Weekend Walk: Party Planning and A Christmas Verse

It’s all part of the plan, my strategy for party preparation.

Today is my oldest daughter’s birthday celebration with friends from school.  She’s almost a Christmas baby, so we decided to plan something simple for a small group of friends earlier in December, and she was determined that it be at our house.

So, all week long I’ve glanced at the kitchen floor with juice spills and mystery splatter and thought….”If I mop you today, I’ll just have to do it acleaninggain on Friday.  Someone will surely spill as soon as you’re clean.”

And to the dust gathering on the television stand in the living room, I promised a wipe with a soft cloth Friday evening.

I interrupted my normal vacuuming schedule earlier in the week so that I could zoom through the house just hours before the party on Saturday morning.

This has been my strategy of preparation.  Knowing as I do exactly when those first little knocks on our door will occur, I can target the precise moment when my house is the cleanest and shiniest and in most presentable shape.

I hope.

Being prepared for visitors is no exact science, you know, and it’s even less so readying ourselves for God.  Christmas, after all, focuses so much on preparation.  The Jewish people, after waiting hundreds of years for the promised Messiah, the savior of their people–and the world— felt more than ready, perhaps even impatient, for His coming.

But they weren’t.  Not really.  So God sent a messenger, John the Baptist, who shouted out the news to prepare, get ready, make yourselves right before God because the Savior was coming.

Still, when Christ came, there was no room, no readiness.  Instead there was debate and jealousy, hatred and power plays.

Only a few men and women willingly allowed God to interrupt their lives and their personal agendas in order to make room for His Glory.  Only a few were ready for obedience.

Mary, bowing the head in submission, doing chores one second and carrying the Son of God in her womb the next.

Joseph, heeding the dreams God gave Him, marry this virgin with Child, take her to Egypt to save the baby from a murderous king, travel back home when King Herod had died.

Shepherds, tending sheep in the night, earning a living, toiling as usual, following the instructions of angels to a baby in a manger, worshiping, and spreading the news across the countryside.

Sages from the East journeying for years, far from their homes and their prominence and wealth in order to lay at the feet of a child gifts of honor and adoration.

Their readiness wasn’t that of twiddling their thumbs, idling their time so that at the slightest move of the Holy Spirit they could jump up in response to His command.

Instead, they were all busy, actively serving in their jobs and homes, doing the daily thing with faithfulness, attention, and care.  And then God spoke.

An angel’s voice.
A dream.
A heavenly choir.
A mysterious star.

And they laid it all aside to follow after God, wholeheartedly, passionately, abandoning everything in order to be present and part of His plan.

May we be so ready this season and every season for God’s movement.  We don’t want to miss it! Even more than that, let us not be an obstruction or hindrance to the miraculous wonder of God.

Our Christmas verse for the week reminds us that God always knows the exact moment to move; His timing is relentlessly perfect.  Let us, then, be expectant and ready to obey Him regardless of our plan or agenda or expectation.

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship (Galatians 4:4-5, NIV).

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer 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.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Weekend Rerun: Christmas Verse

Originally posted on December 17, 2011

Mary.

She’s been on my mind this week as I wrap presents, plan to see The Nutcracker, listen to Christmas tunes, bake cookies and prepare fruit trays for class Christmas parties. She’s all wrapped up in the middle of this Christmas story.

I’ve been thinking about her even more when I complain to God about what He’s doing in my life (or sometimes not doing), or when I prepare my end-of-the-year prayer list for God and realize how much it’s beginning to sound like a Dear Santa letter.

Mary received the greatest blessing from God without asking or seeking, just by walking in obedience and purity of heart in her everyday life.

Mary’s on my mind because the angel called her, “you who are highly favored!” and told her, “The Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28, NIV 1984).

So often, I feel thoroughly humbled and honored that God gave me the care of my three precious daughters. Imagine how Mary felt to be asked to mother the Messiah.

She had found favor with God.  Isn’t that what we desire?  Not the accolades or rewards.  Certainly God isn’t looking for another Savior’s mom.  We do, however, long to please God and to bring Him joy.  I want Him to peer into the deepest parts of my heart and rejoice in what He finds there, just as He did with a teenage girl named Mary long ago.

I love Mary’s sweet innocence as she stood amazed that she would miraculously be with child.  Yet, the angel assured her, “nothing is impossible with God” and that was enough for her to believe (Luke 1:37).

If God wanted to stir up miraculous and impossible events in my life, I’d question and wonder, doubt, try hard to believe, believe for a moment, then feel incredulous again.  It’d be a see-saw of faith and doubt.

