Thursday, March 8, 2012

A New Chapter in Life...

So, I guess I will get back to this blog thing. We are starting a new chapter in our lives. Next month Raquel will take her Kindergarten placement test, so she will be off to school next year. Time sure flies when you're having fun! With this new phase, we also start another adventure in our lives, hosting an exchange student next year!

It is so funny sometimes when you are praying to know what's next for you. Praying to know where you are needed to serve others. I knew I wanted to host an exchange student when I first heard out the opportunity because most of my friends growing up have been exchange students, internationals, and later in college Missionary Kids from around the world. I wasn't sure if I was up to the challenge, but it felt right. And, my husband didn't laugh me out of the room. He just said, "Let's do it!" I was a little taken aback, so much so, I asked like 20 more times. :)

We chose a girl from Germany that is Turkish and Muslim. I've never met anyone from Turkey, so I thought it would really interesting to learn more about their culture. I've had Muslim friends before, and they have been some of the most amazing people I've ever met. I'm thankful that my girls have this opportunity to get to know someone that isn't like them. When I told our student that we wanted her because she was exactly who she is...she was surprised and relieved. She thought that being Turkish and Muslim that she would be less likely to be chosen. It broke my heart that this girl thought that she wasn't worthy of this opportunity because she wasn't from the "right" part of the world or had the right religion. Thankfully, God is much bigger than all that and urged us to step out in faith at the same time this girl was praying that someone would just give her a chance to live her dream to come to America to learn more about it.

This has made me think a lot about how we have responded to all that has happened in the las 10 and a half years since 9/11. Have we conducted ourselves in a manner that has made children around the world fear that they will be rejected just because of things they didn't necessarily choose for themselves? Or have we overreacted because a few have done horrid things in the name of their version of a religion? How do Christians feel about the Westbough Baptist Church behavior towards everyone who disagree with them? Have we reacted from a place of fear and ignorance? Or maybe from a place of defensiveness because of ignorance or disagreement? I don't know that I like any of those options...I've always chosen to be the one that's different. One friend said that I like to be contrary. Hopefully, it is much more than just that.

So, the adventure begins! 5 months. :)

Monday, September 28, 2009


I haven't written in a long time because I felt I needed a break from just sharing my heart. Sometimes we need to say what's on our hearts but at other times we really need to just be still, know God is God, and the biggest of all, just listen. Though, at the same time I feel I've been so distracted lately even though I've not felt as conflicted, which was part of the reason I began writing again. I felt I had so much to say, but no platform, just no where to share my feeble thoughts. Writing has helped me cement and understand God's word in the mist of times of questioning and struggle. Hopefully, writing has proved a benefit for the trasnforming of my mind. Perhaps, all that has changed was my intellectual understanding of the Word, but I hope that not to be true.

Having said that, I want to talk about peace, stillness, contentment, and God's calling. Hopefully, this will be as clear as it is in my head with so many huge ideas, but I really do feel that they are related at times in our lives. So, let's get started with reading God's word!

Psalm 46

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. According to Alamoth. A song. [a]

1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.

5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.

6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

7 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

8 Come and see the works of the LORD,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.

9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear,
he burns the shields [b] with fire.

10 "Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."

11 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

My entire life I feel I have lived for the mountain top experiences with God, with friends, with know what I'm talking life for the weekend life for the external fun and excitement that can be had in this life even though I know in the deepest parts of my heart of hearts, that only God can provide an everlasting peace and contentment that can not be shaken by the waves of life. No matter what comes our way, God is the foundation we need in our daily lives that is stable like a luxury cruise ship, but at the same time, it is so easy to fall back into the mind set that we are still stuck on the dingy being toss here and there with doubts(James 1:2-8) where God found us in the beginning of our journey, even though we are aware God has given us a major upgrade at this point in life. This upgrade is a trust in God that can't be easily displaced by the circumstances of life, our fears, or anything else in this temporal world. Trust that God equips those he calls to serve even when it doesn't seem to be working that way, or the truth of the situation. This is what I feel God has been showing me in my own life in a new and refreshing way.

I don't always remember that I don't have to give into what I perceive as a failing, which in turn raises up insecrurities of the past, that in turn sends me into a tail spin of wanting to just give up. God has not allowed me to do this. Fortunately and unfortunately, I am aware that he has huge plans for me in a way I that not only brings intense humility coupled with absoulte freaked out fear that makes me want to run and hide under my couch. Sadly I can't fit under my couch, but I know I need to give in, that being so much easier said than done.

