February 26, 2014

Psalm 21

Psalm 21
For the director of music. A psalm of David.

1 The king rejoices in your strength, Lord.
    How great is his joy in the victories you give!

2 You have granted him his heart’s desire
    and have not withheld the request of his lips.
3 You came to greet him with rich blessings
    and placed a crown of pure gold on his head.
4 He asked you for life, and you gave it to him—
    length of days, for ever and ever.
5 Through the victories you gave, his glory is great;
    you have bestowed on him splendor and majesty.
6 Surely you have granted him unending blessings
    and made him glad with the joy of your presence.
7 For the king trusts in the Lord;
    through the unfailing love of the Most High
    he will not be shaken.

8 Your hand will lay hold on all your enemies;
    your right hand will seize your foes.
9 When you appear for battle,
    you will burn them up as in a blazing furnace.
The Lord will swallow them up in his wrath,
    and his fire will consume them.
10 You will destroy their descendants from the earth,
    their posterity from mankind.
11 Though they plot evil against you
    and devise wicked schemes, they cannot succeed.
12 You will make them turn their backs
    when you aim at them with drawn bow.

13 Be exalted in your strength, Lord;
    we will sing and praise your might.

I am giving Praise to the Lord this day for His goodness toward me. I rest in His care, and I am at ease in His provision. The Lord is good to me, He is good to me all the time. I will praise His Name, and I will lift up my voice to bring testimony and tell others that the Lord is Good. He is so very Good, all the time, He is so very, very Good.

Dear Lord,

As I think about this day, and I give you praise for your healing power (my headache and pain is gone - PTL!), I am confronted with the reality of my situation, with the fact that I possess no knowledge of tomorrow, of what will be, and of what will come. Yet, I let this go, I choose today to follow after you without knowledge, without knowing what will be. I let this go and I rest in your sufficiency because you are able and are fully in control of my days. There is nothing outside your hand nor your influence. I am free, and I am able to accomplish all things today because of your Goodness in my life. There is nothing I lack, nothing I need, nothing that I must do. Everything has been cared for, and I can KNOW that you are in control of the details of my life. I lift my voice to you today, and I cry out with joy and thanksgiving for your grace and mercy. You have done everything that needs to be done in my life, and I am at ease. Praise be to God this day for He is so very, very Good.

February 25, 2014

The long and short of it...

It's Tuesday, and I feel like a truck has slammed into my face. Yeah, spent the night dealing with a splitting headache/migraine only to wake up this morning with nausea and the feeling like I am going to die. Thank goodness for ADVIL, which works for me (in high doses). I don't take it often, but when I do, I TAKE it. It does work, and now after about an hour, I can feel the pain slowly releasing its grip on my neck, shoulders and head. I know that I suffer from tension headaches, and they always start in my shoulder's and move their way right up to the base of my neck. Then they sit at the base of the neck and make it impossible to lay down, roll over, or lean back on anything because the muscles are so tight that they react to any pressure placed on them.

Thank God, I am OK. Thank God that I don't suffer from true migraines (not that tension are not migraines as now they are considered cluster headaches and part of the migraine family). I have friends who get the kind that last for days on end, and where they cannot tolerate light and must be in a dark room for hours at a time. I have had those kind before, though I don't get them very often. I get tension headaches, have so since I was a child. I hate them, but they are a nuisance more so than any real worry.

Now that I have had some breakfast (finally able to tolerate some food), I have taken another dose of ADVIL. I am hoping that this will take the rest of the pain away so that I can concentrate on my work today. I have a lot on my schedule and the days are counting down to the end of the semester. I need to do everything scheduled or else I will get behind. The time is running out so I don't have the luxury of procrastination. However, I know that God is good. He is so very good to me. I know that He has a good plan and that I can rest in His provision for today and tomorrow.

I have been thinking more about my future and whether I am cut out to be a teacher. There is part of me that thinks this is the job I need to stick with, at the least, until I finish my PhD. I cannot imagine working full-time in any other job. I mean, I cannot imagine how I would do my school work and be an analyst (like the previous two jobs) or be an ed advisor (like at UOPX). I simply cannot see how I could work 40 hours per week, M-F, and then spend my evenings and weekends doing the homework and research required for this program. It is too much work, too intense, and too difficult to process. I am glad that I have T-R off each week and that I can use those days to do my school assignments. I am also glad that I teach one class on MWF. This allows me time to prep in the mornings so that I can spend the rest of my off time working on Regent work. It is a good schedule for me.

I am not making enough to live on, but God has been faithful to provide for me in other ways. I am hopeful that I will be able to teach more classes come fall as this will ensure I have more money to live on.

I have been thinking about the kinds of work I would like to do, and I am afraid that I cannot come up with anything other than being a professor. I mean, I have been a reproduction operator, a technical assistant, an administrative assistant, a computer operator, a contracts administrator, a preschool/gradeschool director (at church), a website designer, an educational advisor, and a communications analyst. Now I am adjunct faculty at a University. Is this my path? Is this the career focus I am supposed to have for the rest of my life? I think so. I think this is what God has in mind for me, even though I am not 100% satisfied with the work nor can I say that "I love my job" (I like it, but I am not passionate about it nor do I LOVE the work).

Is this OK? I mean, is it alright to do a job that you don't hate, but you don't love either? Is it OK to do a job that doesn't make a living, but accommodates your current needs (like part-time while in school?)

I guess I am wrangling with the idea that I need to work full-time in a job that earns a good living. I am, after all, over 50, and I have no financial plans in place for retirement. Is it OK to wait until I graduate from school to start saving for those senior years?

My issues stem from a lack of money, a lack of resources, and a need to provide for myself. While I know that God is my provider, and I say if often (He is faithful to provide), I still struggle with the thought that I don't have enough "X". I don't have enough time, money, rest, power, influence, skill, ability, etc. I don't have enough of anything to accomplish what I believe is His will. I simply do not have enough "X" to do everything He is called me to do.

Dear Lord,

I get it now. I see what you have been trying to show me these past few months. I cannot do this work at Regent. It is not for me to drop out and quit the program, but rather for me to see that I have all the talent, ability, motivation, etc. necessary to be a PhD student (my grades and writing got me through the door initially). I have what it takes to be a PhD student, however, I don't have what is necessary to succeed simply because of all the other factors in my life:
  • my age (51)
  • my marital status (single)
  • my responsibilities (son and parents)
  • my job or lack thereof (income, financial stability)
  • my physical ability (my CFS and Fibromyalgia)
  • my emotional weariness (from years of stress)
I am, in short, a poor candidate for success because I am old, washed up, tired, worn out, and unable to do much of anything physically anymore. I am the worst candidate for a doctoral program.

Yet -- you have chosen me for this path. I am completely unable to do this work on my own, but you can do it through me. You can see me through the coursework, through the research projects, and the exams. You can do it all, so long as it is on your time, your bill, your plan. And, Praise be to God, it is. You are doing all this because you desire to do it. You have chosen me as this broken, flawed, failed instrument or vessel, and you are doing an amazing work despite everything that is ME.

