Monday, September 24, 2012

In You, I Trust

Today, as I continue to fret and anguish about the nation and the future that awaits us and specially our children, I realize that my struggle to remain hopeful is rooted in my lack of trust. I do cling to all Scripture that speaks to me about the truth of how we can rely on the unshakable faithfulness of our God. In times like these, however, when the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is yet to be seen, my trust falters.

It is, in times like these, therefore, that I must acknowledge my diminishing trust, repent, pray for a fresh word and go back to the Bible in search for renewed faith. It is there where I find my battle cry in the words of David when he says:

But I trust in you, Lord; 

I say, “You are my God.” 

My times are in your hands; Psalm 31: 14-15 

“You are MY GOD!” the Lord, My God, the Faithful One. The One who is Good and who is Love; in You I trust. My times are, indeed in your hands; and in times like these, your hands are the only safe place to be.

I breathe in the peace that comes from the realization that You are on Your Throne and that You command my destiny as well as the destiny of our nation. Regardless of how I feel, You are worthy of my trust and You will deliver us from evil as we put our faith in You, and You alone.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Increase Our Discernment, Lord!

As I continue to keep our dear nation in my prayers, the words of Paul in his letter to Timothy come to mind with the piercing force of a freshly sharpened blade.

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 1 Timothy 4: 1 

I shudder at Paul’s clarity.

The deceiving spirits that the Apostle talks about surely seem to be among us now. Everywhere I look deception, double talk and outright lies make my soul churn in pain and blush in shame. The enemy boldly sends out his demons to deceit those who do not dwell in the truth, leaving behind a casualty trail filled with the lost and the betrayed.

That is why today I pray, Lord, that you will grant us clear vision to see the way of the truth so we may not ever fall for the road of falsehood. In the days that are to come, give us a full measure of discernment that we may recognize the truth and follow it to the end. Please, Lord, increase this discernment in us as we approach the day of decision and as we walk in the wilderness of wrong choices.

And as You give us eyes to see, give us also the courage to stand for the truth regardless of what may come, regardless of the consequences that may be ahead for us. Remind us that You are with us and that at the same time, You are seated on the throne. Your sovereign purpose prevails in the midst of uncertainty. Nothing happens that surprises You. You have the reigns in your hands and I trust that You will conduct us to a place of greater good for the sake of your perfect will.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Praise You, Lord, With All My Soul

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” 
Revelations 21: 5a 

In the midst of deceit, turmoil, loss and mourning, my soul seeks refuge in You, Lord. Pain and tears belong to this world, but to You, the Most High God, I sing praises with all my soul. I praise You for I have nowhere to go. I praise You for You are my Redeemer, My Lord.

Praise the Lord, my soul;

all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—Psalm 103: 1-2 

I praise You, because it is written:

 “The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.” Psalm 103: 6 

I praise You, because You are compassionate and Grace abounds in You. I praise You for you are Good and I find comfort in your Word that says:

he does not treat us as our sins deserve

or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103: 10-12 

I praise You for you are my loving Father and,

As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust. Psalm 103: 13-14 

We are dust, indeed, and as such we have soiled the land You so generously gave us. We have soiled it with our sin. We have turned our backs to the light and now the whole world has fallen prey of the dark. But even so, I trust You and Your Word that tells us:

The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all. Psalm 103: 19 

Therefore, as I trust in You, who makes all things new, I join in the chorus and sing your praises even while in the pit of despair, even while in this dark world, even as I wait for the Light to come.

Praise the Lord, you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
who obey his word.
Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
you his servants who do his will.
Praise the Lord, all his works
everywhere in his dominion. Psalm 103: 20-22

Friday, September 14, 2012

Blessed is the Nation Whose God is The Lord!

After spending a week consumed by the international turmoil which has added so much tragedy, fear and worry to our already deeply troubled nation; I have decided to obey the nudging of the Holy Spirit and begin a series of blog entries dedicated to praying for our beloved country.

My heart sinks heavily in my chest and for that I seek to see the light of hope that only the Lord can provide. The world seems to be on fire and the USA is under siege; what is there for us to do? Unequivocally, the answer comes back: pray. I will pray His Word back to Him and trust in His perfect will for the future of those who He has given me and for all who bear His name.