A little over a year ago I was researching how God calls people to the plan he has for them, and I read Ex. 4 and came to vs. 13-14. After reading this my heart sank because I knew that the call I "heard" in 8th grad wasn't magically going to disappear, but God will forever pursue me so I might fulfill the purpose He has called me. There is no running from God. (As if all the times I've read the story of Jonah to my children the truth of it hadn't stuck to my brain like flour to honey!)

Still, we are like that aren't we? Always at some point seeking comfort in other places than in our Most Holy God so we can run away from what is uncomfortable? Aren't we always, always let down...disappointed in the end, but yet we always end up right back to complacency. And that complacency distracts us from what God is teaching us, growing in us, and drawing us slowly away from the call God has placed on our lives.

Complacency doesn't lend itself to contentment like we think it might. We get those two words mixed up a lot of the time. God some how helps us find contentment when we are in the center of His will, and yet we will so easily trade that for the mediocre state of complacency.

So let's go through today with a new attitude and new purpose not only to love and serve the Lord with all our body, mind, and strength, but always to enjoy the blessing of the luxury cruise ship instead of the dingy, as well as taking on a renewed attitude of obedience in God's call on our daily lives and in the bigger picture of our life long ministry.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

We Are All Created Equally To Be Different

Romans 14
The Weak and the Strong
1Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. 2One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. 4Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

5One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. 8If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

9For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. 10You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. 11It is written:
" 'As surely as I live,' says the Lord,
'every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will confess to God.' "[a] 12So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

13Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way. 14As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food[b] is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. 15If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. 16Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. 17For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.

19Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.

22So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

So, we go to church, and we are less than impressed with the worship or the sermon. I often find myself drifting off in thought on things that honestly don't matter to the salvation of those in the congregation. I have always done this for as long as I can remember. It is so easy to think we are right in our interpretation of God's Saul who later became Paul. I was reminded of this tonight when we read "Jailhouse Rock", an Arch book, that my mother-in-law gave the girls when Raquel was born. We were explaining who Paul was to Makala and it hit me again just where Paul came from. Is it any wonder why he wrote the above words? Did he not fully live both sides of the above story? How many of us have done the same thing about aspects of God, His character, or His doctrine. We haven't cornered some market on any of these godly things, and I'm reminded this is exactly why Jesus came. Through giving us the full blessings of Salvation we'd come to understand how much we do not understand apart from the mind of God, and so to become increasingly more like Him not only in mind, but heart, will, actions, and perhaps even more so in our motivations. long will it take to get through my thick head? I see progress, but since I'm still here I'm encouraged by the fact that means He's not finished with me.

Monday, February 23, 2009

We Are Called...

Genesis 15:1-21 (NIV)

God's Covenant With Abram
1 After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision:
"Do not be afraid, Abram.
I am your shield, [a]
your very great reward. [b] "

2 But Abram said, "O Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit [c] my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?" 3 And Abram said, "You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir."

4 Then the word of the LORD came to him: "This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir." 5 He took him outside and said, "Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be."

6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

7 He also said to him, "I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it."

8 But Abram said, "O Sovereign LORD, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?"

9 So the LORD said to him, "Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon."

10 Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. 11 Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.

12 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. 13 Then the LORD said to him, "Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. 14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. 15 You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age. 16 In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure."

17 When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. 18 On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, "To your descendants I give this land, from the river [d] of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates- 19 the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites."

Exodus 3:1-22 (NIV)
Moses and the Burning Bush
1 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3 So Moses thought, "I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up."

4 When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, "Moses! Moses!"
And Moses said, "Here I am."

5 "Do not come any closer," God said. "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." 6 Then he said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.

7 The LORD said, "I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 8 So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 9 And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt."

11 But Moses said to God, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?"

12 And God said, "I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you [a] will worship God on this mountain."

13 Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?"

14 God said to Moses, "I am who I am . [b] This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.' "

15 God also said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites, 'The LORD, [c] the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.' This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.

16 "Go, assemble the elders of Israel and say to them, 'The LORD, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—appeared to me and said: I have watched over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt. 17 And I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—a land flowing with milk and honey.'

