Wednesday, June 28, 2006

When you know it's God...

Call me Hard-headed, a little dense, a little slow on the start.... but I have discovered a pattern in my walk as of late. This will be nothing new to most of you. Most of you have figured this one out a long time ago. But some of you still struggle with learning this little dance that we do with God. And because the signs were overly abundant yesterday for both myself and Sister Sarah Klugh, I just had to share this experience with you.

So, let's just say I had a WEEK last week. Everytime I turned around, something was trying to get me down. People weren't showing up for rehearsals, I couldn't get my house clean because of messy children, I couldn't get laundry done because of the rain, and to top it all off, I splashed a little tiny bit of my beverage on my keyboard, and shorted the whole thing out. There I was, for nearly two days taking all my keys off my laptop to clean the contacts, inside wanting so much to dedicate some time to this blog, but absolutely without the tools to do it.

I'll admit it - initially there were tears and grumblings. I was frustrated, tired, anxious, overwhelmed. NOTHING was going the way I wanted it to go.

At times, I wanted to scream. But deep inside, I kept hearing a voice say, "Rejoice in the Lord, ALWAYS, again I say Rejoice!' Somehow, I was able to thank God for taking out my computer. Without my computer, I could get more cleaning done. I thanked God that I have a dryer, I could still get laundry done. I thanked God for my messy kids, because they are still pure joy to me. I thanked God for my messy house, because at least I have a house - a roof over my head, food on the table, dishes, everything that contributes to this messy house is a blessing, not a curse.

So, once I got to this place of rejoicing, things started turning around for the better. God again paved my way, lifted me up. Just as I had intimated to you in my post, "Getting Really Personal..." in the moment of my anguish, God revealed to me that for which I need to give thanks and rejoice. The moment I began to rejoice, the strength of the Lord was restored to me, and I was able to go forward. The morning after I gave thanks, I woke up to my computer being completely fixed. It was as if nothing had happened!

Yesterday, Sarah called me, relatively distraught. She had been so excited to spend time with her fiance, as he was coming through on his way to Pittsburgh. Half way through New York, he had to turn around and go to Cape Cod. If you follow Sarah's blog at you'll see she has been very frustrated with being patient as of late.

Before I even knew the words were coming out of my mouth, I said, "Sarah, God is testing you. Why don't you come over and hang out with me?"

She came over and we went for a drive. She asked, "So you really think God is testing me?" I shared with her the lesson I learned throughout the week. When Phillippians 4:4 says "Rejoice in the Lord always... " it means: Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS. I recounted the week's events to her. I told her she needs to remember that it is when we get down in our own state, and take our eyes off God that Satan is most likely to trip us up. It is when we are weakened, that Satan can and will attack and pull us away from God. So it is, when we are experiencing trials, we need to rejoice, and only then will God's blessings flow.

A minute later, my cellphone rang. It was Sarah's mom. Henry was on his way.

Then, as if we needed one more sign to "seal the deal", Dr. Tony Evans came over the radio station, WGRC, and reiterated this EXACT message. Sarah and I just looked at each other and laughed, completely lifted up, basking in our new friendship and Sisterhood in Christ, and knowing...

It's God.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Feeding Sheep

John 21: 16
He said to him again a second time, "Simon, {son} of John, do you love Me?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Feed My sheep."

From "My Utmost for His Highest:
"Jesus did not say - Make converts to your way of thinking, but look after My sheep, see that they get nourished in the knowledge of Me. We count as service what we do in the way of Christian work; Jesus Christ calls service what we are to Him, not what we do for Him. Discipleship is based on devotion to Jesus Christ, not on adherence to a belief or a creed. "If any man come to Me and hate not..., he cannot be My disciple." There is no argument and no compulsion, but simply - If you would be My disciple, you must be devoted to Me. A man touched by the Spirit of God suddenly says - "Now I see Who Jesus is," and that is the source of devotion.

Today we have substituted credal belief for personal belief, and that is why so many are devoted to causes and so few devoted to Jesus Christ. People do not want to be devoted to Jesus, but only to the cause He started. Jesus Christ is a source of deep offense to the educated mind of today that does not want Him in any other way than as a Comrade. Our Lord's first obedience was to the will of His Father, not to the needs of men; the saving of men was the natural outcome of His obedience to the Father. If I am devoted to the cause of humanity only, I will soon be exhausted and come to the place where my love will falter; but if I love Jesus Christ personally and passionately, I can serve humanity though men treat me as a door-mat. The secret of a disciple's life is devotion to Jesus Christ, and the characteristic of the life is its unobtrusiveness. It is like a corn of wheat, which falls into the ground and dies, but presently it will spring up and alter the whole landscape (John 12:24)."

