My Journey Along the Narrow Way

Posts tagged ‘God’

I Love the Beach…

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Anyone who knows me knows my favorite place in the whole world is the beach. Having grown up in California for the most part gave me a lasting love of the beach. When I moved to Alabama and was able to see the sugar sand of Southern beaches I fell even more in love with them.
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I love the sound of the surf, the sand between my toes, and the warmth of the Sun on my skin.  The colors and sounds just soothe my soul.  I’ve come to believe that most people seem to either love the beach or dislike it.  There is usually not many who fall in the middle.

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When I think about why I love the beach so much, I go back again and again to the verse in the Bible that talks about nature declaring the glory of God. I look at the colors and am in awe at the beauty God has created.  I hear the roar of the waves crashing on the beach and hear the power of God. I feel the sun and marvel that God placed it in the sky. What a great God we serve!

I can honestly say that the beach constantly brings me back to God. It calms
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Brand New…

Who doesn’t like something that’s brand new? Like a newborn baby or a puppy or even a new car? Things that are new and shiny and not yet spoiled tend to appeal to all of us. The problem is that no matter how well we take care of the new things we have, they always get that scratch or ding or just get spoiled.

If it’s a new situation or relationship we are talking about eventually we begin to take things for granted, we tend to start noticing the other person’s faults more. The intensity of our feelings tends to cool down.

This also happens with our relationship with God.  When we are new shiny Believers we are so excited. Just being around a new believer is energizing and fun. They want to tell the world about what Christ has done for them. Then after time the newness wears off.  They start to act like everybody else around them.  Or, they conform back to the world, instead of staying transformed.  Why is this?

I think in all these situations it is because of two reasons…everything breaks down in this world because of the sinful state we live in and because we insist on living in our own power instead through God’s power.  In other words the problems is us and sin.

The sinful world we live in and the curse that we are under seems to drag us down constantly. This is the reason everything decays and breaks down.  Just look at your car…is it as nice as the day you bought it…no.  Just look at your body…is your skin as clear and smooth as the day you were born? Again, no.  Decay and a downward trend are the natural order of things in our world.

Also, we try to live our lives and conduct our relationships in our own power. Clearly, this is a terrible idea as we seem to make a mess out of things every time.  We use our limited knowledge and wisdom instead of leaning on the One who knows everything and has perfect understanding and wisdom.

And we forget about the One who makes all things New. 

I find myself longing for the day when all this decay will be over.  Oh how I long for all things to be made new and shiny and away from this curse of sin. 

I long for the better country.  And I hope and trust that even the biggest messes I have made can be recreated and healed by the one who is perfection.

Who I am…

Sometimes there is a huge disconnect between who I am and who I want to be.  Also, from who I think I am and who I actually am.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who wakes up some mornings and wonders who this person in the mirror is. 

I have spoken in the past about my mother, who was literally one of the nicest, most gentle and caring people I ever knew. As it gets close to the anniversary of her death each year I find myself thinking of her and her kind and gentle spirit and I find myself again lacking.
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I so want to be that person that is quiet and has a gentle spirit. But I am in reality so not that person.  I am more of the rambunctious, loud nature and someone who usually laughs when I shouldn’t.

The more I think anout this though, the more I realize that God didn’t give me that same quiet, gentle nature…but it wasn’t an accident. God gave me my personality and gifted me with the gifts I have because that is who He created me to be.  He gave me these gifts to do His will in the way He wanted me uniquely to do it.   To complain or worry because I am not like someone else is to decide that I know more about God’s will and purposes than He does…and we all know that is not true.

So to me the key is to embrace who God created me to be and use my unique gifts and along the way work on cultivating that gentle and quiet spirit that I know is so pleasing to the Lord.  I just know it’s hiding in there somewhere.

1 Peter 3:3-4 …. Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.

SUFFERING…

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Who among us wants to suffer? I know I personally would prefer not to. We all would prefer life to be happy, fulfilling, and the like. However, that’s not really reality is it? Unfortunately, we all suffer from time to time. Admittedly, some more than others.

Recently I have been going through some tough times. I can’t say that this is something I would have picked to go through. I have had some comfort in the fact that I know it is most assuredly something that God determined for me to go through.

During this time God has continually reminded me that He is with me and He knows what I’m going through. He has brought some wonderful, godly people to my life to walk with me and pray for me through this. This has definitely been such a blessing to me. I pray I continue to see all the blessings He has poured out on me during this season in my life.

I cling to the words of Romans 8:18…For I consider the suffering of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed in us.