18 "The elders of Israel will listen to you. Then you and the elders are to go to the king of Egypt and say to him, 'The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. Let us take a three-day journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to the LORD our God.' 19 But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him. 20 So I will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform among them. After that, he will let you go.

21 "And I will make the Egyptians favorably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed. 22 Every woman is to ask her neighbor and any woman living in her house for articles of silver and gold and for clothing, which you will put on your sons and daughters. And so you will plunder the Egyptians."

Exodus 4:1-17 (NIV)

Signs for Moses
1 Moses answered, "What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, 'The LORD did not appear to you'?"

2 Then the LORD said to him, "What is that in your hand?"
"A staff," he replied.

3 The LORD said, "Throw it on the ground."
Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. 4 Then the LORD said to him, "Reach out your hand and take it by the tail." So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand. 5 "This," said the LORD, "is so that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has appeared to you."

6 Then the LORD said, "Put your hand inside your cloak." So Moses put his hand into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was leprous, [a] like snow.

7 "Now put it back into your cloak," he said. So Moses put his hand back into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was restored, like the rest of his flesh.

8 Then the LORD said, "If they do not believe you or pay attention to the first miraculous sign, they may believe the second. 9 But if they do not believe these two signs or listen to you, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground. The water you take from the river will become blood on the ground."

10 Moses said to the LORD, "O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue."

11 The LORD said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD ? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say."

13 But Moses said, "O Lord, please send someone else to do it."

14 Then the LORD's anger burned against Moses and he said, "What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and his heart will be glad when he sees you. 15 You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. 16 He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him. 17 But take this staff in your hand so you can perform miraculous signs with it."

Isaiah 6:1-13 (NIV)

Isaiah's Commission
1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:
"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory."

4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

5 "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty."

6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for."

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?"
And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"

9 He said, "Go and tell this people:
" 'Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.'

10 Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull
and close their eyes. [a]
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed."

11 Then I said, "For how long, O Lord?"
And he answered:
"Until the cities lie ruined
and without inhabitant,
until the houses are left deserted
and the fields ruined and ravaged,

12 until the LORD has sent everyone far away
and the land is utterly forsaken.

13 And though a tenth remains in the land,
it will again be laid waste.
But as the terebinth and oak
leave stumps when they are cut down,
so the holy seed will be the stump in the land."

Matthew 9:9-13 (MARK 2:13-17 and LUKE 5:27-32 call him Levi)

The Calling of Matthew
9As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

10While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. 11When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"

12On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.'[a] For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

I've been meditating on the concept of being called by God to fulfill His purpose for our lives. So, I have compiled a few examples here. What is striking to me is the humanity that is highlighted in each example. How awesome is it that God doesn't tell these guys to check their humanity at the door, rather inspite of their flaws God openly called them to himself, meets them where they are at, and leads them into awesome lives of service to Him and others? Is this not what God desires for all who follow His call for our lives? Aren't we all called?

Another thing that is striking is that each of them were living their normal lives and God intrupts them to change their paths. Many times I think we convince ourselves that we have to sit, waiting to hear from God about what we are called to do, but these examples might serve to change our minds.

The last thing that was striking was that God presented each with truth either through words or by His mere presence truth highlighted the depravity of the individual's sin-nature. We have to be willing to face the whole truth of who we are, good or bad, to find the freedom God can bring to each of us. When we find freedom we are able to walk in obedience, and it is then that I believe we can finally move though the steps to find our purpose in this life. The process is difference for each of us, but there seems to be some similarities to help us through the situation. So, there is hope for those of us who are still searching out our purpose, or if there is the feeling that maybe God is pushing us in a new direction in a new season of our lives.

I feel like I'm still meditating on this, and that I have a long way to we will see what is to come.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Plans and Insecurities Sometimes Give Birth to Ramblings

Proverbs 16 (NIV)

1 To man belong the plans of the heart,
but from the LORD comes the reply of the tongue.

2 All a man's ways seem innocent to him,
but motives are weighed by the LORD.

3 Commit to the LORD whatever you do,
and your plans will succeed.

4 The LORD works out everything for his own ends—
even the wicked for a day of disaster.

5 The LORD detests all the proud of heart.
Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.

6 Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for;
through the fear of the LORD a man avoids evil.

