Wednesday, January 28, 2009
1. Do you like blue cheese salad dressing? ew
2. Have you ever smoked heroin? No, and that's kind of a crazy opening question.
3. Do you own a gun? no, but a bow and arrow might be cool, oh, or a crossbow... and a sword... but then, a slingshot is fun too.
4. What's your favorite drink at Starbucks or other specialty Coffee shop? hot apple cider with caramel
5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments? who doesn't?
6. What do you think of hot dogs? tasty, but please don't tell me what's in them
7. Favorite Christmas song? I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas
8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? hot mint tea
9. Can you do push ups? yep
10. Favorite piece of jewelry? necklace
11. Favorite hobby? reading
12. Do you have A.D.H.D? that depends on the caffeine intake for the day
13. What's one trait that you hate about yourself? um... I don't think I hate anything about myself... although, i can't think of anything my left pinky has done for me recently... oh wait, it hit the caps lock key for me... nope, I'm good!
14. Middle name? Marie
15. Name 3 thoughts right now... Naptime should extend past kindergarten, "kindergarten" is was too long of a word for kids who can't write yet, and people who ride bikes with their pant legs tucked into their socks just make my laugh hysterically!
16. Name 3 drinks you regularly drink? water, ice tea, hot tea
17. The friend you had the longest? Mom
18. Current hate right now? what's with all the hating? I'm not thrilled with the cold rain, but I'm good with it.
19. Favorite place to be? with friends and loved ones
20. How did you bring in the New Year? dressy party at my house, it was awesome
21. Do you like to travel? oh yeah! I love to fly too!
22. Name three people who will complete this? Christy, already did. Mom, she might be bored. Maybe Kara if she doesn't have anything better to do
23. Do you own slippers? yes, two pair thanks to my awesome roomie and me finding my other pair!
24. What color shirt are you wearing? cream turtleneck sweater with a purple scarf
25. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? not really, I tend to slide off of them, I'm a very wiggly sleeper
26.. Can you whistle? Yes
27. Favorite color? black is nice. blue is happy. green makes me smile. purple's pretty cool too
28. Would you be a pirate? can I wear silver buckled boots and black shiny pants? And can Rex Smith sing to me?
29. What songs do you sing in the shower? Part the water (only slightly ironically haha)
30. Favorite girl's name? Isabelle
31. Favorite boy's name? Riley James
32. What's in your pocket right now? chap stick
33. What is the last thing that made you laugh? the thought of Christy singing Clarence Carter in the shower
34. Best bed sheets as a child? Smurfette and the Care Bears!
35. Worst injury you've ever had? broke my wrist playing basketball on New Year's Eve in high school.
36. Do you love where you live? yep!
37. How many TVs do you have in your house? 2
38. Who is your loudest friend? KSJ, she has no inside voice and she knows it! haha
39. How many pets do you have? 3: 2 cats, Ting & Bo who live with my parents, and one fish, Mr Miyagi who lives in my bathroom
40. Does someone have a crush on you? doubtful
41. What is your favorite book? Wings of the Morning by Lori Wick
42. What is your favorite candy? Chocolate!
43. Favorite sport? baseball (pronounced baze-ball)
44. What were you doing before starting this survey? being at work
45. What was the first thing you thought of when you woke up this morning? It's cold out there! Sleep now.
"Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?" 1 Corinthians 3:16 (NIV)
Friend To Friend
I'm not _____________ enough. You can fill that blank in with smart, talented, gifted, spiritual, or any number of positive attributes, but the root source of each one of those lies is "I'm not good enough." It is one of the enemy's favorite weapons and he uses it to keep God's children in bondage to feelings of inferiority, insecurity, and inadequacy. The bottom line is that the enemy wants you to believe that you are "not enough." Period. But you are enough. You are enough and have been equipped and empowered to do everything that God has called you to do.
It seems the message of "I'm not good enough to earn my way to heaven on my own," has been transformed into I'm not good enough ... period. God created man and woman and said, "It is good." We are so valuable to God that He gave His only Son to restore our brokenness.
To be honest, I could have been the poster child for this lie. If feeling inadequate was an Olympic event, I would have been on the Wheaties box. It was the undercurrent of my entire existence until I finally realized who I was in Christ. Bible teacher Beth Moore said, "In the dead of the night when insecurities crawl on us like fleas, all of us have terrifying bouts of insecurity and panics of insignificance. Our human natures pitifully fall to the temptation to pull out the tape measure and gauge ourselves against people who seem more gifted and anointed by God." That was me.
Many women are living in silent defeat, comparing themselves to other women who are living in secret defeat. I'm not a good mother. I'm not a good wife. I'm not a good Christian. I'm not a good witness. I'm not a good housekeeper. I'm not a good decorator. I'm not a good cook. I'm not a good .... Women are caught in a cycle of the "I'm not good enoughs." One by one, the petals fall from the beautiful flower God created us to be. Like ticker tape, our fragmented pieces of confidence litter the streets like the Macy's parade passing by.
Unfortunately, I wasted many precious years held captive by the enemy's lies before I held up my chained hands to God and said, "I'm ready for you to set me free."
Jacob was a liar.
Moses was a stutterer.
Gideon was a coward.
David was an adulterer.
Rahab was a prostitute.
Esther was an orphan.
Balaam's donkey was ...well, a donkey.
Yet God used each one of them to impact His kingdom.
God doesn't call us because we are particularly gifted or talented. He uses us because we are obedient and dependent on Him. He doesn't call the qualified -- He qualifies the called.
The truth is, if you have experienced new birth in Christ, when God looks at you, He sees Jesus. And friend, Jesus is good enough.
Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You today. Because of Jesus Christ and His work of redemption in me, I am deeply loved, completely forgiven, fully pleasing and totally accepted by You. Because of Jesus Christ in me, I am equipped and empowered to do all that You have called me to do. Now, LORD, help me act like it.
In Jesus' Name,
Now It's Your Turn
Go back to that first sentence in today's devotion. What would you put in that blank?
