Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Holding on to promises

This is another catch-all post. I'm convinced that I will only ever write anything that pleases me if I keep up the discipline of writing something on a regular basis even if I have nothing to say. As it turns out, I sometimes don't know whether I have anything to say until I start writing. More often, I think I have something to say, but cannot figure out how to express it and can't justify spending too much time trying. That's the case tonight, and I feel the desire to go to bed prevailing over the desire to write about my weekend.

In the meantime, I continue to be grateful for the promises of Scripture, including:

-- "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed." (1 Peter)

That was related to the Aug. 15 meditation from Craig Denison's First 15: "He heals past wounds and forgives present scars."

It prompted me to write out this prayer: "Lord, I need Your forgiveness. And I have it. Thank You. I love You. I want to live for You, in joy, obedience, love and service. Humility. Lord, I need You to help me forgive myself for how I am about how I am. Or help me to live with it. I pray all things will glorify You. Amen."

-- "And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." (Nehemiah 8:10)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

More joy

I continue to get daily reminders to not let anything rob me of the joy and strength that come from the Lord. 

This week's spiritual theme turned to forgiveness, and still joy crept in. It wasn't in the words of the devotional, but is one of the clear, continuing outcomes.  

Wednesday's 12-step meeting referenced our journey on the road of Happy Destiny.

That was followed by  Thursday's reading from an OA devotional book: "Here we experience the great truth that when we let go of our need to control people and simply allow our Higher Power to serve others through us, we receive an abundance of strength and joy." ("Voices of Recovery," p. 227, quoting "The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous," p. 106)

And I'll close with my thoughts about a quote from the video played for Sunday school, attributed to John Wesley, which I am probably just paraphrasing: "Preach  salvation until you have it, then preach salvation because you have it."

I apply this to my effort to continue to focus on the joy that comes from my relationship with the Lord. I will preach it until I experience it, and then I will share it because I have it.

Friday, August 8, 2014

The joy of the Lord is my strength

Happiness and joy have been key themes in my meditations and Scriptures this week.

Today, the messages included a commentary on Pope Francis' top 10 tips for bring joy to one's life. Among the guidelines were some that I already had been striving toward, with varying degrees of success: Live and let live; give of yourself to others; move calmly; maintain a sense of leisure; avoid being negative; set Sunday apart; and work for peace.

Although as I write this on Friday night, I am tired and have a headache that is related either to a toothache or sinuses, overall I have felt energized this week as my mind has settled often on this verse: "The joy of the Lord is my strength" (Nehemiah 8:10.)

Often, my mood lightened as I found myself thinking: "How awesome is that? Returning my focus to the Lord brings joy, and in that joy is strength."

It also came in handy when I found myself starting to moan about tedious extra tasks that seemed to interrupt my routine this week. The Lord. Joy in the Lord. Strength in joy in the Lord. And eventually, I was grateful for the ability and opportunity to do the task, even if it seemed tedious.

Now, the Scriptures and meditations don't solve another dilemma I continue to battle: that I always seem to run out of time. So far, I've gotten no clear answers to my prayers to either help me not be so easily distracted, or to be quicker and more efficient at each thing I do. Instead, I still get stuck making even minor decisions, and then fretting as time fritters away. And one unexpected occurrence -- a phone call, rain when I expect sunshine, someone missing a day of work -- threatens to derail every bit of progress.

But even then, before I go to bed and when I wake up, I return to the guiding theme: The joy of the Lord is my strength.

These are some of the Scriptures I encountered this week that helped me stay focused on the joy God offers:

"And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." (Nehemiah 8:10)

"The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing." (Zephaniah 3:17)

"May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy." (Colossians 1:11)

"There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy." (Ecclesiastes 2:24-26)

"You make known to me the path of life;in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." (Psalm 16:11)

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The worst ever

 No clear thoughts have emerged for a blog post tonight. I don't know whether it's because I watched "Sharknado" and "Sharknado 2," or if perhaps that's why I watched the silly movies. I made a conscious choice to allow myself to have them on, even as I continued to do some tasks at hand. Maybe I thought watching would inspire a blog post. As it turns out, there's no inspiration. And it's time (past time) to turn out the light. So that's all I have tonight -- or at least that's all I'm going to write, even though it feels very disappointing  not to push on through. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Clearly not an answer I would have chosen

All I have to post this week is some insight from today's My Utmost for His Highest (Oswald Chambers)  reading:

"If a person  ... desires knowledge and insight into the teachings of Jesus Christ, he can only obtain it through obedience. If spiritual things seem dark and hidden to me, then I can be sure that there is a point of disobedience somewhere in my life.   ... (S)piritual darkness is the result of something that I do not intend to obey."

This convicts me. It hits me right where I am stuck. I've had some pretty clear insights into what God would have me do in some key areas -- and I am flat-out resisting. 

As I wrote Thursday morning:
I say I trust God, but I don't act like it.
I resist: 
-- Letting go of something very important to me, trusting God to redeem it;
-- helping with Bible school or other service:
-- visiting people (shut-ins, neighbors, the sick, etc.);
-- focusing more on Gene and less on me, including phone/Facebook, food and exercise. 

So far, I guess I don't trust God enough to just do these things. But I hope and pray that He can and will move me to that greater level of trust that leads to joyous obedience. I believe He is. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Still trying to figure it out

July 18, 10:30 pm: New dilemma: I know I can't know everything. But I wish I could at least know what it is I need to know. 

How do I figure that out? What  do I need to know?
That seems to be a major dilemma for me: What do I need to know???

July 19, 9 am: 
In other words, WHAT IS IMPORTANT?
This applies even to my stuff, be it clutter or treasures. 
I know I need to seek my answers in prayer and Bible reading. 

July 20, 4:20 pm: And now that I think about it, is that a new dilemma, or just more of the same. I think probably the latter. 

And the answer always the same: Word of God. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A quick look back at fasting, prayer and praise

The week of the 7-hour prayer challenge and fast and what turned out to be helping lead praise and worship for seven church services was interesting and rewarding.

Not eating anything for seven hours -- from after I finished breakfast at 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. -- on Monday didn't seem like it would be too challenging. I was surprised. I don't eat a lot of calories at work, but what I do eat, I munch on throughout the day. And I chew gum and drink diet drinks, which I chose to abstain from during the fast. Fortunately, my plan was to turn any of my thoughts of wanting to eat over to thoughts of why I had committed to the fast: To increase my focus on God and prayers for His spirit to move His people in a fresh new way. I ended up with many opportunities.

Then there was the matter of praying for seven hours. How that unfolded for me was an hour and 15 minutes of continuous prayer to start the day, then focus on six prayer topics, one in each of the next six hours. I didn't get these done on the hour, but I did pray through all of the suggestions. I broke my fast with soup, and not too long after that, left work early to go to church for the second of the seven worship services, five of which included Holy Communion.

The alternate theme for the week quickly became focus on God and trust God. I knew I could not manage leaving work early most days and going to a worship service. I would get behind and frustrated and tired and overwhelmed. But none of that happened. For that I am grateful. (And I can tell already that I am too tired to draw on feelings and emotions in reflecting on the week. Maybe I will return tomorrow?)

As I reflected this morning on the past week, these were some of my conclusions:

 -- Ego is still an issue. I'm sad that I've seen no pictures of the Youth Force band. Fill me with Your love, Lord.

-- What I really need to fast from is craving attention. Wanting to be in pictures. Caring too much about how I look. Wanting a microphone.

-- Even as I dealt with those issues, true blessings came as I continually reaffirmed my commitment to trust God. Let go and let God.