Archive: April, 2012

Imperfect Faith

Faith. It doesn’t always play out perfectly.

No, it does not always come with the greatest of ease… rather more often it erupts out of missteps and stumbling.

I’m really good at missteps and stumbling.

Some of you know that we are moving in less than a month now. Our house is on the market and I am managing piles of what to sell, what to give and what to pack. Boxes are lining the walls and filling the garage. All the while homeschooling still goes on.

My life is upside down. I have so much twirling around on that plate above my head that it just may come crashing down at any moment.

The last four months slipped away in a speeding landslide. I really don’t see it letting up either. Before we know it we’ll pull up to our new chapter in life in Decatur, Alabama and settle in.

I have no idea what awaits us there. What I do know is that it is all in the plan… whether the plate stays up or falls to the ground… it’s in His plan.

I have Faith. It’s a bit imperfect though. I still don’t know what the future holds. I do have worried thoughts. And doubts do creep into the quiet of my mind. But, it’s okay because…

If Faith were perfect we would not fall to our knees and beg it so to increase.

So often I misstep in my faith and stumble right into the shoes of the boy’s father in Mark 9-24 and cry out… “I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief!”

Trust issues surface. The question of who’s really in control here bubbles up from within. And my imperfect Faith grows and carries me a little further.

I breath a slow, confident smile of relief, because: A little doubt… a little wavering under His mighty direction will absolutely crash hard into moments of Full-on-Faith.

He is ever faithful to make sure I am continually faith-filled.

Imperfect Faith is the best kind of Faith because it keeps me right where I want to stay… clinging and grasping for more.

 “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…”

Hebrews 12:2a

Picking up where I left off on naming my many blessings…

239. My entire house being clean all at one time

240. Our trailer selling on craigslist

241. Spending time in Tahoe with a new friend

242. Finding new educational things for my kids to do around the house

243. Figuring out that excerise induces my asthma and how to fix that

244. My godly minded husband

245. Reading Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow again

246. Warmer weather… the grass greening and trees blooming

247. Buying summer pjs for my little darlings

248. Friends who encourage and inspire me

249. My imperfect Faith… and the One who fills me

Linking up with: Anne at A Holy Experience

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What Do You Crave?

The movie theater abuzz, we quickly find our seats. Suddenly, the movie Chimpanzee, rolls across the screen. This narrated story is about a 3-year-old chimpanzee that becomes separated from his troop (and his mama) and is then adopted by a fully-grown male. The story delicately describes the survival of a chimp clan as their private moments are captured by filmmakers in a Uganda forest.  I watch as the chimp family procures food daily by gathering berries, fruits, and nuts. The narrator explains that chimps don’t store food. They rely on “daily bread.”

No my sweet sisters, this is not a movie review however, I begin to think of “daily bread,” and Deuteronomy 8:3 comes to mind. “He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.”

Do we as believers really do this? Do we really live on every word that comes from God?

God gave the people of Israel “daily bread,” which was the amount necessary to survive for a day. God wants us to live in a state of constant dependence on Him and absolute devotion to Him. He desires for us to live on every word that comes from Him… daily (see Matt. 4:4).

God created hunger so He could fill it.

God created us to crave only Him. Unfortunately, sometimes we get our cravings mixed up. We substitute things in place of God hoping to find satisfaction. But we will never find it because we can do nothing apart from Christ (see John 15:5).

“Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are blessed for they will be filled, (see Matt. 5:6). God also gave us yearning for “fullness.” When we pray with a fervent desire for righteousness, God will fill us. Prayer is our direct access to the fullness we crave. It’s the hedge of protection that guards us from going to other things instead of Christ for satisfaction.

Have you satisfied a craving with something other than God, lately? Yep, me too… But thank goodness we can never exhaust the mercy of God.

So if today finds you with hunger pains rumbling, claim the promise found in Exodus 16…God will satisfy our hunger and sustain our faith, all we have to do is ask.
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The Image of Perfection

I’ve blown the dust off of something old for you today, but I think you’ll find that the topic is still as new as it ever was…

Awhile back I made my favorite raspberry & cream bread for a precious friend. It turned out great… well, mostly.

I did make one mistake. I didn’t spray the pan.

In my defense, it IS a Pampered Chef Stone pan and you’re not supposed to have to spray them. In fact, they specifically advise you not to. However, in this case I didn’t grease the pan and after it came out of the oven and cooled I ran a knife carefully around the edges, flipped the pan, tapped the bottom and out popped my bread… well, most of it.

The bottom layer stuck mercilessly and left my beautiful loaf beat up and exposed.

I thoughtfully examined the bread trying to decide if I should start over. Delicately, I turned it top side up and from this angle it appeared nothing short of perfect. So, I wrapped it up and delivered it to my friend knowing that even if she discovered its broken shame concealed underneath, she probably wouldn’t care one bit.

This got me to thinking about us… us women especially.

We are a lot like that loaf bread.

We have a cleaned up, put-together outer image that often fools people into concluding that we’re faultless. Now, I’m not saying we’re “trying” to fool people because that is absolutely not what’s going on. We girls just like to feel “together,” so we go to some trouble to make sure we look “together.”

