Exodus 15:2 The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my victory. He is my God, and I will praise him; he is my father’s God, and I will exalt him! In church yesterday, Joe Loveless (or pastor’s son) spoke in the kickoff of our Christmas season message. He spoke about finding the song we’ve been given to sing, the story that we’ve been given to tell, the God sightings that happen in our lives that we need to remember and share with others. It was awesome! It reminded me of the original purpose of this God Hunt… to record the ways that I see God and the ways that I find God in my life. To some degree this blog’s purpose hasn’t changed much, although I think that sometimes it becomes more of a journal of my journey through the Bible than a journal of my God sightings. So with that in mind, I thought I’d recall a few of the God sightings I’ve had that stick out in my mind (and continue to watch and record them as I go forward). God Sightings: * The most vivid God sighting in my history is when God sat with me in my living room in 2003. No, literally sat with me. I couldn’t see Him, but He was brilliantly and boldly there. I still get teared up thinking about it. It was overwhelming, encouraging, powerful, and loving. My God came and held me and strengthened me. It was indescribable. * The birth of my children is a daily God sighting. He created them perfectly and amazingly. They are beautiful and hilarious (a sure sign that God has a sense of humor and irony)! They are full of boundless energy and they make me smile just to think about them (okay, they also make me want to pull my hair out sometimes… but isn’t that how it goes?). * My husband and I still have jobs. I teach. My husband manages the front drive valet at a hotel around here. Considering the budget cuts of late, it’s amazing that either of us (much less both of us) have jobs! Watching God work and do miracles in that area reminds me that He’s there and He’s working. * Last week during the service. Last weekend, last Sunday specifically, was rough. There were pie-crust promises made and broken, things I had been looking forward to didn’t happen, and I felt betrayed and lonely. Until God spoke to me. All my life music has been incredibly important, and it’s played a big role in how God speaks to me. Sure enough, the second song we sang (Everywhere that I Go by Israel Houghton) spoke straight to me. It’s all about how God keeps His promises and is always there, everywhere that I go. It’s incredible. Check out the church’s media page for the song and for other things, like this week’s service (the song is under the service titled, “My Favorite Things”). There are more, but I’m out of time. I’ve got to get myself and the boys ready for school! Happy Monday!
Zechariah 10:1 Ask the LORD for rain in the spring, and he will give it. It is the LORD who makes storm clouds that drop showers of rain so that every field becomes a lush pasture. I think there’s a danger of thinking the means to solve our problem is the answer instead of the Maker of the solution to the problem. I sometimes catch myself thinking “If I had more money things would be better” or “If I had or If I did…” See the problem? First, it’s all about ME – If I. And second, it doesn’t take into account the fact that God is ultimately the only one w ho can get me out of a problem. Sure, being financially stable would be nice, but it’s not going to make everything better. I still need to learn to depend on God and to trust Him to provide. There will always be challenges that seem insurmountable. I can’t trust in things to fix my issues. Only God can do that. My focus needs to shift back to the Maker of the solution. And it’s not all about me. I don’t know why I always seem to slip into that whole “If I” mindset. I should know from past experience that “If I” do try something it usually backfires and make everything worse! I get in my own way, and in God’s way, too. Again, I need to shift my focus back to Him and His strength, not mine. One last thought… It says to ask God for rain in the spring. I wonder how much of the effectiveness of our prayers depends on asking at the right time. If we ask God for rain in the winter, it would do more hard than good (at least in cold climates). Does God not answer prayers because they’re asked at the wrong time? They do say that “Timing is Everything… “ On a completely different note… isn’t the verse pretty?
