Tuesday, May 25, 2010

God is Able

Too often we come to God with limited requests because we think He’s limited in His abilities or resources. He’s not... HE IS ABLE.

Our dreams, desires, goals and passions are not a threat to God, nor do they intimidate Him. Don’t ask with wavering faith, but believe God at His word because... HE IS ABLE.

Do you truly know that God longs to fulfill your dreams and answer your cries? He is never shocked by your heart-felt prayers because... HE IS ABLE.

He wants us to come to Him with open hearts, being honest, and sharing our requests. I’m sure we’ve heard this verse before, but I’m looking at it from a new perspective:

“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” James 5:16 NKJ
I was interested to know more about the word “fervent” so I looked it up and was thrilled:

1. hot; burning; glowing
2. having or showing great warmth of feeling; intensely devoted or earnest
3. Having or showing great emotion or zeal

When was the last time you prayed with HOT, BURNING emotion or zeal? You know, the prayer that moves you to tears and emotions, and moves heaven and hell!? My prayers often become mundane, rehearsed, and repetitive with little or no emotion. That’s NOT how God intends prayer to be. I encourage you (as I have encouraged myself) to change your mindset on prayer. Begin fervently praying, believing that God is able. How often do we miss the blessing because we don’t recognize that HE IS ABLE.

“Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” Psalm 62:8 NIV

“Arise, cry out in the night, as the watches of the night begin; pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord...” Lamentations 2:19 NIV

I have so much to pour out to Him. And He is waiting. I want my fervent prayers to prevail. I want to be real with God. Because I know that HE IS ABLE.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Keeping my Mind "Stayed"

Isaiah 26:3 ~ “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”

This verse has a different meaning to me this week than it did last week. Last week was a tough week for me. I struggled with many things; worries, anger, sadness, depression... This verse in Isaiah popped in my head on Friday, and I’ve been thinking of it ever since. I realized that I so often left out a very important part of that verse. I used to think of it like this: “You will keep him in perfect peace.... because he trusts you.”

So, I used to think, “OK, God. I trust You. Where’s my peace?” But, it’s one thing to trust God, and it’s a different (and harder) thing to keep our minds focused on Him. Reading the verse again, I emphasize this: “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you...” That’s the key to our peace – keeping our mind “stayed” on Christ. I’d like to think that it’s when we keep our minds stayed on Christ, that we are actually proving to Him that we trust Him (like the second half of the verse says.) Because you see, it’s often easy to say we trust God. Many of us would say we do. But, I think being able to stay focused on God and not our circumstances, that is when we really prove that we trust Him.

During one of my “breakdowns” last week, I had a friend ask me a wonderful question (one I will continue to ask myself often). In the midst of my tears, she asked me, “Where has God been in all this?” Wow, what a novel concept. She obviously wasn’t asking as if to say “I can’t believe God abandoned you!” No, she was gently asking me, was there something on my part that I did to lose my focus on Him.

Just the week before, I had felt so close to God. I felt His presence so near. I was digging in the Word. Even though I had many unanswered prayers, I was committed to knowing Christ had a plan. Then, over the course of a few days, I started feeling more vulnerable to satan’s attacks. It was like I was hit from every side; work, friendships and relationships, personal struggles, etc. I had 2 people within a couple of days tell me that I looked “sad.” What was happening? So, when my friend asked “Where has God been?” it was eye-opening. I wondered, “How did I go from the high, to the low, in just a few days?!” The more and more I thought of it, I considered Isaiah 26:3 and I considered the part “whose mind is stayed on you.” That was it! My mind was NOT stayed on God, and I was not experiencing His peace. I realized that I so easily focused on the “troubles” and not God – the One who holds all things in His hand. I tried to take control of situations. I was easily frustrated. I wanted to change things in my own power and strength. And, it didn’t work. I was defeated. I was deflated. I was troubled.

Since Friday, I’ve been trying hard to keep my mind “stayed” on Him. It’s easier said than done, but I realize that I have many opportunities each day, to keep my eyes fixed on Him – if only I will take advantage of the occasion; through reading my Word, staying fervent in prayer, watching my words and actions, controlling my thoughts, changing the radio or tv when I feel the “nudge”. These tiny steps make a HUGE difference. As my focus shifts toward God again, I already see His blessings, love, and peace overflowing. What a good God.

So, I hope this verse encourages you like it did me. And if you are feeling defeated, deflated, or troubled, I ask you this... “Where has God been in all of it?”

A further look into the definition of "Stay":

• staying power; endurance
• to hold out or endure
• a stop, halt, or pause; a standstill
• to pause or wait
• to stand firm
• to hold back, detain, or restrain, as from going further
• to persevere; endure to completion

“You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.” (Amplified Version)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What am I Complaining About?

