Weekend Walk, 06/02/2012

Hiding the Word:

It’s a season of celebration.

Our family is celebrating graduations and the end of the school year, ballet recitals, concerts, plays, birthdays, and the 50th wedding anniversary for my husbands’ parents.

So, on a bright and beautiful day like today, a morning of sunshine and cool breezes on the day after torrential downpour and tornadoes hit our area, it seems fitting to meditate on a Psalm of celebration.

Our verse for the week is:

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
    let them ever sing for joy,
and spread your protection over them,
    that those who love your name may exult in you.
For you bless the righteous, O Lord;
    you cover him with favor as with a shield (Psalm 5:11-12 ESV).

Last night after my daughters’ ballet recital, families hovered under umbrellas and still arrived soaking wet to their cars.  One man stayed long after most others had left, offering to walk people to their vehicles if they didn’t have an umbrella, holding his over their heads so they could escape some of the drenching.  

I can imagine God covering us with “favor as with a shield” in a similar way.  How it’s all about his grace and kindness to us. How it’s self-sacrificing.  How it offers us more perfect protection than any umbrella off the shelves of Wal-Mart.

Now that’s something to celebrate!

Weekend Rerun:

My Two Cents

Originally posted on May 9, 2011

 

With beach season approaching, I’ve been thinking . . . I’d like thinner legs.
While I’m placing orders, I’d also love to have wavy hair with no streaks of gray in it.
No glasses would be nice, too.
Yes, then I’d look really great . . . not at all like me, but great.

Fortunately, I don’t really like the beach, so I don’t dwell on these issues for long.  It’s dangerous really to look around at other people and compare ourselves to them, not just physically, but spiritually, too.  While I’m baring the deepest, darkest parts of my soul with you, I might as well honestly admit that I struggle with this at times.

For me, the trap comes primarily when I’m reading.  As a lover of words, I tend to fill every available minute with reading of some kind, even if it’s just five minutes while standing in a line.  And as I read, there are moments when I think, “If I could just change myself in this way or that way, I’d be better able to serve God.”

I don’t have the impact of this woman, the poetic mastery of language like another, the scholarly education like her, the testimony of this woman or the vast Scripture memorization like another . . . When it comes to spiritual matters, I confess I sometimes want to swap out parts of me for what looks better, not really out of jealousy or pride, but just because I long to give to God the best offering possible.

For most of us, our deep down motives are pure and true.  Out of a desire to worship and give glory, though, sometimes we glance to our sides at the offerings of others and feel we fall short.

What about you?  Have you ever looked around and wished you prayed like her, knew exactly what God called you to do like him, knew Scripture as well as she did, or had the same spiritual gift as a friend?

The eye in the Body of Christ wants to be the foot or the hand wants to be the mouth.  Imagine the Body of Christ as a Mr. Potato Head—now how silly would we look?  Unfortunately, when we eyes spend all our time trying to be feet, the Body of Christ is blind and clumsy, tripping all over itself.

“But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be?  As it is, there are many parts, but one body” (1 Corinthians 12:18-20). 

Your gifting, your passion, your past, your experiences are all uniquely packaged together by God to form you and mold you into the vessel of His choosing.

And all He asks is that we raise our hands to release what He has already given to us:
the fullness of the talents He has bestowed
and the passions He has stirred up deep in the fires of our hearts
the issues that make us raise our voices as we step onto soapboxes
the service that we wake in the morning excited to perform
the experiences from our past that soften our hearts and make us tender to those hurting in our midst.

Our arms heavy-laden with all that we have received from Him, we then lift it all back up in worship.

We’re the only ones at times looking around to compare the gift we bring to the presents of the other worshipers.  God isn’t sifting through the gift table, shaking packages and estimating value or peeking at the cards looking for the names of the gift-bearers.

It’s just us—watching the gift table and shifting our gaze with embarrassment when another attendee brings in a cumbersome package wrapped in paper all silver and topped with a ribbon so fancy.  Then another lays on the table a gift bag filled to overflowing, tissue paper barely covering the treasures inside and we want to take our gift back.  It’s not enough.  Not for a King so worthy.  Not for a God we adore.

The widow in the temple, though, knew that true worship simply meant giving all that she had, sacrificially placing her “two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents” as an offering to God (Mark 12:42).

Others had given more, even ostentatiously so.  “Many rich people had thrown in large amounts” (Mark 12:41).  She could have watched from the corners of the temple in shame at the earthly value of what others gave and walked away clutching her cent pieces, confident that God would despise a gift so meager.

