Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Will the Real God Please Stand Up?

There is a certain phenomenon of sorts in the believer’s life called “crisis of faith.” If we live long enough I think almost every Christian believer will, to one degree or another, go through this period of intense questioning of one’s own faith when life hands them a doozy of a trial and the responses of people and of God just don’t make sense.

As we grow up we adopt many ideas, some true and some false, about God and what faith in Him means. And even when we come to know Christ as our own personal Lord and Savior many of the false ideas about who God is still linger in our minds.

Then, when the violent winds of trial slam into our lives and we can’t control it and God doesn’t respond according to our preconceived, mythical notions, we can begin to have a crisis of faith. At this point we can choose to turn back to the world and stew in our confusion and bitterness or we can choose to forge ahead on the greatest journey ever known to man: the awakening of our souls, minds and hearts to the One, True God as we walk with Him and He with us, loving and becoming bonded to one another in a relationship that is unparalleled in its intimacy and blessing.

If we choose to weather the storm, hand in hand with our God, these are the times when we can begin to truly understand Who God is and put away the false god we have for so long envisioned in our minds.

The agonizing search for understanding that we begin to go through during times of suffering--the “whys?” and the “hows?” and the “how longs?”—finally shift direction from being focused on our trial to a deep soul-searching of just Who this mysterious God really is.

And the usefulness of our trial begins to emerge.

Psalm 51:6 says, “Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.” It is God’s desire to remove the lies we’ve believed in our hearts and fill us with the truth. Then we will “worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such to worship Him. God is a spirit, and they who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23b-24)

We cannot fully worship and know God while the myths about Who He is still resound in our minds and hearts. Those myths will lead us off course in our understanding about God and about the painful things we encounter in our lives.

God’s enemies, satan and his lackeys, love it when we believe a lie. They can use those false understandings to persuade us into making wrong decisions, disbelieving God, growing bitter and eventually turning away from God and His people. We have to fight against that if our faith is to survive to the end.

Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32) God longs for us to be free from the bondage of falsehoods, and the key to unlocking our chains is truth, and the source of all Truth is Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but by Me.” (John 14:6) It is only through relationship with Him Who is the Truth that we are able to come into the full knowledge and wisdom of truth.

A common question among unbelievers and many believers alike is, “Why does God allow people to go through difficult things?” And eventually the question becomes more specifically, “Why is God allowing me to go through this difficult thing?”

God does not wish pain on us for pain’s sake. But He does know that for us to become mature in our faith, not falling prey to the evil one, wise in our service and leadership of others and able to fulfill the great commission of making disciples as we lead others into the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, we must be filled with truth and a correct understanding of our God and His Word. We must worship Him as He is, not as we want Him to be.

If we choose to hold onto the Lord when the storm blows in we can have  assurance that God is with us and that if we diligently seek Him He will reveal Himself to us in ways we never thought possible. We will experience increasing joy and peace and love as we more clearly see the wondrous beauty of our God.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Foodie {Miracle Food}

I have witnessed a miracle. Yep, I did. My kids……ate fish. Now, as incredible as that may seem, that’s not even the miracle. Not only did they eat it……they liked it! I know! I wish I could take credit for it, but I really can’t. All the kudos goes to Rachael Ray. It was her recipe for Buttered Toast Crispy Fishwiches that did the trick. So I’m just going to direct you to the link here.  There’s even a video included with Rachael preparing the recipe on her show. Let me know if you witness any miracles after making this recipe, too!

Happy weekend,

Monday, September 20, 2010

It's Personal

This life is hard, but I probably don’t have to tell you that. There is a lot of good to be found in it, but it is also demanding, exhausting, painful, stressful and nerve-wracking. That is why we need a personal God.

But somehow, instead of entering into a one-on-one, intimate relationship with God through Jesus Christ, many people, even Christians, seem to find it easier to follow some one-size-fits-all legalistic formula of religious living. And what was meant to be a personal and loving relationship with God through His Son has been reduced to no more than following a set of rules.  We were meant for so much more than that!

Maybe we don’t understand how extremely personal our God is and wants to be in our lives. Maybe we think He sees us all as cookie-cutter human beings, all expected to be and do and act the same, as long as we’re following the Ten Commandments. But that is not our God. Our God is a relational God.

God has called us for the purpose of relationship with Him. “God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.” (1 Corinthians 1:9)

Our personal God gives us the confidence to be able to say, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.” (Psalm 139:13)

God is so personal that He sees when even two people have come together in the name of Christ and tells us “For where two or three are come together in my name, there am I among them. (Matthew 18:20)

God is so personal that He hand picks each gift for every believer. “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:7)

And when we face trials, God is not off on some ethereal golf course. He tells us that, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)

Our God says that He will personally see us through this life. “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

Our God craves to show His love to His children so much that He says to us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

He is so personal that He sent His only Son to come and walk among us, talk to us, heal us and die for us.

