Friday, September 18, 2009

What on Earth Are You Doing?

Proverbs25:28 “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man without self-control.”

Building walls. Self Control. Teamwork. Teamwork is not about doing everything everyone asks you to do. If that were so, then God would not have said in I Corinthians 12:12 “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body.”

If you are saying yes to everything anyone asks you to do, consider your motivation. Are you saying yes simply to avoid hurting someone’s feelings? Are you saying yes out of guilt or obligation? Are you saying yes because you feel like it’s the “right” thing to do and the Bible says to _______ (you fill in the blank)? Are you saying yes just to please others? If you answered YES to any of those questions, consider the following verse:

2 Corinthians 9:7 says “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Giving is not just about money. Giving is also about our time and talents. God does not want us to give out of reluctance or compulsion. By saying yes to things you feel you cannot say no to, you may be denying someone else the chance to say yes to that particular thing… something that THEY were actually meant to do instead of you.“

Simply let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ and your ‘no,’ ‘no’; anything beyond this comes form the evil one” (Matthew 5:37). Wow. Did you read that? The evil one. And trust me, the evil one has no problem even using scripture to lead you into reluctance and compulsion… he just twists it and uses is inappropriately. Satan even tempted Jesus himself with scripture:

Matthew 4:5-7 “Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. ‘If you are the Son of God,’ he said, ‘throw yourself down. For it is written: “He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” Jesus answered him, ‘It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

Self control. The ability to say yes when you should say yes and no when you should say no. That’s from the Jenny translation.

Application step for today:Think about the places you are giving your money, your time, your talents… are you giving them cheerfully? If not, stop and pray. Ask God what your true motivation is. Ask God to lead you and direct your paths. Say yes in the places where God is leading you. Say no where He isn’t.

Sometimes You Get Burned

Nehemiah 4:2 "...What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble - burned as they are?"

I have been thinking about Nehemiah a lot lately. I have also been learning a lot more than I realized I was going to when I accepted the very exciting task of blogging during the series.
The other day, I was reading in my daily devotional book, My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. I actually read the devotional for July 28th for three days in a row because it just really spoke to me. Here is a segment of how it read:

We tend to think that if Jesus Christ compels us to do something and we are obedient to Him, He will lead us to great success. WE should never have the thought that our dreams of success are God's purpose for us. In fact, His purpose may be exactly the opposite. We have the idea that God is leading us toward a particular end or a desired goal, but He is not. The question of whether or not we arrive at a particular goal is of little importance, and reaching it becomes merely an episode along the way. What we see as only the process of reaching a particular end, God sees as the goal itself. What He desires for me is that I see "Him walking on the sea," with no shore, no success, nor goal in sight, but simply having the absolute certainty that everything is all right because I see "Him walking on the sea." (Mark 6:49). It is the process, not the outcome, that is glorifying to God.

As I have been studying the book of Nehemiah, I have been thinking about this wall. A wall of protection for the people. It is about protecting the people from outside attack, both literally and spiritually. But recently, I've just been realizing that this is actually a blessing that came out of obedience rather than the goal itself.

I believe the goal was the actual refining process of the people as they became more in step with God by following Him in obedience. A wall around their city was the blessing the received through their obedience.

It was not an easy process. Refining is never easy... it requires fire and there is nothing fun about being burned. I think it's interesting that one of the words of opposition was, "Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble - burned as they are?" Perhaps that is a metaphor for the lives of the people. They will receive life when they submit to the process and allow God to work in them for His glory and not for the final outcome.

Do the Next Thing

Nehemiah 7: 4-5 “Now the city was large and spacious, but there were few people in it, and the houses had not yet been rebuilt. 5 So my God put it into my heart to…”

The birth of my first son was a very very exciting day. It was a scheduled induction and I remember waking up early that morning in shear excitement and making my way to the hospital. I don’t remember a lot of nervousness of the actual birth experience… I was more anxious to see what kind of strength God was going to give me to get through it and to get to hold my precious little baby that I had loved and carried for nine months. I can still remember the emotions of joy of that day. Seven hours later, my little boy was here and he just took my breath away and tears rolled down my cheeks. He was so precious and perfect in every way. He had a head full of dark hair and the chubbiest little cheeks. At that point, I had no idea the challenges the road ahead would hold.

About a month or two after we brought him home, I noticed that his eyes were occasionally crossing. Other moms would say, “Oh that’s normal. Don’t worry about it.” Then more and more they began crossing. I asked the doctor. She said, “Oh that’s normal. Don’t worry about it.”I still had this gut feeling that something about this wasn’t “normal.” Because of this, when my son was about 4 months old, we switched pediatricians. At the first visit with the new doctor, he said, “Something’s just not quite right.” I didn’t know what to feel. For one, it was a relief to know that I wasn’t crazy. But at the same time, I was finding out that there was, indeed something wrong which was very frightening. Now what?

It has been five years since the day I sat in the specialist’s office and learned that my baby had been given the big label of DiGeorge Syndrome and the moderate to severe developmental delays that come with it. I don’t know what the future holds for my little boy or when he will eventually “catch up” to other children his age. Some days as I watch other five year olds playing and talking and interacting with one another, it is difficult for me that my son cannot do some of these same things. When I try to look even 6 months down the road and I wonder if he will begin to catch up, it can be overwhelming.

I read a devotional recently that was titled “Do the Next Thing.” I can sit and wonder what the future holds, but what about today? What can I do today? What can I do even just this morning? I have come to realize that when the waves of life and the future begin to overwhelm me, it is a calming thing to instead just “do the next thing.”

Proverbs 27:1 says “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.”


A little over a year ago I discovered something that has radically changed my life. Journaling. Since I began doing it, it has been amazing. In my journal, I pour out my heart and my emotions to God...things I would be ashamed or embarrassed to say to anyone other than Him. By writing, I am able to get things out of me instead of letting them grow and fester inside me.

My journal also serves as a tool of remembrance for me. The Bible is full of countless times when God gives something to serve as a remembrance of His mighty works. In fact, this is why we take communion. To remember what Jesus Christ did for us at the Cross. As I read back through my journal entries, I am able to see now the things that were unseen during earlier parts of my Christian journey.

Another thing I do in my journal is record my dreams. I have always had a huge fascination with dreams and dream symbols and when I learned that dreams are actually an expression of the unconscious mind, I became even more intrigued. I realized that by looking back over my dreams, I am discovering Truth as God teaches me wisdom in the innermost places. (Psalm 51:6).

As I was re-reading through my journal of my past dreams, a common thread jumped off the page at me. Something I probably wouldn't have realized if I had not had them all written down to look over later. I noticed a theme of "do-overs." Sometimes I dream that I am in a second hand store... or inone I was inside a recycle bin. Another time I had to re-take a test because I didn't do very well the first time.

If you have been following the 52 Days blog, you will know that I enjoy the daily devotionals from the book My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. Again, I would like to quote a passage from one of the entries that speaks to the thought of do-overs:

"Not only must our relationship to God be right, but the outward expression of that relationship must also be right. Ultimately, God will allow nothing to escape; every detail of our lives is under His scrutiny. God will bring us back in countless ways to the same point over and over again. And He never tires of bringing us back to that one point until we learn the lesson, because His purpose is to produce the finished product. It may be a problem arising from our impulsive nature, but again and again, with the most persistent patience, God has brought us back to that one particular point. Or the problem may be our idle and wandering thinking, or our independent nature and self-interest. Through this process, God is trying to impress upon us the one thing that is not entirely right in our lives... God will point it out with persistence until we become entirely His."