Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Return to Joy

Today I have a quote... "...if you ever took truly to heart the ultimate goodness and joy of things, even at their bleakest, the need to praise someone or something for it would be so great that you might even have to go out and speak of it to the birds of the air." Frederick Buechner in The Sacred Journey I am involved in a weekly Bible study on the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23) right now, and this quote was included in the study lesson for the week. We are on week two - joy. Lately I have not been dwelling in the joy of my Savior. As I was reviewing the lesson one last time this morning, the passages just reached out and grabbed me, reminding me of the ways the Lord infuses His joy into my life - and I just ignore it. Acts 2:42-47 shares the joy of the early church in fellowship and growth with one another. Phil 1:18-26 reminds us of Paul's joy of simply being able to see salvation and growth among the people he ministered to, as well as the ultimate joy he was anticipating of seeing his Savior face to face. Then there's 1 Peter 1:3-9. I almost boo-hooed through this one. How often do I truly stop and rejoice in the fact that I have salvation because of Christ's sacrifice?! I have been so self-centered lately. I've griped, complained, moaned and groaned. My allergies are bad, my kids are frustrating, my project list is backing up, my, my, my...me, me, me. In our Bible study group, we have a list of challenges. We choose one to live out during our week. One of the challenges is to keep a joy journal that we write in daily. Even if the group doesn't choose this challenge, I'm challenging myself to it - starting today. I greatly long to live in the joy of the Lord, and I will choose to focus on His beautiful presence in my life - I long to live in such a way that I can't help but praise my Lord for all the ways I see Him in my life!

Monday, March 30, 2009

That They May Be Saved

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will be converted to You. Psalms 51:10-13 (NASB) David had just committed a series of sins that put a huge rift between him and his God. When the prophet Nathan confronted David, he was crushed and his repentance was pure and wholehearted. As I read through the Psalm that came from David's cries of repentance to the Lord, I was struck by the last verse...Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will be converted to You. David not only wanted his personal relationship with the Lord to be restored, but he wanted to be a credible witness to others as well. Am I a credible witness? Do I stand before this world with a clean heart and a right spirit? What do the unsaved see when they look at me? Do they see someone who has no room to talk, or do they see someone who has the credibility to point them to the best Way? I must live my life with credibility. Like David, I fall - and there are times when I fall really, really hard. But, a goal in my life must be to live with credibility at all times...someone is always watching.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Powerful Presence

May our God come and not keep silence; fire devours before Him, and it is very tempestuous around Him. Psalms 50:3 (NASB) When I say I want God to come and be real to me, what do I expect? Do I want Him to come gently and calmly, confirming that I am doing well and following Him just fine? If so, then I am not ready for Him to come. God's love for me is not a sweet, gentle love that always fills me with excitement and happiness. It's not just a good feeling. It meets me where I am, sometimes bringing comfort and delight. But, it is not limited to that - it is strong and disruptive when it needs to be! God's love for me is powerful. Sometimes that means that His show of love and presence to me is going to turn my world upside down. He wants to grow me. He wants to mold me. He wants to make me into the perfect being He intended me to be. When He shows up and all is not calm and peaceful, I must still recognize His hand and His love. Lord, may I be accepting of Your powerful presence, even when I am caught up in the tempest that surrounds You!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Peace Before the Storm

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:6-7 (NASB) This is one of my life verses. In fact, almost all of Phil 4 has heavily impacted my life on more than one occasion. Today I am reminded of it again. We often talk about God's peace in the midst of the storm, but what about when we know the storm is coming? In our case today, it's literal storms. Doug and I have come through several major storms relatively unscathed in our ten years of marriage, but we have no assurance that tonight will be the same. We are in an area of very severe risk of tornadoes as a system moves through tonight. I look through my house realizing that there is a true possibility that everything I own could be gone when tomorrow morning dawns. My challenge isn't so much for today as for a permanent reminder that what we own is just stuff and truly all that matters is where I stand with Christ. Am I truly willing to let go of everything and still stand in peace with Christ? Stuff is one thing...what about my family? Ouch. I'll give up the stuff, but I don't even want to think about giving up my family. Today I'm challenged to once again walk in the peace of Christ, knowing that storms are coming. Not just the literal storms...many challenges are in our future, both foreseen and unforeseen. I am challenged to stand in His peace no matter what and to use what He has given me today knowing that tomorrow may be completely different - but He will always be the same!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mental Shift