But, sadly we also get an instant eyeful of each other at our very best and assume that everything is just perfect inside and out.

But it’s not, is it?

And if we get close enough we soon find, just like that bread, hidden underneath a protective masquerade is every girls very own brokenness and shame. Her not-so-perfect-ness and vulnerable insides are unveiled.

These are false and very destructive assumptions.

You know that right after determining that someone has got it all together we do the worst things…

We compare.

We get green-eyed.

We condemn ourselves.

We resent.

We suddenly strive for someone else’s perceived perfection and we get lost.

Oh, friends and the hard truth is that when we do this an automatic shift takes place. Suddenly, we lose sight of how God instructs us to look and that has nothing to do with what’s on the outside.

The bible reminds us…

“The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

(1 Samuel 16:17 NIV)

If God is not looking at our appearance then why do we?

If God is only concerned about the condition of our hearts then why aren’t we?

You know what gets dealt with when we focus on our heart?

Our broken-ness. Our shame. Our healing. Our understanding of His ways.

The real stuff.

The things that really need attention. The very things that cause us to have an image that attempts to cover it all up.

Let’s be challenged together. To compare ourselves with the only measuring stick that counts: Jesus. To live by His standards. His ways.

He is the only image of perfection worth striving for. Holy. Matchless. Faithful. Lover of our souls. Our Savior.

Honestly, why would we want anything else?

 

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Buzzing the Nurse

“And to the one who trusts Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteous,” (Romans 4:4-5).

I spoke yesterday about my knee-shaking throat experience. Even though I didn’t know anything about throat procedures, I questioned whether or not my doctor knew what he was doing. He performed a procedure on my throat with no numbing medication at all; that just didn’t seem right.

Sometimes we do this with God. We question his way, his guidance, his authority. Instead of simply trusting His prescription for us, we wonder, “Does God really know what he’s doing?”

John Piper writes, “The difference between Uncle Sam and Jesus Christ is that Uncle Sam won’t enlist you in his service unless you’re well and Jesus Christ won’t enlist you unless you’re sick (see Mark 2:17). Christianity is fundamentally convalescence (pray without ceasing = Keep buzzing the nurse). Patients do not serve their physicians. They trust them for good prescriptions. The commands of the Bible are more like a doctor’s health prescription than an employer’s job description.”

When hardships arise, we must keep “buzzing the nurse,” as opposed to relying on the assumption we know more than the Great Physician…God.

He’ll always prescribe the best option.

He’ll always dispense the proper remedy.

His aim is to heal not to hurt.

When I returned to my doctor days later, he explained why he couldn’t use medication. The numbing medication would have closed my throat completely, making it impossible to swallow and breathe. That didn’t sound good. It made sense. He had my best interest at heart. He was there to heal not to inflict pain (even though he inflicted a lot of pain).

Just like the doctor, God knows what’s best. He has the perfect prescription for what ails us. Our job is to trust him, accept his plan, and follow like crazy… until we don’t feel sick anymore.

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Suffering Is Good

When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners,” (Mark 2:17, NLT).

I remember the buzz in my stomach, as I entered the “procedure room.” The ENT said it necessary to remove a cyst from my throat; a cyst making it difficult to breath, to eat. I scanned the room, sweaty palms and all. Everything in me screamed nerves as my eyes fixated on the shiny surgical instruments. I hesitantly situated myself in the chair as best I could. I knew it would hurt since no numbing salve could be applied to that area. In a surprise attack, the doctor zapped my throat with his scalpel. After the pain subsided, I felt immediate relief. I could breathe again. Perhaps even fancy a drive-thru burger and fries.

Since my life is an analogy, I am going to apply this crazy awful experience to suffering. My condition worsened to the point my windpipe was compromised. Even though I didn’t feel like having my throat cut that day, it was necessary, it was good. The doctor had to do something painful in order to fix the problem.

This is similar in our own lives when suffering finds us. God allows suffering in our lives because it’s good for us. It may sting. It may even be the worst pain we’ve ever known. But apart from suffering we will never know perseverance, character, and hope… the things that lead to eternal life. The Bible assures us that godliness is reserved for those going through hardship.

Just like Job, God brings purpose to our suffering. God’s purpose in the midst of suffering is to refine and renew; to keep us from pride and/or wrongdoing; and to reveal His glory. Rest assured when we experience pain, God will reveal himself. The question then will be,

“Will we look for Him beyond our circumstances?

Will we adopt the sovereign perspective of God in those moments?”

Will we allow the situation to break us or will we let God build us?

C.S. Lewis had it right: “God whispers in our pleasure, but He shouts in our pain.” Psalm 148:8 says, “stormy winds that do His bidding.” Their purpose is not to hurt you, but to heal you – not to wreck you, but to restore you. The storm isn’t to blow you away – it’s to blow you into God’s arms!

Just like my doctor’s office experience, sometimes suffering is necessary to improve the condition of our [throats] and our hearts. Even though the process is excruciatingly uncomfortable, we know God is merciful and just through it all. His purpose is set; He is in control of us and for us… and that is very good.

 

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