Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wise Words from Beth Moore

I was very touched and convicted by something I read this morning, and I wanted to share it. In talking about the Crucifixion of Jesus, at which point he says, "It is finished," Beth Moore says,

"A few very important things were finished, all right. But the Lord Jesus was not one of them. It's strange, isn't it? The very thing He finished we can't seem to leave alone; and the very thing he hasn't finished, we try to halt. The work of Calvary is finished. No more payment for sin is necessary. He did it all by Himself on the Cross. We can't earn it. We can't add to it. It is finished. Yet, we try to add our good works to his Salvation.

However, the work He is doing on everyone who has accepted Christ as Savior is not finished. Salvation is finished. Sanctification is not. Completion is not. Philippians 1:6 promises that "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Yet we wish He'd stop picking on us the moment we're saved and let us be the boss. Like the Pharisees, we wish He'd stop interfering. Give this some consideration: sometimes more effort is required to keep rolling the stone back over the tomb than simply to cooperate with the work He seeks to finish in us.

Do we just want the cross without the resurrection? Are we trying to stuff the living, working Christ back into the tomb so He'll just save us and then let us alone? Or do we want to know 'the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings'?"

Friday, March 12, 2010

Lessons from Charlie

So, this week I think I've learned a little lesson about how God, as parent, loves us, as children--from my precious little dog, Charlie.

A week ago, we took Charlie to the groomer, and they shaved his belly a little too close. He spent the weekend licking it and irritating it (despite our requests to leave it alone). By Monday, he had a full blown rash and skin irritation, making his belly as red as a cherry. We put a cone on his head and tried to do as many at-home remedies as possible: benadryl, cortizone cream, etc. Of course, he hated the cone and basically hated us for putting it on him. By Wednesday afternoon, after three sleepless nights with him stirring all night long, Hal came home from work to find that Charlie was out of his cone, happily licking himself. By the next morning, he had completely broken the cone, so that it didn't function to keep him from licking. So, Thursday morning, with his rash not getting any better, I finally took him to the vet. One hour later, with a new cone on his head and loaded up with medicine, he was back to giving me his "death" stares.

And all week, I've felt like the worst mother ever. And Hal keeps telling me, it's for his own good; he's fine--just wait til we have kids, and we have to give them medicine they hate or make them eat food they don't like. I knew he was right. Even the vet said that the groomer probably hadn't done anything wrong; the skin just had irritated Charlie, and he'd caused most of the pain himself.

It was at that point that I was thinking, you'd think Charlie would know better... And then it dawned on me--he doesn't. He has a pain and, in his mind, licking it is the best way to ease the pain he feels.

I thought about how, sadly, we are similar sometimes. We only see the pain or the hurt in front of us. We keep licking wounds of unforgiveness or bitterness, in an effort to hold onto our pride and self-righteousness. God continues to caution us to leave the wound alone, to let it heal--but we don't listen. And sometimes, he flat out puts a cone around our heads, so we can heal. We might hate it, and try to hide from him. (Note: Charlie spent about four hours Tuesday morning hiding from me, under the desk in the office.) Or, if we do recognize that its for our own good, sometimes the process of healing will cause us to run into walls; cones around our head might limit our vision or our ability to do the things we used to do or want to do. But God knows. He's watching every move we make. He's directing us, so we don't run into anything. And He sees what's in front of us.

And the best insight of all, I believe God grimaces a little deep inside when He sees the cones around our head. He hates that He has to do it to us because, in reality, He wants to give us everything we want. He hates to see us unhappy. But, the truth is, He knows it's for our good. We might think Him cruel and unfair, but really, He's just being a parent who loves us enough to put a cone on our head and let our wounds heal. And, for this season anyway, He's more concerned about our healing than our happiness.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Favor of God

I've been focusing on the favor of God--that I'm favored every day because I'm His. I have more than just anyone is this world. I have Him; His blood; His grace; His favor.

So, this morning, I sat down to finish the grant proposal I've been working on for COTR for the last six weeks. Two weeks ago, I hit a wall. The funder I'm requesting money from requires an audited statement, and the Dream Center does not have an audited statement (since it's so young). I contacted the funder to see if they would accept our most recent financial statement. I was given the run-around for over week--call this person, no call that person, etc. I was given numbers that didn't work and emails that said they were invalid. When I finally thought I had the right contact person, I sent another email. One week later, I've heard nothing. Last week, I made another phone call to this person. Still, didn't hear anything back.

At this point, I was really discouraged. Funders live and breathe by the requirements they set forth in their RFP. If they wanted an audited statement and if we don't have one, we're out. Given that I'd spent a month on this project, I didn't want to be "out." I didn't want to change funders, and I didn't want to re-write another proposal.

