Thursday, August 21, 2014

Spiritual ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)

Hey Friend,
 
My son, who is now 21, has ADD (and yes, he's given me permission to say this).  Actually, he was not diagnosed until he was in college which now explains a lot about elementary, middle and high school.  I know that some of his behavior was just the wiggly fidgets of being a boy, but trying to get him to concentrate on doing his homework was a climb Mt. Everest task!
 
Math problem number 1...(scribble, scribble) "Hey, mom.  What are you makin' for dinner?"  Me:  "Spaghetti.  Do your homework."
 
Math problem number 2...(scribble, scribble)  "Hey mom.  Do you know that there's a ladder built into the back side of Weatherstone (the elementary school near our home)? And if you climb it you can get onto the roof of the school?"  Me: "Well you certainly didn't climb it did you?"  My son: "Well yeah sort of..."
                          (discussion intermission)
 
Math problem number 3...(scribble, scribble) "Whoa...do you see how fat that squirrel is on the railing... I'm gonna let George (the dog) out to chase it..."  Me:  "You're going to lose your play time if you don't finish your homework."
 
And so it would go each and every day. And as for remembering and organizing things?  I love my absent minded professor, but he would forget his head if it wasn't screwed on. 
 
Do you ever feel like you have Spiritual ADD?  I do.  My daily to do list battles for my time to sit at God's feet and read his word.  Sometimes I wonder if what I'm going to read is going to pertain to my every day living.  I'll entertain other distractions before I will sit down and attempt to dive into the Word. Even when in the word, my mind wanders. When I do sit down, I tend to talk way more than I listen.  My mother would tell me, "God gave you two ears and one mouth.  Use them proportionately."  Wise woman. 
 
Then prayer time...often I can't sit still.  I ramble through my prayer request litany and every time my mind will wander and I get lost in thought about something totally irrelevant.  It happens all the time. I try to bring my focus back only to get lost in space again. 
 
Then I read about David in the Psalms: "Oh, how I love your law!  I meditate on it all day long."  (Psalm 119:97)
 
That's great for David, but meditating on God's word/law 24/7?  Isn't that a little unrealistic?  Though we may not be able to read God's word 24/7 we can be intentional about practicing the presence of God...reading God's word often so that at the right time, the Holy Spirit will bring it to the forefront of our mind and heart. 
 
Personally, I choose to sit and listen and then walk and talk.
 
I'll admit, it takes discipline to sit still long enough to read God's word.  Often I don't hear him speak to me right when I read it...the light bulb may go on days, weeks or even months after I have read something.  After I read, I find I have to physically get up and walk and talk with God.  With thanksgiving I bring my questions, doubts and requests before Him. 
 
What is the specific benefit of listening to God through His spoken word?
 
Answer: We begin to see as God sees. 
 
How many times have you, when facing a major fork in the road or decision, said, "I wish God would give me a billboard sign telling me what to do!"
 
Here's the news flash:  God does give us wisdom, insight and understanding through his word in order to make the best decisions possible...
 
Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me.  I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes.  I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts. (Psalm 119: 98-100)  **Teaching credit on this passage given to my pastor.
 
We all, to some degree, have spiritual ADD.  After all, the enemy prowls and will do anything to distract us and keep us from reading God's word and being in His presence. The world distracts us with busyness and offers its own brand of wisdom, insight and understanding.  To do life in God's will we need only His brand. 
 
One extra side benefit:  Times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord.  (Acts 3:20)
 
Will you join me in the discipline of reading God's word every day and spending time in His presence?  Oh the wealth of wisdom, insight and knowledge He wishes to impart to us.  I KNOW it isn't easy some days and there is no condemnation for falling short.  If you keep me accountable, I will try to keep you accountable.  Know that you are dearly loved by the Creator of the universe.  If you would, please share how you best spend some one on one time with the Lord.  Be blessed...
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Update on Redeemer Christian School
$10. Challenge
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Last week in my post I issued a $10. challenge to all my readers to help fund a grass roots effort to begin Redeemer Christian School in Pakistan.  It is our hope to see children sold out on Jesus vs. sold into slavery.  For many impoverished and orphaned children, an education is their only hope for the future. 
 
