Thursday, December 29, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday--Looking Back

Before I post a list of things I'd like to accomplish in 2012, let's take a look back at my list from last year and cross off what I was able to do.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday--Return

"Too much beauty around us for just two eyes to see"

"Get away from it all". The last thing I said 6 weeks ago.

Now when I said that, I didn't intend for it to really happen. But, like they always say, "Be careful what you ask for."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday--Technically fed-up

Do you ever feel like you are being bombarded by technology? Just the utter volume of information at my fingertips blows me away! I feel like America has become fat on information. And I'm not sure it's really helping.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Blessed to suffer

Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
1 Peter 3:13-17

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday--How well-off is your spirit?

I have a lot of thoughts flying around in my head today. This is one of them.

Miracle of miracles, I feel like I'm having a spiritual growth spurt. God is causing me to grow spiritually. But, it's not in ways you or I would expect. I'm not necessarily spending more time on Bible study or prayer, I haven't 'saved' anyone lately, and I'm not sinning less...

Monday, October 31, 2011

I'll be brief...

My parents picked up a little booklet when they were at the NCFIC conference this past weekend, titled, "Valuable Selections from the Writings of George Muller". I opened it up, just meaning to flip through it and was drawn in.

George Muller, after living a prodigal life and being converted, ran orphanages in England. He cared for over 10,000 orphans in his lifetime and the support he sought was from the Lord alone. He did not go out and raise money. He went to the Lord with the many needs they had, and his prayers were answered.

So far the 'writings' I've read have all related to faith. This quote really stood out to me: 

"Either we trust in God, and in that case we neither trust in ourselves, nor in our fellow men, nor in circumstances, nor in anything besides; or we DO trust in one or more of these and in that case do NOT trust in God."

I have said often that I have faith in God, that I trust God. But I'm asking God to show me if I really do. I know that is a dangerous thing to ask, but I need to know! What does it look like to trust in God alone, and not ourselves, our fellow men, or our circumstances? Maybe George Muller can help me understand.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Time sure flies...

My baby brother is 16 today. Wow! Does time fly. I remember the call telling us he was born. At 2:23 in the afternoon, I'm pretty sure.

Here's what Nathan has to say about turning the big 1-6.

Happy Birthday, my big little brother! What a young man you've turned out to be : )

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday-- Lazy days of Fall

Today, I had one of those days. 

One of those "I-want-to-be-lazy" days.
One of those days where I can't even pretend to want to do anything. 
One of those days where "I don't want to do nothing, be nothing or marry nothing". 
Yeah. Marry nothing. It comes and goes...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday-- Ideas

Here it is, Wednesday night, and while I have a few ideas for a Thoughtful Thursday, I totally lack the energy and/or interest for writing. I have a lot of thoughts going around in my head, but formulating them into words and sentences is beyond what I can handle right now.

I have been listening to Paul Washer recently...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday--Creation Speaks

I have always appreciated nature. 
Most of my childhood was spent outdoors and I'm so thankful that I grew up in a time and place, and family, that allowed that.
As an adult, that appreciation has grown into fascination, I think due to knowing the Creator better...

Saturday, October 1, 2011

New Page for Star Hill Baby Knits

Click on the 'Star Hill Baby Knits' picture to the left or go to this link to see the new page I've made for Star Hill Baby Knits! Become a follower to see what's new!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

As Long As You Are Glorified

I know I've posted this before, and I know this is supposed to be 'Thoughtful Thursday'. But, I heard this song today and I remembered how much I love it. The words are so perfect! Be blessed...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday-- Grab Hold

Being productive makes me happy. 

Being overwhelmed with lot's of things to accomplish does not. 

But the feeling of accomplishing something, getting things checked off the list inspires me to do more. 

It's like what I picture rock-climbing to be like. You look for a hand-hold or a foot-hold, grab on, pull up and start looking for another. Eventually, you make your way to the top, thanks to all the little cracks and ledges you found on the way up.

But what's the top? I'm not sure. It's not perfection or anything like that. I guess 'the top' would just be a life well-lived. A life in which a person did the best they could with what they had. Not everyone finds good hand-holds on their climb. This makes me think of the Parable of the Talents.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Law of the Lord is Perfect

I think I could camp out on this Psalm for quite a while....

Psalms 19  
The Law of the Lord Is Perfect

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.