I come before you now and I rest, Lord. I rest. I get it. I understand that I cannot do this work. I cannot keep up with the demands of the program and try to manage my home life. I cannot be a professor unless you determine that I am to be a professor. I know, some will say, "Of course, you can! You can be anything you want to be if you try hard enough or sacrifice enough." Perhaps for some, but not for me. I am too far down that road now, and I cannot do this work without supernatural power and filling from the Holy Spirit. It is He who empowers me to stay focused, to complete the assignments, to fulfill the requirements of each course I take. He does it all because it pleases Him to do so.

Therefore, Lord, I let this go. I let it all go, and I rest in your Name. I know you have me covered, so well covered, and for that I am thankful to you.

February 24, 2014

Monday, Monday...

Oh yeah! I woke up with another sinus headache, this time, sitting over my left eye only. I am stuffy, and I feel, to put it bluntly, like crap. I have class today, and my hope is that once I get in the shower and the steam/hot water combo UN-stuffs my head, I will feel a whole lot better.

Yesterday was a difficult day. Church was fine in the AM, but we had an all-church meeting that was not what I had hoped it would be. I had hoped that after our recent transition whereby our pastoral staff was laid off we would hear about plans for direction and some hopeful communication to help ease the tensions, hurts, and feelings of loss and isolation. Instead I heard a lot of nothing, no plans, no vision, no direction -- just "we are working on it." Granted, I understand. It has been one week since the announcement but in business, rarely does staff reduction come without plans on how to address the shortages. You know, lay offs happen, and whether you like them or not, the peeps in the know generally give you some plan of how the ship is going to stay afloat and keep moving forward. I know, I know -- this is church -- this is not a business. Well, if the Church were run like the Church should be run and not like a business we would not have these issues. But the Church has not been run like a Church -- it has been run like a worldly business and the members have come to expect worldly business answers and actions.

I am a firm believer in the New Testament model of church -- Acts 2 -- the church predicated on the New Testament scriptures and founded upon the death, the burial and the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. I am confused though in how that model looks today because there are many churches out there that profess to model the New Testament. Unfortunately, I have not found one that seems to really be this model, to uphold the mandate, and to live out the profession of faith demonstrated by those first century Christians. Most of the churches I have attended over the course of my life have been broken by faction, division, and disharmony. Moreover, most of the churches have had rampant sin in them, sin that went unconfessed, undisclosed, and unhindered from any revelation that would serve to bring healing and restoration. Most churches have been messy places, where good people coming to worship the RISEN AND EXALTED Lord were hurt by other people who were there for the very same reason. This hurting has to stop. This approach to "church" has to return to the foundations of the faith that shouts out "you are welcome!" Yet, the Church itself seems to be in trouble these days. I am not sure why this is but there is a part of me that is coming round to see that the problem is that the Church is made up of two kinds of believers: those that are saved, and those that think they are saved.

I don't mean to question anyone's salvation but clearly there are different kinds of people who say that they believe. I have known a lot of Christians in my time, and many were very good people. Many were serving, loving, and dedicated people. Many of these people, I fear were not actually saved. Perhaps they were saved up in the head, intellectually speaking. I never saw heart-salvation, the kind that says "I accept you regardless of your faults, your background or your views on (insert X cultural subject)." No, it seems that there was a fine line between believing and being accepted and the crux came down to the nonessentials: cultural views and opinions (whether worldly or within the church domain). If you don't like the music, if you believe in abortion, if you carry a handgun, if you think men should lead only, if you think you must be dunked versus dipped, etc. Factions, factions and more factions. The Church is rife with factions, and it divides people into different camps. I believe this way, you believe that way so we cannot fellowship together.

I am not perfect, and I am not without my faults and my hangups. I make mistakes too, all the time, and I side with certain cultural identifiers. Yet, in my heart, I know that God grieves over this division, and that His Holy Spirit desires us to be of one mind, one accord, one heart. We are to move together in life, through life, to the end of life. We are to be united. Instead we continue to divide and conquer, to stand up for our way, the right way, and we hurt those around us who think there way is right, their way is the way to go.

My heart is broken over this division and this inbred hatred of fellow believers. I doubt anyone would think that they hate a fellow believer, but sometimes I think the actions speak louder than the words. I have seen behavior that was clearly not expressed in love. I have seen people crushed by words, words that were meant to be giving as correction and instead pierced the heart like a silver bullet. The heart is broken, and God's people are tearing one another a part simply to have their way, to make Church be the way they want it to be.

As I sit here today, I am thinking about my church, the little church where I attend, and how I see this same thing bear itself out. I hate it when the members argue or when there are people who are hurting because of words being said, actions not given in love, and now there is damaged in the body. When will we stop hurting our own flesh and start to embrace the arm, the leg, the eye of the body of Christ?

I don't know what this means to me, but I can say that at this point, there is part of me that wants to simply quit the Church business. I want to follow my Lord, and to live a life devoted to Him. I don't want to do "fellowship" though and I don't want to be in communion with others who are bent on dividing the body. Yet, I think that if I step out of the congregation what kind of message does that send to those that may be watching? Am I giving up, giving in? Or should I stand up and say "enough and stop it, just stop it!" No, I will remain because God has called me to remain. I will stay because He has made a way for me to stay. I will wait this out and I will trust that He knows what He is doing. God be praised, He doesn't need my help to accomplish His will for my little church. He can do it all on His own, and it will be His way, His way, His way.

February 21, 2014

Positive About The Future

Psalm 52:8-9 (NIV)

But I am like an olive tree
    flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God’s unfailing love
    for ever and ever.
For what you have done I will always praise you
    in the presence of your faithful people.
And I will hope in your name,
    for your name is good.

Today is a good day! I will praise the Lord forever, and I will hope in your name, for your name is GOOD!

It is a good Friday, sunny and warm, and lovely here in Phoenix. The weather promises to be pleasant today, not too hot, and yet, not too cold. February/March is the perfect time to visit Phoenix. The flowers are in bloom, and the days are perfect for hiking, biking or golfing. It is good to be here, and to live in such a place. I am blessed, so very blessed with such a good, good life.

As I consider my future, I am awestruck at what the Lord is doing through me. I am amazed at His presence and the way He empowers me to do His work. I find that while I struggle, and I do most of the time, the actual process of work goes very smoothly. For example, last night I worked on my take home quiz for my statistics course. To say that this is a statistics course is a understatement because it is graduate/doctoral level statistics and research methods course and it is very, very difficult. Yet, I sit here and I look up the definitions or read the explanation and while not easy to digest, I am getting it, I am understanding the concept. This is HUGE for me because I am not a math-y person. I don't particularly like math, and I struggle with understanding the Algebraic equations used in statistics.  But God is good, and He helps me -- I cannot say it any other way -- He simply helps me understand these concepts.