Is that the truth?
What do you think God would say to you about what you have written in that blank?
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Yesterday I fell victim to one of the worst headaches I’ve had in a long time. We’re talking migraine here. In an intentional effort to not use my brain, but while I couldn’t sleep, I did what every other red-blooded American girl does, I watched TV. And seeing as how we do not have cable, I had to watch it online, no big deal there. I looked up my favorites to see if there were any new episodes posted. Bones, Fringe, House, How I Met Your Mother, Monk, Psych, and NCIS. Nothing new there and I finished the last season of Doctor Who a while ago. In my search for something to hold my pained interest but not get me hooked; because I don’t have time to get hooked on anything else, I stumbled upon a little show called The Legend of the Seeker. This show is loosely based on The Sword of Truth fantasy novels by Terry Goodkind. I say “loosely” not based on my own evaluation, since I have never read the books, but based on the reviews I have read online by people who have read the books and are now watching the series and are having some canonical issues with the series.
I have nothing to say about the books, I haven’t read them. But there are aspects of this show that caught my attention and hasn’t let go. The premise is that there are three lands in this fictional world: D’Hara, Midlands, and Westland. The magical, evil ruler of D’Hara (Darken Rahl) is trying to take over the Midlands and is working on unleashing a terrible power that will give him complete control over every single person in the world, regardless of their strengths, beliefs, or previous allegiances.
Now, let me say here that I do not believe in magic, faeries, or any of that fantasy stuff, although I do like to read it and think about it, but I know reality from fiction so let's not even get into that. Imagination is a wonderful thing, people should use it more often- especially adults.
Twenty three years previous to the beginning of the show, there was a prophesy told of one who would come to destroy evil, one who would have the power of good to overcome the darkness, he is called The Seeker. The Seeker wields the Sword of Truth and fights not only with his power and strength, but with the power of all the Seekers before him. He is called “seeker” because he will seek out evil and destroy it, he will seek out truth and justice wherever he goes. It has been proven that he cannot use his power or the power of the Sword of Truth for personal gain, only for the “greater good” of the people.
With him is a woman known as a Confessor. She held a special interest for me because her powers are very important to the Seeker’s mission to fight evil and injustice. She can look into someone’s eyes and know if they are being truthful or not (she, however, is a horrible liar). She also has the power to “confess people”, which means that she can hold them under her influence and make them do whatever she desires or needs. The only drawbacks to that are that it takes a considerable amount of strength from her to perform the task and that the person will fall hopelessly in love with her and there’s nothing she can do to change that short of one of them dying. The Confessor is sworn to protect the Seeker with her life and remain with him throughout his mission to destroy the evil that would take over the world.
The Seeker (Richard) and the Confessor (Kahlan- pronounce kay-lan) are in love, but their love can never be requited because the moment that they… ya know… she will no longer be able to control her power and will inadvertently take his soul from him and he will be her slave. They know the mission is more important than their love. At the end of the last episode I watched, they had mutually decided to bury their love deep inside themselves and never speak of it or act on it, though they both know that they love each other (it was a sad ending).
There is also a Wizard with them who is the Seeker’s grandfather, even though the Seeker does not know it, but I don’t really have much to say about him right now.
The author of the books and the writers of the show claim to be making NO religious overtones, to have no affiliation of any sort, but come on! Sword of Truth that fights evil with no intention of personal gain; the Seeker who fights injustice with no thought to himself, only to the people; and the Confessor who sees the truth in every person and cannot be fooled…. Can anyone else see or correlation to the Bible, the Christian, and Jesus? How often has the Bible been referred to as the Sword of Truth with which we fight? Or how about the Christian who fights Satan’s attacks and reaches out to others so that they might also be saved? And Jesus, who sees everything about us, still loves us, and fights constantly at our side?
I tried to not use my mind yesterday, but I watched at least six episodes of this show and one after one I saw the parallel to Christianity. Even the three parts of the world, D’Hara, Midland, and Westland are equivalent to Hell, Earth, and Heaven respectively. I might write more on this as I go, but I think that’s enough for now. I know the author says he intends objectivity in his stories, but I think this is an example of how not much is truly objective anymore.
Friday, January 23, 2009
"I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD." Psalm 40:2-3 (NIV)
Friend To Friend
At some point in life, we all will find ourselves in some kind of pit, the darkness settling around us like a paralyzing blanket of hopelessness. That deep, dark pit may have many names, but easily becomes a prison from which escape seems impossible. The journey out is a process of steps uniquely planned by your Father. He is the Guide for this step-by-step journey.
Step One: Wait for God.
Step Two: Cry out for help.
Step Three: Count on God.
In this world, there are few certainties. God is one. His promises are true and we can wholly trust Him to keep His Word, to do exactly what He promises to do. In the key passage today, we find an impressive set of promises. God promises to free us -- direct us -- restore us -- give us joy and invites us to join Him in Kingdom work. Wow! That is quite an impressive "to do list" when you are sitting at the bottom of an ugly pit, with the shattered pieces of your life scattered around you. But God's ways are not our ways.
In Romans 11:33, Paul writes "Oh, what a wonderful God we have! How great are his riches, wisdom, and knowledge. How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his methods." (NIV)
God is drawn to brokenness. What an amazing truth, that He turns first to the broken. Psalm 40:1 says "He turned to me." Notice it does not say that David, the author, turned to God. I don't think that David could turn to God! Knowing the desire of David's heart and understanding his weakness, God heard his cry and turned to David just like God will hear your cry and turn to you!
During the darkest hours, I questioned God continually. I flung my anger at Him like a spear. My heart and soul were filled with fear and confusion instead of faith and trust. Yet, He never turned away from me. He knew every tear that I cried. Out of those tears and brokenness has come the most effective and powerful chapter of my life! I am convinced that the more we are broken, the more we are used. You can count on God. You can credit His grace to your account!
Mercy is when we don't get what we deserve.
Justice is when we get what we do deserve.