And yet, she didn’t.   And nor did He.

She gave.  He noticed.

He called His disciples over to learn from her.  Men who would eventually be asked to give up everything—even their very lives—-learning how to give sacrificially from a pauper widow almost lost in a crowd of those richer and more important than her.  All because she “put in everything” when she gave to God.

What two cents are you laying at the altar?  Your spiritual gift, your ministry, your service to your church, your sacrifice for your family, your care for another, your laying aside of personal dreams, your causes, your secret encouragement for a friend.  It’s being a hand when He made you to be a hand and being an eye when He asked you to be the eye in a body of Christ that is so dependent on every organ.

Your two cents is a gift precious to God; He only asks us to give what we ourselves have been given.

As I finish up today, I’m listening to Paul Baloche sing Offering.  I hope you take a moment to worship with me.

Offering
by Paul Baloche

I bring an offering of worship to my King
No one on earth deserves the praises that I sing
Jesus may You receive the honor that You’re due
O Lord I bring an offering to You
I bring an offering to You

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Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

A Week of Thanks: Forget Not

Forget Not
Originally Published 04/08/2011

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.  I will consider all Your works and meditate on all Your mighty deeds.”
Psalm 77:11-12

Today, a dear friend of mine is celebrating with her husband, a job after a period of unemployment.  She is rejoicing in God’s faithful provision, His heart so full to pour out blessings and to meet needs as we look to Him for help.

Today, I remember that same celebration happening in this home.  God brought water forth from rock, something out of nothing, during months of unemployment.  Then, the phone rang on a busy spring day and I stood motionless in the kitchen, keeping all children quiet, as my husband accepted a job—provision so perfect, timing just right.  In that moment, a spotlight shone on God’s activity in our lives and we saw with unmistakable and rare clarity God at work.

Now, years later, I sometimes still remember to thank God for this job wrapped up in paper decorated with God’s handprints and topped with a bow showing off God’s grace.

I remember wanting so desperately to see God in the midst of our need, waking up in the still-dark hours of a frigid morning, leaving children and husband asleep, and driving to church in silence on Resurrection Day, when God forever declared His ability to bring life from death.  Then, with fellow Christ-seekers, crowding around a rough wooden cross stuck into ground, singing a hymn, reading Scripture, watching the sun rise over the river.  Hearing the pastor: “God knows why you have come here and what it is you are looking for. ” I caught my breath.  God met me in the sunrise at a cross.

I remember.

I flip through the pages of my journal from that time, each covered margin-to-margin with God’s promises, encouragements, and challenges—to trust Him, to stop whining and complaining, to be grateful, to know He is in control.  It’s a record of my spiritual growth, tracked on paper like marks on a wall showing how tall I was then, and then, and then—a growth spurt caused by required dependence on a God so dependable.

I remember.

I pull out my favorite pair of shoes, white and covered in colorful flowers, shoes I bought after my husband’s first paycheck at his new job.  Bought on clearance at Target, they were inexpensive and yet totally precious to me.  My “James-got-a-job shoes.”  Every time I wear them . . . I remember.

Jennifer Rothschild wrote, “Remembering is a discipline that takes effort and focus.”

After all, I’m a forgetful creature.  I walk into a room with an agenda, quickly get distracted by toys and books.  Mess, mess–always mess.  How do we make so much mess?  So, I tidy and busy myself (while whining and complaining) and then leave the room empty handed.  My original purpose long forgotten. What did I come in here for again?

I trek to the grocery store with one item I really and truly need and walk back out with ten items in my cart, none of them the one vital ingredient for tonight’s dinner.

I start sentences and then somewhere in the middle lose track of thoughts and words and trail off into silence.

Worrying at night over bills and forgetting past provision.  Fretting over children and forgetting His past activity.  Stressing over a decision and forgetting how He led me through dark and shadowy places before.

It’s an enigma really.  Words spoken and things seen that I long to forget replay in my mind with troubling regularity.  Life necessities and God’s promises that I simply must remember, I forget with ease and . . . troubling regularity.

I’m not alone.  Over and over, in broken record style, God told the Israelites to remember what He had done, to recollect the miracles of their past, and over and over they forgot.   He tells them, “You have forgotten God your Savior.  You have not remembered the Rock, your fortress” (Isaiah 17:10, NIV).

