Tuesday, March 31, 2009
It’s funny that things don’t ever seem to go as planned. We can have preconceived ideas in our mind about the way things will take place. We can even try to fit things into a certain formula. But truth is, things are going to happen the way God intends and the way God ordains. We don’t always understand them. We don’t always agree with them. We don’t always like them. His way is not our way. His way is the only way.
Two years ago when Ashlie had Bryton, she was only 17 years old. His birth was not the birth that we had all envisioned. He was early. He was born face-up. He was born with a lung infection. He was born with some heart problems. These things are not things I would have chosen for my daughter’s first entrance into motherhood. She didn’t even get to hold him before they whisked him off to the NICU where he stayed 7 days. It seems like when he was in there, everything that could go wrong did. His kidneys wouldn’t work. He couldn’t eat. He couldn’t seem to breathe without having episodes of apnea. He couldn’t regulate his temperature. But through it all, God was in control. God had mercy upon that precious little boy and he overcame every obstacle that was thrown his way. He is now an adorable, sweet, wonderful 2 year old.
Ashlie handled that situation with such grace. She handled it better than I think most 17 year olds could have handled things. She handled it better than her mother did!
I prayed that she wouldn’t have to endure that again. That moment of terrifying uncertainty when you know there is something going on with your baby, but you have no idea what it is. I wanted her to have the “normal” birth experience where you get to hold your baby right away and in a few hours you are able to nurse them and spend time with them. She wanted that too. Very badly.
But that is not what God had planned for her. Even though things didn’t go as WE had hoped - the way they DID go, didn’t surprise God. He knew what would take place. He also gave Ashlie (and the rest of us) the strength that was needed to endure this trying time once more.
Sawyer came into this world ‘sunny-side up’ just like his big brother did. It makes the birth a little harder. When he came out he was looking straight up at the doctor. But he also had fluid coming out of his mouth and his nose. When I heard him attempt to cry, I knew then something was not right. He just couldn’t get his lungs cleared out and was having trouble breathing. So off to NICU he went. Once again, Ashlie didn’t get to hold her newborn baby. She didn’t get to have that experience of cuddling with her little boy. Instead, she had to wait until they got him stable. Then she was able to go see him for about 15 minutes. She was able to look at him, but she couldn’t hold him. She couldn’t feed him. She couldn’t do all the things that mothers want to do for their babies. All the things that mothers are supposed to do for their babies.
But through it all, we have learned to lean on God for our strength. We have learned that when things don’t go as WE planned, it’s time to let go and let God take the reigns. It’s time to put our faith into practice. It’s time to make our theology our reality.
God is so good. He is my strength. He is my refuge. He is the Lord of my life.
I praise Him for His goodness and His mercy. I praise Him that Sawyer is doing so well. I praise Him that things that could have happened didn’t. I praise Him that Ashlie had a safe delivery and is doing fine. I praise Him that even though he is still on a little oxygen, he is breathing so much better. I praise Him that Ashlie and Cody got to hold him for the first time this afternoon. I praise Him that she will get to feed him for the first time in the morning. I praise Him for the many prayers that have gone up for Sawyer.
He is worthy of our praise.
Monday, March 30, 2009
We finally got to go see the little - I mean big fella. He weighed 8 pounds and is 19 1/4" long. They think that he got a big gulp of fluid as he was being born and he was having trouble getting it all out of his lungs. He is doing better, they have him hooked up to oxygen and basically just putting the pressure in his lungs. We are waiting for the xrays, but his color is good and they said he is feisty!
I certainly appreciate all the prayers and would ask you to please just keep on praying. Ashlie feels much better now that she has gotten to see him. She and Cody are back there now with him. Hopefully tomorrow I can post a picture where you can see his sweet little face.
Update: Sawyer is here! He was born at 1:34. On his way to the NIC unit. He was having a little trouble breathing. Dejavu. Ashlie is a little upset. Please pray for her. SHe went through this with Bryton and just doesn't want to do this again... Sawyer had a knot in his cord. He was born sunnyside up just like Bryton. Having a little trouble moving air. We should be able to see him in about an hour.
Well, she is now 9cm! She was feeling some pressure and they checked her again. She moves fast from 6 cm on... I am just so excited!!
Update: 12:45 PM
Well, she is now at 6 cm. and when she got this far with little Bryton, it wasn't long at all. She is hanging in there. Had a little bout with her blood pressure about an hour ago. It got to 90/40 and she didn't feel well, but they pumped a little fluid in her and she is better now. She got her epidural a little while ago and she is still feeling some pain, but not as bad.
