Saturday, December 04, 2010
Simply Wait: Cultivating Stillness in the Season of Advent
Pamela C Hawkins
Simple but powerful, really love this one!
"Enter these pages, savor the words they hold out to you, and you
will experience deep quietude and welcoming spaciousness."
Preparing for Jesus: Meditations on the Coming of Christ, Advent, Christmas and the Kingdom
Walter Wangerin Jr.
His devotionals have depth and grant fresh insight into the all too often taken for granted Christmas story.
He has a "wonderful way of rendering biblical truths in completely new and novel ways, making those truths come alive in emotions, stories, and images."
God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas Dietrich Bonhoeffer
To read Bonhoeffer's perspective of the goodness of God while he awaits execution in a Nazi prison camp is riveting.
"These stirring words are among forty devotions that guide and inspire readers as they move thematically through the weeks of Advent and Christmas, from waiting and mystery to redemption, incarnation, and joy. Supplemented by an informative introduction, short excerpts from Bonhoeffer's letters, and passages from his Christmas sermons, these daily devotions are timeless and moving reminders of the true gift of Christmas."
All quotes from amazon.com editorial reviews
Jesse Tree Advent Devotional Book
Saving the best for last!
I love this devotional! It is FREE by a downloadable link on this site:
which is worth checking out and reading even if you don't download the devotional.
I had never heard of a Jesse Tree but it is an ancient Advent tradition where each day focuses on Jesus from stories in the Old Testament! This book offers ornaments to copy and put on a Jesse Tree.
from the site: * The full Bible text of the day’s reading in either NCV or NIV (of course, feel free to read from your own Bible, if you’d prefer another translation.) Readings are selected to begin in Genesis and cover significant events throughout the Old Testament — each story pointing to the coming Messiah. It’s like an overview of the whole span of His Story — leading right up to the climax of the coming Christ!
* A devotional that (humbly attempts!) to be a read-aloud for the whole family – engaging enough for young children and yet meaty enough for teens and adults. (Thank you for grace!) Each reflection endeavors to not only highlight an important scene from God’s epic in time, but to always unwrap more of Jesus, the gift hidden in every story.
* a short, simple action point for the day — “Unwrapping more of His love in the World” — a way to do something together as a family that not only invites the coming Kingdom of God and Jesus’ love into your home and community, but is an opportunity to apply and live out the day’s devotional. It’s like an Advent Calendar that gives back – becoming more like the gift Himself!
* a full color ornament, illustrated by Nancy Rodden and used with permission, to hang on your own Jesse Tree. The very last pages of the book include all of the ornaments in over several pages so you can easily cut each ornament out and creatively mount to your own preferences
So now choose ONE or more and jump right in to make this Advent the best yet!
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
We have many choices in a day, which way will we "go", which door will we walk through. I want to walk through the door that leads to life and that door always means aligning myself with God. Did you know that just being in His Presence brings about transformation? And that His desire for you is to become the me you were meant to be from before the foundation of the earth, which is your true self?
Here are a couple quotes that speak that truth.
Enable me to be open to Your transforming Presence.
from the Blue Book pg 312 Jim Branch
Transformation means recovering the life you are given in God.
from Journaling as a Spiritual Practice pg 44 Helen Cepero
Your true self . . .
I love that just being in Your Presence, God/Papa, is transforming - not doing anything but being, abiding . . a powerful motivator for keeping company with You, Jesus, throughout my day.
Will I choose to be who You intended for me to be . . . or not? I have a choice - if I align myself with You and Your will for me, I can become my true self. O glorious day when that becomes a full reality in my life.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Saturday, November 06, 2010
I'm reading through my last year's journal and came across this entry today from The 4:8 Principle by Tommy Thomas and thought it was worth posting.
Habit#1: You attract into your life the people, ideas and circumstances that correspond with your habitual thinking. And three years from now, your family life, health, relationships and finances will reflect what you have been feeding yourself. You become what you think most about.
Habit#2:Start the Day with Joy
15 minutes each morning = 7.5 hours in the first 30 days alone!
If you say I don't have time for a quiet time with God, ask yourself "What could I possibly do with that time that would bring me any greater benefit?" Minutes invested in praying for wisdom will save days spent in overcoming mistakes. To advance in joy, first retreat with God.
Habit#3: Seal the Day with Joy
What gets impressed in your heart gets expressed in your circumstances. What do you think about or read or watch on TV right before you go to sleep?
Thursday, September 16, 2010
The grasslands of the wilderness becomes a lush pasture.
Even a wilderness place can become a place where you can be fed and nurtured. Why? Because I AM with you, My Presence with you makes even the driest wilderness lush. How? Because like I've told you, in My Presence is fullness of joy; (Ps 16:11) You come sweeping in from the desert on the arm of your Beloved. (Song of Solomon 8:5)
It is in the desert that you find Me to be all you need and more. I carry you through the wilderness as a Father carries his son close to His heart. (Deut 1:31)I provide for you in the wilderness, manna, water, quail, clothes and shoes that don't wear out. Dependence on Me is a beautiful thing and it oftentimes happens in the wilderness. The poor in spirit find the Kingdom of God. Rejoice in your wilderness because it is there that you will find Me. It is there I will show you who you are and whose you are. You will be tested but not to break you but to prove your character, just like happened with Jesus in the wilderness. Be one with Me and allow me to nurture you in your wilderness.