I have intimated to you in most, if not all, of these postings that this is an incredible time for me. I am being drawn close to God. I am finding a deep devotion to Christ that I had never before found.

Those around me are saying, "Wow, I never knew Danielle was so religious!" I'm not religious -I'm seeking and finding relationship mith my God and Savior. Those around me are saying, "I can't commit to Christianity because I don't believe everything it teaches." I call myself a Christian. I study the teachings of Christianity. But I believe and commit to what God tells me, through His voice and His scripture, and nothing else.

I cannot serve the needs of men. But an interesting thing is happening in my life. When I am completely focused on God, when I look no further than to hear God's word and see God's face, both my brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as nonbelievers, start to relate to me that I am having an impact on their lives. I start to hear God telling me to do things for people - make a CD; buy a book; send an email; call. And like the surface of a pond newly struck by a pebble, the ripples of these small gestures grow.

The greatest desire of my heart is to let my light shine for all to see. And now, people are finally seeing it, recognizing it as something of God and asking me for insight. Suddenly it occurs to me, I'm feeding His sheep.

I know one thing: I love God. I love worshipping and praising and thanking and singing and serving. I love immersing myself in His word and learning every lesson He puts on my heart.
It is such a joy to see the fruits of my devotion.

Now I see who Jesus is.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Getting Really Personal...

I’m gonna let you all in on a little secret.

(Big Gulp, here goes)

I suffer from the Big “D” – DEPRESSION. I use Zoloft regularly to manage this. But there is one problem: I can’t figure out the dosage. If I take my prescribed amount daily, it feels as if it is building up in my system and I start to feel more aggressive, more manic. Then, I have to break the pills in half for a few days until my body feels deficiency again. That’s when I start to feel (as Sister Kim so nicely put in one of her sermons) like I’m going to “twist the cat’s head off.” Luckily, I don’t have a cat!

I’ve had a lot going on lately. A few shows to direct and choreograph, a Musical Theatre Workshop to direct, dance classes to teach, kids to raise, a house to clean, a husband to keep happy, wow, I really could go on and on. But we’ve all had that, haven’t we? I mean I am not alone in feeling over-stressed. But money’s been tight and so I may or may not have let a few days go by without medicine.

So then, tonight, I’m feeling pretty stretched. So I plan to get my prescription refilled and Bam! I’m out of refills.

I’ve been also feeling like “Darn it! I’m tired of being a slave to a pill! My God’s bigger than this blasted biochemical disorder!" And then, like fireflies in the night, images started flashing through my brain: Brother Brian Johnson goofin’ around at Shakespeare rehearsal tonight; Hugging Sister Rosalind Hamilton at church on Sunday; Driving through Wal-Mart Parking Lot one night and feeling something telling me to “look up,” and there was Sister Cora looking right at me, waving.

I can’t count how many times I run into Sister Jill in the oddest of places throughout the week. Her smile brightens my day and her hugs warm my heart. The images flashed of working with her on the musical and how I could not stop crying the night the show, “Down By the Creek Bank,” opened, watching those sweet little souls proclaiming Jesus’ name!

The Dance Team, Holy Expressions, telling The Story through Dance! My faithful friends here: Lisa Rae, Sarah and Roze, and my faithful friends far away: Mindy, Michelle, and Cherri. My Family. My Children. My Husband.

All of the sudden, I started smiling and I felt energy flow through me as if I had just done an hour-long session of Yoga. I began to rejoice as positive energy was pulsing through my body and I rejoiced, dear friends, that God put you in my life. If you are receiving this, it is because I have an invested interest in who you are in the body of Christ. You have somehow been an example to me, or maybe you have spoken a kind word to me which encouraged me, you may have unknowingly sustained me, so I have chosen YOU as the recipient of this writing.

I rejoiced that I am BLESSED. No one can replace my children and husband. They are incredibly dear to my heart. I have a BEAUTIFUL family. I have so much for which to be thankful. How can I get depressed????

Then the verse comes to my heart:
Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit.

So then, as if I wasn’t already flying high enough, God gives me this VISION. I am on a stage performing a One Woman, Christian Dramatic Comedy. The script will be written as I weave together these blog postings into one major play. Whew! Can ya see it now?!

So I get on my little magic box here, and I punch in Psalms 51:10-13 and I read “Create in me...” Yup, I got all the words right! And then! What’s this??? Verse 13??? That’s not in the song!!!

Verse 13: Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will be converted to You.


Can you say “I’ve got, I’ve got the Victory, I’ve got the sweet, sweet Victory in Jesus”??????? (Do the dance now!)

I claim Victory over Depression in JESUS’ NAME! I thank God, and praise God every time I think of you!!! God has a plan for my life!!!! Can depression gain one foothold in my life ever again???

Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, All. I pray each of you finds this Sweet Victory if you are still searching for it. I pray for a continued sustaining spirit among the members and leaders of Revival Tabernacle. I pray for the continued strengthening of the cords of family and friendships. I pray that my beautiful children and husband will see me as an example, and our love for God and each other will continue to grow.


Friday, June 16, 2006

Remaining Diligent

2 Peter 1
Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.

Merriam-Webster defines the term diligent as:
characterized by steady, earnest, and energetic effort. I'd like to think this is the most diligent I have been in my life - ever pressing toward the goal or goals as my life's purpose and my Christian walk begin to merge into one major highway.

Remaining diligent takes effort. When you answer God's call and choose His path for your life, there are no promises of smooth roads ahead. I remember when I accepted Christ into my heart at the age of fourteen, my favorite Camp Counselor said, "It won't always be pink bubbles and warm fuzzies, but God will always be there." He couldn't have been more right. It has been a loooooooooooooooooooong road. But God is always faithful.

Are you surrounded by people of little faith? What do you do? What do you do when the bumps in the road are rocking your car around, and you KNOW that God is in control and you keep a hold of the wheel, but your spouse or friends or parents or kids are like back-seat drivers huffing and puffing and doubting and sulking and absolutely driving you crazy???

It's bound to trip you up a bit. It may even take the wind out of your sails. You feel beaten, downtrodden, maybe sad and frustrated, but way down deep inside you remember that "God is in control. He'll bring us through this. He always has. He always does. He always will."

From "My Utmost for His Highest":
You have inherited the Divine nature, says Peter (v.4), now screw your attention down and form habits, give diligence, concentrate."Add" means all that character means. No man is born either naturally or supernaturally with character, he has to make character. Nor are we born with habits; we have to form habits on the basis of the new life God has put into us. We are not meant to be illuminated versions, but the common stuff of ordinary life exhibiting the marvel of the grace of God. Drudgery is the touchstone of character. The great hindrance in spiritual life is that we will look for big things to do. "Jesus took a towel...and began to wash the disciples' feet."

There are times when there is no illumination and no thrill, but just the daily round, the common task. Routine is God's way of saving us between our times of inspiration. Do not expect God always to give you His thrilling minutes, but learn to live in the domain of drudgery by the power of God.

It is the "adding" that is difficult. We say we do not expect God to carry us to heaven on flowery beds of ease, and yet we act as if we did! The tiniest detail in which I obey has all the omnipotent power of the grace of God behind it. If I do my duty, not for duty's sake, but because I believe God is engineering my circumstances, then at the very point of my obedience the whole superb grace of God is mine through the Atonement."

And some how, some way, you stand, because there's nothing else you can do. You wait on God, because there is no other hope. You tune out the negative voices of doubt from inside your head and from out of your family members' mouths.

God will come through. He always has. He always does. He always will.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Come ye after Me

Mark 1:17
And Jesus said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men."

From "My Utmost for His Highest":
We have the notion that we can consecrate our gifts to God. You cannot consecrate what is not yours; there is only one thing you can consecrate to God, and that is your right to yourself (Romans 12:1). If you will give God your right to yourself, He will make a holy experiment out of you. God's experiments always succeed. The one mark of a saint is the moral originality which springs from abandonment to Jesus Christ. In the life of a saint there is this amazing wellspring of original life all the time; the Spirit of God is a well of water springing up, perennially fresh. The saint realizes that it is God Who engineers circumstances, consequently there is no whine, but a reckless abandon to Jesus.

Never make a principle out of your experience; let God be as original with other people as He is with you. If you abandon to Jesus, and come when He says "Come," He will continue to say "Come" through you; you will go out into life reproducing the echo of Christ's "Come." That is the result in every soul who has abandoned and come to Jesus.

I just came from having a frustrating conversation where I was pressed to explain the reason I bring my children to church, and choose to teach children at church. When I read this scripture, I again was amazed at the timeliness. But then again, why should I be amazed, when all of this is from God.

I explained to my friend that I heard Jesus say, "Come" at a very early age. I have always been drawn to God. I have felt God's hand guide me to Him for as long as I can remember. At the age of four, my grandmother and I were in Weis Markets. She told me I could choose any toy that I wanted. I chose "A Child's Book of Hymns". It was a Golden Book. My favorite song was "Jesus wants me for a Sunbeam". I heard God in my heart. I felt His guidance throughout my life. God called to me, "Come ye after Me". I followed.

Now, it is my duty and desire to "raise my children in the way that they will go, so when they are older, they will not part from it" (Proverbs 22:6). My children respond. They love to worship! How can I then consider that I might be doing wrong by them by bringing them to church?

