Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Psalm 139, A New Song

It's 5:10 am. It's dark outside. Just outside my window is a cardinal who starts to sing. He does this each and every morning, even when it's raining. In other words: he loves to sing,period.

I will sing a new song cause You love me,
I will sing a new song cause You care,
I will sing a new song cause Your there

Psalm 139- by Mercy Me

After hearing this song I couldn't help but grab my Bible when I could and actually look up Psalm 139 to see what it says. It's a great Psalm of encouragement to get us back into trusting God because He loves us and knows us intimately:

God knows our thoughts.
He is acquainted with our ways.
He knows our life altogether, from beginning to end.
We cannot flee from His presence.
He knew us in our mother's womb.
He saw our substance, being yet unformed.
And He fashioned each of our days before us.

The final 2 verses of Psalm 139 reflects on what we need to humbly come before Him and ask:

Search me, O God, and know my heart;

Try me, and know my anxieties;

 And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.

Just like the birds who choose to sing a new song each and every morning whether it's nice outside or raining; we need to do the same.
Once we can get it into our sometimes "thick heads" that God loves us, cares for us, knows what we are going through and is always there for us, singing a new song every morning shouldn't be so hard.

It's just a matter of choice and trust.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I Like This!

1. After being born to a teenage mother who was encouraged to have an abortion, worship leader Israel Houghton is evidence that God has a plan for all of our lives.

Some of Israel's songs you may sing in church include: Lord You are Good, I am a Friend of God, and I Will Search For You. After hearing his newest single Your Presence is Heaven to Me and reading about his mother choosing to give life, has just added extra meaning and gratification to hearing him sing about the joy of being in the presence of God.

2. With half of the country in a severe drought the Christian music station K-Love requested listeners from all over the country to pray at a specific time for rain. They did this for a few days last week. Then each day listeners called back to say they did actually receive rain. Here in Chicago and several other states we got some much needed storms over a 2 day period.

Staying on the subject of prayer and answered prayer:

One day a couple of weeks ago, during my prayer time I had a sudden urge to pray for my friend Paul from church who had been battling an illness for almost a year now.  Three hours later I got a call from his brother to say he was recovering well from quadruple bypass surgery. I did not know that he was having any heart surgery, let alone at the very exact time I was praying for him.
He is at home recovering nicely now.

God has a plan for each of our lives and prayer does work, we just need to make the right choices and choose to stay connected to God at all times, and not get distracted with the things of this world.

Because Your loving kindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You. (at all times) Psalm 63:2-4

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Stand Firm

"Elaine, am I crazy? I think Dugan and the others in the office don't like me."

"Well, you might want to think about moving your arms a little when you walk."


"Swing your arms around like this, so you're not lurching like a caveman."


"Jerry, the woman walks around the office like she's carrying invisible suitcases!"


This Seinfeld episode came to mind the other day as I took notice of someone walking down the street as if they were carrying invisible suitcases.  People of all walks of life (sorry about the pun here) have a variety of ways of walking. When I am out on the trails doing my run I notice some folks walking as if they really are carrying invisible suitcases. Then there's some who walk and move their arms as if they are tap dancing.And then we have the speed walkers, the one's who walk fast and swing their arms up and down as if they were a robot. Yes, we all walk differently.

Now, what about how we stand? Some stand with their arms folded in a posture of standing firm; while others will stand with one arm on their hip which can only be described as one who is puzzled or frustrated.

Don't you hate it sometimes when you are going through a difficulty and someone comes up to you with this word of encouragement, "Stand firm." It makes you kind of want to pop them one,doesn't it?

I think the more encouraging words to say would be, "Hey, I am praying for you. I will intercede in prayer for you every day until this passes. Be encouraged. Stand strong."

By coincidence, medical researchers this past week came out to say that standing can be healthy for you.

It can also be healthy spiritually when you stand firm; your faith grows the most when you go through a trial, so it is important where you plant your feet and how you stand.

Abraham Lincoln once said, "Be sure to put your feet in the right place, then stand firm."

Some wise words to live by.

If your going through a struggle stand firm on the promises of God and know that this too shall pass.
What better place to plant your feet then on solid ground.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Lesson Learned

It's 8:10 am on a Saturday, the day after an evening rain. The sun is out, not a cloud in the sky, not a breeze in sight, and it's already a sticky 83 degrees as the heat begins to increase with each passing moment. I am on my usual Saturday morning workout, hoping to squeeze in my 6- mile run before it really gets hot.