But Mary believed the promise.  “Nothing is impossible with God.”  I want to believe that God can do the impossible this year.

Then there’s Mary’s submission to all that God wanted to do in her life.  What the angel was asking wasn’t easy.  We think of the honor of being mother to the Promised Messiah, and yet it was entangled with pregnancy, labor, loss of a girlish figure, potential conflict with her betrothed, and societal shame.

It was messy and hard and disruptive.

Sometimes that’s what God asks us to do, skip out on the easy and step up to the difficult.  Mary was willing .Am I?  Are you?

My memory verse for this week shows her heart:

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her (Luke 1:38)

I’ll be praying this week for a Mary heart in preparation for Christmas and for a new year.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer 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.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

A Matter of Opinion

I looked ridiculous.

Standing on my deck in sopping wet, raggedy clothes, barefoot with no makeup and my hair still not fully dry from my shower, I sprayed down a bunch of blankets and clothes with my garden hose.

There I stood, essentially watering my laundry.

Of course, I had a reason for this apparent foolishness.  It was laundry and cleaning day (so who dresses nicely and fixes their hair and makeup for that?)  Part way through the morning, it occurred to me that my laundry was taking an unusually long time in the washing machine.

As in, it was just cycling round and round without ever draining the water and spinning the clothes.

So, I pulled every last piece of laundry out and hauled it to the deck.  Water pooled all over my floor, soaking my socks and shoes, so I stripped them off and plopped them by the back door.  After I had yanked out every last blanket and sock, I bailed out the washing machine by hand, first in buckets and eventually with a tiny plastic cup.

Feeling like I had at least rescued my clothes, it then occurred to me that everything I had placed out in the sun to dry had been immersed in soapy detergent water all morning.  So, before it all dried, I needed to rinse it clean.

With the hose.

Of course.

What else to do . . . drag it all back in the house, flooding every room in the process, so that I could rinse everything out in the shower only to haul it all back outside?

So, I improvised.

After a minute or two of standing there with the hose spraying water on my laundry, I glanced down at myself.  I felt like a sponge that could have been wrung out and probably didn’t look much better.

Then it occurred to me how embarrassing it would be if someone saw me out there, looking ragged and wet and watering my laundry instead of my veggies and flowers.

But then I shrugged it off because it didn’t really matter what anyone thought of me.  The fact was that I had done what needed to be done.

And isn’t that the important thing?  .

Unfortunately, not to me, not all the time.  It’s not so simple for me to shrug off the opinions of others.  I so easily become a marionette in their hands, moving, acting, doing . . . every time they yank a string and make a request. When they criticize, I change.

Yes, I could be a charter member of People Pleasers Anonymous.

The opinion of others becomes god to me, more important than God’s own thoughts about who I am and what He wants me to do.

In the end, though, God’s opinion about us is all that matters.

Throughout the books of 1 and 2 Kings, God tells exactly what He thought about each particular ruler, ultimately determining whether a king was good (like David) or evil (like Ahab).

About Hezekiah, we read: “And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that David his father had done” (2 Kings 18:3 ESV). 

“In the eyes of the Lord . . . “

The Message says it this way, “In God’s opinion he was a good king; he kept to the standards of his ancestor David (2 Kings 18:3 MSG).

“In God’s opinion . . . “

When we feel the heavy weight of criticism and disapproval from others, when they try to slip into seats of control and force us to move this way or that, then we can stop and ask:

What is God’s opinion about me and what I should do?

Hezekiah was a “good king.”  Abraham was the friend of God (James 2:23). David was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). Mary was “beautiful with God’s beauty,
   Beautiful inside and out!” (Luke 1:28 MSG).

The bride in Song of Solomon declares that her brothers ridiculed her and sent her out to the fields to labor.  She begs the king, “Do not gaze at me because I am dark” (Song of Solomon 1:6).  That was the opinion of others.

But the king looks at his love and declares, “You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you” (Song of Solomon 4:7).

And his opinion is what mattered.

It’s God’s thoughts about us that should guide our decisions and help us put one foot solidly down on the ground after another, moving in the confident assurance that we are pleasing to Him.

Surely that’s what I desire.  Don’t you?  I don’t want to make it to heaven and say, “Look at all the people who thought I did a good job and whose requests I followed and whose criticism made me change. I pleased them”

No, I want to please God.

I want to be beautiful inside and out, beautiful with God’s beauty, altogether beautiful for Him.

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.