I was reading in Zechariah again this morning, and despite its general encouragement and hope, nothing was sticking out. So, I went and read Skip Moen’s Daily Word blog (which is one of my favorites). The first one was about living water which reminded me about Zechariah 13:1 (On that day a fountain will be opened for the dynasty of David and for the people of Jerusalem, a fountain to cleanse them from all their sins and defilement.). It talked about how the living water actually referred to bringing order from chaos which is part of who God is. He is and part of His being is order. His resurrection brought order back to our chaotic world. At the end it asked what we’re doing to restore the Garden (a place of order). I kept reading and a couple of entries later (one of which was about The Song of Solomon and the importance of naming – awesome entry), Skip asked what we were doing to break chains (generational chains of continual sin), referring to Abram and Sarai’s sin (Hagar) and its parallels to Adam and Havvah (Eve and the fruit). So many questions made me wonder if there’s not something to think about there. My family has a lot of generational chains that I hope will be broken in my family or in my children’s. But, the questions really is, what am I doing? Are my actions bringing order and peace to my family? Are my actions working to break the generational sins and the do-it-my-way attitude that I tend to have? Those are good questions for me to think about. They’re really good for anyone to think about (especially if you have some generational chains that need breaking and some chaos that tends to sneak into your life, and who doesn’t?). Thanks Skip!
Zechariah 9:16 When that day arrives, the LORD their God will rescue his people, just as a shepherd rescues his sheep. They will sparkle in his land like jewels in a crown. That’s a beautiful image! We sparkle like jewels in a crown. Jewels are precious, and so are we. God rescues us because we are precious. We are like His sheep… we wander off a lot, but He seeks us out and sets us free from the briers and the brambles that we get caught up in. He picks us up and places us on our feet when we fall over (sheep fall over and have a hard time getting up – a lot like me…). The metaphors here are awesome! It’s kind of sad just how much, metaphorically, we’re like sheep, but it’s really a great image of what we’re like. We go our way instead of God’s and get stuck in bad situations. We fall down because of our mistakes and can’t get back up, and God is the only one who can save the day. We tend to move in a herd, somewhat blindly following the leader. It’s comical when it’s not so sad. But contrast that with being a jewel – expensive, precious, something that is displayed and boasted about. Think about the crown jewels in England. They’re guarded carefully because they are priceless. That lady on the Housewives of Orange County who has a 30-carat (or something like that) diamond ring has a very sparkly, showy ring. All the other housewives envy her (or it). Beautiful jewels, in our society, show off their wearer and make them look good. I’m not sure how often we show off God or make Him look good, but that’s implied if we’re jewels in His crown. It’s a good metaphor, too. Two metaphors, two images, two very different messages about who we are. Whichever you relate to more, God loves you and me infinitely – as a sheep and as a jewel, because no matter how often we act like a sheep, He sees us as a jewel, too.
1 Chronicles 16:34 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. It’s Thanksgiving! So, it’s only appropriate to spend a few moments thinking about the things I am thankful for… Here’s my short list: 1. My family – I have an amazing husband and 2 beautiful and gregarious little boys. They make me smile every day! I also have a generous and kind extended family (my parents and siblings, and John’s parents and siblings). 2. I have a job – thank you God for providing! 3. I have a roof over my head – thank you God for providing! 4. I and my family are healthy – thank you God for your hand of healing over me and my family! 5. I have a church where I am fed and encouraged – thank you God for your Family of Christ! 6. I am a New Creation – thank you God for you salvation and the blood of Christ over my life! (Ok, maybe this should have been first, but I’m putting them in the order that they come to mind…) 7. I have a car that drives (and John’s does, too) – thank you God for your faithfulness! 8. I have a laptop that works – that may seem insignificant, but with the amount of work this laptop gets (and the number of times it does weird things), it’s almost a miracle! Thank you God! 9. We can afford to buy food and even a few Christmas presents this year – Yeah! Thank you God for your goodness and provision, again! 10. God is in CONTROL! – Ok, yes, this sounds like the “super spiritual” answer, but I have to remind myself of this so many times during the day – like when I get frustrated watching Fox News with the things that are going on in our country and the people in our government who seem determined to drive this country into the dust, or when I get scared about something happening to the boys or to John, or when I look at our checking account and try to reconcile it to our budget and realize that diapers alone are costing us over $250 a month and that our food bill is off the charts and nowhere near what I’ve budgeted, or… you get the picture. I’m also thankful for music, NCIS, Veggie Tales, allrecipes.com, my blogs, my coworkers, my long-distance friends, my new jeans that fit so beautifully, Firefox and its crazy number of extensions, technology in general, HOPE (I’ll explain later) and the hope that it gives my family, my old church family, my comfy bed, my education, Microsoft (for Windows 7 and its awesome Office products) and oh so many other things…. Happy Thanksgiving!
