Saturday, June 26, 2010

Weather Forecast

Taking a Saturday off for a day to rest, relax, and just flip around the television, I stumbled across several commercials pushing a variety of newscasts boasting the best weather forecasts. I guess the amount of commercials relating to the weather comes with the territory of living in a hurricane prone area. The competition, apparently, is tough. Every news station wants to have the best meteorologists and the most up to date weather information available. One station even went so far as to say that the directions for the day, details, instructions, and preparations that people crave before stepping out the door can all be met through the forecast given by their meteorologists.

When I heard that, I asked myself, "Wow, am I really listening to a commercial for the weather?" I mean, that is exactly what we all need to start our day, but we don't need to tune into the weather, we need to tune into God! Taking a moment to view the weather each day is not a big deal, but hearing a commercial portray that their weather report can fulfill a person’s needs to get through the day is pretty sad.

We all crave daily instructions on how to navigate through life, but we need to make sure our day starts not with man’s answers, but with God’s. He provides all the information we need to get through the day and only the day before us. There’s no need for a seven day forecast. He knows what we need and He’s already working on our behalf. All He asks of us is to focus on Him and the new day He has given us. When we wake up tomorrow, let’s remember to reach for the Word and not the remote. The weather forecast, since it’s apparently broadcast every ten minutes, will be there later!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Acceptance with Joy

John 15:10-11, "If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete."

There has been a lot of acceptance going around in the devotionals and scripture passages I've been studying lately. I've also started reading a book called Hinds' Feet on High Places, which talks quite a bit about acceptance particularly acceptance with joy.

In a recent devotional, we learned of accepting God's will for loss or gain. (If you didn't get a chance to read it, just click here to check it out!) Despite how we feel at any given time, God knows what's best and He will never send us in the wrong direction or lead us to a place that we cannot handle in His strength. By the end of the devotional, we realized that we must let go, let God be in control, and accept His perfect will without question.

This week, I learned we have to take acceptance a step further by choosing to accept God's will with a servant's heart and an attitude of joy. It's not enough to grit our teeth and say, "Fine, God, you're right, I'm wrong, so get on with it." Instead we need to confess our lack of faith, ask the Holy Spirit to build us up in trust, and relinquish our will and attitude to the Father. It's not easy that's for sure. So many times we fight against the path God has laid out for us arguing that there must be some other way. We take a look at the path and its twists and turns down the road and start backing away. Thankfully, the Lord doesn't give up and we eventually give in and head down the path soon realizing that it's not near as bad as we thought it would be. We reach the end of the journey with an overwhelming joy; a joy we should have carried with us throughout the entire trip. Just imagine how much more we can be used by God to accomplish great things along life's path when we choose to practice an attitude of acceptance with joy.

Step up to the challenge this week and the weeks to come. When God asks us to do something, let's start with an attitude of prayer giving all doubts, fears, and negativity to God. Let's ask the Holy Spirit to release His fruit within our life enabling us to choose joy despite the circumstances. Acceptance with joy; what a combination!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Acceptance

Faced with the death of her dear friend and ministry partner Ponnammal, missionary Amy Carmichael wrote the following:

"It is not by giving us back what He has taken that our Lord teaches us His deepest lessons, but by patiently waiting beside us till we can say: I accept the will of my God as good and acceptable and perfect, for loss or for gain."  --Amy Carmichael, Gold Cord

Amy wrote these words in dealing with loss, yet they ring true for so many different situations in life. I had originally written thoughts and a devotional relating to this excerpt a couple of weeks ago, but today all of it was deleted by mistake. I am upset, but I realized it was a test in the very topic of acceptance. I don't feel like writing down everything again, but I must trust that God's will is perfect and that He must have something else He would like me to write instead. So, here goes...

Acceptance is hard. When things happen that we can't control, we want to stop time and start again. We ask why and we question the reasoning behind it; which in essence is questioning God. We refuse to accept because acceptance means to acknowledge that the situation did occur and our lives will never be the same again. What we don't realize is that our refusal to accept is also our refusal to move on. We plant our feet firm in the in between where, in our minds, time stands still refusing to move forward or backward.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9)
 
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)

Acceptance starts with thankfulness and trust. Thankfulness for God's provision in the past and trust in His continued provision in the present and into the future. God's plan are greater than ours and if He is making changes in our life then He must have a purpose for it. When this happens, we need to trust Him and walk in full availability and flexibility along the altered path He's given. Whether we believe it or not, His way is best.