VBS Lessons: No Matter How You Feel

All week long I’m thinking about the Bible points for our Vacation Bible School and what they mean for adults.  Tonight at Sky VBS! (Group Publishing), we’re learning: No Matter How You Feel…Trust God!

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Twisted Ankle, Twisted Truth
Originally published 11/7/2011

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God” John 14:1

For some reason when I clean, I clean fast.  No slow and methodical wiping of the rag or scrubbing of the dish for me.

In an old episode of How Clean is Your House (love that show!), the expert cleaner explained how many calories you could work off just by vacuuming.  I probably double that with my aerobic cleaning.

So, yesterday I snatched up the trash bag with an upwards yank, dropped it on the floor, tied it up in record time and dashed out the front door, hopped down the front steps, tossed open the trash can lid, plopped the trash bag in, released the lid so it crashed down and kept on walking in one nearly unbroken stride.

Unbroken, that is, until I stepped down on what I thought was solid ground, but was really a sink hole courtesy of our friendly front yard mole.  My ankle twisted in an unexpected direction.  I felt the wince of pain as I almost hit the ground.

Now, fortunately, it was just a momentary shock of pain.  In a few seconds I was limping down the driveway for the mail.  A minute later I was back to the sport of Extreme Cleaning with no long-term damages.

But life in its way is no less unexpected and sometimes no less shockingly painful.

It can be as simple as the surprise pitfalls in a single day.  Like the fact that my house was passably clean when we awoke this morning.  Then my three daughters painted beautiful artwork, and each other, and the chairs, the table, the carpet, their clothes.  After an unplanned mid-morning bath, all of the paint flecked off their bodies onto the bathtub.

Surprise!  Suddenly my day became a whole-house scrub-down and laundry marathon.

It can be as paralyzing as a life-changing twist.  The phone call with bad news.  The hack to your budget.  The visit to the doctor.  The sputter of a car.  The removing of a wedding ring.

Somehow in the middle of this topsy-turvy, always uncertain, shake-up of a world, the Psalmist wrote:

“My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music” (Psalm 57:7, NIV). 

Reading the preceding verses makes it clear, David wasn’t treading on a comfortable path when he penned this Psalm.  He wrote these particular words “when he had fled from Saul into the cave.”

So, how then, could his heart be steadfast?  How could he be “firmly fixed in place, immovable, not subject to change, firm in belief” while running for his life from the powerful king of an enemy? (Merriam-Webster).

And what about us?

Those minor unexpected annoyances in my morning left me cranky and quick-to-snap.

Major upsets to my plans and life cost me a night of sleep.

Steadfast?  Not me.  Not hardly.

The trouble is that the steadiness of my belief seems utterly dependent on the ease of the path I trod.

It’s not dependent enough on Him, My God, My Firm Foundation, My Solid Rock.

Martha sank deep into an unexpected pit when Jesus didn’t heal her brother, Lazarus.  Instead, she left the place of mourning over his death in order to confront Jesus about it privately.  “’Lord,’ Martha said to Jesus, ‘if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’” (John 11:21).

Jesus knew just what to ask her:  “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (Luke 11:25-26).

Did she believe this?  Did she believe that Jesus was more than a nice friend and successful religious teacher?  Did she believe in Him was resurrection and life?

Could she put aside her emotions and declare that no matter how she felt, she could trust God?

Martha regained her footing on this shaky ground by stating her belief: “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world” (John 11:27).

Yesterday, I felt the familiar suffocation of fear at some unexpected news.

Today, I experienced the all-too-familiar bad attitude over some twists in my day.

And Jesus asks me, “What do you believe?”

He asks the same of you.

You may be tempted to spout off the Nicene Creed or fall back safely on the answers of a good Christian girl.

Really, though.  Truly.  Honestly.

What do you believe?

Shaky ground and a loss of footing are always signs of belief problems.

It means:

we’ve been putting our faith in ourselves, in others, in our circumstances.
we’re relying on our own plans.
we’re depending on our own strength.
we’ve bought into lies somewhere along the way.

As you catch your breath after a fall, steady yourself by reaffirming the truth.

I believe God loves me, always, unconditionally, fully.
I believe that God’s grace covers over all my sins.
I believe that I will never go through any circumstance alone; God will never leave me nor forsake me.
I believe that He can do anything, even more than I could ever imagine.
I believe that even when I see tragedy, God is working on my behalf and for my good.
I believe that God will be glorified in every situation.
I believe God will provide for my every need.

This is what we know is true, no matter what we may feel.  Therefore, we can trust God.