I've hydrated myself with water and Gatorade for two days, but nevertheless the hot humid air was getting to me. But 4 separate times within my run a breeze came by and the trees shook a refreshing rain upon me. Each time I found myself stopping in the midst of my run and stood there with my arms raised out as the rainwater fell gracefully upon me. It was not only breathtaking, but refreshing and it was totally unexpected.

"Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?

Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not of more value than they?"  (Mathew 6 :25,26)

It's ironic that this passage of scripture came to me when I was being refreshed when I needed it and didn't ask for it. Because the last two weeks of extreme heat we were facing and with no rain, I took it upon myself to leave a dish of water out for the birds, both at home and at work.(lots of trees and birds in both places) And those water dishes needed refilling everyday as I noticed the birds taking great delight in drinking and bathing in the cool, refreshing water.
 For myself being a nature buff and a nature photographer, this is the first time I could ever remember doing this during a heatwave drought. Perhaps it was because I seem to be more intuned with the God lately, and more intune to His creation like never before.

It is good to be synchronized with God and not have to worry about things, for the Lord knows what we have need of and He always provides.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A Rock on Sunday, A Pebble on Monday

A big, heavy rock stays in one spot. It doesn't move. It get's rained on, sleet on, snowed on, and dog's take a leak on it. And it still doesn't move.

The Apostle Paul set a great example for us on how to be a rock: he faced many trials and tribulations that brought him to tears, but he was strong enough to exclaim,

"None of these things move me."  (see Acts 20:17-27)

Sometimes the struggles we Christians face is of our own doing and the obstacle is always with our faith.  I always seem to run into people who go to church and have been Christians for many years, yet struggle with faith. They've never climbed from the
believing in God (accept as truth) stage to the trust in God (having a firm foundation) stage.

Why is it that we can feel like a rock on Sunday, and when Monday comes we feel like a pebble?  It's okay to have a momentary lapse of faith, as long you quickly realize and correct that mistake on faith. But if you continuously feel like a rock on Sunday and then a pebble on Monday, then there are 4 contributing factors that may be occurring for this to happen:

1. You are not getting fed the Word of God properly in your church.

2. You are getting fed the Word of God properly at your church, but lack in applying it to your life.

3. You are not seeking God out as you should, putting away your own desires to draw closer to Him.
     This is what gets you from the believing in God stage to the trusting in God stage.

4. You have no joy in the Lord. Which means you are lacking in high praise to the One who made you, the One you call Father.

Don't you think it's a waste of time to continuously seek out God, yet not carry out a faith that trust's Him for every concern of your life?

My Pastor often challenges us and asks: "Are you a Christian soldier or a spiritual sissy?"

God wants us to be strong men and women of His Word. But we need to apply His Word and promises to our life daily, trust in Him, and be able to declare, "None of these things move me!"

Those mountains in your life are obstacles that can be moved. You just need stronger faith.

Now you might be saying, "Sure this may sound easy, but you have no idea what I am going through and what I am facing."
In most trials I can say, "Been there, done that. I've faced many battles, my faith was tested many times, it wasn't easy, but my faith grew through the struggles. I am no different than you.

Seems like all I could see was the struggle
Haunted by ghosts that lived in my past
Bound up in shackles of all my failures
Wondering how long is this gonna last
Then You look at this prisoner and say to me
"Son, stop fighting a fight that's already been won"

I am redeemed
You set me free
So I'll shake off these heavy chains
And wipe away every stain

- Redeemed, by Big Daddy Weave

The lead singer and author who penned this song is referring to a time when he was a prisoner of his own doing, looking at his situations and circumstances in life, and not looking toward the answer. Then God spoke and said, "Stop fighting a fight that's already been won, a fight won over 2,000 years ago. You are redeemed."

A wise preacher once told me, "Pray the answer, not the problem."  There are over 800 promises in the Bible. Once you stop looking at your situation and continuously seek after God in worship and prayer, and apply His Word to every area of your life, you'll find the keys to happiness in Christ and see mountains move on your behalf. You'll no longer feel like a prisoner and will be able to joyfully declare "I am redeemed!"