He is so personal that we cannot accept Christ on behalf of someone else and no one else can accept Him for us. Jesus says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20) We must each make the decision for ourselves to believe in Jesus Christ and allow Him into our lives.

And He is so personal that the moment that someone repents of their sins and believes on the Lord Jesus Christ, He knows it and immediately the Holy Spirit comes, not just to be with us or upon us, but to live within us! Isn’t that amazing? He lives within the very heart of our being, knowing us like no other person ever can, knowing us better than we even know ourselves. He even goes so far as to promise that He will never leave us.

Each of us has our own unique situations and personal trials, and I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to just muddle through them. I want God to use them in my life to grow me up in Christ Jesus. I want to live victoriously in Christ no matter the circumstances. I want to include Him in every situation that comes along. I want to hear His voice leading me and encouraging me and I want to be able to take every concern to Him. I want to worship Him in spirit and in truth. I want the strength and wisdom and joy of having a personal, intimate, loving relationship with the Lord as we journey through this crazy life together.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Foreshadowing of Yom Kippur

I love that the events of the Old Testament are a centuries-long love story between God and His people that foreshadows for us an even more intimate relationship with God through the coming Christ and the grace and mercy that is given through His sacrifice on the cross. God initiated relationship with a people that He chose for Himself - the Israelite nation that began with one man, Abraham. He then initiated relationship with the whole world by one man: Jesus Christ. What began as a relationship between God and man through law thousands of years ago is now a relationship of love and grace and mercy that is written on the hearts of all people who have received forgiveness through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Although I was not born into Judaism, I personally feel a special kinship with the Jewish people because Jesus Christ was born out of the line of the Israelites and the day that I received Him as my Lord and Savior is the day I was adopted by the Father as His daughter. Because of that, I’ve always been interested in understanding Jewish observances and how they are a picture of my Lord, Jesus Christ.

For 24 hours beginning at sundown today, Jews all over the world observe Yom Kippur, The Day of Atonement, which is a day of fasting, repentance and prayer to atone for their sins. Atonement means, “satisfaction or reparation for a wrong or injury; amends.” The Jewish people consider it one of the, if not the holiest day of the year. The Day of Atonement is described in Leviticus, chapter 16, where the Lord spoke to Moses and told him that his brother, Aaron, was to make atonement with a young bull as a sin offering for himself and his household, and a ram for a burnt offering.

Then, Aaron was to take two male goats from the Israelite community. One goat was sacrificed to the Lord for a sin offering for the people. The blood that was shed was sprinkled on the atonement cover (or mercy seat – the cover of the Ark of the Covenant) to make atonement for the Most Holy Place, the Tent of Meeting and the altar, because of the uncleanness and rebellion of the Israelites.

The other goat, the scapegoat, was then presented alive to the Lord. Aaron was to lay both hands on the head of the goat and confess over it all the sins of the Israelites. Then the goat would carry the sins upon itself and be sent out into the desert.

And to the people, God said, "This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: on the tenth day of the seventh month you must deny yourselves and not do any work—whether native-born or an alien living among you- because on this day atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you. Then, before the LORD, you will be clean from all your sins. It is a sabbath of rest, and you must deny yourselves; it is a lasting ordinance. The priest who is anointed and ordained to succeed his father as high priest is to make atonement. He is to put on the sacred linen garments and make atonement for the Most Holy Place, for the Tent of Meeting and the altar, and for the priests and all the people of the community. ‘This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: atonement is to be made once a year for all the sins of the Israelites.’ And it was done, as the LORD commanded Moses.” (Leviticus 16:29-34)

At one time a law was given that a literal goat be given as a scapegoat to carry the sins of the Israelites far away from them. This foreshadowed the Messiah Who would be our scapegoat, taken from within the Israelite community. Yet He willingly gave Himself as a sacrifice as He took on the sins of the world and removed them from us as far as the east is from the west. He also is the Son of the Father, the High Priest, who makes atonement for us, just as God commanded the Israelites all those thousands of years ago.

And at the moment His work on the cross was done, the foot-thick veil that separated the Most Holy Place, the place where God resided and only priests were given access, was ripped from top to bottom. No longer would God’s dwelling be separate from His people because of their sins, but rather He would now reside in the hearts of His people because Jesus Christ made atonement for them all. God was inviting us in to Him for a relationship through grace rather than through law.

                                                    The Tabernacle

And no longer do we have to deny ourselves for the purpose of atonement. Works no longer satisfy as payment for our sins because Christ has made the supreme sacrifice and now only that will satisfy our sin-debt. But, the sons and daughters of God who have His love written on our hearts willingly die to ourselves – to our own personal desires - so that we can gloriously live for Christ, realizing the far more amazing plans He has dreamed for us. The work of forgiveness is done; the privilege of relationship with God through Jesus Christ has begun.