 

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

Father’s Day Surprise . . . or not so much

Last Father’s Day, my daughters and I shopped together for Daddy.  When we arrived home, my middle girl burst into the house, ran over to my husband and announced that we had gotten him a game, but she couldn’t tell him which one it was because it was a gift.

Oh, the suspense.

Then for Christmas, the girls shopped for each other at the church’s Awana store.  At the end of the night before we had even clicked on our seat belts in the minivan, my daughter spilled the news to her big sister:  “I got you a doll!!!!”

“You spoiled the surprise again,” we all complained.

“But I didn’t tell her what color doll,” she explained, as if that was enough to keep her sister on edge until Christmas morning.

We’ve become accustomed to the missing element of surprise on holidays all because my little girl can’t contain her excitement over good news.

A few weeks ago, one of the women in my Bible Study group expressed a similar disappointment in the fact that we can’t surprise God.

And I get that.

There are moments when I wish God would look down and say, “Wow!  Did you see what she just did?” when He sees me serve in a way that brings Him pleasure.

God, all-knowing and all-seeing, though, isn’t surprised by what we do and say.

Yet, even though we can’t surprise Him, we can please Him.  He can delight in us and rejoice over us and even be amazed at the growth in our faith. We can bring him joy.

This is a precious thought to me.  We all know that God loves us because of his character, his faithful commitment to keep his covenant with his people and his unwavering grace that offers salvation to sinners like us.

But there are moments when we may wonder if we can please him as individuals.  Can he delight in us, as Scripture tells us he delighted in David (Psalm 18:19)?  Can we find favor with him, as Mary did (Luke 1:30)?

In her book, Knowing God By Name, Mary Kassian notes that there are two different words for the “love” that God has for us.  The one is “chesed,” which is “firmly rooted in God’s character, loyal, steadfast, unfailing love, kindness and mercy” (p. 38).  This is unfailing covenant love.

Yet there’s another kind of love—“ahab,” which means “to desire, to breathe after, to be inclined toward, to delight in” (p. 38).

We see both kinds of love at work in Jeremiah 31:3:

“I have loved you (ahab) with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with unfailing kindness (chesed).

Perhaps it’s true that we can’t surprise God, but clearly He can love us personally and passionately—not just because He made a covenant of loyalty long ago.

In fact, I imagine God, grinning ear to ear at times when he looks down with love and affection and sees our hearts motivated by love and our service to others, untainted by pride and self-glorification.

This is what causes our God to “take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”  (Zephaniah 3:17).

Indeed, it’s not the moments when we’re conscious of our good deeds that make God break out in song over us.  It’s not when we’re in it for accolades or when we are patting ourselves on the back for being such a nice person.

It’s never when we’re thinking, “Wow, I’m such a good Christian.  I’m such a loving person.  I’m so self-sacrificing.”

It’s never, ever about earning salvation or His loyal love by adhering to rules or performing well.  God’s covenant love is constant and dependent on His character, not on our works.

It’s not at all because God needs something from us.

Instead, God is amazed by our faith when we come to Him and admit that He alone can rescue us.  When the centurion, a man of power and authority, petitioned Jesus to heal his servant, Jesus “was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, ‘I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel” (Luke 7:9 NIV).

This is the humility of acknowledging that our own good works or personal strength are not enough; our only hope is in him.

Psalm 147:10-11 similarly tells us that “the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love”

In The Pleasures of God, John Piper explains that “it is because our fear reflects the greatness of his power and our hope reflects the bounty of his grace.  God delights in those responses which mirror his magnificence… When I cry out, ‘God is my only hope, my rock, my refuge!’ I am turning from myself and calling all attention to the boundless resources of God’ (p. 187).

James said this with all his usual bluntness:

“But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
‘God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble'” (James 4:6).

God becomes a doting Father and rejoices over us when our hearts are truly humble and we are living lives that are intentional about glorifying Him, not ourselves.  This is when we please Him, maybe not surprise Him–but certainly bring Him joy and delight.

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

Remembering: Even If He Does Not

 

Originally posted on February 20, 2011

 

Today, the sermon at our church was on miracles and how God uses them to bring glory to Himself and to grow faith in us.  It is always exciting to recount what God has done and give testimony, both Biblical and current, to His might and majesty.

But, today was a hard day for me to talk about miracles.  I’ve been praying for two years for a sweet baby girl, born terribly premature.  She’s fought so hard for so long, receiving a liver transplant, undergoing open heart surgery, and more.  Yesterday, though, I got the phone call saying she had passed away in the night.

