Tag Archives: Bible

Hungry Lions

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I know everyone’s probably still reflecting on the stone that covered the tomb, but I have opened my Bible to “Daniel in the Den of Lions” for the past 2 days. I found myself reading about the stone that was brought to place over the opening of the den after Daniel was thrown in with the lions. My NIV Bible says they placed it there “so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed.” If ever there was a situation I’d like changed, it would be if I were hangin’ out in close proximity to some hungry lions.  

Let’s think about it because this is one of those stories I hadn’t paid much attention to since Sunday school days. Anything resembling food catapulted near some large cats would soon be non-existent, right? I’ve seen those kitties chase down some pretty quick creatures on TV. If indeed, that meal was set before them on the proverbial “silver platter,” what would keep them from chowing down? Their instincts would take over. If an animal is hungry, it’s not like my 4 year-old who has to have a certain shape of gluten-free mac and cheese, it’s not going to be picky. Daniel should have been rare, dead meat. It wasn’t a “what” but a “Who” that kept them from dining in. Daniel had a real relationship with the Almighty. 

People face “situations” all the time: death, depression, anxiety, sickness, past trauma, stress, the list goes on and on. Why aren’t they instantly rescued? Why do they have to endure so much? I’ve found myself in a place where I get aggravated, to the tune of: “If You can, WHY don’t You?” Many of you, I’m sure, are uncomfy speaking to the Creator of the universe in this manner and I get that, but me and God, we’ve been through some stuff. He’s the One that’s been there no matter what and I can’t say that about too many. Even a close family member physically can’t be there every single time you need them to be. So why isn’t God plucking people out of these precarious tragedies and showing the world how awesome He is? 

In my ponderings, I go back to Daniel 6:10 that says once ol’ boy learns that there’s been a new rule made, he goes home to do what he always does 3 times every single day: gets down on his knees and prays and thanks God. Are we doing anything like this? I saw a meme the other day that said complaining about God not speaking to you with your Bible closed is like complaining you’re not getting any texts when your phone is turned off. This hit me as absurd—who’s turning their phone off?? Could this be the problem? Have the cat videos, as cute as they may be, taken up valuable space in our lives? Do we really need more gardening quick tips or can we just go out and plant the garden? Do we require more recipes on variations for “Crack Chicken”? Silly, I know, but I dare you to keep track of how much time you spend looking at your phone. I’d be willing to bet it’s more than 3 times a day. 

Can we do more to build up our faith and put our trust in Him and His perfect plan? Daniel’s situation did in fact change drastically…despite the big bad rock. And yours can too. Believe it. 

 

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Clear Skies and Confirmation

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“Many times when people are recovering from illness, they follow a strict diet that brings balance back into their eating habits. Find balance in all you do, and keep the enemy away from your door.” Joyce Meyer 

This was in my devotional reading today. This statement makes me feel so adult. I don’t typically read devotionals, which my mom finds hilarious since I’ve assisted in writing one. It’s just always seemed so disciplined and routine to me. I’m not really a routine-kinda gal and it’s not because I don’t want to be. I try to keep routines. In fact, I have one hanging in the kitchen, I just forget to look at it. My day would run so incredibly smoothly if I could only do step 1 first, then follow it with the other steps! It doesn’t happen this way, but that doesn’t keep this ADD gal from striving for just that. 

I’ve been tackling this autoimmune stuff with diet lately and I’m in my third month of the autoimmune protocol diet. This game plan avoids eggs, nuts, seeds, chocolate, soy, dairy, sugar, gluten/wheat, rice, oats, legumes, nightshade veggies (potatos, tomatos, eggplant, peppers), food additives like guar gum and carrageenan, NSAIDS (medications for pain such as ibuprofen/acetaminophen), and alcohol (haven’t touched the stuff since March 12th, 2009. Thank you Jesus!) This is not a diet to lose weight, although I am. It is a healing diet, a somewhat of a system reset, then reintroductions of certain foods to identify if they have a negative effect (I.e. inflammation) within my body. It’s very difficult. It requires discipline and focus. 2 concepts I have yet to master on any level. I’ve prayed for God to heal me like He did the woman with the issue of blood (Matthew 9:20-22, Mark 5:25-34, Luke 8:43-48) In fact, I’ve imagined myself touching his clothes as He walked by and feeling magnificent! And there have been times that I have literally felt so good I can’t even describe it, but they are very short-lived, as in a-few-minutes-short. I believe that it’s coming one day and if He didn’t have a good reason and a plan, I’d be in perfect health. After all, I was the one who trashed this temple of mine for quite a few years. Seems only fair I’d experience some consequences somewhere along the way.  

