Friday, July 29, 2011
Thursday, July 28, 2011
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
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
I love getting answers.
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
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...
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
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!
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
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
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.