Grace is when we get what we do not deserve.
We are trophies of God's grace and we can count on Him.
Step Four: Be patient.
Psalm 40:1 "I waited patiently for the Lord."
In this verse, "patiently" literally means "without tiring" or "with perseverance". Be patient with yourself. Don't give up on you. No one gets depressed overnight and no one conquers depression overnight. It is a marathon, not a fifty yard dash! On my journey, it took 45 years to hit rock bottom. It has taken me four years to climb out ... this far. I am still climbing! We must be patient. We must be willing to persevere. Don't give up! Just give in and allow God to take control. He will turn that pit into an altar on which your broken spirit can be laid as a sweet sacrifice of praise.
Step Five: Don't give up.
Philippians 1:6 "And I am sure that God who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in his grace until his task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns."
God is at work! The very fact that you are reading this devotion is proof that the Father has ordered your steps so that you can hear my story. That may be because you are in a pit and you need help or maybe because someone you love is in that pit and you need to help them. God wants you to experience restoration and then to be a vessel of restoration for others.
Years ago, in a large southeastern city, the great pianist, Paderewski, was scheduled to perform. The city was alive with excitement and the day finally came. In the crowd at the concert was a young mother clutching the hand of her small son. Hoping to inspire him to practice, she had brought him to hear the master perform. As they sat and waited for the concert to begin, she turned her head to look at the people as they filled the auditorium. The little boy saw his chance to escape. He quietly slipped from his seat, walking down the aisle toward the stage. Just as he reached the orchestra pit, a spotlight hit the grand piano and he gasped at the beauty of the instrument. No one noticed the little boy as he slipped up the side stairs to the stage and climbed up on the piano stool. No one noticed him at all, until he began to play "Chopsticks". The concert hall fell silent. Then people began to shout. "Get him away from that piano!" Backstage, the Master heard the crowd and grabbing his coat, rushed to the little boy's side. Without a word, he bent down and, placing his hands on either side of the boy's, began to compose a beautiful counter melody to "Chopsticks". As they played together, he whispered in the little boy's ear, "Don't stop! Keep on! Don't quit!"
Right now, right where you are, understand that your Father is standing beside you, with His arms wrapped around you. Listen as He gently speaks, "Don't stop! Keep on! Don't quit!"
I know that the music of your darkened soul may be filled with chaos and dissonance, but even now, the Master is composing the "rest" of your song. One day very soon, it will be a song of beauty and light! One day, you will come out of the dark!
Oh God, right now I choose to wait on You, crying out for Your hand of mercy and love to deliver me from this pit of darkness. I abandon myself to You and am counting on You to be my Redeemer and Friend. Give me the courage to share my pain with others and ask for help. Now, in the presence of my enemies of darkness and depression, I celebrate the victory. Thank you, Father!
In Jesus' name,
Now It's Your Turn
Memorize Psalm 40:1-3. Accept these promises as a gift from God for every pit -- past, present and future -- in your life. Ask yourself the following questions:
· What is the first step you should take in order to climb out of this pit?
· What do you need to leave behind or step over in order to take this first step?
- Read 2 Samuel 2:29. What does it mean when it says that God is your lamp? How does that change your perspective of life?
- Examine the deepest desires of your heart. Do you really want to escape this pit of darkness? Does the freedom frighten you? Why?
by Max Lucado
Holiday travel. It isn't easy. Then why do we do it? Why cram the trunks and endure the airports? You know the answer. We love to be with the ones we love.
The four-year-old running up the sidewalk into the arms of Grandpa.
The cup of coffee with Mom before the rest of the house awakes.
That moment when, for a moment, everyone is quiet as we hold hands around the table and thank God for family and friends and pumpkin pie.
We love to be with the ones we love.
May I remind you? So does God. He loves to be with the ones he loves. How else do you explain what he did? Between him and us there was a distance--a great span. And he couldn't bear it. He couldn't stand it. So he did something about it.
Before coming to the earth, "Christ himself was like God in every-thing.... But he gave up his place with God and made himself nothing. He was born to be a man and became like a servant" (Phil. 2:6--7 NCV).
Why? Why did Jesus travel so far?
I was asking myself that question when I spotted the squirrels outside my window. A family of black-tailed squirrels has made its home amid the roots of the tree north of my office. We've been neighbors for three years now. They watch me peck the keyboard. I watch them store their nuts and climb the trunk. We're mutually amused. I could watch them all day. Sometimes I do.
But I've never considered becoming one of them. The squirrel world holds no appeal to me. Who wants to sleep next to a hairy rodent with beady eyes? (No comments from you wives who feel you already do.) Give up the Rocky Mountains, bass fishing, weddings, and laughter for a hole in the ground and a diet of dirty nuts? Count me out.
But count Jesus in. What a world he left. Our classiest mansion would be a tree trunk to him. Earth's finest cuisine would be walnuts on heaven's table. And the idea of becoming a squirrel with claws and tiny teeth and a furry tail? It's nothing compared to God becoming a one-celled embryo and entering the womb of Mary.
But he did. The God of the universe kicked against the wall of a womb, was born into the poverty of a peasant, and spent his first night in the feed trough of a cow. "The Word became flesh and lived among us" (John 1:14 NRSV). The God of the universe left the glory of heaven and moved into the neighborhood. Our neighborhood! Who could have imagined he would do such a thing.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
"I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry." Psalm 40:1 (NIV)
Friend To Friend
At some point in life, we all will find ourselves in some kind of pit, the darkness settling around us like a paralyzing blanket of hopelessness. That deep, dark pit may have many names, but easily becomes a prison from which escape seems impossible. The journey out of that pit is a process of steps uniquely planned by your Father. He is the Guide for this journey.
Step One: Wait for God.
Step Two: Cry out for help.
Many times, those who are imprisoned by darkness and depression look for help in the wrong places. Let me share with you some of the right places to find help.
