Monthly Archives: May 2010

Its a Journey…and God is always there!

This weekend we spent some time in Washington DC on the way to a family event.  There is something magical about DC for me and I feel that at sometime in my future life, God’s will is for me to spend another “season” of my life in this city.  I don’t know why, its just one of those “gut” feelings.

On the plane on the way up to DC, I finished reading Chapter 6 of Pete Wilson’s new book Plan B: What do You Do When God Doesn’t Show Up the Way You Thought He Would? It is a great book about what happens when life doesn’t go the way you expected.  It calls into question several tightly held Christian expectations.

  • Is God only involved in our lives when good things are happening – when our kids, jobs and marriages are all going well?
  • Does God willingly give us tough seasons in our lives because he desires to use those experiences to develop our character?

Early in the chapter Pete talks about his response to the question he often gets in church circles:  How do I know God’s will for my life?

“When people ask me how they can know God’s will for their lives, I tell them the best first step is to know God.  Beyond that, I really don’t have any steps.”

So often we see God’s will for our lives in the terms of what, when and where?  What is the perfect job? When do I need to make a big life decision? Where am I supposed to move?

Wilson makes the point that when we focus exclusively on these three things, we miss the most important “W” – why?

Why do I live?  Why did God place any of us on this earth?  Big Picture:  To bring Glory to God.

If I’m thrown in a pit, sold into slavery, falsely accused of crimes I didn’t commit and thrown into jail for years, am I in God’s Will and can He be working in my life?  Ask Joseph.  For years, his life wasn’t exactly filled with circumstances that on the outside would make one see God’s hand at work.

“About the only thing that Joseph can control about his life … is why he does what he does.  He can live intentionally, choosing to trust God in all his circumstances and allow his life to be used for God’s purposes.”

“When life isn’t turning out the way we had hoped, we almost always default to feeling as if God has abandoned us…when our plans, dreams and desires crumble, our faith tends to take a hit.  We instantly feel let down and distant from our heavenly Father.”

“And yet the truth is that God is most powerfully present even when he seems most apparently absent.  He’s always working.  Even when we can’t see him or feel him, all the circumstantial evidence of our lives will testify to his presence.  That is, if we are willing to pay attention.”

As I look back on my life, there are so many times where I have drifted very far away from God; where my will and my desires were the driving factors in my life.  In some of those seasons, things were very good for me.  My career and my life were going great and I truly believed that I was following God’s will.  My heart was full and my needs were satisfied, but it is in those times when I found it often easy to slip away from God.   The quality time that I spent with God, my seeking of His will, took back seat because I was so confident that I was already in His will.

But Wilson reminds us that “God’s will is as much about the person we are becoming as it is about where we are going!”  In doing so he cites Erwin McManus:  “The process of becoming the person God wants us to become usually doesn’t come from success, success, success.   Its loss, success, failure, success, heartbreak, success, disappointment, success.”

The last 9 months for me has been a reminder of that.  We have moved away from Texas to Florida.  I left a successful and personally rewarding career, moved away from many friends who loved me and from an area that was very comfortable.  And while our 9 months in Florida has provided me the chance to be home with my girls, I have also experienced loss and sadness.  At times I have silently questioned if it was God’s will was for us to move to Florida, then why is there such heartache?

But Wilson continues on: “We think our suffering is a sign that we’re getting something wrong, not evidence that God is at work to teach us and bring us a blessing.”

[As Christians,] we must decide if we are going to put our faith in what God does or in who God is.”

I must decide if I am going to put my faith in what God does or who God is…

So often we think that the endpoint (a job, a child, healing from illness or getting married) is God’s will for our life when often God’s plan for our life is to use the journey to perfect our character.

“In this life many of your questions will simply not have answers.  But through it all, God himself will never change.  This is why our faith must rest on his identity and not necessarily his activity.”

I truly believe that God has brought our family to Florida for a reason.  I see his work in many things since we have been here (like our connections to a new church and new friends). As I reflect back on the other big life changes (moves) I have experienced in my short 40 years, in the end it was not a job or a relationship that was the end goal of God’s work.  Those all went away. The big life changes were the means that God used to teach me new things in a new place.

So in the end, I may have a gut feeling about returning to DC for a season of my life, but even if I do, I know it will not be so much about returning to DC as it will be about what God wants to perfect in my life once He gets me there!

NOTE:  The quotes cited throughout this blog are from Chapter 6 of “Plan B” by Pete Wilson.  Another great resource for this topic is a sermon series by Pastor David Hughes entitled “Get over your BS (Belief System).

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Things I need to remind myself of daily — Post 3

You are blessed when you are at the end of your rope.  With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

You are blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you.  Only then can you be embraced by the ONE most dear to you.

You are blessed when you’re content with just who you are – no more, no less.  That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

You are blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God.  He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

You are blessed when you care.  At the moment of being “carefull,” you find yourself cared for.

You are blessed when you get your inside world – your heart and your mind – put right.  Then you can see God in the outside world.

You are blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight.  That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

You are blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution.  The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.

