Monday Morning Meditation: God Always Wins

We are finishing the series on Psalm 71. I encourage you to read the whole psalm here and reflect on all we’ve considered thus far.

Today’s verses are 23-24:

I will shout for joy and sing your praises,
for you have redeemed me.
I will tell about your righteous deeds all day long,
for everyone who tried to hurt me
has been shamed and humiliated.

It’s interesting to note how much David talks about his enemies throughout this psalm.  He had real, tangible enemies, nations that sought to do him and Israel harm.  He even had people within his friends and family who conspired against him.
Our enemies today are often much less tangible.  Yet we can praise God because we know our #1 enemy stands condemned.  We can sing His praises because He has redeemed us from the power of sin and death.  
We can even praise Him because He is just.  I’m so thankful that justice is not in my hands!  David had a deep sense of justice, knowing that despite how things might appear, God always wins in the end.
God winning doesn’t mean things always turn out how we want them to.  It simply means that because of His goodness and the good things He desires for us, He will be victorious to the end.
Is there a situation in your life today where it feels as if you are losing?  Choose praise.  Shout for joy! Sing God’s praises!  Tell about His righteous deeds all day long.
Because God always wins.

Freedom Friday, Tools for the Journey: Keep It Simple

Years ago, I wrote

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Simple Girl
I am a simple girl
I live a simple life
I want to have a simple job
I want to be a simple wife

But I’m beginning to see that my life is not my own
And the path that I would take is not for me to choose
And all I want to be and all I’ve ever known
I’d give it all up for your sake; what do I have to lose?

My life would be nothing without You
My life was nothing before You
My life would be nothing apart from You
I can do nothing without You

© 2000 Unveiled Faces Music

I still want that simple life.

A picture of the sunset in Cape Cod

Yet I complicate things.

When reading these lyrics, I am reminded of a saying from 12-step programs, Keep It Simple.

How can we keep things simple when life seems overwhelmingly crazy?

1. Focus on what you know.
When trying to make a decision, I often think about all the unknowns and uncertainties.  It’s usually unhelpful and unproductive. 
It’s much more helpful to focus on what I know to be true.
Another saying I’ve taken away from my time in 12-step programs is, I can’t. God can. I think I’ll let God.

What a concept.

If God is really faithful, if He doesn’t jump off the throne at the first hint of an obstacle, then continually choosing to believe that He is who He says He is sounds like a much better plan than drowning in uncertainties.

Here’s what I know:
God is good.
He is loving.
He provides.
He stoops down to make me great.

That’s what I will focus on.

2. Stop analyzing, and keep praying.
I usually spend more time than healthy trying to make sense of things that may never make sense. I try to make decisions by weighing pros and cons, crunching numbers, and creating spreadsheets.
I try and figure out what seems good.
What appears good to us is often the enemy of God’s best.

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

Then I remember: you have not because you ask not.

In Luke 18, we have this example of a persistent widow.  She continued to ask the judge for what she wanted until she got it.  In Matthew 7, God is described as a good father who does not give His children stones when they ask for bread.

Put your analysis on pause, and ask the God of the universe to lead you in His paths.

3. Choose to trust.
Friends, if you’ve been reading my blog for any period of time, you know this is one of my central themes.  If I say I believe the Word of God, which states that God is trustworthy, then I need to choose to trust Him.

Choose to trust Him in the way you think and the things you think about.

Choose to trust Him with what you say about yourself, your situation and your God.

Choose to trust Him with your actions and in the decisions you make.

God has our best at heart.  I need to remember that.
Keep it simple.

I am praying Romans 15:13 for you all this week:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Monday Morning Meditation: Faithful to His Promises

We are (finally!) continuing the series on Psalm 71. I encourage you to read the whole psalm here.

It has been interesting to reflect on this psalm over the past month, as it has become clear my dear loved one will be going home to Jesus before too long.

I began this psalm series in August, before we knew the current prognosis.  The psalm is all about the end of life and David asking God to remember him in his old age.

Let’s look at the topics we’ve touched on so far:

Lots of truth to be found in this psalm.

Now, here are today’s verses (v. 21-22):

You will restore me to even greater honor
and comfort me once again.
Then I will praise you with music on the harp,
because you are faithful to your promises, O God.
I will sing for you with a lyre, O Holy One of Israel.

It’s helpful to remember verse 20, for some context:
“You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth.”

Not only will he be restored to life again, he will be restored to greater honor and receive comfort once again.

When I read those verses in the context of end of life, they take on an even deeper meaning.

David then moves back to praise.  There is so much praising in this psalm it almost hurts.  Praise is not my default when trials come, when life seems to overwhelm.

I recently made myself a playlist of worship songs that I called, Absorb Truth. I just sit and listen and take it all in even when I struggle to believe.

You are faithful to Your promises.

This is David’s reflection in his old age.  God, just as He said, has been and will be faithful to His promises.

God recently answered a prayer of mine that I prayed 11 years ago.  In doing so, He showed me His faithfulness to His promises. His answer brought me great comfort.

You are faithful to Your promises.

Thank You, Lord.  Help me to trust in You.

Freedom Friday: His Goodness

Folks, I have a Freedom Friday post brewing for you.

But we’ve had to leave town suddenly to be with a loved one who is facing the end of life.

And my kids had food dye for the 1st time in a while, and my 2 year-old is literally bouncing off the walls, screaming, “It’s fun time!” over and over, swinging from the long curtains in this extended stay suite, and riding down the table leg as if it’s a fire pole.

I’m not kidding.

I just pray for you that you’d know how good God is. So often I doubt His goodness, and yet He is faithful to His promises.

I finished the marathon.  Barely.

