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“That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
Ephesians 3:17-19

Thursday, April 22, 2010

If You Want To Make God Laugh...make a plan

Some years ago, I made a staggering discovery: I'm not the one in control! I have to admit, I was taken aback by this revelation, always having thought that my penchant for planning and organizing was a "spiritual gift". It wasn't until I had the rug jerked out from under me that I finally became aware of just how insignificant MY plans were in the light of God's plan. Oh, it wasn't like I was thumbing my nose at God and defiantly plowing ahead, demanding my own way. I just wasn't listening. I read articles and heard sermons and attended women's Christian workshops that spoke of "following God's leading", and I thought that's what I was doing.

When God finally placed me in the position of having to be still and listen (I had no other choice), the whisper of His voice penetrated my soul, and I saw my plans for what they were--an attempt to usurp God's authority in my life. I didn't do it on purpose. But the realization caused me to rethink some things, not the least of which was asking God to sharpen my awareness of His presence and His voice.

Don't misunderstand--I still believe the best way to accomplish things decently and in order, "Let all things be done decently and in order" 1st Corinthians 14:40 is to plan accordingly. We've all heard the admonitions: Failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part and If we fail to plan, then we plan to fail. Planning is a prudent thing to do. But any prudent practice done to excess, including careful planning, is like trying to micro-manage God. So even though I still exercise my "gift" for planning, I go about a different way.

My reasons for planning have changed. Instead of making control an idol, I established new goals. If I desire God's will to guide my steps, then my steps have to lead somewhere. That place is a sanctuary in His presence. When I am aware of God's presence, I can hear His voice better and pay closer attention to His leading. With this goal in mind, I re-set the way I plan.

1) Plan prayerfully. As I am jotting things down on my calendar or my To Do list, I talk with God. I tell Him, "Father, if any of this stuff isn't what You want me to do today, change my plans. I'm listening."
2) Remain in constant communion with God while you are carrying out your plan. Ask Him continually to walk with you, and rearrange the plan as He sees fit.
3) Adjust your plan according to God's leading, even if it seems inconvenient or impossible at the time. If God is in it, He'll make it happen. If His will is to change you, He'll show you. Stay flexible and teachable.
4) Yield your will to His scrutiny. Ask God to examine your motives and reveal anything to you that goes against His will.

As any of my friends can tell you, I'm still a planner, an organizer. I like to know exactly what I'm doing and stay ahead of schedule. Planning is the best way to get things done, as long as I P-R-A-Y first, and make certain that my goal isn't to be in control, but rather to be in God's will and give Him glory.

Thanks for letting me share my heart.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Have They Not Known?

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is HE who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in. He brings the princes to nothing; He makes the judges of the earth useless.” Isaiah 40: 21-23

We’ve all heard on the news in the past day or two how the courts have decided that the National Day Of Prayer is “unconstitutional”. Now, it has never been my desire to turn this blog into a platform for making political statements, and I don’t intend to start now. Whether or not I agree with the judges or the Supreme Court or the current Administration’s assessment is not the issue. My opinion isn’t the one that is important.

It occurred to me that our founding fathers didn’t have a National Day Of Prayer, but they prayed. Godly people pray—it’s as simple as that. If we are in the habit of praying, praising, and lifting up the name of Jesus Christ, no court edict is going to stop us from doing so. But what about those who only pray sporadically? The say grace over their food, they bow their heads at church when the pastor prays, and they may or may not mumble a “thank You for this day” as they lay their head down at night. They are in the practice of waiting for a certain event that tells them it’s time to pray—an event like the National Day Of Prayer. Will those people pray regardless of what the courts say?

Those who fall into that category will be faced with a choice. They can either re-examine their own hearts and determine to become a vessel of prayer, or not. Perhaps some will find this court decision outrageous and grow a good crop of indignity over it, determining they WILL pray, not only on the first Thursday in May (May 6th) but daily. Perhaps the taking away of this national observance will motivate them to be more faithful in prayer.

The fact is nobody can stop us from praying. Whether or not we are permitted to do so in a public gathering that bears a title indicating it is sanctioned by our law-makers is in question. But if we, as children of God, determine that we are going to pray on whatever day we choose, no law or court decision can stop us.

In the book of Exodus, Moses raised up his hands to pray from the top of a hill while a battle took place in the valley below. He stood there all day and prayed, and his arms became tired. Did he stop praying? Did he give up? Did he say, “Oh well, I did my best and that’s all I can do”? No. Two men, one of them Moses’ own brother, positioned themselves on either side of him and held his arms up and helped him pray. They prayed corporately, steadfastly, until the going down of the sun, and God blessed their effort.

The above verses from the book of Isaiah, paint a picture of our nation today. It’s mind-boggling how many in our government set themselves in positions of authority that they THINK transcend God’s authority. Verse 23 of Isaiah chapter 40 declared that God will “bring the princes to nothing, and make the judges of the earth useless.” I think that pretty well sums up God’s opinion of any court decision regarding the National Day Of Prayer.

God said, “If my people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, THEN will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and HEAL THEIR LAND.” 2nd Chronicles 7:14

Thanks for letting me share my heart.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Let Everything That Has Breath Praise Him

“Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar and all its fullness; let the field be joyful and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before the Lord: for HE IS COMING…” Psalm 96: 11-13

Every year around this time, my husband and I enjoy watching the woods around our house go through a metamorphosis ~ the long sleep of winter is over, and the bare tree limbs yawn and stretch their arms toward heaven, ready for their new spring finery. As the temperatures warm and the days grow longer, we are entertained by the daily rebirth. The different species of trees offer a variegation of green as the buds burst open and the infant leaves unfurl and begin practicing for their solstice dance.

All except for one tree…

Every year my husband says the same thing: “I think that tree is dead. All the other trees are leafing out except that one.” And he starts speculating about getting out his chain saw and turning the latent tree into firewood for next winter. It’s almost like the tree is on a different timetable, a different calendar, from all the others, waiting until it knows there won’t be any more chilly nights before it’s willing to turn its leaves loose.

Sometimes God’s people are like that tree. We sit back and watch those around us working, serving, praying, praising, and lifting their hands in pure worship. There is a YouTube video of Michael W Smith in concert singing Agnus Dei. I tried to insert the link here, but it wouldn't work. If you type Agnus Dei into your search box, then click on Michael W Smith, you will hear and witness pure, unadulterated, spontaneous worship. It's an incredible video. Watch as the artist and musicians quietly stop playing and singing, and the audience lifts up their hands and hearts in worship.

I look at the tardy tree in our woods and wonder what it’s waiting for. The scripture in Psalm 96 says the heavens are rejoicing, the earth is glad, the sea is roaring, the fields and everything that grows or lives there is joyful. THEN all the trees of the woods will rejoice. Why? Because HE IS COMING!

Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, is coming. Why do we hold back our praise and anticipation of the glory we will behold? Others around us are awakening to the opportunities to worship—not only with word or song, but with hands and feet, with talents and skills, with energies and heart. If we stand back and neglect to utilize the time God has given us to give Him glory, it’s time we can never get back. We stand in danger of being found idle when Jesus comes.

Every spring my husband eyes that tree and threatens to firewood out of it until I point out the tiny, unopened buds way up on the highest branches. Sure enough, about two weeks after all the other trees have leafed out, this tree will finally let go and show signs of life.

If ever there was a time for us to show signs of life in our worship of God, it’s springtime. Don't wait. He's coming.

Thanks for letting me share my heart.