Monday, March 28, 2011

Our Armor

One of the first things I do every morning is open the curtains. I can't seem to get myself moving until the drapes are delivered of their duties and the darkness in our home is exposed to a hot sun - ready to fill my home with warmth and daylight.

There's just something about letting the light in that lifts me.

While sunlight is good....Son-Light is even better. 

Like I said in my last post - the Lord has some rays of light that He wants to cast in your direction. And often times - most of the time, actually - He does it with His Word. This once doubt-filled and downtrodden girl can type that without flinching. Why? Because I know it to be true. Praise God in Heaven.

Romans 13:12 says... The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.

The armor of light. I love the sound of that. Doesn't it remind you of Ephesians 6? Verse 17 says..."And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Likewise, Hebrews 4:12 says...For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than any two-edged sword....

Know what all that means? I think it means that the Word of God (written and spoken) is living. It means that it is capable of overcoming my raunchiest of ways. It means that it is able to defend my faith against the most deafening of doubts. It's our weapon in battle. Our armor. Our sword. And frankly - any Christian going into their daily wars without it - is entering into a danger zone with zero power. Without the word of God we are charging into battle blind and weapon-less. That doesn't sound like a real good way to find lasting victory.


Be encouraged by the following:

"The battle is intense. and it cannot be fought with little thoughts in a daily devotional or petty ideas from a preacher on Sunday. It certainly can't be fought with minds numbed by the constant drivel of entertainment on television, DVD's, video games, and the Internet. If you and I are going to penetrate our culture and the cultures of the world with the gospel, we desperately need minds saturated with God's Word." 
(from the book Radical by David Platt)

"You will be prone to confusion if the only place you are getting the Word is through other people."
(from a sermon by Marcus Brecheen entitled Sword of the Spirit)

"We agree with the words of Satan because we don't know the words of God. Your intellect cannot defeat the enemy." (from a sermon by Robert Morris entitled The Water of Life)

"Many Christians remain in bondage to fears and anxieties simply because they do not avail themselves of the discipline of study." (from the book Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster)

Let's be mature in His Word. Let's be people who know what we claim. Let's decide to dive in. Everyday. Let's go into our daily triumphs and trials armed with power and truth. I'm convinced you and I will experience profound freedom and healing when we allow the Scriptures to penetrate our lives. Let's commit to not hurrying through our study of God's Word. The only thing we will gain from that is the trite satisfaction we feel when we check "quiet time" off of our to-do lists. But when we overcome our tendency to be undisciplined, uninterested, and quiet frankly, lazy-we will enter into a completely different realm. When we ask the Lord to open up our minds and hearts to His Word...He will. And we will be changed, transformed, and enlightened because of it. Now that sounds like victory. The lasting kind.


Resources that may inspire and encourage you in your study:

The sermon series from pastor Robert Morris entitled The Holy Bible. Go here. Find the "Browse By" box on the left and click on "Series Name". Scroll down and click "The Holy Bible." Scroll back up and start with the first sermon....The Bread of Heaven. This series totally changed the way I view and value the Bible. It's a must.

This website rocks. My husband and I use it often. It's a great resource. That being said - this website shouldn't be used in place of a Bible that you actually hold in your hand. There's something about flipping through the pages of the Holy Scripts that's good for you. Also, I've learned to use commentaries with caution. If you are struggling with certain passages in Scripture - let's ask the Author of them to help us grasp their meanings before we head straight to mere humans for enlightenment. He wants to reveal truth to us - ordinary, non-seminary attending, people like you and me! He is faithful.

And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. - Luke 24:45

Lord, meet us in the Word. Give us a desire for it. Help us to not be able to keep ourselves out of it. Open up our minds and our hearts and our souls to what You have spoken and what You are still speaking. Let us be diligent and disciplined in our pursuit of You. And let it bring us joy and contentment to know You more intimately. In Jesus, Amen.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bright and Shining

He'll bring light into your darkness. It's what He does.

I don't know about you - but I need a light source....

A couple of weeks ago - as I stood at my kitchen sink doing dishes - out of the darkness I prayed, "Jesus. give me something." Not really expecting a reply - I clearly heard a 'whisper': "I'll meet you in My Word." It caught me off guard, honestly. It was so real. So exact. 

