still blesses me with fresh meaning every day.

My life still has highs and lows, but every day I learn more ways to praise my redeemer.  These days my husband and I host a Bible study in our home, I write devotionals, volunteer in our church, and I’m currently learning the inductive method of Bible study.  Martin works for our church and we have a beautiful daughter through the blessing of adoption.  My Lord has bound my wandering heart to Him through more goodness, blessings and merciful moments than I can count.  Streams of Mercy, Never Ceasing.  Here, I raise my Ebenezer indeed.

September 28, 2010

today I lost my job.

a job I had been in for just shy of 10 years.  I started there October 16th of 2000 and my final day of work will be October 1st of 2010.

I never wanted to leave.  My disposition is funny that way.  Advancement is not really my thing.  The desire to change jobs every 3 to  5 years just baffles me.  I want to stay put.

And in this job, I thought I had found it.  I loved the people.  I enjoyed the environment.  and the benefits were great.

but……

Then the economy happened.  and there was a reduction in force.  Again.  my husband Martin lost his job to a Reduction in Force last year in August.  And now mine got cut.  Nothing personal.  Just math.  Frankly the look in my boss’ eyes told me that he hates this as much as I do.

So…….

now what?

I’ll tell you what – for the first time in 10 years we are now open to God sending us anywhere.  We are no longer hampered by the luxury of my benefits.  We can see what other possibilities are out there.

skeptics will say “none!”

I say “let’s wait and see what God has in store.”

oh and I get to spend more time with my favorite Bible study partner and my wonderful baby girl.

of football and fall

It’s  Fall.

Football season……

and lately I’ve been thinking a lot about a particular piece of football equipment.

the mouth guard.

Intellectually I knew that mouth guards affected speech and I always felt sorry for the guys on the football field trying to speak and to understand each other with those things in their mouths.  It is a familiar sight to see a quarterback take the mouth guard out, call the play, and then put the mouth guard back in before the snap.  Anyone who watches football has seen that happen.

But just how much a mouth guard affects your speech never really sunk in for me till this past week.

I have had to start wearing a mouth guard at night.

No, I am not involved in some bizarre night time sporting activity which requires safety gear.  But I have been clenching my jaw in my sleep for years and it is starting to have a cumulative effect on my teeth.  Initially the dentist was talking about fitting me with an expensive, custom molded mouth guard.  Yikes.  I don’t have bunches of money right now so the prospect of a custom fitted dental appliance was a bit daunting!  But then the hygienist told me a secret.

“couldn’t I just get a football mouth piece?” I joked.

“yup” she said.

Music to my ears!

So the next time I was in Wal-mart I planned to get a football mouth piece.  Just for fun I looked in the dental care section first and lo and behold they had a mouth guard of the “boil and bite” variety that was not built for sports, but instead was designed for folks who clench or grind their teeth.  Perfect!  Just what I needed.  For only $20. Yipeee!

Bought it.  Took it home.  Boiled it.  Bit down.  I now have a mouth guard molded for my teeth that I can use each night to keep me from clenching my teeth all night in my sleep, Hooray!  Okay, actually to be perfectly correct, the mouth guard does NOT keep me from clenching my teeth.  It just keeps my inevitable jaw clenching from doing any damage to my teeth.

Aside from keeping me from damaging my own teeth, the mouth guard has had a major side effect though – I have gained a more personal, visceral understanding of just how difficult it is to speak as you normally would with one of these things in your mouth.  I have a greater appreciation than ever of football players who can manage to make themselves understood on the field.

And I have also gained a new understanding of Psalm 141:3.

Last year I memorized this verse and I intellectually related it to a football mouth guard as a way of helping me remember the verse.

Set a guard over my mouth oh Lord,
keep watch over the door of my lips.
Psalm 141:3

But I hadn’t really understood just what I was asking God for.  I had previously thought of asking God to guard my mouth as essentially me asking God to  “stop me from speaking Lord.”   But I look at it very differently now.  Now that I have actually had a mouth guard in my own mouth I realize that really it is more that

the mouth guard fundamentally distorts your speech.

It’s not that you can’t talk.  You can.  Reasonably well actually.  But the mouth guard profoundly affects everything you say.  Your voice sounds a bit different, your pronunciations change, your ability to make any clipped sounds or sharp, crisp cut offs of consonants is gone, and glottal stops are just out the window.  Having a mouth guard in even, to a certain extent, affects your breathing mechanics.  And to a small extent it changes some facial expressions.