The work is incredibly difficult and I spend hours pouring over texts, Googling on the Internet, seeking to find the best way to grasp something. In the end, I just do it. I write the answer, I explain the concept, and I don't know how I am able to do it. I give Him all the Praise for I believe that it is He who empowers me to understand and to know these concepts. I thank Him for the grace to do this difficult work, and I humble myself before Him clearly confessing that I don't know how to do the work, and I don't understand how to even go about learning "how to do the work!" God in His Mercy permits me, He allows me to grasp it. In doing so, I am overcoming, and I am learning new content that will help me do the specific work He has called me to do. I give Him praise for He is so very good to me this day!

What does this mean for my future? I am not certain other than to say that I have full confidence in the Lord that He knows what He is doing, and because of who He is (God), I can rest and rely on Him to provide for me. There are so many unknowns right now, but I am not panicked over them. I was panicked the other day, and I was stressed just thinking about tomorrow (my future). Then something happened, and it all disappeared. I felt this peace come over me, and I was filled with contentment. I am content. I am happy, and I am at peace. It is a neat feeling, and I am glad that He has given me His peace. It does truly surround me, and it provides such comfort to me. God is good that way. He is so very good to me.

As I think about tomorrow (my future), one thing is certain: God has a plan, a good plan (Jer. 29:11) and in that plan, there is hope. I feel it in my bones, so to speak, and I know in my head that His plans are good. I see His hand, His fingerprints on my life, and I see the path I have traveled -- how far I have come -- and where He is leading me into the future. I see the entire spectrum of my life, from my birth through to my death, and while I cannot see the exact details (dates and events, for example), I see this plan with my name on it. It is blessed. It has been blessed since childhood, and it is continually being blessed. It is an awesome thing to consider the blessing of God. God in His Grace and Mercy chose to bless me, to care for me, to cover me, and even though I disappointed Him, sinned against Him and His Word, He still loves me. Yes, He still and always will love me. I love this fact, this truth that no matter what I have done in the past, and no matter what I do today or tomorrow, I cannot run away from His great love. Oh, how He loves me...

Now I sit here today and I praise His Name. I look to Him and I trust Him. I rest in His Name, and in His Person -- the very Person of the RISEN AND EXALTED Jesus Christ. He is Risen indeed, and because He is exalted, I too can live a risen and exalted life. This means that I have within me, through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, the ability to rise above my circumstances, and to overcome the challenges and obstacles that are in my path. Yes, He is able to do everything that concerns me this day, and He is able to overcome whatever might appear to be a blockage. He will do it, and by trusting and resting in Him, I am able to do it as well.

So what does this mean for me today? I think in practical application it means that there is nothing that will prevent me from accomplishing the Lord's will for my life. Nothing, Nada, Nil. God has planned my life, and He has purposed me for a specific work. So long as I remain in His will, and committed to His way, I will accomplish what He desires for me to accomplish. I will overcome. I will achieve. I will excel. I will do all things through Christ who is the RISEN AND EXALTED ONE.

Exciting to think about it considering the magnitude of what I face today:
  • Escalating debt (school loans)
  • Considerable hardship with no significant income on the horizon
  • Continual struggle through doctoral coursework leading to original research and qualification exams -- dissertation
  • Heartache over ruined relationships and closed opportunities for reunion
  • Weariness with carrying multiple responsibilities for myself, my son, and my parents
At times, I am overwhelmed. At times, I think it is impossible to continue on. At times, I want to run and hide. And at times, I want to chuck it all in and give up -- quit.

Then He calls to me, and He calms my fears. He tells me that I am well covered, and that the plans He has for my life are very good. I trust in His voice. I hear His voice and it is sweet and wonderful. I think it is OK, and that He is trustworthy and faithful, and I march on. I pick up myself, and I plod on, I move forward in the direction of His calling, and I know that I will be OK, and IT will be OK.

Yes, God is good, so very good. He is wise, and He knows me well. He knows that I will be faithful to Him, and I that I will trust Him. I might falter, and I might shirk back in fear for a short time, but in the end, I will plod on. I will follow Him, and I will go where He is sending me. I will do this work, this very difficult work, and I will learn to lean upon Him, to abide in Him. And throughout the struggle, I will come to know Him, to know Him well, and to REST in Him. He is good, so very good, and I will rest in Him because it is good for me to do so.

May God be praised today and forever more. Praise His Name all you saints of the Lord! Give Him the Praise that is due His Good Name!!

February 20, 2014

Feeling Weird Right Now

It is Thursday, and today is a good day. I don't work on TTR's which is such a blessing to me. My MWF is devoted to my one class at Grand Canyon University. I am enjoying teaching Literature, but I am getting that "I'm over teaching" attitude. You know, it happens in most jobs. You start out with bright hope and optimism, and after the honeymoon wears off, you are left with the realization that the work you are doing each day is just a job. It pays some bills. It is a place to go to each day, and while you are thankful for the opportunity, it is not the end-all and be-all of your happiness.

Well, for a Christian, their job, while great, is not meant to be the source of their happiness anyway. The Lord is the One who provides that -- the Joy of the Lord is our strength -- and He is the One who fills the void in our heart, meets the needs, and satisfies the soul. I still look to a job for satisfaction, and I do want to be happy in my work. I just feel that teaching is laborious to me. It doesn't come easy for me. When I was working as an analyst, that work came easy for me. My brain is wired to be this way, and so I enjoy solving problems. I like to be able to make problems go away. I like puzzles, and I like to put the pieces together to make things whole. Teaching is difficult. I spend a great deal of time putting lectures together and trying to make sense for my students. I don't feel like I am succeeding, though my students seem to appreciate my efforts.

So here I sit today, thinking that I am not really into teaching. I like it, mind you. I like the variable schedule. I like that I can have two days off each week. I don't like that I make $50 per day teaching a college Literature course and that I have no benefits (not even Obama Care). I don't like that I feel as though I am wasting time working at something that I don't enjoy. Yet, I think about where I am today, and the fact that my doctoral program is so difficult. I cannot tell you how difficult my doctoral program is and how I struggle just to get through the assignments and research. I am thankful that I can work part-time right now, at least for this semester. I don't know what I will be doing this summer. I don't know what kind of money I will make, but I am trusting the Lord to provide for me. He knows what I need, and He will provide. He is good that way.

This morning, my parent's small group had their February chili lunch. It was supposed to be held here at home, but I told Mom that I thought she should host it at Church. It only made sense, we don't really have room here. So I helped crate everything across the road to our Church, and I setup the room for the 13-14 seniors who come to Bible Study each Thursday. I stayed for lunch, and then helped to clean everything up. It was nice, and the food was good.

Afterward, I came home, and I spent the afternoon napping. I was beat, bushed, and I needed a break. I am working on my COM 702 quiz for this week. It is so hard, so very hard, and I am struggling with statistics. I am doing OK on the labs, but this quiz is written with different language and frankly I don't know if I get it or not.

I have so much school work to do, and I have papers to grade for GCU. I am feeling the squeeze of being teacher/professor-in-training/doctoral student. It is such a blessing that I have TTR off. Praise God for He is so good to me.

