From Lack to Leftovers

Published March 26, 2011 by imdaddysgirl

“God will never allow you to keep a spiritual blessing completely for yourself.  It must be given back to Him so that He can make it a blessing for others.” ~Oswald Chambers

God uses fantastic math!  He has a way of multiplying the little that we have to offer (which was already given by Him) and making it so much better than if we had kept it.  He is wonderful!

Mark 6:30-44,  Jesus, seeking some time away, but invaded by a crowd, has compassion on the people and begins to teach them.  He taught  them “many things”.  Evidently,  He had much He wanted to share.  It became very late.    Jesus instructed His disciples to feed the people.  They would have liked to send them away.  Why?  Were they bad people?  Did they lack compassion?  Did they dislike the people?  No.  I suggest that they simply realized their own limitations.

The disciples realized the time.  It was very late.  They looked in their wallets and saw lack.  They realized in themselves , they did not have what the people needed.  So, their suggestion was, “send the people away…so they can go and buy themselves something to eat.”  But, Jesus answered, “You buy them something to eat.”

The disciples looked again at what they had; as well as what they did not have.  They calculated that it would cost them 8 months salary to feed the crowd before them.  In themselves it was impossible!  Jesus wanted to know, and He wanted them to know exactly what He had to work with.

“How many loaves do you have?”  “Go and see.”  They found out and answered, five loaves and two fish.    After they were painfully aware of their own limitations, Jesus rose to action.   He used the disciples to serve the meal.  He used them to feed the need in front of them.  What was impossible for them to do alone became a wonderful feast as Jesus looked to heaven, gave thanks, and directed His disciples in the work at hand.

All who were there ate, and were satisfied.  The meal went from lack to leftovers!  Twelve baskets full of broken pieces and bread were left over and picked up by the disciples.  Five thousand men had eaten.  An untold number of women and children most likely ate to their full as well.

The five loaves and two fish wouldn’t have fed many.  Apart from giving Jesus the little they had to work with, there would have been lack.  With Jesus there was surplus!  This is the heart of worship.  It is allowing God to be glorified by giving Him back all that we have, all that we are, all that we are not.  It is welcoming God to have His way as we extend His blessing to the hungry.

Dear Lord, I pray that You would purify my heart so that all that I have, all that I lack and all of the needs in front of me are laid open to You.  I pray that You would use all that You have already blessed me with; and multiply it in ways that only You can do.  I love honor and worship You, Lord Jesus.  Have Your way and be glorified in and through me.  In Jesus name, I pray.  Amen.

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OOOOOH!!!! A Dolphin?!!

Published March 20, 2011 by imdaddysgirl

“Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only for one second without hope.”  ~unknown

I have been working on the other side of the bay quite a bit lately.   At first, I wasn’t too thrilled about the drive.  It’s not that far, but the traffic can be a challenge.  However, I have found myself enjoying the drive and somewhat looking forward to it.  It is good for my soul to be near water.  It calms me.  I am refreshed even at the sight of it.  Early morning, (in spite of traffic) it’s so beautiful to see the sun rising in the sky; or the stillness of fog hovering above the water.

It is out of my commute that the Lord began to speak to me this week.  You see, just at my first glimpse of water, on the edge of the bay something caught my eye.  Daily, my eye would behold a slight hump above the water and some ripples around it.  My heart would leap at what I thought could be a dolphin.  I have lived near their habitat for 30 years now, but I am still thrilled at a sighting!  However, as I drove closer, I would realize that it was not a friend with a fin, but a piece of drift wood.  EVERY day last week, I repeated this scenario on my commute.

One day I went in to the office earlier, closer to daybreak.  Through the trees I saw a reddish hue.  My heart warmed at what was to be a most beautiful sunrise; I was sure.  However, as I drove closer, I realized it was not the glow of the sun but the incandescence of a Walgreens sign.

I marvelled  at how I had been tricked.  I mean, really!  I can see a one time drug store duping, but a daily dolphin distortion?!!!  Believe it or not, it is from such things that God Almighty  speaks to me.

I began to ponder how easily we humans can be deceived.  We truly need to have the mind of Christ as the enemy of our soul appears as an angel of light(2 Cor 11:14).  Something can appear to us as true and good; and we want it to be so.  But, it might not be so.  In relationships, finances, business ventures, decision making we need to present it all to God and let Him sort through things for us.  God will shed His Truth and Light on our every day matters and lead us to clarity.

