Sunday, May 29, 2011

You've Got a Friend

Yesterday was one of those days when I had absolutely nothing to say.  I prayed and I asked the Lord what He would have me share today, and into the loud empty spaces echoing in my head I heard a song.  It is an old song, released 40 years ago by a woman named Carole King.  The song is “You’ve Got a Friend”.  I’m sure most of you know this song.  If you don’t, look it up.  You won’t be sorry.  Here are some of the lyrics: 
When you're down and troubled
And you need some loving care
And nothing, nothing is going right
Close your eyes and think of me
And soon I will be there
To brighten up even your darkest night

You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I'll come running to see you again
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I'll be there
You've got a friend

I don’t know about you, but this was a really good reminder to me of a couple of things.  We need to be sure we don’t get too busy to nurture our friendships.  It’s an easy thing to do.  Life gets busy and we don’t take the time to reach out.  Then we wonder why we feel dry down deep in our souls.  We need our friends and they need us – to listen, to laugh, to cry, or maybe just be there.  The other thing is that God is my friend.  I know He is God and I’m not.  This is definitely not a relationship of equals.  However, James 2:23 tells us that Abraham was God’s friend and as believers who consider ourselves children of Abraham, it is not a stretch to say that we are God’s friends, too.  He comes when we call.  In fact, He delights in answering when we cry out to Him.  Psalm 107 repeats this theme over and over.  No matter our trouble, when we call out His name He hears and He responds with His unfailing love. 
Abba Father, thank You for being our very best friend and thank you for blessing us with friends to share our journey.  Please help us take neither You nor them for granted.  Help us remember that being a faithful friend is often the best way to show Your love to a world of lonely people.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Lesson of the Loaves

Hello Ladies!

Jennifer's getting a little R&R at the beach this week and asked me (her husband) to share with you something the Lord spoke to me recently while she's out verifying that SPF 50 is in fact all it's cracked up to be. But, before I can share the word with you I have to tell you a story first:

As a father one of the great burdens I bear is the responsibility for making sure that my kids are as prepared as I can possibly make them to be successful out on their own when it's time for them to leave home and, for me, that last step before "Go forth and conquer!" is a college degree.
Given the cost of college and the size of our tribe that's no small objective and one that was eating my lunch until a couple of years ago when, while at church, the Lord spoke to me and said "I'll take care of it." Upon hearing those words the elephant that had been riding shotgun on my shoulders got up and walked off and I was thinking "Cool! God's going to provide and I don't have to worry about this anymore."
Well, that was then and if we fast-forward to today we've got two in college and financially it's been, shall we say, "interesting". Although some remarkable things have happened I've not exactly been a pillar of faith and it was while I was out jogging the other day and thinking about money and excusing myself for taking on a general posture of austerity with regard to extra giving due to our circumstances that the Holy Spirit appended my thoughts with "for they still had not learned the lesson of the loaves" - and immediately I was convicted.
You see, I've been reading through Mark lately and that verse is Mark 6:52 and it comes after Jesus feeds the 5,000 with five loaves of bread and two fishes in verses 37-44. This event is immediately followed by Jesus telling his disciples to go ahead of him by boat to Bethsaida. That night, while the disciples are in the boat struggling against the waves, Jesus comes walking by them over those same waves and when they see him they panic! Jesus tells them to calm down and when he gets into the boat with them the wind dies (verses 45-51). It's at this point that scripture says "the disciples were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened".
The Holy Spirit was telling me that I had made the same mistake as the disciples! I had forgotten God's word to me and the fact that He watches over His word to perform it. (Jeremiah 1:12) In all three situations God had clearly spoken His intentions and we summarily got overwhelmed by the circumstances (only five loaves and two fish, lots of wind and waves and too little money for tuition), doubted his word and had our hearts hardened. Rats!
So, I took advantage of the grace offered me though the Holy Spirit's conviction and repented and now, by faith, in the face of our continued need, we are going to start giving extra again. We are going to actively affirm the Word of God in our lives through giving when reason says that we should be saving. I haven't a clue as to how that provision will come but I'm returning my family to our front row seats to watch the show because the One who initiated the promise is faithful and He will do it. (I Thessalonians 5:24)
Let's roll!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

He Trains My Hands for War

Earlier this week I was praying for my children and asking the Lord to cut off the enemy from them.  There’s nothing wrong with this prayer, but on this particular day I felt the Holy Spirit leading me in a different direction.  I began to ask the Lord to teach them to recognize and reject the enemy’s schemes against them.  I also began to pray for Him to reveal His strategies to them for standing against the attacks that were coming their way.  I think the Lord is showing me that it is time for them to start learning some spiritual self-defense.  Sometimes the Lord steps in and fights for us.  I love those times!  Then there are those occasions where He trains our hands for war and tells us to get in there and kick butt!  

When I was pregnant with my fourth child, I began listening to a voice telling me that something would be wrong with this child. Rather than kicking this thought to the curb, I allowed it to settle into my heart.  I even began to worry that the baby might die.  This went on for months until I was getting close to my due date.  I was so tired of the anxiety that had been tormenting me for so long, I did what I should have done from the start - I went to the Lord about it.  As I prayed, He showed me a mental picture of a wimpy little demon no bigger than a mosquito.  This was what had been causing me so much grief?  I felt like such a chump for letting this whiny little insect tie me up with fear and rob me of the joy of anticipating a new life.  All I had to do was quit listening to the lie and embrace the truth!  Did I have assurance that all would be perfect?  No, but I did have a certainty that my Father God was taking care of me and this child, and that was enough to give me peace. 

There are certain roles in life that I know I was never meant to play. I know for a fact that being a nurse or doctor is out for me.  My daughter recently had to have a few stitches and I’m still traumatized!  I also have zero dramatic ability. I find it hard enough just to be myself, much less someone else!  However there is one role we are all called to play in the Body of Christ and that is soldier.  We all have a mandate to put on the armor of God and take our stand against the enemy the Apostle Paul calls “spiritual forces of evil.”  (See Ephesians 6:10-20 if you need an update on this.)  The best part is our Father in Heaven equips us to fight and He trains us to win!     

It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; He causes me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You make Your saving help my shield, and Your right hand sustains me.  Psalm 18:32-35