7 When a man's ways are pleasing to the LORD,
he makes even his enemies live at peace with him.

8 Better a little with righteousness
than much gain with injustice.

9 In his heart a man plans his course,
but the LORD determines his steps.

10 The lips of a king speak as an oracle,
and his mouth should not betray justice.

11 Honest scales and balances are from the LORD;
all the weights in the bag are of his making.

12 Kings detest wrongdoing,
for a throne is established through righteousness.

13 Kings take pleasure in honest lips;
they value a man who speaks the truth.

14 A king's wrath is a messenger of death,
but a wise man will appease it.

15 When a king's face brightens, it means life;
his favor is like a rain cloud in spring.

16 How much better to get wisdom than gold,
to choose understanding rather than silver!

17 The highway of the upright avoids evil;
he who guards his way guards his life.

18 Pride goes before destruction,
a haughty spirit before a fall.

19 Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed
than to share plunder with the proud.

20 Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers,
and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.

21 The wise in heart are called discerning,
and pleasant words promote instruction. [a]

22 Understanding is a fountain of life to those who have it,
but folly brings punishment to fools.

23 A wise man's heart guides his mouth,
and his lips promote instruction. [b]

24 Pleasant words are a honeycomb,
sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

25 There is a way that seems right to a man,
but in the end it leads to death.

26 The laborer's appetite works for him;
his hunger drives him on.

27 A scoundrel plots evil,
and his speech is like a scorching fire.

28 A perverse man stirs up dissension,
and a gossip separates close friends.

29 A violent man entices his neighbor
and leads him down a path that is not good.

30 He who winks with his eye is plotting perversity;
he who purses his lips is bent on evil.

31 Gray hair is a crown of splendor;
it is attained by a righteous life.

32 Better a patient man than a warrior,
a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.

33 The lot is cast into the lap,
but its every decision is from the LORD.

Today I am reminded about how we plan for something and sometimes something completely comes of our plans. Sometimes things end up completely different than we plan. I participated in a watercolor workshop today because I love creating art, but I'm not great technically at it. I would love to be, but I've had very little professional training in the various mediums. So, I've embarked on an adventure to ease my fears, my insecurities in my artistic expressions. I have a clear plan before me, right?

Well, my experience at this workshop reminded me of my own frustration with my art. I plan one thing in my head, but by the end the art piece has taken on a life of it's own and becomes something I'd not planned. This isn't always bad, but it isn't alway good either. The main painting that we worked on through out the workshop was a typical subject that I paint--a landscape. But, there are certain techniques that I really struggle with thus the reason for taking the time to attend a workshop. Though I started with the intent to NOT do what I usually do, but old habits are hard to break. In the end, I still reverted back to what I knew well even thought I knew that it usually fails me when all was said and done. So, as far as creating a masterpiece I did not and it has eluded me once again, but I did learn a great deal. In fact, I learned much more than I'd planned.

All of this has led me down a path of asking a few questions. One, why do we plan in the first place when we know that it rarely works the way we planned? Two, when we get in a pinch why do we so easy throw the plan to the wind and revert back to what fails us? Three, why do we allow our fears and insecurities determine our path and/or our plan? I think that the first one I think is easy, at least for me, because I love knowing where to go next and have an idea of the result of a certain situation. This helps define what and why I am doing something, meaning what I'm doing has a purpose. We're all about finding purpose in our lives. The next question might be a little harder to answer because we don't always want to be as honest as is necessary with ourselves to answer it or maybe we don't see it in ourselves in the first place. As far as my art goes it's because I have always found acrylics easier to use and the techniques were much easier to wrap my head around, but these techniques aren't very useful when you are creating art work in watercolor. There are different brush strokes, methods of applying the paint to the surface being used, and how general concepts are interpreted in the process of artistic expression of light sources, shadows,varying hues...etc.

Now what does all of this discussion of watercolors have to do with Proverbs? Well, I was impressed with the failure of my plans to not do what I usually do, but I ended up doing. I have seen myself do this with so many things in my life whether it is my husband, my children, or things I should take to God, but convince myself that it's not necessary because it seems silly like my watercolor. Sometimes I do this with things that are important that I take to God, but because I may have experienced something similar and the last time I handled it well. The problem with the latter is that sometimes we are presented with similar situations so that we can learn something different or build on what we've already learned like in art. But when we fail to learn to lean on God to guide our paths what we lose usually is much more than just the need to start a painting over. Sometimes we say things we didn't plan. Sometimes we do things that we didn't plan that also end up hurting others or takes away things we love to do. But this Proverb in verse 3 reminds us that if we will "Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed."

