Mar 25, 2010

Run, Run as Fast as You Can . . .

As much as I would like to write you all an encouraging blog directly from the mouth of God, I cannot hear Him.

I have been hurried and busy this morning. I have bounded out of bed, sprinted to school, skidded into the principal's office for a meeting and then rushed out again. I've paused to meet with my counselor and then been in a whirlwind of shopping, lunching, and meeting since. But like a good little Christian girl, I have come home and arrived here at my computer awaiting a word from God.

With a whole hour to spare.


And He is quiet.

Or maybe He isn't, but how would I know? I haven't given Him enough time to still me so I can hear Him. So often this is how I approach my daily life with Him. I carve out an hour in between activities and expect Him to speak on my schedule. I approach Him with a head full of screaming thoughts and ask Him to hurry and speak to me. Even now I'm glancing at that little clock in the corner of my computer wondering if I'll be able to finish this blog by the time I need to leave to pick up Cooper.

Prideful little twerp.

When will I learn I cannot hear a quiet voice amidst the cacophony of a packed schedule? When will I finally understand that everything on my agenda must bow to my time with Him, not the other way around? Wow. Stubborn.

So today I have no instruction on how to hear God. But what I can share is how not to.

How to Quench God's Voice
1. Don't schedule your time with Him.
2. Overbook yourself.
3. Check off everything on your schedule before you sit down with Him.
4. Give God a time limit

Today I am a lesson in what not to do. I pray that you will be wiser than I.

Father, forgive us when we get too busy for You or when we try to stuff your Universe-sized Self into our amoeba-sized schedules. Help us to put You at the very top of our daily plans and give You all the time You need with us. We love You; help our schedules reflect that. Amen.

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Mar 10, 2010

A Sick Devotional

Sleeping Cat
Hey guys! I'm feeling a little under the weather today and have been instructed by my husband to rest. "You don't have to write, Misti." Uh, does he know me at all? Doesn't he know that someone who loves to write must do so or she will explode?! But, I will submit; he usually knows what he's talking about anyway.

However, I didn't want to leave you without some encouragement this week, so here is a link to some pretty great devotions from a book by Dr. Larry Crabb titled 66 Love Letters. Drawing from a different book of the Bible in each devotion, he speaks truths gleaned from that book using the voice of God. Here's an example from Habakkuk:

Know this: those who live by faith will struggle in ways that those who live to make their lives work will never know. It is that struggle, to believe despite desperate pain and confusion that a good plan is unfolding, that will open your eyes to see Me more clearly. Is that what you want? Will you pay the price?

During Lent, he's sending out a portion of each devotion via email every day. If you're interested in receiving them either click here, or sign up on the above website under the drop-down menu on the left. You'll select "66 Love Letters" and then click "Lenten Reflection Sign-Up".

Alright. . .have a wonderful day. I'm going back to bed.

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Mar 8, 2010

The Voice Review

I've recently been reading a new retelling of the New Testament called The Voice by Thomas Nelson Publishers. If any of you are looking for a fresh voice in which to read the Word, I would recommend this work, though with caution. That caution comes in reading it as a translation when I think it should be read more as a commentary.

I've been riveted to the page by the creative format, modern language, informative commentary and sheer entertainment of the work. The Voice is written in a screenplay format, which puts you right in the middle of the action. Instead of reading:

"Jesus straightened up and asked her, 'Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?' 'No one, sir,' she said. 'Then neither do I condemn you,' Jesus declared. 'Go now and leave your life of sin.'" You're able to jump into the scene:

Jesus: Dear woman, where is everyone? Are we alone? Did no one step forward to condemn you?
Woman Caught in Adultery: Lord, no one has condemned me.
Jesus: Well, I do not condemn you either; all I ask is that you go and from now on avoid the sins that plague you.

Though I was hesitant about using a "Bible" that was clearly a modernized version of the classic language, it really has made me want to read scripture more, shining light on details that I have missed on previous readings of the New Testament. It has done for me what The Message has done for many others--inspired me to dive in and learn more.