Turn to God
In Psalm 40:1 "cry" literally means "to summon." What an amazing thought! The God of the universe, the One who created the world and flung the stars into space, waits and listens for the voice of His children. When they cry out, He comes to them just like a mother runs to her sick child, calling through the darkness of night. God comes to us in many ways.
· Reading His Word Psalm 119:105 "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path."
I lived in the book of Psalms during the two darkest years of my depression. I could no longer study but I could meditate. A friend had given me an instrumental tape of hymns. Every day, I would plug in that tape, take the phone off of the hook and read psalm after psalm for hours. They were like water to a thirsty heart, an oasis to a weary child, wandering in the dry and barren desert. I found myself in the words that I read and took great comfort in the fact that God was totally aware of everything that I was feeling.
· Talking with Him Peter 3:12 "For the Lord is watching his children, listening to their prayers."
The darkness called forth the most childlike prayer of my life. Day after day, night after night, I poured out the questions I had always been afraid to ask, my deepest fears and greatest pain. It was the most honest and powerful prayer of my life. I began to fall in love with the One who created me in my mother's womb and set me apart for Himself. When you spend time with Him, you will love Him and learn to know the sound of His voice above all others.
Turn to doctors and counselors
Proverbs 15: 22 "Plans go wrong with too few counselors; many counselors bring success."
Many people say that depression is only a spiritual problem and that there are only spiritual solutions. I disagree.
There was a terrible storm. The little girl was so frightened that she cried out in fear. Her daddy came running, gathered her up in his arms and held her tightly. He quietly explained that she had nothing to fear because God would take care of her. The little girl thought for a moment and then replied, "I know God will take care of me and love me, but right now, Daddy, I want someone with skin on!"
We often need "someone with skin on" to help us out of our depression. One of those persons may be a physician. I encourage anyone experiencing depression to get a physical as soon as possible. Depression is often a physical problem and may respond to medication. After a physical and several blood tests, my doctor discovered that I had a chemical imbalance which encouraged depression and said that it had probably been present from birth. I just thought that everyone saw life like I saw it - like a poorly developed photograph - black around the edges and closing in. It seemed as if I had lived my whole life trying to escape one dark shadow after another. The doctor prescribed medication that would correct the imbalance, but it would not eliminate the depression. It simply enabled me to have the strength and energy to deal with the issues that had led me to the pit.
Christian counseling is another valuable weapon in the battle against depression. God gave counselors their gifts to use for Him in ministry. He must have known that we would need them and the gift of healing they bring when balancing the psychological world with the healing power of a living God. Somewhere in your world, God has stationed servants who are equipped and ready to help you.
Turn to your support team
Isaiah 42:3 "He will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the dimly burning flame. He will encourage the fainthearted, those tempted to despair."
A support team is essential for anyone in the pit of depression. My team carried me when I couldn't take another step and loved me when I was unlovable, encouraging me when I felt like giving up. I would still be in the darkness today if it weren't for my family, my church and my friends. God worked through them in my life.
When I married into the Southerland family, I did not know that tent camping was part of the deal. I might have reconsidered (just kidding). I decided that I could learn to camp and maybe even enjoy it! My first trip to Lake Greason in the foothills of the Ozarks was quite an experience. It did not take me long to learn the routine. Every day, Dan's mom would prepare a huge breakfast. Afterwards, the kids did dishes while mom headed for her tent, where she changed into her swim suit, put on her sun glasses, grabbed a towel and made a bee line for the lake. On the shore, she would grab an inner tube, position her towel in just the right spot, turn around and sit down in the tube. Then she would float blissfully for hours. There was a slight problem with this plan. Lake Greason had a current that would carry mom down the lake, around the bend and into the path of ski boats. Several times a day, someone would have to swim after her, pulling her back to the safety of the shore, where she would profusely thank them and go right back to floating. Finally, one of the kids came up with a great idea. Get a rope! They grabbed a ski rope, tied one end to mom's inner tube and the other end to a wooden stake driven securely into the ground. She could then float until the rope ran out and someone "reeled her in".
This is exactly what the people on my support team did for me. They rescued me repeatedly. They could see the dangers I was too weak to see. They loaned me their energy when mine was gone. They became a life line that kept me from drifting toward the brink of disaster. Has it affected their opinion of me? Absolutely! It has shown them that I am just like them - not a Superwoman -- and has given them permission to face their own weaknesses. It has modeled authenticity and transparency for them and encouraged them to be real. I know that some of you are thinking that there is absolutely no one who will sign up to be a member of your support team. If you will cry out to God and honestly seek help, He will bring your helpers.
Father, I need Your help! I turn to You first. My heart cries out to You, asking for Your hand of deliverance and restoration to touch my life. Please lead me to those You have equipped and chosen to help me during this dark time. I don't see them, Lord, but I trust You to bring them. Thank You for what You are already doing in the midst of this pit!
In Jesus' Name,
Now It's Your Turn
· Read one psalm every day.
· Pray, crying out for help from His hand, waiting on God and listening for His voice.
· Where do you usually go for help?
· What do the words "cry out to God" mean to you?
· What do you have to surrender, in order to cry out to Him?
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
"I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry." Psalm 40:1 (NIV)
Friend To Friend
Children are wonderfully different! When our son, Jered, was nine months old, he began to pull up on every piece of furniture that would hold his stocky little frame. For weeks, he maneuvered his way around our home, until one day, he took his first step ... alone! Now, it was a step of only inches but we celebrated as if he had run a marathon! Then there is our daughter, Danna, who crawled when she was four months old, before she could even sit up. We assumed she would be walking within a matter of weeks. Danna had a different plan. She never pulled up on a single piece of furniture. She never took a step, but one day, when she was ten months old, she simply stood up and trotted across the room. Jered and Danna both walk extremely well today as teenagers, but they both began with tiny steps and with a plan uniquely their own.
Nobody becomes depressed overnight. Nobody overcomes it overnight. The journey out of the pit of depression is a process of steps uniquely planned by your Father. He is the Guide for your journey out of the darkness.
Step One: Wait for God.