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
Ransomed Heart devotional by John Eldredge
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
A True Father
Jesus kept coming back to this central issue, over and over, driving at it in his teachings, his parables, his penetrating questions. If you look again, through the lens that most of us feel fundamentally fatherless, I think you'll find it very close indeed to the center of Jesus' mission. "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?" (Matt. 7:9-10 NIV). Well? We rush ahead to the rest of the passage, but I think Jesus is asking us a real question and he wants a real answer. I expect he paused here, his penetrating, compassionate eyes scanning the listeners before him. Well? I hesitate. I guess you're right. I wouldn't, and apart from the exceptionally wicked man, I can't think of any decent father-even if he is self absorbed-who would do such a thing. Jesus continues, "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" (v. 11 NIV).
He is trying to speak to our deepest doubt about the universe.
Look at the birds of the air. Consider the lilies in the field. Are you not much more valuable to your true Father than they? (Matt 6:26, 28). Hmmm. I'm not sure how to answer. I mean, of course, there's the "right" answer. And then there is the wound in our hearts toward fatherhood, and there is also the way our lives have gone. "What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?" (Matt. 18:12 NIV). Yet another question, pressing into the submerged fears in our hearts, another question wanting another answer. Well? Wouldn't he? "And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost" (vv. 13-14 NIV).
Wherever you are in your ability to believe it at this moment in your life, at least you can see what Jesus is driving at. You have a good Father. He is better than you thought. He cares. He really does. He's kind and generous. He's out for your best.
(Fathered by God )
Monday, August 09, 2010
Beauty Is Absolutely Essential
I (John Eldredge) just let out a deep sigh. That we even need to explain how beauty is so absolutely essential to God only shows how dull we have grown to him, to the world in which we live, and to Eve. Far too many years of our own spiritual lives were lived with barely a nod to beauty, to the central role that beauty plays in the life of God, and in our own lives. How could we have missed this?
Beauty is essential to God. No-that's not putting it strongly enough. Beauty is the essence of God.
The first way we know this is through nature, the world God has given us. Scripture says that the created world is filled with the glory of God (Isa. 6:3). In what way? Primarily through its beauty. We had a wet spring here in Colorado, and the wildflowers are coming up everywhere-lupine and wild iris and Shasta daisy and a dozen others. The aspens have their heart-shaped leaves again, trembling in the slightest breeze. Massive thunderclouds are rolling in, bringing with them the glorious sunsets they magnify. The earth in summer is brimming with beauty, beauty of such magnificence and variety and unembarrassed lavishness, ripe beauty, lush beauty, beauty given to us with such generosity and abundance it is almost scandalous.
Nature is not primarily functional. It is primarily beautiful. Stop for a moment and let that sink in. We're so used to evaluating everything (and everyone) by their usefulness, this thought will take a minute or two to dawn on us. Nature is not primarily functional. It is primarily beautiful. Which is to say, beauty is in and of itself a great and glorious good, something we need in large and daily doses (for our God has seen fit to arrange for this). Nature at the height of its glory shouts, Beauty is essential! revealing that Beauty is the essence of God. The whole world is full of his glory.
(Captivating , 23-24)
Saturday, July 31, 2010
In the wake of Cindy's death yesterday and my heart feeling heavy, God led me to read my last year's journal entry for this day and ministered to me from a lectio I did on Psalm 84. I want to share it with you.
v1 How wonderful that I get to dwell where You dwell, I get to be in Your Presence. You live inside of me in my spirit AND in my physical being! O Lord of Heaven's Armies, You are the Commander and Keeper of all of the forces of Heaven - all the angels who do your bidding in battle in spiritual realms and here on earth and yet You are my Papa God. I barely can comprehend that!
v2 My desire for You is a longing that almost brings me to fainting away without You. God You are living, Alive, More Real than anything on the earth. I want to shout to You how much I love You and praise You for who You are! With everything that is in me, in my physical being and my soul - my intellect, emotions, will, personality, feelings, with my desires, my passions, with love and a sense of awe. AND with joy!!!
v3 You care about the sparrows. (How much more about me!) You enjoy them when they choose to be close to you, choose Your altar to build their nests and even raise their young there. Thank you that You guided me to be near You and raise my young at Your altars. I pray all my girls will be intentional about the same.
v4 Joy is a result of living in Your Presence and singing Your praises just as the birds do every morning and all day long.
v5 Joy is a result of the weak relying on Your Strength and not our own. Joy comes as we walk with You along the pilgrimage of this life, keeping our minds ever aware of You and how You intersect the moments of our days.
v6 Even when our walk takes us through difficulties that makes our eyes overflow with tears, those tears can turn into a refreshing spring . .
v7 As we allow You to make us stronger because of our trials. You are with us in every trail and can cause blessings to come forth from desolate places.
v8 Thank You for hearing my heart when I share with You. Thank You for listening to my cries of desolation and my cries of joy.
v9 O God without Your favor, I cannot be who You want me to be, who You have called me to be so allow Your favor to fall on me so I can bring glory to Your name.
v10 If I only got to serve You one day in my entire lifetime, it would be so worth it! Even doing the most menial job serving You is better than doing the most coveted job without You.
v11 You are the SUN: bright, beautiful, warm, life-giving, glowing, glorious, huge, fiery, magnificent! You are my Shield: the One who protects, guards, goes before me, says I belong to You, keeps the enemy far from me. I cannot live without You, without what You provide or without who You are. I am 100% in need of You 100% of the time. You give me grace and glory.