For the kids at Happy Horizons Children’s Ranch.

And I’m learning to let go of someone I love so dearly and feel I desperately need.  Jesus is waiting for him.

I am so thankful and so heartbroken.  And yet, God is faithful.  He’s amazing.

Be back soon. I promise 🙂

Monday Morning Meditation: The God of Restoration (Psalm 71 Series)

We are (finally!) continuing the series on Psalm 71. I encourage you to read the whole psalm here.

Verses 19-20:

Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the highest heavens.
You have done such wonderful things.
Who can compare with you, O God?
You have allowed me to suffer much hardship,
but you will restore me to life again
and lift me up from the depths of the earth.

I am starting this post 5 days before I will run my first marathon.

Running does not come naturally to me; it never has. It has always been hard work. I’ve never had that “light” or “fresh” feeling that runners talk about.

I initially just ran for the quick exercise, to maintain a large weight loss.  I didn’t have access to a gym. I kept running because it’s good for clearing my headspace.

I met some crazy runners in mid-2011. By that point, I had run a half marathon, so I distinguished “crazy runners” as people who ran more than 13.1 miles at a time. They asked me, Why don’t you consider a marathon?

I figured I’d pray about it.  
2 months later, God spoke. How about running for a cause?
By the time you read this, I will have (Lord-willing) ran 26.2 miles to trample on child sex trafficking.
It will not be easy or quick or painless.  But I will do it, for the kids.
Kids like Madel.
Who can compare to You, God? the psalmist wonders.
No one.
Not a single one.

Even when He allows us to suffer hardship, He restores us to life.  Even these young kids whose families often sell them into prostitution – God has something amazing for them.
Whatever depths you are in, there is a God who longs to rescue you.  Call on Him today.
If you’d like to give toward the cause for which I am willing to attempt a marathon, you can learn more here.

Freedom Friday: For The Kids

I need your help, readers.

We often talk about freedom in this blog in terms of being free from metaphorical chains of bondage.  Or the freedom to be who God created us to be.

There are other kinds of freedom and other kinds of bondage.

It is believed that there are currently 21 million people worldwide caught in slavery (forced labor). Approximately 50% of trafficking victims are children, most of whom are caught in sex slavery.

Tomorrow, I will run 26.2 miles for those who can’t speak for themselves.
You can help by praying.  I have pain in my right leg due to what is likely tendonitis.  I also have been having some shin pain this week.  I am just, in general, not a natural when it comes to running.
The kids need your prayers, too.
I am running for the kids.  For those still caught in sex trafficking and those trying to climb their way out.
I will share more on Monday.  But pray for us. And pray about giving.  Don’t just look at your finances or circumstances and decide you’re not able to give.  Pray.  
This is a general admonition, even if I weren’t fundraising.  So often we wait until we have extra in order to give, but don’t stop to pray as to how God would have us respond. I do it as well.  

And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44

This widow did not wait; she gave.
The God I love and serve didn’t wait until He had extra to give extravagantly.  
He gave His Only.
This is not to say we should enter into giving lightly.  We need to hear God speak to our hearts, but our hearts need to first ask and then be willing to respond.
I’ve responded to God’s call, to give of my time, money and physical resources to run for those who can’t.
Thank you for your prayers.
Lord, help me to give extravagantly this weekend, as You did when You sent Your Only Son to earth.  Help me to run the race You’ve set before.  Thank You that Your power is made perfect when I have nothing to give. Be the Sustainer that I know You are.  Move in the hearts of many, that the hearts of these little children would have the opportunity for You to heal them.  Jesus, Your Name is power. You are mighty.  In Your wonderful name I pray, Jesus, Amen.


For The Kids
My recent personal best at the Zooma Half Marathon

Help Me Be New

God is doing a work in me
He’s walking through my rooms and halls
Checking every corner
Tearing down the unsafe walls
And letting in the light

I am working hard
To clean my house and set it straight
To not let pride get in the way
To catch an eternal vision of
What I am to become

Will you help me be new
Will you hold me to the promises
That I have made
Will you let me be new
Forgive my old self and my old mistakes

It seems easier
Living out my life in Christ
For those who do not know me
To hide the thorns stuck in my side
And all my secret faults

But you know me well
And it’s you I want the most to see
And recognize the changes
A word from you empowers me
To press on for my goal

Will you help me be new
Will you hold me to the promises
That I have made
Will you let me be new
Forgive my old self and my old mistakes

When I feel condemned to live my old life
Remind me I’ve been given a new life in Christ


“Help Me Be New” by Sara Groves

Life

I need words as wide as the sky
I need a language, large as this longing inside
And I need a voice bigger than mine
And I need a song to sing You that I’ve yet to find

I need You, oh, I need You
I need You, oh, I need You
To be here now, to he here now
To hear me now, to hear me now

“I Need Words” by David Crowder

Tuesday came this week, and I realized I had not blogged on Monday.

Now it’s Thursday and one of my grad school classes ends Saturday with 2 assignments due tomorrow and a final on Saturday with an essay for my other class due Saturday as well.

The marathon is a week away, and I’m furiously fundraising.

And then we got a call for a showing of our house tomorrow.  While I’m at work.  So I need to get everything in tiptop shape tonight.

I had hoped to blog.

But my world is currently imploding on me.

The move is creeping up on us, and there is much to be done.

So much is uncertain, and many days I feel as if Isaiah is talking directly to me, in my fears, my doubts, my sin, my turning to other “gods” for support and sustenance.

God is so patient with us, as a friend said last night.

I just feel like an unfaithful bride.

Thanks for your patience with me, my faithful readers.

“The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” Psalm 34:10