So as I continue to explore other mediums in art that I will keep in mind the appropriate techniques for that medium, and continue to seek God even in the mundane, everyday little things that are so easy to take for granted.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Blameless Life

Psalm 101 (NIV)

Of David. A psalm.
1 I will sing of your love and justice;
to you, O LORD, I will sing praise.

2 I will be careful to lead a blameless life—
when will you come to me?
I will walk in my house
with a blameless heart.

3 I will set before my eyes
no vile thing.
The deeds of faithless men I hate;
they will not cling to me.

4 Men of perverse heart shall be far from me;
I will have nothing to do with evil.

5 Whoever slanders his neighbor in secret,
him will I put to silence;
whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart,
him will I not endure.

6 My eyes will be on the faithful in the land,
that they may dwell with me;
he whose walk is blameless
will minister to me.

7 No one who practices deceit
will dwell in my house;
no one who speaks falsely
will stand in my presence.

8 Every morning I will put to silence
all the wicked in the land;
I will cut off every evildoer
from the city of the LORD.

This past year, well almost a year, I have been meditating on walking blamelessly, or living the blameless life. This was an interesing Psalm I came across today. It's interesting the contrast here between the blameless life, the life of the wicked, and the end result of each.

I love how King David focuses on God's love and His justice. I rarely think positively about God's justice though I probably should. King David is praising God for His love and justice. It's similar to praise God in all situations, much easier said than done.

In verse 2, he says "I will be careful to lead a blameless life—when will you come to me?
I will walk in my house with a blameless heart." First, he comments that he will "be careful to lead a blameless life..." This is someting that really hit me like a brick the first time I was impacted by this concept of blameless. We have to be careful to be blameless, as in a very deliberate way. The second thing that is reallly striking is his statement that he "will walk in my house with a blameless heart." This seems odd to my human understanding because walking into one's home is seems like such a trivial activity, but this suggests that God is concerned with seemingly unimportant details. Meaning that we have to be conscience of every aspect of every moment of our lives and evaluating everything that is in our thoughts and hearts.

In verse 3, he states that he will "set before his eyes no vile thing." Again here the furthering of the concept that we have to be deliberate in all we do to walk blamelessly. It is less about the do's and don'ts of living this life and becoming more who God desires us to be, separate and blameless and holy.

In verse 6, when he says, "he whose walk is blameless will minister to me" we need to understand how our daily blameless walk not only sets us apart and is a witness to thoes who do not know God, but also it is an encouragement to our fellow believers. So often we focus so much on those who are lost that we forget about those who are wondering away from the flock in our distrating search for the one lost sheep. Both are very important to Him, and we have to focus on who God is telling us to minister to, as well as this understanding of the influence on all who see our daily walks.

So, I continue to long to walk blamelessly each day, though I know I am not completely there and as with all things will probably never get there until I am fully transfigured on the other side basking in God's glory!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Purpose In Our Struggles...

Ecclesiastes 2:17-26 (NIV)

Toil Is Meaningless
17 So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. 18 I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. 19 And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the work into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless. 20 So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun. 21 For a man may do his work with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then he must leave all he owns to someone who has not worked for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune. 22 What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun? 23 All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless.

24 A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, 25 for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? 26 To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

The simple concept to gleen from this passage, as I see it, is in verses 24-26: Life without God is without purpose, but a rather meaningless existance. I know it wasn't that hard to figure that out. :)

I think this isn't as easy to see when you are young. You see the world so differently. You have the idealistic and optimistic view that you can change the world. Now that I am older I believe I relate to this scripture more and more. My world is much smaller, and I truly understand how little I control and can change even less. But I am confident in my faith in what God does control, and what he can and does change. That may seem to some a very pessimistic view to take, but I believe it is the truth. We were not created to "chase after the wind" in this life. We were created to chase after the Living God. Our purpose can not be found apart from Him, nor can we continue to chase after our purpose all of our lives faithfully with out the ultimate faithful one.