Who can discern his errors?
Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
and innocent of great transgression.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday--A Reason for Trials

Nahum 1:2--"The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord is avenging and wrathful; the Lord takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies."

Your Lord is very jealous of your love, O believer. Did He choose you? 
He cannot bear that you should choose another. Did He buy you with His 
own blood? He cannot endure that you should think that you are your 
own, or that you belong to this world. He loved you with such a love 
that He would not stop in heaven without you; He would sooner die than 
you should perish, and He cannot endure that anything should stand 
between your heart's love and Himself. He is very jealous of your 
trust. He will not permit you to trust in an arm of flesh. He cannot 
bear that you should hew out broken cisterns, when the overflowing 
fountain is always free to you. When we lean upon Him, He is glad, but 
when we transfer our dependence to another, when we rely upon our own 
wisdom, or the wisdom of a friend--worst of all, when we trust in any 
works of our own, He is displeased, and will chasten us that He may 
bring us to Himself. He is also very jealous of our company. There 
should be no one with whom we converse so much as with Jesus. To abide 
in Him only, this is true love; but to commune with the world, to find 
sufficient solace in our carnal comforts, to prefer even the society of 
our fellow Christians to secret intercourse with Him, this is grievous 
to our jealous Lord. He would fain have us abide in Him, and enjoy 
constant fellowship with Himself; and many of the trials which He sends 
us are for the purpose of weaning our hearts from the creature, and 
fixing them more closely upon Himself. Let this jealousy which would 
keep us near to Christ be also a comfort to us, for if He loves us so 
much as to care thus about our love we may be sure that He will suffer 
nothing to harm us, and will protect us from all our enemies. Oh that 
we may have grace this day to keep our hearts in sacred chastity for 
our Beloved alone, with sacred jealousy shutting our eyes to all the 
fascinations of the world!

I read the September 12th 'Morning and Evening' devotional (by Spurgeon) on Tuesday and it just pierced me to the heart. This subject of spending time alone with God is one that He keeps bringing me back around to. And not being distracted by things that don't matter. He's like, "Okay, you didn't quite get it last time. Let's try this again." 

This is essential to being a Christian and that's probably why it's such a hard thing to learn. Also, I'm lazy. I enjoy my own company. I could spend a whole day alone and be quite content. But, what joys am I missing out on? My precious Redeemer is with me always and I can speak with Him about anything, everything.

To read this verse alone, it sounds rather unpleasant. But it's important to notice that the Lord is avenging and wrathful toward his enemies. If we belong to Him, that statement should be one of the most comforting in the Bible. If someone is jealous of you, you know it's because they love you.

The Creator and Savior of our souls loves us and desires that we love Him with All our heart, soul, mind and strength.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday--What's my wall?

What's my wall?

What does that mean?

It comes from the book of Nehemiah and is a creative way of asking, "What has God called me to do?"

I went to a Bible study last night and this was one of the questions asked from the Pulpit. The Pastor began with an overview of the book of Nehemiah. 

How he was called by God to go and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Nehemiah repents and prays for the restoration of the people of Israel. He goes to the King(whom he serves as a cupbearer) and requests that he be allowed to go and do this. The King grants his request and sends men to protect and assist him. When Nehemiah enters the land, these two men are angry that he has come. The two adversaries grow into more and they try to get Nehemiah away from the wall so that they can do away with him. That doesn't work. They send messengers, claiming that there are rumors about Nehemiah planning to rule Jerusalem. They even hire prophets to speak to him and who try to get him to go to the temple.

Nehemiah doesn't heed any of these tactics. He knew what God had called him to do and he was sticking to it.

How does this apply?

Well, when God calls us to something, whatever it may be, small or big, and we go about doing it, the Adversary gets to work as well. The Adversary is Satan. He doesn't want us to accomplish anything God calls us to. The Pastor last night even went so far as to say that the devil would be happy for us to have service from sun up to sun down every day of the week, if that meant we never went out into the world and shared about Him. I never thought about it that way. 

The Adversary has some predictable tactics, but sometimes they're delivered in sneaky ways.

First, he tries, in different ways, to isolate you. To pull you away from the work God's given you. To make you feel alone. He does this--

--Second-- to whisper falsehoods or accusations to you. To cause you to doubt God's word.

Third, he might even imitate God's voice. Now that's just downright dirty. We really have to know our Shepherd's voice, don't we?