My other prevailing thought in this scenario is that we as humans are wired to be hopeful.  We want to see the dolphin and the pretty sunrise.  We want to see and believe the best.  We were made for that.  God’s original intent for us was that we would only know His Truth.  We would always communicate with Him as a friend.  We would never see destruction.  We would never know death or separation or loss.  We would be living in pure, unpolluted beauty and He would be our Light.  We were made to live and never lack for hope.

Lumps of wood and artifical light are poor substitutes.  But, when we want to see the best, sometimes we can be duped by cheap imitations.  Eventually they will be found out for what they truly are.  In my commute there were no consequences to this deception.  In life, the consequences can be grave.

We need to stay close to Jesus.

“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”  2 Peter 3:15

Father, help us to cling to You and Your hope.  Help us to walk in Your Truth and Light and not be deceived.  Thank You that You have wired us to look for and believe for the best.  Help us to be wise in our understanding.  Help us to have Your mind.  Help us to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.  Help us to discern, but not become suspicious or critical or judgmental.  Help us to remain as innocent children before their Daddy.  Help us to stay on the straight and narrow path which leads to life.  Help us to always enter through the narrow gate of Your will and lead us in Your ways.  We place our trust in You alone as the Shepherd of our souls.  I pray these things for Your glory and for our protection.  In Jesus name, I pray.  Amen.


Beyond Survival, to Hope

Published February 26, 2011 by imdaddysgirl
Life is an error-making and an error-correcting process, and nature in marking man’s papers will grade him for wisdom as measured both by survival and by the quality of life of those who survive.” 

~Jonas Salk

I am blown away by the capacity human beings have to survive.  Just today, some of the life stories people shared with me included a man being in the same bed with his wife who shot herself, a Grandfather opening his curtains in the morning to see the lifeless body of his Grandson hung from the second story, serious drug use since age 10, physical abuse and molestation, attempted suicides, IV drug use since age 13, a child witnessing his own father kill 5 people so that he could score heroin, a mother selling her daughter’s body so she could purchase Vodka…

It is not surprising that the people who shared these stories have bodies ravaged by drugs and alcohol; and souls ravaged by sin.  Who could bear it?  Yet, the bravery of the people I’m hearing these accounts from is what stands out to me.  Poor choices have been made, yes.  Their judgment is poor, yes.  But, they are at a point where they are seeking help. They of their own will are submitting themselves to a withdrawal that at the time seems like the most painful thing in their life.  Some also are experiencing “feelings” for the first time in years; rather than self medicating into numbness.

I believe that what it boils down to is that no matter what sin-sick lives these dear souls have lived, there is still room for hope in their hearts.  That is what it takes to go from mere survival to a thriving life.  Without hope people die.  Some of these people believe that they’d be better off dead, and yet they live. Though some of these people have seen very little good happen in their own lives, they hold out for a better life… which is the essence of hope after all, isn’t it?  “Hope that is seen is no hope at all.  Who hopes for what he already has?”

The writer of Ecclesiastes wrote that “I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun:  I saw the tears of the oppressed- and they have no comforter; power was on the side of the oppressor- and they have no comforter.  And I declared that the dead who had already died are happier than the living who are still alive.” (Ecc. 4:1,2)

The thing is, the Comforter has come.  He dwells in you and I, believer.  He wants to be released to touch the world.  That will happen through us, if we’ll let Him.  It is so very humbling how simple kindness and compassion elicit tears and hugs and genuine gratitude from the same people I’ve mentioned above.  I see that as the work of the Comforter.

And, I see hope rise up.

“Be strong and take heart all you who hope in the Lord.”  Psalm 31:24

Father, I pray that Your hope will rise up in souls ravaged by sin today.  Where people know You, I pray that they would come to know You better and lean on You more.  In souls who have yet to experience Your saving grace, I pray that You reveal Yourself to them and that Your life invade their mere existence,  illuminating their world.  I pray for the Comforter to fill breaking hearts with peace, love, strength and fresh hope for a new day.  Help us to be Your hands and feet in this broken world.  It is for Your glory that I pray these things in Jesus name.  Amen.

