Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Word Study Wednesday: Fear

Psalm 46:1, 2: "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea..."

My Take
Today's news is full of fearful things: swine flu, tanked economy, food shortages, severe weather, terrorism, and the list continues. It is understandable if people live in fear. But we as Christians are called to live a life a faith, not fear. I'm probably the last person who should be talking about this as I tend to turn to fear first before faith, but I'm learning.

God is our hiding place, our shelter for when we are weary. God is strong for us and is always there for us. He is our Father and we are His children. No verses illustrate this point more than Luke 22:42 - 44:

"'Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.' 43An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him (emphasis: mine). 44And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground."

As a disciple of Christ, we are to follow His example. In this case, when Jesus felt anguish, He prayed to His heavenly Father - our heavenly Father.

This is our chance, as Christians, to let others see God in us. When you feel weak or tired, seek the Lord - He will strengthen you. Even if the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the sea.

Update: After posting, I remembered a quote I wanted to add here. I'm not sure who said it, but if someone does, please let me know. "Fear is to Satan what faith is to God."

Monday, April 27, 2009

Embracing the Experience

Jeremiah 29:11 "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.'"

Fear flowed through me when I learned of our relocation to Colorado. I lived in Texas for 17 years, and, despite the severe storms and hot summers, I enjoyed living there. My parents and brother lived only minutes away. I knew I would miss them terribly and regretted the fact that my children would not have grandparents and an uncle living nearby. I would also miss my friends. My family and I were starting over.

On the other hand, I realized this move was an opportunity for my husband. He worked really hard at his job, and I felt he deserved this promotion (I'm not biased or anything). After a few weeks of dwelling on the subject, I started to see the move as an adventure - a new state, new friends, and so on. What I didn't count on was a spiritual awakening.

You see, after a couple of years of the same routine, I became numb. Not numb towards family and friends, just numb inside towards daily life. I went through the motions. I also let my spiritual life become numb. The Lord used this move to shake up my life.

After the big move, I felt different - scared, but invigorated. I ventured out, became familiar with my new surroundings (I must say I have a great view of the Rockies). I joined a local writer's group. I hadn't even thought about writing in over three years. I attended a Bible study. During this time of newness, God opened my eyes to my spiritual state and awakened my soul to His mercies, grace, and love. He reminded me that I am His and He has a plan not just for my family, but for me as well. He also has me facing fears and conquering them (this blog is proof).

I am now thankful for this move. Sure, I'll complain about the April snow (a new experience, indeed) and miss my family a lot, but I feel I am where the Lord wants me to be. And I am embracing it.

Are you embracing your experience?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Word Study Wednesday: Name of the LORD

Psalm 113:3: "From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised."

Name (8034 Strong's Exhaustive Concordance - Hebrew) shem (shame): by implication honor, authority, character

LORD (3068) Yehovah (yeh-ho-vaw): Self-Existent or eternal; Jewish national name of God; Jehovah the Lord

Praised (1984) halal (haw-lal): Make a show to praise, give thanks, cheer, extol, to make one's boast (in the name of God)

My Take
I like the definition to "name." In essence, the name - the honor, the authority, the character of the LORD is to be praised. No matter what we are going through - good times or bad - we are to praise:
  • His honor: He will not do anything or have us do anything that will bring dishonor to His name
  • His authority: He is God - creator of Heaven and Earth. He is our creator
  • His character: He has so many facets to His character - provider, healer, banner, shepherd (just to name a few)
How can we know the honor, the authority, and the character of the LORD? To begin with, we need to understand our relationship to God. He created us and we are His creation (Psalm 100:3). We need to know that God is love. I John 4:8 says that "Whoever does not love, does not know God, because God is love."

I also believe a good starting place is to know the many names of the LORD. Recently, some friends and I finished studying Kay Arthur's book LORD, I Want to Know You. In this book, Arthur explains the names of the LORD. This study reminded me of the many characteristics of our LORD. He is our Creator, Healer, Shepherd, Provider, and so many other things. Understanding these different aspects of God's character has made my praise, worship, and prayers more intimate. I not only praise Him as God, but I also praise Him as the LORD who is there (Jehovah-shammah) or the LORD who sanctifies me (Jehovah-mekkodishkem).

We need to praise God, not only for what He has done for us, but because of who He is. Whether we are experiencing great or painful times, scary or silly moments, the name of the LORD should be praised.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


What is Dyspraxia? It is a developmental disorder that can affect one or all motor skills. In my son's case, it affects his speech skills (at least from what we can tell right now. There are many more symptoms related to Dyspraxia. There is a link at the bottom of this post leading to more information).

My daughter could talk clearly by the time she was two years old. My son, on the other hand couldn't. He couldn't even say "mama." I asked our family doctor about it and she told me that boys develop slower than girls and that his sister probably did the talking for him. So, I didn't worry about it.

His limited speech skills affected his self-esteem, though. He didn't like to play with children his age (except for his sister). He would watch our mouths intently when we would speak. He would try to mimic what we were saying, but when he couldn't, he would lower his head down and sadly say "oh." He would also get frustrated and start crying. My heart broke. I decided to take him to a speech therapist. She diagnosed him with Dyspraxia. Her diagnosis was confirmed by another evaluation through the county.

His speech therapist explained that it is harder for him to speak than those who do not have Dyspraxia. He at times doesn't know what to do with his tongue or which way to move his mouth when he speaks.