Pledges have been coming in...THANK YOU!!  We are working on getting a website up and running so that you can see first hand where your contribution is going.  We do, however, need to go gently on going public due to the fact that Islam is the state religion of Pakistan.
 
I encourage you to read last week's post, "Some Things Have Been Weighing On My Heart".   Together, by giving up a couple lattes, we can bring light into a very dark place in the world.  We can fuel hope in these children's lives and bring to them the good news of Jesus Christ. 
 
If you would like to join us in making a pledge: Contact me at: bevduncan103@yahoo.com .  I will let you know the scoop on how to donate.  If each of us sacrifices a little ($10.), together we can make a BIG difference.  Also needed is anyone with website design expertise or knowledge who would be willing to donate some time and effort to helping create the website. 
 
Thank you in advance for your generosity...
 
In His Love,
 
Bev
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Some Things Have Been Weighing On My Heart

Hey Friend,
 
In a recent Facebook post I wrote, " If you have ever suffered from clinical depression, you know first hand the awfulness that Robin Williams endured.  It's about time we erase the stigma of mental illness (not character flaw or weakness).  RIP Robin Williams.  Thank you for bringing the gift of laughter into this world."
 
That coupled with the war (accompanied by death) between countries, within one country, between races and ethnicities, weighs heavily on my heart.  "What do I do Lord in addition to praying?"  I ask. 
 
"Give Life," I hear Him answer.
 
I have, through God's power, given life to two biological children whom I love deeply.  I also, through God's grace have a son and brother-in-Christ named Anosh who lives in Pakistan, whom I also love.  He calls me "Maa" which means Mother in his native tongue.  Anosh is a godly young man, one of only 1.6% of Christians who live in a country where the state religion is Islam. He works as a customer representative and his income, beyond basic needs, goes to providing for orphans and widows. 
 
I, along with some friends, have had the opportunity to give life to the children and widows with whom Anosh works, feeds and teaches about the love of Jesus Christ...the good news that truly gives life!  We sent a Christmas care package that contained gifts for these children (most of them orphans or from impoverished families) as well as funds to feed the children and the widows. We got to see the gifts in their hands and the smiles on their faces.  For most, this was the only gift they received.
 
Just the other day, my son, Steven, and I were reminiscing about his childhood...about what a fun and carefree childhood it was.  His days were filled with playing sports, building forts, birthday parties and raiding the pantry for snacks with his friends.
 
The children that Anosh works with do not have such happy childhoods.  Most of them are robbed of their childhood because government run schools cost money...money that most families don't have so the children have few options.  One is to go to work with a parent where they are forced into heavy childhood labor.  Another, is they are abandoned to the streets because they are one mouth too many to feed.  Worse yet, are those who are sold into slavery or wind up selling themselves.  This is not a childhood; it is an atrocity!
 
Together our dream is to begin a grass roots school - Redeemer Christian School in Lahore, Pakistan.  There is no money yet for a website, or to establish 501(c)(3) status or articles of incorporation.  We're talking provide funds for a place to rent (few people are willing to open up their home out of fear and retaliation for hosting a Christian group).  One of the few Christian churches was bombed not that long ago. 
 
They need basic supplies like a room, Bibles, books, paper, pencils, tables and chairs, and maybe a computer or two.  By giving them the gift of learning to read and write we can give life!!  Their hearts are hungry to hear about the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ.  I can't let that hunger go unfed.  I want to give these children a hope for a different life.  I have pictures of each of the children that come regularly (when a place can be found) to get a meal and hear about the love of Christ.  When I got married recently they all made me cards that Anosh sent to me.  For having so little, they have such giving hearts.
 
So, what am I asking?  I am earnestly asking all my readers and Facebook friends to take: The $10 Challenge. (If by God's grace you are moved to give more then great). If each of my readers would give just $10 we could knock this out of the ballpark.  It might mean sacrificing 2 Starbucks coffees, or a lunch with a friend, but what it will do in Pakistan cannot be measured.
 
I will wire the funds so that 100% of the money raised will go directly to the needs mentioned above.  I will update you with emails with pictures of the school and children you are supporting (if you care to receive them). If you are "on the fence" I encourage you to consider that it is a small price to pay to taste and see that what we are able to do is truly good!
 