Grace: undeserved merit; exchanged my life for Yours, my sin for Your righteousness; paid my debt and filled my account up with everything I need; all the time Your grace is sufficient for me - all the time - every moment. How unaware of this magnanimous provision You've graced me with. How unreliant I am on You. I think I can do it myself like a stubborn three year old who has no comprehension of her inabilities. Forgive my independence! I want to celebrate my dependence on You!
Glory: We are glorious because we are made in Your image, we reflect You! I reflect You and Your glory, by being made by You and for You and in Your image . . .
When I obey You, love You, love others, I am displaying Your glory.
When I give You praise, speak to others of who You are, serve You, love You, be with You, just be, I reflect Your glory.
When I be who You created me to be, I display Your glory.
I love this part of this psalm, it is one of my favorite verses in the entire Bible: No good thing will You withhold from those who walk uprightly.
You desire to give me good things when I yield to You and allow Your righteousness to be a part the whole of my life. And what are those "good thing"? I think it must be wealth, influence, fun, pleasure but You say Your grace and Your glory are the good things You have in store for me - better things than I could ever think of, think up, dream or imagine.
v12 Joy is the result of fully trusting in You, that You desire what is best for my life and that I believe and rely on that fact and live my life in Your presence because of Your lavish love for me.
Here is Psalm 84 as found in the New Living Translation.
1 How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
2 I long, yes, I faint with longing
to enter the courts of the Lord.
With my whole being, body and soul,
I will shout joyfully to the living God.
3 Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young
at a place near your altar,
O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, my King and my God!
4 What joy for those who can live in your house,
always singing your praises.
5 What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord,
who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
6 When they walk through the Valley of Weeping,[b]
it will become a place of refreshing springs.
The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.
7 They will continue to grow stronger,
and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem.[c]
8 O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies, hear my prayer.
Listen, O God of Jacob.
9 O God, look with favor upon the king, our shield!
Show favor to the one you have anointed.
10 A single day in your courts
is better than a thousand anywhere else!
I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God
than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.
11 For the Lord God is our sun and our shield.
He gives us grace and glory.
The Lord will withhold no good thing
from those who do what is right.
12 O Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
what joy for those who trust in you.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
So many friends are going through difficult times right now. I get overwhelmed when I sit down to pray for all the needs on my heart. Sometimes I just don't have adequate words to express the depth of my concern, the angst I feel for them, the desires for God to meet them in the midst of their sufferings. Then I read this today and knew I was on the right track.
"I remember Charles saying that he hardly knew how to pray for himself, much less anyone else. 'So I just say their names,' he said, 'and sort of picture them in the last place I saw them. Then I am quiet for as long as I can be, just sort of lifting them up in my mind, looking at their face, trying to see what it holds. And for a while it seems that I am carrying a part of whatever they are having to carry.' To the Father, on that last night with His friends, Jesus said, 'I lift up to You those You have given me.' To lift up those who have been given to us, and to whom we have been give, is all, and possibly everything, that we can do.'Father Almighty,' we pray, 'we offer prayers to You for those whose lives are linked to our.' And there they are, in those places where they were the last time we was them. We can see the way their hair curls around their ears just so, and the twinkle in their eyes, and the hint of something unnamed that hides in the edges and folds of their smiles. We have been given to them and they to us, by virtue of blood and gene pool or by virtue of relationship and covenant. We are not alone, and neither are they, no matter how lonely we seem, all of us and any of us, at times.
We entrust all who are dear to us to Your never-failing love and care, for this life and the life to come, knowing that You will do for them far more than we can desire or pray for. Kyrie, eleison - Lord, have mercy."
Living Prayer, Robert Benson
This reminded me of something else I read a while ago: Prayer of the Teacup
("The first 15 minutes of each day I reserve for the saints on earth. I begin my day with a cup of tea. As the steam from my cup ascends to the heavens I walk with all my favorite strangers into the heart of God. There is a bit of the stranger in everyone, even friends. This dawn prayer becomes a sacred moment of yearning. I yearn for God to bless my friends and name them one by one. Sometimes I do not even name them. I simply see their faces in the ascending steam. I receive the persons who come into my memory and I give them back to God.")
I stand at my window and watch
one by one the stars all leave me
I am having tea with the dawn
the first ray of sun descending
into my teacup
into my heart
The steam of my tea ascending
to the heavens
into God's heart
The yearning in my heart streaming
to the heavens
into God's heart
And God, standing in the heavens
watching the sun rise in my heart
leans down to breathe in
the first rays of my yearning
and names it morning prayer.