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalms 46:10 (KJV) Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalms 46:10 (NASB) As I read this verse this morning, it literally jumped off the page - partially because the wording is so different in the NASB than what many of us grew up knowing in the KJV. The difference has struck me before, but this morning it directly spoke to where I am right now. I have frequently taken this verse to mean that I need to stop and give the Lord 100% of my attention, focus, and energy. But, this morning it struck me a little differently. I am always doing something that engages my brain. If my primary activity doesn't engage my brain (blogging, reading, teaching school, etc), then there is definitely a secondary activity that does. Don't waste a second, right? An example? Well, while I'm folding clothes I listen to a child read or have something that I've been meaning to listen to playing on the computer. My brain is always engaged. I've struggled a lot lately with prayer and praise. I have had trouble keeping my focus on them. Now I see it's no wonder - I really haven't left any opportunity to do so! Regardless of what my body is doing, if my brain is engaged with something every second of the day, then I leave no brain power for prayer. See, I don't split my attention very well. I need to focus on one thing or the other. So, I'm challenged today to cease striving. I'm challenged to stop trying to pack every moment so full mentally that I can't focus on my Savior. It needs to be okay for me to just fold clothes or just wash dishes or whatever without an additional and intentional mental task to go with it. No, that's wrong - I do need an intentional mental task...the task of prayer and praise, and that alone!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pleasing Christ Alone

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children... Eph 5:1 (NASB) Have you ever compared your actions to other people only to view yourself as lacking in some way? I have - regularly and frequently. Everything from how I decorate - or don't decorate - my house to how I clean it. From how I parent to how I home school. From how I teach Sunday school to how I blog. To be honest, there's no real end to the list. Do I do it right? How can I do better? She does this so well; how can I be more like her? Scripture tells me what I should be like and how I should do everything I do. I should do it in such a way as to imitate God and bring glory to Him (1 Cor 10:31). It's that simple. If I imitate someone else, it should simply be in the way Paul encouraged others to imitate him in 1 Cor 11:1 - in the way that person imitates Christ Himself. So, as I fight my insecurities (which some days seem tame and other days rear their ugly heads quite ferociously), I am called to hold myself to one standard - Christ's.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Get up and Go!

Deliver those who are being taken away to death, and those who are staggering to slaughter, oh hold them back. If you say, "See, we did not know this," does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? And does He not know it who keeps your soul? And will He not render to man according to his work? Prov 24:11-12 (NASB) So often I pray, "Lord, bring someone my way who needs to hear about You so I may have the opportunity to share Your truth with them." But when I read the words deliver those, I get a mental image of a rescue mission. I picture haggard World War II death camp victims staggering in rows, practically in a daze, simply doing what they're told. I see myself on the side lines, ready to run up to those victims and persuade as many as will to follow me to safety, freedom, and provision. But my heart knows that this mental picture is not accurate. The more accurate picture is of me sitting in my comfortable home praying that one of those prisoners will be able to stumble out of line, through the front lines of the war, into my home where he says, "Do you know the way to freedom?" Ouch! I must go and do! I will be held accountable. I must go and tell!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Seeing the Results!

...pray without ceasing...1 Thess 5:17 (NASB) Today I am encouraged and challenged. Seven or eight months ago, I created a prayer calendar. For each day of the month I listed specific prayer requests to pray over my family, among other things. Some of them were things that the Lord simply laid on my heart to pray, but others were things heavy on my heart - things I'd been praying for over an extended period of time, it seemed. Behavior problems with my children. Struggles Doug and I were having with various things. Over the past couple of months, though, I've noticed how many of those continual prayers have been answered. I can't point to a date when I knew these prayers were answered. I can't even tell you that one month I was still praying them and the next month I saw results. It just seems that over the course of time God has gradually worked on our hearts as a family, and our passions, goals, habits, and struggles are shifting. God is working! It brings tears to my eyes just to see it. And it brings a challenge and a warning to my heart...don't stop. I've known all my life that God does answer prayers, but I have failed many times to actually keep record of the prayers, pray persistently, and then make note of the result. I just pray - and maybe write it down somewhere where in my journal - and then miss when God does work. He does answer! He works, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly and almost imperceptibly. But, He works. I don't want to miss it!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Out of the Way