I hope you’ve made that transformation from observing God through religious law to knowing Him through His Son, Jesus Christ, by accepting the forgiveness of your sins by His blood sacrifice for you. If you haven’t, you can do that right now by praying to Him.

And now that we’ve been given the privilege of entering into the most intimate of relationships, one that was paid for us with a very precious price, one that takes place not on the outside, but in the very depths of our heart, we must never neglect it. To treat our relationship with Him with anything other than the utmost of respect and honor and glory is to trivialize the ultimate act of selfless love given to us by our Savior.

I hope we use the precious and fleeting time we’ve been given in this life and the gift of our salvation to let God’s glorious love live in and through our hearts every day of the year until the day in Heaven when we bow before Him – our very Mercy Seat.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Thankful Thursday {Insomnia...yes, I said insomnia}

I can't believe I'm getting ready to say this, but today I'm thankful for insomnia.  I know, weird.  For the last 20 years or so, I've dealt with insomnia in one form or another, to one degree or another.  And the Lord showed me that there is indeed scripture that speaks to any situation we find ourselves. 

Psalm 134
"Behold, bless the LORD, all you servants of the LORD, who by night stand in the house of the LORD!  Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the LORD. The LORD who made heaven and earth bless you from Zion!."

Though this song was originally written to inspire fortitude in the Levite priests who stood watch in the house of the Lord by night, I believe that it can speak to us right now (or in the middle of the night, as it were).  Most of the time it feels as though watching the minutes and even hours pass by in the wee hours of the night while everyone else seems to be enjoying their slumber is wasted time.  But not so, says God's Word. 

I have a unique opportunity to bless my Lord as I worship Him in those darkened hours when I'm alone and without distraction.  And as I bless Him I will be blessed in return. 

God knows what the next day holds and maybe He wants to especially prepare me to walk in its opportunities in a godly way.  I also think of standing watch for the house of God - as in His children - all over the world who are awake while the world where I am sleeps.  They may need my prayers at just that moment in time I find myself unable to dream.  Some may be in or near my own time zone and awake in the night because of illness or trial.  The Lord can put them on my heart to stand for them in prayer. 

So the next time you find yourself awake in the night and can't seem to find that dream zone to save your life, remember, you can waste the time or you can redeem it by spending that precious time blessing Him and being blessed by Him.  And just maybe the King has awakened you for a special mission - a mission to intercede in the power of the Holy Spirit for a brother or sister in Christ or even on behalf of circumstances that require immediate prayer and a faithful saint. 


Monday, September 6, 2010


I hope you know how much God loves you.  No matter how much you think He does, it's much more than that!  Enjoy.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Friday Foodie {Unbaked Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies} and Some Other Fun Stuff

I usually have songs or thoughts for blogging pop into my head one at a time, but today they’re coming at me all at once, hence the plethora of fun stuff today. Let’s start with the cerebral and move onto the sublime.

Thought of the Day:

More is accomplished in resting in Christ than in all the self-motivated work in the world.

Ponder that one and tell me what you think.

Now, onto the foodie. Yes, it is September and in my mind (especially being from Kentucky) that’s supposed to mean the beginning of a crispness in the air, a leaf or two thinking about turning a shade of yellow or red and the spicy smells of something pumpkiny baking in the oven. But here in Arizona, where we live on the dark side of the sun, it’s still blazing hot and we don’t want to turn on those ovens quite yet. So for your cookie pleasure, I give you a no-bake chocolate fudge-type cookie that really satisfies those chocolate cravings. And ps...I’ve tried making them with margarine, but they just don’t set up. Real butter works best.

Unbaked Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
½ cup butter
½ cup milk
½ cup peanut butter
2 cups quick oats
1 tablespoon vanilla

1. Bring sugar, cocoa, butter and milk to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring frequently; boil 1 minute, remove from heat.

2. Add peanut butter, oats and vanilla. Let mixture sit about 5 minutes; stir.

3. Drop onto wax paper using a 1/8 measuring cup or a coffee scoop; let cool until set, about 1 hour. If your craving won’t wait, you could probably get away with 30 minutes. Makes about 30 cookies. (Just wondering how these would taste using Nutella in place of the peanut butter…mmm…double the fudginess.)

And lastly, a melody and lyrics that just won't let go, brought to you by Switchfoot.  Enjoy while those fudgy cookies are melting in your mouth.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Thankful Thursday {Devoted}

No matter where I go, no matter what I do or what happens, no matter the loss or danger or opposition, I will never be alone. 

My God will be with me always and so will His love.   And for that I am forever thankful.

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: 'For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.'  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."  (Romans 8:38-39)

What are you thankful for?