What now??  Email me at: bevduncan103@yahoo.com with your pledge.  I will then email you details on how to get your check, or if outside the States, how to wire money to me.
 
I promise I'm not redecorating my living room, nor is Anosh a scammer.  I have witnessed, first hand, that he is a very good steward of all gifts that have been given...every dollar sent will go directly to the school and to the children. 
 
 "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."  (Matthew 25:40)
 
Conversely, "Whatever you did not do for the least of these, you did not do for me."
 
In response to all the hatred, evil and death in the world will you choose with me to GIVE LIFE?  Oh, how I pray that you will.  Pray about it and I look forward, eagerly, to hearing from you...be blessed!
 
In His love,
 
Bev
 
ps. If you accidentally lose my email address go to "Contact Me" on my blog.  I will be praying for you my faithful readers.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

What Are You Going To Do Nice For Yourself Today?

Hey Friend,
 
I have been married just over six months to my husband and yes, we are still in the newlywed stage of our marriage, but I do have to say that his heart reflects the heart of Christ to me every day.  Each morning my husband asks me the question, "So, what are you going to do that is nice for yourself today?"  I admit, for the longest time this question stumped me.  It was so engrained in me to look at the tail end of my day and ask, "So what did I do (get accomplished) today?"
 
The answer to the second question was often a litany of how many loads of laundry I did, how many phone calls I made, bills that I paid, dog puke I cleaned up off the rug, hockey practices run to...it was the "post-game analysis" and always came across as a way of proving my worth and value.  It focused on "doing" rather than "being".
 
The first question offers a preemptive strike on the beginning of the day and it carries a whole different slant. It assumes the notion that you are special and that you deserve to do something nice for yourself in this day that God has given you.
 
Many of us know the second half of John 10:10: I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly (to the full).
 
We know this verse, but we don't claim it for ourselves.  We deem that it is somehow selfish to carve out some time just for ourselves in a day.  In actuality we are very good at tuning into the first part of that verse: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy... 
 
How often do we let the enemy steal our joy from our day by stealing our time?
 
Ann Voskamp (a favorite writer of mine) says, "All men will live out the length of their days...but very few will live out the width of their life."  We view life as linear - the shortest distance from Point A to Point B, when in reality God would have us live the width of our life - the vast, expansive, full part of our lives.
 
So how then do we live wide as well as long?  The book of Ecclesiastes talks about enjoying our earthly life and using the gifts God has given us to His glory. 
 
There is an appointed time for everything.  And there is a time for every event under heaven.  (Ecclesiastes 3: 1-15)
 
There is a time to laugh, dance, embrace as well as a time to work and plant and gather. 
 
What would you like to carve out a time for in YOUR day?  What are You going to do nice for yourself today?  Do you know that God smiles when He sees you doing things you enjoy?  Do you know that He treasures you because you are His precious child?  If we want our children to have joy in life, how much more so does God want us to experience that same joy?  We are HIS children no matter how old we get.
 
I admit that I secretly didn't like the Proverbs 31 Woman.  I don't know if I was jealous or resentful, but she just got on my nerves.  She is a virtuous woman, a wonderful wife; she works with her hands; she provides food for her family; she rises early, plants a vineyard, lays her hands on the spindle to weave fine clothes.  She helps the poor; she is wise, kind; her children arise and call her blessed...Okay really?  I get that she works hard and seemingly is able to do it all.
 
But catch Proverbs 31:25: She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
 
Yes, folks, she can laugh.  LAUGH!!  Rejoice, because she knows who she is in Christ.  She knows what the future brings and therefore can enjoy life today!
 
"A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit." (Proverbs 15:3)
 
What makes your face cheerful?  Have you planned that into your day today?
 
I remember when my children were little and they took such joy in the simple things.  Even a rainy day could bring joy.  Bathing suits would come flying out of drawers and umbrellas popped open and little bare toes would do rain puddle dances that rivaled that of Gene Kelly in "Singing In The Rain". 
 
My piano has sat with keys collecting dust.  I was always convinced I was too busy to "waste" my time playing the piano.  But, the keys that make music to my ears also make music to my Maker's ears and I do believe that He delights in what delights us.
 
How will you let the Lord delight in you today?
 
