Thursday, July 27, 2006

Learning Lessons

Once again, dear friends, bear with me as I try to boil many messages into one. Have you ever experienced this - feeling, hearing and seeing God point out so many things to you, you don't know where to begin? That's where I am right now and hence, why I haven't been able to post in over a week. I don't know where to begin!

So, I will begin with praising God, my Father, who continues to guide me, protect me and keep me safe even though the enemies continue to attack. I will thank my Lord - Jesus Christ, for continuing to surround me with REAL friends for the first time in my life. As you have blessed my life, I hope I continue to be a blessing to yours. I also thank God for all the little moments that we often take for granted. For me, this week has been filled with delightful, quality time with my beautiful children. In these moments, Peace. In many of these moments I was able to see God's hand in the raising of my children. For example, while digging in the sand at R.B. Winter State Park, little Zoe began singing "I Can Only Imagine" with me, while Ellen choreographed a dance to go with it to teach the Dance Team. My eyes well up with tears when I think of how these children are learning about and coming to understand God at such a young age. I thank God for the gifts they are to me and that He has entrusted them to my care.

Now for the points with which I'm struggling. I have a week's worth of "Daily Devotions" in my Inbox. Have I read them? Yes. Have I meditated on them? Yes. Have I blogged about any of them specifically? No. Not until right now have I taken the time to come before God and find out what it is that He is trying to point out in me that I need to share with you. And that brings us to our first point: Obedience.

John 7:17 - "If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or {whether} I speak from Myself.

"My Utmost For His Highest" states: "The golden rule for understanding spiritually is not intellect, but obedience. If a man wants scientific knowledge, intellectual curiosity is his guide; but if he wants insight into what Jesus Christ teaches, he can only get it by obedience. If things are dark to me, then I may be sure there is something I will not do. Intellectual darkness comes through ignorance; spiritual darkness comes because of something I do not intend to obey. No man ever receives a word from God without instantly being put to the test over it. We disobey and then wonder why we don't go on spiritually. 'If when you come to the altar,' said Jesus, 'there you remember your brother hath ought against you... don't say another word to Me, but first go and put that thing right.' The teaching of Jesus hits us where we live. We cannot stand as humbugs before Him for one second. He educates us down to the scruple. The Spirit of God unearths the spirit of self-vindication; He makes us sensitive to things we never thought of before. When Jesus brings a thing home by His word, don't shirk it. If you do, you will become a religious humbug. Watch the things you shrug your shoulders over, and you will know why you do not go on spiritually. First go - at the risk of being thought fanatical you must obey what God tells you."

I have not been obedient. I said I would do my Devotions daily. I said I would post a blog about them when moved to do so. But there has been a lot of laundry to keep up with here lately, and dishes - I've never seen so many dishes - and oh my gosh - Thursday I spent the better part of the day cleaning out my refrigerator - eeeewwww! And... why do I suddenly feel so far from God? I know He's there, but... where? I haven't heard His voice for awhile and gosh, I feel so blah. "We disobey and then wonder why we don't go on spiritually." There it is and here I am - repenting again that I did not obey but yet expected God to still do His job without me acknowledging Him.

Second point - (and I love how this worked out) the subject heading of the email was "After Obedience - What?" Well... let's find out, shall we?

Mark 6:45-52 And straightway He constrained His disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side... ."

"My Utmost For His Highest" states: "We are apt to imagine that if Jesus Christ constrains us, and we obey Him, He will lead us to great success. We must never put our dreams of success as God's purpose for us; His purpose may be exactly the opposite. We have an idea that God is leading us to a particular end, a desired goal; He is not. The question of getting to a particular end is a mere incident. What we call the process, God calls the end.

What is my dream of God's purpose? His purpose is that I depend on Him and on His power now. If I can stay in the middle of the turmoil calm and unperplexed, that is the end of the purpose of God. God is not working towards a particular finish; His end is the process -that I see Him walking on the waves, no shore in sight, no success, no goal, just the absolute certainty that it is all right because I see Him walking on the sea. It is the process, not the end, which is glorifying to God.

God's training is for now, not presently. His purpose is for this minute, not for something in the future. We have nothing to do with the afterwards of obedience; we get wrong when we think of the afterwards. What men call training and preparation, God calls the end.

God's end is to enable me to see that He can walk on the chaos of my life just now. If we have a further end in view, we do not pay sufficient attention to the immediate present: if we realize that obedience is the end, then each moment as it comes is precious."