I am just so excited. I am praying for a healthy baby. When Bryton was born, she didn't get to hold him for several days and I am praying that Sawyer doesn't have any lung problems!!
Ashlie got to the hospital around 6 am this morning having some mild contractions. They hooked her up to some antibiotics as a precaution because of Bryton's lung infection at birth. They started some pitocin to kick-start the contractions.
The doctor came in at 9 and broke her water and she was dilated 4 cm. She is feeling good right now. The contractions are coming pretty regular and some of them hurt and some of them don't. I don't like seeing her in pain. It hurts my heart for her so much! But she is doing good. They are coming in about 10:30 to up the pitocin.
Just wanted to let y'all know what was happening. I will keep you updated and when this precious little baby arrives, I will post some pictures!
Friday, March 27, 2009
(Ashlie at 38 weeks with little boy #2)
As I await the birth of my baby daughter’s second child, I am just about beside myself with anticipation. The addition of another grandbaby just brings such joy to my heart. My oldest daughter, Megan, has 3 precious ones and now Ashlie will have 2 precious little boys.
Someone asked me how the birth of this one compared to the birth of my first grandchild. I can honestly say that the level of excitement and love that I feel now is the same as it was 6 ½ years ago as I awaited the birth of Megan’s first child. I will admit that the first time I was filled with a different sort of emotion. There was a newness that only happens that one time. There was the element of the unknown. It was a venture into a new territory. I was only 40 years old and my daughter was only 17 at the time. But I can absolutely promise you that I feel no less thrilled with the impending arrival of this precious one than I did with any of the other bundles of joy. In my heart, it’s another first.
The miracle of birth is something that still just astounds me. I gave birth 3 times and have 3 of the most wonderful gifts from God. I have 3 precious daughters. But I am here to tell you that there is nothing that can compare to witnessing your own daughters give birth to their children. To witness them bring new life into this world. To witness their entrance into motherhood.
I have been blessed to be at the birth of all my grandchildren so far. I was there from the first contraction to the final push that preceded the emergence of new life into this world. I was there during the different stages of labor. I was there during the first stage when things weren’t too painful and they were still feeling good. I was there during the “Mama, I can’t do this anymore” stage. I was there when they had reactions to epidurals. I was there when their blood pressure went too low. I was there helping them breathe though contractions. I was there counting to 10. I was there encouraging. I cried when they cried. I laughed when they laughed. I rejoiced when they rejoiced. When those precious bundles from heaven made their appearance, I was just as overwhelmed with emotion as they were. Each time. Each baby. Each birth. Each miracle.
As I look forward to the birth of this next precious baby, I am filled with the same anticipation as before. I am so thankful that God has blessed us for now with these little ones. I am thankful for His protection upon my girls during their pregnancy, labor and delivery. I am thankful that my girls are fabulous mothers, raising their children in the admonition of the Lord. I am thankful that they love me enough to share this experience with me.
As I sit back and remember each birth experience, my eyes just fill with tears. I can’t even begin to tell you the level of joy that just floods my heart when I witness the miracle of birth. My heart is just so full of love for my girls and for their children. My sweet babies having babies of their own. I feel almost too blessed. I can still recall each moment when those miracles made their appearance. That very first moment when I caught sight of those precious babies. The looks on my daughters faces as they held their children for the first time. The looks that passed between them and their husbands as they held the result of their love in their arms.
Laughter and tears mixed together. Joy and relief. Praise and thanksgiving. Awe and wonder.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” James 1:17
Thursday, March 26, 2009
"Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name." (Psalm 100:4)
1. I am thankful for PRAYER. Prayer is our lifeline to God. It is our time of true communion with Him. Through prayer we are able to connect with a Holy God. We can cry out to Him. Call upon His name. Be thankful to Him. Petition on behalf of others. We can just talk to Him and He hears. Thank you sweet Jesus for Prayer.
2. I am thankful for the book of Acts. It is just filled with the love that the disciples had for Jesus. They loved to spread the gospel. They fasted. They prayed. They encouraged. They preached. They were faithful.
3. I am thankful for God's hand on me. These last few days when I have felt anxiety creep up and began to turn to fear, when I call out to Him and pray His Word, He calms me. Thank you precious Father.