In case you need a little extra convincing, here are a few more verses to encourage you to grab your camera, hop on your bike, lace up your running shoes, crack open a book, get out your gardening tools or your knitting needles...for the men who read my blog - nothing delights more than the revving of power tools lol.
 
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.  (James 1:17)
 
If you, then though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!  (Matthew 7:11)
 
A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.  (Proverbs 17:22)
 
There are times to weep and be sad, but God in His grace and mercy has given us times to be happy and joyful and to do something nice for ourselves each day. 
 
So, again, I ask you, "What are you going to do nice for yourself today?" Will you be kind enough to share how your day goes when you do choose to do something nice for yourself?  Be blessed...
 
In His love,
 
Bev
 
ps. Please know that if you read this post today you are being prayed for every morning and every evening :)
 
 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

I Surrender

Hey Friend,
 
I feel like I need to write a disclaimer on this week's post.  After spending a wonderful, yet busy week with my mom visiting, I now have a miserable summer cold.  So, I'm not sure if my writing is Spirit inspired or cold medicine inspired, but here goes anyway...
 
I mentioned my mom.  We have a great relationship even though we are very different people.  As a little girl, I sometimes wondered whose child I was?  Both of my parents were very stoic - rarely showing emotion.  I, on the other hand, wore my heart and my emotions on my sleeve.  It didn't take a genius to figure out what I was feeling. 
 
I was also raised on the premise of self-sufficiency.  One did not admit they needed help and rarely, if ever, asked for it. And as for quitting or giving up...well let's just say my dad, a vet himself, often quoted Winston Churchill's famous, "Never, never, never give up!"   Surrendering was not an option.
 
And so, I, armed with this knowledge, embarked upon this journey we call life. 
I did fairly well through high school and college.  It wasn't until marriage and my first child being born that I encountered trials that rocked my battle cry of self-sufficiency and never giving up.  I won't go into all the details here, but suffice it to say that I quickly began to realize that life was not exactly a bowl of cherries.
 
I was said to be suffering with post-partum depression (later to be diagnosed as severe OCD).  I was depressed and anxious.  I quickly got to the end of my rope - my self sufficiency.  Still fighting the urge to ask for help, I fell deeper into despair and perpetual anxiousness.  I remember exactly the day that I had to get real with God!  
 
I had been holding back turning things over to Him because not giving up or quitting had been so ingrained in me.  
 
God taught me, however, that there is a difference between quitting and surrendering.
 
I was not "giving up" I was giving over...giving over to God and letting go of self.
 
Perhaps you've heard the saying that if God is your co-pilot, then you need to get up and change seats.  God wants to be the pilot of our lives, but He will not force His way in...we need to willingly turn over the steering wheel.
 
"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it."  (Matthew 16: 24-25)
 
In order to survive, I quickly realized that I would have to deny self and then, of my own free will, I needed to surrender to God.
 
In life we have a choice:  surrender to self, surrender to the enemy or surrender to the Lord.
 
I had tried self; I certainly didn't want to surrender to the enemy (who by the way can whisper some awful lies); so the Lord was my last resort.
 
I'm not proud that it took me to the end of my rope to finally surrender to the Lord, but that's often the point we need to get to until we will finally take hold of his strong and mighty hand.
 
"Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed."  (Proverbs 16:3)
 
I had taken the path of Self sufficiency------> Surrender
 
Once we pry our fingers off our pride, our merciful and loving God does not just stop there.  He takes it a step further...
 
Self sufficiency---->Surrender---->Surrounded
 
Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord's unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him. (Psalm 32:10)
 
As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore.  (Psalm 125:2)
 
Once we surrender, the Lord surrounds us with His unfailing love.  Like the little helpless lamb, the Lord lifted me into His strong and loving arms and surrounded me with His love.  He didn't leave me alone and unguarded.
 
Again, the Lord does not stop there:
 
Self sufficiency---->Surrender---->Surrounded---->Security
 
His heart (the man who loves the Lord) is secure, he will have no fear...(Psalm 112:8)
 
[Now] We have this hope (oath/promise) as and anchor for the soul, firm and secure.  (Hebrews 6:19)
 
I love this imagery...the Lord as an anchor for our soul; holding us firm and secure when the rough and turbulent seas swirl around us.  My friend, if you are dealing with something you can no longer handle yourself...you are not a failure!  It is okay to say I surrender!  In fact the Lord is waiting patiently for you to do so.  It is only in our weakness that He can then be strong.  I am, as always, praying for you!
 