Through this blog, I have been blessed. I have people contacting me, telling me that I am touching their lives; I am speaking or writing what they need to hear! My heart leaps with joy to know that God is using me in this way. I am humbled. I am honored. I am blessed.

I am experiencing what it means to echo that call of "Come". I have abandoned all to Jesus and now this light has begun to shine.

How do I argue with someone who has never heard God's call? How do I make him understand the incredible joy, the overwhelming LOVE that is found when you abandon all to Christ?

Matthew 11:28
"Come unto me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
"The questions that matter in life are remarkably few, and they are all answered by the words - "Come unto Me." Not - Do this, or don't do that; but - "Come unto Me." If I will come to Jesus my actual life will be brought into accordancewith my real desires; I will actually cease from sin, and actually find the song of the Lord begin.

Have you ever come to Jesus? Watch the stubbornness of your heart, you will do anything rather than the one simple childlike thing -"Come unto Me." If you want the actual experience of ceasing from sin, you must come to Jesus. Jesus Christ makes Himself the touchstone. Watch how He used the word "Come." At the most unexpected moments there is the whisper of the Lord - "Come unto Me," and you are drawn immediately. Personal contact with Jesus alters everything. Be stupid enough to come and commit yourself to what He says. The attitude of coming is that the will resolutely lets go of everything and deliberately commits all to Him.". . . and I will give you rest," i.e., I will stay you. Not - I will put you to bed and hold your hand and sing you to sleep; but - I will get you out of bed, out of the languor and exhaustion, out of the state of being half dead while you are alive; I will imbue you with the spirit of life, and you will be stayed by the perfection of vital activity."

When you are called, you know. You hear His voice. You know the signs. You know it's GOD.
You are not only drawn to God, but you are drawn to put your faith into action.

"Come unto Me". That's all He asks. And when you do, suddenly everyone around you wants what you have. Let your life, abandoned to Christ, echo Christ's call:


Sunday, June 11, 2006

Seek and Ye Shall Find

Luke 11:9
"So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you..."

I will admit when I received this scripture today, I was a bit confused. Didn't we just cover this yesterday? And yet, somehow "asking" for things and "seeking" things are a bit different, are they not? I soon found out.

My Utmost for His Highest states:
"Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss. If you ask for things from life instead of from God, you ask amiss, i.e., you ask from a desire for self-realization. The more you realize yourself, the less will you seek God. 'Seek, and ye shall find.' Get to work, narrow your interests to this one. Have you ever sought God with your whole heart, or have you only given a languid cry to Him after a twinge of moral neuralgia? Seek, concentrate, and you will find.

'Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters.' Are you thirsty, or smugly indifferent - so satisfied with your experience that you want nothing more of God? Experience is a gateway, not an end. Beware of building your faith on experience, the metallic note will come in at once, the censorious note. You can never give another person that which you have found, but you can make him homesick for what you have.

'Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.' 'Draw nigh to God.' Knock -the door is closed, and you suffer from palpitation as you knock. 'Cleanse your hands' - knock a bit louder, you begin to find you are dirty. 'Purify your heart' - this is more personal still, you are desperately in earnest now - you will do anything. 'Be afflicted' -have you ever been afflicted before God at the state of your inner life? There is no strand of self-pity left, but a heartbreaking affliction of amazement to find you are the kind of person that you are. 'Humble yourself' - it is a humbling business to knock at God's door - you have to knock with the crucified thief. 'To him that knocketh, it shall be opened."

Woah. Now that's deep. Let's take this in bite-size portions, shall we?

First off: "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss. If you ask for things from life instead of from God, you ask amiss, i.e., you ask from a desire for self-realization. The more you realize yourself the less will you seek God. 'Seek, and ye shall find.' Get to work, narrow your interests to this one. Have you ever sought God with your whole heart, or have you only given a languid cry to Him after a twinge of moral neuralgia? Seek, concentrate, and you will find."

I will never know what prompted me to this journey. I simply sought a deeper relationship with God. I knew I was being called to minister in some way. I wanted God to show me how. Next thing you know, I'm on this journey. I've given plenty o' "languid cries after twinges of moral neuralgia." I'm no longer looking for a deeper sense of self; I'm seeking God. So, here I am: seeking, concentrating and finding.

The more I seek, the more I wonder what is the end result? There is none. This journey will continue until my death. Am I up to this long road ahead of me? Then I notice that the more I seek, I am changed every day. A woman who used to be quick to anger and would flee the scene of an argument and hold a grudge against the wronging person or persons has been transformed into a woman who, when now offended, stops and says, "I know you probably didn't mean anything by what you said, but my feelings were hurt and I would just like to clear the air..." A woman who used to, like Martha, put off God to spend time cleaning, saying "God, I'll make time for devotions as soon as I get the downstairs clean..." has now learned to sit among the clutter and sit with God first. The more I seek, the more I find.

'Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters.' Are you thirsty, or smugly indifferent - so satisfied with your experience that you want nothing more of God? Experience is a gateway, not an end. Beware of building your faith on experience, the metallic note will come in at once, the censorious note. You can never give another person that which you have found, but you can make him homesick for what you have. '

My journey has been capped off by a lot of moments of "being smugly indifferent; satisfied with (my) experience". I cannot say I wanted nothing more of God, but because I got to a point where I thought I figured it all out, my need for faithfulness diminished. I would act high and mighty as if I KNEW all there was to know, and since I knew everything, there was no reason to seek God out. Oh how I wish this had been revealed to me at an earlier age! Like Moses, I have wandered and wandered, trying to do it myself, thinking that this was God's way, and finding out I took a smidgeon of God's instruction and tried to carry it out on my own. Then when something wouldn't work out the way I thought it was supposed to work out, I would get mad and frustrated with God and with myself, never realizing it was because I failed to wait on God.

'Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.' 'Draw nigh to God.' Knock -the door is closed, and you suffer from palpitation as you knock. 'Cleanse your hands' - knock a bit louder, you begin to find you are dirty. 'Purify your heart' - this is more personal still, you are desperately in earnest now - you will do anything. 'Be afflicted' -have you ever been afflicted before God at the state of your inner life? There is no strand of self-pity left, but a heartbreaking affliction of amazement to find you are the kind of person that you are. 'Humble yourself' - it is a humbling business to knock at God's door - you have to knock with the crucified thief. 'To him that knocketh, it shall be opened."

I have experienced all of this: Fear of asking; need for cleansing and purification; a need for humility. I have even experienced an absolute disgust of what or whom I had become. Far too many times I became that crucified thief begging for His mercy, hoping He could find it in His heart to remember me when He comes into His kingdom.

But what is this all really about? I know who I am. I have dug deep to discover the good, the bad and the ugly time and time again. But I'm still seeking. I'm still thirsting. I want God to direct my every path - not just the ones that I can't figure out on my own. I want each step on each path to be guided by God. I want each contribution to be used for His glory. I want to realize the "new" Danielle Renee Murphy Scott - completely surrendered to and completely guided BY GOD.

So I ask and I seek.

I will find.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Ask and it shall....

Luke 11
It happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples." And He said to them, "When you pray, say:
`Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins,
For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.' "

Then He said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says to him, `Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him'; and from inside he answers and says, `Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.' I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.

So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?"

From "My Utmost for His Highest": There is nothing more difficult than to ask. We will long and desire and crave and suffer, but not until we are at the extreme limit will we ask. A sense of unreality makes us ask. Have you ever asked out of the depths of moral poverty? "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God...but be sure that you do lack wisdom. You cannot bring yourself up against Reality when you like. The next best thing to do if you are not spiritually real, is to ask God for the Holy Spirit on the word of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is the One who makes real in you all that Jesus did for you. "For every one that asketh receiveth." This does not mean you will not get if you do not ask, but until you get to the point of asking you won't receive from God. To receive means you have come into the relationship of a child of God, and now you perceive with intelligent and moral appreciation and spiritual understanding that these things come from God. "If any of you lack wisdom . . ." If you realize you are lacking, it is because you have come in contact with spiritual reality; do not put your reasonable blinkers on again. People say - Preach us the simple gospel: don't tell us we have to be holy, because that produces a sense of abject poverty, and it is not nice to feel abjectly poor. "Ask" means beg. Some people are poor enough to be interested in their poverty, and some of us are like that spiritually. We will never receive if we ask with an end in view; if we ask, not out of our poverty but out of our lust. A pauper does not ask from any other reason than the abject panging condition of his poverty, he is not ashamed to beg. - Blessed are the paupers inspirit."

Do you know how to ask? I'll admit, I have not known how to ask for anything until today. Maybe I figured that God knew the desires of my heart, so why would I have to state it plainly? But for some reason, I've always been afraid to ask. For anything. From anyone. I don't know where this comes from, really. A lack of assertiveness? A fear of having someone have to go out of their way for me? A fear of being in debt to someone? I honestly don't know. When people ask me for something, I'm there. But when I need something? Whew! I'd rather suffer through long hours of torture and exhaustion than have to ask someone for their help.