A Head (and Heart) Fix…

ImageAs some of you may know, the last few months I have been going through some big changes.  I have been in the process of getting healthier by eating better, exercising, and losing some weight.  I have good days and bad days but I have finally figured out that what really is  most important is my head rather than my body. 

I have been reading the best book by Lysa TerKeurst called Made to Crave.  I literally feel like the author has been peeking in my window and writing about me.  Through her I have really learned some great Biblical truths that relate to the sin of gluttony that I have been struggling with. 

I have realized that like the title of the book says, I was made to crave.  Only what I was made to crave was God…not food.  The fallen world has twisted a wonderful feeling placed inside of me into something that has led to defeat, shame, and guilt.  Only by realigning my thoughts and learning to crave what I was made to crave can I get off of the cycle of overeating and rationalizing it.

Thought for the Day:  My weight loss goal is not a number on the scale.  My real weight goal is peace.

Oh how I wish I had learned these truths years ago.  Maybe I wouldn’t have wasted so much time in this struggle without any success. 

And this doesn’t just apply to weight struggles.  It applies to whatever you are craving other than God.  There is so much in this world that we substitute for God.  That’s our enemy’s aim, isn’t it? 

1 John 2:15-16 says, “Do not love the world or anything of the world…For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – comes not from the Father but from the world.

While I realize this will be a struggle for me (and everyone else too), until we are done with this world, I am so happy to know these truths and work on fixing my head (and my heart) and live a life that is pleasing to my Lord.

 

 

I Miss Thanksgiving…

You may remember I just did a post about missing Halloween.  Well, it turns out I miss Thanksgiving too, but not for the same reasons.

Unlike Halloween, there aren’t many people who don’t like Thanksgiving.  I mean there’s lots of food, family, lots of food, football, lots of food…welll you get the point.  What’s not to love?

There is, however, one group of people who seem to dispise Thanksgiving.  Notice I said people, not turkeys.  Obviously turkeys aren’t too fond of Thanksgiving, and for good reason.  The people I’m speaking of would be the retailers.

When I was a child there was a nice progression of holidays in the stores.  First we had October and Halloween.  Next came November and Thanksgiving.  Finally, December and Christmas followed by the New Year.

It was so nice to be able to fully immerse yourself in the season, decorate, enjoy it, all before moving into the next holiday.  Every season had it’s place and nothing was rushed.  Now Halloween is big then it seems November 1st – here comes Christmas.  (Speaking of each holiday having it’s month then moving on, what is with the people who keep their Christmas trees up way into January and beyond.  Ah, but that’s a rant for another day.)

I know the retail establishment likes to jump from one money-maker to the next but I HATE it.  For one thing, I am absolutely sick of Christmas music by mid-December because I have been hearing it so long.  For another, I think as affluent a nation as we are, we definitely need to take 30 days in November to really reflect on and thank God for all the blessing we have been given.

Now I’m not hating in Christmas, I LOVE Christmas, I just miss Thanksgiving.  The only advantage to rushing the process I’ve found so far is getting any new Thanksgiving decorations I want at 66% off on November 1st since Hobby Lobby already has them discounted to make room for Christmas.  That is definitely a plus in my book.

Well the retailers can rush all they want, I for one am going to enjoy my Turkey day, be thankful for something all 30 days of November, and look forward to Christmas…once December comes.

Your thoughts?

Prayer…

I’m going to let you in on my big, bad, dark secret…

I’m a bad pray-er.  I don’t want to be a bad pray-er…I really, really want to be a prayer warrior.  It’s just that I’m not good at it and I didn’t really know what to do to get better.

I have tried to various things to become better at praying.  But pretty much what ends up happening is I learn a “system” or way to pray and promptly become legalistic about it. You see, I’m a list maker and checker offer.  Once I have a system, it all because just something to check off the list.

I could never figure out what the problem was.  It’s not just about lack of time or commitment but more about motivation and what it should look like.  But no matter what I tried it just didn’t feel right.

Was God really even listening?  Why would He want to hear what I had to say anyway?  Also, I was pretty sure that every time I repented He was thinking, “Here she comes again, confessing the same thing.  Why can’t she learn and get this right?”.  Of course, intellectually I knew that God wasn’t thinking that…but emotionally, well that was a whole different story.

I have been thinking about prayer a lot lately and really wanted to grow in this area of my walk.  And, as He so often does, God seemed to be telling me a lot about prayer lately as well.  (I don’t know if I’m the only one, but I tend to have periods of “themes” in my life.  What I mean is when God really seems to be trying to get a point across to me everything will relate to the one thing, from the sermons i hear, to the books I read, to the music I hear. It’s like I can’t get away from it until I “get it”.)