I've experienced all three of these schemes at different times and at one time with a vengeance. Praise God, He stepped in on my behalf. 

So back to the original question. What has God called me to do? As an individual? I believe He has called me to faithfully serve my family. To be a help to my parents, to be an example to my siblings, and to minister to others from my home base. Do I do well at this all the time? Uh-uh. No. But, as I'm in this rock-tumbler of sanctification, I'm learning how to be like Jesus to my family and others. And someday, hopefully, to a family of my own.

So learn to recognize the Adversary's methods and keep building that wall!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Baptism

A couple of young men in our church were baptized last Sunday and it was just beautiful.
Here are pictures:

One of those young men was my brother and here's his account of it:

Made me want to be baptized all over again!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday--A day late

I feel like I'm always behind. Always running late. Always trying to catch up.

And I know why. It's because I don't plan ahead and I procrastinate.

pro crast in ate |prəˈkrastəˌnāt, prō-|
verb [ no obj. ]
delay or postpone action; put off doing something: it won't be this price for long, so don't procrastinate.
procrastinator |-ˌnātər|noun,
procrastinatory |-nəˌtôrē|adjective
ORIGIN late 16th cent.: from Latin procrastinat- ‘deferred until tomorrow,’ from the verb procrastinare, from pro- ‘forward’ + crastinus ‘belonging to tomorrow’ (from cras ‘tomorrow’).

It's related to laziness, or slothfulness. These are such yucky words. I want to be able to use words like active, industrious, efficient to describe myself. And since I'm not naturally a proactive person, I am taking some steps that will hopefully help.

One thing I'm trying is to make some sort of schedule. I've tried this in the past and it hasn't even worked through the first day because my goals were too lofty and impractical. When you live with a family, you kinda have to go with the general flow...

So what I did was write down what our 'natural schedule' is. Then, the times and areas that needed some tweaking, I tweaked in a gentle way. Like instead of saying that I would wake up at 5:30, read the bible for 2 hours and then go jog for an hour, and then fix breakfast for everyone (which sounds impressive), I set my rising time for 6:55, and then wrote out my usual routine of making coffee, making breakfast, reading my Bible and cleaning up the kitchen. But, I would have more time to do all that, it would be quieter and it would get everything else set on a good course for the rest of the day.

The other thing is to make to-do lists. Things that must be done on a certain day, like a phone call, paying a bill or writing a blog post. And then things that I need to do on an on-going basis, like knitting or baking. I love the feeling of checking things off a list. : )

So today was the first day with this new plan. 
It has been really nice. Just getting an earlier start was lovely. 
I got up with my alarm at 6:55, heard my dad leave for work. Tip-toed out of my room and made my way downstairs. Mom wasn't up yet. Made coffee and got toast going. I usually have a smoothie, but I didn't want to wake the house with the blender. Washed a few dishes left from last night and by then toast was done and mom was up. I spread some Nutella on my toast and took it, my Bible and my journal out on the porch. Had some good 'God-time'. : )
When I went back in, Natalie and Nathan were up. Mom and I were able to get out and jog almost an hour earlier than usual and it was so nice and cool. By the time we got back, mom still had plenty of time to head up to the grocery store and I cleaned up the kitchen and played a game with Natalie.
I got our lunches ready in good time and it's just been pleasant since then. 

Now, I'm getting something on my to-do list done: write a blog post. And I really need to finish up so I can go run some errands. In the car. By myself. : D

The REAL test will be tomorrow! And the day after that and the day after that...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Good Articles

These are both for the benefit of a busy mother, but I found them applicable for big sisters as well. : )

Five simple ways to nurture your children

Cutting down on frustrations

Make-up Monday--Attitude


Some have more. Some have less.

Saturday, I had more.

I was just ill all day long. And there was a reason, but no excuse. I didn't feel well. I had a headache that went all the way down into my shoulders and all I wanted to do was sleep.

So instead of telling everyone that I felt bad, taking something for my headache and going to bed, I chose to pretend like nothing was wrong. Everyone was busy and I felt like I wouldn't be helping if I went to rest. But I was wrong. Me snapping and being unkind was the opposite of helpful.

If I had just told them that I wasn't feeling well and gotten out of the way, I think that would've been more helpful. I pray I can learn this lesson of communicating for next time, so it doesn't get repeated.

Being irritable is not a good feeling and it makes everyone else in the house irritable as well. It also is NOT what love is.  