Somehow, today, this scripture was timely. I had three things that I really needed to speak to God. One: Help with the management of this household. Sometimes the laundry of four children and a husband seems like 12 children and a husband. More than the ability to "to just get it done," I needed a desire to get it done and a reason to get it done. Two: Finances. I am living by faith alone on this one, and God is always faithful. Every time we're down to our last dollars, a check mysteriously appears in our mailbox. Although this is wonderful and God is sooo good, I cannot have my husband working two jobs much longer. He has a heart condition. I need God to provide a way for money to come in without my husband completely sacrificing himself for this family. Do I appreciate it? Of course. Do I think it is fair? Absolutely not. I don't want to lose my husband to a heart attack because he spent his life providing for us.

Finally, the Theatre. We need a place. A tract of land, an old barn. I said it. I told God, we need someone to call up and say "Here". All of the ways in which we thought it would happen are now deadends. So I begged God: "Make the phone ring. Show me what newspapers to put ads in. Show me how to contact the Amish to build a barn. Do something."

I asked. It was the hardest thing I've ever done. My spirit took over and spoke in a language I had not heard. I was too busy crying to pay attention to what my tongue was doing. But I asked.

Your Father loves you and would be willing to give anything for you if you just ask.

I haven't had any cups of "instant-answered prayer" - YET. I will keep you informed if and when God comes through.

But again, I asked. May you be able to come to that place where you can put yourself before God, open up your mouth and ask.

You will be changed.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Do you not KNOW me?

John 8:12-20
Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life." So the Pharisees said to Him, "You are testifying about Yourself; Your testimony is not true." Jesus answered and said to them, "Even if I testify about Myself, My testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge according to the flesh; I am not judging anyone. But even if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone, but I and the Father who sent Me. Even in your law it has been written that the testimony of two men is true. I am He who testifies about Myself, and the Father who sent Me testifies about Me." So they were saying to Him, "Where is Your Father?" Jesus answered, "You know neither Me nor My Father; if you knew Me, you would know My Father also." These words He spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple; and no one seized Him, because His hour had not yet come.

Bear with me today as I am overwhelmed by mutliple thoughts, emotions and lots of tears - both of joy and sadness. I hope to be able to boil all of these down to a point. At this moment, this seems no easy task.

I have subscribed to to begin receiving daily scriptures. The scriptures and messages I selected are from the book, "My Utmost for His Highest" by Oswald Chambers. Along with today's scripture, John 8:17, came these thoughts:

"If you do not cut the moorings, God will have to break them by a storm and send you out. Launch all on God, go out on the great swelling tide of His purpose, and you will get your eyes open. If you believe in Jesus, you are not to spend all your time in the smooth waters just inside the harbour bar, full of delight, but always moored; you have to get out through the harbour bar into the great deeps of God and begin to know for yourself, begin to have spiritual discernment. When you know you should do a thing, and do it, immediately you know more. Revise where you have become stodgy spiritually, and you will find it goes back to a point where there was something you knew you should do, but you did not do it because there seemed no immediate call to, and now you have no perception, no discernment; at a time of crisis you are spiritually distracted instead of spiritually self-possessed. It is a dangerous thing to refuse to go on knowing. The counterfeit of obedience is a state of mind in which you work up occasions to sacrifice your self; ardour is mistaken for discernment. It is easier to sacrifice yourself than to fulfil your spiritual destiny, which is stated in Romans 12:1-2. It is a great deal better to fulfill the purpose of God in your life by discerning His will than to perform great acts of self-sacrifice. "To obey is better than sacrifice." Beware of harking back to what you were once when God wants you to be something you have never been. 'If any man will do .. . he shall know."

As I read this, some moments that have occurred over the past few weeks come to mind. The first one was when my grandmother asked me, "Danielle, why didn't you become a school teacher?" My reply was, "because I am a dance teacher, and acting teacher, and a director." She then retorted, "Well, you certainly haven't made your life easy!"

Lately, my husband (of all people) has been very concerned about the amount of time and energy I put into this blog and to church. He feels that I need to be working on the theatre company, teaching my dance classes, cleaning the house, raising the kids - not wasting time. Don't get me wrong, he loves the fact that I go to church, but I sense some confusion coming from him when I stay for all three services on Sunday and return Sunday night. He's afraid of computers, so there's no point in explaining this blog to him.

Recently, a very cushy job opportunity arose for me. It was an Executive Director position of a project that I helped start. The organization had been incubated into a greater level of existence in the time that I've been gone from the incubating agency, and now the position has been created. I intimated to you that money isn't exactly coming easy to us lately. This position could have provided a lot for us had I gone for it.

I searched my heart and searched my heart, but I couldn't apply. Flashing Dollar Signs are not enough to take me off the path God has intended for me.

I'm feeling like Jesus lately. The more I soak in the Son, so to speak, the more those around me are scratching their heads and losing their patience with me and my choices.

