Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Socks and Other Stockpiles

Most of my good friends know a dirty, little secret about me: that is, I have a stockade of freshly laundered socks in my house almost all the time. We call it the “SOCKade”! Unfortunately, this is not the only stash of uncompleted tasks in the Shaw home, but it is the most frequent irritant to us when we need to get out the door quickly. The truth is that I am one of the queens of unfinished business domestically speaking. While I’m usually eager to serve my family in this way, good intentions do not always give way to finished results. I feel quite certain that I’m not the only one who struggles with this…

While I can have a huge laugh over this “flaw” in my personality, all joking aside, I know the Lord wants me to do better in this area. It has caused me to take a look at the spiritual areas where I do this as well. I’m always amazed when I open up this conversation with the Lord. He showed me this verse this morning as I did so. It made me chuckle at first, because I could almost visualize Paul talking directly to me:

“And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter:
Last year you were the first not only to give
but also to have the desire to do so.
Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it
may be matched by your completion of it according to your means.”
2 Corinthians 8:10-11
Paul was talking to the Corinthians about an offering they started, but because of problems and challenges that had erupted among the church, the giving stopped. How this very principle can apply to our own lives, too--about money, about our gifts and talents, about a new relationship we’ve started, about housework, dieting, sin struggles, spiritual disciplines, work and family goals, etc.

The Lord loves our desire to please Him and others out of the right motive. And, oh, how He must love it when our eager willingness is matched by our completion of it with the means that He gives us. Sometimes it is simply a matter of discipline and priorities, like the SOCKade; other times, it is the deeper sacrifice of surrender to Him, you fill in the blank.

Let’s ask ourselves some questions:

• Are we eager to start the projects, tasks & missions that the Lord lays on our hearts? When we start them, do we persevere and finish?

• What challenges and obstacles get in the way of our “almost accomplishments”?

• Do we also have the desire to work through the buildup of anything hindering us spiritually? What stuff have we let build up in us that needs to be put away?

• What “means” would it take to finish what we’ve started?

• Read the following verses: 1 Thessalonians 5:24 & Philippians 1:5-6---If the Lord asks us to do something, will He give us what we need to finish it?

So, as the kids and I (yes, they're the kids' socks too!) work on depleting the stockade of socks and other stockpiles of things, I pray that all of us would take this challenge from Paul to sort through our own unfinished-though-it-began-in-eagerness offerings to the Lord. It will take perseverance, but along the way, it will help us become “mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:4)

May we eagerly begin to allow Him to be a Finisher in us today!

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Special Tribute & I'm At The Cafe Today...

I posted a very special tribute on my personal blog. If you have 10 extra minutes in your day, please take the time to read. Your heart will be moved:

I'm also at the Internet Cafe today with a good sense of humor. Well, sort of...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pondering Devastation in Haiti through Faith-Colored Glasses

The Lord led me to post some thoughts about Haiti on my personal blog:

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

All the Way to Cambodia, Part 4

"From the east I summon a bird of prey;
from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose.
What I have said, that will I bring about;
what I have planned, that will I do."
Isaiah 46:11
I woke up a mixed bag of emotions. Here it was, finally…the day we were to travel to our conference spot for World Relief…and I was weirded out. I felt excited and nervous, but more than anything—homesick.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a pretty independent person, and though I love my family and miss them when we’re apart, I’m not normally needy of them after this short length of time. But I was all the way in Cambodia, and I guess that changes things.

By the grace of God, He gave me a gift, and I’m sure it was a gift to many others too. As we were waiting for the shuttle bus to pick us up, we waited in the hotel lobby, our load of suitcases with supplies and the like nearby us. Our two worship leaders on the team pulled out their guitars, in the name of practicing for the conference, and began to sing. Well, there’s a reason they are called worship leaders, because it wasn’t long before our entire team was worshiping alongside them. The lobby clerk did not ask us to be quiet, and neither did the random spectators looming around to observe. I wondered what they were thinking as we sang “God of the City” over Phnom Pehn that morning. Did God give them the ability to understand our language?

