Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Photo of the Week

A smiling evil queen, an intimidating dwarf, and a laughing beauty... Perfect.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Welcome to Ghilleadh Isaiah!

I've been blessed with another precious and beautiful "nephew"!

Martin Luther King Jr. said...

"A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on the installment plan."

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

God uses famines...

When God sends us a famine, He is preparing for us a feast. He is setting the table. He is moving us to hunger. He is fulfilling His perfect purposes in our lives.

If you are “doing without” right now, if you are in the midst of a famine of any kind, it is only because you have been invited to eat your heart out—to feast your soul on God.

Throughout the Old Testament, we read that God sent famine after famine to move His people: to a better land, to repentance, to receive His blessings, to hate and turn from their sin, to humbly and desperately cry out for Him, and to participate in His glorious purposes. (See, for examples: Genesis 12:10, 26:1, 47:4; Ruth 1:1; 2 Kings 8:1.)

He may not starve us physically, but perhaps He is starving us in other ways so that we turn to Him with all of our hunger and longing—to be satisfied in Him alone.

Dear friend, if you are…
desperately wanting a child but cannot conceive…
in a difficult job situation…
single and longing to be married…
in an unhappy marriage…
sick, in physical pain, suffering from disease or cancer…
forgotten and overlooked…
struggling financially…
in a season of uncertainty and confusion about the future…
aching over the loss of a loved one…
dried up spiritually and emotionally…
tired and weary…
lonely, alone…
reaping the consequences of your sin…
always out of reach of that lifelong dream…
doubting the promise God seemed to speak to your heart years ago…
waiting and waiting, with no end in sight…
grieving over a loved one’s sin, rejection, rebellion…
helplessly watching a loved one suffer…
feeling inadequate or like a failure…

…then you are ready to feast at God’s banqueting table. I don't say this lightly, but our Lord may be withholding from us the only thing we’ve ever wanted, so that we learn and live that He alone is more than enough. We cannot know all of His purposes, but we do know that He wants us to worship and serve Him alone. With no other gods before Him.

Tonight may our hunger pangs drive us to feast on these promises:

He has engraved me on the palm of His hand. Isaiah 49:16
He carries me close to His heart. Isaiah 40:11
He holds my hand. Psalm 73:23
He will do abundantly more than all I can ask or imagine. Ephesians 3:20
He daily bears my burdens. Psalm 68:19
He thinks of me constantly: His thoughts of me outnumber the grains of sand on the sea. Psalm 139:17–18
He is intimately interested in my life. He even knows how many hairs are on my head. Matthew 10:30
He has planned out my days. Psalm 139:16; 118:24
He prays for me. Hebrews 7:25; Romans 8:26
He freely forgives me. 1 John 1:9; Psalm 103:12
He protects and rescues me. Psalm 91
He understands my disappointments, sorrows and weaknesses. Hebrews 2:17–18
He gives me the power to live like Him. Romans 8:9–11; Philippians 4:13
He delights in me and rejoices over me with singing. Zephaniah 3:17
He teaches me what is best for me. Isaiah 48:17
He helps me. Isaiah 41:10, 14; Psalm 118:13
He created me for a special purpose and designed me to be His wonderful creation. Ps 139:13–14; Jer 1:5; Ep 2:10
He will fulfill His purpose for me. Psalm 138:8; Philippians 1:6
His love for me is as high as the heavens are above the earth. Psalm 103:11
He makes my path level and smooth. Isaiah 26:7
He is always with me. Psalm 73:23
He guides me with His counsel. Psalm 73:24
He gives me wisdom. James 1:5
He keeps record of all my tears. Psalm 56:8
He satisfies my hunger and quenches my thirst. John 6:35
He holds me in His hand. John 10:27
He gives me life to the fullest. John 10:10
He laid down His life for me. John 10:11
He rejoices over me just like a bridegroom rejoices over his bride. Isaiah 62:5
He gives me good and perfect gifts. James 1:17
He listens to me; He hears my cry. Psalm 145:19
He fulfills my desires. Psalm 145:19; 37:4
He has compassion on me. Psalm 145:9
He cures me of backsliding. Jeremiah 4:22
He makes me pure. Ezekiel 36:25–26
He makes me happy. Psalm 16:11; 36:8
He has made me His child. Romans 8:14; Galatians 4:5; 3:26
He has given me fullness in Christ, and I am complete. Colossians 2:9-10
He has qualified me to share in the inheritance of the saints. Colossians 1:12
He has given me a home in heaven. Colossians 1:13; Ephesians 2:6
He has lavished on me all the riches of His grace. Ephesians 1:8
He longs to give me His very best. Isaiah 1:19
He is distressed in my distress. Isaiah 63:9
He lifts me up and carries me. Isaiah 63:14
He leads me through the depths and the darkness. Isaiah 50:10
He directs my steps. Proverbs 20:24
He chooses to forget my sins; He buries them in the deep sea. Isaiah 43:25, Micah 7:19
He has given me an inheritance far beyond my imagination. Psalm 47:4; Ephesians 1:18, Colossians 1:12
He provides me with the strength to serve Him. 1 Peter 4:11

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Keeping a tender heart (in a tough-as-nails world)

There is nothing uglier or more repulsive than a bitter woman. Nothing.

For months now, I have been praying for a tender heart—one that is not cynical, bitter, or hardened by life’s difficulties and sorrows and disappointments, but rather, hopes all things, loves all people, and believes the God of the impossible.

I began desperately praying for this tender heart when I realized, about a year ago, that I had grown increasingly cold and angry and bitter. We each have our unique set of circumstances and sufferings that can make for a tragically hard heart if we let it. And, sadly… I had. I’d subconsciously made a mental and emotional list of all my disappointments and sorrows—which fed a consuming bitterness. But when I finally realized what my bitterness was costing me (and those I loved), I couldn’t have been more desperate to get out of that nasty pit! The Lord has been so faithful to answer my prayer for a changed heart. I wish I had time and space here to list all His kindnesses and power on my behalf!

A tender heart is one that is well-tended—by both my Heavenly Father and me. By coming into His presence and listening to Him speak His words of truth and love to me, my heart is softened… and the abrasives and dirt and wounds of the day are gently washed away.

A tender heart is one that hopes. And keeps hoping “against all hope” (see Romans 4:16-21!).

Disappointments become opportunities to find greater riches in Christ. Sufferings point us to the hope that will “far outweigh them all.” And man’s inability to meet our needs or fulfill our expectations teaches us to build our house on the Rock, and not on shifting sand.

We live in a culture that obsesses about beauty and yet neglects the greatest needs of the heart. Sweet women, would you join me in asking the Lord for a tender, beautiful heart—and quietly trust God to take care of the rest?

So many of you model this tender heart for me. I love you dearly.

2 Chronicles 34:27
Because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before God when you heard his words against this place and its inhabitants, and you have humbled yourself before me and have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, declares the LORD.

Ephesians 4:31-32
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

1 Peter 3:8-9
Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.