In Psalm 40:1, David writes, "I waited patiently for the LORD." I had always thought of waiting as passive and even wasteful. But I began to see that waiting is active and can be a powerful spiritual experience.
To wait means to accept the pit.
Picture yourself falling into a slimy pit. Your first reaction, like mine, would probably be to frantically claw and struggle, fighting your way out! Then, when you have used up all energy, you stop struggling and sit down to rest, waiting for help because that is all you can do. You have no other options. When hard times come, we immediately begin to beg and bargain for rescue - for a way of escape. God loves us too much to waste our pain. It is a shallow love that always rescues easily. It is a depthless love that always rescues quickly. Sometimes our Father says wait. So be patient, accept your pit, and know that He is at work.
To wait means to admit that there is a problem.
We can be so proud and so self-sufficient at times. Admitting that we are helpless and must wait on God is sometimes hard. In reality, we can learn to celebrate our helplessness. We can grow to the place of rejoicing in our weakness because our weakness and helplessness are an invitation for the power of God to take up residence and display itself in our life! Isaiah tells us that "He gives power to the tired and worn out, and strength to the weak." (Isaiah 50:29 NLT)
Instead of hiding or trying to rationalize the darkness away, we must be willing to admit that we are struggling with depression. Pride always hinders authenticity. Emotional health begins at the point of emotional integrity, when we can be truthful enough to say to ourselves and to others "I need help!" We cannot be right until we choose to be real.
To wait means to practice authenticity.
When I first began to battle depression, my husband was the pastor/teacher of a large, very visible and fast growing church. Dan and I had a choice to make. We could choose to be transparent and real or we could attempt to hide my struggle. We chose transparency and began to share our pain with the team that God had assembled around us. We then took an even bigger risk by sharing my struggle with the entire church.
We quickly discovered that the sharing of the crisis lessened its grip on our lives. The response to our transparency and willingness to share our pain with those who had known great pain themselves was overwhelming! People began to pray. Cards, letters and Scripture verses came pouring through the mail. Women would show up at the front door with meals. At times, others came to clean my house, do my laundry and entertain my children. Deacons would station themselves at various places in the church building during any worship service that I attended. If I got "caught" in a difficult situation, all I had to do was turn and nod to them. They would come, take me by the arm and walk me to my car with a hug and instructions to go home, assuring me that they loved me and were praying for me.
We were created to share our burdens with each other. Isaiah 35:3-4 is a clear directive! "Strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees. Say to those who are afraid, 'Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.'" We need each other. A shared load is a lighter load. Transparency brings healing and authenticity yields restoration!
To wait means to practice solitude.
In the pit, it is so dark that we cannot see. All we can do is wait, trust and rest. In the midst of my depression, I began to discover that darkness is a great place for solitude. Distractions are few. When the Light comes, it is easier to see and the silence makes His voice clear and strong!
Psalm 46:10 advises, "Be still and know that I am God." We cannot know God on the run. Solitude lets our souls catch up. In the jungles of Africa, a tourist was taking a safari. He hired natives from a tribe to carry all of the necessary supplies. On the first day, they walked rapidly and went far. The tourist was excited because he wanted to get there quickly. On the second morning, the tourist woke early, ready to go, but the natives refused to move. They just sat and rested. When the tourist questioned them, he was told that they had gone too fast the first day. Now they were waiting for their souls to catch up!
Stress, hurry, and intense activity can cause us to lose our perspective, to disconnect from ourselves and our purpose in life. The busier we are, the more we need regular solitude. I love the Greek motto that says: "You will break the bow if you keep it always bent." I broke! One of the main reasons that I broke was that solitude had never been a part of my life. I was too busy being spiritual. I was too busy trying to earn God's love and approval and running from the past. I was too busy trying to be good enough.
During my two years in the pit of depression, I gave up every role of leadership in order to spend time in solitude, seeking God. It felt as if I were giving up my whole identity because so much of who I was had been built upon what I did. Many times, I walked to the front door of our church, stopped and had to turn away in panic. I just could not make myself go in. As I struggled with the guilt and self-condemnation of my frailty, the Father taught me an important truth that has revolutionized my life! He is more concerned with who I am than what I do! He loves me - warts and all! If I never do another thing in the Kingdom, He still loves me. His love for me is not affected by what I do or don't do. He simply loves me! That life-changing truth was born out of darkness - in solitude.
The first step out of the pit is to wait. While we wait we must admit there is a problem, accept the pit, practice transparency and embrace solitude.
Father, I come to You -- weak, tired and broken. I admit my great need for You, Lord, and choose to rest in You rather than struggle against You. By faith, I accept the darkness as an opportunity to wait at Your feet, listening for Your voice alone. Change me, Lord. Teach me Your ways. Strip away what is not of You and let stand what is.
In Jesus' name,
Not It's Your Turn
· Set aside 15 minutes every day this week to spend in solitude with God. Record your thoughts, prayers and needs. Be brutally honest and transparent as you write. Then spend a few moments celebrating the fact that His love covers it all.
· Why is it so hard to accept the dark times in life?
· What is keeping me from being transparent?
· Would my family and friends describe me as "authentic"?
· Am I afraid of solitude? Why?
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Personally, I do not understand the people who are "sad" about Bush leaving. I'm certainly not sad, change does not frighten me, it excites me.
Have you not felt God moving so powerfully in all of our lives? Have you so little faith that one man, regardless of how much earthly power he may have, can actually scare you? Is God not bigger than all these things?
I'm excited for change, I'm excited to watch God work through a new leader. Emotions are silly little things that mean nothing in the end. Poo on your emotions! Poo all over them! God is fact, not emotion. His power and control in our country, in our lives, and in our world are not in any way swayed by your emotions. So you didn't vote for Obama. So what? America is one of the few countries in the world where we can vote a man into office and then protest everything he does that we don't like and not get shot for it. Don't be sad because you don't like the man or because you fear someone he is an acquaintance of, that's a waste of time and thought.Fear God and God alone, for He is the only One worthy of your fear. Pray for our new president, pray for this country, pray for the person sitting next to you that you haven't even noticed because you are so busy being sad about a man leaving an office.