...Then there is this business with my church. All I can say is that I am overwhelmed by what has happened at church, and that I am struggling to process everything that has changed. I accept the changes, of course, and I am happy for some of them (mostly for the board to finally understand that you cannot live above your means, no matter how much faith you have). I have had issue with the way our church spends money, how they spend it, and on the types of programs they spend it on.

Don't get me wrong, I think we need to support our Pastor and staff, and we need to give personally to fund the church programs. I just think that we must always do everything with balance in mind. You need to balance your budget and that means you cannot spend money you do not have.

I think the staff changes as a result of the budget concerns are good. I hate to say it this way, but I have always felt that we had enough staff to run our church before we added more last year. In short, I never believed that a small church needed so many people (paid staff). It was an issue with me, but I considered it to be OK since the church (members) went along with it.

So I am thinking about the people who were laid off, and thinking about what God has in mind for them to do. I have confidence that each will find his or her place, and that God will provide for them. I know God is good, and He will provide. Then I think about the people left here to do the work, this amazing, terrific and overwhelming work. The church is asking for volunteers to step up and take on tasks that might have gone to paid staff. I am OK with this too. I think the church needs everyone, time and talent, and not just money. I believe that God will see us through, and that as we rebuild, and we will rebuild, God will do things His way.

When it comes down to it, I have never felt that God was allowed to do things His way at this church. We had good people who were in charge, but they seemed to prefer to do things their own way. Now, we are moving forward as a family again, and in doing so, we are going to be OK.

I am feeling weird right now. I am feeling like there is so much to do, but that I am floating and not feeling very motivated to do anything of value. I feel restless, and I feel overwhelmed. Yet, I also feel free, and I feel that I don't have to struggle against the tide any more. I can let go, and let God do whatever He wants to do in and through my life.

Dear Lord,

So many changes have taken place right now, and I am feeling overwhelmed by it all. I want you to know that I need you to settle this feeling of uncertainty about my future at GCU. I am praying that I hear which classes I will teach next fall, and whether I will be able to teach one or two (two is what you want, so be it). I am also asking for clarification on the path, Lord. I am focused on Regent and my doctoral studies. I need to know where I go and whether I am to stay here in Phoenix or continue to meditate on moving toward living in another state. I feel that you are doing something here, and I thank you for your way, your will, and your wisdom in knowing what I am to do. God, I praise you today, and I thank you that you know me well. I trust you now, and I let go, and let you lead me to where you will have me live, work, and rest in your presence. I ask all this in Jesus' Name now, Amen, so be it, thy will be done. (Selah, pause and calmly think about it).

February 18, 2014

Facing Difficult News and the Decisions that follow

Psalm 21
For the director of music. A psalm of David.

1 The king rejoices in your strength, Lord.
    How great is his joy in the victories you give!
2 You have granted him his heart’s desire
    and have not withheld the request of his lips.
3 You came to greet him with rich blessings
    and placed a crown of pure gold on his head.
4 He asked you for life, and you gave it to him—
    length of days, for ever and ever.
5 Through the victories you gave, his glory is great;
    you have bestowed on him splendor and majesty.
6 Surely you have granted him unending blessings
    and made him glad with the joy of your presence.
7 For the king trusts in the Lord;
    through the unfailing love of the Most High
    he will not be shaken.
8 Your hand will lay hold on all your enemies;
    your right hand will seize your foes.
9 When you appear for battle,
    you will burn them up as in a blazing furnace.
The Lord will swallow them up in his wrath,
    and his fire will consume them.
10 You will destroy their descendants from the earth,
    their posterity from mankind.
11 Though they plot evil against you
    and devise wicked schemes, they cannot succeed.
12 You will make them turn their backs
    when you aim at them with drawn bow.
13 Be exalted in your strength, Lord;
    we will sing and praise your might.

It is weird how things happen, and that sometimes you receive news from unlikely sources -- news that opens your eyes in someways, and saddens your heart in others.

Yesterday, I received such news. It was not a total surprise really, it was more of a confirmation on what I already suspected (knew) but didn't really want to accept.

I was over meeting with a client and the conversation came up about my relationship with my husband. Most of my husband's clients and friends assume that he is divorced. He is not. We are still married, and will be married 30 years come this September 2014. We are living apart due to sin, and have been so since 2011. The story from his side is that I left him because I was dissatisfied in the marriage. The story from my side is that I left him because of his considerable infidelity and his unwillingness to repent and recommit to our marriage.

It has been difficult to know that people think his side is true. It is especially difficult to know that he has told women that he is single and that he has engaged in relationships with them while he was still married. It is harder still to believe that he sits next to me in church every Sunday, acting as if he has done nothing wrong. Yes, our church is not the type that calls people out about their sin. They pray that the Holy Spirit will work on the person and challenge them so that they repent and recommit their life to following Jesus and obeying the Word.

I have lived in this weird limbo land since 2011. I moved out of our shared home because we had been foreclosed on and the auction was scheduled for January 2012. I didn't want to wait until the end to move, so I found a place and moved out. My husband waited until the last moment to move since he had little money and no income to show a potential landlord that he could pay rent. He did move out, and has been living on his own in an apartment not too far from where we live.

So the weird and sad and depressing news -- the client I met with was a client of my husband's (that is how I heard about her). She told me that she was no longer working with him (for a myriad of reasons). She wondered if I knew that he had a girlfriend. She assumed we were divorced, and that it was OK to tell me. I told her that we were married, but living apart. I didn't know he had a girlfriend, but I wasn't shocked by the details. I mean, he has been advertising for a new mate since 2009 -- all the while we were married, living together, and I was believing that our marriage was in tact. Oh well...

I took the news as best I could. Truthfully, it was a relief to me. You see, I have struggled with whether to file for divorce or remain married but separated. I think the hesitancy on my part was that I didn't want to be divorced. I am a firm believer in marriage, and I made my vow before God and man, and I didn't want to admit that I had made such a horrible mistake all those years ago, and that I had married an unworthy man (in the biblical sense). Furthermore, I didn't want to have to tell the world that my husband was an adulterer and I didn't want that fact to hurt our son.

So there I sat, trying to figure out what to say, and what not to say, and thinking all the while that I once again was the naive girl who was living in hopeful optimism about my husband. Granted, I had made the decision that I would never take him back, I would never ever be put back in that position again. You see, once I knew that he wasn't going to change his ways, and that he didn't want me back (he never asked, never repented, never turned back to me or his son), I took the separation as a gift from God, a chance for a new life.

I devoted my life to doing God's work and His will. I never looked back. I didn't want my marriage to end, due to pride, but I didn't want to be reconciled to a man who clearly wasn't interested in me as a wife. No, I walked away -- just as my husband tells other people -- I turned from the sin and his choices, and I walked back toward the arms of my loving Savior.

Today, I struggled with what to do. I went to his Facebook page and clearly there is a woman that he seems affectionate towards. I know her name because the client told me her first name. I know through my son that she has been with him at events or activities, etc. She was called his friend. Yes, I can see it. I can see it clearly now. She is an attractive woman, probably his age, and fit. She seemed happier than he in the photos, but then that is always how he looks (old and sad).

