Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Best Way to Start Every Day

In my previous post Open the Word I addressed the importance of getting in the Word and whether or not the soil of our lives is in a condition prepared to receive the Word so that it bears fruit. I read this testimony from George Mueller and I could not resist sharing it with you. It is so good and I believe that it is advice that we all need to hear. I think that you'll agree that this is the BEST way to start every day. Let's get serious about the Word and start putting to practice the commendments of George Mueller.
Testimony of George Mueller ( 1805-1898) from his autobiography:

While I was staying at Nailsworth, it pleased the Lord to teach me a truth, irrespective of human instrumentality, as far as I know, the benefit of which I have not lost, though now . . . more than forty years have since passed away. The point is this: I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not, how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished. For I might seek to set the truth before the unconverted, I might seek to benefit believers, I might seek to relieve the distressed, I might in other ways seek to behave myself as it becomes a child of God in this world; and yet, not being happy in the Lord, and not being nourished and strengthened in my inner man day by day, all this might not be attended to in a right spirit.

Before this time my practice had been, at least for ten years previously, as an habitual thing, to give myself to prayer, after having dressed in the morning. Now I saw, that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God and to meditation on it, that thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed; and that thus, whilst meditating, my heart might be brought into experimental, communion with the Lord. I began therefore, to meditate on the New Testament, from the beginning, early in the morning.

The first thing I did, after having asked in a few words the Lord's blessing upon His precious Word, was to begin to meditate on the Word of God; searching, as it were, into every verse, to get blessing out of it; not for the sake of the public ministry of the Word; not for the sake of preaching on what I had meditated upon; but for the sake of obtaining food for my own soul. The result I have found to be almost invariably this, that after a very few minutes my soul has been led to confession, or to thanksgiving, or to intercession, or to supplication; so that though I did not, as it were, give myself to prayer, but to meditation, yet it turned almost immediately more or less into prayer.

When thus I have been for awhile making confession, or intercession, or supplication, or have given thanks, I go on to the next words or verse, turning all, as I go on, into prayer for myself or others, as the Word may lead to it; but still continually keeping before me, that food for my own soul is the object of my meditation. The result of this is, that there is always a good deal of confession, thanksgiving, supplication, or intercession mingled with my meditation, and that my inner man almost invariably is even sensibly nourished and strengthened and that by breakfast time, with rare exceptions, I am in a peaceful if not happy state of heart. Thus also the Lord is pleased to communicate unto me that which, very soon after, I have found to become food for other believers, though it was not for the sake of the public ministry of the Word that I gave myself to meditation, but for the profit of my own inner man.

The difference between my former practice and my present one is this. Formerly, when I rose, I began to pray as soon as possible, and generally spent all my time till breakfast in prayer, or a,!most all the time. At a,l events I almost invariably began with prayer.... But what was the result? I often spent a quarter of an hour, or half an hour, or even an hour on my knees, before being conscious to myself of having derived comfort, encouragement, humbling of soul, etc.; and often after having suffered much from wandering of mind for the first ten minutes, or a quarter of an hour, or even half an hour, I only then began really to pray.

I scarcely ever suffer now in this way. For my heart being nourished by the truth, being brought into experimental fellowship with God, I speak to my Father, and to my Friend (vile though I am, and unworthy of it! ) about the things that He has brought before me in His precious Word.
It often now astonishes me that I did not sooner see this. In no book did I ever read about it. No public ministry ever brought the matter before me. No private intercourse with a brother stirred me up to this matter. And yet now, since God has taught me this point, it is as plain to me as anything, that the first thing the child of God has to do morning by morning is to obtain food for his inner man.

As the outward man is not fit for work for any length of time, except we take food, and as this is one of the first things we do in the morning, so it should be with the inner man. We should take food for that, as every one must allow. Now what is the food for the inner man: not prayer, but the Word of God: and here again not the simple reading of the Word of God, so that it only passes through our minds, just as water runs through a pipe, but considering what we read, pondering over it, and applying it to our hearts....