Read the first 8 verses of 1 Timothy 2 and then tell me that sadness is an appropriate response to what happened today.
1 Timothy 2:1-8
I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time. And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles.
I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.
I intend no disrespect to anyone in writing this, even though I know some people are not going to like it. Tough.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Friday, January 16, 2009
The Awaited One
by Max Lucado
We were a wreath of Light around the stable, a necklace of diamonds around the structure. Every angel had been called from his post for the coming, even Michael. None doubted God would, but none knew how He could, fulfill his promise.
I've heated the water!"
"No need to yell, Joseph I hear you fine."
Mary would have heard had Joseph whispered. The stable was even smaller than Joseph had imagined but the innkeeper was right- it was clean. I started to clear out the sheep and cow, but Michael stopped me. "The Father wants all of creation to witness the moment."
Mary cried out and gripped Joseph's arm with one hand and a feed trough with the other. The thrust in her abdomen lifted her back, and she leaned forward.
"Is it time?" Joseph asked.
She shot back a glance, and he had his answer.
Within moments the Awaited One was born. I was privileged to have a position close to the couple, only a step behind Michael. We both gazed into the wrinkled face of the infant. Joseph had placed hay in a feed trough, giving Jesus his first bed.
All of God was in the infant. Light encircled His face and radiated from His tiny hands. The very glory I had witnessed in His throne room now burst through His skin.
I felt we should sing but did not know what. We had no song. We had no verse. We had never seen the sight of God in a baby. When God had made a star, our words had roared. When He had delivered His servants, our tongues had flown with praise. Before His throne, our songs never ended. But what do you sing to God in a feed trough?
In that moment a wonderful thing happened. As we looked at the baby Jesus, the darkness lifted. Not the darkness of the night, but the darkness of the mystery. Heaven's enlightenment engulfed the legions.Our minds were filled with the Truth we had never before known. We became aware for the first time of the Father's plan to rescue those who bear His name.
From An Angel's Story
(originally published as Cosmic Christmas)
Copyright (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2002, 2004) Max Lucado
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Some things should not be condensed. Herewith, the whole piece, at times a bit awkwardly translated, but highly recommended:
"We have shared our daily life with two US units for quite a while - they are the first and fourth companies of a prestigious infantry battalion whose name I will withhold for the sake of military secrecy. To the common man it is a unit just like any other. But we live with them and got to know them, and we henceforth know that we have the honor to live with one of the most renowned units of the US Army - one that the movies brought to the public as series showing "ordinary soldiers thrust into extraordinary events". Who are they, those soldiers from abroad, how is their daily life, and what support do they bring to the men of our OMLT every day? Few of them belong to the Easy Company, the one the TV series focuses on. This one nowadays is named Echo Company, and it has become the support company.
They have a terribly strong American accent - from our point of view the language they speak is not even English. How many times did I have to write down what I wanted to say rather than waste precious minutes trying various pronunciations of a seemingly common word? Whatever state they are from, no two accents are alike and they even admit that in some crisis situations they have difficulties understanding each other.
Heavily built, fed at the earliest age with Gatorade, proteins and creatine - they are all heads and shoulders taller than us and their muscles remind us of Rambo. Our frames are amusingly skinny to them - we are wimps, even the strongest of us - and because of that they often mistake us for Afghans.
Here we discover America as it is often depicted: their values are taken to their paroxysm, often amplified by promiscuity lack of privacy and the loneliness of this outpost in the middle of that Afghan valley. Honor, motherland - everything here reminds of that : the American flag floating in the wind above the outpost, just like the one on the post parcels. Even if recruits often originate from the hearth of American cities and gang territory, no one here has any goal other than to hold high and proud the star spangled banner. Each man knows he can count on the support of a whole people who provides them through the mail all that an American could miss in such a remote front-line location : books, chewing gums, razorblades, Gatorade, toothpaste etc. in such way that every man is aware of how much the American people backs him in his difficult mission. And that is a first shock to our preconceptions : the American soldier is no individualist. The team, the group, the combat team are the focus of all his attention.
And they are impressive warriors! We have not come across bad ones, as strange at it may seem to you when you know how critical French people can be. Even if some of them are a bit on the heavy side, all of them provide us everyday with lessons in infantry know-how. Beyond the wearing of a combat kit that never seem to discomfort them (helmet strap, helmet, combat goggles, rifles etc.) the long hours of watch at the outpost never seem to annoy them in the slightest. On the one square meter wooden tower above the perimeter wall they stand the five consecutive hours in full battle rattle and night vision goggles on top, their sight unmoving in the directions of likely danger. No distractions, no pauses, they are like statues nights and days. At night, all movements are performed in the dark - only a handful of subdued red lights indicate the occasional presence of a soldier on the move. Same with the vehicles whose lights are covered - everything happens in pitch dark even filling the fuel tanks with the Japy pump.
And combat ? If you have seen Rambo you have seen it all - always coming to the rescue when one of our teams gets in trouble, and always in the shortest delay. That is one of their tricks : they switch from T-shirt and sandals to combat ready in three minutes. Arriving in contact with the enemy, the way they fight is simple and disconcerting : they just charge! They disembark and assault in stride, they bomb first and ask questions later - which cuts any pussyfooting short.
We seldom hear any harsh word, and from 5 AM onwards the camp chores are performed in beautiful order and always with excellent spirit. A passing American helicopter stops near a stranded vehicle just to check that everything is alright; an American combat team will rush to support ours before even knowing how dangerous the mission is - from what we have been given to witness, the American soldier is a beautiful and worthy heir to those who liberated France and Europe.
To those who bestow us with the honor of sharing their combat outposts and who everyday give proof of their military excellence, to those who pay the daily tribute of America's army's deployment on Afghan soil, to those we owe this article, ourselves hoping that we will always remain worthy of them and to always continue hearing them say that we are all the same band of brothers."
