Thursday, September 25, 2014

Seek His Face

The Lord is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident. One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock. Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord. Hear my voice when I call, Lord; be merciful to me and answer me. My heart says of you, "Seek his face!" Your face, Lord, I will seek. Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Savior. Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me. Teach me your way, Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors. Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, spouting malicious accusations. I remain confident of this; I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27)

Our world can be such a scary place. The news informs us of terrorist plots, war, oppression, disease.... It becomes evident that our conflict on earth is not merely against people but rather against a concealed evil: For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12)

David - so long ago - also struggled against the darkness that surrounded him. In Psalm 27, David, so strong in faith, became paranoid and fearful in the face of his enemies. Perhaps David wrote this journal when King Saul had turned against him and sent  3000 men in pursuit to kill him.

We may not deal with such life or death issues, but each of us experiences conflict that can fill us with worry and negativity. At times, it appears that we are in battle fighting one struggle after the next. How do we deal with this? What do we do with negative emotions that color our perspective and fill us with fear? Paul wrote to the Corinthians: We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). It is not easy for me to take captive every thought. In fact, when I'm upset, I tend to fixate on a situation until it so captivates my brain that I can think of nothing else. David understood that his confidence came from the Lord: Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident. One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.  Later in the same psalm, David seeks, what? shelter? an army's protection? No... he seeks God!: Hear my voice when I call Lord; be merciful to me and answer me. My heart says of you, "Seek his face!" Your face, Lord, I will seek. Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper.

When a cloud of conflict or fear darkens your perspective, I ask you to read this psalm. Take your thoughts captive and seek His face!

Dear Father. You are my stronghold, my light and my salvation! Whom shall I fear! I want, O God, to spend time in your presence. Take captive my thoughts that keep me from being close to You. You give me confidence and bring light to my life. Help me to be strong, take heart and wait on You. In Christ's Name! Amen.

Thursday, September 18, 2014


"Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" (Psalm 46:10)

In the Reflective Teaching class I am presently taking, I was given an assignment this week to sit still and quietly observe a scene for 10 minutes. I was shocked to discover how hard it is to sit quietly without being sidetracked by diversions. As I sat and observed this view the other night, I realized how difficult it is for me to ever totally relax. My mind flits around to so many worries, thoughts, needs and distractions that I somehow think won't get accomplished or perfected without my effort. Then, I look at this serenity and realize that if I am still, and allow Christ's peace to fill me - He is God. He will be exalted despite all of my concerns and fancies. He is exalted in the beauty I presently behold. He brings the breeze that shakes the leaves and then the calm that stills the water. His paintbrush colors the hills purple and the heavens pink and then splashes their reflection onto the lake. He understands my concern, my scattered thoughts, the needs I think are essential but which I surely can do without. And, He takes my distractions, centers them to focus on Him and brings me rest and reassurance that my own worrying cannot accomplish. Only God can give me perfect peace when my mind is stayed on Him:

You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you. (Isaiah 26:3)

It is edifying to be still and disengage from all the hustle and bustle that I daily encounter. Quiet time with God restores my perspective and sense of balance and brings renewal.

Dear Lord: With all that I am trying to daily tackle, I get lost in the busyness. I worry about all that I need to accomplish. Time with You replenishes my spirit and renews my trust in You. Thank You that in You, I can have peace. In Christ's Name. Amen

Thursday, September 11, 2014

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, declares the Lord."          (Isaiah 55: 8)

Has God ever stumped you with His sense of humor? God repeatedly shows me that I am not in charge, and that His plans are better than my plans. I shared recently about my 16 year old son's knee injury that has prevented him from playing soccer his senior year in high school. This has been heartbreaking for Gabe, as he was highly recruited after because of his soccer skills....until the injury. The past year, Gabe has been trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life now that his dreams of playing soccer at a military school have been dashed.

As his Mom, I just want to fix things. I've been angry with God, as I've shared in previous posts. I try to steer Gabe into various diversions so that he will concentrate less on his previous passion. Last week, God provided a great diversion for Gabe without my help! My son was driving to his first day of school for his senior year. I was happily jogging and basking in the quiet I would be able to return to at cell phone rang. "Mom, I have a slight problem. I was stuck waiting for a train and worried about getting late to school. So, I turned the car around so that I could get to school on the highway. But - the shoulder gave way under my tires, and I'm stuck in a ditch. It's no big deal!"

No big deal was indeed a big deal. Gabe got out of the ditch, but the front car bumper had peeled off entirely leaving a car that looked as if it had been in a train wreck. One side section of the car was badly dented, and the front of the car was missing it's clothes. When we took the car to the auto body shop, we discovered that the minimum cost to repair it would run $4000.  I called the car insurance company only to find out that I had recently removed collision coverage from the car in an effort to save money. In other words - we had to either pay this large fee, or I could possibly buy Gabe antlers to place where the bumper had previously resided; perhaps this would lend the car a macho effect!

I fussed and fumed about the car for a few days. Since it still functioned, I let Gabe drive it to school but felt a slight sense of embarrassment that the neighbors would see my son driving such a wreck. I thought, however, "Gabe got himself into this mess.  He'll have to get himself out of it!"

One day last weekend, I drove home to find Gabe and his Dad working on the car in the garage. They had refitted the marred bumper, somehow pounded out some of the dents in the side panel and purchased white car paint to fix up the exterior of the car. Both my husband and Gabe were so excited about this project and their ability to figure out the details.  God had provided a diversion for Gabe through what I had thought was a terrible situation. He had turned a mess into something good. How was that possible? I am thankful  for God's sense of humor and His direction!

Dear Lord: I thank you for Your sense of humor. Thank you that Your ways are higher than my ways and Your thoughts higher than my thoughts. Help me to trust in Your ways.
In Christ's Name. Amen.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A heart after God

When the Israelites pleaded with God for a King, God gave them what they had asked for. He placed Saul to rule over them. Yet, Saul disappointed God, and God chose David to replace Saul. Samuel said to Saul:

"Now your kingdom must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart. The Lord has already appointed him to be the leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord's command." (1 Samuel 13: 14)

God chose David, because He sought a man "after His own heart." What does this mean? And furthermore, how can we, like David, be men and women after God's heart?

Although God is perfect, we live in sin; so certainly God did not mean that we should be flawless. It is important to God, however, that we live in relationship with Him. If we spend time in His word and in prayer with Him and seek to please Him, to care about what God cares about, to live a life submitted to Him, we too will be men and women after God's heart.

In 2 Chronicles 16:9, we read:
The eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.

If you give your heart to God...if you hand over all that you think is important and lay your burdens at His feet, God will build you up and strengthen you to have a heart that can serve Him and be fortified by His love.

Dear God,
So many things fill my mind and heart. Sometimes, the clutter keeps me from seeing that You are here with me. Fill my heart with love and help me to please You in my actions and devotion to You. I want to care about what You care about. I want to submit to You and be a man/woman after Your heart. In Christ's Name. Amen.