As I get ready to head to church this morning, several things are running through my mind. First, I'm teaching from Isaiah in Sunday school. Isaiah 29:13-14 is prominent in my mind, reminding me of the need to be diligent to worship and serve in truth, not out of obligation, tradition, or habit. Secondly, Proverbs 22:17-18 stands out to me this morning, reminding me of the need to learn and grow - the need to gain deeper knowledge and understanding that I may be ready to pass it on when the Lord gives me opportunity. But the biggest thing on my mind is the challenge of adequately presenting the Word this morning in Sunday school while at the same time stepping aside and letting the Holy Spirit have His way through me. To be honest, Ann doesn't have anything to say to the ladies of my Sunday school class. The Lord does, though. His wisdom is perfect and His Word is powerful. I have spent the week preparing and studying, but in the end it is the Holy Spirit who should be teaching this morning. So, my heart longs to be out of His way. That is my prayer, desire, and challenge this morning.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

In Tune at sll Times

Usually a verse literally jumps off the page from one area of my reading and really challenges me each day. This morning is something a little different. Yesterday when we took the girls to the dentist, we were hit with some news that we didn't expect. To be honest, a gazillion thoughts were swirling through my mind, confusing and unsettling me. "Is all of this truly necessary?" "How much will this cost?" "What is really wrong with my little girl?" "What is our time frame?" "Are you telling us to commit to this right now?" "Are you not going to give us any of this in writing so we can truly process?" "Are you just spouting all of this off to overwhelm us so we'll just jump in and do what you say? Yeah, that's how you work!" "AUGH!" "I need to go pray...Lord, I just need to step away and process!" As soon as we were out of the immediate situation, I began calming down and truly processing, and a sense of peace was restored as I was able to submit my thoughts and anxieties to the Lord. Since then, I've had a peace about Angela's dental work. But, another thought has been nagging at me. Why does it take stepping back to hear from the Lord and process past anxiety? What if I don't have the chance to step back and process? My longing - my desire - is to be truly in tune with my Lord. I long for His wisdom. I long for His peace. Not just when I'm able to step back and process and pray, but when I'm in the middle of a situation. This time is was a dental visit, which in the grand scheme of life is not a big thing. But, I long to be trustworthy in the little things so I might prove worthy in the bigger things as well. I am highly challenged to dwell in His peace and draw on His wisdom at all times, in all things. That's how close to Him I long to be. Lord, please teach me!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Diligent or Destructive?

He also who is slack in his work is brother to him who destroys. Prov 18:9 (NASB) I'll probably have to blog the whole story of this verse on the thoughts later in the day, but for now suffice it to say that this verse was very appropriate for several family members yesterday afternoon! And, it is still with me this morning. I make a lot of excuses for slacking off in one area or another - too tired, preoccupied with some other pressing "need," not feeling well, kids a distraction...you get the idea. But, the truth is that God gives me everything I need to accomplish what HE wants accomplished in each day. I have no true excuse to slack off. And now I see the danger of being slack in my work - it's not just neglectful. It's destructive! There are three responses that stand out to me in this... - Commit this day and every day to the Lord and seek what it is that He wants accomplished. - When my work is distracted for whatever reason, re-evaluate what I'm doing and why. If the task is of God, He will equip me to move past any delays or distractions. If the task is of Ann, then it's time to redirect. - Be diligent. No slacking.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Steadfast Mind