Not only have I not been obedient, I have been living towards a goal - some will say nothing short of a miracle - because I know God has a purpose for my life, and I won't rest until that purpose is realized. But I'm missing the here and now. I'm a vehicle stuck in the mud spinning my wheels - reaching for the finish line and not taking the time to see if I'm in gear. My Obedience becomes the process, becomes the end. When I remember to put God first, do what I was told to do and do what I said I was going to do, the spiritual darkness stays away. I stay in the light, continue to grow, ever-inching towards the goal, but I must remember not to focus on the goal. God simply wants me to focus on Him. Sounds like a prophecy made over me not too long ago: "You're about to encounter great success, but you must remember to, in all ways, acknowledge Him."

We must be obedient. When God says, "Go," or "Do," or even "Say," we must go, do and say. Certainly God, or the nagging feeling of the absence of God, will let us know when we are or when we are not being obedient. In that obedience, keep your eyes on God. We all have desires on our hearts - dreams that we know only God can make happen. He will make a way if we continue to acknowledge Him and only Him.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Sometimes it's so obvious

Isaiah 41:10
[The Lord says] "Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

I'm going to be completely honest with you, and myself. I have been under some extreme spiritual attack as of late. I can't explain it, really. I just know that what I'm coming out of wasn't your typical daily stress.

First, there was the stress of the play. I was ready for that attack. Satan always tries to get me down when I'm doing what God wants me to do. I was prepared. I know I - WE - the theatre company and I, AND God, prevailed.

For some reason, my husband has been beyond stressed out. I bear the brunt of that. If I sought joy in the one relationship on this earth that means the most to me - guaranteed - hubby came home grumpy, stomped around and left for his second job - grumpy. For the 6 hours each night that he was gone, I was left to worry about how I might "connect" with him when he got home. Walking on egg shells has never been my forte. I'm not your typical wife. I LOVE my husband. When he's not happy, I'm not happy. I was feeling like Satan was putting a wedge between us and wriggling it- using it to pry us apart to destroy our marriage. Derek and I have come waaaaaaaay too far since our wedding day to ever turn back into the backbiting resentful couple we once were. But there we were fighting day and night - not even fighting, really - just completely unable to see eye to eye.

Zoe, my beloved, beautiful, however taxing, two-year-old, came down with the most disgusting, painful, viral infection that I have ever experienced. She had ulcers down her throat, all over her tongue, around her mouth, and her gum tissue had swelled over her teeth. She smelled like infection, burned with fever and was as miserable as possible. If ever there were a time that I was at my wits end as a mother, it was certainly this week.

I continued to receive my daily scripture. Nothing. No bells and whistles. No sense of "Direct Message from God". I would open this blog with the intention of typing something -- anything, but I couldn't type word one. I finally typed "under spiritual attack" in a search engine. Some helpful scriptures and prayers popped up.

I identified all that I was dealing with and continued to pray. I couldn't shake this ho-hum attitude - this sense of being overwhelmed but not able to do anything. I wanted God to move. I wanted a friend to call or email with some helpful word. Then last night, still craving some wisdom, I went to and there on the main page was the scripture for the day: Isaiah 41:10 [The Lord says] "Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

Through it all - knowing the attack I was under; knowing the stress of the play; knowing I couldn't make my husband happy; knowing all I could do was make my baby comfortable; I knew God was still here, right by my side. I had to remind myself to wait on Him. It wasn't easy, but I knew only God could make things right. Finding this scripture gave me a moment of Peace, a feeling of truly being lifted up. It is what I needed to hear.

Then as if God the Greatest Teacher needed to finish the lesson before the next Pop Quiz, my inbox received this scripture for today:

They that wait upon the Lord ... shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
My Utmost for His Highest states:
"There is no thrill in walking; it is the test of all the stable qualities. To "walk and not faint" is the highest reach possible for strength. The word "walk" is used in the Bible to express the character - "John looking on Jesus as He walked, said, Behold the Lamb of God!" There is never any thing abstract in the Bible, it is always vivid and real. God does not say - Be spiritual, but - "Walk before Me."When we are in an unhealthy state physically or emotionally, we always want thrills. In the physical domain this will lead to counterfeiting the Holy Ghost; in the emotional life it leads to inordinate affection and the destruction of morality; and in the spiritual domain if we insist on getting thrills, on mounting up with wings, it will end in the destruction of spirituality.

The reality of God's presence is not dependent on any place, but only dependent upon the determination to set the Lord always before us. Our problems come when we refuse to bank on the reality of His presence. The experience the Psalmist speaks of - "Therefore will we not fear, though . . ." will be ours when once we are based on Reality, not the consciousness of God's presence but the reality of it - Why, He has been here all the time!