"To accept the will of God never leads to the miserable feeling that it is useless to strive anymore...He asks us to cooperate with Him, actively willing what He wills, our only aim His glory. To accept in this sense is to come with all the desire of the mind unto the place which the Lord shall choose, and to minister in the name of the Lord there..." --Amy Carmichael, Gold by Moonlight

Accepting God's will and moving on in Him, although difficult, never causes regrets or the endless questions of "what if?" Coming to peace with God's instructions and humbling ourselves before Him frees us to move forward in Him and with Him. Moving forward after losing my article was a lot easier than I thought. The new writing shared here is a lot deeper than what was first written. In fact, I have learned more myself. Just the same, moving on after the death of a loved one or other situations opens up opportunities that would not have been possible if events had not happened the way God intended. Acceptance is a huge step to take, but remember, we are not taking it alone. The moment we accept the will of the Father, He reaches out for our hand and says, "OK then, let's move on."

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Reality of Reality Television

Reality television has been the "hot topic" in television for years now. Most reality shows center around a celebrity's life or involve a competition to create the next  model, dancer, singer, designer, chef, etc. They give audiences a look into the lives of others and motivate us to cheer them on or brush them off. But there's a new type of reality television that's growing rapidly. It's reality programming that follows the life of addicts, hoarders, criminals, and many more. This is a type of television that needs to knock the reality of what's going on in the world around us back to the front of our thoughts and prayer life.

Flipping through television channels, I came across several new reality shows highlighting the pain, suffering, bondage, and sense of hopelessness among hundreds of people across the Nation. It broke my heart. My own life has has had times of darkness and depression followed by counseling and healing. I knew what I went through was not even the tip of the iceberg of problems people face, but what I saw on television blew my mind away. Even my time working in the homeless shelter and pregnancy center didn't prepare me for the stories heard and seen on the television. A verse in Matthew came to mind after recently watching one of these shows.

Matthew 9:36, "But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd."

Jesus looked out into the crowds and saw a people in need of a Savior; sheep in need of a shepherd. His disciples, like you and I, most likely saw people of different shapes, sizes, colors, sexes. Jesus saw inside the heart and minds of the people and saw addicts, murders, thieves, adulterers, and prostitutes. He saw the reality and He was moved with compassion to reach out and help.

It's difficult to watch shows like these, but they are important reminders to be in prayer for others. Jesus was moved with compassion and so should we. We are called to love one another and pray for one another. It's often very easy for us to do this with the people that are in our immediate circle and even more so if someone in that circle is suffering with an addition. For those we don't know, they are literally out of sight and out of mind, but they are the ones who often need it most.

The next time we flip through shows like "Addicted" on Discovery Health or "Hoarders" on TLC and A&E, let's take some time to watch and learn what these individuals are going through and spend some time in prayer for them. They need are our help and even though we may not be physically able to help in person, we can be in prayer for them and donate/volunteer to ministries and community agencies that can provide for their physical and spiritual needs. Let's show some compassion.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Quietness

It's been several days since I've posted on this blog. The days have been quiet in my writing mind, but most definitely not quiet in life. Life continues on whether we're ready for it or not, but praise God for never sending us things we cannot handle or sending us in the wrong direction. The past several days have been spent with family, with friends, and in times of prayer and reading the Bible, Jesus Calling, Learning of God, and other daily readings. It's been a time of refilling my mind with God's Word and listening to His voice in the midst of an unpredictable and often chaotic world.

A friend of mine once made the comment that "life just happens." She was right. Life does just happen, but not even the smallest of events in life happens without God. Whether we are believers or not, God is involved in our life. He is here waiting for us to turn to Him. He is here waiting for us to call out to Him. Life's trials and hardships become overwhelming when we forget that we are not alone and that God is here to help us.

Many excerpts in the devotionals I've been reading have been about focusing on God and being still before Him. I put this to the test the other day when a million things seemed to be revolving out of control all around me. I stayed home from church, sat down for quiet time, and tried to focus on God and God alone. I found my mind wandering numerous times, but instead of staying in "wander"land, I asked God for help. He filled my mind with praises and songs from my childhood Sunday School classes. It was great. I realized that appointments for later in the day, things I had to do in a couple of days, all of it - it didn't matter. The now time was time with God and complete focus on Him gave me a relaxing, restful peace.  

As a result of allowing God to rule the day many things were revealed to me about decisions that needed to be made and paths that needed to be taken over the next couple of days. I'm not going to say the peace didn't wear off when I was back in the here and now of every day life, but my relationship with the Father was stronger and I didn't panic when the unknown came my way.

I'm a work in progress and learning to be still before God and at peace with Him, through Him, and for Him is a long process. Praise God for His patience and praise for His hand holding comfort. Life just happens. It's pretty crazy, but it's not out of control. Life is in the hands of God and when we leave it there and accept the days He gives us one at a time, we learn to enjoy them in the fullness of His joy so much more!

Psalm 46:10, "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."

Isaiah 41:13, "For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you."