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Attitude Adjustment

I’ve written before of the verse God gave to me the day before my dad died, and how close it has been to my heart ever since, even becoming my “life verse:”

16 Rejoice always.
17 Pray without ceasing.
18 In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thess 5)

I’ve had many opportunities to share it with others undergoing trials and it does seem to be popping up more often lately as people face great struggles in their own lives.

This morning I read a passage that dovetailed beautifully with it; something more for me to ponder in harmony with that passage:

7 Endure your trials as “discipline”; God treats you as sons. For what “son” is there whom his father does not discipline?
8 If you are without discipline, in which all have shared, you are not sons but bastards.
9 Besides this, we have had our earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them. Should we not [then] submit all the more to the Father of spirits and live?
10 They disciplined us for a short time as seemed right to them, but he does so for our benefit, in order that we may share his holiness.
11 At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.
12 So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees.
13 Make straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed. (Hebrews 12)

I like how this tells me to view my trials not as punishment, but as discipline. Though painful, if I look at discipline as a sort of training for my own benefit, it helps me to endure it a little easier and to look for both the blessings and for the lessons I may glean while I am in the midst of trials.

This is important to me because as I reflect back in my life I see how I used to avoid trials as much as possible – lamenting when they came upon me and struggling against them – instead of looking to God within them. I can see how giving me the verse from Thessalonians on the eve of my father’s death, God has given me an attitude adjustment, and how He has given me a new way to look at what I am experiencing.

My God knows me so intimately; He knows this is effective with me. It may not be the most effective with others and I believe and trust that He is also drawing and teaching my loved ones in ways that they best hear and respond to our Shepherd’s voice.

I am so grateful for my attitude adjustment, and knowing that it is meant to help me someday share in His holiness. Wow!!!

 

 

 

An Extraordinary Spirit

Reading Daniel chapter 6, Daniel had risen to a place of power under the king. Verses 4-6 reveal:

“Daniel outshone all the ministers and satraps because an extraordinary spirit was in him, and the king considered setting him over the entire kingdom. Then the ministers and satraps tried to find grounds for accusation against Daniel regarding the kingdom. But they could not accuse him of any corruption. Because he was trustworthy, no fault or corruption was to be found in him. Then these men said to themselves, ‘We shall find no grounds for accusation against this Daniel except in connection with the law of his God.’”

They proceeded to concoct a way to entrap Daniel and this led to the well-known story of Daniel in the lion’s den.

But I am fascinated by the three verses I just quoted.

An “extraordinary spirit” was in Daniel. Jesus sent to us the Paraclete – the Holy Spirit to dwell within us. Isn’t there an extraordinary Spirit within me, guiding and granting Wisdom just as it did for Daniel?

Can you imagine how cool it would be if we were found so trustworthy, with no fault or corruption to be found in us, that the world had to concoct a way to entrap us? What if the only to accuse us, would be in connection with the law of our Father?

Jesus told us the world would hate us. I pray that if it will hate me, it is in connection with the law of my God. That if it will hate me and concoct a way to accuse me, I not be afraid and follow the world but rather am brave enough to go against the world, worship my God even if I were to be thrown to lions.

Please, O LORD, grant me the Wisdom and the courage and an Extraordinary Spirit to follow you always.

 

The Extravagance of God

Sometimes in nature and in scripture I notice the extravagance of God.

Some commentaries point out that in the Parable of the Sower (Luke 8:5-8), we see a certain extravagance of God. He isn’t cautious nor sparing about sowing the seed, nor does He save it for only the most choice locations. He scatters it generously, giving every opportunity for it to take root and grow.

Today I was reading Daniel and saw extravagance again. Here Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were to be thrown into a fiery furnace stoked to be “seven times hotter” than normal. It was so hot that Daniel 3:22 says, “So huge a fire was kindled in the furnace that the flames devoured the men who threw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into it.”

That’s hot!

If you aren’t familiar with the story you might well guess that the three are not burned up in the fire. But not only are their lives spared by the protection of God, they enjoy a certain extravagance in their rescue.

Daniel 3:49-50: “But the angel of the Lord went down into the furnace with Azariah and his companions, drove the fiery flames out of the furnace, and made the inside of the furnace as though a dew-laden breeze were blowing through it. The fire in no way touched them or caused them pain or harm.”