Yes, it’s a hard day to think about miracles.

It’s not that I think this was too much for God or that He didn’t love this little girl enough to give her another miracle in her already miraculous life.

The hard thing for me is that I’m a question-asker.  In any room at any time, I am usually the one asking the most questions.  I am willing, sometimes even with people I hardly know, to ask them far more than the superficial sanctioned small-talk.  I’m not a “How are you doing?  Where do you live?  How’s the weather been?” kind of person.

Thus, as I’m praying for the family of this tiny girl, I’m bold enough to ask God some tough questions.  It’s at times like these I’m thankful that He is such a big God, that He allows us to lift our pain-filled faces up to His, look straight into His eyes, and ask Him, “Lord, why?  What are you doing in this situation?”

When one of Jesus’s closest friends fell sick, his sisters, Mary and Martha, sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick” (John 11:3, NIV).  Surprisingly, Jesus didn’t rush to their home to heal Lazarus.  In fact, by the time Jesus arrived, Martha greeted him along the path:  “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  Then Mary went out, fell at His feet and said exactly the same thing,  “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21, 32, NIV). Some of the bystanders even bluntly asked, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” (Luke 11:37, NIV).

These sisters didn’t hide their confusion and hurt and Jesus didn’t rebuke them for confronting Him.  In this case, Jesus quickly answered their questions.  He called Lazarus up from the tomb and displayed His power over life and death.  He asked a question in return ,“Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” (John 11:40, NIV).

The prophet, Habakkuk, wasn’t like most of the other Old Testament prophets, who delivered messages from God.  Instead, much of what Habakkuk wrote is full of questions for God, just as Mary and Martha asked questions of Jesus. In his brief book, Habakkuk asked:

  • How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save?  Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? (Habakkuk 1:2-3)
  • Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves? (Habakkuk 1:13)

After presenting a chapter-long list of complaints to God, Habakkuk says, “I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint” (Habakkuk 2:1).  And God answered Him.

For us, sometimes it does become clear why God chooses to answer “no” or “wait” to our heartfelt pleas for a miracle.  I can look back now and see how God used my husband’s job loss and temporary unemployment not just for God’s glory, but ultimately for our blessing and benefit.  What seemed like harm, was actually salvation for us!

In other cases, though, our questions remain unanswered this side of heaven.

When the three Hebrew men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to bow down to and worship King Nebuchadnezzar, they faced instant death in the fiery furnace.  The king offered them one last chance to deny their faith and worship him instead.  To this, they replied:

“King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.  But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

What faith!  The miracles aren’t what we should be seeking; we should be seeking God and hoping for whatever brings Him glory.  If He rescues us, then we praise Him.  Even if God doesn’t give us the miracle we’re looking for or provide for us in the way we expect, we can, like the three men in the fiery furnace, still worship God alone.  We can trust His hand.  We can know that somehow He will be glorified even in our tragedies.

When God answered Habakkuk’s tough questions, the prophet was moved to write what my Bible notes is a “hymn of faith” (Habakkuk 3:17-19, NIV).  It’s one of my favorites:

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.

Habakkuk says, “Even when we’re starving and we have no hope of a harvest, we’ll choose to praise God.”  The Message translates verse 18 as: “Counting on God’s Rule to prevail, I take heart and gain strength.” It’s when we walk through the hard times with God, counting on His rule to prevail, pouring out our questions to Him and learning to trust Him, that He gives us the toughened, sure “feet of deer” and trains us how to “tread on the heights.”

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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

One Minute Devotional – Devotions From My Garden: Invasion

It’s an invasion and I knew it was coming.

About three weeks ago, one lone pioneer ant bravely marched across my kitchen counter.  I squashed him, even though I knew it wouldn’t do any good.  He was a scout, a forerunner of things to come.  His presence there meant many more ants were on their way . . . soon.

Slowly, they’ve arrived.  An ant on the windowsill.  Another on the computer desk.  My baby giggled and waved at an ant adventuring across the bathroom floor.  Then several more trekked across the kitchen counters.

Last night, the official invasion party arrived.  Now there is a steady stream of ants climbing on, of all things, my beloved books.  They’ve created their own ant superhighway, running up and down my bookshelf in regular battle formation.

As I weeded and turned over rocks in my garden last week, I discovered their mega-city.  It’s located in the entirety of the garden beds around the perimeter of my home and its capital is the dead tree stump in my front yard.  They’ve taken over my gardens completely.

These ants are the pesky annoyances of my every spring and summer.  They make my skin creep and crawl and they are my obsession as I battle over dominion with them year after year.

