Wednesday, November 17, 2010

In Great Expectation

My little man Reese is getting big enough now to ask me for the things that he wants as opposed to just crying when he needs something. He uses sign language and is learning to speak so it is so much fun when he toddles in and starts excitedly signing with his chubby little hands and jabbering something, sometimes understandable and sometimes not! I get so excited that he not only wants to ask me things, but that he wants to share everything with me. For example, as a general rule, trucks do not thrill me. But, when my little man comes running into the room, big eyes shining, frantically signing and saying "cuck!!" (translation: truck) all of the sudden a truck is the most exciting thing to me! I have also been noticing his attitude when he approaches me with a request. He comes with complete expectation that Mommy will meet whatever his need is. He knows that by coming to me, either his specific request will be granted or that Mommy will find something even better for him. Thus he comes before me with joy, excitement and expectation.

Reese's excitement at communicating with his parents has caused me to ponder the idea that we should approach our heavenly Father in the same way and that perhaps He responds to our communication with the same enthusiasm. Consider these verses.

James 1:6-7 says "But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord."

Isaiah 58:2 "Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God."

Luke 11:9-13 "And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?"

I wonder if we approached God with total enthusiasm and expectation if our prayers wouldn't have a different outcome. I don't know about you, but I tend to approach God because I know He is there, because I always have, I am desperate, it is the right thing to do. I have been pondering lately the fact that perhaps I need to change my approach. Perhaps I need to approach Him with the same wide-eyed, joyful expectation that my son approaches me with because He is a loving heavenly Father Who joys at hearing from us and delights in giving us good things. It is so easy to ramble off my list of requests hoping that He will answer. But what I frequently don't acknowledge is the fact that every one of my requests is just as important to Him as it is to me and that I as His daughter don't have to hope for an answer, I should expect one.

Just as a disclaimer, I am not saying that if we approach God correctly He will always answer all of our prayers just the way we want. When Reese sees me using knives to cut up veggies for dinner he likes to ask for one. However, as his mom I know that would be dangerous for him. Even though he may fuss about it because he is little and doesn't understand, I want something better for him. Maybe we need to realize that God works that way too. He may say no to our request, but it is just because He joys in bringing us to where He wants us to be. He is not a cruel Father who joys in saying no, but rather a loving one who desires what is best for His children.

I also wonder if God does not get just as much joy from us approaching Him as we get when our children delight in approaching us. Maybe God gets just as excited over our joy just because we are His. Perhaps that is the visual we should have next time we kneel before Him. Maybe next time I have a request or just something that excites me, I should run with joy to the Heavenly Father Who delights in me and approach with excited expectation at whatever His answer will be. How do you approach our Heavenly Father?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Drawing the Battle Lines

Matthew 6:24a "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. "

James 4:4 "You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God."

Matthew 12:30 "He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters."

Joshua 24:15: "But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Ammorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."

These are just a few of the verses that God has been using to slowly break through my beliefs concerning the way that I live. I constantly ponder whether my life is pleasing to God and the more I look around me and the more I try to read Scripture for what it truly says, I am ashamed of my actions. I suppose that what I am about to say seems fanatical, almost crazy, but God does not ask us to be of the world, nor to shape our lives to the everyday norms in order to "infiltrate" the darkness, but rather God calls us to be "in but not of" and to be a light that pierces the darkness. That means being something that the world will see as different because the truly lost person is not seeking someone that claims to have an amazing hope, but in reality is just like him, but he is rather truly looking for someone that expresses the love that they are longing for. Which one am I? What does my life show. If I apply this to every aspect of my life what is the result. Movies? Music? Books? Heroes? Attitudes? Actions? Clothing? Possessions? Desires? Thoughts?