And so...true. He DID meet me there.

In the moments that followed that quick and quiet little dialogue we had at the sink - He met me in scripture after scripture after scripture. Scriptures that spoke directly to many of the issues that were ailing me that day. It's His specialty. Bringing light into the darkness is His thing. And the Word is often times how He does it.

I've felt so convicted of this lately. It's been all over my heart and consistently on my mind - that the Word is an amazingly awesome light - for my life - and yours.

Do I really get that? Do I really believe that the Lord will reveal Himself to me in The Bible? Am I giving Him a chance to lead me in to some seriously supernatural stuff - through scripture? Hardly.

This is a monstrosity, really. It's devastating to my faith. It keeps me in the dark. But when I open that Book and I ask Him to make it fresh and alive and new to me - it's like I'm opening the curtains to let some Son light in.

You should try it. For some of us - the pages are gonna stick together because it's bran spankin' new. For some of us - when we crack it open it's gonna have that just-off-the-shelf smell. Or maybe even a mothball smell. For some of us it's gonna seem silly. And monotonous. And weird. But let's do it anyway. If you are like me - you're in need of some light-bulb moments. Maybe even desperate for them.You need a slither of light to shine through. You need some brightness - And He'll bring it.

See for yourselves:

Then Jesus spoke to them again saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."
John 8:12 (NKJV)

I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. 
 John 12:46 (NKJV)

It started when God said, "Light up the darkness!" and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful.
2 Corinthians 4:6 (The Message)

Let's switch gears for a moment. Take another look at that last scripture. It talks about "the face of Christ". Remember this post? The one where I talked about Jesus' face - and all the crazy and uncanny ways that very topic came up over a span of just a couple of months? Well I have another one for you.

My Mom called me up one day - and said, "Sugar, you HAVE to read Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo. It's about a little boy who actually went to Heaven. You must read it. There's some things in it I think you'll appreciate." Being the skeptic that I am - I almost scoffed at the title. "Really? A boy who went to Heaven? We'll see." Two days later - I'm walking through our church with my family and some friends of ours stopped to give us something. Guess what it was? Yep. That book... Heaven is for Real. Out of nowhere - for no particular reason - these sweet friends of ours gifted us with that book. "Maybe there's something to this", I thought. Having a hunch that it was a "God-thing" - I dove right in. Look what I found...

As Colton - the little boy who went to Heaven - explained to his Dad what Jesus looked like he said, "And His eyes....oh, Dad, his eyes are so pretty!" People. If you read my post about this very thing - you get how huge that statement is for me. The book mentioned it again though - this time from a little girl - an art prodigy who lived in the home of an atheist - who had visions of Heaven herself. Describing Jesus she said, "He's very masculine, really strong and big. And his eyes are just beautiful." If you haven't - please read my 'A Whirlwind of Whispers' post. And you'll see why these revelations from these young kids are such a big deal to me. And then let's recap:

1) For months - everything I run into pertains to "Jesus' eyes and face". And I wrote a blog post on it.
2) My Mom calls and tells me I need to read the Heaven is for Real book.
3) Two days later - I receive the book - From people who don't even know I have a blog or that my Mom mentioned it.
4) In the book - I run into two more thoughts about Jesus' eyes and face.

The Lord reeeally wants me to get this. He's after me on it. Do you know He is after YOU for something, too?  He has some light for you that He wants to shed. He looks on you with compassion and longs for you to seek Him...His light and His grace and His healing. It's true. Please don't forget who you are dealing with here... the woman who writes this has known the darkness of doubt. And skepticism. And spiritual blindness. If I can see Jesus pursuing me....If I can sit here and type this in all honesty and integrity and with an ethically upright heart....If I can look around and truly see a God who loves me and longs for me - any ol' person can.

He'll reveal Himself to you. And the light he sheds on your life will change you for good. You know that kitchen sink conversation I had with Him? It wasn't just for me. He's saying, "I'll meet you in My Word." to your sweet soul, too.