4. I am thankful for the new covered patio that the church provided for us. And the beautiful flower garden that my husband and I worked so hard on. Ok... well, that my husband worked so hard on. But I helped. A little.
5. I am thankful that Stellan had God's hand upon him yesterday. He overcame a deadly episode of VT. I am thankful that he was resting last night. I pray that his sweet mama gets some rest. She is strong. She is full of faith. She has put her trust in God.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
I have covered their parents and grandparents with prayers. I can't imagine what they are going through. They are finding strength in God. They are being held up by the prayers of people like you and I.
I found the following in a worship book. It says it all.
For those looking for purpose and direction,
God gave a Wonderful Counselor.
For those filled with anxiety and strife,
God gave a Prince of Peace.
To the lost and helpless,
God gave a Good Shepherd.
To those needing a voice in their brokenness,
God gave an Advocate.
To those seeking answers,
To the ones ravaged by physical illness and spiritual calamity,
the Great Physician.
And for all of those facing the darkness of death,
God gave the Resurrection and the Life.
And as if that weren't enough, to everyone with no spark of divine presence in their lives,
He gave Immanuel - God with us.
Monday, March 23, 2009
We, like that canvas, are a work in progress. Is our shadow being cast onto our own life's canvas? Is it blocking others from being able to see the work of Jesus and His glory on our canvas?
So many times, I know that I get too focused on what others think of me in worldly terms. There are many things in all our lives that draw attention away from God and onto ourselves. Things that shout out, "Hey! Look at me!"
Our cars, our clothes, our hairstyles, our careers, our homes and even our successes.
These are the kinds of things that make life 'all about us'. When life becomes all about us, it is hard for others to see Jesus in us. Living for ourselves accomplishes nothing more that casting our own shadow on the canvas that should be reflecting His Presence in our lives.
I have been so guilty of this. It is so easy to lose sight of our purpose. It is easy to allow our own shadow to be cast upon that canvas.
Paul warned the believers in Corinth that 'No flesh should glory in His presence." (1 Corinthians 1:29)
This is a warning about getting too full of ourselves. A warning that I can assure you I need daily. A warning that smacked me right in the face when I read it.
As the Lord is in the process of painting my life's canvas, I need to keep "me" out of the way. I don't want my shadow cast on that canvas and preventing Him from doing His mighty work in my life. I want the image of Christ reflected there. I want others to be able to see Jesus.
"But let him who glories glory in this, that He understands and knows me. That I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgement and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight" says the Lord. (Jeremiah 9:24)
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Thanks Lisa for this awesome opportunity to focus on what we are believing God for.
I am believing God for continuing to show himself mighty in my life. I desire nothing more than to draw closer and closer to Him. The more I learn, the more I desire to know. The more I feel Him, the more I desire to reach up. The more I see His hand at work, the more I want to give Him praise.
There are days when I just cry out to Him because I want to 'hear' Him speak to me. It's like I just need that affirmation from Him that I am His. I almost feel desperate for a Word. But then that still small voice reminds me that I am His because of my faith. I have to know He is there, even when I can't always feel it. Then when I settle my spirit down.. when I focus on what I DO know... He speaks to my heart.
I am believing God....
"For your Word has given me life." Psalm 119:50b
Friday, March 20, 2009
"... So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch."(Acts 11:26)
There were 2 things that defined who these early believers really were.
1. Everywhere they went, they talked about Jesus. They told anyone and everyone the good news. They fasted and prayed and they preached the Word of God. They were definitely not ashamed of the gospel.
2. They eagerly learned the scriptures. They were taught by Saul and Barnabas for a whole year. They desired to learn. They desired knowledge. They desired understanding.
The name Christian means 'an adherent to Christ'. Literally one who sticks to Christ. To be Christ-like. When we are striving to be like Him, there are certain things that should be taking place.
* Our lives should tell others about Jesus.
* We should be HUNGRY for God's Word.
* We should crave the Word of God like we crave chocolate..
* Our actions should bring glory and honor to Him.
* Our number 1 priority should be Jesus.
When we declare to others that we are Christians, we need to make certain that we can back our words up with some spiritual evidence. Actually, we shouldn't have to declare it, our lives should just show it.
It's so easy to hear things and profess things, but it's not always so easy to live out these same things on a daily basis. That's what makes our Christian walk so challenging. That's what makes our Christian life so rewarding. It takes effort. It takes perseverance. It takes determination.