The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You. Isaiah 26:3 (NASB) Such a simple statement. It should be easy, right? Just focus our thoughts and attention on the Lord, and we'll have perfect peace. I must confess, it's not easy for me right now. There's nothing I've struggled with more lately than a wandering mind. No, it's nothing horribly bad or lustful or ungodly or anything like that - or is it? In our society we have our grades of sin and disobedience, and if it's not blatantly disobedient to the commands of God, it's okay, right? The truth is, the thoughts I struggle with are disobedient. Period. Why? Because they keep me from that perfect peace. I start to pray, and my mind wanders to this or that. It's not even anything specific - it's just that five minutes later I realize I'm not praying anymore. And guess what - that's not in line with what God has instructed me to do. I am to take my thoughts captive! I am to know what it is I'm thinking about. I have been told to keep my mind on things above, to be steadfast. And I have fallen short. I am hungering so greatly for a refocused mind. It seems that not long ago I was there. I would go through my day with incredible times of focus and prayer. I don't really know what happened, but that discipline slid. Now it must be restored. I must take those thoughts captive and be of a steadfast mind.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Immediate Obedience

I am in the middle of paying bills right now, which may seem like an odd time to share a challenge - and an odd source from which to receive one. But, I just had to stop and share. It was a sharp reminder for me... I am very detailed when it comes to paying bills. I actually have two check registers. One in Quicken and one on paper. I reconcile them both together weekly, the paper one to my bank online weekly, and the Quicken one to the bank statement monthly. The system is probably not the most efficient, and it has the potential to be very confusing, but it has helped me catch many errors made due to bad math or forgetting to enter something, so it works for me. Today I started off totally unbalanced. I had a huge discrepancy between Quicken and my paper register. The confusing thing was that last week they balanced when I finished paying bills. What had happened? I started to pray immediately. I saw the bank statement resting in my receipt/bill basket, and the thought occurred to me that maybe I should go ahead and reconcile it right then. But, I pushed that thought aside - I usually do the bank statement after everything else. For now I needed to try to figure out the discrepancy. The bank statement continued to nag at me, though. For the next 45 minutes I worked to look through receipts and entries and try to solve the problem, praying all the while. Finally, I stopped to pray a very focused prayer again, and again the thought of taking care of that bank statement came to my mind. So, I set everything aside, reconciled the bank statement...and found the problem! A glitch in Quicken caused several entries to be posted twice, and it didn't show up until I reconciled the bank statement. What a simple, yet powerful, reminder. God gives me little nudges as I go through my day. Little thoughts to show me what I need to do in everyday life - even in paying bills. How often do I ignore those thoughts and nudges? How often would each moment go smoother if I would just pay attention? How much quicker would the bill-paying have gone this morning if I'd listened in the first place? I have a full plate today, and my work would have been done sooner if I'd just paid attention. God is faithful to answer. Will I be faithful to listen?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Delight in the Lord

Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalms 37:4 (NASB) There are several things about "delight" in this passage:
  1. It is not passive - it takes intentional action to accomplish this. It doesn't come naturally. It doesn't just happen. It takes effort.
  2. It's not really optional. This is an imperative statement - it's what we're supposed to do. Period. The consequence of obedience is that we will receive the desires of our hearts, but that doesn't mean that we can just say that getting those desires isn't worth the effort. We are still told to delight in the Lord.
  3. It's not limited to good circumstances. In this Psalm, David is talking about what we should do in the midst of plots and prosperity of evil men. I can't imagine that being good circumstances!
Today it would be a whole lot easier to be frustrated with everything around me than to delight in the Lord. The truth is that there are always things to be frustrated with, and when I look for them they multiply. They are always there, but sometimes I ignore them and other times I let them get the best of me. Today, so far, I've let them get the best of me. So, I'm being disobedient. Ouch. I don't like it put that way. I'd rather sugar-coat it and say I've just had a frustrating morning. Can't we leave it at that? But, God says no. God says to delight in Himself. He never really says we're allowed to be frustrated. So, even while the kids are screaming at each other and I don't feel all that well, I must delight in Him. Even while I'm behind on my day's chores and won't have a chance to catch up tonight, I must delight in Him. It's not a goal. It's not an attempt. It's not even a challenge. It's a command. It's not optional because it's what God has instructed me to do. He is Sovereign Lord and Master and I must obey. Period.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Make me 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. Psalms 25:4-5 (NASB - emphasis mine) Sometimes things will strike me that I know I have known for a long time, but suddenly they take on a deeper and more personal meaning. This morning was one such occasion. As I read these two verses, I realized that so often I ask the Lord for His teaching, for His Word, for His voice to be clear to me. But, when it doesn't happen in the time frame I expect (i.e. in my focused morning time of prayer and Bible reading), I think that maybe I missed it or He's just being silent for some reason. I wonder how many times I then progress about my day with my ears more closed than they should be. How many times do I move on and not live the rest of my day in anticipation, knowing His voice might speak at any time? David waited his whole day for the response of his God - for that teaching and leading. I can't bottle God's teaching up for a certain hour of the day. I must be moldable and teachable continually, whether I'm reading the Word or teaching the kids. Whether it is quiet and peaceful or loud and distracting. I must wait for Him, for His timing is not mine. He knows how I best learn, and He knows how to bring a truth to light for me. I must wait for Him, even if it takes all day!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Setting My Mind

Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. Col 3:2 (NASB) Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely , whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Phil 4:8-9 (NASB) I almost didn't post a challenge this morning. My mind was wandering, and I wasn't sure that I could even hear the Lord this morning. It was quite a discouraging place to be, and I felt like I was fighting a losing battle. But, can I remind you how faithful our Lord is? He will never turn away from us, even in those times when we are nowhere near a right focus on Him. As I closed my Bible and prepared to get started with the day, these two verses filled my mind. Literally filled. For the first time all morning I was focused because they were the only things I was thinking about - a sharp contrast to the jumble of random thoughts I'd been fighting throughout the morning prayer time and Bible reading. My Lord was answering my plea for help by filling my mind with His Word. It's so much easier to focus on Him, on prayer, on His voice when my mind is full of His Word. I was struck with two challenges. First is the obvious...obey these verses. Period. This is where my mind should be. Even if it simply means replaying these verses over and over in my mind to help me focus, so be it. The second challenge should be just as obvious...be ever more diligent to hide God's Word in my heart. Ps 94:19 says this, "When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul." His consolations are found in His Word. It's hard for His consolations to delight my soul if I don't have them in my head. There are so many other verses about His Word and its power and strength and usefulness, but Ps. 94:19 is the one that came to my mind simply because my thoughts were anxious this morning as I struggled to focus. I must learn His Word and meditate on it day and night. Thank you, my Father, that even when I can't seem to focus my mind no matter how hard I try, You step in and give me exactly what I need. I am overwhelmed by Your hand of help! I am humbled by Your gentleness! I am restored by the power of Your Word! I thank You for restoring a song of praise to my lips, and I praise You with joy in this moment. I love You, Lord!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

His Presence and His Word

The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Psalms 19:1 (NASB) Really, I should probably have put Psalm 19 in its entirety on here today - I encourage you to read through it. Two things really stood out to me as I read it this morning.
  1. God's hand is seen all around me. Everything He created praises Him, points to Him, gives glory to Him. If I am missing Him for any reason, it's not for lack of His presence. It's for lack of my attentiveness. I am praying for open eyes today, and I am determined to pay attention and praise Him each step of the way.
  2. God's Word holds everything I need. Everything. If I struggle today in any way, His Word will hold what I need to be restored, enlightened, granted wisdom, and filled with joy and praise for my God. I must actively and passionately seek after His Word, hiding it in my heart and meditating on it continually.
I have been asking the Lord to help me refocus lately, because my focus has been rough. Today He gave me this. I am challenged to heed it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tried and True

You have tried my heart; You have visited me by night; You have tested me and You find nothing; I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress. Psalms 17:3 (NASB) I could not honestly say these words to the Lord. It's only 7:45 in the morning, and already I've spoken harshly to my children and not had patience. There are a lot of things God could find in me. There are many ways that my mouth transgresses. David had such a passionate relationship with the Lord. He had a depth of understanding that surpasses so many of us who are on this side of the sacrifice of Christ. Every time I read through Psalms I am challenged on a new level to deepen my relationship with my Lord. May this verse be true of me - may my heart be tried and found true.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Praise the Lord!