No discomfort whatsoever. Rather, it was like a “dew-laden breeze.” I imagine that to desert-dwellers, a dew-laden breeze would always feel extravagant, a heavenly treat. And here the three enjoyed it under impossible circumstances, accompanied by the angel of the Lord.

I found that especially beautiful this morning.

 

 

Quiet has taught me

Spending time in the quiet can teach you a lot about yourself.

When I first started Eucharistic Adoration, I quickly learned that being quiet for an entire hour isn’t easy. Not just being physically quiet, but mentally quiet as well.

And more than that, I learned what REALLY is going on inside my head.

I learned that I spend a lot of time “replaying” events … songs I’ve heard, tv and movies I’ve seen, and books I’ve read. I replay conversations, and sometimes imagine arguments or things I “wish” I’d said.

And I learned that none of that noise … none of it … brings me peace. It doesn’t make me a better person. It doesn’t help me to grow in holiness. It doesn’t draw me closer to God. It is nothing more than a very noisy distraction and waste of time.

As I’ve spent more time in the quiet, I’ve found myself watching less tv; being more discerning in what I read; turning off the radio more often. I am more careful about my interactions with people – I don’t want to hear gossip or dwell on judging others. I find myself turning to God in prayer more often, asking Him to help me with my patience and to bless people with whom I may be irritated.

Gradually I’ve found myself more at peace, less troubled by the ugly things that used to race around in my head. I’ve learned it’s easier to fill my mind with things of God, to “set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:2)

Being quiet takes effort, but things of value usually do. The blessings I’ve gained are enormous and I find myself seeking the interior quiet of prayer even when - especially when – I feel physically in the midst of chaos.

Quiet helped me make more room for God, and to be more purposeful in spending time with Him.  I hunger and long to dwell more fully in His presence.

Quiet has taught me.

 

 

 

Sometimes I look at the world and at our country and I feel such disquiet at what I see … man’s inhumanity to man in the forms of war, human trafficking, abortion. My heart cries out for the victims and their suffering.

And my heart cries out in another way for people who are lost, oblivious to the harm they do to their body, mind and soul in so many ways by following the world and “self.”

I guess it’s true that there is nothing new under the sun. I was reading Ezekiel this morning:

… and the LORD said to him: Pass through the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and mark an X on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the abominations practiced within it.” (Ezekiel 9:4)

How well-said; how familiar. I, too, grieve and lament over evil; over immorality running rampant and its cost to my fellow human beings; to abominations practiced.

I feel powerless to “stop it” or to make a real difference by my own actions, but neither can I ever become complacent and simply accept it.

No answers today, only lingering sadness.

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

**Edit** Because I love God’s timing … later in the day after writing this post, I read a quote. And somehow, it seems to fit.

Every Christ-follower has to realize that we carry a sacred, burning light that is infinitely more powerful than the lies of the enemy. Your light might seem small, but even the smallest act of love can illuminate the shadows. - Josh Wilson

 

 

 

 

 

Praying

Who of us has anyone … even one person … who prays for us each day? Not only at times when we ask for prayer or when people know that we are struggling, but who simply prays for us every day by name for God’s will and blessings on our lives?

I don’t know that I do. But I want to be “that person” for others.

Two years ago I set out with the intention of praying for each of my immediate family members by name every day – my mom, husband, children, brothers, sister, brothers-in-law, and each of my nieces and nephews and every spouse of those family members.

That’s a long list! But I have been oh-so-blessed by it. The core of my prayer is that God forgive our sins and bring us into everlasting life.

As I started the book of Philippians this morning, I was struck by Paul’s prayer and I think it’s a perfect prayer for me to pray for my loved ones!

For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God. ( 1:8-11)

 

 

My beloved son

“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) MitchKevin

Our Father knows how I feel. I am so proud of my son; he fills me with joy. He is kind, gentle, and has a hilarious sense of humor … all traits I value.

He graduated last weekend with a double major from Iowa State University and my heart swells with love for him. I am proud of him, excited for him, and look forward to watching his life unfold.

Dear Father, please send his guardian angel to protect him. Fill him with the Holy Spirit. Kindle a flame within him that inspires him to seek you, follow you, and love you. In Jesus’ name I pray with all my heart for my beloved son, Mitchell.

 

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