Monthly Archives: February 2012

The Perfect Girl

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How I long to be the perfect girl, with the perfect hair, and the perfect teeth, and oh I could go on and on. How many countless hours have you spent looking in the mirror thinking “if only . . .” Of course I am speaking to the ladies. We are the ones so quick to pick ourselves apart.

As I have grown in my relationship with the Lord, I have come to realize that complaining about how I look, is complaining about God’s design. He made me fearfully and wonderfully (Psalm 139:14)!

I do not want to be like the Israelites and live in the desert for the rest of my life grumbling against God! If only you had made me better.  If only you had made me differently.  Like the Israelites’ complaints: “If only we had stayed in Egypt! If only we had died out here!” Steps from entering the Promise Land and all they wanted was to go back into slavery. Back into bondage!  They had been made free by God, but they would rather die in the desert than enter the Promise Land, because they didn’t trust God and His design (Numbers 14).

I have been made free through my Savior’s death on a cross. Every time I grumble about my imperfections, I am going back into the bondage I was freed from! Back into the desert. If that is where I am going to be, what was the point of His death?  I want to live in the land flowing with milk and honey.  Amen?

If I am going to do this, I must stand guard against the one who prowls like a lion.   1 Peter 5:8: Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Satan will not have a hold on this girl!  He won’t trick me into thinking the desert is better than freedom.

:: Lord help me to love myself as you do!  Help me to know and trust you more each day.  Help me to know that each hair on my head is just so (Matthew 10:30), according to your wonderous design.  Help me to hold these truths close to my heart.  Help ladies everywhere to also know these truths ::

Peace

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My mother-in-law gave me a devotional called Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence, by Sarah Young. Sarah writes from Jesus’ perspective, as if He were talking to the reader.  She bases her writing on biblical principles.

Her writing on February 10th, I find to be true time and time again in my life: “Because I am omnipotent, I am able to bend time and events in your favor. You will find that you can accomplish more in less time, after you have given yourself to Me in rich communion.”

When I take time to spend with the Lord, I find myself getting so much done in so little time. When I don’t spend this time “in rich communion,” I find myself anxious and getting frustrated as it seems nothing goes my way. There have been many times that I have skipped my daily bible reading or neglected to spend time with God, only to realize later on that my day was a total waste.

Today I got back into my Jesus the One and Only Beth Moore study, and I felt overwhelming peace. The previous two days, I had skipped it. Those days I found myself anxious, worried, and short-termpered. Today, after spending time with the Lord, I took things as they came, wasn’t anxious, and felt true peace.  It also felt good to catch up with my best friend.

I realized two things today.  The first is that God does and has bent time in my favor before (on many occasions actually).  The other is this:  On the days when I take the time to spend with the Lord, I notice a difference.  The difference is that while I am spending time with Him, He is equipping me for all I need and all that will come my way.  By tuning into the Author of my faith, I am able to focus on what is important for me to do that moment, that day, and not worry about anything else.

“. . . man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” –Deuteronomy 8:3

::God, help me to always put a higher importance on spending time with You and Your Word than anything else in life. I find myself logging time on social media networks eagerly, yet I scimp when it comes to spending time with you. Ignite a passion in me for your word. Thank you for the peace you have given me today::

~Michelle

Perfect Love

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I read the cutest church sign today for Valentine’s Day.  It read:  BE MINE  –God

That’s all he ever asks of us.  We definitely make out on the deal.

I see the benefits of God’s perfect love in the following: 

Sending His Son to die on the cross for me, giving me Neil as a husband, blessing me with two perfect boys, answering my prayers, not answering my prayers, Him listening to me, never leaving me, always providing everything I need, healing me, giving me amazing friends, protecting me, giving me grace all the time even though I don’t deserve it, Him teaching me, opening my eyes and ears, showing me His beauty, the quirky things about me that make me ME, creating me in His image, creating this beautiful world we live in, giving me an encouraging word when I need one, God’s people being His hands and feet, forgiveness, mothers, heaven, the changing of the seasons, babies, and laughter.  

All of this He has given me and more, but there is nothing that I have to give Him, except for all of me.   