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
That morning as he walked he encountered a boy anxiously holding a cup in his hand.
St. Augustine was intrigued and said, “My son what is wrong? Why do you seem so worried, and why are you holding that cup in your hand?” The boy answered: “Sir, you seem no less anxious and burdened. Maybe you could tell me what is weighing on your heart, what has produced such heaviness in you and where is your cup?"
St. Augustine was amused and said “What cup are you talking about? All that matters to me is seeking God. I long to know him.” The boy said “Sir, I am trying to find a way to hold the ocean in this cup, but I’m not having any luck. That’s why I am anxious and worried."
When Augustine heard these words his eyes were opened and understanding dawned . He realized that he had been trying to hold the ocean of the Infinite in the tiny cup of his ego and that he could never succeed. Only if he threw the cup into the sea could the sea fill it, inside and out.
Thus he became aware of the cup of his intellect, the cup of his ego, and the infinite ocean of the love of God surging in his heart. He had only to surrender the cup to the ocean and he would attain fulfillment.
St. Augustine flung his cup into the sea and the cup became one with the sea.
For Augustine, God is at the center of our being and so he invites us to return to ourselves - to come back from our wandering “out there”. He tells God in The Confessions, “I looked for you everywhere, and you were within me all the time.” In Augustine’s terms we return to the heart by being still, in the body; in the mind; and in the spirit. “God speaks to us in the great silence of the heart” he says. So Contemplation is finding the meaning of silence within ourselves and we do this by sinking down away from the chatter of our minds, the turmoil of our emotions, to a place that is equally valid where we can unfold in the mystery of this divine companionship.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Jeremiah 1:5 "Before I made you in your mother's womb, I chose you." (NCV)
Friend to Friend
Beginnings are very important! In fact, the place of origin has much to do with the quality of the journey as well as the final destination! My journey - like yours - began in the heart and mind of God. Before I took even one breath, God wanted, loved and planned me. That same truth applies to you, my friend. You are no accident! You and I were created in response to the love of God and according to His plans. God did not "accidentally" create us and then step back in alarm and say, "Oops! I created her. Now what am I going to do with her?" The plan came first.
There have been many times in my life when I doubted my worth and value. I filled every waking moment with activity -- good things -- thinking that if I did enough good things, I would be good enough. It didn't work. I can never be good enough to earn the love and favor of God. The good news is that I don't have to be! My worth and value rest in the fact that I am chosen by God to be His very own child. I am loved, wanted and planned by God Himself. Wow! God Himself supervised our formation. We were created -- not to be a puppet -- but for an intimate relationship with God.
Psalm 139:14-16 "I praise you because you made me in an amazing and wonderful way. What you have done is wonderful. I know this very well. You saw my bones being formed as I took shape in my mother's body. When I was put together there, you saw my body as it was formed. All the days planned for me were written in your book before I was one day old." (NCV)
When our son, Jered, was four-years-old, we enrolled him in a daycare for two mornings each week. Jered loved to play with other children and always seemed to get along with all of the other children. I was surprised and upset when his teacher asked me to come in for a conference. My husband said, "Honey, how bad can it be? Jered is only four!" Jered's teacher met with a smile and a good report. "Jered is a wonderful little boy," she began, "but there is one problem. How long has Jered known he was adopted?" I was still clueless about that being a problem, but answered, "Since he began talking. We have told him repeatedly how special he is and that he is a chosen baby." She smiled and went on to explain that Jered told the other children that he was special because he was adopted. In fact, Jered informed each child that his mom and dad had chosen him -- while their parents "got stuck" with them.
Listen, my friend, when you begin to understand and live out the eternal truth that you are loved, planned, wanted and chosen by God, His perfect plan and highest purpose will naturally unfold before you each day. Remember, in His eyes, you are special and His plan for your life is simply for you to get good at being you.
Father, I want to know You and find Your plan for my life. I choose to see myself through Your eyes of love, forgiveness and grace. I want to be the woman You created me to be. Thank You for loving me. Help me to walk each day in the knowledge that I am Your child.
In Jesus' name,
Now It's Your Turn
- Do you really believe God loves you unconditionally?
- What proof of that belief is evident in your life?
- Do you consider yourself worthy? Why or why not?
- Read Psalm 139 each day for one month. Record the new truths that you learn, the changes in your perspective and any fresh insights in your journal.
- At the end of the month, write Psalm 139 in your own words and share it with a friend.
Monday, January 12, 2009
Sometimes, we women just need someone to help us cry, to cry with us, to hold our hand and feel our pain. Whether it be something as simple as a broken toy or something as serious as the death of a loved one, sometimes, we all just need someone to help us cry.
But what if there's no one around? What if there's no one of physically hold our hand, to wipe our tearful cheeks, or two sit next to us on the steps. Once you find that person who can just cry with you and hand you tissues, hold on to them, they are rare in this world!
"(We are) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:5 (KJV)
Friend To Friend
Ada had an uneventful dental visit at my husband's office -- just a routine filling. He was surprised when she called him at home later that evening, complaining of a swollen cheek and excruciating pain.
"Dr. Jaynes," she groaned. "I can barely hold my head up. My face is swollen, I can't open my mouth, and the pain is severe."
"Ada, I'm so sorry you're having trouble," Steve replied. "I can't imagine what the problem could be. I'll call you in some pain medicine and you come in first thing in the morning."
The following day, I was working as Steve's assistant, and was amazed at Ada's appearance when she arrived at the office. Her eyes were half closed, she could barely walk, and her right cheek did appear quite swollen. Ada sat down in the chair as if every movement took great effort. She could barely open her mouth to let Steve see what the problem might be. Finally, she did manage to open slightly. Steve gently lifted her lip and a huge grim spread across his face. He reached in with an instrument and removed a cotton roll from the area between her cheek and tooth... that I had forgotten to remove the previous day.
Ada's eyes popped open as she miraculously bolted upright in the chair. "What did you do?" she exclaimed, all signs of weakness gone. Ada was miraculously healed!