But, what if my life were invaded in this same way not by a pest or bother, but by God Himself?  What if every rock you overturned in my life revealed God?  What if every room you entered in my heart showed His presence?

When the angel announced to Mary that she would conceive a son, the Savior of the world, he promised: “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (Luke 1:35).

In her study Jesus: The One and Only, Beth Moore notes that the translation for “come upon you” is “arrive, invade, rest upon, and operate in a person.”

Oh, if only God would do this in us—arrive in us, invade us, rest upon us and operate in our lives!

The group Watermark sang a song called “Invade” that said:

Come, come in
Invade all You see of us
Any man, who’d walk Your road is welcomed here
And You’re the only one

Jesus, come and walk the halls of this house
Tread this place and turn it inside out
With Your mercy…
Jesus, teach us the prayers that open these doors
Until Your light floods in and illuminates these floors
And let Your truth be on our steps and in these rooms
Jesus invade…

Reach, reach in
With the hand that heals all our suffering
Conquer all that is not of You
Bring Your spirit through
As we fill these walls with Your praise

It’s time to pray for an invasion, asking that the Holy Spirit take over our lives.  Let Him conquer everything that is not of God and fill us completely with God’s presence and all that brings Him praise.

More Devotions From My Garden:

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

My Life As A Super Model

I was so proud of my first grader.  Really, it was one of those Mom moments when you’re just about busting at the seams with pride.

She had done such an incredible job on her first ever school project (good old Flat Stanley—remember him from this post?), that the teacher showed it around to the school staff and administration.  They decided to record her class presentation and air it on the school morning news program.

Of course, I was excited to see her “performance,” so the teacher very sweetly sent home a recording of her presentation when it was done.

And I about died.

My daughter clearly explained all about her project and what she learned.  Then she started talking about the different places we visited in our town and what she did there.

Pointing to a picture of our local Visitor Center, she said, “This is where people go when they are visiting Gloucester and find out all about it.  Only my mom said we couldn’t go in there because it has stuff that is too valuable and we might break the valuable stuff.”

Wait.  What did I say?

I mean, did those words really come out of my mouth?

And did she in fact tell the entire school population, teachers, staff and administration what I said?

Okay, maybe I remember telling my kids that we should probably skip going inside the Visitor Center and go somewhere with more space and fewer fragile knick-knacks that I couldn’t afford to pay for if we broke them.

After all I have three children, each with two hands.  That’s a lot of hands to keep under control when you walk into a small shop with eye-catching, breakable objects everywhere.

So, maybe I did say that.

This was an unmistakable reminder to me that being a mom makes me a super model.

By that I don’t mean I’m a highly made-up elegant fashionista strutting her stuff in 5-inch heels on a runway.

No, I’m the kind of super model who has three little women-of-God-in-training taking notes on everything I say and do.  Not only that, my biggest fans aren’t afraid to share my “words of wisdom” with the world around them.

That’s a pretty big crowd looking to see me show off my God fashion.

We are all walking, talking models for somebody.  Someone on this earth is watching you.  Maybe your kids.  Maybe your unsaved husband.  Perhaps it’s your coworkers or the girls in your small group.  It’s the neighbors.  It’s your friends.

That’s enough to make me shake in my boots (well, canvas sneakers.  Remember, I’m not that kind of super model).

What responsibility!

What privilege!

What trust God has placed in us, allowing us to be the earthly representatives of Him and His Son!  Unfortunately, how often we let Him down and mar His name with the grime of our own sin, selfishness, and mistakes.

For Jesus, this wasn’t a problem.  He never failed His Father or misrepresented grace to the world.  When Philip asked Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father,” Jesus’ answer was clear: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father . . .Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?  The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does His works” (John 14:8, 9-10).

Those who saw Jesus walking and talking on earth saw God face to face.  We who only “see” Him in Scripture, can still see God’s intense compassion and shocking grace all over the Gospels.

We, however, are mistake-makers.  We’re fumblers.  We’re sometimes going to trip and fall down this runway.  So, it’s okay to be honest with the world and tell them that’s why we need a Savior—because we’re not perfect.  We’re not God.

But it’s also reason to work harder at this modeling gig we’ve been given and to keep in mind as we speak and act, that people are looking to see Jesus in us.

I personally am looking to Scripture for some super models of my own to emulate–like Mary, the teenage mother of Jesus Christ.  When Gabriel appeared to her with the overwhelming news that she, a virgin betrothed to Joseph, was going to have a baby who would be the Messiah and Savior of His people, she responded with submission and praise.