"Do you not know me? Do you not know my Father?" reverberates in my head. Clothing a dance team and building sets for the church musical is JOY to me, not a chore. It is the living out of my Faith, using the talents and gifts God has given me to bring Him GLORY!

And then, I see the sign. Oh how I seek signs! I believe everyone has a scripture for their life. Mine has always been Romans 12:2. How can I ignore then, my being sent a message that points me to Romans 12:1-2?

"Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, {which is} your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect."

As the message states, "It is a great deal better to fulfill the purpose of God in your life by discerning His will than to perform great acts of self-sacrifice. "To obey is better than sacrifice." Beware of harking back to what you were once when God wants you to be something you have never been. 'If any man will do .. . he shall know."

I will not turn back to that woman who knew God, but could not express God. I will not live only acknowedging God or seeking God on Sundays. I know God wants me to be something I have never been, and as I do, I know.

If you too, are being persecuted against, misunderstood, feeling thrown off your path by opinions or temptations around you, stay on your path. It has often been said that "we must be doing something right, because Satan is working really hard."

Stay faithful. Give Him praise. Keep doing. He will show you and you will know.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Praise, Praise and more Praise

I, I gotta Praise!
I gotta Praise and I gotta get it out...
I gotta Praise...
I gotta Praise!

Wow. As much as God has done for me lately - He just doesn't quit!

I pulled an all-nighter Saturday night making costumes for the Dance Team at church. I often have to remind myself that I'm not eighteen and in college anymore. I'm a Mommy who needs my rest, but the Dance Team couldn't very well dance naked, now could they?!?

So, there I am in church Sunday morning - barely able to keep my eyes open. The chandelier hanging behind Pastor's head was making smears of light before my eyes. Pastor's face was barely recognizable even though I was in the second pew. He too, was all blurry. But I heard his words. I heard his words speak once again, directly to me.

1 Samuel 14:1-15
1 Now the day came that Jonathan, the son of Saul, said to the young man who was carrying his armor, "Come and let us cross over to the Philistines' garrison that is on the other side." But he did not tell his father. 2 Saul was staying in the outskirts of Gibeah under the pomegranate tree which is in Migron. And the people who were with him were about six hundred men, 3 and Ahijah, the son of Ahitub, Ichabod's brother, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the priest of the LORD at Shiloh, was wearing an ephod. And the people did not know that Jonathan had gone.

According to Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible, "We must here take notice, I. Of the goodness of God in restraining the Philistines, who had a vast army of valiant men in the field, from falling upon that little handful of timorous trembling people that Saul had with him, whom they would easily have swallowed up at once. It is an invisible power that sets bounds to the malice of the church’s enemies, and suffers them not to do that which we should think there is nothing to hinder them from. II. Of the weakness of Saul, who seems here to have been quite at a loss, and unable to help himself. 1. He pitched his tent under a tree, and had but 600 men with him. Where were now the 3000 men he had chosen, and put such a confidence in? Those whom he trusted too much failed him when he most needed them. He durst not stay in Gibeah, but go into some obscure place, in the uttermost part of the city, under a pomegranate-tree, under Rimmon (so the word is), Ha-Rimmon, that Rimmon near Gibeah, in the caves of which those 600 Benjamites that escaped him themselves, Jdg. 20:47. Some think that there Saul took shelter, so mean and abject was his spirit, now that he had fallen under God’s displeasure, every hour expecting the Philistines upon him, and thereby the accomplishment of Samuel’s threatening, ch. 13:14. Those can never think themselves safe that see themselves cast out of God’s protection.

Pastor made particular note of the pomegranate tree. There Saul was, basically hiding out, feeling sorry for himself, while unbeknownst to him, his son is fighting a very brave battle in his stead. Pastor explained the the word "pomegranate" literally translates to the words "Get Up!" How ironic that Saul is sitting on his duff, and a message from a tree is hanging over his head, telling him what he needs to do next.

Have you ever been here? Are you here now? Do you know what I'm talking about? Me neither. Just kidding. Have you ever been at a spot in your life where you're wondering what God wants for your life and the answer has been with you all along, staring you in your face, but you're so busy making excuses, questioning your lot in life, thinking "someday the answers will be revealed," you don't even realize the tools have been in front of you, or worse, in your hands all along?

Pastor went on to use the staff of Moses as an example. Moses wandered in the wilderness for forty years. All along, his staff was in his hand. He needs evidence of how he will prove that God has spoken to him. God tells him to throw the staff to the ground. It turns into a serpent. God tells him to "pick it up by its tail," it turns back into a staff. This same staff parted the Red Sea and let the Hebrews out of Pharoah's land. This same staff, Moses used to strike the rock which spewed water. Moses had the tool in his hand all along, and didn't realize what God was asking of him.

