Sunday, March 27, 2011

Blessings for Obedience

We recently returned from southern Arkansas where the fruit trees were blossoming and warm breezes were blowing. Now who around here, still looking at a foot of snow, wouldn't find that refreshing? But hang on, Spring will arrive for us, too!

A road trip clears my mind and freshens my perspective. With my husband driving the many miles we covered, I had the opportunity to read to him, and then we'd discuss what stood out to us. We were in Leviticus (which can be a challenge), but here is the treasure I found there:

"If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you..." (I'll summarize, but you can read it here: Leviticus 26:3-13 NIV) rain... crops... fruit... harvest... safety... peace... security... favor... increase... abundance... freedom. The Lord shared beautiful promises:
  • "I will look on you with favor and make you fruitful..."
  • "I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people..."
  • "I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high..."
And the one that really charmed me was:
  • "Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall by the sword before you."
What this says to me is when we walk with God, we can beat INCREDIBLE odds! When we walk in obedience, surrendered to Him, He can do things we could have never imagined.

Ted and I talked about times in our lives we've known that to be true. Sweet times of fully trusting; we saw God's hand and His favor in our lives beyond what we would have believed. Dismal situations that turned out far better than we could have hoped.

We wished it could always be that way, but we sometimes get in the way of that. God wants our full obedience... we say we want to follow Him wholeheartedly, but we hold back a little piece of ourselves. We try to give God power and authority over our lives but we hold onto something we don't really want Him to change. We live under burdens we don't need to carry because we want to do it our way.

When we worry or doubt, we are focusing on ourselves and not God. With people things seem impossible, but with God all things are possible. What power there is in surrender! We're afraid of losing, but in reality, we have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

God, help us to be careful to obey your commands. We want your blessings for obedience. With our eyes on you, we strive to let go of all that holds us back. We want to beat the odds, to rise above the selfishness that keeps us from knowing your perfect will.

Is there something that seems too big in your life? Give it to God and watch Him work.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Be Still. Do Less. Be More.

My new year's resolution was to "Be Still." I'm still working on it, and I've added a tagline of "Do Less, Be More."

I wake up with 6,000 thoughts on my mind and sometimes want to plunge right into doing...

If I am too busy to “be still,” I will likely miss the inner promptings of the Holy Spirit. I will miss going to my God for deep refreshing, and I will end up trying to do things on my own strength.

If I am too busy to read the Word, I am missing out on Truth. I am going from memory only -- and sometimes that is not so good. J

Jesus prayed for His disciples to be “sanctified by the truth; Your word is truth.” (John 17:17) Sanctified comes from the Greek word hagiazo, which means "set apart for sacred use."

If I'm too busy to read the Word, how can I be set apart? I may miss being used by God for His Glory. I may miss seeing Him working, I may miss the opportunity to share His love with someone who really needs it... and I may miss the blessings He had for me to experience... all because I am too wrapped up in getting things done.

So many times, my mind leaps back to productivity. It's like I want to redeem every minute of every day so I can fit more good things in it. Do. Do. Do. But that leads to multi-tasking, overloading, not being present in the moment and missing out on relationships. It's the Mary and Martha story (Luke 10:38-42), all over again! I'm a human being, not a human doing. I realize there are times I need to DO less and just BE more. I want to choose what is needed, what is better... and often that means taking time to be refreshed at the feet of Jesus.

Heavenly Father, please help me to hear Your beautiful "still small voice" and to be available to You today. Refresh me so I can BE who you need me to be. Your Word is Truth. Sanctify me by Your Truth!

Do you sometimes have a tendency to DO too much? Do you want to DO less, BE More?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Making the Climb Together

Last summer, Ted and I had a wonderful time hiking Logan Pass -- 6,646 ft. above sea level, along the Continental Divide in Glacier National Park, Montana. Or should I say, I had a more wonderful time than he did...

You'd never guess it was July 8th, because there was snow all the way up the 1.5-mile steady incline to the overlook of the still-frozen Hidden Lake -- sometimes soft, deep, unstable snow, like walking on the beach in thick sand, but also slippery at times. (Two are better than one... if either of them falls down, one can help the other up! Eccl:4-9-10)

We took longer than most to reach the summit, but it was an exhilirating hike and the views were spectacular tromping around in the "Crown of the Continent." What I didn't know then was my dear husband had pain with every step... but he conquered the hike because he knew I was looking forward to it so much. (He went on to have hip surgery in November.) What a man!

This is just one of many beautiful things in our marriage. With not a grumble, he suffered in silence to do something he didn't want me to give up. I love his sense of adventure in wanting to provide these opportunities for me. My confidence has grown with his love and encouragement every day. It's a love more delightful than wine. It inspires me to watch for more opportunities to love, honor and support him, too. It urges me to share our blessings to help others embrace what we have found.

I'll be sharing some of what I believe makes a marriage great in a breakout session at the Women's Breakway on April 9. Is it romance, mystery and adventure? Sacrifice, companionship, attentiveness, grace? Indeed, it is all these things as we seek to live the extravagant love our Father has modeled for us. We're going to celebrate the blessings of marriage with practical wisdom, personal stories and scriptural examples.

I love when I hear people in praise of their marriages, don't you? Isn't it encouraging to hear sweet things instead of only what went wrong? I suspect many couples could be a lot happier than they are. Let's not take our relationships for granted -- every great union needs nurturing. What do you do to keep your marriage on solid ground? We can help model the way for others to keep marriages nurtured, encouraged, God-centered, healthy and strong!

Father, we know that You designed marriage and called it good. A cord of three strands is not easily broken (Eccl. 4:12). Teach us how to follow your example of unfailing love and lavish grace.

How do you nurture your marriage? What is the best advice you could give another woman wanting to keep her marriage strong?