The song she sings after receiving God’s news is called the Magnificat and is found in Luke 1:46-55.  In her song, Mary refers to 12 different passages of Old Testament Scripture.  Twelve Scripture references in ten verses. . ..  now there’s a woman of the Word.

Even more importantly, we see her legacy of Bible knowledge in her kids.  When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, He quoted Scripture to defeat the devil’s lies.

Sure, we can say, of course Jesus knew God’s Word.  After all, He was divine!

But it wasn’t just Jesus.  Mary’s other son, James, wrote a book of the Bible that is often called the “Proverbs of the New Testament.” Within five chapters, James talks about Job, Elijah, Rahab and Abraham.  He refers to the books of Isaiah, Amos, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy.

In fact, his extensive references to Leviticus 19 have led some people to consider the book of James a commentary on this Old Testament passage.

He was a man of the Word.  Jesus was a teacher of the Word.  But, should we surprised?

After all, Mary, their super model mom, was a woman who loved Scripture.  That’s what her sons could learn from her.

What can others learn from you in your life as a super model?

You can read more devotionals on this topic here:

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

One Thing

Today, my to-do list keeps growing instead of shrinking. It’s like a monster from a sci-fi movie, a speck of a bug that everyone scoffs at until it morphs into a gigantic beast who crushes unsuspecting humans underfoot.

This is frustrating.

I’m running around, working frantically at each item on my list.

But I’m hopping from the laundry to picking up beads to cooking, back to laundry to writing to playing puzzles with my toddler to more writing to cleaning up more beads and then reading my daughter a book.

Unfortunately, as I wash and scrub, I’m discovering more cleaning to do along the way.  Open up the refrigerator.  Good grief—how long since I’ve cleaned in there?  Open up the microwave.  The inside looks like a modern art painting.  Yeah, add “clean microwave” to the list.

I’m working. I’m active.  But I’m not getting anything officially done. I’m bouncing too much from project to project.  There’s so much to do, it’s hard to pick a starting point.  It’s difficult to shut my eyes to the rest of the mess and just scrub the spot I’m on.

Isn’t that the way with life?  There’s so much to take in.  So much to do.  So many activities and so little time.

So maybe after a little hyperventilating, a big cup of tea and a generous helping of chocolate, I’m ready to do one thing.

One thing.  That’s really all we need sometimes.  We’re trying to do it all, and God asks us just to do one thing at a time.

The morning show at our local Christian radio station, KLOVE, reminds us of this every January.  They say, “Don’t get bogged down in a dozen New Year’s resolutions.  Pick one word that you want to define your year and just stick with that.”

One word to bring all my of life into focus.  One word to ask God to cement on my heart and mind.

My friend, Andrea Anderson did just that in her blog, Live With Laughter.  You can read about her word for the year here.

That’s kept me thinking this week, not just of the one word that will define my year.  I’m wondering:

Who is the one person I need to encourage today?
What is the one main thought or verse I need to take away from time in God’s Word?
What’s the one issue I need to make top priority with my kids today?
What’s the one conversation God wants me to have?
What’s the one thing God wants me to learn today?
What one lesson does God want to teach me in this circumstance?

If I get more than that one thing, it’s a bonus!  A little bit of super-blessing from God.  But, it’s enough to hold onto the one thing and trust God with the rest.

In Psalm 27, David brought all of His prayer requests into focus with just one definitive heart’s desire when he wrote:

One thing I have desired of the LORD, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD, And to inquire in His temple (Psalm 27:4).

Jesus told Martha that all the frantic cleaning and cooking shouldn’t be her focus.  He said, “One thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42).  Mary had found her one thing—time with Christ trumped everything else on her to-do list.

When the rich young ruler sought salvation from Christ, he declared that he had followed every rule, every bit of the law and fulfilled all of its requirements.

Jesus cut through all of the excess and said, “You still lack one thing.  Sell all that you  have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me” (Luke 18:22).

There was one issue, one lesson, one attitude of the heart that Christ needed to address with this man.  Unfortunately, even though the rich young ruler was willing to take on the cumbersome burden of the law, he wasn’t willing to do the one thing Jesus really wanted.  Material goods mattered more than salvation to him.

When Jesus healed a man who had been blind since birth, his family and friends pestered him with questions.

How did this happen?  Who healed you?  Where is this Jesus guy now?

Then the Pharisees heard about the healing and asked questions of their own.

Who is this healer?  Why does he have such power?  How can a sinner perform this miracle?