This venture has been a long one in my mind, although I know I have it much better than some. There’s a tendency in this journey to become self-pitying, especially when you’re not eating anything other human beings eat. But today, today is a new day, with new mercies and clear skies. I’m thanking God for His unique ability to give us signs that we’re on the right track, no matter how rough that track may appear. 

Within the Realm

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Within the same hour, I received news that a co-worker gave birth to a long-awaited baby, a friend had lost a nephew in a car accident, and an amazing couple may have a chance to adopt. On this earth, there is a realm of possibilities. Within that realm, we are free to chase our dreams and experience so much happiness at times, we’re not sure we can stand it. Also within that realm we are allowed to experience pain and gut-wrenching hurt, so much so that life suddenly feels different. We witness death, we see abandonment in a child’s eyes, we hug a woman who just lost her son. Our life is instantly altered, whether we acknowledge it or avoid it. We attempt to place ourselves in different shoes while thanking God and all that’s holy that we don’t have to.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)states we are to give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus. “All circumstances?” This seems so easy on days when we are cherishing life because of a newborn, but what about those days when a mother stands next to her once newborn’s casket? The feeling and questions of whether she can make it through this come from the very depths of her soul, the realm that only God understands because no one else can go that deep within us. That hurt is indescribable and too gruesome to speak. Our worst fears realized on a day that was completely “normal.” That’s within the realm of possibilities too. God knows that realm and that pain. He cares about us, whether we find it easy to throw up our hands in praise or to our heads in sheer angst. He’s there as we walk this realm out, knowing the perfect time to reveal the new one. There’s a realm that He created that looks absolutely nothing like this. There’s no tears, no pain, no angst, no gut-wrenching hurt that appears like it will continue through to oblivion. This isn’t the realm He had planned for us. He promised to walk with us while we’re in it though. And if that doesn’t mean much to you and you can write it off as unimportant, I believe with all my heart, soul, and being that God is going to become very real to you very soon.
Whether your heart is full of hope or hurt right now, I pray that you remember that the realm of possibilities is a vast one and there are opportunities for growth on both ends of the spectrum.

Daffy Duck Mouth

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Luke 14:11 states: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” I can’t help but think of all the “duck lips” and selfies and derrieres I’ve seen within the past couple weeks or maybe years. People are proud. Proud of what? Their face? Their booty? A certain amount of self-confidence and a healthy dose of self-esteem is appropriate, sure. But I have to wonder: What are we constantly seeking? Approval? Compliments? Someone to notice how worthy we are of attention? As a whole, I think we are placing priority not on the God Who made us, but us.

I don’t want to exalt those who shouldn’t be, namely me. Anything I do is only because God allows me to do it. I have no talents that He hasn’t given me and until I have prayed about a situation, my ideas are limited at best. It’s not easy to live in this world and be set apart from it simultaneously. We were called to be renewed and transformed by the Word of God and some (I dare not say “most” for fear of my stomach turning) don’t even know what it says because the only time they open their Bible is on Sunday mornings, if they didn’t forget it at home. Ouch. That one stung me just a little bit, too.

It’s for that reason that for the next 30 days, I will be carrying a Bible with me. Anywhere I go, the Word of God will be readily available and at my fingertips, much like the smartphone I’m tired of eyeballing. I’ve come to a place where I need more God. More peace. More wisdom. More of anything He’s offering. “God30” begins tomorrow and I look forward to the insights I expect to receive. My priorities must shift. Instead of studying the “art of myself” and how to take the perfect selfie with ideal lighting in the greatest of angles, I’ll study anything the Creator Himself wants to point out each day. I can practice my Daffy Duck mouth another day.

One o’ Those

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I’ve had one of those days or maybe not so much days, but weeks. One of those days when everything I throw at the trash can (think full coffee filter. Why do I throw those things?) doesn’t actually go inside the trash can and one of those days when you look up to the sky to try to get a handle on things and breathe, but a weird worm from a nearby tree drops onto your upper lip. (Ok, that didn’t really happen, but I did visualize it happening as I looked skyward that day. I have a very active imagination that can be a pro or a con at any given time.) So as I’m walking along, wondering about weird worms, I realize so much about our day is perspective and where we place our focus. My thoughts after I missed the trash can were, “Geeeeez, isn’t anything gonna go right today??” In that moment, I felt a much gentler thought almost audibly whisper, “There are many things that have gone right today.” That whisper, I believe, is the Holy Spirit. There’s no describing it, but I’ve heard it with my heart before many times. (“You don’t have to do this.” Is one of my favorite statements the Comforter has ever made to me. That was when I thought I had to drink. A lot. That’s a previous blog post.)

When I was gently corrected and reminded of the many blessings God had poured out on my ungrateful head that day, I realized that there are only moments of discouragement. Not “bad days.” It’s unlikely that every minute of a 24-hour period could be bad. It’s only moments we, in our fleshy ways, try to make out to be worse than they truly are by focusing on those instead of the good ones.