They tried, really tried.  Joshua commanded 12 men from 12 tribes to hoist 12 stones from the dry bed of the Jordan River onto their shoulders, carrying reminders of a miracle as the nation crossed through.   Stone memorials to

“be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’  Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.  And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever” (Joshua 4:5-7, NIV).

My special shoes are the same (I prefer my shoes to large river rocks!).  Physical reminders of a God-intervention.  A sign on my life-road saying, “God at Work!”

Ann Voskamp wrote this week about this world breaking us apart.  Chips, broken pieces and cracks in our soul made by the daily and the difficult.  Kids fighting.  Bills due.  Sick husband.  Dying mother.  Lost mail.  No job.  Shattered relationship.  Wandering child.  Missed appointment.   Trust destroyed.  Marriage dead.  Dinner ruined.

The world chips and chips away at us.  “It never stops dis-membering” (Voskamp).

In the Psalms, David sometimes talked to himself.  He bossed his emotions around a bit and told his mind and soul what to do.  He said, “Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name!  Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits” (Psalm 103:1-2, NIV).

And so today, I am commanding my soul to remember.  Not just the broken and chipped me, made less by the world’s incessant bullying.

No, “all that is within me,” altogether me, every bit of brokenness restored and made whole.  As Ann Voskamp said, I am re-membered and re-collected through forgetting not.  It’s a discipline and a choice to live the here and now in view of past blessings and provision.

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Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King

Weekend Walk, 11/05/2011–Celebrating Thanksgiving

Hiding the Word:

For those reading Lisa Harper’s book, Stumbling Into Grace, along with my small group, today’s memory verse will match up with chapter 11, “Empathizing With Enemies.

In her book, Lisa Harper writes, “We can become less critical by choosing to focus on the whole of other people’s stories as opposed to one irritating chapter” (p. 129).

It’s so easy, too easy really, to judge others.  That they’re flaky.  They made a bad decision.  They’re sinful.  They’re a mess. They’re rude, impatient, annoying . . .

Whatever.

We’re generally just masses of human opinion waiting to jump on a soapbox at the slightest provocation.

I’m so thankful God has so much more grace for us than we have for each other.

So, this week, our verse is a reminder to love one another.  After all, God has shown an awful lot of love to us.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
1 Peter 4:8

Celebrating Thanksgiving:

Well, my faithful blog readers, normally in this weekend space I’d be sharing with you a rerun of a post from the past.

But, I just can’t contain my excitement about Thanksgiving.  It’s far and away my most favorite holiday.  This mystifies my children, who cannot understand how a turkey dinner can compete with Christmas presents.

Yet, there it is.  The month-long inspiration to give thanks, the emphasis on family, the traditions of spending time together in the kitchen baking—it’s yummy to my very soul!!

So, when I thought about how to spill some of my Thanksgiving excitement over to you all, I decided to take one post a week in November and share some ideas on how to make my favorite holiday truly a celebration for your family.  Some of these ideas will work well with kids and grandkids.  Some don’t need anybody but you in order to participate.

I sure would love to hear your traditions and thoughts on this, too!  So, I hope you’ll hop on here and post your ideas about making Thanksgiving special.  What traditions does your family enjoy?  What’s your favorite Thanksgiving recipe and your favorite reason to be thankful?

The Thanksgiving Journal

 Remember the wonders he has done,
   his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced (Psalm 105:5)

So many of us go around the table each Thanksgiving day and say “one thing you’re thankful for . . . other than family.”

But it’s hard to remember year after year what that one special bit of Thanks was about.

And sometimes we really need a record of gratitude so we can indeed “remember the wonders He has done” (Psalm 105:5).

So, this year, I’m taking an idea from Focus on the Family’s magazine, “Thriving Family” in their Oct/Nov 2011 article “Turn Turkey Day into Thanksgiving.”

Create a family Thanksgiving journal.  This can be a blank spiral bound journal or even a notebook with pages that you insert year after year.  On Thanksgiving day, take the time as a family to list off the blessings and answered prayers from God that year.  Be specific.  Truly consider what God has done.

List your thanks into your family journal and say a prayer of gratitude.

For the ardent scrapbookers among you, add pictures and decorate the pages so the book of thanks becomes a true family keepsake.

Or, keep it simple!  The important thing isn’t the artistic value; it’s the giving thanks that matters.

The next Thanksgiving, pull out the very same journal and look through the reasons to give thanks from years past before adding to the list for the new year.  Over time, this Thanksgiving journal will be a record of blessing, answered prayers, and gifts from God, a way of remembering all that He has done.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King