Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Beauty of the Lord

Ps 8:3-4
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
(from New International Version)

The South Coast Botanical Gardens in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA is something to witness. Miles upon miles of beautiful vegetation, nestled against hills, trails, and benches to take in the view, just 20 miles from downtown Los Angeles. My children and I went to visit there for my son’s social studies project—“Exploring His Community”, just last weekend. I was struck by how we live amidst the garbage of the world: crime, violence, disease, hate, pollution, and oppression, yet God still reveals Himself and searches for His people. Are we aware of His presence? Do we see Him in our everday lives? I’m not so sure. We get so caught up with what we need to do—laundry, chores, kids, work, bills, serving at church, serving at the kids’ schools, doctor appointments, homework, reading, and on and on.  But God is still working miracles in the here and now. Look at the lives transformed; those who were addicted and now are healthy and happy. Families reunited through divorce and sin, now together again and thriving. Babies without mothers, left behind, alone, but now adopted by loving parents who long to take care of them and watch them grow. And even this beautiful garden of gum trees, roses, hibiscus, lilacs, daisies, and more. God is seeking us. He wants us to realize it and take a moment and spend time with Him. How awesome that my kids decided we should sit after an hour into our hike in the park and stop and pray. How often do you stop to smell the roses?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Open the Eyes of My Heart

Last night I was praying and studying and a message began to develop for our weekend home to Montana next weekend, “Seeing is Believing”. It’s based upon Ephesians 1:17-20 which reads:
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.
Without having a clear vision of our Lord, we may never know the path and plan He has laid out for us to follow. I love this little cartoon picture depicting the man who can’t see Jesus, despite standing right next to Him. His telescope was blocking his view of the Lord and he mistakenly thought Jesus was too far away. How often do we think that God is not near us, keeping us safe, comforting us, and loving us? How can we believe in God if we cannot see Him working in our life?

Many obstacles will try to get in front of our line of vision to God. Finances, work stress, homework, illness, relationship problems—the list goes on and on. Perhaps, we as humans can get in the way as well. How often do we rely on our own strength and knowledge instead of on the power of God? Pride and selfishness will often try to keep us from saying, “Yes Lord, I DO need You.”  We can’t do anything on our own. The flesh and sin are rampant throughout the world. In order to believe that God can and will provide us with victory over our trials in this life, we need to make sure we can see HIM at all times. We may not see God physically through a burning bush or appear to us as He did to Mary and the other women outside the tomb, but we can still know joy and His reflection in the miracle of His creation and through His people. Through the birds, vegetation, seas, and warm touch or hug of a neighbor, God is real. He is always there for us and wants to comfort and love us. Have faith and let Him!

1 Peter 1:8, “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy”

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Be a Hero!



With Easter right around the corner, finals are over, and the kids coming up on Spring break, it has felt like the last 3 months since Christmas past have gone by in a flurry of meetings, homework, illnesses, boo boo's, parties, friends, and now we get a sudden break. Where did the time go? How did I survive?

"He gives power to the faint and weary, and to him who has no might He increases strength [causing it to multiply and making it to abound]."

Isaiah 40: 29

I am so thankful for my Lord, who comforts and provides when I can't go on. He is my refuge and shelter. He gives me the extra 'umph', the extra 30 minutes of patience, the ability to breathe in Him and draw on His presence and power. HE also provided me with an AWESOME family, whom I am grateful for!! My darling children do their chores, play together, pray together, care about their friends and even rub my back! My husband. . . Well he's just the best. No other man will give baths, do dishes, bake a cake, while playing video games and listening to his wife whine about the day. Truly he is heaven sent.

In the picture is my family at a previous years' youth rally, "Be a Hero-be like Jesus!". How awesome it was to see everyone so pumped up on helping one another, striving for Christ like hearts, and bringing their friends to Sunday School so that they too could be saved. When I think about the devastation that is plaguing our planet lately, many probably wonder, what can I do? Well Jesus not only performed miracles, but He also taught and pray. Get involved with your local church. Lend a hand to someone who needs help. Pray for the families and workers who are serving in China and Haiti. Send a troop member a card. He's probably scared and missing his mother.

We can all do something. Maybe we feel tired or out of juice; but with God's mighty hand upon us, we too can BE a hero!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I'll Fight!

This is a video we made a few years back. . . How I miss the teens and youth of Montana. I pray they continue to stand up for what is right, fight oppression, and be the leaders of tomorrow we need.
The "I'll Fight" song is by Lincoln Hawk. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

How do we go about ‘standing firm’ in our faith?

Titus 1:9, “He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. “

Maybe some of you have seen this bumper sticker recently. It looks sort of neat, has a nice feeling about it, but what is the underlying thought behind it? Some think that it is implying that all roads lead to heaven. Yes, we are called to love our neighbors and live in peace, forgiving one another. Coexisting in this world with others who don’t think, look, or act like we do is a reality and something that should take place without the hatred, bigotry, or stigmatism that is popularized by statements and actions of a few on different sides of the religious poles.
In the gospel of John, chapter4, Jesus and the Samaritan woman show us that people of different backgrounds and beliefs are able to interact and have a life-changing conversation, without condemnation. Despite knowing everything in the past of the woman at the well, Jesus did not get angry or upset or throw any harsh feelings or words at her. If we are to live as Christians, we need to be aware that our walk and talk should reflect that of Christ’s. We should exemplify the fruit of the Spirit when interacting and sharing our faith: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.
Relativism is on the upward trend and it would be nice to not have any wrong opinions ever. But we need to tread cautiously; we do believe there is only one way to the Father, through the Son. Yet how we say it and spread it can dramatically impact the reaction we get when we are talking to someone such as the Samaritan Woman. According to Barna research, only 9% of American adults have a biblical worldview. Our message is not always a welcome one. Sometimes it may not even be so much as an audible one—we can share our faith and love for Christ by how we live. Gal 5:25-26, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”

Saturday, February 26, 2011

I'm Trading My Sorows

In one of our classes at school recently we were posed with a question: Why did God chose this world to perserve freedom and defeat evil?