The Light is shining. You just need to peel back the curtains a little.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Lessons Learned

Hello Friends :)

What a week. I had planned on continuing my 'series'  - but the bronchial infection I experienced over the last few days kept me from it. It kept me from a lot of things, actually. Like both of my small groups. Play dates. Laundry. Clean hair. Sanity. Etc...

My husband....the optimist...the glass half full...look on the bright side...easy going person around here...suggested in the middle of my illness that I try to 'learn something from it'. You can imagine the look (or glare) that he received as he posed this question to a feverish, weak, exhausted, congested, chills-ridden, stay-at-home mother of two - who had to take care of her little cherubs for 10 hours every day while she was feeling like total poo. If looks could kill....

Nevertheless, as I laid in the fetal position in front of our space heater all week - I pondered the question. And I did learn a few things. None of which are deep or spiritual in the least:

1) Our carpet is dirty. I vacuum semi-regularly. I should vacuum 3 times a day. Or hire a cleaning lady. Seriously. The crumbs were out of control.

2) Word World is hilarious. Especially Duck. I've watched this show with my children before....but I got to watch it all week. And after the 4th day of it - I started to get excited when I knew it was coming on. Sad but true.

3) I'm ugly (acting and looking) when I'm sick. It was not a pretty week, people. On so many levels.

4) Even after all these years of leaving the nest - I still only want my Mama when I'm sick. I whined for her all week. She's one of those who firmly believe that there is not an illness or issue in the world that can't be taken care of with a glass of Dr. Pepper - extra ice, of course. I craved it all week long. (I miss you Mom - can't wait to see you next week!)

5) I have a good church family. So many of them sent me messages of encouragement while I was ill. And they prayed for me. I love them.

6) My husband has no idea how to do laundry. So he just didn't. Except for one load - where he managed to throw my yoga pants and my favorite dress pants (that are probably only suppose to be dry cleaned) into the dryer on high. Awesome. He will be getting a lesson on clothes washing this weekend. And I might be getting some new pants. Thank you very much.

7) Stay-at-home moms (and working mom's!) do A LOT. I didn't realize how much I actually do during the day - when I suddenly could do nothing. I felt like finding one of my fellow Mama's and giving her a fist bump, blowing it up, pounding my chest, and yelling "We must protect this houuuuuse." Just like the Under Armor commercials.

8) Fevers make you think about doing ridiculous things.

9) 4 year olds are very empathetic. Mine is, anyway. As I laid on the the fetal position, remember... he stroked my arm and played with my hair and kept telling me that he would "take care of everthin" while Daddy was at work. He is such a little man these days.

10) 18 month olds get super confused when their Mommy is sick. As I laid there...she stared at me for about an hour - and then finally just decided to use me as her personal jungle gym. It was okay though. Her little feet on my back were the closest thing I would get to a massage all week. So it worked.

11) If you want to lose weight and sport a six-pack... Get sick and cough your head off. My abs feel like I've done 10 million crunches this week - all from coughing so hard. Who knew?

12) Husbands are completely lost when their wives are benched. The look on my sweet husband's face when he would walk into the house after work was priceless. He looked so confused and lost. It almost made me feel sorry for him - but then I remembered which one of us was sick and being used as a jungle gym.

13) I have some amazing friends. They would text me to lift my spirits. They prayed for me all week. They emailed me. They cooked for me. They worried about me. I have some pretty nifty sister-friends.

14) You shouldn't try to run on a treadmill when you are sick. After the 4th day - I thought the mess in my chest could use some help working itself out of my body. Running always breaks the junk up in my lungs - so I thought I'd give it a whirl. Don't.Do.This. That's all I'll say about that. (My Mom is gonna have a cow and have to drink a Dr.Pepper after reading this one.)

15) Antibiotics are a good thing. I haven't taken one in over 6 years. I tend to be anti-antibiotic. But when you really need really need one. And my bronchial tubes REEEALLY needed one. I feel like such a big girl when I take it. And while I've only had a few doses - I feel such a difference. Thank you, Lord.

I'll stop there. I won't put you through anymore. I'll be working on my next post in 'the series'. Hopefully it will be a more inspiring and Spirit-filled post than this one was. I appreciate you all so much. Stay healthy and know that you are loved :) Have a happy weekend!