Thursday, June 26, 2008

Keep Believing

Week 8 of Beth Moore's Living Beyond Yourself is entitled 'Keep Believing'. My Bible study group just finished the lesson portion of it. Here are some things that jumped out at me:

~ Faith is not an action; it is a response. If we strive to have faith, we may be miserably disappointed. But if we learn to trust in His faithfulness, we of all persons may be most blessed.

~ Faithfulness is believing the reality of a sovereign God. We will never believe God until we allow ourselves to discover that He is believable! The faithfulness of God is His believability! Faithfulness is resting in His certainty, being persuaded by His honesty, trusting in His reality, being won over by His veracity...being sure that He's sure and believing He's worth believing.

~ God is certain, true and enduring.

~ Are you still searching for your calling? Are you still wrestling with your purpose on this earth? Our calling is to please Him --- to wake up every morning saying, "Yes, Lord," then live through the day to discover His questions.

~ Faith is an absolute necessity in the life that pleases God. If we are faithless, we are not fulfilling our calling to please Him. God does not call upon us to seek His works. He calls upon us to seek His heart!

~ If only we would release God from our preconceived notions of what a miracle should be! Our eyes would be opened to so much more! All it takes to behold a miracle is seeing God do something only He can do!

~ Very simply, we often are too scared to believe God. Some of those who've known Christ the longest have witnessed His power the least. Those of us who have been around a while are masters of limitation. Often we practice safe boundaries that keep us from being disappointed and others from being doubtful. Never stop growing; never stop knowing; and He'll never stop showing.

~ Nothing is impossible for our God! How often do we attempt God-sized tasks on man-sized strength? Without prayer, we can forget it!

I learned much from this lesson. There is definitely much growing and much knowing for me to do. With that in mind, there is definitely also still much showing that God wants to do in my life!

"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him."
---Hebrews 11:6 NIV

School's Out!!!

Summertime is upon us --- today is the last day of school for my kids!!! For the first time in a long while, we have n-o-t-h-i-n-g specific planned for the summer --- no long vacations, no lessons, nothing! Well, except for my daughter's one-week overnight camp and both kids participating in our new church's summer sports program.

What we do have planned, however, is to take one day off every week in July and August. Hubby and I are grateful that God has arranged for both of us to work from home therefore affording that kind of flexibility!

What we will do on those days off is still unknown to us. We do have some ideas but we're keeping ourselves flexible, to just go with the flow. This is a new concept for a planner like myself! We'll see how it goes...

So, I am looking forward to the summertime --- to family fun, to spontaneous moments, to amusement park rides, to shopping trips, to museum visits, to sleeping in, to lazy days, to connecting with neighbours, to hanging out in the backyard, to gardening, to swimming and to whatever comes our way!

Summer, we welcome you!

Proverbs 14:30 (NIV) --- "A heart at peace gives life to the body, ..."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The One Whom My Soul Loves...

Fourteen years ago today, I married 'the one whom my soul loves'! Today, I can truly say that my soul loves him more than ever. Each day I thank my Heavenly Father for giving me a hubby who "fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commandments." (from Psalm 112:1 NASB).

"I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine, ..."
---Song of Solomon 6:3 NASB

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Lessons From My Garden

A rare June hailstorm hit us yesterday afternoon --- hail in the size of marbles, a few the size of golf balls, descended upon us as the kids, hubby and I watched in disbelief from our upstairs bedroom window!

Here are some photos:




After the storm passed, we went outside to survey the damage. My first stop was to see if the plants in my garden survived while hubby went to clear leaves from clogged up drains because our street was starting to get flooded. I think I got my priorities a little mixed up there! :-)

Much to my dismay, my lovely hostas didn't survive! All that was left were their celery-looking stalks as all their lovely foliage got obliterated by the fierce hailstorm. A few of my shrubs, perennials and annuals are in bad shape but I think they will bounce back as it is still early in the growing season. My fingers are crossed!

This morning right after the kids went off to school, I headed out to clean up the mess in the garden. As I cleaned up around the poor hostas, gathering up the fallen leaves to put in the yard waste bag, God showed me an object lesson. Although the hosta plants look battered and bruised on the surface, they are still standing and will bounce back again because their roots go deep and hold them firmly in place! And so it is with us. If we are firmly rooted in the Lord our God, when the fierce storms of life batter and bruise us, we can withstand them; come out victorious; giving the glory to God, our Heavenly Father. Praise God!

"When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit. Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God."
---Ephesians 3:14-19 NLT

"A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere."
---Ephesians 6:10-18 NLT

Goodness Does!

My Bible study group just finished Week 7: The Kindness and Goodness of God, from Beth Moore's Living Beyond Yourself. God spoke profoundly to me using this particular lesson and video.