Yesterday, when I started working on the project, I knew that was a big hole in our proposal. We'd decided just to go for it, but I think, deep down, I wanted the assurance that all this hard work would at least have a shot at something. So, I asked the Lord for his favor. I declared it, actually, because I am blessed and highly favored of the Lord.

So, this morning, I sit down to finish the proposal (due Thursday). And I receive a text message from a friend that says, "You're highly favored today; be blessed with your profession/career." I smiled and sat the phone down and thought, "okay." Not ten minutes after I received that text message, I got an email reply from the funder saying they would accept our most recent financial statement, in light of our not having been audited.

I couldn't believe it. After no response for almost two weeks, I'd literally given up on the idea that I'd ever hear back. But God is good and faithful. And He does more than meet our expectations. He surprises us with favor and blessing. It could not have come at a more perfect time; I'm not sure last week I would have appreciated His gift. But today, not only do I see it as a special gift for me, but I also see it as His confirmation to me that He is listening. He didn't have to do it, but He chose to because He loves me and because I am His.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Today, I'm believing.

Today, I'm believing. That's the declaration I made to God this morning. And it's the declaration I want to continue making. This weekend, Hal and I both were so encouraged by Joe McGee (Hal probably more so because he got to spend the whole weekend with him). In talking about the way that he and his family pray for God to move in their life, Joe really challenged us to have the same discipline and confidence in our own life. So, last night, Hal and I made a list of the areas in our life where we'd like to see God move. It's not a huge list, but as we sat and prayed together, I felt more encouraged and strengthened than I have in years. I'm always asking God for things, but I think I fall short of really believing for them. Not because I don't believe God can do it, but because I don't have the focus and the confidence to express, by faith, his promises and his Word.

Every day, I'm supposed to walk in the favor of God, but I don't. I'm supposed to believe in His blessing--that every day He wants to bless me--but I don't. I miss it. I get caught up in work and school and the day-to-day routine. When God first saved me, I was so hungry for his Word. I memorized it, I carried it with me everywhere I went, and I meditated on it all day long. I don't do that anymore. In my comfort and complacency, I leave God next to my journal and my bible, where I sit to pray in the mornings. I might talk to Him throughout the day--asking for His help, praying for a friend. But that's different than believing. And it's certainly different than declaring.

Believing and declaring mean that I have God's word hidden in my heart. That all day long, I meditate on His word--like Proverbs 3:5-6 or Phil 4:6-7, both of which remind me to rest under His sovereignty. I should focus on Eph 1 and Romans 8, which declare that not only has He redeemed me, but I am His. As I give of time and money, I should remember that I can't outgive God (Luke 6:38). And regardless of what I'm doing in the day, I should remember that I do it all for Him (Col 3:23). Excellence and perserverence are noble, but they are all the more soured if my motivation is to please man. Hard-work and determination are worthy, but all the more useless if I'm driven by pride. But learning to walk in humility, learning to work before an audience of One--that is worth meditating on.

So, today I'm believing.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Challenges We Face

It's crazy how when you step out in faith to do something, you're suddenly faced with challenges. Sometimes we say it's Satan attacking our decision; sometimes we say we're being tested and refined. I'm not sure what this falls under, but let's just say this--Hal and I made a decision to step out in faith, and we're certainly facing challenges. :)

About three weeks ago, we made the decision to go to Guatemala for a mission trip with COTR this summer. The cost to go is $3000, and Paige told us to be prepared to pay about 1/3 of that amount, even if we raise support. At the time, we thought that's not so bad. We could do that... Then I got sick--spent $200 in prescriptions and doctor visits, followed by an even more expensive trip to the ER.

A week ago, we paid our $100 deposit for the trip. And 5 days later, we received our ER bill.

At first, I was really discouraged. The bill was more than we thought it would be; the insurance didn't pay what we figured they would. I wrestled with the Lord, asking "why does it always have to be about money? When will we ever be past these tests?" The frustration then turned to "why do we never have more? Where is our blessing--after all that we've sown for your Kingdom?"

When I finished complaining and doubting, the Lord gently reminded me that He is more than enough and in fact, has always given us just what we need. We don't need more. We can't handle more--not yet. Right now, in this season, He's teaching us to live off daily Manna from Him. When I reread that passage in Exodus, I kept going back to how the Manna would rot the next day--as the Israelites tried to store it and save it for later. What God wanted to teach them was daily dependence. And He wants to teach me the same thing.

So, with faith and confidence in Him, I am believing that He will provide the money for our ER bill and that He will provide the money for Guatemala. Because MY GOD is a good and faithful God.