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God’s Girls Warrior Princess Party!

Princess Di

I don’t know about you, but I love parties – food, fun, & fellowship – I’m all about it.  The crazier the theme, the greater the fun!  Because I like to celebrate so much, I don’t wait for a reason to party to fall into my proverbial lap.  Instead, I put my genius to the test and create one.

That’s actually the easiest part.  Most of us can think of at least one reason to party:  Somebody is getting married.  Having a baby or a 50th Wedding Anniversary.  There are many, many reasons to whoop it up.  Some of you are well-versed in these.  First-times are great reasons to party-hearty. First birthday, first tooth, first haircut. Then there are traditional celebrations such as birthdays, dedications, graduations, and coming of age.  But surely there are more good reasons to celebrate.  And a seemingly infinite way to celebrate each one.

I’ve celebrated some crazy things in my life, like the twinkling of sunlight on the morning dew or a new haircut.  I’ve celebrated not getting my hair cut.  Ma and I make merry on grocery shopping day.  I’ve even celebrated when my kitty peed on the waterproof pad instead of the chair.

Sometimes I celebrate clearing off my desk or cleaning the house.  I always celebrate a new purse, clothes that fit, and a day away from home.  No matter what I’m celebrating, hands down, the best celebration is with family and friends.  Food, fun, and fellowship.

More than anything else, we have the greatest reason of all to party:  Jesus.  Remember that song?  “Celebrate Jesus! Celebrate!  He is risen.  He is risen.  And He lives forevermore.”

So here’s a reason to party:  The first day of a new Bible study.  Oh yeah!  What a great tradition of celebration!  Next week we are going to party, party, party.  We shall be studying the book of Ephesians in the New Testament.  God has so much to reveal to us!  It is going to be a great study.

And what’s a party without a playful theme?  We’re having a God’s Girls Warrior Princess Party.  Oh yeah.  You read it right.  I’m making the coolest Jesus princess hats (or should I say, helmets), swords, and shields.  Not too sure where to find a couple of mighty steeds (my budget is zero), but I do have several old broomsticks and a bit of yarn.  Then again, folks might think we’re playing witches and that won’t do.  Any ideas?

Groucho Mama

Swords and shields.  Hmmm.  Better buy some aluminum foil.  Need cardboard too.  No palm tree this time around.  Perhaps a jungle vine.

I’m torn between wearing a ball gown (with my waistline, that’s probably a very bad idea) or dressing in some kind of an all-black panther-like outfit. Maybe with a colorful toga over it. What does a princess wear under her warrior gear?  What do you think?

No, I do not make everybody else dress up!  Fortunately, I recognize that it is possible to party without all the accoutrements.  Dignity aside, dressing the part is like a visual portrait of the Bible message.  And it’s just plain fun.  After all, “whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).  Okay, that was slightly out of context.  How about this:

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4, 5).  How’s that for a reason to celebrate?

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Posted by on January 27, 2011 in Adventures in Christ

 

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The Sure Thing

Ever wonder why our daily lives seem so, well, daily?  Same stuff, different day.  Same old tired argument, same old bickering, same old knee-jerk reaction.  You look ahead to the years before you and wonder if things will ever change, if you’ll ever change.  And a change of heart comes so ssssssssssssslowly.

Steady as she goes ...

Sometimes I feel trapped by circumstances.  I think I know where I want to go, but it’s taking forever to get there.

I have this great vision of how my life should be.  I should be an in-demand Christian women’s speaker and teacher, traveling to and fro, bringing the light of the Word to a motivated and hungry world.  Wherever I go, ministry happens.  Women are comforted, encouraged, and grow strong in the Lord. People everywhere turn to Christ.   I should have a book or two tucked under my belt and a lively, well-trodden blog through which I interact with scads of other Jesus freaks and true seekers.  I should have my perfect, pretty little house to come home to and wonderful clothes to wear on my slim, trim, healthy, & strong body.  I’d be properly plugged into my local church serving alongside women who love Christ and one of them would be my best friend.    I’d have plenty of time and energy for hiking and reading and just messing around.  All my bills would be paid on time and in-full, especially my credit card.  There would always be more than enough money to go around and I could give furiously and extravagantly.   My family and friends and, well, just everyone, would love me.  My whole being would honor and glorify God all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.  Amen.