Seasons of Your Heart
from my journal:
Sometimes word are not enough to express the prayers in my heart and mind - silence say it best - allowing my spirit to communicate with God without words getting in the way. Sometimes silence with God feels empty like nothing is being communicated when in truth so much more is being "said" than when I use my words. Thank You Papa for this special way to pray.
Saturday, June 05, 2010
A breath prayer is a short 6-8 syllable sentence that you can prayer in one breath. Some might call them "popcorn prayers" because you can pop them to God quickly. My breath prayer for the last year has been "Breathe on me, Breath of God." I love how I can pray that at any moment of any day and it gets me in touch with God's Presence in and around and through me. I was reading my last year's journal today and here are some of the thoughts that spoke to me again.
Breathe on me, Breath of God
Fill me with life anew
That I may love what You love
And do what You would do
(Edwin Hatch from the blue book p 63)
If God is the One in whom we are to live and move and have our being, then I want my every inhale infused with His Presence, my every exhale an extension of His love.
Margaret Feinberg, Sacred Echo, p21
I loved how she stated that: every inhale INFUSED with God's Presence; every exhale and EXTENSION of His LOVE. Oh that I might increasing become more aware of God in me as I breath in, breath out, 24/7!
Friday, June 04, 2010
How do you react in a storm? Peter got scared, even with Jesus asking him to walk on water to Him. Funny though, when Peter began to sink, Matt 14:30-31 says Jesus IMMEDIATELY took his hand and saved him. It occurs to me that Jesus is always available to me. As soon as I turn to Him, He is IMMEDIATELY there for me. This speaks to me of how much He loves me and is concerned for me and of His companionship with me. I can take comfort in knowing His Presence is with me, always. It is my awareness of Him that changes when I call on Him. Because He lives in me, He really is IMMEDIATELY available. Even when I do not "feel" His presence, He IS there.
Thank You Jesus that You want to be here with me IMMEDIATELY whenever I call on You or need You. It is Your delight to do so. You have the power to do so. You are big enough and good enough to do so. Help me remember to cry out to You in and out of storms.
When Jesus says to Peter, "Why did you doubt?" I see that not said as a word of correction but as a smiling Jesus encouraging Peter not to give up on Jesus so easily or on himself either.
Psalm 94:19 When doubts filled my mind, Your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer. When anxiety was great within me, Your consolation brought joy to my soul.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Sometimes I think I must jump through certain hoops to get God to listen to me. Is it the position I pray in that makes prayer "work"? Or the words I say, in a certain way, over a certain period of time? Or maybe if I write my requests in my journal God is more likely to answer.
Is God available to me at anytime, every day, in every moment? Is there some special thing I must do before He will hear my prayers?
Since God is omnipresent (always here and everywhere at once) and since he lives in me and I live in Him and since He loves me unconditionally and accepts me as His Beloved, then there should not be anything special I need to do to get His attention. He is always attentive, always listening to me.
Relate this to your own children. As long as they are in your presence, you hear them. You don't say to them, "I'm not hearing you. First go clean your room and then I'll hear you." [OK, maybe you HAVE said THAT on occasion!) But does God say that to us? No, He is always hearing us, always listening.
Now that does not mean He always answers the way we want Him too. (He knows better than that and sometimes we are so glad He did NOT answer the way we wanted Him too. Sometimes we can see His wisdom in that.) When we request things of God, we usually think we know the best way for Him to answer, and often I tell God that, "If you would just do A, B and C, we'll be good to go!" Now I know none of you ever do that, right? :) But truly even though we are looking for a yes, sometimes God answers but we don't receive it because His answer is "no" or "wait" or "I have a BETTER idea" or "just BE with Me and trust that I've got this under control."
"Jesus knew the Father was listening not just when he prayed but all the time whenever He spoke. God was always responding to Jesus' words, whether they were addressed to the Father or addressed to someone else. For Jesus, the line between praying and just speaking became very thin. God is the constant gracious listener to our every thought."
But that was JESUS. Well, news flash, if you are a believer, who is living inside of you? Jesus. The Holy Spirit. And John 17:23 tells me that God loves me as much as He loves Jesus. So God hears us just as much as He does Jesus. Wow, that is a revelation for me.
Since God is the constant gracious listener to our every thought, shouldn't we return the favor?
quotes in italics from The Me I Want to Be by John Ortberg p. 134-5
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Father, too often I have trusted in my own power, my own knowledge, my own self instead of YOU. I want to depend on Your power and Your knowledge 100% of the time. You know so much better than I. How much better my life would go if I did this. Help me!
Acknowledgement of the problem is a huge first step - so be encouraged you are on your way, on the right path. Bring your self back to Me again and again when you find yourself wandering back to your self, your power, your knowledge. Cling to Me. Seek Me first always.
from God Calling ...Leave Me out of nothing. Love all My ways with you. Know indeed that "all is well." Delay is but the wonderful and all-loving restraint of your Father - not reluctance, not desire to deny - but the Divine control of a Father who can scarely brook the delay.
Delay has to be - sometimes. Your life is so linked up with those of others, so bound by circumstances that to let your desire have instant fulfillment might in many cases cause another, as earnest prayer, to go unanswered.