I wanted to cry, but that would be silly. Everyone would turn their attention to me, and I didn’t want them to…it was so great knowing that the focus was on the Lord in those moments. He could handle me, and I would let Him, as big a job as it would be.

The bus came, and Katie, the World Relief hostess with the mostest, brought us lattes from the local coffee place to be. (I know, HUGE suffrage for Jesus on this missions trip). They don’t have Starbucks, but they have this place. I don’t even remember the name, but it was gooooooooood. They had the round ice cubes that we could have in our drinks and not worry about…Starbucks could learn a thing or two from this shop. Or maybe it had something to do with withdrawals…but whatever the case, yuhh—um---eeee.

So, with a quad shot added to my see-saw of emotions, we began the long drive to our conference spot hours away. Not long into the drive, the team games began. For hours, we rhymed and reasoned trying to figure out mind-puzzling games such as “Johnny Whoop, Black Magic, the Umbrella Game, some crazy Pictionary Telephone game and others. I was HORRIBLE at all of them, but they were great fun.

After a few interesting “pit stops” (I will spare you the details on the inside jokes here), Katie put a movie on for us. Did I mention it was a looooooong drive to the Koh Kong Province? All the way to the Thailand border!

While my teammates enjoyed “UP!” I took the opportunity to shut my eyes and pray. And cry. Some of the tears slipped out, but luckily everyone was looking “UP” and didn’t notice.

In a way, it’s embarrassing for me to admit the pleads and whines I was praying to the Lord, but it was a huge part of my missions trip experience, so I can’t skip past it.

I asked Him what His purpose was for bringing me all the way to this place. I hadn’t had a single connection to call my family or email them, (as if I should’ve expected such a thing). I kept thinking I would never be able to share all that I’d seen and experienced with them when I got home. For the very first time, I admitted to the Lord that I wanted to go home, but also that I didn’t. I asked for His peace, His provision, His strength to consume me in my weakness. I begged Him to help me appreciate this opportunity and rejoice in these moments of struggle.

It took the rest of the way there, but I began to experience His presence and His calm. With His tender mercy, He began to pick me up from the pit of my pitifulness.

Though my emotions would continue to be shaken in the days to come, I would have a new resolve as I allowed Him to unpack His purposes and plans…all the way in Koh Kong, Cambodia.

"It's in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for.
Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up,
He had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living,
part of the overall purpose He is working out in everything and everyone."
Ephesians 1:11-12, the Message

Friday, January 8, 2010

Pause for a Faith-Filled Giveaway with FOUR winners!

Will you help me spread the word? I'm having a giveaway on my new personal blog. Click here for details!

Thank you so much!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Most Responded To Post of 2009//Out of Order

I didn't post this devo here on Selah, but I sent it to my website edevo recipients and posted it on the Internet Cafe. The Lord's conviction in and through me struck a chord with many, and I'm so glad He did. May we all keep things in In His Order this 2010:

Out of Order

Recently, I began to feel pretty flat spiritually. Okay, really flat. With little inspiration to write, to read or even to pray, it was all I could do to keep from sinking into depression. When the Lord led me to search my soul about it, an unsuspecting thought surfaced.

No, THAT is not the problem. Next thought, Lord.

No matter how much I tried to deny it, the Holy Spirit kept bringing the same subject up in my heart and mind--through devotions I would read, sermons I would hear, songs that left a thick lump in my throat, and through conversations with my friends and family.

You haven’t been putting Me first.

That’s the thought that kept coming. I asked Him to show me what I was doing out of order, and He began the process of revealing it to me. I feel led to share one moment in particular with you.