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

When I find myself being irritable or cranky, if I look at what my focus is, it's always me. When I'm too focused on myself and making myself happy, I'm not thinking about the others around me and how my actions and decisions will affect them. And when one of those is a three-year-old, it gets multiplied...

I think that's what this is all about. 
I read an article by a mother of several children. She talked about when she was a teenager and all the time she had for bible study and prayer. She thought she was doing so well with her sanctification. She compared her sanctification process to a rock slowly being smoothed by a gentle flowing stream. But then she got married...then she had a child...then she had another. And before she knew it, God had thrown her into a rock tumbler of sanctification! 

I loved that image of a rock tumbler. Your rough edges don't get worn down gently over time, they just get knocked off and it's anything but gentle. Every time baby sis gets whiny and needs attention and I have to put aside what I'm doing, I'm getting a rough edge knocked off. Every time I think I know better and my parents tell me otherwise, I'm getting a rough edge knocked off.

If I could only see these 'irritations' as the blessings they are.

If only I could see the opportunity for growth in front of me.

My agenda needs to change. Instead of thinking of ways to keep myself happy at the expense of others, if I will just seek to serve the ones around me, I can find joy in that. Much more joy than in serving myself.

O Lord, only through Your Spirit can I do this. Teach me to love sacrificially, little bits at the time. Help me to recognize the opportunities. I know there will be one first thing the morning...

Friday, July 29, 2011

Check these out!

Hop on over to Blane Jr.'s blog and look at these great videos! Thanks for posting them Blane...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

I have an excuse...

Yes, I know it's Thursday and I didn't post anything thoughtful. But I did make a huge batch of whole wheat vanilla wafers that are better than any you can buy in the store. (Thanks to Heavenly Homemakers)

So yummy when dipped in Nutella!

I'm pretty sure the recipe made about 100 cookies.

I won't be available next Thursday either, so maybe I'll do a Make-up Monday. How's that sound?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Two quotes

I read these two quotes today and they really resonated:

‎"To love God is to love His will. It is to wait quietly for life to be measured by One who knows us through and through. It is to be content with His timing and His wise appointment." ~Elisabeth Elliot

‎"Does it make sense to pray for guidance about the future if we are not obeying in the thing that lies before us today? How many momentous events in Scripture depended on one person's seemingly small act of obedience! Rest assured: Do what God tells you to do now, and, depend upon it, you will be shown what to do next." — Elisabeth Elliot

I think I shall add Elisabeth Elliot to my reading list. Any recommendations for a first pick?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday--Getting Answers

I love getting answers.

Don't you?

To be able to ask a question of someone and for them to answer clearly.

I like it even more when I can ask God something and get a clear answer from Him. He doesn't have to answer us. He is in no way obligated. And if He does answer, He can just say, "Because I said so." like a lot of parents do. (That's such a non-answer though.)

But how does He answer?

There are many examples in the Old Testament and the New. He spoke with an audible voice to Moses, Samuel, Elijah and others. Sometimes He has spoken to His people in their hearts or minds. He has used dreams, visions and angels. Other people have been used as His mouthpiece and even through controlling circumstances He has made His will known.

I personally have always been the type of person that loves to be told specifically what to do. Give me directions in how to do something, I'll follow them to a 'T'. But tell me to 'go do something', and I'm lost. Now I've gotten better about that, but I still much more prefer being given directions. I guess that's why I've loved reading the Epistles so much. There are actually sections of those that are like checklists. : )

Anyways, all that to say, I've always wanted God to speak to me clearly and audibly, so that I would know exactly what He wanted from me. I realize though that this can and probably does come from laziness. I just want to be able to lay back and wait for directions and if I don't get them, 'it's not my fault'. 

That's why when I was listening to a Pastor at church making the point that most of God's will has already been written down for us, I was blown away. It was like I had an epiphany. That's a thought I have treasured ever since then. 

If I want to know what God's will is, I just have to look in His Word. Understanding how it applies to my specific situation is a challenge sometimes. That's when other means of God speaking to me comes in. 

Over my life, I guess the most often used communication has been through circumstances. Other times, I have sensed what God was trying to tell me in my heart. It's hard not to, but I find that when you get those nudges, it's best not to question them too much. I mean, make sure they don't go against scripture, but don't second-guess. There have been many times that I did, and ended up regretting it.