I lift up our beloved nation to You, Lord. I pray that we would become, once again, a nation whose citizens seek Your face, Your presence and Your Holiness because we know that,

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance. Psalm 33: 12

You, Dear Lord, look down from Heaven and watch over us. And until the day of Your deliverance,

We wait in hope for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
even as we put our hope in you. Psalm 33: 20-22

Even in our times of concern and sorrow, we put our trust in You, for You are the Only One Mighty to Save! May your Morning Star shine brightly in the dawn of this new day so we can see the way that will lead us back to You.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Do You Remember?

Do You Remember?
Some people are able to remember exactly what they were doing the day President Kennedy died. Some others remember what they were doing when they heard WWII was finally over.  I remember what I was doing when the attacks of September 11, 2001 happened.  

I remember the confusion.  I remember the shock of the realization of what had just happened.  I remember the fear.  

I had life inside of me.  I was 10 weeks pregnant and I remember wondering what kind of world my child was going to be called to live in.  I remember wondering if I'd be able to protect him from the pain that was ahead.  

I remember the bluest of skies up above.  Not a cloud in sight...not a jet stream crossing the horizon...nothing...and then I remember that there was hope.  There was hope in the shape of a cross, a rugged cross...a metal cross that emerged out of the rubble.  The hurt and the sense of loss eased by two pieces of charred beams that reminded us of the most perfect sacrifice of love...Jesus on the cross.

Christ is our only source of Hope and our Sure Foundation.  He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  
Do you remember?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Love Lifted Me

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 
1 John 4: 8

I was at the sink doing the pots and pans after lunch when I heard my husband’s voice singing upstairs.  He was practicing for a short program he was going to be in at church later that afternoon with our Men’s Chorus for the retirement party of our Church Secretary (that deserves an entire blog onto itself, so I’ll write about that later : )  The medley of lovely hymns was a welcome relief from the greasy suds, the dreary day and the gloomy state of my soul. 

I did not grow up with hymns.  At my home church down in Panama we sang songs with a more “tropical” flavor.  And being so self-conscious of my lack of singing abilities, I didn’t even sing at all back then.  That’s why traditional hymns and I are fairly recent acquaintances, which causes me to struggle with the appreciation of anything more obscured than “Amazing Grace” and the like.  God, however, has a way of reaching me through music, and hymns are not excluded from His divine play-list.

Therefore, as my husband cheerfully proceeded with the medley of verses from “There’s Power in the Blood,” “Wonderful Grace of Jesus,” and others alike, I began to breathe in the melodies and even attempted to sing some tunes softly to myself.  Then I heard him begin the lyrics of “Love Lifted Me.”  With my hands deep in a sauce pan, I half-heard the words of the song, but then he hit the refrain and I quietly joined in again.    

More because of the beauty of the music and not really paying attention to the words, I sang the first round of the refrain:

Love lifted me! Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help
Love lifted me!

By the time he started to repeat the refrain, the power of the words finally grabbed me,

Love lifted me! Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help
Love lifted me!

Quickly Dan moved into the next song in the medley, but I was struck.  The high notes were still resonating in my mind and my thirsty soul drank the words, “Love lifted me!”

Dan continued practicing, enduring relentless mockery by our 10-year-old until he was done with the entire selection.  I was drying my pots and pans now, with the song firmly engraved in my mind still.  I wondered then about the verses I had missed since I wasn’t really listening while he was singing… “Danny, would you sing Love Lifted Me again,” I asked him.  Dan got the white binder and lovingly serenaded me with the entire hymn as I finished putting away the pans.  This time though, as the words joyfully danced around in my kitchen in perfect tune, I listened:

I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore,
Very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more,
But the Master of the sea, heard my despairing cry,
From the waters lifted me, now safe am I.

Love lifted me! Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help
Love lifted me!

All my heart to Him I give, ever to Him I’ll cling
In His blessed presence live, ever His praises sing,
Love so mighty and so true, merits my soul’s best songs,
Faithful, loving service too, to Him belongs.

Souls in danger look above, Jesus completely saves,
He will lift you by His love, out of the angry waves.
He’s the Master of the sea, billows His will obey,
He your Savior wants to be, be saved today.

Thank You Lord for You surely knew I needed lifted out of the waters, and it is Your love what has lifted me.  It is YOU who have lifted me, for You are Love. 