I desire to be a Christian who is worthy of my calling. I desire for people to know that I am a follower of Christ by the life I lead. I want to seek Him more. I want to grow in knowledge. I want to walk where He would walk. I want to talk like He would talk. I want to love like He would love. When I gaze into the spiritual mirror, I want to see His reflection.
"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." James 1:22
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Two rules accompany this award:
1. Confess 5 things you are addicted to
2. Pass the award on to 5 deserving bloggers.
1. Stepping Higher with Jesus
2. My husband - can't think of anyone I would rather go through life with.
3. My children- they are so precious to me.
4. My Sweet Grandbabies - I can't get enough of them!
5. Coffee, coffee, and more coffee...
Five deserving bloggers:
1. Edie at Rich Gifts.
2. Susan at Count it all Joy
3. Beth at I'm Heading Toward my Destiny
4. Kristen at Over the Backyard Fence
5. Sarah at Nesting in Pleasantview
6. Denise at Teacups and Time
7. Dana at Seeking, Growing, Learning, Preparing
Ok - I picked more than 5, but I could have picked many many more... I love every blog that I read. Everyone ministers to my soul in many different ways!! Thanks to everyone who comes to my blog.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Thanks to Kim for this great honor and award.
"These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to 8 bloggers who must choose 8 more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award."
Laurie at Supernatural Living
Yolanda at Higher Grounds
Sonya at Truth 4 the Journey
Dawn at Dawn's Cottage Corner
Stephanie at Truthsharer
Lisa at Sharing Life with Lisa
Lisa at My Passionate Pursuit
Christy at Between Here and Home
Sharon at God's Child
I am a perfectionist. It's something that I have always considered a good thing. I mean, I love a very neat house. I just love to clean (really!). Everything in my house has a place and I like them in it.. My husband has told people, that if he get's out of bed at night to go to the bathroom, that I will make up the bed behind him! I just love things to be orderly and sometimes I admit I am a little excessive. My kids will tell me, "Mama, just sit down and relax!". And I wonder why I have high blood pressure...
I have rewritten my LPM scripture memory cards 4 times. I am absolutely not kidding. The first several times, I just couldn't get them to look the way I wanted. Then when I was adding my last scripture, I couldn't find the same kind of pen that I had been using (in different colors of course) so I redid them all. I hope that y'all don't think less of me =)
So as I was studying today and reading "Living Free", guess what just jumped out of the book and into my heart? Perfectionism is a stronghold. It's bondage. Perfectionism is bondage, because it is something that we can't ever obtain. There is only One Perfect being and that is God. If we strive for things that are unattainable, we set ourselves up for failure and disappointment. Then we think that we are unpleasing to God and then our human nature causes us to think that we are spiritual failures. It can cause us to doubt our salvation and it spins us into a vicious cycle.
* we renew our commitment to the Lord
* something happens and we feel like a failure
* we become angry at ourselves for "failing"
* then the feeling of despair sets in
So then our thoughts turn inward and our focus is on our own inadequacy. It begins to exalt itself in our thoughts. So the quest for perfectionism thus becomes the quaking of our spiritual lives and then it becomes the graveyard of our growth process.
"For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)
This applies to anything in our life that is perhaps taking a stronghold effect on us. We have to realize that we cannot please God by being perfect. If we focus on our sins and our inadequacies, we are not pleasing Him. The only focus that will change our lives is if we steer our focus to God. The more we focus on Him, the less we will focus on ourselves. My over obsessive behavior in essence takes over my ability to keep my sights on Him. If I am too full of my self, there is no room for God.
Our focus has to be in His Word and in prayer. Like the scripture says, we have to take our thoughts captive to Christ and make His thoughts our thoughts. We have to make Him our focus. More of Him, less of me.
Lord, help me to realize that when I think I am trying to strive for perfectionism, I am really striving for the unattainable. Help me to put You first. I want to make Your thoughts, my thoughts. I want my focus to be on You. I want to be more like You, Lord. Help me to break out of the bondage and into the glorious light of freedom!
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Let's praise Him with everything that we have! Let's lift our hands high and give Him the glory and honor that He so deserves. Let's reach up to Him with our hands like our children do to us when they are small and want us to hold them.
I pray today will be a day of healing and restoration to our souls. A day that we recommit ourselves to the futhering of His kingdom. A day that we reconnect with a Holy God. A day of inner examination.