I dwell so particularly on this point because of the immense spiritual profit and refreshment I am conscious of having derived from it my self, and I affectionately and solemnly beseech all my fellow-believers to ponder this matter. By the blessing of God I ascribe to this mode the help and strength which I have had from God to pass in peace through deeper trials in various ways than I had ever had before; and after having now above forty years tried this way, I can most fully, in the fear of God, commend it. How different when the soul is refreshed and made happy early in the morning, from what it is when, without spiritual preparation, the service, the trials and the temptations of the day come upon one! 1

1. Autobiography of George Mueller, compiled by Fred. Bergen, (London: J. Nisbet Co., 1906), pp. 152-54.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Open the WORD!

I have been thinking a lot about the Inspired Word (as a whole) lately, mostly because I have been teaching on this topic in Sunday school but also because I have been pondering the fact that so many people don't take God's word seriously. Why is it that believers today will claim scripture as the full authoritative Word of God, but they don't read it? The very breath of God revealed to man and we let it sit on our night stands and collect dust or at best, we’ll open it up every now and then.

As John Piper states in his book, Desiring God, “the Bible is the source of life and faith and power and hope and freedom and wisdom and comfort and assurance and victory over our greatest enemy. Not to pursue our joy every day in the Word of God is an abandonment of the revealed will of God. It is sin” No wonder Christians are walking around defeated today. We are busy, depressed, stressed, confused, full of anxiety, discouraged, lonely, exhausted and completely empty inside. Why? The answer is simple. We have abandoned the Word and are trying to do things our way. Guess what?…..It’s NOT working!

There are some however, that are reading the Word, but there is no change in their lifestyle and there is no fruit being produced. What is going on with believers today? The church as a whole is dead. There is not much evidence of people living the abundant life and having a zeal and fire for the LORD. Today we live in a culture where we have many LARGE churches and we have impressive worship services, great music and teaching but the church itself is not a living, vibrant, effective church. What is going on? I think there are several reasons why this is true, but I want to address only one today.

Matthew 13:22 says, “The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.” Listen to what Chris Tiegreen says:

Many Christians begin with zeal in serving the Lord, but find only a few years later that their lives are consumed with possessions, debts, and busy schedules bent on maintaining a certain lifestyle. We must be wary of one of the enemy’s primary weapons-clutter. His intent is no so much a disorganized home, as we often think of clutter, but a disorganized, encumbered life. The enemy wants to give us as much baggage as possible-materially and spiritually-in order to render us fruitless. We must not let him.
Have you ever found yourself considering a certain ministry or service, only realized it’s impractical because it would involve too much of a change in lifestyle? Or wanting to five more to ministries of the church, but realizing you can’t; you owe too much to other people, or have too many plans about how to enhance your own environment? It’s an uncomfortable position to be in, but it’s an accurate reflection of today’s verse. And many of us are there. The deceiver keeps us striving after an elusive contentment in status and things. He keeps us thinking that an adequate lifestyle is just around the corner. But it never comes.
Imagine standing before the Lord one day and explaining our fruitlessness. How defeated we will sound if we have to say, “Lord, I would have served You there, but I couldn’t get by on that income. I would have given to that ministry, but I needed the money to insure my possessions. I would have shown others how to have peace in their hearts, but I was so worried about just surviving. “ Be on guard against the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth. We will have to answer for them. Better to weed them out before they choke God’s Word in our hearts and the enemy uses them to render us unfruitful. Take up your pruning shears today. "

God’s Word is not being lived out, because it is choked the minute we receive it. This is due to the condition of the soil of our lives. It is full of thorns (worries, possessions, debts, and busy schedules bent on maintaining a certain lifestyle.) God’s Word will never bear fruit in our lives if we are consumed with the things of the world. We have got to seek God with all our hearts and begin asking Him what in our lives need to “go”. God is looking for those that will set their lives completely apart for Him and Him alone. If you are serious about this, most likely this will be a painful process. What kind of soil is the Word of God falling on today? Is the Word choked by thorns? I don’t know about you, but I want to live in victory and have a life that bears much fruit to the Glory of God. Let’s take a long hard look inside to see where we stand today, open up God’s Word and start living the abundant and effective life that God has called us to.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Where am I?