Tired of it all, the man finally said, “Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see” (Luke 9:25).

That was enough.  Sometimes we want to know everything.  The reasons for the past.  The destination of the future.  How God is going to work it all out and certainly when it’ll all happen.

What if instead of trying to know everything, we stick to the simplicity of truth?  I know God’s in control.  That’s enough.  Maybe that’s my one thing.

What’s the one lessons God’s been teaching you?  What’s the one word that you need to focus on this year?  What’s the one truth you can hold onto when life gets confusing and crazy? 

What’s your one thing?

You can read more devotionals on this topic here:

Christmas Devotions: A Letter to a Savior

“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart”
(Luke 2:19)

I was eleven and my Bible Study teacher gave our class a homework assignment for Christmas break.

Write a letter to God, she said.  Make it a prayer, a rededication, an offering of my own treasures, not the gold, frankincense, and myrrh of wise men, but the very finest gifts I could lay at the feet of a worthy God.

It was my Christmas gift to Him.  I wrote it out on Christmas Eve, folded it up, tied it with a ribbon and placed it under the Christmas tree.

Two decades later, I have twenty years of Christmas Eve letters to God.  It’s my most intimate and holy Christmas tradition. This Christmas Eve, I fingered the packet of letters and marveled at God’s gracious work in me.

One of my “rules” is no peeking at the letters on any day of the year other than Christmas Eve.  Yet, on that one night a year, I can glance back at twenty years of me drawing near to God just as He drew near to us on the first Christmas of all.

Usually by about February each year I can see clear answers to the prayers I scribbled out on the page just months before.

Like the year I prayed that God would help me overcome my need to be a people-pleaser.  Within two weeks I had actually managed to run into the deck on the back of my house with my car.

Kind of hard to see that as an answer to prayer at the time, but that’s one embarrassment that will humble you and break you of some people-pleasing!

Be careful what you pray for!

Other years, when crazy life events are happening just a few weeks into the new year, I wonder, “Did I pray for this somehow?!”

In some ways, this prayer letter is my moment to lay gifts before the King as the wise men did.  It’s my recommitment to serve Him in a new year and place at His feet the deepest desire of my heart to give Him praise.  I offer Him my very life, noting the places He is already at work in my character and asking Him for spiritual growth so I can bring Him glory.

Like the angels, though, I am also praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven” (Luke 2:14), as I give thanks and specific praise for the blessings of the year drawing to a close.

Then, like the shepherds, I turn my attention away from the busyness of work and daily life to see what God is doing in the heavens.  I write my letter to God at night after my daughters are asleep, the dishes are done, the gifts are wrapped and under the tree. There, in near-darkness, illumined almost solely by Christmas lights, I pray and write.

I look away from the “sheep” in my care, lift my eyes and attune my heart to hear the announcement of good news, of promises for the future and the certainty of promises fulfilled.  I dwell not just on what God has done or what He is doing, but what He will do in the new year.  What burdens has He placed on my heart?  What directions has He asked me to travel?  What steps of obedience has He asked me to take?

Mostly though, my Christmas letter is a moment to be like Mary, who after the shepherds came “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).  In the same way, she “treasured all these things in her heart” even when Jesus as a young boy became separated from his parents during their pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

Sometimes God’s work in our lives needs times of reflection and stillness.  What He reveals to us as we sit at His feet isn’t always meant for public announcements or official New Year’s resolutions, or campaigns or church-wide programs.

Sometimes God asks us to ponder and treasure, to reflect, pray, and wait for the appointed time.

So, I ponder.  I ask for God’s perspective on my marriage, my kids, my ministry and job and heart and mind.

Instead of monopolizing my conversation with an oh-so-patient God, I ask for His input.  Before I ever begin to write, I flip through my prayer journal and track the themes I see there.

How at times everything I read seems to be about grace.  Or prayer.  Or allowing Him to bring light into dark places. Or believing God for the impossible.  Or how He is a God who restores.

I follow the clear path of what He has already been doing in my life and then I join Him there in that place.  Yes, Lord, I pray, be at work here.  I will join You.  I will be submissive and receptive to what You want to do in me.

It’s too late for you to sit in the stillness of a Christmas Eve and write your own letter this year, but the new year is just days away.  What a perfect time to begin a holy and intimate tradition of your own.  A letter to Your Savior.

What gifts do you have to lay before the King?  What songs of thanks can you sing in the night?  What do you see in the spiritual places when you shift your focus off the physical daily routine of life?  What has God been doing in you and teaching you that you need to ponder in your heart?

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