Happy Valentine’s Day God. Thank You that I am yours!

Let the Light Shine

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I think my heart breaks more for those that go through this life without a relationship with Jesus, because I didn’t always have one.  I didn’t grow up knowing my Savior in a personal way.  Not knowing my Savior meant I did not truly know God.  I think coming to the Lord later in life, gives me a deep appreciation for all He has done and brought to my life.  I look at my life, before and after, and I see black and white, no shades of gray.  It was dark before, and now it is full of light.   

 Before I had given my life to God, things didn’t seem all that bad, but I was never fully happy.  I never felt . . . free.    That’s a good word to describe it.  John 8:32.  Now I am free, and God equips me each day for what is in store.  Those without this freedom, have no idea what they are missing!

Like my Pastor, Rob McNutt at Faith Bible Church said this past Sunday:  “Becoming a Christian doesn’t make life easier, but it makes it better.” I agree!

Jesus said: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed . . .”  –Luke 4:18

143

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143=numerical I (1) LOVE (4) YOU (3)

I remember the day I first fell in love with the Lord. The sun was shining, and I had set up camp on my old blanket I keep in the trunk of my car (cause you never know when the need to just sit on a blanket will arise). I had my One Year Bible and a copy of The Purpose Driven Life , I dubbed “The Green Book,” by Rick Warren.

I cannot remember if I was in The Word or in “The Green Book” when it happened, but I literally fell head over heels in love with God. It was the highest high I have ever felt, but I was completely sober. It was mid-day at a park mind you. And it was like the secrets of heaven were spoken to my heart. I cannot explain it in words. It was out-of-body, and I will never be the same.

In that moment, I felt so much love, I could hardly stand it! I wanted to shout from the rooftops. I knew I never wanted to be out from underneath God’s wonderful grace again. I couldn’t believe that the Creator of the universe loved me so much that He allowed His son to die for me. I couldn’t believe that Jesus loved me so much that He was faithful enough to go through with it. And I couldn’t believe that the Holy Spirit was pursuing me all that time. I couldn’t believe that God loved me in the same way I loved my child–even more! That was unreal to me! And I had done nothing but run away from Him and hurt Him. I felt bad for running all that time, not accepting what He had done for me, but there was so much love inside of me in that moment that shame took the backseat. God didn’t allow the devil to ruin this love story. It was like God Himself was hugging me (I could imagine His hugs feeling that good). It was like He was hugging me and saying “It’s okay. I know all of you. I know everything you have ever done or thought, good and bad, and I love you just the same. I am happy you are here with me, and I no longer have to chase you.”

Now trust me when I say, there is nothing special about me. I believe the only reason I experienced this was because I was seeking Him with my whole heart (Jeremiah 29:13). I wanted to know who He was, and He revealed that to me. We are all free to do that at any time. And He is more than willing to run to all that do.

Later, when I heard the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), I completely related with to the son.  I was the same in that I wanted all the privilege of being God’s child, but I wanted to go my own way. When I realized I would never be complete without being with Him, I came back. When I did finally come back, He didn’t throw my shame in my face, He didn’t scold me, and He didn’t go around telling others what a disgrace I had been. He ran to me. ME! With open arms. He threw His arms around me and then threw me a huge party with all the angels in heaven!  Sweet!

“Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” –Luke 15:7

I believe I felt a little bit of that in the park that day!

So what’s 143 got to do with it? Well, when I was a teen, we used pagers, yes pagers instead of cell phones (gasp), and 143 stood for “I love you.” Over the years I have always noticed these three numbers together, and I would think to myself “I love you”–to no one in particular. It was just engraved in my brain. Ever since I have returned to my Heavenly Father, I see those numbers and am reminded that He is looking down on me saying, “Michelle, I LOVE YOU.” I LOVE HIM too. 143

Bacon

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I am currently reading Leviticus in my One Year Chronological Bible. Pretty hefty stuff. Leviticus is the book discussing laws set before the Israelites, as spoken through Moses. I am on the part where God was telling the Israelites, through Moses, what they could eat (like sheep), and what they could not eat (like pigs). It also discusses what kinds of skin diseases required separation from the camp. This was taking place after the Israelites were led from Egypt, and Moses had been given the 10 commandments.

