Saturday, November 19, 2011

Ch 2: God is Willing (pt 2)

The second half chapter 2 begins by talking about blessings and how parents are so happy to give their children the many blessings that they are able to bestow upon and how God loves to do the same. Now I have heard the same thing over and over again since I was little girl and in fact the song "Count your many blessings" starts to run through my run but to be honest....this concept is nothing new and therefore doesn't impact me as much. That is until he quotes 2 Samuel 12: 7-9
This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: "I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul..I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why do you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in my eyes. 
To give you all a little bit of background about this quote. These are the words that Nathan, King David's prophet, to King David after he admitted his adultery with Bathsheba.  This passage makes me stop in my tracks and take a long and deep look at my life. Am I thankful for the many blessings that God has given me? I reminded of a picture I have seen on-line:

All often do I drift during the day, going about my "busy" life without stopping and thanking God for everything he has given me. Better yet, how often do I ignore those blessings and instead sin and then rub that sin into the very face of the one you has blessed me so? Way more often than I would like to admit. November is supposed to be a time of thanksgiving, I time when families and friends gather together and talk about how God has blessed them during the last year. However this is not something that we should limit to just one day or even one month. It should be something we carry with us always and I think the question posed in the picture above is a very good daily reminder of that. How much would you have if you only had what you thanked God for the previous day? I know I wouldn't have much....that's for sure :(

Therefore I want to challenge all of you out there on the inter-webs. I challenge you all to take five mins of your day and just stop, pray, and thank God for the many MANY things he has blessed you with and just be thankful for the life he has given to you. I wonder how much of an impact this challenge will be on our lives. I'm guessing a large one but we shall see. :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Ch. 2: God is Willing (pt 1)

How many times have we come up with reasons why we won't ask God to help us? We come up with 10,000 excuses/ reasons such as "My problems are so insignificant that I really shouldn't bother God with it" to "God will think I am so selfish for asking for this therefore I won't." Or my favorite "I got this, I can handle it...I'll let God help me with the next problem I have." However none of these statements are true. they are all lies! Lies that we tell ourselves over and over again. God is willing and waiting for us to come to him with our struggles...we only need to ask.

To illustrate this point, Bill talks about a story found in Luke that Jesus told about a Judge and a Widow. In the story, there is a window who has been wronged and she seeks the help of a local judge. However, the judge doesn't care about anyone beside himself. Its only after the window keeps bugging him that the judge finally concedes and helps the widow. Bill goes on to say that this story is typically misinterpreted by many people in which the see God as the judge, someone who will only help if you pester them long enough. In fact the exact opposite is true!
Will not God bring about justices for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly- Luke 18:7-8
I know I am guilty of thinking at times that God only cares about the big important things. He doesn't want to help me with the little things as well. Or that I need the right formula/key in order to get God to answer my prayers. Once more these are all lies that I tell myself and the truth of the matter is that he does care. GOD DOES CARE ABOUT ME. He cares about everything that has to do with me. From the smallest thing I struggle with to the largest. All I have to do pray to him and ask for his help and he will be there. I just need to keep reminding myself of this fact but that is easier said then done sometimes...

Another way that people tend to misinterpret this story is that they think that we as humans are the widow. Once more this is not true and as Bill describes in the book, the widow was abandoned, had no family and no connection with the Judge. Whereas, we are not abandoned, and in fact are a part of God's family. Now as I write this I think about my family both biological and otherwise and I know that for most of the members, if I ask them for help with something they will give it without hesitation. How much more do you think a perfect and loving being like God will be like? Granted the help he provides may not always be in the form that we like/chose but it is always in a way that is best for us.
Taste and see that the LORD is good - Psalm 34:8

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ch 1. God's Presence, God's Power (pt 2)

As I pick my book back up and begin to read I am reminded of a podcast of a sermon that I heard over the weekend on my drive to South Carolina. In the podcast he Pastor of the church that I attend talked about Prayer and how even as a pastor, he still struggles with prayer and by preparing the sermons for us forced him to sit back and reevaluate his life especially his prayer life and how it always needs more work. The funny thing is that I heard this sermon BEFORE I received the book that I am reading. Sometimes God just really has to make things obvious to us before we get huh? lol. Anyways, these are thoughts that race through my head as Bill Hybes describes his own struggles with prayer and although he knew A LOT about prayer, he RARELY ever practiced it. I think he describes it best when he says:
I have a racehorse temperament, and the tugs of self-sufficiency and self-reliance are very real to me. I didn't want to get off the fast track long enough to find out what prayer is all about. (pg11). 
However he did take the time to get off the fast track and delve into prayer, and it wasn't until he did so that he felt like he truly knew God. He went from a very causal, "Hey God, How is it going?" type relationship to a very deep, hours long of conservation type relationship. Deep down this is what i yearn for. I ache to be closer to my creator but I am not 100% sure I am ready to get off the fast track that I have put myself on. Hopefully though as I dive deeper into this book I will be able to have that deep connection with God. It is only when we are pray and become connected with God can we truly enjoy his power and majesty. There is a saying that is something along of the lines of  When we work, we work; but when we pray, God works. This is another thing that I need to try to keep in mind as I struggle each and every day.Bill provides us with an example from the bible in Exodus 17:8-13. In this passage, the Israelites are fighting the Amalekites and Moses sends Joshua to fight them while he goes and prays on top of the hill. He prays with his hands stretch towards the heavens but as you would expect his arms get tired so he lowers them. As soon as he lowers his hands, the Amalekites begin winning! panicked Moses raises his hands once more, turning over the struggle to God and the Israelites as a result win the battle. So often I find myself trying to fight my own battles and to do things on my own and it isn't until I truly hand everything to God that the battle is finally won.
It boils down to this: if you are willing to invite God to involve himself in your daily challenges, you will experience his prevailing power -- in your home, in your relationships; in the marketplace, in the schools, in the church, wherever it is most needed (pg15). 
In my description of the passage, I left out one very important detail.  While Moses knew if he let his arms go down once again they would lose the battle, his arms still got tired. He wasn't alone though, he had two friends up on that hill with him, Aaron and Hur. They found a stone for him to sit on and held his arms up when he was too weak. They believe that much in Moses and the power of prayer that they in-convince themself to help their friend. While i really do believe that God is always there for us and that he will give us the strength we need to carry on, it is important to note that sometimes that strength comes in the form of friendships. I am very happy to say that I have been blessed with numerous friendships with people who I know will be there to help strengthen me and lift me up as I journey through life and they know I would do the same for them. I thank God for blessing me with these people and I hope that you, my readers (whoever you may be), have been blessed as well. If not, I will be happy to help :)