What do you need to surrender to the Lord today?  If you have a prayer request, leave it in the comments or contact me directly.  I am a vigilant prayer warrior - I've witnessed first hand the power of prayer.  I pray that you will let Him take you from self sufficiency all the way to security!  Be blessed...
 
In His love,
 
Bev
 
ps. If you suffer from depression or anxiety...I am a strong supporter of seeking medical help as well as Christian counseling.  Depression and anxiety are treatable illnesses.
 
 
  

Monday, July 21, 2014

An Unending, Open Invitation

Hey Friend,
 
My husband and I just got back from a business conference that he attended (I went along for the ride).  Before we went, my husband forwarded to me an invitation that he had received.  The invitation read: So and So's Estate & Wealth Planning Group invites you and a guest to join us for a Lowcountry Oyster Roast and Barbeque.  Date, Time, Location (Kiawah Island, SC).
 
Immediately I started having thoughts and questions...Who would be there?  Like my husband, would it be a lot of lawyers, bankers, estate and wealth planning professionals?  Would I feel out of my league?  After all it's been a long time since I worked in the business world.  Oh they're going to ask me the dreaded, "So what do you do?"  Would my resume be impressive enough? 
 
Then it morphed into what do I wear?  The invitation said "business casual".  Do yoga pants and a tank top count?  Suddenly I wished I had shed that extra ten pounds.  I recently had foot surgery and had graduated to wearing sneakers.  Sneakers and a skirt...now that will impress 'em!  And don't even get me started on accessories!
 
About the time I got myself all worked into a tizzy, a favorite old hymn of mine mercifully popped into my head.  I knew immediately that this was a "God thing".  Let me share just two of the verses here:
 
Just as I Am, Without One Plea
 
Just as I am, without one plea,
but that thy blood was shed for me,
and that thou bidst me come to thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
 
Just as I am, though tossed about
with many a conflict, many a doubt,
fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
 
Right away I was drawn to and focused on the word, "Come".  And how do I come? "Just as I am." 
 
Unlike earthly invitations, God's invitation is unending, open and bids us to come just as we are. 
 
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  (Romans 5:8)
 
How thankful I am that we don't have to get our act together first, in order to be invited.  God invites us while we are still sinners.
 
On Bible Gateway, I looked up the phrase, "Come to me".  I found 339 results.
 
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."  (Matthew 11:28)
 
This is probably one of my favorite "come to me" verses.  Christ issues an awesome promise when we come to him...He promises us rest!
 
Let me share some other invitations found in the Bible:
 
In Exodus, the Lord said to Moses, "Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone with the law and the commandments I have written for their instruction." 
 
God says, "Come" and gives a gift of guidance
 
"Come follow me," Jesus said, "and I will send you out to fish for people."  (Matthew 4:19)
 
Jesus says, "Come" and gives purpose
 
"For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."  (Matthew 9:13)
 
Jesus comes to call sinners to himself
 
Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."  (Matthew 19:14)
 
Jesus' invitation is universal
 
"Then come follow me."  (Matthew 19:21)
 
When Jesus invites us to come, He is prepared to lead
 
Unlike a one time invitation, the Lord issues an unending, open invitation.  The invitation doesn't discriminate between gender, color, age, sinner or righteous.  We are truly welcome to come just as we are with doubts, worries, a past, in spite of what we've done or not done.
 
We do not make ourselves righteous in order to come to God, but instead, Christ's blood cleanses us when we come as is!
 
If you wonder if you are invited?  Friend, you are!!  The cross bids you and me to come...come just as we are.  Come and be released of whatever it is that holds you down.  Come and be given freedom to dance.  Come and be loved, truly loved, just as you are. 
 
What a glorious invitation.  His loving heart has broken every barrier down.  Will you R.S.V.P. Yes, I will come?  I pray so... 
 