When Jesus left this earth after being raised from the dead, He said, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26 (NIV) I know I need an Advocate. Somebody who’s gonna help me out by reminding me that every little thing’s gonna be alright (some of you now have a Marley song stuck in your head now. You’re welcome.) Even on one o’ those days I throw the banana away and start to eat the peel.

Tasks Worth Doing

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Anyone else get tired of those stupid to-do lists? Mine were everywhere. I’d have scraps of paper, notebooks upon notebooks, grocery lists, superstore lists, get-done-today- lists, didn’t-get-done- yesterday-lists, weekly lists…I had lists of lists! It almost got to a point where I needed to make lists of my lists to keep track of them all. *Note: I did not do that. I was not only stressed because I had so much to do, but also because I couldn’t figure out what to do first, then I couldn’t figure out where that stupid list went! I literally spent the time I could have been doing the task, looking for the list. Why? Because I love to cross things off. Just saying it brings a smile to my scary morning face. There is something about it: a visual reminder of just how productive you are. Your task is complete! TA-DA! Until…
I realized I was never finished with my tasks. My list was ever-changing and continuous. Once I got 5 things done, I’d add more. Then more, until I was so discouraged I couldn’t see straight. Where oh where was my stopping point? Where was the ribbon at the finish line if there was no finish line?? Wait, am I even running the right race?
So, I changed it up. I read this verse, Acts 20:24 (NIV) says:
“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace”that simply lets us know:
1. It’s not about me. (Much to Hollywood’s dismay.)
2. We just have to finish the race.
3. We just have to testify to how good our God is.
I give God the very first moments of my day. (Ok, maybe it’s shared just a little with Folgers) and remind myself of all that He’s done and the only thing I absolutely have to do today are things that show how amazing our Creator is. In everything we do, we can testify to God’s grace…whether it’s washing those dishes (yes, the ones with the gunk still on ‘em from 3 nights ago) or going to work. Don’t let the enemy of your soul stress you out. Life is good! Life is simple! You don’t have to do more. You can literally do less and let God do the changing of the lives!

It’s not about how much we get done or even the tasks themselves, although my kids’ room is a beast of its own, but more about why and for Whom we do them. Our attitude toward the tasks is important because we do more than simply check them off, we do everything for the One Who made us. It’s all about Him, not us. So quit chasing that to-do list around the house and breathe…you are doing enough. You are enough. Testify to God’s grace through what you do, no matter what it may be, and you’re running the right race.

Recognize

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While reading in Jonah, the book I’ve been stuck in for awhile now (better than a big fish, right? Yuk yuk) it hit me that Jonah didn’t know that he was getting out of that fish.He had no idea what the outcome would be. We know the end of the story and have for years, except for maybe the actual “vomit” part…they left that out when I was a kid. We realize he got out and finally did what God asked him to do. But while in the whale (and please don’t argue with me about what kind of fish it was…I’m not concerned about that.) Jonah had some time to think. God gifted him with that time by providing the huge creature. Does anyone else find that amazing and hilarious? My NIV study Bible literally says that He “provided a great fish to swallow Jonah” (Jonah 1:17) God does provide, I’m just wondering if Jonah had to laugh at the irony while covered in muck.

In all of his pondering, he had to disregard what his senses told him. He had to focus on the why, not the scary sights,eery sounds,and nasty smell. (I won’t go into the other senses but to say”taste” EW!) He had to control his thoughts and cry out to the One Who created that fish for help. So, quite a few hours/days, he spent crying, praying, and giving thanks. I would think that would lead to some pretty enlightening epiphanies.It wasn’t that he didn’t recognize where he was, Jonah knew good and well that he was literally in the pit of this big guy’s stomach, but he also began to recognize Who had the power and Who had possession.He eventually grasped the fact that God had ownership of the seas and the sailors that had hurled him into the vicious waves. This God knew Jonah. He knew him better than he could ever possibly know himself. All he could do in this moment of recognition was to confess and ask forgiveness. He had to shake his head and wonder what took him so long to understand. He finally comprehended that God would go to any lengths necessary to not only show His love for one of His kids, but for all of them.

As an added bonus to God’s plan, because once Jonah got that he was lost, he recognized that others were lost exactly like he was. Salvation comes from the Lord and all it took was a few days and nights in the stomach of a sea creature for him to see that very, very clearly. My absolute favorite line in this book is “What I have vowed I will make good.” Jonah was speaking of the promises he made to God during his special one-on-one time that the Creator made possible. (Hehe) How many times have we promised things to God and not made good? God recalls and makes good on His promises each and every day, no matter our scenery or situation.He has made so many vows to us when we certainly don’t deserve them. My goal today is to just be, where I am, whether I like that place or not, and give thanks to the God Who deserves each and every one.