Recently I woke up and had a strange feeling and I thought to myself, “Where am I”? As I looked around our house and outside it felt like my mind was playing tricks on me. “What am I doing here, this is NOT my home”. You see, a year ago our family was pulling out of the drive way from our home in Texas and headed toward a new place; a place where God had called us. A year ago, everything was familiar and comfortable. We had our families with us, our jobs, our long time friends, we had a church home that we loved, and we had ministries that we were so fond of. Everything was nice and comfortable until the day God called us to a new place.

After my husband graduated seminary we began an unexpected long and painful process of interviewing and trying to discover where God would have us serve in ministry. We waited an entire year for God to show us where to go. One of the things that we made sure that we did in our process of seeking out our place of ministry was to not limit God on where he wanted to take us. We told the Lord that we would go anywhere that he called us. We imagined ourselves in many different cities and states and even possibly for God to keep us in an area close to family. However, when we got word from the LORD that we were moving to Alabama, I was speechless.

We had interviewed in many different states but in all my thinking and dreaming about where the Lord would place us, there were two places that I never imagined God would call us to. The first place was Africa and the second was Alabama. I don’t know why, I just never saw us being at either of those locations. But, this is usually the way God works isn’t it? He always does the thing that we least expect and He sure through me for a loop on this one.

So here we are a year later, in the place where God asked us to serve. We picked up everything in Texas and moved our family far away from the place we called home for so many years. We were leaving a place of comfort and familiarity and walking out in faith and allowing God to take us somewhere new. I often think about Abram and how he must have felt when God called him to leave everything behind to follow Him to a place he did not know. The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. (Genesis 12:1) We really love Alabama, our new home, friends and church family. God has blessed us more than we ever imagined being in this new place. But, we are still getting settled and used to the area and all the new things that come upon us. It has felt a little foreign getting adjusted to a new home and driving these different roads each day. There is still that strange feeling and something that still stirs my heart telling me that I am longing for my real home.

Where is my real home? Is it Texas? I’ll always be a true Texas girl at heart, but I believe my longing is for a place of a fairer kind. Just like the writer of Hebrews describes Abraham, “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the Promised Land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” (Heb 11:8-10) My real home is with my Heavenly Father in the place that I will spend eternity.

So, why am I telling you all of this? God may not be calling you to a new city or state. You may sit right where you are at for many years to come, but one thing we must learn is that we should never get too comfortable or wrapped up in the things of this world. We should be constantly asking ourselves….Where am I? And what am I doing here? We need to be reminded that this is not our permanent home. “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,”- (Philippians 3:20) It is so easy to allow things to get so familiar to us that we forget our purpose and our calling. If we get too comfortable and settled into this world we will miss all that God has in store for us. We need to be constantly seeking Him and asking where it is He wants us to go or serve. God wants to grow and stretch us and take us to places of faith that we never imagined. Things may be a bit unsettling in our walk with the Lord here on earth. But remember this is not our home, we are only here temporarily.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Wake up America!

I came across this video this morning and I could not resist putting this on my Blog. This is has been SO heavy on my heart!! This is a message that America needs to hear! Pass it on.

Friday, June 15, 2007

I was made to love You!

Hey everyone!
I am so sorry that I have been silent for over 2 weeks now on the Blog. I have been away from my desk and extremely busy. It has been the most sleep deprived and exhausting 2 weeks that I have had in a LONG time but I can't wait to tell you why. I have got a ton of things on my heart so I am going to just start spewing out thoughts on the keyboard.

This is the first year that I have ever gotten to participate in VBS. In all the summers past, I have always had to work. So, I have been looking forward to getting to help this summer now that I am no longer a career woman! I had the privilege to teach 5th graders. I have to say that I was somewhat nervous about it because I am used to teaching women, not children. But, I had no idea what God had in store for me.