In His love,
 
Bev
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Dealing With Doubt

Hey Friend,
 
As I have mentioned in other posts, I have OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder).  OCD, one of the anxiety spectrum disorders, is nicknamed "the doubters disease".  What the ordinary person is able to dismiss as irrational, throws the person with OCD into a vortex of doubt and anxiety.  It really is an insidious illness.  I guess that's why I get a little touchy when people casually throw the term OCD around.  Living it can be pure hell at times.
 
I guess it would come as no surprise, that when asked which disciple I can most relate to, I would have to say Thomas (nicknamed the doubter).  When confronted with Jesus, recently risen from the dead, Thomas wants so desperately to believe it truly is Christ.  His doubts, however, get in the way and he needs just a little more proof and reassurance. 
 
I love what Jesus does here...He doesn't chide or rebuke Thomas.  Far from it.  Jesus lovingly says to Thomas, "Reach here with your finger, and see my hands; and reach out your hand and put it into my side."  (John 20:27)
 
Jesus knows full well that we are programmed for doubt.
 
Yet, He responds to our doubt with a loving offering of proof.  We may not be able to actually put our finger in Jesus' wounds, but we are given His word - His proof of promises that we can depend on.
 
You may not have OCD, but you do have the enemy to deal with.  Even though the enemy is not omniscient, he knows our weak places...our Achilles heel and he goes after it with a vengeance.  He whispers words of doubt:
 
*  Are you really saved? 
*  Does God really, truly love you?
*  Is God really good?
*  Are you sure you can trust God?
*  God doesn't care about little you...
*  Are you sure you are sealed with the Holy Spirit?
*  Are you certain you're going to Heaven?
*  You're not worthy...and on and on it goes.
 
The enemy is the accuser of the brethren.  Have you ever had thoughts that go something like this:
 
You are NOT a good (Fill in the blank)...person, believer, spouse, parent, friend, etc.
 
Lean in and hear this...It is ALL LIES!!  Like Thomas touching Jesus' wounds, we can trace our finger over Romans 8:1: Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
 
"The story of your life is the story of the long and brutal assault on your heart by one who knows what you can be and fears it."  (John Eldredge, "Waking the Dead".
 
Doubt will always be an integral part of our lives.  Why?  Because the enemy hates us and wants us to doubt all the good gifts we've been given in Christ such as :  grace, forgiveness, mercy, acceptance, strength, wisdom, redemption, an inheritance, a new heart...
 
In the book of Mark, chapter 9, a man begs Jesus to heal his mute and seizure ridden son.
 
Verse 23:  Jesus tells the father, "All things are possible for him who believes."
 
Verse 24:  The father cries out, "I do believe; help my unbelief."
 
I DO BELIEVE; HELP MY UNBELIEF
 
I DO BELIEVE; HELP MY DOUBT
 
Doubting, actually, is not all bad.  Doubting drives me to seek answers. When regular doubt crops up and even when the awful OCD doubt flares, it sends me running into the arms of my Heavenly Father.  He does not chide or rebuke me but instead, lovingly reminds me that I am His.
 
God can take what Satan hands me and uses it to draw me closer to Himself.
 
Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith..."  (Hebrews 12: 1b-2)
 
Jesus is the author and perfecter of my faith (not me).  He can even use my doubts to grow me in my faith. 
 
Do you have doubts?  Do you ever cry out, "I do believe; help my unbelief."?
Know you are not alone.  We all doubt.  Just like Jesus lovingly reassured Thomas, He reassures us.  You are His child.  He will not chide or rebuke you.  He applauds each step forward you take in your faith.  And, when you fall (which you will), He picks you back up again and urges you onward. 
 
Offer your doubts up to the Lord and see what He can do with them.  As always, I would love to hear from you and am always willing to pray for you.  If you are reading this...know you are being lifted up as you read.
 
From one doubter to another...
 
In His love,
 
Bev
 
ps.  Next week I will be going "off the grid" to enjoy a little time with my family.  I hope you'll use this time to enjoy your family or perhaps check out the archives.  Be blessed!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Practice Of Pondering

Hey Friend,
 
Last week I challenged you to choose people over pixels, Creation over cyber-space and now this week I would like to take a look at scripture over surfing and scrolling.  Remember, it's all in finding a balance.
 