At critical moments it is necessary to ask guidance, but it ought to be unnecessary to be saying always - "O Lord, direct me here, and there." Of course He will! If our common-sense decisions are not His order, He will press through them and check; then we must be quiet and wait for the direction of His presence."

I knew God was here, He never leaves me. But being conscious of His presence is not enough. I must learn to "bank on the reality of His presence".

He is Present in my life. He is Present in your life. He needs to be Present - Front and Center of our lives. If we discount that fact - if we place Him to the side of us and not before us, we find ourselves treading water but never moving forward. And when the storms come, we forget to call on Him, even though we know He's the only one who CAN. We know He's there. But just like the task of asking, it's not enough to expect God to read our minds. He wants us to know that we can put anything before Him.

Feeling better now. Show's over. Derek and I are back to our silly selves, and Zoe is almost completely over her virus - just a few more days to go. God "upheld me in His righteous right hand" just as He said He would.

Bank on the Reality of His Presence today.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Phillippians 1:3, Danielle

Some of you may have received a card, a letter, or an email from me in the past, where, instead of the typical "Love," "Sincerely," etc., in closing, I use "Phillipians 1:3, Danielle".

Maybe you've taken the time to look this verse up. Maybe you know this verse by rote. Maybe some of you say to yourself, "There she goes getting religious on us again, what's that all about?" Well, I'll tell you.

Phillippians 1:3 is "I praise my God every time I think of you."

And I do... I don't do this to be cute. I sincerely and honestly do praise my God every time I think of you.

I've been meaning to blog about this subject for some time. But, then I receive my daily scripture in my inbox, and most of the time I turn that into my message for the day. But I have been spiritually prompted to finally stick my neck out, like the turtle that I am, and share this with you. I PRAISE my GOD every time I think of YOU.

Brother Brian Johnson is in the cast of our current Shakespeare play that goes up this week. Sometimes I get an "inside look" at what he may be preaching about on the following Sunday. This past Sunday, however, I thought he was going to preach about one topic, and I couldn't wait to hear his message. But when he got to the pulpit and a different message bubbled forth, I knew God was trying to tell me something.

Brother Brian spoke about relationships and accountability - a subject very dear to my heart, and I'll tell you why.

I have been lonely all my life. There. I said it. Lonely. LONNNNNNNNNNEEEELLLLYYYY. I had FOUR friends in High School. I had ONE friend in college. For the past ten years, the only "friends" I had were people who were friends of my ex-husband, or people who wanted something from me. And in most cases, I changed my personality to become something they would accept. Of course, I did have a few friends through the Theatre Company, and not to undermine those relationships, but the guys were in college and time was always limited. Oh, and I did have my friends in the far reaches of the country - California, Georgia and New York City, and now Massachusetts, thank God for computers, email, instant messaging, and free nights and weekends on our cell phones!

So it was that Brother Brian spoke so eloquently about the importance of our relationships with one another and holding each other accountable in our walk with Christ. He mentioned "when you know you have found your 'Spiritual Mirror' in another brother or sister in Christ," as Sister Sarah Klugh and I shot each other a quick glance across the church. In the past couple of months, I have been so completely LIFTED UP in new friendships and new relationships which my soul has longed for and I give all Glory to God for these new relationships.

Sunday evening, I had to take my children to New Jersey for a week with Derek's parents. I was going to go alone, and since I had to run one of our actors to Selinsgrove, I figured I'd just head to Harrisburg and hit the turnpike from there. I stopped at Sheetz in Selinsgrove to get some coffee to keep me awake for the ride, and my cell rang. It was Sister Sarah Klugh. She wanted to know if she could go along for the ride. I immediately rejoiced that she was able to go, and went up 147/180 to pick her up, and then we jumped on 80 east.

The sky was menacing before us. But there, right in front of us was a rainbow, and then as we drove, another one. Sarah said, "This is so cool, did you hear Pastor's message this morning?" I had not. Pastor spoke of Noah and covenant relationships and rainbows as a reminder of His promise.

We made it to the Northeast Extension. From the Mahoning Valley Exit until the Quakertown Exit it poured - torrential downpours. You couldn't drive more than 40 miles an hour. It was scary, people were pulling off the road - afraid to go on. But I knew God had us in His care. All of a sudden, the rain stopped and it was smooth sailing for awhile. But then when I went to get off the Northeast Ext. onto the main turnpike, three cars tried to merge into the same lane in front of me, and I, to avoid an accident, got stuck going in the lane West to Norristown. I asked the guy at the tollbooth how I could get back on to go east and he said follow 476 south to exit 16. I ended up on the Schuylkill Expressway going into Center City, having to take the Benjamin Franklin Bridge over to New Jersey.