This morning, I just need to focus. It's all about Him - there is nothing from the night or the day that is not about Him. So, He needs to be my focus... Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth. Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing. Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations. Psalms 100:1-5 (NASB)

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Power of Worship

And one called out to another and said, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory." And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. Isaiah 6:3-4 (NASB) What does my praise accomplish? Does my act of worship make a difference? When the seraphim were worshiping God, the very foundations of the temple shook. True worship will not leave things unchanged. God is holiest. God is so amazingly holy, that even a right worship of Him has power. I struggle with truly worshiping God. I pay a lot of lip-service to it, but my heart is not truly worshiping. I am challenged to change that. God is holiest, and I must worship with my whole heart.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Eagerly Watching

In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch. Psalms 5:3 (NASB) How many times, on a daily basis, do we truly pray with expectation? The truth is, I do pray with faith. I know that my God can handle anything - He's big enough, strong enough, powerful enough, and every other "enough" He could possibly need to be to handle the requests. I believe that. But, I don't know that I really anticipate. David would "eagerly watch." He not only believed that God could accomplish what he asked; he didn't even just stop with believing that He would accomplish what he asked. Instead, David anticipated - he watched and waited. He looked for God's hand, for God's answer. I felt the whisper in my soul this morning...Anticipate what I want to do around you today. This is not to be an attitude of "someday my prayers will be answered, and I can rest in that." This is an attitude of eager expectation. Waiting for God to answer prayer is not a passive activity - it is an active one. And I am challenged to step up my activity!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Soft Spoken

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Prov 15:1 (NASB) I have noticed something about my speech lately - it's not gentle. When I'm speaking to my children, they often think I'm upset with them when I'm really not. Other times I'm irritable, but I shouldn't be. I get frustrated when they are tearful, but I'm beginning to think that it might be because of my tone of voice. I just tend to be harsh-spoken in my home. I am a pastor's wife, so how I present myself to my church and to people in this city is very important. But, in all honesty, those presentations don't hold a candle to how I present myself in my home to my family. How I carry myself here at home is the "real" me. I can easily put on a front in public, but at home is the real test. At home I am harsh. There is a time for firmness, but not harshness. I am challenged to make sure that my habit is gentle speech, even when it must be firm. I am challenged to make sure that my children know that even a firm tone is a loving one. I must give gentle answers.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

My Mind

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Rom 12:2 (NASB) My mind has not been a good place lately. No, I'm not thinking lustful thoughts or plotting world dominion. But, it seems that once my designated morning time with my Savior is done, so is my prayer and worship for the day. Every now and then I think of something or someone to pray for, but almost as soon as I route my thoughts toward prayer, I'm distracted by some other fanciful thought flitting through my head. We are told to pray without ceasing, but I seem to imagine without ceasing instead. I am studying Isaiah 6 for Sunday school this week. This morning Isaiah's response to his vision of God exalted on His throne greatly stood out to me. I realized that my problem lately is not so much my fleeting imagination as it is the fact that my focus has not been on my God. He is so perfect and is the holiest of holies, and just the thought of my position before Him should have my entire focus fixed on Him and Him alone. There shouldn't be room for vain imaginations. Renewing my mind involves re-fixating on God. Not on God as my Friend or even as my Father, although He is those things, but on God as GOD. That is my challenge, and only then will my mind be renewed to the point of being able to pray continually and worship Him truly.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Living Perfectly

I will behave wisely in a perfect way. Oh, when will You come to me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. Ps. 101:2 (NKJV) I am beginning my journey through the Psalms by reading a devotional compilation of certain Psalms before I actually return and read straight through the book itself. This morning Ps 101:2 hit me with great force as I read it in the NKJV for the first time and read the repetition of the word "perfect." We go to great lengths in our teachings to remind ourselves and others that we are imperfect, sinful people who will never reach perfection this side of heaven. Sometimes, though, I think we use that as an excuse to not strive toward perfection. I am so greatly convicted of this in my own life. How do I strive toward perfection in my life? There is only one way - that way is to seek the Lord in all I do. David said that he would walk within his house "with a perfect heart." In my mind's eye, I can see David deliberately making each step fall in line with the will of God - each action, each decision, each response. I am so challenged to make that my way of life. I am challenged to walk through my house in perfection. Even as I type this I am dealing with my children and struggling with that perfection. Each word proceeding from my mouth is reminding me what a challenge this truly is and how very, very far I am from this goal. But even this - even knowing that a lifetime is not long enough to redo what I've learned thus far in my life - will not deter me. My goal will be to walk perfectly within my house.