After months of intense speech therapy and practice at home, my son can now talk in complete sentences (not perfectly, but he's come a long way. His therapist said she could tell he really wanted to speak. I told her it was so he could stick up for himself against his sister). He no longer hangs his head or cries out of frustration. He even has a friend he likes to play with. Just tonight, as I was tucking him in bed, I told him "I love you." He said "Not me." When I gave him a look, he said "I just teasing. I wove you." Warmed my heart.

Please click here to learn more about Dyspraxia.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Word Study Wednesday: Fruit

Luke 6:44: "Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers." (NIV)

Recognized (1097 Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, Greek): ginosko (ghin-oce-ko); to know; recognize

Fruit (2590): Fruit

My Take
What fruit am I bearing? Am I bearing the fruit of the Spirit or my own bitter fruit? In this verse, Jesus is speaking to His disciples. He continues saying, in verse 45, "The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks." My fruit takes root in my heart and then ripens and bursts forth through what I say and do.

What fruit do I want to bear? To begin with, there is the Fruit of the Spirit - ", joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control..."(Galatians 5: 22 - 23). There's more! Second Peter 1:5-8 lists a few more fruits to add to faith: knowledge, perseverance, godliness, and brotherly kindness. Peter adds "For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive (unfruitful in KJV) in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."

What happens if I'm not bearing fruit? Peter addresses this as well in verse 9: "But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins." I don't know about you, but I don't ever want to forget that I've been cleansed from my sins.

So, how do I know my fruit is good? By knowing Christ and living my life like He did. Follow His example of loving God and others, expressing joy, exhibiting peace, showing patience, being good, faithful, and gentle, and exhibiting self-control. These may not appear overnight, but through perseverance and most importantly, prayer, this good fruit will take root.

What fruit are you bearing?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Easter!

Several years ago, one of my Sunday School teachers described, in brutal detail, the death of Christ. Afterwards, I ran to the bathroom and cried, actually bawled. Never before had I truly understood the magnitude of His death and resurrection. Don't get me wrong, I understood His death to be cruel, but I didn't know the gory details. If you have seen The Passion of the Christ, then you have an idea of what my teacher described. I did gain more appreciation (for lack of a better word) for His sacrifice and my grievous ways.

Recently, I finished reading Brennan Manning's latest, The Furious Longing of God. In the chapter titled Giving, Manning asks the reader if Christ went through all of that brutality just to make us nicer? Or did he endure it all so that we would be new creations? New creations willing to give ourselves completely to God (I'm really not doing it any justice here. If you get a chance to read it, please do. It's very convicting).

Please don't take Christ's sacrifice for granted. He knew what He was about to endure and still went through it so that we would be saved. What magnificent love!

He is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Amen!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Word Study Wednesday: Forsaken

Matthew 27:46: "About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, 'Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?' - which means, 'My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?'" (NIV)

Forsaken: (1459 Strong's Exhaustive Concordance) egkataleipo (eng kat a li po): to desert: - forsake, leave

My Take
According to the commentary listed in my Bible, Jesus used this quote from Psalm 22:1 to express grief and anguish brought on by being forsaken by God, his Father. It goes on to call it a "double death." He not only died physically, but spiritually as well, as he died for our sins.

I cannot begin to fathom the anguish he felt - not only the physical pain, but the spiritual pain as well. He not only was separated from God, the creator and ruler, but God, his Father. From an early age, Jesus knew he was the Son of God. Remember Jesus' reply to his earthly parents when they questioned why he stayed in Jerusalem. He said "Why were you searching for me?...Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" (Luke 2:49). As a side note, I like the way he said "had to be in..." like it was an urgent desire that had to be fulfilled.

Someone once asked me what was my biggest fear. After a little bit of thought, I realized my fear was being separated from God. I can't imagine not being able to worship Him, adore Him, admire the works of His hands. I can't imagine living without His peace, His love, His joy, His grace, His forgiveness.

Jesus experienced all of that and more while on the cross so that we wouldn't have to. I know I don't want to be separated from that kind of love.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Word Study Wednesday: Psalm 46:10

Psalm 46:10: "Be still and know that I am God." (NIV)

Still (7503 Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, Hebrew): raphah (raw-faw): To slacken (in many applications, literally or figuratively): - cease, consume, idle, let alone, stay, be still, be slothful (just a few of the words associated with raphah).

Know (3045): yada (yaw-dah); to know, acknowledge, acquainted with, be aware, consider, understand

God (430): Elohiym (el-o-heem): gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used of the supreme God.

My Take
I know this verse seems simple, but I feel it is relevant. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have a lot of thoughts, or noise, going through my head right now. Add to that the worries of the world and everything seems chaotic. This verse centers me. It reminds me to shut out the world and to focus on Elohiym.

I need to remember that God created the world and He is still in control of the world. Nothing is in chaos. It just feels like it because I'm not focusing on Him, but rather concentrating on issues that I'm trying to solve myself. I need to remember that He is God - holy, gracious, loving, merciful, creator, and so many more things.

One thing I noticed - the word "still" is the same Hebrew word used for "slack." In last week's Word Study, "slack" had a negative reference. In this case though, God is calling us to be still or slack. It is as if He's saying it's okay to be idle now and to center ourselves on Him, to rest in Him.

I hope this helps you to rest in Him and to be still. It is easy to let life's issues take over our thoughts and actions. Take time today and know that He is God.