Zechariah 8:6 This is what the LORD Almighty says: All this may seem impossible to you now, a small and discouraged remnant of God’s people. But do you think this is impossible for me, the LORD Almighty? I feel a little bit like the remnant sometimes. I feel small and discouraged by the circumstances of my life. Last Sunday was one of those days. I was frustrated by some of the events that had happened and discouraged by life. The hope of God’s promises seemed really impossible and it seemed like we’d never get out of the situation we’re in. There always seems to be a glimmer of hope on the horizon, but it never seems to get any closer. I was overwhelmed and felt incredibly small compared to the craziness and circumstances of what is going on around me. But God reminded me of His faithfulness, first through a song by Israel Houghton called “Everywhere That I Go.” Here are the lyrics from the chorus: You promised me, you’ll never leave You promised me, I’m never forsaken and I believe Goodness and mercy, will follow me Surrounding me, where I go Every where that I go These words are incredibly comforting because they remind me that God NEVER leaves, He NEVER gives up, He NEVER fails to keep His promises. He never makes pie-crust promises (those promises that are easily made, easily broken… as Mary Poppins would say). Everywhere that I go, He is there, surrounding me with His great LOVE! So, what seems like it would be impossible and has over time seemed like it will never end, is not impossible for God. He never leaves me stuck here, He never gives up on me, and He never fails to keep His promises. Is it impossible? For me, yes. For God, no. I still get discouraged and feel tiny compared to my overwhelming circumstances, but this (and God’s continual reminders through music) helps me to stay focused on the fact that God is SO much bigger than my storm and SO much more able to do the impossible than I can imagine. I certainly don’t know the future, but I do know that He’s already been there and already knows the best path to take to get there. And in the end, if I get there holding His hand, then no matter what life throws at me, He will lead me in His presence and eventually all those promises will be true.
Zechariah 7:9-10 This is what the LORD Almighty says: Judge fairly and honestly, and show mercy and kindness to one another. Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and poor people. And do not make evil plans to harm each other. You’d think that these guidelines would be common sense, that people would do this naturally. However, maybe it’s because of the sin in our world that we no longer naturally judge fairly and honestly, are merciful and kind, and take care of others. I suppose if you look at the news it’s even more obvious that these laws are broken all the time… But then you hear stories that bring a smile to your face. This morning on the news (while I was waiting for my computer to wake up – it’s worse than I am!) I heard a story about a law firm here in Orlando that is giving away 1000 turkeys for Thanksgiving! I thought that was awesome! There were some men lined up at 4am to get a turkey for their family because they didn’t have the money to buy one otherwise. In a time when the message seems to be all about plenty and getting more and more and more I am challenged to remember just how blessed I am. Have times been easy? No! But God has so faithfully provided us with everything we need, and a little extra to do some things for Christmas. No matter how many packs of diapers we’ve needed or how much food the little ones were packing away, He’s always put the money there to cover it. We are healthy (mostly) and have good doctors to get us well if we need it. We have a place to live that is comfortable. We have family that loves us. We have a church we love. We are truly blessed. There is still honestly and goodness and kindness in the world. No, it’s not everywhere, but little things like the generosity of this law firm remind me of how much we’ve been given and that there are people who want to do good for others. So, as we start out this holiday season (or continue in it, depending on your perspective), I want to remember to give a little more away – even if it’s just a kind word or deed. I think that makes God smile. And that’s a great thing!