But think for a moment of the Love and thoughtful care that seeks to harmonize and reconcile all your desire and longings and prayers.
Delay is not denial - not even withholding. It is the opportunity for Me to work out your problems and accomplish your desires in the most wonderful way possible for you.
Oh My child, trust Me.Remember that your Maker is also your Servant, quick to fulfill, quick to achieve, faithful in accomplishment. Yes. All is well.
Thursday, May 06, 2010
My love for you will never fail - it will last forever, it will not stop, nothing you can do would make Me stop loving you, nothing can separate you from My love. My love WILL produce what I intend - it will not fail. Swell in that thought today of My unfailing love for you, FOR YOU!
"As we wait, we relinquish control, surrender our wills five up our false hopes and realize that if anything is going to happen at all, it will have to be God's doing."
When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don't ask questions. Wait for hope to appear. Don't run from trouble. Take it full-force. The 'worst' is never the worst. Lamentations 3:28-30 The Message
"We realize that our transformation is not up to us - it never was! If anything is to happen, God must do it. Through waiting our transformation is accomplished because God does what we cannot.
Quotes from The Lazarus Life by Stephen Smith pp.37-38
Sunday, May 02, 2010
After 38 years of marriage and being an avid reader, I thought I'd read about every marriage principle out there. This book surprises! The Eldredges' vulnerability as they share their personal struggles take "another marriage book" to a new level. As my husband and I followed their stories, we found ourselves relating to what they shared and relating more to one another. Even if you cannot get your spouse to read along with you, you will find the material applicable. As you put it into practice, you will see the dynamics of your marriage changing. Another smash success for John and Stasi AND for you and your spouse if you put into practice these life-changing principles.Run to the nearest bookstore and get your copy of Love and War; you won't be disappointed!
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Papa, I rejoice in You, in another day to live in Your love and hear Your voice and be with You. I need you Jesus, desperately, in every way. Be with me today. Thank You that You ask me to just BE with you as well. I love You.
Do not worry; I will sustain you because I love you and because I can. My mercies truly are brand new every single morning. You truly do get to be a "beginner" every single day, a do-over, a fresh slate on which I can write your story . . . or you can. Choose ME to write your story and you'll find LIFE even if you have to walk through some valleys of death. Die to self so you can live to Me.
"Stillness is always the prerequisite for receptivity."
"God notices things about you your mother has never even thought about."
"Eyes that cannot see might be healed but eyes that will not see cannot be helped. God Himself will not force them open."
quotes from Love Beyond Reason by John Ortberg pp.41, 45, 46.
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
"If we let the Lion of Judah run loose as Lord of our lives, He will not want us to be poor, broken or sad. Yet He may allow it, knowing that in these conditions we are more likely to let Him make us rich, whole and happy. If you let the real Jesus into your life, the God whose supreme desire is your happiness and fulfillment, you will want to throw out anything that is going to stop you from reaching His Kingdom."
Brennan Manning, The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus Pgs. 112-113
When he says God wants us to be rich, whole and happy, I believe God might define that differently than we would. Not rich as in the wealth of this world but as in the riches of the Kingdom of God, and not happy as in all our circumstances are easy or fun but finding our happiness in what is true happiness, which is finding we were made for: an intimate relationship with God. That is to me the desire of God's heart and why we can trust that His intentions for us are deeply good. And that all He allows in our lives is to bring us to that end, a relationship with Him that makes us whole, what He originally intended us to be. Like the relationship He had with Adam and Eve in the garden before the Fall.
Lamentations 3:19-33 (The Message)
It's a good thing to hope for help from God
I'll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
the taste of ashes, the poison I've swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—
the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there's one other thing I remember,
and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:
God's loyal love couldn't have run out,
his merciful love couldn't have dried up.
They're created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over).
He's all I've got left.
God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
to the woman who diligently seeks.
It's a good thing to quietly hope,
quietly hope for help from God.
It's a good thing when you're young
to stick it out through the hard times.
When life is heavy and hard to take,
go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer. Don't ask questions:
Wait for hope to appear.
Don't run from trouble. Take it full-face.
The "worst" is never the worst.
Why? Because the Master won't ever
walk out and fail to return.
If he works severely, he also works tenderly.
His stockpiles of loyal love are immense.
He takes no pleasure in making life hard,
in throwing roadblocks in the way:
Monday, March 29, 2010
"The times in life when I get the most hurt in relationships, the moments when I am most tempted to pull back, are when my expectations are out of line. When I expect someone to respond to me one way and they choose another. I get disappointed or hurt. In the verse in Luke that says "love your enemies (think difficult people in my life), do good to them and lend to them without expecting to get anything back," Jesus offers a word of wisdom and encouragement: DROP your expectations! I have interpreted this to mean that people cannot give you what they do not have. Whatever the reason for that, when I realize that they did not give what they did not have, I am set free! In my heart I can be kind again."