HOWEVER, I would recommend using this version as supplementary material only. Though it was put together by a "team of scholars partner[ing] with. . .writers to blend the mood and voice of the original author with an accurate rendering of the words of the text in English", it is still so modernized that I found myself reaching for my NIV to make sure it was accurate. So far, it has been (I've read 2 books). But to me, with all the explanatory material (much like the Amplified Bible), this version seems more like a commentary to be used in tandem with a Bible of a more classic translation. And not being a biblical scholar but just a girl who wants to read the Bible, I'm wondering if there could be inaccuracies or inappropriate language liberties taken that I'm missing. I'm keeping a skeptical eye out, but still loving it.

So, if you're finding your Bible reading flat or lifeless, maybe you should pick this up for that breath of new life you've been looking for. Just keep your "real" Bible close by and let me know what you think. I'm still rolling this one around in my brain.

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**Note: a review copy was given to me by the publishers with no requirement other than to post an honest review.

Mar 4, 2010

Battle Weary

wind flower Pictures, Images and Photos

I'm tired of being afraid
I'm wondering how I got this way
I'm trying to remember
What life was like before
Panic moved in
Without even knocking on the door

(from You Have Mercy by JJ Heller)

Many of you know that I used to battle panic attacks. Fiercely. Daily. Up until 3 years ago, they lurked around every corner waiting to pounce and devour me. I felt powerless. Helpless.

Completely Without Hope

No matter how I prayed and begged God to take them away, they remained. Sometimes they even gained ferocity. I simply could not understand why God, the Great Physician and Healer, would not yank them out of my life like an attentive gardener would remove an overgrown weed choking life out of its surrounding garden. Why? Why would He wish this upon me? Did He not care that I felt like I was going crazy? Did He look the other way when He saw me too scared to even leave the house? Was He sitting idly by while my skin crawled, my stomach lurched, and my thoughts raced?

Where was this loving, concerned Father everyone was prattling on about?

Concerned? I felt dismissed. Loving? Ha! If letting your child feel like she is two hyperventilating breaths away from the Loony Bin is love, I was starting to think I didn't want anything to do with it. Still, I couldn't bring myself to walk away. If I gave up on God, where else would I go?

"So listen: Keep on asking, and you will receive. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened for you. All who keep asking will receive, all who keep seeking will find, and doors will open to those who keep knocking." Luke 11:9-10 The Voice

Why does God tarry? I don't know. Why did I have to fight panic for a decade even though I was screaming out for relief? Only God knows. One thing I do know? I once was imprisoned by panic. Now I am free.


And I am more sure than ever that there is a God, He is enamored with me, and He is more attentive than I could have ever imagined. The only answer I have for how I got from questioning God's love to being convinced of it was that I held on. I fought through. I did not give up on God.

I chose to believe that He was faithful to me even though I felt abandoned. (1 Cor. 1:9)
I chose to believe that He loved me even though I felt discarded. (Jer. 31:3)
I chose to believe that He cared about me even though I felt ignored. (1 Pet. 5:7)
That joy would come in the morning. (Ps. 30:11)
That I was more than a conquerer. (Rom. 8:37)
That He had given me a spirit not of fear, but of power, love and a SOUND MIND. (2 tim. 1:7)
That He would finish His work of freedom in me, even if it was taking longer than I liked. (Php. 1:6)

I chose to believe, and kept on choosing. Day after exhausting day. That was my part. God did the rest. Sometimes that's all God is asking of us--to stick in there and keep believing. Thank God, because often that's all we can do, right?

Sisters, I don't know exactly what kind of battle you're in today. Can I encourage you to just keep believing God? As much as I hated my season of panic, I know that I grew closer to my God and learned how to successfully fight the enemy because of it. It has also grown a compassion for other fearful women in me. I get them now. If I hadn't have had my own bout with anxiety, I would be in serious danger of doubting the faith of a gal in the grips of terror.

Sidenote: If you are struggling to believe God on something, DO NOT listen to the voices that say you have no faith. No, sister. . .God is in the midst of stretching the faith you already possess. You feel like you've lost your belief when in reality, it's being proven and grown.

There will be an end to your present struggle. It will not last forever. But the lesson you learn from it will. God is there. Very close-by. Working. Loving. Listening.

Fight to believe it.

Jesus, it's so hard to believe all the good things about you in the middle of a "bad" season. It's difficult to keep our minds on you, so we're asking you to empower us to believe you love us, are working for us, and are accomplishing something eternal in us. Help us to stick in there and fight through. Bring us out on the other side with shining, monstrous faith in you and your love for us. We love you, amen.

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photo: wind flower/photobucket user: horsemad883