After I saw her photo, I went to the Maricopa county website where you can access various legal forms. I filled out the online divorce papers. I have the PDF and instructions. It will cost me $338 to file for divorce. Since we hold no property, pensions, and our child is over age 19, the divorce is a no-fault, no contest. There are still fees of course and procedures. It was a weird experience to fill out the paperwork to file for divorce.

I finished the forms, and got into the shower. As I was bathing, I was thinking about what this would do to my son, how would he take it. Then I thought about the Lord and what was His will was for my life. Did He want me to be divorced?

I have biblical standing for divorce. My husband abandoned us and he engaged in marital infidelity. I have legal standing in that in AZ, you can divorce for any reason so long as you feel the relationship is irretrievably broken.

But what does God want me to do? Does he want me to stick out a marriage where one party is living in sin, engaged in relationships with other women, and clearly not interested in reconciliation? Seems obvious that He would protect me, and He would keep me safe from such behavior. However, would He tell me to divorce David?

I have asked Him before and the answer always comes back as no. Why? Why not? I believe that the reason in the past has been to give David time to repent, to turn around, to make a choice and move back towards God. This has not happened, this hasn't taken place, at the least not in a public way, and certainly not in any movement towards me. Therefore, there must be another reason.

What do I do now? How do I handle this news, and what decision do I make?

After considerable thinking time, I have decided to wait. Again, I will wait. Why? I don't want to wait, but the Lord seems agreeable to having me wait and be patient. He knows I do not want to go back into marriage with David. He knows that my heart, while healed now, is irretrievably broken and will not allow intimacy again. I am content to remain single for the rest of my days. I am content to find my joy in the Lord, and my strength in His Name. I do not need to be married to be happy, and I am at peace in my life. This is a loose thread that needs to be tied off or removed, that is all. I am ready to be free from the past, all parts of the past. I am ready to move forward into the life God is calling me to live.

Dear Heavenly Father -

You know how difficult it has been for me to see David engage in extramarital affairs. His infidelity was a hidden part of our marriage for so long, and now he is actively involved with another woman. While this no longer hurts me, it still pricks at the healed wound (the scar). I don't want to be a part of his life in any way now. I will always remember him because he is my son's father. But I don't want to have a relationship with him in any other way than simply as recognizing his role as DJ's Dad. I am ready to be released, fully and completely, released from this marriage. I know you do not want me to divorce him. David is not going to divorce me, so whatever you intend to do, I pray that you do it now. I ask for your grace to handle whatever comes my way, and for peace to know that your will is done. I trust you, and I rely on you for your hope, your strength, and your joy. You are my everything, and I lift your Name up, and I give you Praise now. I ask all this in Jesus' Name, Amen (so be it). Thy will be done. Selah (Pause, and calmly think about it).

February 17, 2014

Psalm 107:15

God is Good. I am so thankful that I can say that today. He is good. He is so very good.

As I consider this day, I lift my voice up and cry out to the Lord. He has made me, He has made a life for me, and He is making His way in and through me. I stand amazed at His goodness, and at the way He guides me and sustains me. I don't have it all figured out, that is for certain, but I am filled with hope and confidence and the belief that no matter what comes my way today, God has prepared and planned the details. I can rest. I can trust Him. I can be safe and secure in His details. He knows what will be, what opportunities exist for me, and where He wants me to go. I don't have to think about it, worry about it, fret over it, and be consumed by fear. No, He has set me free, and I can live in the fullness of the Hope of His Glory at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ! He is so good. He is so very Good to me! Praise God today for His Goodness!!

It is a beautiful Monday in sunny and warm Arizona. I think the weather forecast calls for sunny skies and warm temperatures in the 80's today. This is our "normal" spring weather. We love it here, especially when the rest of the country is stuck in knee-deep snow. The blessing, of course, comes now because our "curse" is the long hot summer that will begin sometime in May and linger on through October. Yes, we are blessed with beautiful winter weather, but we pay for it when summer comes. I am sure that there are folks in the east and Midwest who think the same thing -- they pay for their lovely wet summers with months of bitter cold and snow. I guess it is your perspective.

Yeah, this is me sometimes. I am a half-full/half-empty person. It just depends on my mood and my circumstances each day. I shouldn't be this way because the fullness of the Lord always gives us an optimistic outlook (Luke 1:37, Matt. 19:26).

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Yes, with God, all things are possible. God is able to do anything and everything He desires to do. Nothing is to hard, to high, or too difficult for Him. With man, everything is a challenge. Even the most skilled and gifted men will fall (Is. 40:30-31). Our attitude, therefore, should be like our God. It should be the same (Phil. 2:2) and we should remain faithful knowing and trusting that God knows everything (Ps. 139), and that He is able to do more than we could ever ask or even think to ask (Eph 3:20).

This is how we should be -- every day we should be filled to overflowing with His presence and as a result -- we should be living an abundantly full life.

NOT. I know this is true. I believe it is possible. Yet, I am not this way. Oh, how I wish I were living in abundant peace, prosperity, and goodness.

I struggle with seeing this as a possibility. The error of my way is that I am seeing God's glass as half full and not as overflowing. In God's economy, there is no other way but overflowing. Hence, if we are born again, living in the fullness of His presence, it only follows that our life is also overflowing with His goodness. Why is it that we fall short, fail to experience this abundant life?

I believe the reason why we settle for less than His best is that we do not trust Him to provide His best to us. We hope for His best. We think about His best. Yet, we fail to accept His best for our lives. We believe that we do not deserve His best. We think that we have failed Him so badly, so thoroughly, so completely, that we cannot be a recipient of His best for us. Of course, this is true -- we have failed Him. Our sins were once red as scarlet, our heart was stained crimson red. We were condemned, convicted, and sentenced to a life of imprisonment and facing the ultimate penalty of separation from God for all eternity.

Past. This was our past. Before Jesus. If we have confessed our sins, accepted Jesus as our Savior, then we are no longer condemned or convicted of our sins. We are born again. We are set free (John 8:36). We are now children of the King, joint heirs with Jesus. Once living isolated and lost, we are now part of the Kingdom of God, the family of the King. Praise be to God!

If the above is true (say it is so!) then we must stop seeing ourselves as half-empty people. We must understand the totality of Christ's sacrifice on the cross of Calvary. He died for our sins. He saved us from the penalty of eternal separation from God. But that is not the end.  The glorious news is that He raised us to newness of life. This newness of life is a gift of grace that is intended for our good. We can now live full lives, wholly devoted to God, and to His Kingdom purpose.

My determination this day is to choose to praise God. I am choosing to be a half-full person, a person who lives in the overflowing presence of the Lord. My glass is full to overflowing, every day, no matter the trial, the tribulation, or the turbulence of my life. My life has been remade, and I am no longer identified by my previous self. I am new. I am whole. And I am alive today, filled with His Grace, and living fully devoted to Him. Praise God for His Goodness today. He is Good. All the time, He is Good.