As I read this in The Organic God by Margaret Feinberg, I thought, "Oh my gosh! This is so true of me. I do have expectations of people to act a certain way toward me, toward others and when they don't, I get hurt and judge them or reject them. I need to remember this so I CAN drop my expectations and just give kindness. And how do I do that? By receiving the abundant kindness of God toward me. Well, actually, I have already received it, since He has forgiven me of all my grime and gunk and has loved me extravagantly and lavishly. I just need to be aware of that truth moment by moment and in those moments when someone does not reciprocate, turn to God to recognize HIS abundant kindness to me and settle into Him and receive the kindness I'm looking for from the other (difficult, especially at that moment) person, from God instead. He never disappoints.
Help me Papa to be more kind to those who don't do what I expect and help me remember they don't have it to give back.
That gets me out of my entitlement mentality (I deserve their kindness b/c I was kind, or b/c they are my friend, my family). People never seem to respond well to others feeling entitled."
"A renewal or restoration takes place (in me) when I give up the sense I am owed something. I am able to give freely, not expecting anything in return." ibid.
This is my prayer for myself today. Simple, but not easy. Thank You Papa that you are willing to help me be more like You in this way.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
You are My chosen, My Beloved, My Delight and loved as none other. Each of My chosen ones are as the only bride for the Bridegroom. Just as the Bridgegroom chooses His bride, I have chosen you to be mine forever. I loved you so very much that I waa willing to shed My blood and die so that you could be my bride. Allow Me to love you unreservedly and soak in My love for you, just for you.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
When I say "I need this" (to be happy, content, fulfilled . . . you fill in the blank) what I really am saying is God's love and God's life are not enough. Isn't that what Adam and Eve were seduced into believing - that God was not enough? He had given them so much but all they could see . . . was the one thing they didn't have.
Once we focus on that one thing it swells to mythic proportions. We are certain life will "come together" once we have "it" or achieve "it." The only thing we truly need is God and the LIFE He gives us.
God uses our disappointments, our longings, to draw us to Himself. To wean our hearts from every other perceived source of life so that we might come to find our life in Him. This may be why everyone of us bears at least one major and lingering disappointment in our life that we don't understand why it is still there and unfulfilled. It reminds us everyday that we cannot make life work the way we want. If we'll let it, the disappointment can be God's way of continually drawing us back to Himself.
I have a choice - I can let my disappointments define my life. Or I can let them them take me back to God, to find my life in Him in ways I have not yet learned. And so I break the agreement that I've made, that I need this. I give this place in my heart back to You, God. Fill me with Your love and Your life in this very place.
You alone are enough.
taken from Walking with God by John Eldredge
Monday, March 15, 2010
I read this line in John Eldredge's Walking with God, a book I highly recommend, and I thought "how very true this statement is but how many of us don't REALLY believe it!" More often than I'd like to hear, Christian friends whom I respect talk about how it is wrong to focus on "feeling" God in our lives. Now I agree, to a point; we can't just want God for the good feelings He graciously gives us. BUT it almost feels like we throw the baby out with the bathwater, i.e., throw the experiential part of the relationship out with the feelings. That would be like marrying someone only because they were good for you or because you "should" but not desiring or expecting a relationship with them that includes good feelings. Crazy! Our relationship with God is not just about good biblical theology although that is essential for a true relationship with God. I see that as our foundation to experience a fulfilling relationship with God. Religion without relationship is just legalism - and the Law kills. The Holy Spirit living within us brings life - life comes through relationship. Think of life in any other area of your life - with your family, work, ministry - none of that is lived in a vacuum and without relationship. And the more intimacy you have in those areas, the more fulfilling those relationships they are. Same with God, don't you think? And yes, good feelings are the results of a good relationship! Not that they are the goal or the focus - the growing relationship is the focus but that certainly does not exempt us from experiencing God in an intimate way (which includes feelings.)
Do we shy away from feeling feelings with God because we are afraid? What if I try and don't experience Him? What if He doesn't give me that "gift"? Sounds like the enemy's strategy to get us to lose hope and chose a lesser thing than God desires for us with Him. How do I know this is what He desires? He says so, over and over, in His Word.
Here are just a few verses that come to mind:
Romans 8:32 If I gave up My Son to have relationship with you, how will I not freely give you all things?
Ephesians 3:19-20 I ask you'll take in the extravagent dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God God can do anything you know - far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!
(How can you take in God's love without feelings being involved?)
Zephaniah 3:17: God delights in us! (How can you delight in someone and NOT want them to experience you?)
Romans 8:38-39 Nothing separates us from God's love.
Just look at Jesus with His disciples. Was it purely a "theological, here's the facts about me, now believe" kind of relationship? Or did Jesus love them in tangible ways that included feelings and they loved Him in return? I John 4:10 says that God loved us first so we could love him back, and love others- that sounds like a whole lot of "feelings" involved in this process.
So look to see what your personal hestitation is about experiencing feelings for God and from God and then see how that lines up with scripture and God's intent toward you. His intentions toward you are deeply good, more so than you could dream or imagine!!!!
Friday, March 05, 2010
17 Ways to Stay Ultra-Positive by Tommy Newberry
Difficult, trying times reveal just how positive you really are. Think about it.
What’s the virtue in being positive when you’re on a roll, when everything is clicking for you and falling your way?
Your potential for business excellence, excellence in your marriage, and excellence in your family life demands that you master the skill of staying U.P. (Ultra-Positive) even when–and especially when–everyone else isn’t. There is a tendency in tough times to zero in on the things that are “out of whack” and forget about all that is working in our lives and in our country.