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. 1 John4: 16a

Later that afternoon, we went to church and I heard the Men’s Chorus sing the now familiar medley.  The kids and I sat in the pews and watched Daddy be part of a wonderful program.  I smiled as my soul rejoiced because, for one more day, I had been faithfully lifted by Love again.

Linking with Weekend Whatever

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Work In Progress – Being Content

Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.

After a restless night, I reluctantly get up at six o’clock in the morning. It’s hard to find anything to wear that feels comfortable. My feet hurt too, so shoes are another issue. Blindly I move around the bedroom, get dressed and go downstairs to fix the boys’ lunches. “What day is it today, anyway?” I wondered briefly only to hear my older son ask, “Mom, where’s my uniform?” “Aha! Uniform day…it must be Wednesday, then.”

Still moving at a slower pace than normal, I finish lunches, impart commands, check last minute e-mails, see the kids out the door to catch the school bus, kiss my husband good bye and head out the door to face the rest of my day. It’s seven thirty in the morning and I am already spent.

The almost 45-minute drive down the country roads that take me back to work find me thinking about being content. “The secret of being content,” Paul tells us is to trust in Him who gives us strength and to know that in Him we can do all things. (Philippians 4: 13) That’s what Dan and I tell our sons pretty much each day as they walk out the door to go to school in the morning. We trust that the Word would become ingrained in them with repetition; but is it becoming ingrained in me? If it is, why then does discontent so often sting me?

Once again I come back around to the issue of trust, my most important unfinished issue; my perpetual work-in-progress.

Psalm 37: 3-4 tells us,

Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart. 

As I think about these verses I pray that the Holy Spirit will speak to me and continue to guide me on the path to acquiring contentment in a life where dissatisfaction seems to creep up and attack my soul in alarming ways. “Give me ears so I can hear, Lord!” I plead. And He speaks. He repeats,

To trust in the Lord: to rely on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, faithfulness of God. To have confidence in Him, in who He is, in His love, power and ability.

To take delight in Him: to take great pleasure and joy in Him.

Therefore, have confidence, trust Him and enjoy Him for He will give me the desires of my heart.

The Holy Spirit also leads me to the concept of dwelling as seen in Psalm 91: 1

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

To dwell: to be a permanent resident. Not just a visitor, but to live forever in His shelter and rest in His soothing and refreshing shadow, so I can finally say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91: 2)

Lord, You are my strength, only in You I can do all things. Allow me to trust You for You are Trustworthy and Faithful. May I have no doubt of that. Lead me so I may take delight in You and dwell in Your shelter and declare that You are My God, in whom I trust!

The day goes by bouncing from classroom to classroom trying to do my work the best that I can. I come home to direct homework, figure out dinner and run to soccer practice. I skip laundry and after showers and prayers, I finally get to stretch out in my comfy chair. I close my eyes for a minute and feel the breath of God breathe on me again. Praise you Lord.

Linking with Work in Progress Wednesday

Monday, September 3, 2012

So Long, Summer

Seating outside in our back porch I see my summer break come to an end right in front of my eyes, in the heat of this year's Labor Day evening.

The tomato plant that my sons and I so excitedly planted in early June is barely hanging to life, just 6 tomatoes left in the withered vines.  The beautiful potted annual flowers that so proudly I kept all through the summer months, are now showing the signs of irreversible damages that comes with the approaching fall.

The sun sets to my right and my heart feels the melancholy of farewells.  Farewell to a summer that brought the unexpected sorrow of loss, the pain of health issues and the struggles of recovery, but that also brought in the joy of family time, the comfort of friendship, the blessing of time off and the beauty of carefree days in the sun and nights without strict schedules.  Farewell to the clothes hanging on the lines and to the time passed daydreaming on the tree swing.

Tonight I say goodbye to it all as I wait for the new day to usher in the stress of early mornings, work outside the home, house keeping, homework, scheduled meals, baths and bedtime.

I pray for strength, wisdom and endurance to get through the coming days of a brand new season in our lives.  May the Lord be with us.  May He help us do it all as if unto Him and with a cheerful heart.  That we may honor Him in what we do and be His face for those who we meet on the way.  Praise You, Lord, for the summer time left behind and for the days that are yet to come.

Night has fallen on us.  It's time to come back inside.  I shut the door behind me and sigh.  It's time to get ready for the new start.  Praise the Lord for the hope of new beginnings and for the promise of a new day.