My real life is nothing like that.  My real life is so daily: making uncomplicated meals for my mom who has Alzheimer’s, helping her dress appropriately at least a few times a day, and generally keeping her entertained so she doesn’t start in with “Where’s the baby?”, “I have to go to work,”or her latest, “It’s time to go home” scenario.  And all the while trying to time everything so she’ll go to bed without a fight that evening.  Arguing with my mom is fruitless.  I’m getting better and better at taming my tongue, but there’s still a lot of habit to break in that domain.  Taking care of my mom is mentally exhausting.  Sometimes I want to tune her out.  I spend a lot of time confessing, but only some of the time actually repenting.  Most of the time, I just want to sit in my recliner all day lazily sipping coffee, reading, writing, and playing on the computer.  There doesn’t seem to be much energy leftover for exercise, get-togethers, and the like.  Of course, this is actually the easy part of caring for my mom.  Things will only get worse as time goes by.  She’ll progressively require greater physical care as more and more of her brain’s ability is usurped by Alzheimer’s.  

That’s when I wonder if this is what my life is all about.  Am I going to spend these years caring for Ma and then just collapse and die afterward never having done the things I want to do?  Is this all the daily bread there is for me?

I cannot know the future, but this I know.  God has called me to this season for purposes of His own.  I have a pretty good idea that these years are essential to the work He is completing in me.  It’s my job to take my eyes off the circumstance and stop asking, “What’s in it for me?”

And that, my friends, is what this season is all about.  It’s an opportunity to obey His call to live for the sake of another.  It’s about humility, considering my mom better than myself.  Not for a crown or reward, but for love of Christ.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.  In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:  Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!”      -Philippians 2:3-8

These are not wasted days.  This is prime time.  My dream is a nice one, albeit a bit magnified.  But given the choice – and we are, my friends, we are – I choose God’s plan, His dream for me.  What about you?  God’s plan is always so much bigger and better than our limited imagination.  And better yet, it’s a sure thing.

 
 

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How Sweet Is Your Fruit?

“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.  For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature.  They are in conflict with one another, so that you do not do what you want.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.’

“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.  I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.’

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit”  (Galatians 5:16-25, NIV).

The fruit of spiritual growth is fullness, the completeness of Christ’s image stamped upon our inmost being. It is spiritual maturity, from the inside out, so that others may see Christ glorified.  It begins when we first believe and receive Christ as our Savior and Lord, and it continues throughout our life all the way to its ripening on the day of Christ Jesus.  And this we can trust to be for our highest good.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

The spiritual growth process is incomplete this side of eternity because it involves a daily dying to self.  It is not a one-time deal in which we hand our hearts over to God and then everything’s hunky-dory.  I remember those first couple of days after I was saved.  I thought to myself, “Great!  My life is like a blank slate now.  I can start afresh.  In fact, I’ll never sin again!”  Well, of course, before the week was out, I’d sinned.  Being born again may be a one-time instance, but maturing in our faith is a lifelong process and never easy.  It is a daily struggle to hand over our will and our way to God, for He will do with it as He pleases.  Selah.

This letting go and letting God is the very heart and challenge of the Christian walk.  It is not about what He can do for us, but what He will do in us and through us.  This is what it means to be Christ-centered. It means we give up our very selves to God who promises to change us into something we, on our own, can never be, that is, the image and likeness of Jesus Christ:

“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:6-8).

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Are these fruits in abundance throughout your daily life?  How sweet is your fruit?

Sometimes I feel I’ll never mature.  I find myself struggling with the same issues again and again.  It’s a good thing faith is not a feeling, because the truth is that while I may tire and grow discouraged at times, the Holy Spirit does not.  He is ever at home in my heart, transforming and perfecting me according to God’s plan.

The process of spiritual maturity is like hiking.  Being born again is liking starting at the trailhead while being on the mountaintop at the same time.  It’s a case of the now and the not yet.  Your sins are forgiven and when God looks at you, He sees Christ.  It’s so exciting!  And yet you are a baby Christian, with a long growth and development process ahead of you.  You have to learn to sit up, crawl, stand, and then walk.