Even as a child, I was a voracious reader.  Perhaps being an only child contributed to my being able to get so caught up in a book that I would barely take time to eat.  I devoured books and loved to let my imagination run wild.  Another offshoot of reading a lot, I believe, is that I learned to read very quickly while still retaining comprehension of what I had just read.
 
I remember in school...the teacher would give us a section to read out of our books silently in class.  She would tell us to close our books to signal that we were done.  As you might imagine, I would read the section lickity split and be sitting there twiddling my thumbs wondering what in the world was taking everyone so long?
 
The down side of my speedy reading is that I tend to skim just about everything...the newspaper, books, magazines, devotionals and yes...even scripture.  If I have read/heard a scripture many times, I am guilty of really skimming past it.  Jean Fleming in her book "Pursue The Intentional Life", challenges readers to practice the art of pondering.
 
I would like to take the pondering one step further and challenge you to make the scripture personal...claim it as your own!!
 
One way to make it personal is to insert your name into the scripture or use the words "I" and "me".
 
Example:  "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."  (John 8:36)
 
Ponder:  "So if the Son sets me free, I will be free indeed."
 
Remember when your mom told you to really chew your food?  I encourage you to really chew on scripture.  Break it down word by word and let it roll around in your mind for awhile.  Claim its truth for yourself.  Personalize it. 
 
Mary, mother of Jesus, was good at pondering God's words to her through the angel Gabriel.  The Bible says: But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. (Luke 2:19)
 
Scripture itself compels us to ponder:  "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing songs with gratitude in your hearts to God."  (Colossians 3:16)
 
Let = allow in (allow the word of Christ in)
 
Dwell = meditate upon (no skimming or speed reading)
 
Sing = recite what you've learned
 
Oh, if only we let the word of Christ dwell richly in us.  If only we gave His Word plenty of room in our lives?!
 
So when do we ponder the Word?
 
David says, "The wicked are waiting to destroy me, but I will ponder your statutes."  (Psalm 119:95)
 
But his [man's] delight is in the word of the Lord, and on his word he meditates day and night. (Psalm 1:2)
 
So why do we ponder the Word?
 
Revelation 1:3 says there is a special blessing for those who read God's word.
 
"The secret of joy is the practice of meditation - that is the way to have this joy of the Lord.  We must meditate upon Him, upon what He is, what He has done, His love to us and upon God's care for us who are His people."  (Martyn LLoyd-Jones)
 
"The secret to joy is meditating on God's care - not on earth's snares."  (Ann Voskamp)
 
So how do we ponder the Word?
 
One summer when I was not teaching I put together what I call a First-Aid or Emergency Kit of scriptures.  I actually wrote down scriptures that spoke to me during certain trials and tribulations in my life.  I included scriptures that spoke to my "hot buttons" or Achilles heel.  I wrote each verse individually on brightly colored index cards and laminated them (teachers laminate everything). 
 
If I was really organized I would group them according to topic ie: grace, guilt, worry, hope, anxiety, etc.  I hole punched them and put them on a round ring so that I can remove a certain scripture and tape it on my bathroom mirror if I feel like I need that extra reminder. 
 
Hide God's word in your heart.  Memorize it.  Study it.
 
The day is going to come when you will need the sword of scripture.
 
Don't be like me...don't skim scripture.  Ponder it.  Chew on it.  Take it line by line and word by word if you have to.  Read it in context.  Who was talking to whom?  What was the context or situation?  Then personalize it and claim it!
 
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!  How vast is the sum of them!  Were I to count them they would outnumber the grains of sand.
(Psalm 139:17-18)
 
How I pray that God's words and thoughts would be precious to me like the way they were to David.  Notice his use of exclamation marks (which are not widely used in the Bible).  How I pray that I would slow down and drink in God's word and really and truly ponder it in my heart the way Mary did. 
 
Will you join me in practicing the art of pondering God's Holy word?  Would you share ways you've been able to personalize and claim scripture as your own?  I would love to hear from you!
 
In His love,
 
Bev
 
ps.  As we look forward to celebrating Independence Day, may we all personally thank someone who has served or who is serving in our armed forces so that we may enjoy the freedoms that we have.  Extend that thanks to the spouses of service men and women too - who hold down the fort at home.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart!!
 
Dear Service men and women (and their families),
 
May the Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.  (Numbers 6: 24-26)