Last week, I spent pretty much the entire week up at the church decorating our room. I had no idea all the work that went into this event. It is wild. We ended up with a really cool room though! Monday came and we had a room full of energetic 5th graders. This was the cutest bunch of kids. From the first day, I was HOOKED! I fell head over heels for all of them. I wish I could tell you all of the details of each day. But, I will stick with a brief overview. We had the kids an hour and a half for bible study time and then the kids went on to do the different activities that they signed up for. After the activities, they went to worship. We had the best time in worship singing and dancing unto the LORD.

Wednesday, was my favorite day. This was the day that we got to sit down in bible study and go over the ABC's of becoming a Christian. While sharing the plan of salvation with my kids I was so pumped to see that the kids were really taking in all that I was saying. There was this one girl that did not take her eyes off me when I was talking to them. She was zoned in and soaking up every word. Afterward, the kids were taken to worship where the plan of salvation was shared again and then an invitation was given for the children. There were a lot of kids that went forward to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior over their lives, but I was SO excited to see that same girl from my class walk forward. That decision alone made it worth every minute of the time and energy that went into all the planning and preparing on my part. There were 2 others in my class that came to know the LORD that day as well. I was BLESSED beyond measure.

I just was not prepared for this week in regards to what God was going to do. He showed up and knocked my socks off. This was an incredible week of VBS and my life has been changed by the experience. Today was the last day and even though I was extremely tired of all the long hours and little sleep, I was so sad to see it end. I am crazy about these kids! They were all so precious and I had a blast with them! One of the boys that was in my class came up to me today and wrapped his arms around me so tight and said, "I had so much fun this week and I loved having you for my teacher". SO sweet!

There was another boy in my class that I had problems with all week. Monday was really tough with him and we had to contact his mom first thing. After hearing her heart, I knew God planted him in my room for a reason. So, I really went the extra mile to try and take him under my wing and show God's love to him. I was fearful all week that my help or anything that was taught was not making any kind of impression on him. However, today he stunned me with a hug expressing to me how he enjoyed the week. I couldn't help but cry over this one!

God revealed Himself personally to me over and over this week. I was teaching and serving the children, but God was teaching me and showing Himself to me in the process. My heart was overflowing in joy over the children and our time together. But, God was even at work in other areas of my life. He doesn't waste a moment. We serve an amazing God. I gave up two weeks to pour myself out for VBS and God blessed me double in return. My life has been changed.

Take a peek at some of the week.

Now, to wrap things up we finished our week out with the 6th graders at a Toby Mac concert tonight. I wasn't sure that there was enough energy in me to get my self to a concert much less a Toby Mac Concert. I am not one to spend my time jammin out to Christian Rap music. (although my 2 boys certainly love it) I much prefer to let Travis Cottrell lead the music while I worship God. But, again.....God showed up and did what I was not expecting. I WORSHIPPED GOD to Rap Music! I found myself jumping, singing (and screaming) in Holy Worship unto the LORD. I don't care much about Toby Mac and all his moves and singing (I must say he did put on a great show though) but, he did help lead me straight to the throne of God tonight.

One of the things that hit me tonight while listening to Toby was this..... Believe it or not, I used to be crazy (A LONG time ago)about rap music. I have always loved the thump it has. However, the message was never a good one and the lifestyle at the time was not a God honoring one. I was able to reflect back on where I have been in my life journey and see to where God has brought me. This time, I could enjoy the beat AND the words and do all of it to the Glory of God! Gods love and restoration floors me!! HE has brought me such a long way and I always stand amazed at His grace and mercy over my life! What a sweet touch the Father gave me tonight by showing me His loving Hand!

My heart is just bursting at the seams right now in crazy love for My Savior! He blows my mind and fills me with so much joy. His Word sets me ablaze for Him and He even uses rappers to lead me to His throne to sing His praises. It felt so good to just be free tonight -to be unashamedly crazy for Jesus. One of the closing songs by Toby was "I was made to love You". It was my favorite song and such an appropriate way to end the week. "I was made to love, find and adore God" and this week, I DID! I thought that I would end this blog with the words to the song.
Drained- but FILLED!

Made To Love Lyrics