When you’re Ultra-Positive, you’ll be more creative, productive, energetic, attractive, and most importantly, receptive to God’s will. Here are seventeen practical options to build your momentum. Pick your favorites and get started today. Then spread the joy to others.
1. Make the Decision to Stay U.P.
Nothing of consequence happens until you promise yourself that you’ll become the most positive person you know, even in light of challenging circumstances. Raise your standards! Become an inspiration to others. Everything else flows from this key decision to separate yourself from the herd mentality, from the vast majority who blame, whine, gossip, and predict the sky is falling. Life is short. Refuse to buy into this mass hypnotism…Take a stand, starting now.
2. Start U.P. then end U.P. every day.
One of the simplest ways to reduce stress and anxiety is to begin and end each day with what I call Positive Mental Nutrition™. Feed your mind with inspirational ideas, spiritual truth, or motivational nuggets for ten to fifteen minutes immediately upon awakening each morning and right before drifting to sleep each evening. During these two time periods, your mind is extremely susceptible to programming, so make sure your inputs are positive, healthy, and goal-directed. Read, visualize, affirm, pray, and rewrite your goals…and practice feeling thankful for what you do have!
3. Summarize Each Day’s Victories, Large or Small, in Writing.
This one practice alone can zap fear and generate quantum leaps in self-confidence. Start logging your accomplishments each evening in a notebook, hardbound journal, or on your computer. What a great, 4:8 habit!
4. U.P. your Physical Exercise
Another pillar of Ultra-Positive living is consistent, moderate exercise. This includes aerobic work to burn fat and improve heart health; weight work to tone and strengthen your muscles and elevate metabolism; and flexibility work to stay loose and limber. Exercise more. Exercise a lot more! Face the facts. When you’re in terrific shape and feel better about yourself, you feel better about your life and more optimistic about your future. You’re positioned to live U.P. to your full potential.
5. Break U.P. the Big Four
Negative thinking leads to negative emotions, which in turn trigger more negative thinking. The vicious cycle becomes engaged. The top four negative emotions include fear, worry, blame, and guilt. These terrorize your potential and immobilize your efforts toward becoming Ultra-Positive. When you begin experiencing results you didn’t want or expect, it’s easy to get scared and start thinking more about potential losses than potential gains. This mind-set triggers worry or what I call reverse goal setting, where you vividly imagine what you don’t want. To transfer the burden of worry, you will often blame someone or something outside of yourself. Alternatively, you may exaggerate your role in the negative events and experience guilt. Consider negative emotions to be lies from the enemy. Deal with them directly by refusing to entertain the thoughts that fuel them. This is a point very much worth reinforcing: Invest your time thinking about what you want instead of what you don’t want.
6. Forgive Someone, Including Yourself, Daily
Harboring grudges and hostility against anyone, including yourself, tends to attract more circumstances to be upset about. Practice forgiving somebody every day for real or imagined transgressions. The better you become at forgiveness, the more positive you can become as a human being. If you skip this one, I’ll even forgive you.
7. Quarantine Negativity if You Can’t Dissolve It
Carve out a particular time and place to worry (worry time) and to complain (issue time) each week. This is extremely effective because then the rest of your week isn’t diluted with the minority of negative circumstances that can infect otherwise healthy days. When you cut the spontaneity out of negativity, you severely weaken it.
8. Focus on God. He’s U.P.
Remind yourself of everything you know to be true about God. God is all-powerful. God is love. God is sovereign. God is always with us. God is absolute truth. God never changes. And so on. Thinking about God is good, really good! And the bigger you make God, the smaller your problems become.
9. Schedule Four-Minute Positive Injections Every Two Hours
Think of these as Positive Pit Stops. Review your goals or mission. Practice affirmation or visualization. Pray. Read the Bible. Relive a positive memory. Write a thank-you card or send an e-mail of appreciation to someone important. Ask 4:8 Questions. (See page 33 in that smiley face book)
10. Simplify and Declutter to stay U.P.
Complexity is negative. Simplicity is positive. Room by room, drawer by drawer, try tossing one tiny item of clutter every day for thirty consecutive days. My 1% clients love this one and so will you, because doing even a small task will help you to feel more positive. Break your jumbo-sized goals into sub-goals and milestones, and then splinter them into even smaller pieces if necessary to spur you into action. Renegotiate or downsize existing commitments to lighten your load a bit for the next thirty days.
11. Get to Bed Sixty Minutes Earlier for Ten Straight Days
Fatigue, especially chronic fatigue, invites negativity and cowardly thinking. During periods of intense or prolonged stress, extra sleep will help your brain remain an ally in the war against mediocrity. Cut something out of the evening schedule (maybe the bad news) and drift to sleep with visions of victories dancing in your head. Your body, mind, and spirit will thank you.
12. Take a Twenty-Four-Hour Mental Fast
Become Ultra-Positive one day at a time. You can rid your attitude of toxic thoughts through the practice of mental fasting. Read and reread The 4:8 Principle if you want to master this simple, relevant, powerful and biblically-based mental technique. During your fast, abstain from all complaining, fear-mongering, criticizing, excuse-making, gossiping, and worrying whatsoever! Start with a twenty-four minute fast and gradually discipline your mind to repel all negativity for a whole day. Focus on progress. Rinse and repeat as necessary.