February 16, 2014

Sadness today

My son led worship at church today. I am one very proud Mom! Not only is he a wonderful musician, but he has such a heart for serving in ministry. He has been part of the worship team at church since he was 16 (now almost 21). In that very short time, he has learned how to handle himself on the platform, play a variety of instruments, and be a part of a larger team of musicians.

He has also experienced some sorrow -- not something that this Mom or any wishes for their child. Over the course of the past three or four years, our church has gone through major staffing upheaval. In 2011, our Pastor stepped down to move on to another smaller church in our city. It was a shock to all of us as we loved him and his family and we were unaware that he was unhappy in his position as lead Pastor.  Nonetheless, in the next year, our worship leader was let go. This was a person with whom my son had become very, very close. In fact, my son was part of his professional touring band and had some wonderful opportunities to travel, play for very large audiences, and open for some up and now current Christian music artists.

In 2012, our church called a new Pastor to the pulpit. With this new person came more staff changes. Over the past year, we have lost some familiar faces and gained some new faces. In all, there has been a lot of change.

It has been no real secret that the last year has been a rocky one for our little church. Faced with escalated costs, shrinking membership, and lower than expected attendance and giving; the congregation was prepped by the Board of Directors that unless something changed radically, there would be additional staff cuts.

At the end of 2013, we ended the fiscal year in the red. As we moved into January, that red line became fatter and fatter. The time had come to make hard decisions.

Yesterday, my son was called to an all-staff meeting. He works part-time at church, helping with facilities. I knew that there was a very good chance that he would be let go. After all, he is a little fish and when the belt gets tightened, sometimes the little fish are the least important in the grand scheme of things.

I also assumed that there would be other staff who would be let go. It only makes sense, really when you think about it. You cannot outspend your income and hope that your income will magically increase to cover your "faith spend."

So after the meeting ended, my son came home and was only able to share with us two bits of news. One, he still had his job. It seems that his skills as musician, audio engineer, general technical/computer person AND facilities worker made him an asset to the church (Praise God!). The second news was that he would be leading this Sunday's worship team.

Of course, I knew what that meant without him having to say a word about it. Our current worship leader was let go.

So today, it was with bittersweet appreciation that I went to church. I have to say that my son did a fabulous job. He is not a worship leader; he is an all-around excellent musician. He is not called to lead worship, but he is skilled so that he can if he needs to do it. He doesn't want to be in that position, and he doesn't feel that he has the where-with-all to be able to be the kind of leader a church needs. However, he gave his all today, and I wept with joy. God has worked in his heart, and He has grown him into an amazing young man. I am proud, and I am thankful for the work God is doing in his heart.

The sadness of the day came when the Board announced that our lead Pastor, worship leader, graphic artist (also a band member), and two part-time staff were let go effective immediately.

That news hit me like a ton of bricks. I was dumbfounded, really dumbfounded. I mean, our Pastor seemed to be doing a good job. He seemed to be giving good messages, and the people seemed to like him a lot.

The other folks, well, I don't understand those cuts but my guess was that they were being paid too much money for the job they were doing or that the Board felt that those positions could be filled with volunteer staff.

After the announcement was made, and everyone left the church, I think the reality of the day set in for me. You see, I have never been 100% supportive of our new Pastors approach to ministry. I felt that he was out of place, and that the changes he made when he came in didn't build up our church, but only served to fracture it and diminish the sweetness of the community spirit that existed before he came here in 2013. Yes, in short, I believed that in one year (from Jan 2013-Jan 2014) our church became a dysfunctional and distressed place. More than half the members left the congregation and moved to other local churches. Most of those people will not come back. There is hope that some of them might, now that there has been a change in the leadership.

Our associate Pastor, the son of our founding Pastor, has remained with us -- through thick and thin -- and through all the staff upheaval and change over the last several years. I never understood why the Board didn't give him the job in 2013. The church was growing, we had great staff in place, and everyone seemed very happy. There was an awkward decision made, an announcement, and then the next thing, our new Pastor was called. It was clearly a decision of the Board, and the congregation obliged because that is what you do in church -- you agree with the Board.

So here we sit today --> a new congregation born out of the storm of the past year. In 2012, when our former Pastor stepped down, it was said that our attendance between three services was at 750. In January 2014, our weekly attendance is down to about 250. Moreso, the weekly giving in 2012 was around 15K. Last week, our giving was down to just shy of 8K.

There were lots of bumps in the road that lead us to where we are today. One came in November when the new Board was elected and a new budget proposed. Weekly giving had continue to drop, but was averaging around 10-11K each week. The new budget proposed the weekly giving to be somewhere around $26K. I am not sure where those numbers came from, but they were so out of line with reality, that no one could believe their eyes and accept it. The budget passed, of course, and again it was because that is what you do in church, you vote yes whether you approve or disapprove the of move.

There were rumors and speculation and questions about why so much money was needed. We are, after all, a small church. Do we really need a 100K children's ministry program?

I think when everything is analyzed, it will be clear what happened to our church. This is just my assessment, and I have deep sorrow about the individuals whose lives have been hurt over the course of time. I wish we could all hit reset and go back to where we were before everything took a turn for the worse. Thankfully, while God may allow a church to be humbled, as ours was; He doesn't always allow a church to close its doors. Sometimes He sifts the chafe from wheat, and lets the thresher do the work of sorting out what needs to be tossed away. I think this is what happened in my church. I think the message that was brought in, the ministry focus and approach -- needed to be threshed. Our community of believers were almost destroyed by an outward influence that disrespected the tradition and foundation of the church, and opted instead for postmodern glitz and glam. There was a hard push to turn our small congregation into another Willowcreek or Saddleback or Bayside.

The problem was that the people who made up our little congregation of believers were not like the folks that attend these mega churches. Don't get me wrong -- I spent 15 years in a mega church. I loved my large Bible church. I loved everything about it. I also spent a lot of years prior in small community churches, and there is something special and wonderful about a close-knit community of believers. I loved my little church too.

In my little church, we had real people who lived real lives. They were not wealthy. They didn't drive expensive cars, drink lattes, and possess the latest tech gadgets. Sure we had people who were very well-to-do (as in any church). Yet, there was something plain and ordinary about our congregation. They were normal people, just normal people. We didn't have airs, and we didn't try to be like the people in CA or TX or IL. Nope, we were just normal folks, plain and ordinary.

The influence that came in suggested that we were somehow not good enough, backwards, too plain, and that to attract newcomers to church we needed to ratchet it up and look the part (slick, sleek, savvy). We didn't like it. We didn't like the hint that our way of worship wasn't good enough or that our genuine approach to ministry wasn't effective for reaching the lost in our community. In truth, we were heavily involved in our community. We were making an impact. We were being truthful to our calling, and our commitment as a part of the Evangelical Covenant Church. We were who we were, plain and simple, and we liked it that way.

Yet to support the new vision, we agreed to try it out, to go along with it.