When I think now of asking God to “set a guard in my mouth” and realize that the guard He will place in me is the Holy Spirit, that whole last paragraph takes on spiritual meaning.

With the Holy Spirit in me, my voice should sound different.  My pronouncements will change.  My ability to be short with people and in my conversation should go away.  My every breath should be a prayer.  And if God is IN ME, He will affect even my facial expressions.

I Want God to Fundamentally Distort My Speech.

My personal paraphrase of Psalm 141:3 as a prayer now goes something like this –

“Set your Holy Spirit in my very mouth LORD, profoundly affect my every word, make it so that I cannot speak at all without betraying that YOU are in me.  Watch over me Lord.  Affect my breathing, and my expressions Jesus.   If I try to take out your guard so that I can speak in my old sinful selfish way, SEE me Lord and let your Holy Spirit kick me so that I do not take out my mouth guard. Ever.”

It is one of my most frequent prayers these days.  Well, other than “Lord, please do something ‘bout dem DAWGS”…………..


300,000 distinct ones

I need to post a re-cap of this past weekend’s “So Long Insecurity” simulcast.

Not because people need to hear the message, they do.  But Beth is so much better at it than I am, my pitiful recap is not really going to impact anyone….except me.

This is for me.  So I don’t have to worry about losing my notes from this message.

Beth likes Acronyms, so her message was built around Ephesians 4:1 – 5:2 and what a SECURE woman “looks” like.

A SECURE woman is….

Saved from herself
removed from the need to be so self-conscious, self-aware and afraid of what others think. She is focused on God and on HIS opinion of her and mission for her.

Entitled to truth
The truth about herself – that she is a precious daughter of the king and nothing and no one can ever take that from her. This is not to urge her towards pride, but instead to make sure she knows the value we all hold in God’s eyes.  And by the way ALL humans have dignity and value
in God’s eyes.

Clothed intentionally
She very deliberately wreathes her mind and heart in scriptures, God’s word of unending love and forgiveness.  Scripture is our best (only) defense against the destructive thoughts and emotions that rage through our heads.  Be deliberate.  Have scripture memory plan.  Surround yourself, study God’s word.  Whether you know whole chapters already or don’t know a single verse yet, start today.  Memorize.  I used to think Scripture memory was not necessary.  I had the Bible after all.  I wasn’t living in some far off land where I’m not allowed to carry a Bible, so why should I have to memorize scripture?  Because God said to, first of all, but mostly because I don’t have time to look things up when my head is spinning.  I need to be able to pull up words from God that have “been engraved on my heart”       Be Intentional about it.

Upended by grace
forgiven.  utterly.  unshakably, she KNOWS she is forgiven and it turns everything in her life upside down.  She is so certain of her own forgiven state that forgiving others is not only the right thing to do, it feels right.  I didn’t say easy…just right.

Rebounded by love
slips happen, mistakes occur, but a secure woman knows that God is there and catches her.  she is both bound by God’s love and rebounded by it – which I like to think of as a basketball analogy – caught and sent right back up towards the basket.

Exceptional in life
She is the exception to every rule.  “no woman in the world could deal with THAT…well, except…HER”  is what we want all our acquaintances to say about us.

Beth was amazing on Saturday.  Her passion was deeper and more raw than anything I have ever seen from her,  and in a way that made it more intimate.  Even with 300,000 people all listening in.   I loved that she said that this whole insecurity thing is not just a theme for the year or something.  She is utterly on fire.  I know I was seeing her with 300,000 other people, but I felt like she was speaking to me.  That she came there because God was telling her to talk to ME about this sin in my life.  The sin of unbelief.

Because that is what insecurity is, essentially, unbelief.

God says I am forgiven, how dare I try to prove to him that I’m not?

God gave his son for my life! how dare I try to show him how worthless I am and what a horrible bargain he made?

God pours himself out for me in his word, how dare I scorn such an offering by not reading it?

God says that I am lovey, how dare I even think of myself as anything less?

on a side note – I had a wonderful time with some great friends (one of whom I only see about once a year) and I didn’t take a single photo!  Hey Trish, do you have the camera phone picture we had the lady in line take of us?