There was one time when God spoke to me in my heart and it was almost audible. I was eleven I think and I was dealing with the normal upheaval that comes around that age. I was anxious and unsure sometimes and just needed assurance. I was looking at the stars and God said, "All this could go away, and it will, but I'll always be here." I think that was a turning point in my ability to trust God.

I think a big part of hearing from God is spending time in His Word to learn what His voice sounds like. I don't do this near enough! 
I think it's so beautiful when a brand new baby hears it's mothers voice and turns toward the sound that it has learned to recognize over nine months in the womb. That's kind of what it's like for us. Right now, the sound is muffled, but we can learn to recognize His voice and one day, we'll be in His presence and hear Him directly. Oh happy day!

Another part of hearing from God I think is keeping distractions to a minimum. I don't have a very busy life, but I do turn to entertainment more than I should. Even reading 'good' books can be a distraction...ouch!

So, I'm still working on my afternoon 'God time' and now I see that I need to focus on learning God's voice and taking time to hear it.

Lord Jesus, please help me to listen for Your voice. Amen.

Monday, July 18, 2011

That's me

I stole this from Blane Jr. because I totally identify...

Now, I do realize the importance of words, but sometimes they just wear me out.

I'm working at it though : )

Thursday, July 14, 2011


My brother Nathan has started his own blog! *fanfare* I think you all are in for a treat...he has a better sense of humor than me. Check it out here.

Also, I just noticed that my blog, It's always Sunny at Star Hill, has caught up with my family's blog, Reflections from Star Hill. 50 posts each! Guess I should update the family blog soon...

Thoughtful Thursday--More Philosophical Jogging

I've spoken before about how conversation can get kind of philosophical between mom and I on our daily jogs. Well, lately, it's just been too darn hot to think and jog at the same time. But this morning it was cool(er) and breezy. 

Mom had done a little weeding while she waited for me to get my shoes on, so I guess weeds were on her mind. On the jog, we came to an area that is particularly grown up with weeds and she said, "You know, this is all the result of the Fall." My brain was someplace else, so I said, "What is?". "The weeds. The work required to tend good plants for food. It's all because of the Fall." I agreed. Before the Fall, man was given the job to tend the Garden. But the punishment for disobeying, besides being banished from the Garden and spiritual death, was that there would be thorns and thistles and man would eat by the sweat of his brow.

 And to Adam he said,

“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:17-19

But also, now we have spiritual weeds to deal with. Sins. All the different manifestations of the wickedness bound up in our human hearts. You know them-- Pride, Hate, Greed, Lust, Jealousy, and the list goes on. 

With the Holy Spirit helping us by revealing these things and convicting us of them, we have got to continually be weeding them out. When you realize you are thinking better of yourself than you ought, it is time to pull that baby up. Admit your pride, repent of it, and ask for forgiveness.

But, it goes farther than that. Weeding is only half the job. The other half is tending to the plants which you want to stay there. They can start growing kind of wild if left on their own while you're busy with weeding. Once you pull that weed of Pride up (yet again) it's time to tend to your Humility. To humble yourself and make sure you have a proper view of yourself.

Now, I'm focusing on Pride because I feel like that is the one I'm dealing with the most often. I don't make a habit of bragging about myself, but often I find myself thinking I know better, and I have the answers, and I'm doing it all right. Then I do something, or say something, or something happens and I'm reminded that I'm no better than anyone else. I'm simply forgiven and the only reason I know anything is because of what Christ did for me. 
It's humbling just admitting that.  : }

So, I did kind of get off topic for this week, but it's what I was thoughtful about today.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Piece of cake...

Finally, I am a licensed driver! 

I got a different person this time, a woman, and I actually had hoped I wouldn't get the same person. So that was good. She was very no-nonsense, but not mean. I turned into the correct lanes each time I made a turn, I stayed right on the speed limit, I performed the backing, braking and three-point-turn flawlessly and we arrived safely back at the DMV. After I parked, she said, "Alright, very good. Let's go get your license!"

What took so long? 

It wasn't needed.

It wasn't necessary.

It just wasn't time.

But I feel very good about the timing of this and I am looking forward to using my new freedom in a responsible and helpful way. Such as...running errands, driving myself to work, possibly going to my piano students' homes if needed....

But also it will be fun to maybe go meet a friend for coffee, go antiquing, do a late-night ice cream run....these are just some fantasies of mine : ) Last night I was really craving some M&M's, now I can go get some!