Almost a year has passed and we are starting over, again. This time, I pray that the people of our church will stand up and say NO when the world tries to steer us away from the message of Christ. We will learn from our lessons, and we will grow a new community spirit. We will live, and we will love, and we will learn how to be His people, working for His cause, and building friendships His way. God is good, so very good. All the time, He is so very good!

February 11, 2014

Coming to Terms with the Law

Today I sit before the Lord and I thank Him for the opportunity to rest in His presence. I have been stressed the past couple days, worrying about financial concerns, and feeling the bite of my upcoming research assignments (looming due dates). More so, I have felt the nagging sensation that I have failed in my duties as teacher, not performed as I expected that I should perform, and that somehow I have let my students down. All of this, the feelings, the sensations, have coalesced into an attitude that is predicated on fear and doubt and worry. The Lord calls to me, He reminds me that I am to rest, to trust Him, to let go of the striving, and to recognize His goodness in my life.

As I reflect on His goodness, I realize that I am experiencing the Glory of the Lord. The Glory of the Lord is manifested in who He is and in His attributes. He is good. His goodness is the expression of His Glory.

It has been nearly eight years since I entered into this relationship with the Lord. My life prior was one of works, of me working to prove myself worthy to bear His name. I failed, of course, I failed miserably. No one is worthy to wear His name. Yet, in my zealousness and religious study, I was constantly reminded of this charge:

"I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Ephesians 4:1-3

I took this verse to be literal instructions that I, as a Christian, was to oversee my person in such a way that I walked worthy of the calling of Christ. I was to shun every evil thing, to only embrace that which was spiritual, and to live a pure life. I was to do this, on my own, through obedience to God's word. And while I believed that the Holy Spirit would guide me (convict me when I failed, encourage me to not fall), I didn't see any supernatural way to accomplish this charge. It was up to me to do it, and God's Holy Spirit would be my judge (did well, did not so well).

Then, I had an epiphany of sorts. I came to know the Lord Jesus Christ in a different way. I came to experience His goodness, and that goodness became such a part of my life. I saw all my effort, my struggle, my striving for what it was -- dead works (honorable dead works, mind you). I was trying to do something, living up to Christian perfection, and in doing so, was failing every single day.

In fact, I can recall the moment when I turned away from the Holy Spirit of God, and confessed to Him that I was not able to keep the law. It was in 1987, and I had just finished a portion of Kay Arthur's Precept study on "Romans." This study had been radical for me, it had changed my life, and I began to earnestly seek God, to know Him through His word. It was such a good thing. But I suffered great conviction, and I had evil thoughts and desires. I was being tempted, and I was giving into the temptations regularly. I was awash with guilt and shame, and I was convicted to the point of feeling that I was worthless, and that I was a hopeless case.

Now, I do not say that the Holy Spirit was convicting me of everything at this point -- no, certainly not. I believe that I was being tormented by Satan for the sins I was actively involved in. The Word was convicting me as well, showing me right from wrong, and I was caught in the crosshairs between doing what was good and doing what was not good.

Oh, the word! The Word of God is sweet, like honey (our pastor gave a great message on this topic on Sunday)! The Word was pulling me one way, and the devil was tempting me to go the other way. In the end, I succumbed. I didn't go to the devil so to speak, but I cried out loudly and proclaimed that it was too hard to be a Christian, it was too much work, and too difficult for me to do it. I gave up, I gave in, and I sunk into a years worth of depression over my failure to be perfect. I couldn't do it. I couldn't keep the perfect law.

I don't blame Kay Arthur. I don't blame the format of her study either. I blame the combination of influences that worked together during this time in my life. I was attending an ultra-conservative fundamentalist church. I was studying a line-by-line Bible study that focused solely upon the accuracy of Scripture, and the Holy Spirit for inspiration. I was a newly born again Christian, with little training in scripture, and the combination of instruction served to teach me that there was only one way to live your life, and that was through obedience to the Word of God. Every word was to be believed. Every word to be obeyed.

Don't get me wrong -- I believe in the authority and accuracy of scripture. I believe in the Word, and it is to be understood and obeyed. Just not by me, at least, not anymore. It is not I who believe and obey, but the Lord Jesus Christ, who believes and obeys through me. I cannot do it, but He can and does.

Back then I took the judgement of the Law upon me, and I walked away from God because I sensed that I was flawed, failed, and that there was no hope for me. No one came along side me back then to tell me about Grace. No one helped me understand that I didn't have to obey the written law, but that I could obey the Spirit of the Law. In doing so, had someone shown me the Spirit's way, then I would have learned that the Spirit of God would supernaturally empower me to walk in obedience to the law through my faith in Jesus Christ (the fulfillment of the law). Instead, I dropped out, and I sunk down lower and lower into the grim and filth of sinful desires and appetites. I turned my back on God, and for a long time, I lived with the guilt and shame of that decision.

I still attended church. I still went to Bible study, but I didn't care about these things. I was married, and I pretended to be a good Christian wife. I hated my life. I hated everything about my life. My marriage was crumbling due to sin (mine and my husband's) and the pressures endured through extenuating family was mounting. As I tried to hide my sin, my life spun more and more out of control. I was mentally unstable, at the brink of exhaustion, and I could see a nervous breakdown on the horizon. I was plagued by spiritual dreams, dark and difficult dreams, that shook me to my core. I was so sad every day, so very sad, and I felt lost and alone. I hated my life, and I wanted out of it, desperately, so completely, and so earnestly.

Then in 1992, something happened to me, something that changed my life, and brought me back around to the Lord Jesus Christ. I was getting ready to graduate from college, and I was making plans to attend graduate school. I found out I was pregnant, and while happy about it, I was saddened that my plans for graduate study would be put on hold. Later in 1993, when my son was born, I realized that God had intervened in my life, caused my womb to open up, and allowed one tiny seed to fertilize one egg, and grow this beautiful baby boy. There had been no babies before, and there would be no babies afterward -- for nearly 25 years there would be no pregnancies, no hopes of more children. No, there would be one child, just one child. This one child would be my world, and would be my focus, and would bring me back to God.

Yes, I knew that once this baby was born, I had a choice to make in how he would be raised. I made it my calling to teach him about God, to raise him in the fear and admonition of the Lord. He would be the one who I would instruct and teach about God. In doing so, I was taught by him. I learned about grace, and how to parent with grace. Though I didn't parent with grace initially. I parented with legalism since that was still the fundamentalist teachings I was surrounded by and encouraged to keep. Eventually, we moved to a new place, created a new life, and through the teachings at this new Church, I came to see grace in action, and I came to see how I needed to parent my child differently.

I have blogged about my son's special needs before but suffice it to say that I had to learn how to parent him because there was no manual for me to follow, no written down instructions, no path. I learned through gifted teachers and counselors, and eventually created my own way. In the end, my life was filled with purpose, and I began to see that God was calling me to live a certain way, to follow Him, and to return to Him.