Not only that – count yourself blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me.  What it means is that the truth is to close for comfort and they are uncomfortable.  You can be glad when that happens – give a cheer, even!  For though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds.  And you know you are in good company.  My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

Matthew 5:2-12, as stated in the Message

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Things I need to remind myself of daily — Post 2

Posted by Rick Warren

Fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable. Philippians 4:8 (TEV)

The more you think about something, the stronger it takes hold of you, which is why the Bible teaches that we should, “Run from anything that gives you the evil thoughts . . . but stay close to anything that makes you want to do right.” (2 Timothy 2:22, LB)

Temptation begins by capturing your attention. What gets your attention arouses your emotions. Then your emotions activate your behavior, and you act on what you felt. The more you focus on “I don’t want to do this,” the stronger it draws you into its web.

Ignoring a temptation is far more effective than fighting it. Once your mind is on something else, the temptation loses its power. So when temptation calls you on the phone, don’t argue with it, just hang up…..Spiritually, your mind is your most vulnerable organ….

Click here for the rest of the blog.

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Mark and Measure the Work of God

What I have come to love about the Orange Conference is how God uses it to bring new people into my life.  And how He uses those people to draw me closer to Him.  This year just before the conference and throughout the conference, I learned about the work God was doing in Washington DC with the National Community Church.

To be honest, I lived in Washington DC for 10 years.  I met and married my husband there and both our girls were born in DC.  But until the last few months, I had never heard of the church.  However, with the increased use of Twitter and blogs, it is amazing how easily connected we can become.

I was introduced to Kelly Minter when we moved to Florida and I love her Bible Studies, so I follow her Twitter posts and blog.  Kelly had read Mark Batterson’s book “Primal” and decided to let us all know how great it was via Twitter, so I picked up the book and started reading it.  She was right!  I inhaled the book.  It was exactly what I needed.

Mark Batterson is the lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, DC and also one of the lead speakers at the Orange Conference.  As I learned more about NCC, I also learned that one of the resources they encouraged their members to take advantage of is a website called “From Garden to City.”  This website leads the church through reading the entire Bible in one year.

I’ve tried this in the past, but have never been very good at it because I usually get bogged down in the boring parts and end up jumping back to James or Philippians or some book that is relevant to my everyday life.  What I like about “From Garden to City” is that the staff also provides daily blogs that can even make the land distribution exercises in Joshua seem like they are relevant to my everyday life.

As I was reading the scripture and the blogs as well as listening to the corresponding sermon on podcast (which I downloaded for free from iTunes) on my walk last week, I was struck with the strong conviction that I need to do a better job of “marking and measure the work of God in my life.”  After spending time watching the Israelites receive the land that God had promised generations before, the theme that Joshua tries to convey throughout their journey is don’t forget what your God has done for you in the past.  Don’t forget where He has brought you in your life and what He has delivered you from.

Sometimes is it so easy when we reach a painful season in our lives to believe that God has left us or that we are far from him, when in reality He is using a painful or frustrating time to develop our character and bring us closer to him.

In Joshua 24, Joshua reminds the people of Israel exactly that as he recounts the history of the Israelite nation and says:

I gave you land you had not worked on, and I gave you towns you did not build—the towns where you are now living. I gave you vineyards and olive groves for food, though you did not plant them.  Joshua 24:13

Joshua had the people build physical monuments to remind them daily of the work that God was doing in their lives…of the blessings he had given them.

For me, that has become the main purpose of this blog, especially over the last year.  It is a constant reminder of the work that God is doing in my life.  And if I think back over my life there are so many times where God showed up and took care of me in amazing ways.

  • Maybe it was the job that showed up a week and a half before the severance ran out,
  • Or the high risk baby that was born with no complications,
  • Or the move the Florida to bring me to a new level in my relationship with Him.

Each of those brought stress and pain and evidence beyond doubt that God was working in my life.

I am not a great journaler (as can be seen by the infrequency of my posts on this blog), but I must never forget to “mark and measure” what God is doing in my life.  It is through my reflection on these posts that I am reminded that God does have a purpose for everything he is taking me through, if I only have faith to seek and follow His direction for my life.

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Something Heavenly

It’s time for healing
Time to move on
It’s time to fix what’s been broken too long
Time make right what has been wrong
It’s time to find my way to where I belong
There’s a wave that’s crashing over me
And all I can do is surrender
Whatever You’re doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but somehow there’s peace
It’s hard to surrender to what I can’t see
but I’m giving in to something Heavenly
Time for a milestone
Time to begin again
Reevaluate who I really am
Am I doing everything to follow Your will
Or just climbing aimlessly over these hills
So show me what it is You want from me
I give everything I surrender
To Whatever You’re doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but somehow there’s peace
It’s hard to surrender to what I can’t see
but I’m giving in to something Heavenly
Time to face up
Clean this old house
Time to breathe in and let everything out
That I’ve wanted to say for so many years
Time to release all my held back tears
Whatever You’re doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but I believe
You’re up to something bigger than me
Larger than life something Heavenly
Whatever You’re doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but now I can see
This is something bigger than me
Larger than life something Heavenly
Something Heavenly
It’s time to face up
Clean this old house
Time to breathe in and let everything out

Words and Music by Sanctus Real

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