13. Stay U.P. and Watch Your Favorite Funny Movies
Laughter is fabulously positive. Research indicates that people who laugh more actually have more fun. Isn’t that surprising? Consider building your own comedy library on DVD. Save funny movies on TIVO. Watch often. You’ll stay healthier, more creative, and less stressed–and that’s a great alternative to the medicine cabinet.
14. Have a Counter-Attack Plan U.P. and Ready
Become hypersensitive to your thought life. Since you can be negative only when you’re thinking “8:4 thoughts,” you can quickly become positive by thinking “4:8 thoughts.” This is called the Principle of Substitution. The split-second you notice any negative thought running through your mind, replace it emphatically with something like, “I am responsible” or “I trust God” “God is with me” “This is temporary” or “I can do it.” Repeat, repeat, repeat! Be ready with your comeback before the heat of the moment. Make negative, limiting thoughts unwelcome in your mind.
15. Re-Engage an Old Hobby to Stay U.P.
Involve yourself in a positive activity that used to be important to you but may have gotten squeezed out of your life due to other priorities. This will be both therapeutic and rejuvenating. Consider it a gift to yourself.
16. Intentionally Cultivate Ultra-Positive Company
This one is mandatory. It’s next to impossible to become or stay U.P. when the people you live and work with are petty, “8:4 thinkers.” Nothing equals the influence of your habitual associations. Especially now, be purposeful about which people are close to you on a regular basis. The people you hang out with influence your outlook on life. As you become more optimistic, you will attract more optimistic people in your life, and that’s good.
17. Help Someone Else U.P.
Donate your money. Donate your time. Volunteer. Simply serve someone less fortunate (and there are a billion or so to choose from) or contribute your talents and gifts to a worthy organization. Helping those who need help reduces self-centeredness and puts your own challenges into a much more positive perspective.
The key to staying U.P. is to remember that every situation can indeed be positive when you view it through the lens of Philippians 4:8, as an opportunity for spiritual growth, character refinement and the redistribution of joy.
Monday, January 25, 2010
I love to read and so I always keep a list of the books I've completed every year.
Here they are. The books in bold are my favorites for this year.
God with Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas compilation
Living a Purpose Full Life Jan Johnson
Papa Prayer Larry Crabb
The Believer’s Secret of the Abiding Presence Andrew Murray, Brother Lawrence/Louis Gifford Parkhurst, Jr.
9 things You Simply Must Do to Succeed in Love and Life Henry Cloud
I, Francis Carlo Carretto
Between the Tides Patti Callahan Henry
Homesick for Eden Gary Moon
The Hidden Life Kitty Crenshaw and Catherine Snapp
Let Go Fenelon
Living Prayer Robert Benson
Twilight Stephanie Meyer
Widow of the South Robert Hicks
City of Ember Jeanne DuPrau
Come Away My Beloved: 365 One minute meditations
Losing the Moon Patti Callahan Henry
The Echo Within Robert Benson
Sacred Echo Margaret Feinburg
New Moon Stephanie Meyer
Eclipse Stephanie Meyer
Breaking Dawn Stephanie Meyer
Gift of Being Yourself David Benner
Between the Dreaming and the Coming True Robert Benson
Embracing Soul Care Stephen Smith
Lazarus Life Stephen Smith
Sacred Chaos Tricia McCary Rhodes
Home By Another Way Robert Benson
Mistaken Identity Van Ryn and Cerak
Until We Reach Home Lynn Austin
The 4:8 Principle Tommy Newberry
Finding Noel CD Richard Paul Evans
Sam’s Letters to Jennifer James Patterson
My best read was Living Prayer and The Hidden Life. I will definitely read those again.
Monday, January 11, 2010
It's been probably a month since I've had my daily walk but today was the day, start of a new week and a new year so I put on my long johns, my sweats, my scarf, hat, gloves, with soapstone handwarmers in my pockets for an extra touch of warmth if I needed it (which after my bundle up I probably would not), I braved the 28 degree cold (with windchill felt like 20!). If you know me at all I have a very limited degree of comfort (my hubbys says it is from 76-78 degrees and that's it!) so this was a big step for me.
It actually felt invigorating! I felt my heart pumping, thus I call this my "heart walk" but also felt the breath of the Holy Spirit breathing inside me as I breathed in the cold air. I love my morning walks because they are pure crytalline moments where I hear the sweet whispers of Papa and thus I call this my "heart talk" as well. (maybe I should say it is my heart talk walk! :))
Today He was speaking to me about approval, of me and me of others. I asked Him, "How do I approve of others when I don't approve of their behaviors?" I felt He answered, "You approve of their true self, the person I originally intended them to be and am conforming them into; and you call that person into being by affirming and approving of that person." You know how when someone compliments you on something you don't see in yourself and you are surprised. You might respond by saying, "Boy, I want to be more of that!" and so you begin to be open to becoming that true self.
This was an "ah-ha" for me today.
I'm so glad I ventured out.