Steve grinned and held up the small piece of cotton. "This is what was causing you so much 'pain.'"
Ada was terribly embarrassed.
Steve and I replayed the scenes from the previous day. Before placing the filling, he put a small cotton roll between Ada's cheek and tooth to keep the area dry. I was assisting him that day and forgot to remove the cotton roll when he had finished. When the anesthesia wore off, Ada felt her cheek and thought it was swollen. As the night wore on, her imagination ran rampant until she had worked herself into such a state, she could barely move with imaginary pain. She had made herself sick. Never once did she open her mouth and look inside. If she had, she would have seen a little white piece of cotton.
That is the power of our imagination and faulty thinking. We can talk ourselves into believing a lie to the point that it affects our actions and our emotions and even our health. However, with close examination, we can recognize the lie and stand on the truth.
Finally, Paul writes to "take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ." Just like the policeman who pursues and captures a criminal on the loose, we can capture those runaway thoughts and lock them away for good. Oh, Satan will try to post bail and set them free again. But we have the power and the authority to lock them up and throw away the key.
Dear LORD, Help me recognize when I've let my thoughts run away like a wild stallion. Help me rein in worry and regret with the truth of Your Word. Thank You for the Holy Spirit who gives me the power to take every thought captive. Help me to cooperate with him.
In Jesus' Name,
Now It's Your Turn
I hope today's devotion made you laugh. To tell you the truth, sometimes we just need to laugh at ourselves. Yes, taking every thought captive is serious business, but laughing at the way we can work ourselves up over nothing is sometimes ... well, just plain funny.
Has there ever been a time when you've just had to laugh at yourself over unnecessary worry or fretting? If so, I'd love to hear about it!
Friday, January 9, 2009
by Max Lucado
The first of the year is known for three things: black-eyed peas, bowl games, and lists. Some don't eat black-eyed peas. Others hate football. But everybody likes lists.
The Bible certainly has its share of lists. Moses brought one down from the mountain.
There are lists of the gifts of the Spirit. Lists of good fruit and bad. Lists of salutations and greetings. Even the disciples' boat got into the action as it listed in the stormy Sea of Galilee. (If you smiled at that, then I've got a list of puns you'd enjoy.)
But the greatest day of lists is still New Year's Day. And the number one list is the list I call the Laws of the Lighthouse.
The Laws of the Lighthouse contain more than good ideas, personal preferences, and honest opinions. They are God-given, time-tested truths that define the way you should navigate your life. Observe them and enjoy secure passage. Ignore them and crash against the ragged rocks of reality.
Smart move. The wise captain shifts the direction of his craft according to the signal of the lighthouse. A wise person does the same.
Herewith, then, are the lights I look for and the signals I heed:
-- Love God more than you fear hell.
-- Once a week, let a child take you on a walk.
-- Make major decisions in a cemetery.
-- When no one is watching, live as if someone is.
-- Succeed at home first.
-- Don't spend tomorrow's money today.
-- Pray twice as much as you fret.
-- Listen twice as much as you speak.
-- Only harbor a grudge when God does.
-- Never outgrow your love of sunsets.
-- Treat people like angels; you will meet some and help make some.
-- 'Tis wiser to err on the side of generosity than on the side of scrutiny.
-- God has forgiven you; you'd be wise to do the same.
-- When you can't trace God's hand, trust his heart.
-- Toot your own horn and the notes will be flat.
-- Don't feel guilty for God's goodness.
-- The book of life is lived in chapters, so know your page number.
-- Never let the important be the victim of the trivial.
-- Live your liturgy.
Approach life like a voyage on a schooner. Enjoy the view. Explore the vessel. Make friends with the captain. Fish a little. And then get off when you get home.
Listen to this song, read the lyrics, pray the lyrics. Believe and watch God totally change your life as He did mine!
Part the Waters Lord/I Need Thee Every Hour - Selah
When I think I'm going under, part the waters, Lord
When I feel the waves around me, calm the sea
When I cry for help, oh, hear me
Lord and hold out Your hand
Touch my life
Still the raging storm in me
I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord
No tender voice like Thine can peace afford
I need Thee, O I need Thee
Every hour I need Thee
O bless me now, my Savior
I come to Thee
I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain
Come quickly and abide, or life is vain
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Speaking for myself only, I understand that living in a dream world is neither practical nor realistic. I know that you can’t live your whole life in a fantasy land where ordinary people like me are suddenly extraordinarily important to the very survival of the earth. I know this is not reality and I know I shouldn’t let it keep me up nights. But it’s still in my head, still pounding away and sometimes I find myself drifting off in the middle of something important because my head is just so full of this “nonsense.”
I often have to ask people to repeat themselves because while they have been talking and while I have been looking right at them, my mind was literally light years away on some fantastic adventure. I might have been saving a race from untimely extinction on some far away planet, I might have been flying through skies of blue populated with purple and orange clouds, or I might have been just down the road at the farmers market (in 1863 of course) perusing the vegetable selection. You just never know. Some people actually ask where I just was, some people recognize the look in my eyes when I’m still looking at them, but my mind has made the jump to fantasy. Not too many though.
My most recent adventure took me to England in 1913, a popular adventure for me. In fact, most of my adventures take me to England at some point in time. Even as I narrate the story in my head, my voice takes on a distinct British accent. I’ve wanted to go to England for as long as I can remember, wanted to see all the silly touristy things, but also wanting to just spend time with the people there. I want to travel to Stratford-Upon-Avon and see the birthplace of Shakespeare, to see the graves of the great British poets of World War One, and to feel the wind on my face as I stand at Stonehenge in Wiltshire.
Will I ever see these places and feel these feelings? Are they really all that important? Today, I’m not sure, but this I do know, I would like to sleep at night instead of staring at my ceiling thinking about fantastical places, people, and adventures. I would enjoy more than 3 hours of sleep a night.
Thoughts on how to accomplish this?