"So that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints." (1 Thessalonians 3:13)
Friday, March 13, 2009
It seems like the world has just gone crazy! Some of the things that are happening, just absolutely floor me. I can't believe that there are people that actually think that some of these things are good things. Don't people see what is really going on here? It's like they have blinders on to what is REALLY happening. It is a little scary.
I read something though that I am going to hold onto and focus on. There are bad things going on in this world - that is a fact. But there are also a lot of GOOD things going on behind the scenes in the spiritual kingdom. We don't always see it and we can't always feel it, but we know it is there. We can rest assured that God is working 24 hours a day and we can rest assured that He has everything under control. His control. None of this surprises Him.
We just have to hold on to our faith and beliefs and know that our God is still present in our lives. He has not left us. He is always there to guide us and protect us.
We have to keep our faith and trust in Him. We have to keep spreading the gospel. We have to keep doing His work.
It is hard sometimes to disregard what seems like the world's total disobedience and rebellion to God. The world lives by a set of values that are completely opposite of what God's values are. We just have to stay strong and keep ourselves in His Word. God's Word is where we we will find the things that He values. When we focus on those things, we can't go wrong. We will be on the winning team. We will finish strong.
I get so much strength from all of my sweet bloggy friends! I just love the way we can encourage one another. It has been such a blessing to me and I am so thankful for all of you!
"We do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen; for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:18)
Thursday, March 12, 2009
I love Thankful Thursday and as always I thank Sonya in her diligence to help us remember to be thankful!
1. I am so thankful for my husband. Not only is he a willing servant of God, he is such a great Pastor. He is always there for people. No matter the time of day or time of the week, he is ready and willing to minister to anyone in need. Even though he is going to do his 8th funeral in 2 months time, he doesn’t let it get him down. He functions on strength that only comes from God.
“And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9)
2. I am thankful for my daughter Megan. She is such a wonderful, Godly wife to Rod and is raising her 3 children in the ways of our Lord. (Even though they are in Indiana right now working, I am thankful for cell phones so we can talk and text during the day!) Thank you Lord for my sweet Megan.
3. I am thankful for my daughter Melissa. She has been such a blessing to me. She has a heart for missions. She is going to spend her spring break in Bolivia doing mission work. She is also going to Africa this fall for several months to work at a medical mission. After Med school, she plans to be a doctor and return to Africa to help those in need. Thank you Lord for my sweet Melissa.
4. I am thankful for my baby girl Ashlie. She has been such a good Christian wife and mother. She is growing in the Lord and it blesses my heart when I see her little boy “read” his bible on his own. He is learning by example. Little fella #2 will be here in less than 3 weeks!! Thank you Lord for my precious Ashlie.
5. I am thankful for grandbabies. Oh, my they are just the joy of my heart! How can anything get any better than that? Children are fabulous, but grandchildren are like the BEST! They are the blessing of all blessings. Thank you Lord for your protection upon them. Thank you Lord, for my grandbabies.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Do we have compassion for others? Real, heartfelt, heart changing compassion? Do we even know what compassion really is?
Compassion - (def.) Sympathy for the suffering of others often including a desire to help
To me, it's just not enough to have sympathy for others. We need to have that longing and desire to do something for
*If we have compassion for the sick - we need to be willing to visit them in the hospital and pray for them.
*If we have compassion for the elderly - we need to visit them in their home or nursing home.
*If we have compassion for young mothers and little babies - we need to be willing to work in the church nursery.
*If we have compassion for our youth - we need to spend time talking with them and encouraging them instead of being critical.
*If we have compassion for people - we need to be willing to minister to them.
Whether our compassion is for the lonely, the poor, the rich, the elderly or the hurting, we have to be willing to act on that emotion of sympathy and actually try and eleviate some of their suffering. Otherwise, all we have done is feel sorry for them.
Now I know that we can't personally minister to every person that is in need. But we can pick one area of ministry and dedicate ourselves to it. We have to start somewhere.
I am ashamed to say there have been times that I have encountered people in need and I have found myself thinking "Oh, bless their hearts". And then I just go on with my life and don't give them a second thought. How uncaring of me! How selfish of me! How umcompassionate of me!
That is one of the reasons I think that God put the prayer page on my heart. He gave me such a desire to lift those needs and burdens up to the Throne of Grace and be in fervent prayer for others. I have a true compassion for other people and through this, I am held accountable and have dedicated myself to it.
"Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous" (1 Peter 3:8)
Lord, give us a compassion for others like Jesus had. Help us to learn to reach out to those in need. Let us not grow weary in our well doing, but to do it as unto you, Lord. Thank you for the compassion you have for us.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
In John 21, when Jesus encounters some of the disciples at the Sea of Galilee, I love the way the events transpired. Peter just decides to go fishing and so the other disciples who were there decided to go with him. They got into the boat and the scripture tells us that they caught nothing that night. So, morning comes and Jesus was standing on the shore, but of course the disciples don’t realize that it was Him at this point. Jesus calls out to them “Children, have you any food?” They tell Him they don’t and so Jesus tells them to cast their net on the right side of the boat and when they do, there are multitudes of fish in their net!
All of the sudden it dawns on John who it is on the shore. So, he says to Peter, “It is the Lord!” And what is Peter’s reaction? He just jumps into the water. Plunges right into the sea. He is so excited to see Jesus, that he didn’t even think about what he was doing. All he knew was that he had to get to Jesus. NOW!
Oh, man. We need to have that kind of excitement about Jesus. We need to develop hearts so hungry for the Word and so hungry for a relationship with Christ, that we would just jump right out of that boat into the water in a heartbeat! When the Lord draws near to us we need to be willing to get out of our boat and just jump into wherever Jesus is.
I could just feel Peter’s joy and elation and I want that kind of joy for Jesus! Peter didn’t let anyone or anything stand in his way. He wasn’t trying to impress anybody. He wasn’t trying to fit into a certain crowd. He was just being Peter. He was a “what-you-see-is-what-you-get” kind of man.
I am yearning for such an excitement and joy for my Savior. I want to have such a jumping in my spirit that I can’t contain it. I want to feel His Presence in my life so thick, that I can hardly bear it! I want to grow closer to Him each day. I just want Jesus.
Lord, thank you for your Word. Thank you that what was applicable back then, is still applicable now. Your Word is timeless. Your Word is Truth.
“Sanctify them by Your truth. Your Word is truth” John 17:17
Friday, March 6, 2009
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life -
of whom shall I be afraid?”
In “Living Free”, Beth Moore tells us that the word stronghold appears almost 50 times in the OT as opposed to only 1 time in the NT. I am not really sure why that is the case, but in the Old Testament the word stronghold was used to describe places that the Israelites hid from their enemies in. A place of safety. A stronghold is a fortress or a refuge. The definition says it is a “defensible place”. It means ‘to be strong for’ or ‘to be exalted‘. We can use the term stronghold to refer to a wonderful attribute of God.
David tells us in 2 Samuel 22:3 that the Lord is our stronghold and refuge. In this sense, a stronghold is a good thing. When we rely on God to be the place of safety in our lives - the place of rest - then He becomes our stronghold.
But on the flip side, a stronghold can be just what it says. It can by anything that has ‘strong hold’ on our lives and that isn’t always a good thing. It can represent something false in our lives. A false stronghold is something that goes against the very nature of God. It is in direct opposition to the knowledge of God. It tries to be bigger to us than God is. Simply put -stronghold = bondage. It can cause us to be anxious, overwhelmed, defeated and weary. It steals our focus off of the Lord and it can keep us from living the abundant life in Christ that He desires for us.
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor 10:5)
In order for us to rid ourselves of these false strongholds, we have to rid ourselves of the lies that Satan would have us believe. We have to stand firm in the Truth! The Truth is Jesus.
In order for us to head down the right path we have to listen to the one who has the right directions. If we spend time in God’s Word - the map for our walk - we will have the strength and the knowledge we need to release those strongholds in our lives that are holding us captive.
Let’s trade that stronghold of bondage for a stronghold of freedom in Christ!
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)
Thursday, March 5, 2009
I love Thankful Thursday and I so appreciate Sonya in her diligence to help us remember to be thankful!
There is so much to be thankful for, I could create a list a mile long.
1. I am so thankful for the birth of Jesus.
“…and she brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS” Matthew 1:252. I am thankful for the ministry of Jesus on this earth and the purpose of God who sent Him.
“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” Luke 19:103. I am thankful that after Jesus was crucified on that cross for our sins, that he was resurrected after 3 days, just as He predicted.
4. I am thankful that because of Jesus, there is a way for us to inherit eternal life.
“But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.” Luke 24:2-3
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:165. I am thankful for the promise of His Word, that He will return one day to take us home with Him for eternity.
“He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” Revelation 22:20
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
All to Him I freely give.
I will ever love and trust Him.