I always thought my in-laws lived south of the Ben Franklin Bridge, so I went south. They live north of the Ben Franklin Bridge. So, we were in Center City at 9:40pm and I could have been at their house by 10:30 at the latest. We ended up not getting there until 12, 12:30 a.m. But I could not get too sad, God kept us safe all the way.

Sarah and I had some real bonding time and what was totally cool was that Pastor had just spoken about rainbows and covenant relationships that morning and all the way out 80 there were rainbows. Then Brian preached about relationships and accountability and how each of us has a spiritual mirror in another person - which I know mine is Sarah.

I have been abundantly blessed with new friendships, new relationships. You who are around me accept me for "me" and push me to be a better "me." Through the church, rekindled relationships with family members, the Theatre Company, and still the long-distance relationships that are kept alive only through the aid of technology, I am BLESSED. It is very important to me that my friends know that I'm not religious. I have a relationship with God and I have a relationship with my friends and if God is working in my relationships with my friends, it makes it all the more satisfying as we continue to bless each other in our friendships and reflect the Glory of these relationships back on Him.

In some of these relationships, He's using me. In some of them, He's blessing me. But I know that each of these new relationships are meant for a purpose. As I am, and all of you are.

So I will say this again. I want you to truly hear.


Yes, You.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

An Oasis in the Desert

And the parched ground shall become a pool. Isaiah 35:7

From "My Utmost for His Highest":
"We always have visions, before a thing is made real. When we realize that although the vision is real, it is not real in us, then is the time that Satan comes in with his temptations, and we are apt to say it is no use to go on. Instead of the vision becoming real, there has come the valley of humiliation.
"Life is not as idle ore,
But iron dug from central gloom,
And batter'd by the shocks of doom
To shape and use."

God gives us the vision, then He takes us down to the valley to batter us into the shape of the vision, and it is in the valley that so many of us faint and give way. Every vision will be made real if we will have patience. Think of the enormous leisure of God! He is never in a hurry. We are always in such a frantic hurry. In the light of the glory of the vision we go forth to do things, but the vision is not real in us yet; and God has to take us into the valley, and put us through fires and floods to batter us into shape, until we get to the place where He can trust us with the veritable reality. Ever since we had the vision God has been at work, getting us into the shape of the ideal, and over and over again we escape from His hand and try to batter ourselves into our own shape. The vision is not a castle in the air, but a vision of what God wants you to be. Let Him put you on His wheel and whirl you as He likes, and as sure as God is God and you are you, you will turn out exactly in accordance with the vision. Don't lose heart in the process. If you have ever had the vision of God, you may try as you like to be satisfied on a lower level, but God will never let you."

I will admit, when I read today's scripture, I was a bit confused. "And the parched ground shall become a pool." In reference to what - life? Sure, that's like saying "Things will get better." Well, duh, if you have faith in God, and live according to His will, yeah things will get better. So I went to my on-line Bible to read this in its context. More poetry, more prophecies? More... oh, cool - more VISIONS!!! Exactly what Isaiah is all about!! How cool is that!

The Book of Isaiah is filled with Visions - of what is to come. I will never forget the story of Jesus in the Temple at the age of 12, preaching from Isaiah on what is to come, but what actually had already been realized. Isaiah reminds us to have hope. How pertinent a message to receive, then, that Our visions will be realized if we continue to have hope.

I have felt as if I am faltering in my walk as of late. I have had prophecies said over me for the first time in my life, visions revealed, and none have come to fruition. Am I doing something wrong? Does God expect more of me? Where am I falling short?

It is not in my time, it is in God's. I have to remind myself of that truth. It will happen. But now is the molding ground, the testing ground, the shaping and the hammering and the drilling ground. God is making me into someone who can make these visions come to task, if I don't lose patience in the meantime. But I also need to let God lead.

Your Journey with Christ will be filled with plenty of Visions, but before these Visions can be realized, God must work on you. It hurts sometimes. It doesn't make sense sometimes, but that is when you reach deep down in the bottom of your soul and you dig a little more. You gotta sink your cleats into the ground that you stand on just a little bit more. The test is one of patience, endurance, loyalty, focus. You are an athlete in training. Seeing the Vision realized is not the goal. The real goal is Heaven and God's glory, so train intensively. This Vision is more than something that God wants you to do, it's something He wants you to be. So as a potter prepares his clay, as a painter primes his canvas, as a chef lays out his ingredients, as a dancer or singer warms up their bodies and voices, so God is preparing you.