How much do we justify something to ourselves by saying "it is mostly clean, it just has a little of this or that"? How often do we watch a movie that we encourage others to watch with the admonition of "It is a great movie! Totally clean. They only swear and take God's name in vain a few times, but otherwise it is great!" or "There are only a few bad parts, but otherwise it is wonderful!"? Who am I to make allowances for the misuse of my holy and righteous God's name?! Is that justifiable in any way? Do I not realize that if I take part in these things in anyway then I am making it acceptable? Do I not realize that everything that I do is a representation of what I believe? What do I truly believe? God does not take His holy name lightly nor does He take any sin lightly. Am I lukewarm in my beliefs as I walk around parading a watered down Christianity and a god who is no longer just, righteous and holy? Or am I someone who proclaims God as He is? Am I at enmity with the world or with God? Who am I truly serving?

Friday, October 22, 2010

In Tune with the Master

The lights dim. A hush fills the hall. Suddenly a lone spot light floods the stage with a splash of light. You vaguely make out the orchestra through the dim lighting noticing that one chair is still empty. You wait with growing anticipation until you see the curtain to the side lift up slightly and a lone form gripping a violin glides to the empty seat. She pauses and bows slightly as the hall fills with respectful applause. She then sits and with slight determination and authority lifts the violin to her chin and plays one long clear note. With this one note, the entire orchestra lifts their instruments and begins to tune to her single sound floating above the din. The sound of the entire orchestra tuning is a jumbled mass of confusing notes and strains, but when completed, each different instrument can play their own notes, their own melodies and harmonies and still sound perfectly in tune to each other. Thus by tuning to the one lead musician the individuals become a mass of beautiful music that moves the heart beyond words. Each individual has tuned into the master.

Just as abruptly each instrument is laid down and every musician arises to greet with honor the next lone individual to make his appearance. The conductor has arrived. It is he who chooses what to play, when to start, how long to hold each note, when to stop and in short how the entire concert is to be performed. If any musician chooses not to pay attention to the motions of the conductor, he or she will certainly regret it in the long run. For if they are to play as individuals producing one glorious sound, they must keep themselves in tune to each move of the leader.

Just the thought of the gorgeous music that comes from a symphony orchestra thrills me! As a musician the nuances of each performance and the beauty of the music stirs my heart like nothing else can! In studying music I have noticed how much an orchestra is a correlation to how our Christian lives should be lived. Here are some observations on the Christian walk from the view of a musician.

1. Every musician tunes to one person.
One person is who the entire orchestra tunes themselves to. Each individual instrument could tune themselves to each other, but then each individual group will still be out of tune as a whole. There is only one person who is considered to be perfectly in tune and everyone looks at them as such-the lead violinist. I think we are to look at Christ in the same way. I am not supposed to tune my flute to someone else's flute nor am I to try and tune myself to the trumpet section. Christ is the only one that I am to consider perfectly in tune and it is to Him only that I am to tune myself to. Only then will I be in tune to the Master and only then will my symphony be truly beautiful.

2. Every musician must pay close attention to the conductor, and only him, or they will be lost.
Allow me to present the idea of God as our conductor. It is He Who orchestrates every nuance of our lives. If we take our eyes off of Him, we will get lost, become off-key, stop playing, play for the wrong reasons or not know where to go next. Even worse is that it is our nature to either take the lead ourselves or look at something for guidance. If we are not focused on the true conductor we may either burst forth with our own off-key melody or we may put someone else in the place of the true conductor thus destroying the beauty of the music.

3. If even one person is out of tune, it makes everyone sound bad.
For simplicities sake I am going to reduce the orchestra down to two singers. If even one of the singers is out of tune, they both sound bad. My sister and I love to sing together. She has a gorgeous voice with a special knack for harmony, but I am better at just sticking with the melody. If either one of us is off key though, it sounds as though we both are. It makes both of us look bad. As the person carrying the melody, I am in the lead. If my sister doesn't know what I am singing, she will not know where to go with the harmony. She has to look to know where I am going and listen to me to see if I divert from the original notes so that she can follow me and both of us be in key. If we are singing a duet with God than He would be the melody and we are the harmony. We must look to His lead to know what notes to sing. We have to be in tune with Him or we make Him look bad.

In conclusion we must know God, study Him, listen to Him, watch Him, and communicate with Him in order to know His will. The outcome of our life's composition depends on it. Are you in tune with the Master?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Milk for the Soul

"As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious." 2 Peter 2: 2-3.

