Be still…

This week I am memorizing Psalm 46:1-2a, “God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. What then shall I fear?” As I have been reading through that verse this week, I have also been reading the rest of the chapter and making it my prayer this week.

Verse 10 of this chapter has often been a favorite of many people. I have read it and been convicted many times myself. However, you know sometimes when God wants to really drive a point home with you, He emphasizes an “old favorite” and teaches you something in a new way? Well, that is what God has done this week for me.

Check out verse 10 in a few different versions:

Psalm 46:10 (NIV) “Be still and know that I am God, I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Psalm 46:10 (Message) “Stop the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything!”

Psalm 46:10 (Amplified Bible) “Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth!”

Psalm 46:10 (Contemporary English Version) “Calm down and learn I am God! All nations on earth will honor me!”

Psalm 46:10 (Holman Christian Standard) “Stop – and know that I am God, exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth.”

And my all time favorite for what God is showing me this week…

Psalm 46:10 (NAS) “Cease striving and know that I am God, I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Cease striving. Cease striving? I feel like most of my day is spent striving. Striving to be a better mom. Striving to get rid of the selfishness. Striving to not feel guilty. (vicious cycle that is!) Striving to get it all done. Striving to do this. Striving to do that. I don’t think all my striving is pleasing to God.

I think He might be wanting me to cease. To really be still. For me, part of this is actual physical stillness…because I’m not good at that. But, a bigger part of that is for my heart and thoughts to be still. To stop all that striving in my own mind. Thinking I can get it all done on my own. To be at peace with where God has me and not always longing for being at the next stage spiritually, physically, emotionally. I worry a lot about how messed up emotionally I am, how messed up I am period. I think God is telling me to cease. Cease worrying about all that emotional baggage that I worry way too much about. Cease worrying about how I’m messing up my kids for life. 🙂 Just cease. Cease.

Spend more time in prayer instead of all those wasted hours/days of worry and striving. Spend more time communing with the One who has all my days ordained, instead of striving to get my days in order according to my own plan. Spend more time at the feet of the One who holds my heart in His hands…lovingly in His hands, instead of striving to figure out how I can work myself out of this mess or that mess. Spend time meditating on Psalm 139 and how God created me in His own image, created my sensitivites and emotions and personality…instead of wishing all those things away.

Be still. Cease striving. Know. Know that He is God.

Compassion, Meekness, Quietness, Kindness

The words I listed in the title of my post have all had an impact on me in the past week. I am learning that as I choose to focus on this thing called “compassion” the Lord is showing me that so many of the words and qualities are all intertwined. In the original verse I chose to memorize, Col. 3:12, compassion is mentioned right alongside kindness, gentlness, humility, patience…all things, if I were to be completely honest, that I need more of in my life!
This week I have begun a book study with a small group of ladies from an online message board. The book is called Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit by Teri Maxwell. I have read this book (well half of it) before and really, really thought it was very good, practical and encouraging. Teri Maxwell shares some of her own experiences where the Lord showed her that she was lacking in meekness and quietness. She shares scriptures and practical help for those of us who are also seeking these qualities.

 

So, as I have been continuing to focus on compassion, while also starting this book on being meek and quiet, I am seeing how much they all go together! And if I were to be completely honest and blunt with you, I would also say that up to this point I have had serious doubts that these changes could even happen in me.Therefore, as of today, I am claiming a verse over this study and over this area in my life. A verse that I have read so many times throughout my lifetime, but still brings such encouragement.

“I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Phil. 4:13.

And another verse that I am going to cling to as well:

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Cor. 9:8.

I looked up some synonyms of compassion: charity, pity, condolence, kindness, leniency, mercy, tenderness. All things that I desire to be. I have also looked up the definitions for meek: mild temper, soft, gentle, not easily irritated. And quiet: peaceable, not turbulent, not giving offense, mild, meek, content.

Well, right away I notice a few (or maybe a LOT) of things that I am NOT. I’m not always kind, I am not always tender and gentle. I am actually quite easily irritated. And I’m not always content either. It looks like I have alot of work to do. Or, should I say, it looks like God has so much to do in me. He has such a difficult job being my Father, the molder of my heart. Praise God that nothing is impossible (or difficult) with Him! I am praying, though, that I would open myself up to His changing power. I want Him to do this in me so badly that I can taste it. However, I know that the responsibility does not lie with Him alone. He has the power, I have to be ready, willing and able for it.

For the past few weeks I have been looking up scriptures with the words compassion, meek and quiet in them. Here are the ones that have stood out to me the most.

“Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the desert.” Neh. 9:19.

“But as soon as they were at rest, they again did what was evil in your sight. Then you abandoned them to the hand of their enemies so that they ruled over them. And when they cried out to you again, you heard from heaven and in your compassion you delivered them time after time.” Neh. 9:28.

“Praise the Lord…who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion.” Psalm 103:4

“when Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, He had compassion for these people…” Matthew 14:14.

“…the Father of compassion and God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received.” 2 Cor. 1:3.

“He leads me beside quiet waters…” Psalm 23:2

“Better a dry crust with peace and quiet, than a house full of feasting and strife.” Prov. 17:1.

“He will quiet you with His love…” Zeph. 3:17

“The one I esteem is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.” Isaiah 66:2.