***update*** and here it is.  A lovely photo of three very SECURE and happy ladies!

Deirdre, Michelle & Trish

by the way, both Trish and Michelle are farm girls, so they spent the entire time we were in line discussing their favorite TRACTORS and other farming implements.  I was WAY out of my depth!!!!

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

God said it…..

… I just wish I had listened better…

One of the things we bought for Ginny for Christmas was a full DVD set of the Cedarmont Kids albums.  For any of you who are unfamiliar with this group, give yourself a treat, go get them.  Even if you don’t have kids.  Just suspend your adult-ness for a day or two.

These DVDs are packed with loads of songs that Ginny loves to dance to and “sing” along with.  She is getting active play and being indoctrinated at the same time.  All the videos are subtitled with the lyrics so she will eventually be getting reading skills too.    And it’s not just classic stuff that I remember from my childhood.  You know the ones..

“I am a C.   I am a CH.  I am a CHRISTIAN”  and “This little light of mine” and “Climb, climb up sunshine mountain” and “Do Lord, oh Do Lord, Do remember me”  and “Jesus loves me”

Those are all in there, but included are some songs that I had never heard before.  Songs that might have made a difference in my life if I had ever heard them AND managed to believe them.  Like this one, called “Every promise in the book is mine”

Every promise in the Book is mine!
Every chapter, every verse, every line.
I am standing on His Word divine,
Every promise in the Book is mine!

Pretty straightforward, eh?

I love this song.  I mean I sang about being a “son of Abraham” but I never really grasped that that meant that through Christ’s sacrifice and the fulfillment of that covenant, I personally partake of EVERY promise in the Bible.

And it is such a wonderful tune that I find myself singing it all day long.  Which is very good for me.  The soundtrack that runs in your head all day needs to be an affirming one.

Yes, the soundtrack in your head.

Don’t even try to tell me that you don’t have one.  It is there.  You may only consciously hear it when all else is quiet, but you do have one.  Mine tends to be very repetitive.  I get stuck in a groove all day.  Sort of like how you feel after coming out the “small world” ride at Disney.  That stupid song stays stuck in your head for HOURS.  If conversation around you lags or you have a moment of quiet…it floats back up to the forefront of your brain and you find yourself humming along…..it’s a small world after all….its a small world after all…AARRRGGH !   That’s what I mean when I say the soundtrack in your head.  So it behooves me to fill my mind and heart with good songs.  Songs that point me to God.  Otherwise I can spend all day (inadvertently) contemplating utter drivel. And who wants that?

Or this one …

Wide, wide as the ocean, high as the Heaven above;
Deep, deep as the deepest sea is my Savior’s love.
I, though so unworthy, still am a child of His care;
For His Word teaches me that His love reaches me everywhere.

I sang “Deep and Wide” enthusiastically as a child, but here again this song (which has a haunting melody by the way) addresses some of my deepest concerns.  My feelings of insecurity and shakey self worth are directly addressed by these lyrics.

And then there is this one.  This is priceless.  And what it is doing in my heart as an adult is absolutely staggering.

God said it, I believe it
That’s all that faith demands
Though heav’n and earth shall pass away
His word will stand.

I have to wonder, did it take hearing these lyrics as an adult for them to sink in?  Would I have never really understood the lyrics if had known them as a child?  It occurs to me that one of my favorite Sunday school songs as a kid has some pretty good depth to it…….

Like a tree
Like a tree
I’m like a green olive tree
in the house
in the house
of the LORD, hallelujah
I will trust
in the mercy of God
forever I will trust
in the mercy of God

This song is engraved in my mind.  And yet, I didn’t trust in God’s mercy. It never reached my heart, my blood stream.  It never became part of me.

I’ve sung this song around many a campfire and yet I’ve spent decades of my life either trying to personally make up for my sins (which isn’t possible) or feeling completely unforgivable and therefore licensed to sink into depravity.   Also a bad choice, by the way.

It is only in the last few years that I am starting to come to grips with the truth that God really does love me.  Personally.  And that I really am forgiven.  Really.  Yes, even for that.  and yup, that one too.  And oh yes, THAT one. (no, I’m not going to enumerate my sins for the world to view.  They are between me and Christ.  He washed them away and no longer remembers them)

Maybe that’s why these songs are having deep meanings for me now.

Now, they are real.

I, though so unworthy, still I’m a child of his care, for His word teaches me that His love reaches me EVERYWHERE.

Blessed reality.