That morning I was sitting in “my chair” (the one I sit in to read my Bible). I had just checked my email and commented on a few blogs, when I got up to get my second cup of coffee. As I looked over at the side table, the image I saw froze in my mind:

It was my laptop sitting on top of my open Bible. You see, when I first sat down that morning, I had opened my Bible up to the Psalms, which is how I’d jumpstarted my morning for several years. Then I thought I would take juuuuust a second to check my email before the kids got up. After all, I’d rather them see my face in the Bible instead of my computer first thing in the morning, I concluded.

While my rationale seemed justifiable at the time, the Holy Spirit put a check in my heart, pointing out that I’d been doing this more and more lately….the end result being less and less time with the Lord. I was getting into a habit of coming before Him distracted and half-heartedly.

I hadn’t been putting Him first. (Gulp)

Embarrassingly, I had become more excited about checking my email and my blog in the mornings than I had about checking what He had to say to me through His Word. No wonder I was to the point of depleted. I was pouring myself out to things that couldn’t fill me back up.

It wasn’t that I had been intentionally walking in a life of sin or anything, but I hadn’t been intentionally guarding my time with Him either.

His Word reminds me:
Romans 12:11 (NIV)
“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”

I like the parallel that can be drawn from this OT passage:

Deuteronomy 11:16-17 (The Message)
“But be vigilant, lest you be seduced away and end up serving and worshiping other gods and God erupts in anger and shuts down Heaven so there's no rain and nothing grows in the fields, and in no time at all you're starved out—not a trace of you left on the good land that God is giving you.”

Friends, this applies to all of us. When we let the “things,” good, bad or in-between, woo us away from our One and Only, then our spiritual growth stops. He’s a jealous God, and He simply won’t stand for it. If we don’t stop and repent, turning our face to Jesus, we’ll waste away to nothingness spiritually speaking, bearing little fruit to offer anyone.

Is there something sitting on top of your Bible? Is there anything sapping the life right out of you? Are you being honest with yourself about this issue?

The reason I ask that last question about being honest with yourself is because I wasn’t. My husband asked me several weeks ago if I was becoming overly dependent on my laptop, and I gave him the most defensive “NO” I’ve given him in a very long time. That should’ve been the first clue.
Psalm 119:58-60 (NIV)
“I have sought Your face with all my heart; be gracious to me according to Your promise. I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to Your statutes. I will hasten and not delay to obey Your commands.”

So sisters, in Spirit and in Truth, let’s repent and turn, moving forward in His order and seeking His face more than any other. It is only with Him in full view that we can experience His life in full measure.

Lord, I’m so sorry for putting You out of order. You have made the choice so simple for me, yet so often I seek other pleasures to give me abundant life. Thank You for Your forgiveness and mercy and for putting me face forward in the right direction again. Help keep my wandering heart focused solely on You, Father. I pray for my sisters in Christ who also struggle with getting their priorities out of whack, and help them to seek You, accepting Your perfect correction and direction for their paths in the meantime. You are so good, Lord, and I thank You for being a God of perfect order. Help me to follow Your example, I pray, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

In the Key of HE,

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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Pausing to Share my 2010 Verse and my New Personal Blog

I'm so excited about the verse the Lord laid on my heart to ponder and flesh out in 2010:

2 Timothy 1:7:
"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity,
but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."

Wow, He knew I needed this verse. As He helped me work through focusing on Him with an undivided heart last year, He now has my full attention. But with that, He's begun the process of altering my confidence in Him--the kind that will produce a deeper, Spirit-filled love and discipline in me.

I'm so excited, and a little timid (admittedly), to begin praying and applying this verse to my daily life, but here I go. Thank goodness "The One who calls" me "is faithful, and HE will do it." Otherwise, I wouldn't have a chance! After all, the key to every resolution kept is the power of His Word released in and through my life. That's why my New Year's resolution is always something from His Word...because the Living Word in me can make it happen as I surrender myself to Him.

Have you considered praying for a verse for the Lord to flesh out in you this year?

And one other exciting thing, at least to me. I've been working on a new personal blog for months, and it is finally up and running! Wanna have a look-see? I hope you will!

Happy New Year!!!!