You take your first steps up the trail.  As you put one foot in front of the other, you begin to realize it is a long, long way to the top.  Your backpack is heavy and the trail is so steep and hard.  You wonder what on God’s green earth you’ve gotten yourself into.  Anxiety strikes and your breath comes faster and harder.  You worry that you’ll never make it to the first rest-stop, much less the mountaintop!  Yet only a short time later, the uphill climb doesn’t seem quite as rough.  You make it to that first rest-stop, albeit huffing and puffing, but you make it.  After a while you get up and start hiking again.  The backpack doesn’t seem so extraordinarily heavy; the trail not so steep.  Thereafter, every leg of the journey is a little easier even though you’re sweating and breathing hard.  You start to notice some interesting flora and fauna around you.  Once in a while you find a low view to appreciate.  Pretty soon you don’t even need to sit down to rest; you just stand for a few minutes leaning on the top of your staff with the pack, now quite manageable, on your back.  The hike is not easy by any means, but you are stronger than before.  Steeper climbs, scree slopes, and icy waterfalls take greater energy, balance, and care, but you’ve found the rhythm of the hike and the knowledge that you are closer to the top spurs you on.  Eventually, through twists and turns, switchbacks, roots and rocks, you hike your way to the top, above marmots and boulders, where the view and sense of victory are incomparable.  It is worth the struggle.  Later on, when your boots are off and your feet are up, you think back over the hike.  No part of it seemed so difficult than carrying that heavy pack up those first few steps.  Even the miles of trail up and down humpback ridges were easier than those beginning steps.  And no hike is more difficult than the first hike of the season.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13, NKJV).

For those who are born again, God assures us that He will lead us up the mountain to its peak. We may stumble, slip, or fall, but He has us safe in His hands.  We can be certain that God will continue to mold and mature us into the sweet fruit of the image of his Son:

“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

Megan, Matt, & Me in the High Country, 9/2000

That is like God saying, “You will reach the top.”  You respond, “Throw me the rope”.  Be encouraged.

“And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it.  For the mouth of the LORD has spoken” (Isaiah 40:5).

“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8).

 

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Yahweh Jireh: The Lord Will Provide

Have you been longing for a more intimate walk with God?  Do you want to get to know Him better?  Intimacy and knowledge of God are mutually inclusive.  To know Him is to love Him and vice versa.  So how do we better our understanding of God and His ways?

One of the more intriguing ways to learn about God is to study the characteristics inherent in His many names and titles.  We know Him as our Lord and Savior, King of kings and Lord of lords, Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor.  Our God is the great I Am, Yahweh, El Elyon, El Elohim, and El Shaddai, among others.  Experiencing God, by Henry Blackaby,  has a wonderfully LONG list of names, titles, and descriptions of God with NIV Bible references.  These can be found at the back of the book and used during prayer, a little each day.  Ask God to help you come to know Him better through these, His names.

Today, I’m acutely enamored of Yahweh Jireh, The LORD Will Provide, a title straight out of Genesis 22:14:  “And Abraham called the name of the place, The-LORD-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the LORD it shall be provided.”  Abraham came to know God as his Provider through experience when God stopped him from slaying his son Isaac and provided a lamb instead for the sacrifice.  That’s how we come to know God – through His word, through prayer, through experience.   And that’s how I got to know Him just a little bit better lately.

Once upon a time, a few days ago, I brought my vehicle in for its annual inspection, one way our state syphons money off the taxpayers.  I figured an hour or two and we’d be on our way, right?  Not. You see, my vehicle failed inspection.  I wasn’t expecting that.  And my current inspection sticker was due to expire in 2 days.  Arrgh!

As it turns out, the shop wanted $600 to fix the rear brakes, side mirror, and wipers just so it could pass inspection.  Next they wanted another $400 to fix the front brakes and another $760 to fix my leaky exhaust manifolds.   With tax, that’s almost $2000, my friends.  A hefty arm and a leg for anyone … and I have no income because I stay home full-time caring for my mom who has Alzheimers.

Upset?  You betcha.  Freaked out?   Almost.  I remember asking God, “Where on earth am I going to get that kind of money?”  It’s hard to believe that God was planning to send me a check in the mail for $2000.  Panicking just a little, I hurriedly emailed a few family members whom I thought might help.  Then I prayed:

“God, I’m really irritated by the whole thing, but I know that You are a good God and that You will provide for me in some way.  I’m going to trust in You to provide.”

Now my family is not the kind that shares money, especially when there isn’t any to share.  How often, as a teenager did I heard my mom say, “If I do it for you, I’ll have to do it for all six and I can’t afford that!”  As children, we were very concerned with fairness.  She even had to count the jelly beans in our Easter baskets because we’d quickly discover if somebody got more the rest.  Anyone who believes that humans are basically good never saw six kids complaining about who got more jelly beans on Easter morning!

As you may have guessed, I received a typical Yuhas response to my email: “$1200?  That’s ridiculous!  Get your brother to do it.”

They were right.  I did, and it ended up costing only $230 total, saving me close to $1000. Praise God for brothers who fix their sisters’ cars.  The Lord provides – His way.  I can afford $230.  God is so good.  He gives us what we need ($230), not necessarily what we want ($1200), in due season.  My God is The LORD Will Provide.  Experience really is the best teacher.  And I’m living happily ever after.

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2010 in Adventures in Christ

 

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