Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The God Who Listens...

Luke 18:1 "... pray and not lose heart."
It’s been a mixed bag the last few days, with ups/downs and bizarre weather.  Nothing over the top, thankfully, but the anxious grind was a low-level drone in my soul, disturbing my calm.  I’d disappointed myself and God, needed to go to His throne of grace on my face... yet again (sigh... will I never learn?).  Stresses and overload at work.  Looming deadlines that felt near impossible to meet.  Some unexpected aches and pains. Relationship issues.  I was really feeling blue and my perspective on my personal worth was plummeting at the speed of light.  

I was sitting in the Pilates studio at the gym during a break between clients.  I pulled out my homework/books to make most of the “down” time studying (yeah right… down time… what is that?).  This week’s assignment was about Christ and prayer.  One of my textbooks is “Core Christianity” by Elmer Towns.  In the chapter “Christianity is an Ongoing Relationship with God”, Dr. Towns writes 

“The word for prayer (in Luke 18:1) is proseuchamai.  It comes from two words – pros meaning toward and euchamai meaning the face.  This defines prayer as a face-to-face relationship with God.  Proseuchamai is the most used word for prayer in the New Testament, suggesting that Christians should have intimate conversations with God.  Hence, prayer is not just asking for things, but rather prayer is talking to God and enjoying an intimate relationship with Him.”

That hit me – for as many years as I’ve prayed, from times of feeling like I’ve been listened to and heard God speak in my heart, to the times when I felt like my words were just bouncing off the ceiling – it just hit me fresh and new.  God?  Face to face with me?  Especially after I’ve just come off my millionth let-Him-down-blew-it-for-the-umpteenth-time shining moment of shame?  Still?  This is so huge, and should be a blinding priority realization each day in my life… yet I’m ashamed to say it’s not.  I forget.  I cringe and hide.  I get stressed out and juggle instead of hitting knee-mail to spend time with Him.  

I began to pray… no big fancy noble la-dee-dah words, just gut-felt transparent no-frills mumbled whispers from unsure lips.  I told Him I felt like life was just raining down on me like the storms we’ve been having lately.  Weather imitating life.  I felt limp, tired and exhausted from my soul on out.  I just sat and tried to be quiet and still before Him.  The next moments were little miracle blessings for me.  The God of the Universe, Master of all creation and every atom and cell, took time for me.  Outside the storms began – thundering and lightning and rain pelting down so hard you could hear it like horses galloping over the rooftop of the gym.  As I listened, the aerobics class in the next room poured out a new song – Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer”.  I kid you not; I can’t make this stuff up.  Then from deep within my memory the strains of the old hymn “Trust and Obey” rose… “trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, then to trust and obey.”  

I’d been trying so hard to manage/cope on my own… trying to understand, to be patient, to succumb to the temptation to manipulate situations and make life work in my own power.  And here is my Heavenly Papa, holding me and listening to the unspoken pain and confusion in my heart, telling me to stop, to trust Him to handle it in His way, and simply to remain obedient in my daily words and actions.

It was if the storm was washing away my tension, releasing me into my Father’s peace and calm.  My Grandmother used to have a little Tiffany silver lapel pin that read “Let Go and Let God”.  I smiled as I remembered it (and it's lesson) through misty eyes.  I put away the books, sat a little longer just to be in His presence in that little corner of the studio, and let His blessing hug me gently, warmly… soothed and calmed by the God of All… my Papa, Who is never too busy to listen and guide.

Amazing grace…

Psalm 46:10 "Be still, and know that I am God."

Sunday, July 14, 2013

A wise woman builds her house...

Proverbs 14:1:  “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.

How are you building your house today?  Are you carefully and mindfully constructing a strong and secure home brick-by-brick?  Or do you have a sloppy structure tossed together without much thought or planning?  What does this verse even mean?

From a personal perspective, if you view it from your house being your body, the temple of the Holy Spirit, how are you taking care of it?  Are you meals judicious, seeking to fuel your body with healthful foods that create a balance for optimal energy?  Are you exercising regularly and getting enough sleep?  Are you creating time for yourself so that you won’t be on overload 24/7?  

In your daily life, do you use strong foundational bricks of careful caution, practicality and stability in your finances, or do you tear your monetary house down with credit card debt, instant gratification purchases and living outside your means?  Are you saving for the future, putting even a few dollars aside here and there for an emergency fund?  Planning your purchases and shopping wisely from groceries and everyday items to major matters?  Are you giving generously?

What of your home itself?  Are you keeping it clean and open to friends and guests, or do you suffer from C.H.A.O.S. – “can’t have anybody over syndrome”?  Oh, I’m not saying you have to be Miss Perfect in your home, because someone will always probably have a bigger and fancier house, furniture, etc.  But is your home a sanctuary that is clean and orderly and available to be used to minister to others with something as simple as a “Hey, c’mon over for a cup of tea?”  There is such a freedom in being able to extend an invitation without worrying about dishes in the sink, clutter and dirt.  Friends love you for you, so don’t be afraid to have them over.  If you have children, with a ton of toys strewn around, so be it – but create a home that is filled with warmth, love and unencumbered by disorganization and confusion in spirit as well as housekeeping.  A sanctuary where your family and friends (or strangers) walk in and can relax, sit down and mentally/physically be renewed and refreshed?

How are you building your relational home?  The word wise comes from the original Hebrew word chakam, which means skillful, shrewd, subtle and prudent. The word foolish speaks of one who is quarrelsome and licentious.  How are your words, attitude and actions building up or tearing down your marriage?  Each day do you use verbal bricks and mortar to strength and fortify your husband?  Do you have an attitude of respect and honor to him and your relationship?  Or do you tear down with sarcasm, using body language and voice tone to convey your dissatisfaction with him, like little word termites that eat away at the structure until it implodes?  To tear down in Hebrews comes from the word harac, and means to overthrow, break down, pluck, and destroy.  Do you chisel away at your marriage by overthrowing/usurping your husband’s leadership, withholding intimacy, and focusing on all that is wrong rather than celebrating the right moments and seeking them out with eyes of love and expectation of blessing?  Are you building your home and relationship with a positive attitude and bathing your husband, family and home in prayer?  Are you fostering and encouraging the Lord’s presence in your spirit and home?

Most importantly, what are you doing to build up your spiritual house?  Are you going to the Lord each morning to ensure that your day/walk with Him is on the right path?  Asking Him to help you do all the things mentioned to build a strong, loving and Christ-like self and home, where you radiate and reflect the Lord in word, deed and the space around you?  Your heart is Christ’s home – no matter where you are… work, home, community, gym, church, running errands, doing chores… is your home/your heart set securely on the unwavering foundation of Jesus Christ?  

Like the beautiful glow of golden light inside a house viewed from the outside in the darkness of night, be an inviting beacon of His love today.  Take a moment to assemble the best tools and materials to develop yourself, your home, and your relationships that will erect a beautiful monument in your spirit and life to the Lord.  Create a home from inside out that will glorify God and give you a life of peace and joy unsurpassed.

Use this day, wise woman, use it well.