“But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace.” Psalm 37:11

Oh Father, You show me so much through Your Word. So much so that at times (like now) I am completely overwhelmed with my own inadequacies. Yet, more than my own shortcomings, Your character and Your will for me shine through. You are the God of compassion, a Father to the fatherless. Jesus had compassion as soon as He saw people everywhere He went. I want that. I want my attitude to be like His. But, God, you are going to have to come into my heart and just do a complete makeover. I trust You, though. I trust You completely. I want to yield myself to You and allow You to do Your thing. Work in me. Change me. Mold me. Amen.

Prayers of Adoration

One Sunday morning, our pastor opened our service by having us pray prayers of adoration to God going through each letter of the alphabet. This unique way of praying has stuck with me…and I think it would be neat to just do this periodically. So many times I have my list of prayer requests to bring before God, but in my selfishness I forget to praise and adore Him.

A ~ awesome

B ~ beautiful

C ~ cleansing

D ~ defending

E ~ everlasting

F ~ Father

G ~ good

H ~ my Help

I ~ immovable

J ~ just

K ~ King

L ~ full of LOVE

M ~ merciful

N ~ never-ending

O ~ omnipresent

P ~ Prince of Peace

Q ~ quiets me with His love

R ~ reigning over all

S ~ sufficient

T ~ trustworthy

U ~ understanding

V ~ victorious

W ~ welcomes me

X ~ eXalted on high

Y ~ yearned for

Z ~ Zealous in his love for me

Election Day prayers

So, I can’t wear my shirt today to the polls…so I thought I’d “wear” it here today…I know alot of people that have already voted. Have you voted already? Are you going today? In years past I have never had to wait to vote more than maybe 10-15 minutes…so I wanted to take my kids with me today. They have learned alot about the election and the candidates over the past 2 weeks and are excited to go with me! (and well, they are excited to go to walmart too.) :(

So, anyway…make sure you get out and VOTE today!

I have been praying for our country…and must confess that I haven’t really known how to pray for this election. But, thankfully I’ve been getting those emails in my box with the 40 days to pray the election…here is today’s prayer. Please join me in praying for our country today!

Going a little farther, He fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.”
–Matthew 26:39

Sovereign God, Your plans are perfect and Your ways are right and just. You put Your plans in place and we see the beauty of all You have designed. We trust in Your perfect will, even when it does not make sense to us.

O Lord, bring about Your perfect will in our nation through these elections, we pray. Do just as You intend and give us faith and understanding to relinquish our wills to Yours, just as Your Son Jesus did when He surrendered His life for our sin. We thank You for Your goodness, and for Your kindness to us and our nation. In Your name, Amen.

More thoughts after Alaska

I have had so many thoughts swirling around in my head (I know, what is new?) and I haven’t quite known how to put some of it into words. But, I want to try. I also want to say from the start that I do hope and pray none of what I’mfeeling makes anyone else feel less. It is not my intention to make anyone feel badly…these are just things the Lord is laying on my heart. I have wanted to get these feelings out there because I want to hear from others…am I off base? Do you agree? Disagree?

Over the past year, David and I have both sensed the Lord nudging us to come out of our comfort zones. We have been feeling convicted of living too comfortably, in a lot of ways. I think part of these convictions led us to go on this mission trip to Alaska. We felt like the Lord dropped it into our laps and said…GO.

Now that we are back, the feelings are even stronger…the feelings of having the “easy life” as a Christian. I don’t mean that life is easy…you all know how I have struggled over the past 2 years with simply being a mom and wife! But, our lives as Christians here in the Bible belt are significantly “easier” to live. Meaning, we don’t have doors shutting in our faces…quite as often anyway! We don’t have people rudely answering NO when we mention that we are having VBS at church. In fact, generally speaking, we can speak about Jesus to our friends and neighbors without too much negativity. (Note, this is not to say that they are all Christians by any means! But that “religion” is very accepted and “ok” here.)

On the other hand, in Alaska, 95% of the population is lost. Not only that, but they don’t attend church either. In the Bible belt you may have a pretty good percentage of lost people, but I’m willing to bet that of those lost people, at least half of them attend church at some point.

Another aspect to the “easy life” is the amount of people we have. I struggled with feeling guilty and spoiled coming back to my big church in TN. I look across the sanctuary and see ten, twenty if not more men there that could at anytime get up and preach a message or give the gospel presentation from the pulpit. In Alaska the state missionaries have a list of villages with NO CHURCHES…a list of churches with NO STAFF…a list of places that want churches with NO WILLING PEOPLE. And folks, this list is rather long.

I looked around our sanctuary and saw how blessed we are with talent. (I notice the music because that is my gifting.) We have a choir and band made up of instrumentalists, back-up instrumentalists, instrumentalist who don’t want to play every week, vocalists, praise band rotations, the list goes on. In Alaska, one of the churches we ministered to had been without anyone to help with music in a year, I think.

These are just 2 examples. The list goes on.

My struggle is this…why are so many of us HERE where it is comfortable, easy and we aren’t “needed” when the need around the world is staggering. Why are we sitting on the pew hoping they won’t call us for nursery duty, when children around the world don’t have anyone to share with them the love of Jesus? Why are we showing up late to church on Sundays hoping they won’t ask us to usher when in other parts of the world they are struggling to keep the church doors open? Why are we sitting in our comfortable pews being spoon fed each and every week when fellow brothers and sisters around the world don’t even have Bibles to read of their own?

(press pause on the music on the sidebar before you listen to this song.)