So often, I consider my list of "ailments" and pains; back pain, chest pain, coughing, etc. I'm quick to point out when I'm not feeling well. I'm quick to let the world know when I've been wronged or when I'm in a bad mood, or when someone else hurt me, or when I don't get my way.

Well, today - two things have inspired me to shut my mouth, quit complaining, and be THANKful! The first thing was Sundy's Blog Post about being thankful. An amazingly written post that I need to read over and over and over again. (And most of all, actually do what it says!
The second thing, and definitely the most moving, was this... I've had the privilege of helping Village of Hope (the organization I went to Uganda with), in the child sponsorships. I'm looking over a list of children right now that we hope to move to the new land in April (yay!) and my heart aches for them. This spreadsheet contains all sorts of information about the children, but the biggest thing that sticks out to me, is their "Health Problems." I mean, talk about a slap of reality. I think I have problems?!
(Now is the time for you to click the picture on the top of the blog to see a bigger version to read.)

Note the ages of some of these children... And keep in mind that the war has been "over" for almost 3 years, so you can go ahead and subtract 3 years from their age and just assume that's the latest the symptoms started. And well, actually, the war went on for over 20 years, so that covers the life-span of every child on this list. No telling what they had handed down to them, what they were born with, and what was just a matter of time for them.

So, I hope this is a reminder to all of us - to be thankful, to pray for those in need and distress, and to remember that the world does not revolve around you.

Love you all!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

My "Spinning" is a Daily Struggle

As you all know, I try to focus my blog on how to live your life to the fullest; how to pursue your dreams and live-out your God-given talents and abilities, all while bringing glory to Him.

So, today, instead of writing a post about that, I wanted to share someone else's post with you that was awesome and really spoke to me at this place in my life. Please take a moment to read it and decide that you will "spin" the right plates.


Spinning the "right" plates for me is a constant struggle, but it's a battle I'm willing to win. In winning that war, I feel like I once again, have a life of purpose and intention!

Love you all.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

His Loving Kindness

Have you ever held off on doing something you knew you really needed to do? I don't just mean things like laundry or cleaning. But, something deeper - more important. For example, picking up the 200 lb phone and making that long-dreaded call to have a heart-to-heart with someone you love, but don't really want to talk to about a certain, particular subject? (just for example!) :)

About a month ago, I ran across this verse: (BTW - yes, I have really been holding off on making that phone call for over a month!)

"...it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it." James 4:17

Ouch. That verse obviously gave me deep conviction about this certain thing that I was holding off on doing. However, it also did something else. It almost brought me to a place of being scared of God. To a place of thinking that because I wasn't obeying in this one area, then He was completely shutting me off in every other area; A fear that He wasn't going to hear my prayers (so why pray?); A fear that my devotion time would be void of hearing God's voice and receiving His direction for my life (so why bother getting up early and doing it?); A belief that I might as well not believe God for a healing, because He is still holding this other thing against me; The lie that there was no reason to necessarily get into the Word, because bottom line, I wasn't being "perfect" in this other area, so what was the use - God wasn't going to bless me or reveal His will for me anyway.

A few things have changed over the last week, and slowly, God has been pouring His love over me! Through many avenues (song, radio, sermons, the Bible), God is screaming out to me...
"Shanen: I will not let go of you that easily. You are mine and I love you!"
I've decided that being scared of God, is not what will lead us to repentance. Thinking that He is mad at us for not "performing" is a lie from satan. Now, don't get me wrong - I know there are definitely things, or a build-up of sins, that can separate us from intimacy with Christ. It is true, that at times of disobedience, God may choose to withhold His blessings, but it's not because He has turned from us - it's because we have turned from Him. However, even in that, God doesn't leave us so easily. We are His. He is a devoted father, and will fight hell for His children.

As the David Crowder song goes, "Oh How He Loves Us." It's this gentle reminder that leads me to repent... not the idea that God is mad at me or that He will turn His back on me if I don't "obey".

As the other song goes, "It's Your kindness, Lord, that leads us to repentance..."

Monday, January 11, 2010

I've missed you, Blogger

I've really missed blogging. :(

I have notes and post ideas in my head and on pieces of paper in my purse, that are just waiting to be interpreted from scribbled notes and half-thoughts to real-life words on my page! I have so many thoughts, emotions, sermon nuggets - swirling, swirling - in my head. They don't want to stay on paper - they want to be written on my pretty little blog (courtesy of Penny Lane Designs [shout-out]).

Anyway, I noticed that it had been 5 weeks since my last post (boo) so I just wanted to make sure you were all aware that I am still alive, I want to blog, I need to blog, and I promise.... I'm coming back.

Just give me another couple days, or maybe a week. :)