During the lesson portion last week, something struck me... Beth Moore wrote that "God did not save us so that we could look attractive on Sundays. He saved us and left us here because He has work to do --- very specific work. He has a mission to accomplish for kingdom gain in every generation --- all planned in advance and perfectly timed. In His sovereignty, God has chosen to do His work through us. If we miss our ministry, we will miss our entire purpose in remaining here."

That hit me like a ton of bricks. I sensed God reaffirming His call upon our family to serve in the church plant that we are at, The Sanctuary Pickering. I sensed God telling me that He's not interested in just another church plant; He has specific assignments for us to do as His Body and we are to be faithful is doing the work that He has assigned us.

Let me back track a bit... these past couple of weeks, I have been feeling a bit discouraged as we have not seen finances come into the church as we had hoped it would (that is, according to how my human mind thinks it should!). There are specific things we want to accomplish but it seems like our finances are putting a roadblock before us. So, my initial reaction was to pull back, to scale down, to slow down a bit --- to not do as much as we had originally planned.

Fast forward to last night's video session, keeping in mind my mindset about the church plant, Beth Moore's message indeed hit me like a ton of bricks (again!). She defined goodness as "character energized, expressing itself in benevolence, active good."

She stressed that we are not to become weary in doing good as we are taught in Galatians 6:7-10. She defined becoming weary as "to give in to trouble; to become exasperated by difficulty, be defeated in spirit, discouraged, or faint-hearted; to despair, lose heart; to turn out to be a coward, to lose one's courage."

Furthermore, Beth Moore taught us to "spend ourselves" in doing good. That phrase instantly brought to my mind our parent church's overall vision and that is to be "a growing group of friends giving ourselves away for the Kingdom of God." She led us in studying Isaiah 58:6-11, looking at what can happen when we "spend ourselves" for God.

What I heard just blew me away...here it is:
If you spend yourself...
- your light will rise in the darkness,
- the Lord will guide you always;
- your needs will be satisfied
- your frame will be strengthened;
- you will be like well-watered gardens.

Finally, Beth Moore shared that in verse 8 where it says "the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard", the Hebrew word for "rear guard" is asaph which means "to gather in, collect...as in harvest."

To close the video session, she prayed for us. Her prayer did it! I knew then without a shadow of a doubt that God was speaking to me. She prayed that we would not become weary in doing good; that we would not lose our courage; that we would be strong and courageous; not be terrified; not be discouraged, for the Lord our God will be with us wherever we go. It's that verse again --- Joshua 1:9!!! Since the start of 2008 when God led our family to serve in this church plant, He has over and over and over and over again spoken to hubby and me using this verse! I guess this is His fifth installment of the year!!!

Lesson learned. We are to labour on... spending ourselves whatever the cost... to be strong and courageous... not be terrified or discouraged... not to make sure our needs are met first... not to make sure there is money in the bank before proceeding... to have faith that God will make our light rise in the darkness... He will guide us always... He will meet our needs... He will strengthen our frame... we will become like a well-watered garden... He will gather in for us... He will bring us the harvest!

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, ..."
---Galatians 6:9-10 NIV

Friday, June 13, 2008

Father's Day

On this Father's Day weekend, I'd like to share this song with everyone --- "I Want To Be Just Like You" by Phillips, Craig and Dean:



And to my wonderful hubby...

I love you for striving each day to be just like Jesus for our children now know they've got a Father in God because they've seen Jesus in you!

I love you for trying hard to learn from the BEST Father of them all, being patient and kind, filled with HIS tenderness; knowing that our children will learn from the things that they see; and the Jesus they find will be the Jesus in you.

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!!!

"Praise the Lord! How blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commandments."
---Psalm 112:1 NASB

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Sport Stacking Champ!

I am now mommy to a Sport Stacking Champ! Yesterday, my daughter competed in our province's World Sport Stacking Championships at Canada's Wonderland. She went all the way to the finals in all three of her events: 3-3-3, 3-6-3 and Cycle. Here is a video of her during the final round for the "Cycle" event for which she placed first!!! It still has to be officially verified, but we think that she's going to hold the provincial record for this event for the 11-year-old category with 11.08 seconds.

Here are her results:
First Place in Cycle
Time: 11.36 (elimination round)
Time: 11.08 (final round)

Third Place in 3-3-3
Time: 3.18 (elimination round)
Time: 3.22 (final round)

Fourth Place in 3-6-3
Time: 3.96 (elimination round)
Time: 4.00 (final round)

She broke her personal bests in all three events. She is very happy and proud of herself! We are too! After the competition, she told me that she knows why she broke all her previous records and did so well during the competition --- it's because she's never prayed previously before stacking but at the competition, she did! :-)

And, finally, I just want to share this priceless photo of my "mommy reaction" when we found out she won first place in the "Cycle" event. Photo courtesy of hubby's anticipation of my reaction --- he had the camera pointed at me without my knowledge!!!



"Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father,..."
---James 1:17 NLT