In His presence daily live.
I surrender all.
I surrender all.
All to thee my blessed Savior.
I surrender all.
How many times have we sung this hymn at church and not really focused on the words we are saying? So many times, we are just singing words from our mouth and not letting those words penetrate our hearts.
Do we even know the definition of the word surrender?
1. To declare yourself defeated.
2. To give up possession of something.
3. To relinquish control
When we accept Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, we should be totally surrendered to Him. Most of us will SAY this is true of our lives, but when we get right down to it, we are far from surrendered. I think that it is something that we have to do on a day to day basis. Surrender doesn’t come easy. It’s a battle that we have to keep fighting.
When we lift our hands toward Jesus as we sing praises - we are in the posture of surrender. Hands held high. Humble. But it’s more than just an outward expression that creates a surrendered heart. It’s that inward attitude that truly denotes the humility associated with surrender.
* We have to declare ourselves defeated. We have to admit that without Christ, we are defeated by sin.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus" Romans 6:23
* We have to give up possession of our own lives. We belong to Jesus. We are His.
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His Name” John 1:12
* We have to relinquish control. God is in control.
“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” Proverbs 19:21
If we want to live productive and fruitful lives, we have to come to that place of total surrender in Christ. He is our creator. He is the author and perfector of our faith. He is the one who determines our steps. We are at His mercy - under His authority - dependant upon His provision.
I confess that I need to take “me” out of the equation. I desire total surrender to Christ. Without Him, I would be nothing. Everything I am is because of His mercy and grace upon my life. I want to approach Him with hands held high - head bowed low - heart overflowing with gratitude and praise.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
"Do not be deceived, God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap." Galations 6:7
Whatever we sow.. we will reap.
If we are sowing things of the flesh, we will reap corruption.
If we are sowing things of the Spirit, we will reap everlasting life.
When we sow to the flesh, we are basically promoting our own sinful, corrupt nature and that is in direct opposition to God. We will reap physical, moral and spiritual ruin.
When we sow to the Spirit, we are seeking after those things which are pure, holy and right. We are promoting Godliness and Truth. We will reap physical, moral and spiritual wholeness. Everlasting life.
If we want to sow to the Spirit, we have to equip ourselves with the right seed.
The Word of God is that seed and we have to read it, study it, treasure it, know it and share it. Luke 8 tells us that we must take the Word of God and protect it, hide it in our hearts so that it can't be snatched away.
We can't reap the things of the Spirit if we aren't planting the right seed. That is God's Word and God's Word will never let us down. If we are doing the things that He teaches in His Word, we can't fail. When God is the reason we do what we do - we can't go wrong. If we keep our eyes on Him and we are seeking after those things which are about Him, we will be sowing the right seed!
And when we are sowing the right seed, we will bear fruit. The right fruit. Good fruit. Spiritual fruit.
"By this My Father is glorified that you bear much fruit, so you will be my disciples.' John 15:8
Lord, I want to sow the things of the Spirit. Your Spirit, Lord. I want to bear fruit for your kingdom. For your Glory. Thank you for your Word. Thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you for eternal life.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
I had my yearly check-up Thursday and when they took my blood pressure, it was 135/96. They took it 3 times just to make sure with 3 different machines. My b/p has never been that high. He advised me to follow-up the next day with my regular doctor, which I did on Friday. Of course, by the time I got there, I had gotten myself all worked up over it and it was 150/96! Not a good sign. Added just a little more stress to my day. I go back Monday and if it is still elevated he said we would talk about medication.
I am a pretty small person, so he said he wasn't weight related. My diet could be better. I do need to exercise more. Ok... I need to exercise a lot more. Ok... I need to exercise period! But basically he said it's just a case of bad genetics. My father died of a heart attack at the age of 58. My grandfather had his first heart attack when he was only 40. This has really disturbed me and left me just a little unsettled.
I don't feel stressed, but we all know that our lives are busy and hectic and work can be busy and hectic and then we feel the pressure of it all.
I turned to the Psalms last night and began focusing on this:
"In my distress, I cried to the Lord. And he heard me." Psalm 120:1
Praise God that when I am in distress I can call upon His Holy name. I can cry out to my Lord. Abba Father! I can look to the one who gave me the best genetics of all! And... He hears me. Oh, praise His name that He hears my cry. I know that when He hears me, He will send me the comfort that I need.
He calms my fears.
He settles my soul.
Thank you Lord that you are my help.