It took time. It took a lot of time before I was able to get to that point. Thirteen years later I fell on my knees before the Lord and I confessed my sins to Him. I confessed my hard heart and my willful disobedience to Him, personally to Him, and then to His Holy Spirit, and to the Word of God. It was a cleansing brush, a deep washing that created within me a clean heart, and a renewed spirit (Ps. 51).

Yes, I was cleansed and renewed. I was made new that day.

Since that time, I have walked in this new way. Living, breathing, and experiencing every day as a new day to hope, to cherish, and to adore the Lord. He is my everything. Today, He is the One whom I adore. I love the Lord with my whole heart, and I seek His face diligently. He sustains me, He lifts me up, and He keeps me covered. He is so very good, so very good to me.

February 9, 2014

Glorious Sunday

When things look bleak, and I am faced with uncertainty about my future, I will choose to look up and focus upon the glory of the Lord. In His presence, there is peace. In Him, my future rests. I can let go of the worry, the doubt, the fear, and the anxiety. For He is my portion, my cup, and my shield. He is good, all the time. He is Good.

Yes, God is good, so very good.

I am blessed today. His mercy is new, and I am able to receive His peace that comforts me, and helps me to know that He is (I AM). Oh, how I love the Lord. Oh, how I love Him!

From David Crowder Band...

And we are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If his grace is an ocean, we're all sinking.
And Heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don't have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about the way...

He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves.
Yeah, He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves.

Today is a good day. I am filled with such joy that I can barely contain my enthusiasm. Yet, I don't know why I am joyous today. Nothing new has happened, nothing has changed (at the least, I do not think so). I still feel this way, this way that shouts out "something good is going to happen, something wonderful is going to come your way today!" God knows that it would be a blessing to me to receive a full-time job offer (teaching) or to hear that I was selected for a full-tuition scholarship to Regent. Yes, these announcements would be welcome, so very welcome. I don't know if that is what I am feeling or if there is something completely different coming my way. I just feel like today has the potential for being THAT DAY, a day of a big announcement, a day when my life is forever changed.

God be praised for if He does decide to bring some miracle blessing into my life, I would welcome it, I would so welcome it. I have no knowledge, as I stated. I have nothing but this feeling that everything is Good today. Everything in my life is so very good.

Perhaps it is just because I decided to look up. Perhaps it is because I decided to focus upon His glory, and not my shame. Perhaps it is as simple as the recognition that He is my Lord, and I am His servant. I am nothing, He is everything. Perhaps it is because I have struggled to learn all these past months that He is in control, and as such, He will not let go or leave me out of anything that is His good pleasure. The Word says this:

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Phil. 2:13 NLT

Yes! God is working in me and He is giving me the desire to do what pleases Him most. And, you might ask, what pleases God most?

But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that comes to God must believe
that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6

First and foremost, to please God we must believe that He exists, that He is God, and that as God He is able to do all things for His good will and good work and good pleasure. In short, we must acknowledge that He is the I AM and that He is sovereign and He rules and reigns over all created things. In our acknowledgement of His person and His attributes, we enter into a relationship based upon Faith. There upon we can begin to grasp the significance of His gift of mercy, the death of His beloved son, and the offer for salvation.

Grace comes upon hearing the truth of God, and acknowledging through faith, that you believe He is who He says He is. Grace, marvelous and glorious grace, is our ticket, our way into the relationship, and the sustaining marker that ensures us that we are His and He is ours, and together we will journey through to the eternity of eternities. God is so good, he is so very good!

Now that I believe He is, and that He is in control of my life, I can rest in His sufficiency. I have no needs that fall outside His provision. I have no doubts as to His abilities. I am not anxious because my work counts as nothing -- His work counts as everything. I stand in grace, and I wait patiently for Him to do His work through me. He does it all, from beginning to end, and I rest. I rest in Him. God is good, He is to be praised today and forever more.

As the Psalmist states in Psalm 104:31:

The glory of the Lord endures forever!

May God be praised today and forever more. He is good, so very good.

February 4, 2014

The way to go today

It is Tuesday; thank God for Tuesday! I am so blessed to be able to work from home on Tuesdays and Thursdays this semester. I cannot tell you how much I need these days off in between my teaching days. It is not that I am SO busy, but it is more that I am worn out, and in need of prolonged rest again. Yes, I feel the burn of exhaustion coming on me, and I need to rest.

Rest. Merriam-Webster defines rest as "a bodily state characterized by minimal functional and metabolic activities." I like the minimal functional and metabolic activities part - that is what matters most. I need to cease my labors, and in doing so, I rest.

The Bible describes rest as 
Freedom from work, toil, strain or activity. Rest is the cessation of motion or action of any kind, and applicable to any body or being, as rest from labor, rest from mental exertion or rest of body or mind. A body is at rest, when it ceases to move. The mind is at rest, when it ceases to be disturbed or agitated.
Moreover, John MacArthur states, 
Rest also means freedom from whatever worries or disturbs you. Some people cannot rest mentally and emotionally because they are so easily annoyed. Every little nuisance upsets them and they always feel hassled. Rest does not mean freedom from all nuisances and hassles; it means freedom from being so easily bothered by them (Ed: It means freedom in the face of whatever would disturb your rest!). Rest means to be inwardly quiet, composed, peaceful. To enter God’s rest means to be at peace with God (Ro 5:1-note), to possess the perfect peace He gives (Is 26:3). It means to be free from guilt and even unnecessary feelings of guilt. It means freedom from worry about sin, because sin is forgiven. God’s rest is the end of legalistic works and the experience of peace in the total forgiveness of God.
Source: http://www.preceptaustin.org/rest_in_hebrews_4.htm

As I consider what it means to be at rest, I am reminded why it is so important to be AT REST. God has called us to a relationship with Him that is predicated upon the FINISHED work of Jesus Christ. The work that Jesus came to do was finished on the cross of Calvary. It is done, He cried -- it is finished! Therefore, Jesus rested from His work. He is seated at the right hand of God the Father, at rest. He has given the Holy Spirit as our comforter, our peace, and we are called to enter His rest -- to accept the full forgiveness of our sins, and to cease from worrying about them or feeling guilty over them.

I understand this now, better than I did before, but I still struggle with worrying about things I cannot control (such as work, school, money -- oh especially money!) God has me covered, I believe this is true, and I know that He is faithful to keep His word. I surrender to Him and I let go of the worry and anxiety over these uncontrollable events and things. I give them up, and I let them go. In doing so, I rest from my toil, my work, my worries. I embrace the fullness of His peace, the quietness of His Spirit, and the composure of inwardly believing the my God has me well-covered. I know this, I experience this, and I believe this is true. I cease from doubting the Word of God, and I rest in the fullness of that knowledge -- that He is true and faithful in all things. I can take bold confidence to know that my needs are met with His sufficiency, and that I am no longer dependent upon any human for care, for comfort, or for consideration (though it is nice to have human companionship, and to know that other people care for me -- I do not depend on these outward expressions because God cares for me so completely, so carefully, and with such compassion -- I am well-covered).

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.