Now, if only I had a car like this!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday--A God with skin on

The next question addressed in the book I'm reading about prayer is: How do I speak to an invisible God?

The author opens the chapter with a short story about a boy who is afraid of the dark. His mother comes in to check on him, saying, "Don't be afraid Billy. God is always with us, even when we can't see him." Little Billy answers, "It would help a lot more if there was someone here with skin on."

This is one thing I've not really struggled with or had questions about. Yet I understand why one would. I long to see Jesus and be in the direct presence of God. I miss and long for Someone I've never seen. But I'm pretty sure I've never had a problem praying to someone I couldn't see. I'm not sure why. My problem has more been "Out of sight, out of mind". I don't see Him, so I don't speak to Him as often as I should.

When I was a child, I remember I had an image of God in my mind when I would pray. A kind, gentle,  older man, wearing a white lab coat for some reason. (The Great Physician?) But as I've come to know God more, that image has faded. I'm trying to think if I imagine any image when I pray or worship....I don't think I do.

I've heard people talk about how it helps them to worship if they imagine standing before God's throne. That sounds fine, if it works for you. For me, I was too distracted trying to figure out the details of how He would appear.

Closing my eyes has been enough for me for a long time. Mouthing the words that I'm praying has been helpful when especially distracted. There have been times, when feeling needy, I have asked the Lord for a hug and I have had the distinct sensation of being held. Wow, was that powerful!

Yes, the Bible tells us that God is Spirit (John 4:24) but it also tells us that God put skin on (John 1:14)

When I took a New Testament Greek class 10 years ago, one of the first words we learned was logos, which is translated 'word'. The professor explained that it went further than just 'word' and means 'a full expression of an idea'. Jesus, the Son, has been the expression of the Father since the beginning of time and through His 'Word' the world was created. And then He took on flesh to further show us who God is.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. Col 1:15-20

God is Spirit, but He is a personal Spirit. We can talk to Him like a person. He wants a personal relationship with us. That takes time. I've always done much better with one-on-one conversations, instead of trying to converse in a large group. During the day when there's a lot going on, little sister asking to play, dogs barking, brother talking about computers, mom wanting input on the menu, counting knitting stitches, there just isn't the time or focus for a one-on-one conversation.

For a long time, I have wanted and thought I needed to wake up an hour earlier so I can get that time with God in. And I still would like to be more of a morning person. But, that just isn't happening and I realized that I was skipping Bible-reading and focused prayer time. The author talks about this issue and makes the point that while it is a good way to start your day, you've just got to get it in when you can. I agree. Morning isn't working for me, but I usually have a little down time in the afternoon. So that's my goal. Afternoon God-time. I like having a plan. ; )

Next week, Lord-willing, I'll let you know how this is going and I plan to talk about how we hear from God.

Friday, July 1, 2011

How deep the Fathers love for us by Stuart Townend

No, this Thoughtful Thursday I am not sharing my thoughts. But this song has been on my mind a lot and has been making me think. I hope it causes you to think as well.

*All photos were taken at the Joyce Kilmer Forest.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday-- Standby

Due to technical difficulties, I will be posting my Thoughtful Thursday tomorrow (Lord-willing).

Saturday, June 25, 2011

John Piper - Why Memorize Scripture?

Scripture Saturday ; )

A friend of mine suggested I read this Psalm and it is indeed very beautiful.

Psalm 25 

Of David.

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust;
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame;
they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.

Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!

Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

For your name's sake, O Lord,
pardon my guilt, for it is great.
Who is the man who fears the Lord?
Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
His soul shall abide in well-being,
and his offspring shall inherit the land.
The friendship(or secret counsel) of the Lord is for those who fear him,
and he makes known to them his covenant.
My eyes are ever toward the Lord,
for he will pluck my feet out of the net.

Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
bring me out of my distresses.
Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins.

Consider how many are my foes,
and with what violent hatred they hate me.
Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me!
Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness preserve me,
for I wait for you.

Redeem Israel, O God,
out of all his troubles.

A few things stood out to me. 

"For you I wait all the day long." I had to ask myself, "Do I wait for Him all the day long?" And in being totally honest with myself, I don't. It's more like I take the time to make my requests to Him, but I don't take any time to listen. That was convicting. I need to take the time to hear from the Lord. Listening is much more important than talking. Why else did God give us two ears and one mouth?
So, how am I going to make listening for Him a priority? Well, the obvious answer is to find time to be still. Where can I get some extra time alone? In the morning. Instead of sleeping 9+ hours at night, I can do with less.

"Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old." From of old. When I read the Old Testament and the New, God seems to be different. I don't picture Him being Merciful and full of steadfast love in the Old Testament. Oh, He is, but I guess how He had to deal with His people before Christ made the sacrifice makes it seem this way. God doesn't change and hasn't changed. Ever. And this statement made by David confirms it. God has always been how He is now. What a comfort.

"All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies." God has not made life complicated. It is not difficult to understand what God expects from us. Sometimes it can be difficult to surrender, but even that is made easier when one thinks about the alternative. I bless God because He desires our lives to be blessed and He has made the path to that blessing quite straightforward.

"Who is the man who fears the Lord?
Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
His soul shall abide in well-being,
and his offspring shall inherit the land.
The friendship(or secret counsel) of the Lord is for those who fear him,
and he makes known to them his covenant." More about the blessing of following the Lord's path. "The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him". WOW! That just blows me away.

"May integrity and uprightness preserve me,
for I wait for you." And there it is again, waiting for the Lord. And I have heard that this is to be an active waiting. To be about the Lord's work that has been revealed in Scripture as you wait for another part of His will to be revealed to you. So often I just want to sit back and wait for God to do something. It doesn't *always* work that way. So much of His will has already been revealed. Do what you know to do. His will for your individual life will become apparent as you obey Him.

Well, friend, thanks for the suggestion. I haven't had such good Bible study in a while : )

PS "Scripture Saturday" is not necessarily a new fixture to my blog. Just for today.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Thoughtful God doesn't change

Or miss a deadline He made for Himself.


What I've been reading this week really answered my main questions about Prayer. "Does prayer really make a difference? Can I make God change His mind? Why pray if it doesn't change anything?"
The chapter I read is titled, "Sovereign: Does prayer change God's mind?". The author uses the example of when Moses intercedes for the Israelites and it appears that God 'repents'.

"And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.”

But Moses implored the Lord his God and said, “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.’” And the Lord relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people." Exodus 32:9-14

Read the story and it does sound like Moses had a lot of influence with the God of the universe. It's kinda scary. Just imagine, that if someone had enough faith, they would be able to stop God from doing something? Or make Him do something?

I never want to be able to do that with my prayers. I don't know what is the ultimate best for me. I can try to make wise decisions. But only someone who is omniscient (all-knowing) would know what the best course is.

The author goes on to say that he believes this is one of several examples of the Bible-writers using human figures of speech to try to describe God. One example being that God is a Spirit, but is said to have a hand, mouth, arm, heart and breath, all in Isaiah 40.

We see in the following verses...

God is not man, that he should lie,
or a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Has he said, and will he not do it?
Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? Numbers 23:19

And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret.” 1 Samuel 15:29

...that God does not change His mind, like a man.
So where does this leave us?

In "Drive-by Theology" with Todd Friel and Pastor R W Glenn, the topic of God's unchangeability  came up. I was very interested to hear how they explained it. 'Pastor Smarty-pants' (R W Glenn) shared his belief that God's nature does not change. Which leaves room for Him to change His mind, technically. Sounds alright. But we do have the two verses above saying that He doesn't even change His mind. So...

I'm sure I could study this for a very long time and not get to the bottom of it. It's one of those things like the Trinity and election/freewill. I'm not going to break my head over it.

God is omniscient (All-knowing), omnipotent (All-powerful), and sovereign (in control) over all things. Including our prayers. Could it be that, along with the decisions we make, the actions we take, our prayers are even directed by God? I like to say yes. If he is indeed sovereign, we do nothing apart from His directing it. Even our next heartbeat, our next blink is caused by Him. I know it's hard to believe that God causes all things when we think of all the bad things that happen in the world. I don't claim to like it or understand it. But I do take great comfort in the fact that Someone has control and that Someone is Good.

So what were the answers to my questions?

Does prayer really make a difference?
Prayer does make a difference. Even if I don't know how.

Can I make God change His mind?
No, I can't make God change His mind. And that's a good thing.

Why pray if it doesn't change anything?
Because God uses my prayers to make a difference in me.

I'm satisfied with those answers for now. And I'm experiencing a better prayer life because of it. : )