Now I loooove bacon! And eat it often too. We no longer are commanded not to eat it either, because Jesus fulfilled the law, which we couldn’t do alone (Galatians 3 and Romans 7). But I imagine that God was telling the Israelites not to eat certain foods for their own health, not because He didn’t want them to enjoy bacon. I mean times were different back then, and perhaps they would have gotten an illness from eating pig. Along the same lines, I think God thought it best if people with diseases remained outside the camp walls so they couldn’t spread their illness to others. Again, God setting boundaries to protect His people, not to keep good things from them. Of course bacon being “good” is all relative.

But I just want to take today to say “thank you God.” Thank you for having rules for us, as any good parent would. I know you do not want to keep any good thing from me. What you really want is to give me the best. And you know that I am the safest and happiest when I follow your laws. Francis Chan explains this a bit in his Just Stop and Think video if you start watching at 3:40. (The whole video is amazing if you have the time to check it out though. You won’t be sorry you did! His book Crazy Love is amazing too!)

I mean you made me! You would know what’s best for me. You know every beat of my heart, everything that saddens me, everything I long for, and it is your desire to fulfill these longings. It wasn’t until I entered into this relationship with you, that I realized this can only be done through your son Jesus. I had stepped way outside of your boundaries. I looked every place but up to satisfy that deep longing for “something more.”  I get it now, and I know that deep longing for something more is part of your plan, because there is something more–Heaven. We get there through Jesus (John 14:6).

But back to the point though. What kind of parent would I be without setting boundaries for my children? Not a very good one. Without your boundaries, it would be hard to know you really cared for me. Chip Ingram paints a beautiful picture of this in his study Love, Sex, and Lasting Relationships. He talks about a Dad that lives in an apartment complex near a busy highway. The dad set boundaries for his son–where he could ride his bike and where he couldn’t– not to be mean, but to keep him safe. And yes that dad also had to discipline his child when he tried to go outside of those boundaries. Imagine if he didn’t do that. It wouldn’t be long before his child ended up seriously injured or even dead.

In the same way, God, you have set boundaries that keep me safe and happy. The bible is full of commands for us, and I have broken many! I will probably break many more! But I thank You that your son paid the price for my transgressions. And I know, with your help, I will get better at keeping your commands and be better off for it. For You that started a good work in me will complete it (Philippians 1:6).

::Lord, help me also to set God-honoring boundaries for my children. This is so tough to do, especially when the discipline that comes alongside can be painful for them. No mother wants their children to hurt, for any reason. But like that little boy on the bike had to feel the sting of discipline, and I have had to feel the sting of your discipline, and my children have felt the sting of mine, I know in the end, like you, I only want what is best for my children. And it is always done out of love.  Thank you for disciplining me out of love::

Safe In Your Arms

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Lord, I do not understand why you, in your infinite wisdom, allow us to continue holding on to baby Stephen, while baby Benjamin’s family can no longer do the same. But I know that I mustn’t rely on my own understanding, because you tell me not to in Proverbs 3.5: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”

Though I can only dare to relate, I assume that losing a child has to be the most painful thing anyone can endure. I cry for their loss. But you understand exactly what they are going through, don’t you. You “did not spare [your] own son, but gave him up for us all.” -Romans 8:32. And Jesus’s death was gruesome. How you endured that for us, I will also never understand.

I do know your plans are good, and I pray you help baby Benjamin’s family to cling to you and praise you in spite of this tragedy. For you are “near to the brokenhearted” (Psalm 34:18), and you work all things out “for the good of those who love [You]” (Romans 8:28). I likely will never grasp this either until I am in heaven, along with baby Benjamin, and see your beautiful plan unfold. How could an untimely death such as this possibly be worked out for good? But in the meantime, it is comforting to know that at least he is safe in your arms. And I must admit, I think that is a better place than any this world has to offer.

{If you have stumbled upon this and you are a praying person, please lift Benjamin H’s family up in prayer as they grieve the loss of his precious life. Whether you have come across this today or years from now, I know they will need the prayers all the same.}