I read this verse yesterday and it has caused me to ponder how I desire God and how I should desire Him. Having a baby definitely puts a whole new light on everything and being able to watch him has given me a new perspective on verses like this one. As I read this verse I began to think about how my little man desires milk and tried to draw some parallels on my walk with God and my desire for the Word. My little man not only desires milk for comfort but also for his very existence. As he feeds off of milk, he grows and develops, it gives him the healthy benefits that he needs and he also receives comfort and warmth from it. When he is hungry there is no holding him back! If he can't get his milk, we know about it! When he eats, he is not distant from me, but rather he talks to me, makes eye contact and snuggles in as close as possible. He enjoys his milk. He knows that his momma is the source of his milk. He desires to stay as close to me as possible and have me with him everywhere he goes. I wonder if this describes my desire for God and His Word. Our babies taste and know that milk is good and hence crave it. Have we tasted of the Lords goodness?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Safety of our Souls

I have been pondering of late the safety of my loved ones. I tend to fear for their physical safety often and find myself praying frequently that God would keep them safe. I was thinking about how my most often uttered prayer for them is their physical safety and I began wondering if this was a properly balanced plee. I decided to first investigate the Psalms out of curiosity on the direction of David's prayers. I noticed that he did pray for physical safety, but his greatest pleas for safety was for the protection of his soul. I know that our prayers are the overflow of our hearts and I began to wonder what this implied David's focus was. I wonder that if I truly believe in my deepest heart that God works all things for good and that He has all my days written than should I be fearing for mine and my loved ones physical safety? Yes, I should use all wisdom and discernment to keep us safe and yes, I should pray for protection, but should I be in constant fear, consistently pleading for safety or should I trust in the almighty and sovereign hand of the God who loves me?

I also began to wonder if it is all in my perspective. If my perspective is eternal than I would consistently realize that the safety of our souls is of the highest importance. If my focus is earthly, I tend to forget what is of the greatest significance.

Perhaps my responsibility in keeping myself and my loved ones safe does not solely lie in our physical safety but rather, I should be putting just as much significance on our eternal safety if not more. If my child is physically safe sitting in front of the TV while I work does it make it alright if I am introducing his little soul to things that do not honor God? We put so much effort and thought into the protection of our bodies that we think as long as we are physically safe we can relax and in doing so we sacrifice our souls and our childrens' by our apathy. From an earthly perspective as long as our children are physically well we have done our duty, but is that truly fulfilling our responsibility from a godly, eternal perspecive? We think if our child is physically safe in a group of kids that we can be free from worry, but do we question what they are learning spiritually in that group? Perhaps my prayers and heart should take a new direction. Perhaps my prayer today should be for safety of body, but also with David I should say, "Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, and save me from bloody men. For, lo, they lie in wait for my soul:" Psalm 59:2-3a

Monday, August 16, 2010

Impulsive Expressions of Love

A few days ago my husband and I were sitting together in our house when out of the blue Mike leaned over, kissed my cheek and told me how grateful he is for me and that he thinks I am a great wife and mother. I got those typical warm tingly feelings that run through your frame when someone you love and respect gives you a compliment that you know came from the heart. I began pondering why that compliment meant so much and I realised that one reason was that it was an impulsive expression of love. I began translating that into my walk with the Lord and I began to wonder how many impulsive expressions of love I send His way. We all have our expected expressions; good-night kisses, hugs when we are hurt, greetings and good-byes. In our walk with the Lord perhaps it would be prayers before bed, daily Bible reading, going to church. I wonder though if these mean as much as a random out of the blue prayer of thanks, a choice to do what's right out of love for Him, singing God a love song. I know that God wants our regular devotion, but what about our adoring affection?

Whether we realize it or not, every decision, every action, every word is an expression of our heart. Every impulsive word or act proves where our hearts affections lie. Are our own selves the recipient of the impulsive expressions of our love? Or is it obvious that God is the object of our adoration and the one occupying the throne of our hearts? I wonder at the end of today who the composition of my heart will be praising.