This got me thinking a little bit about my hometown. There has been around a dozen people in the past two years whom I either grew up with, knew their children, or by way of my parents-- who has recently left this earth unexpectedly. Many people in this small tight-knit community are saddened by this fact and it leaves us wondering the age old question, why does God let bad things happen to good people? Why does God let anything bad happen? How can a God who is all about love, allow a world to have evil or sorrow in it?

Which gets me back to the original question which our class was challenged to answer. Because God does love us, He has given us a free will. We can either choose Him and be a part of His family, or we can choose to live a part from Him. We know that being 'in sin' is living apart from God. If we want to live in the mainstream pop culture and "fit in" with what the world says is cool, then are we really living according to God's will for our lives?

God calls us to be a holy people. This is only done out of our love for Him, living in constant fellowship with Him, and allowing His power, given to us by His Holy Spirit, to choose what is right and true. I used to live to do what pleased Misty. I chose to make bad choices and turn away from the Lord's light and path for me. But I think everyone comes to a crossroads at some point in their life where they have to decide: Will I choose life or do I choose "self-pleasing", the world, and ultimately death? It may not be that clear to everyone, but it really is our own individual decision. I praise the Lord for my 'opportunity' at a young age (25) to come to the crossroads and see clearly the path of destruction versus the path to His Kingdom.

Jesus said in John 15:9, "If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, as I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you." (NIV) So living a Christian life may be hard. We will suffer here. There will exist for a time, pain, sorrows, grieving, and hurt. All this has its place as God gives us freedom to make choices and ultimately, should we choose His way, we will no longer have pain and sorrow in heaven with Him.

So why here why now is our freedom preserved and evil allowed? This may not be the best possible situation, but it is the best way to the best world. If God is to both preserve freedom and defeat evil, then he has to ensure that each person is given the chance to make his own free choice to determine his destiny. Evil is overcome in that, once those who reject God are separated from the others, the decisions of all are made permanent. Sin will cease to exist. The ultimate goal for God's perfect world after judgment with free humans will have been achieved, but He can only do it by casting out those who abuse their freedom.

"I have told you these things, so that in me, you can have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." --Jesus, (John 16:33 NIV)

Friday, January 21, 2011

I will Sing!

"Sing to the Lord a new song, sing to the Lord all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise His name, proclaim His salvation day after day. Declare His glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples, For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;" Psalm 96:1-4

Growing up in a musical family, I loved to play piano, guitar, sing, dance, and do anything involving making music. My brothers and I would harmonize and sing until the late hours of the morning if we could talk our mother into it. She didn't always like us staying up late, but I suspect her own love for music convinced her on occasion.

When I became lost in the downward spiral of addiction I stopped singing. My depression and despair became so great that I lost my voice. Looking back, it was probably that singing gives me great joy. It is something I believe God gives us as a gift, which is to be used to worship Him and exalt Him. Because I was not in His will, I had no use for making a 'new song'. My joy did not exist-only a false shell of worldly possessions, overrated hypes and highs, and long periods of loneliness.

After I came back to the Lord, I wanted to sing. And sing, and sing, and sing. He has saved me and set me free and I will praise Him with my voice wholeheartedly. What a blessing it is to know that my children are also a part of this musical ministry that has been growing inside my soul. Pray for my kids, if you will, that they never have to lose the song in their heart.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

All Your Anxieties

Whew! Another Christmas season in the past and the new year is upon us. What a fantastic ride it has been so far. I was blessed to be able to spend some much needed quality time with my family in Big Bear, CA and we had a wonderful white Christmas with sledding, snow ball fights, and snowmen.

A few nights ago I was able to spend some good quality time with my youngest Jayna. We giggled and talked and the time was very special for both of us. I shared with her how she was my little miracle baby as she came at just the right time in my life to save me from a depression that had been creeping up on me before she was born. In the next couple months, there will be several different trips where I will have to be away from my children so I love how the Lord provides these unique little moments for me to bond with my kids. Before Jayna and I knew it, it was too late and Daddy came in to tell us it was bedtime.

Now that we are back to the grind of school and homework, I felt myself become very inundated with the hectic schedule of reading and writing. At my discipleship group yesterday I shared with my sisters in Christ how overwhelmed by the amount of reading and things to do we had and wondered if I would get out of this rut I seemed to be in this week. A wise woman told me that we only can tackle the tasks at hand one day at a time. Even now, this is true. We can plan for the future so it doesn't creep up and suprise us, but for now, worry about today.

When I told my youngest that she saved me, she summed up my New Year's motto. "I didn't save you Momma, God did." How true this is! No matter what anxieties we have and what life brings us, God will see us through it and it is become of Him that we are able to accomplish anything.

"But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9