Isaiah promises us our parched ground shall become a pool. Our Visions are real. God would not give us Visions to have us spin our wheels, run in circles and accomplish nothing. Wait on God. Don't Give up. Trust in God. Never take your eyes off Him.

Patience. Endurance. Loyalty. Focus.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Let the Son Shine In

"My Mommy told me something, a little girl should know
and it's all about the devil, and I've learned to hate him so.
She says he causes trouble if you let him in the room.
He will never ever leave you if your heart is filled with gloom.

So let the Son shine in, face it with a grin.
Smilers never lose and frowners never win
So let the Son shine in, face it with a grin.
Open up your heart and let the Son shine in.

When you get discouraged, the devil jumps with glee,
but he feels so awful awful, when he sees you on your knees.
So if you get discouraged, and you never seem to win,
just open up your heart and let the Son shine in!"

I have sung this song for as long as I can remember. Yes, my mother taught it to me, which is why I get choked up when I start to sing it. My favorite most vivid memory of singing it is singing it while my cousins and I were getting ready for bathtime at my grandmother's house, and my grandmother was singing right along with us. I was probably four or five years old at the time.

I am now 31 years old. For 26 or so years, I've been singing this song. I've probably been singing it a lot longer than that, because I know I learned it around the age of three. But here I am, years later finally discovering the significance of this simple little children's song, and how it applies to my life. I am discovering many truths found in children's songs as of late. Oh, if we "grown-ups" would only listen!

Psalms 37:1-8
Do not fret because of evildoers,
Be not envious toward wrongdoers.
For they will wither quickly like the grass
And fade like the green herb.
Trust in the LORD and do good;
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the LORD;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light
And your judgment as the noonday.
Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.
Cease from anger and forsake wrath;
Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.
For evildoers will be cut off,
But those who wait for the LORD, they will inherit the land.

From "My Utmost For His Highest": "Fretting means getting out at elbows mentally or spiritually. It is one thing to say "Fret not," but a very different thing to have such a disposition that you find yourself able not to fret. It sounds so easy to talk about "resting in the Lord" and "waiting patiently for Him" until the nest is upset - until we live, as so many are doing, in tumult and anguish, is it possible then to rest in the Lord? If this "don't" does not work there, it will work nowhere. This "don't" must work in days of perplexity as well as in days of peace, or it never will work. And if it will not work in your particular case, it will not work in anyone else's case. Resting in the Lord does not depend on external circumstances at all, but on your relationship to God Himself. Fussing always ends in sin. We imagine that a little anxiety and worry are an indication of how really wise we are; it is much more an indication of how really wicked we are. Fretting springs from a determination to get our own way. Our Lord never worried and He was never anxious, because He was not "out" to realize His own ideas; He was "out" to realize God's ideas. Fretting is wicked if you are a child of God. Have you been bolstering up that stupid soul of yours with the idea that your circumstances are too much for God? Put all "supposing" on one side and dwell in the shadow of the Almighty. Deliberately tell God that you will not fret about that thing. All our fret and worry is caused by calculating without God."

Do you fret? Now when I think of the word "fret," I think of the worry wart, wringing their hands, having anxiety attacks, trembling with fear. I don't fret like that. I get stressed out. My attitude changes. I get kind of numb. If anyone asks me a question, sarcasm becomes the greatest service I offer. I get overwhelmed. If anyone asks me if I can do something for them, like my husband for instance, they better take cover, because I might just turn into my alter-ego, Katie Kaboom.

Believe you, me, I hate when I get like this. I feel like, well there's no other way to say it - I feel blah. I feel like everyone around me has had their brains sucked out and I'm the only one with any answers. Thanks to God's faithfulness, it doesn't take too long for me to remember that I am a child of God, and this is not who I am. This is not who He called me to be. I start to feel shame and embarrassment for my actions, I repent and remember His faithfulness to me deserves my faithfulness to Him.

So I let the Son shine in. I focus my eyes, again, on God. I think to Satan, "HaHa, you didn't get a foothold this time, and you never will. Mercy said "No!"

I hope and pray for the day that fretting is not a part of my walk. I pray for the maturity in Christ when I can completely rest in God and never once take my eyes off of Him. I pray for the day when I don't have to remember to "let the Son shine in," but rather bask in the life-giving, supreme-loving SON, that is my Savior, Jesus Christ.

I pray that wherever you are today, you will let the Son shine in, and bask in His love.

Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.