Already behind

So I just started re-blogging and I'm already skipping days. Ugh! To my credit though, there was no point yesterday in which I was at a computer long enough to read and blog here. From teaching in the morning, lunch with the Chancellor, doing research at my lab and then watching my friends son while she is out of town I never had a few momemnt to stop and read. But I guess that is the point of this blog. It's to force myself to stop and read my Bible/Christian book and blog my thoughts. Of course today while I have ample amount of time in between lab expeirments I leave my book at home. FAIL. Oh well. While I was sitting at my computer today I stumble across a poem which I feel apply to my current topic/struggles. Hope you enjoy and I promise to write an actual post later tonight :)

I Didn't Have Time

I got up early one morning
And rushed right into the day!
I had so much to accomplish
That I didn't have time to pray.

Problems just tumbled about me,
And heavier came each task.
"Why doesn't God help me?" I wondered.
He answered, "You didn't ask!"

I tried to come into God's presence;
I used all my keys at the lock.
God gently and lovingly chided,
"Why, child, you didn't knock!"

I wanted to see joy and beauty,
But the day toiled on, gray and bleak.
I wondered why God didn't show me.
He said, "But you didn't seek."

I woke up early this morning,
And paused before entering the day.
I had so much to accomplish
That I had to take time to pray!

By Grace L. Naessens

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ch. 1: God's Presence, God's Power (pt 1)

So as I stated in the last entry I am going to update this thing on more of a regular basis again. This time I will be reading/writing about a book titled "Too Busy Not to Pray: Slowing Down to Be With God" by Bill Hybels.   I don't even make past the first paragraph before I get slapped in the face:
From birth we have been learning the rules of self-reliance as we strain and struggle to achieve self-suffiency. [...] To people in the fast lane, determined to make it on their own, prayer is an embrassing interruption.
I am this person. I am the one always trying to do it on my own. I live in the fast-lane with no sign of slowing down. Prayer goes so much against my lifestyle and yet I need it so much in my life. Like Bill goes on to say, there are time where i just fall down to my knees and pray. but why, since I am so against prayer and I still so drawn to it? It's because as a result of prayer I can communicate with God and I feel his peace and love when I communicate with him. Constantly I forget this and get wrapped up in myself and not in him until I am broken down so much that I have no choice. There is a verse referenced in this chapter and was also talked about in my small group last week.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by PRAYER and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the PEACE of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus - Phillippians 4:6-7
The very fact that I have heard this verse over and over again recently proves to me that it is something that I need in my life and that something I should be meditating on. I think when I get home tonight (still at my lab right now) I am going to write this verse on a sticky note and post it in my bathroom so that I am forced to see it each and every morning.  Hmm...

Well I actually should be leaving now. I will try to continue with Chapter 1 later tonight/tomorrow. Till next time :)

Too Busy NOT to Pray

So its been a very VERY long time since I have updated this and I apologize for that. I could give a million different reasons why I have not updated but they all boil down to laziness/busy-ness. Now that may seem contradictory to you but let me explain. My life is so busy and chaotic between research, TAing, dance, and social activities that when I do get a moment to relax I get so lazy that I don't feel like reading my bible or updating this blog. And that is something I need to work on.

Recently my small group has been talking about what it is that hinders us from have a closer relationship with God and mine boils down to priorities and busy-ness. I get so busy and wraped up in the chaos that is my life that I forget to stop and examine what I have as priorities in my life. I know that my relationship with God should be my first and foremost priority but if I'm honest with's not. Its actually pretty far down on my list I must admit. I just don't know how/want to change it. Luckily my small group girls are there for me and have been helping come up plans here and there to help me.

I feel like this is deffiently something i need to work on cause it keeps popping up all around me. In fact, just this past weekend I went out of town for a friends wedding and stayed at another friend's house. Now the friend who I was staying with just become an Intervarsity intern at the College of Charleston and had recieved a bunch books for free from an old mentor. Most of them she didn't already own but there were a few books she did. As she was going through the books and seeing which ones she already owned, she hands me a book titled "Too Busy NOT To Pray: slowing down to be with God" and I was like WOW! This is exactly what I need right now. Its just so weird how God works sometimes I suppose. Anyways I started to read the book immediately and was overwhelmed by how much it applies to me right now. Therefore I am going to start over and blog my thoughts here. So feel free to join me on my journy and leave any comments you like. I will try to make my ramblings as cohesive and linear as possible, but I must warn you my mind sometimes doesn't work that way and I tend to make lots of random associations. But on to the next entry and the first entry of this new book :)