So it was, at the end of this very enlightening sermon, Pastor asked us to ask God to reveal what tools were in our hands that we could use for His glory and His good work. Pastor asked us to examine what pomegranate trees were right in front of our faces calling us to "Get Up!"

Now, some of you know the whirlwind of confusion I have been in these past few years. I know I want to do God's work. I know I want to resist the temptation of a cushy high-salary job and use the gifts and talents God has given me for His glory. I know God has given me tremendous gifts and talents which has made it all the harder to determine what God wants for my life. Grantwriting is a Ministry. Organizational Management is a Ministry. Teaching dance is a Ministry. I have felt for years that I am a Jane-of-All-Trades, but am I a Master of any? Is my desire to push my Theatre Company forward what God truly wants for my life? Or is it yet another selfish desire of what I want for my life? I have been afraid. I have made excuses. I have come to some conclusions, only to backtrack and second-guess time after time, after time.

So, I got on my knees. I asked God to show me what He truly wanted for my life. I looked down at my hands. In one hand was a Comedy Mask. In the other, a Tragedy Mask. Theatre - my greatest desire, my greatest gift, my greatest talent is the tool that would bring God glory! Later at home, I again prayed that God would show me how Theatre would become my Ministry. He revealed to me that "Gaspipe" = "God's Pipe". Through Theatre, people will come into my life to whom I can and will minister. Derek and I will write plays on biblical figures such as Ruth and Naomi, Martha and Mary and many more that can be performed in the new church and elsewhere. My greatest desire is not selfish. God will use it. It has been revealed!!!

I have been blessed with a babysitter to watch the children while I work in another room of the house. I have been blessed with a group of people who are willing and excited about all the possibilities that lie ahead for this Theatre Company. I have been blessed with a Vision and affirmation of a dream that has long been in the works.

God is sooooooo good!

All the time.

Friday, June 02, 2006

A Song of Praise

Today, I once again prayed over my Bible asking God to direct me to the scripture He would have me study. I opened to the 23rd Psalm. I keep some obituary clippings in my Bible at the 23rd Psalm, so I thought I'd try again. Three times my fingers felt the pages slip over them. Three times I opened to the 23rd Psalm. It is times like these when the song from the movie, "The Color Purple" starts resounding in my head, "God is trying to tell you something...."

And so it goes:

Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters; He restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for You are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Are you crying? I'm crying. I've memorized this Psalm from the time I was seven years old. But today, the Lord revived it in my heart and gave it new meaning.

"I shall not be in want."
I used to have a career. Salary in the 30's. Rubbing elbows with legislators. I was Somebody! I was da-da-dedah: Corporate Girl. See my cape?

I lost my job due to downsizing three years ago. I make a few dollars teaching dance classes here and there now. My husband's check is so minimal because of outrageous child support, that we should be hungry all the time. Our clothes should be thread-bare. We shouldn't be able to afford gas! I've gone from job to job, each time being "Let Go". Quite a blow to this overachiever's self-esteem. But you know what? GOD has revealed to me that He has bigger plans for me. And although I am not making a significant income, we - my family and I, are happier now than when I was making $30K a year. God provides. I shall not be in want.

"He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters; He restores my soul."
I have never been in such a state of Peace in all my life. My husband and I are solid - due only to God's hand in our marriage. My children are healthy, happy, beautiful! I'm being transformed daily through God's word. I am at PEACE! HE restores my soul!

"He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake."
I don't know if there has ever been a time in my life where the angel on my right shoulder has tackled and pinned the angel on my left. But right now, that righteous angel is standing over that bad angel with his foot on his throat. I'm not saying I don't sin, but I certainly feel guided on a path of righteousness with less temptation to stray from this path.

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies."
Have you ever felt completely protected? Have you ever felt the hand of God surround you? His arms wrap around you? People, who I know want evil for my life, have been kept at bay. Each day His rod and staff guide me to this Devotional time.

You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
I only need to reflect on Wednesday evening's church service when I read these words. There I was, arms wrapped around Ellen, counting my blessings while singing through overflowing tears:
I am blessed
Every day, in every way.
I am blessed. God has been so good to me.
He's never failed me; He's never let me down.
All I can say... I am blessed.

I am sooooo blessed. My children, my husband, the roof over my head, the cars in the driveway, my parents and grandparents, my friends, my church family, my finances, my health. He never fails me. He never lets me down.

"Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
What Hope. What Promise. God assures me daily that His grace is sufficient. In my Father's house there are many many rooms, and if He goes to prepare a place for me, He will come back again.

All I can say in closing today is let this Psalm really sink in for you today. Let it not be something you read at funerals, but really take all that it has to say, in.

Be Blessed!