Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Starter List

"11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the evil schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 6: 11-12

I was a criminology major in college. I don't remember the course of study in this one particular class, but one evening we had a guest speaker. He was a crime scene investigator... the real kind. He spoke to us about the signs he looked for in crime scenes that gave him clues to uncovering the mystery.

The one particular example he gave was from a homicide... complete with actual photos and everything. It was pretty gruesome. I had to close my eyes between every slide and slowly open them to determine if I actually wanted to look at what was coming up next. I will spare you the details! All except one, anyway.

The particular victim that he was showing had marks on the front side of her body rather than the back. He explained to the class that this was a major clue in the case as it meant that she knew and trusted the perpetrator. Had the marks been on the back of her body, it would have signified that she was afraid and that she turned to escape danger. The fact that the wounds were on her front side, told him that she knew and felt comfortable with the person who did this awful thing to her.

When you read about the different pieces of armor that we as Christians are to put on in our struggle against the powers of this dark world, they are mostly protecting the front of our bodies. What this tells me is that it would be easy to fall prey to the rulers and authorities of this dark world if we do not have on our armor. These forces in this dark world may disguise themselves as people and ideas that can be trusted.

A while back I had the idea that I was going to truly take my sword which is the Word of God and begin memorizing more scripture so that I would be prepared to fight off the fiery darts that will fly my way. What I wanted to do is to take index cards and write on them scripture that details God's promises. I wanted to post those index cards on my bedroom mirror so that everytime I wake up, I will see them.

It's been a while since I had that idea and tonight, I finally began my starter list. Here are the cards I have written out so far:

Proverbs 22:15 "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of discipline will remove it far from him." I wrote this one to remind me that we are all sinners and the heart is wicked. Because of the fall of man, our natural tendancies are foolishness. I want to remember that with my kids, especially when they have that heart breaking cry when they are being disciplined that makes me want to just snuggle them right up and say nevermind.

Mark 9:23 "Jesus said to him, 'If you can?' All things are possible to him who believes." I wrote this one to read when I feel like giving up.

Hebrews 10:30 "For we know Him who said, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay,' and again, 'The Lord will judge His people.'" I want to read this one when life seems terribly unfair and when the wicked seem to go unpunished.

Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." This one helps me to remember that though I am weak, it is God who strengthens me. Because of that, my faith can move mountains.

Matthew 11:28 "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." I am a single mom. Need I say more?

I John 4:4 "You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world." I wrote this one to remind myself that I am first and foremost a child of God and that He lives within me, which is all the strength that I will ever need.

Philippians 4:19 "But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Jesus Christ." This is the verse that reminded me to start my list. My pastor used it in his sermon this morning. It reminded me that God doesn't say maybe he will supply all my needs. It doesn't say he will supply some of my needs. It says He will supply all of my needs. God is a good provider.

So there it is. My starter list. I intend to add to it as time goes on.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The God of Comfort

"3Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. 5For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ." II Corinthians 1: 3-5

When I read those verses, I realize that I have sort of come full circle. On December 5, 2007 my world shattered in an instant. That night, and the nights following, I laid in my bed unable to sleep. The first couple of nights I couldn't even cry. I just laid there... numb. I could think of nothing else but the pain I was experiencing. And just then I began to hear that still small voice singing in my ear... "My comfort, my shelter, tower of refuge and strength... let every breath, all that I have, never cease to worship You!"

Wow, even as I just typed the words to that song, I am feeling tears well up within me. But this time, they are not tears of sorrow. They are tears of gladness and joy for all that God has done. In those days, I met a Godly woman who had walked in shoes very similar to mine and who had been comforted by the Father of mercies decades before I was even born. God had been her comfort, her shelter, her tower of refuge and strength. And now she was ministering to other women like me in order to share that comfort that she had received so many years ago.

As I began to heal, God began to work through me to share that comfort with others. That was when I began to blog. I have loved writing ever since elementary school, I just hadn't done a lot of it in a long time. I feel like God has gifted me in this area. It's difficult for me to write that because I really fear becoming proud, sometimes to the point of not saying anything at all. This is an area where God has been working on me and one that I have been praying about... finding the balance. That's a whole different post in itself that I will write another day.

At the same time, I feel strongly that God does want to use me to comfort other women who are dealing with issues where God has brought beauty from my ashes. I feel like God has used some of my writing to do that. If only my spoken words were as eloquent. Perhaps that is my thorn in the flesh to keep me humble as I so want to be... or perhaps that is part of the process I am still walking through and someday the two will match up.

Last night I was praying and asking God to let my motives be pure and not self-seeking and proud. I was also doubting myself and whether I was puffing myself up by writing this blog and sharing it with others. Soon after that a friend posted on facebook that she was having a difficult time after the death of a loved one. She has also lost her mother within the past few years. Another friend commented and alluded to the verses above in II Corinthians. I didn't realize it at the time but thinking about it more today, I realized that this is what God was using me to do when I felt led to start writing and received positive responses. I blog for me. I share it with others because of the God of Comfort.

I didn't realize it until today at lunch as I was reading a book, as I often do on my lunch break. Right now I am reading through the Redemption series by Karen Kingsbury and Gary Smalley. I'm just a little way into book two, Remember.

**SPOILER ALERT**

If you haven't read the first book and plan to, skip this part because it will give away an unexpected part of book one. In book one, Kari Baxter-Jacobs is thinking about starting a group for married couples to encourage them in their marriages. That dream is stripped away when she realizes that her professor husband, Tim is having an affair with a student and her marriage wasn't as strong as she thought it was. (I could relate with her character very much as I read). Shortly after this revelation, Kari realized she was pregnant.

Throughout the book, Tim eventually listens and responds to the conviction of the Holy Spirit and breaks it off with his mistress, Angela and returns to work things out with his wife. A few months into their reconciliation, Tim's girlfriend tries to get him back by faking her own pregnancy. When he goes to her apartment to leave a note that he does not want to speak with her and is trying to work things out with his wife, he is brutally murdered by a fellow student of Angela who has been stalking her.

I am barely into book two now, but I read a chapter today at lunch that made me realize how similar the character of Kari and I really are. I think we would be friends if she was a real person rather than a fictional character. She is thinking about how much she wanted to start a group to minister to couples back before her world shattered and wondering why God had planted that desire within her just as her marriage broke into shambles. Now she is realizing that it really was God who planted the desire in her to minister to others, it just wasn't in the same capacity that she initially imagined. She is realizing the words in the scripture of II Corinthians. God wants to use her to share the comfort that she has received with others.

**SPOILER OVER**

Thank you, Lord for answering my prayers in ways unexpected... an unrelated facebook post and a fictional book, both saying the same thing. Thank you that you have brought beauty from ashes and I pray for the ashes of other women also looking for comfort. Thank you that although the sufferings of Christ may abound in me, that my consolation also aboundeth by You.

END

PM Update:
I just got home from the ladies' Bible study at church and read a really cool paragraph by Beth Moore in the Esther Bible study that went along perfectly well with my thoughts written here earlier today. I did this Bible study about a year ago at my previous church and I hadn't had a chance to review the homework before our meeting tonight. I had forgotten all about this or what I had written in as my answer. Here is what she said:

"The humble believer may feel that dwelling on our high position in the kingdom could cultivate a boastful spirit but, actually, the outcome is more likely the reverse. Knowing where we are positioned in Christ quells our deeply imbedded psychological need for self-exhaltation."

And then the thought question: "Have you discovered this to be true? If so, how?"

My answer that I penned in a year ago: "Blogging."

Thank you for the encouragement that I needed on this very day, Lord.