Well, apparently God has been teaching me much about prayer in the last several weeks.  Usually I am not quite so deep in my blog posts but I had to share what God has taught me in the hopes that if there are others struggling in this area that it might help you as well.

A week ago our morning sermon was entitled, “Pride Comes Before Denial.”  In this sermon, Shawn, our pastor, spoke about the five manifestations of pride.  While these did not directly deal with prayer they all seem to lend themselves to teach something about prayer, or a person with a poor prayer life.

1. Pride argues with Christ even as it expresses allegiance with Christ.
2. Pride dismisses the truth of Scripture on the basis that God doesn’t know or understand our hearts.
3. Pride justifies disobedience on the basis that God doesn’t know or understand our circumstances.
4. Pride exalts ourselves over others (Shawn’s point spoke about exalting ourselves over those with God-given authority over us but with prayer I believe we just exalt ourselves over others period).
5. Pride confesses complete faith in Christ while still depending on one’s own strength and resources.

The next week the sermon was on Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.  There was much that God spoke to me from this sermon but one thing really stood out.  It was the following statement:  [speaking about the prayer to God in the Garden immediately preceding the betrayal of Christ]…This is where the battle was won against Satan.

So this prayer and the resolve that Jesus felt after the prayer is where Satan was defeated?  This really made me think about the POWER of prayer.  Then a little further in the sermon there was this section about Temptation/Spiritual Tragedy that listed the steps that lead to temptation and tragedy.  The steps were as follows:

1. Self confidence [so sure they didn’t feel the need to depend on God in prayer]
2. Spiritual indifference [apathy in the Christian faith which is most characterized by a lack of prayer]
3. Temptation [lack of prayer equals a lack of dependence on God]
4. Sin [temptation gives way to sin as we fail to put on the full armour of God, including prayer]
5. Spiritual tragedy [falling away from our Lord]

At this point I was feeling pretty bad about myself and beat up about my poor prayer life.  I knew what God was telling me through this exposition of His word was to Pray.  Again and again He was bringing me the reasons why I should pray.  But itg was the same question as always…what to do next?

The next Sunday in MIT once again prayer came up.  We are studying The Holy Spirit and Sanctification and look what is on page 97 of the book we are studying:

If we work without the Spirit {to be sanctified}, we will be frustrated. On the other hand, if we leave it all to the Spirit and do not work, we will also end in failure. But combine the Spirit with work; then increasing victory will be ours. The secret of holy living is found in this combination. With it the Christian can have success.   The first work is to pray for a fuller presence of the Holy Spirit and Christ in his life….We may pray in faith for an increased indwelling of the Spirit in our lives, and we shall receive it.  We must remember that prayer is not simply a pious expression of devotion and thanks to God, but it is also a means of power. …It is necessary to persevere, for example – to go to God again and again with the same request.  It is also essential to go believing and expecting that He will answer our prayers, and not simply desiring an answer, thinking at the same time that God will not grant it….Faith is composed of trust as well as of knowledge.

Once again, I was floored by the teaching that God was sending my way about prayer.  The final piece of the puzzle was soon to fall into place for me.

Later that same evening in Tom’s evening sermon the last piece was given to me.  Tom said the following (I’m paraphrasing because I can’t possible write as fast as Tom can preach when he gets going):  You must labor to obey but it is natural and comfortable when you know God’s love through Christ.  What fuels our prayer lives?  When we are saturated in the knowledge of the love of God, our prayer life will be energized.  In our walk of faith, it is all energized and moved when we see the great love and grace to us through Jesus Christ, and the full assurance of our faith.

And therein was my problem with prayer in a nutshell:  I had a problem reconciling how much God loves me.  Growing up with a “fire and brimstone” type pastor, I tended to think of God more as the disciplinarian type Father.  When I sinned, I would feel like I disappointed Him and would actually avoiding God by not praying rather than face Him in His anger.  But that is such a wrong way of thinking.  That is totally leaving out the Love of God and Jesus Christ.  I was focusing on the wrath of Christ and not the love.

How freeing it is to remember that God loves me, He wants to hear from Me, I am his child and He wants me to talk with Him just a sure as I want my children to talk to me.  I can already feel a great change in the way I am thinking about prayer.

1 Peter 5:7  Cast all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.

Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst,
a  mighty One who will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness;
He will  quiet you by His love;
He will exult over you with loud singing.