Impartial Love

Published February 12, 2011 by imdaddysgirl

“If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them.  The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places.  But those it will not break it kills.  It kills the very good,  and the very gentle and the very brave impartially.  If you are none of these, you can be sure it will kill you too, but there will be no special hurry.”

~Ernest Hemingway


It is an interesting season in my life.  I am busy working for two very different groups of people.  I begin the day providing care for some of the most respected and revered members of society.  After a few good hours with them, I travel a short ways to provide healthcare for some of the more feared, outcast,  despised and rejected members of society.

I have been reminded everyday of how God loves us impartially.  Made to remember that none of us are anything apart from Him.  Reminded that no matter how we look or talk or smell or act, all that matters in the end is whether or not we know Jesus.

Sorry about the harshness of the Hemingway quote here, but the prince of this world is out to steal, kill and destroy and it respects no man…  But, God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have have eternal life.

That is the Good News!  To the Lord all men are alike.  It is He who sees the heart.  He sees the same need in each of us for His salvation.  He loved us so much that He made a way for us all.  It doesn’t matter what we do or do not do, how successful or how lacking we may find ourselves.  Whether we’re sin sick or prideful, we all need a Savior.

My personal challenge and point of self examination has been to ask myself if I can love like Jesus loves.  Am I able to look at each of these people in the course of a day as having the same value and worth.  Am I treating them with the same impartiality as Christ does?   “For there is no respect of persons with God.” Romans 2:11  Am I treating them as equal?  Because before the Lord, we all have the same need.

Father, again I pray that you teach me to love as you do.  I pray that You help me in continuous ways day by day that Your love is not based on our outward circumstances or appearance, nor any inward quality of our own, but it’s all about who You are.  You are love!  I want to love as You do.


Letting Go

Published February 5, 2011 by imdaddysgirl

“For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.”

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have broken some new ground this week.  It seems that there is still so much new and so much old with me right now. This is definitely a year of personal and professional transition.  Many of them.  The thing is, that I find myself wanting to embrace and run with the new, but also having a difficult time letting go of the old.  It’s not just that I’m cruising at around 110 mph about 500 miles outside of my comfort zone, though some days it seems that way… BIG TIME!  But, I also am losing the comfort of other patterns of life and associates at work who have become good friends and a certain comfort of being able to call the shots more easily in regard to my schedule.  I am letting go of seniority to become a freshman again.  My work associates are strangers as yet.  The hours are different, the days are longer.

I have studied for this.  I have prayed for this. I have sought the direction of the Lord in this transition time.  He has blessed.  He has led.  He has answered.  He has given me favor.  He has opened new doors of opportunity.  I am grateful.  And yet, I am uncomfortable.  I have not found my groove yet.  I am grooveless.

But, my heart is His.  My times are in His hands.  While I have felt at times like I wish someone could just make a few decisions for me, I have been reminded that I am not in this life alone.  Though the Heavens haven’t opened and I’ve heard no audible shout from the clouds, still I have sensed the direction of the Lord.  I  trust that His Word is true.

As the Lord has cared for His people and is likened to a mother bird helping it’s young to fly, this is what I  sense the Lord is doing with me…  “In a desert land He found him, in a barren and howling waste.  He shielded him and cared for him;  He guarded him as the apple of His eye, like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young and spreads its wings to catch them and carries them on its pinions.  The Lord alone led him; no foreign god was with him.”                   (Dt 32:10-12).

I trust that I will learn to fly in the days to come.  I am certain that what is now new and uncertain will settle into a more comfortable routine.  I also sense that my transitions for the year have only just begun.  I feel within me an ever increasing need to seek and trust the direction of the Lord and to pray for wisdom when I can’t clearly hear Him or see the path.  I do know that while I don’t know what the future holds, He does.  I know that I have enough light on the path to take my next step.  For now, that will be enough.

Father, I trust YOU.  I don’t place my trust, my future, my gifts or my needs in the hands of anything hollow that this world could offer.   I declare my trust in You!  You are my peace in uncertain times, in transition and in stretching.  You are my light.  You are the path.  You have led and will continue to lead me in paths of righteousness and paths of blessing.  I thank You for what You are showing me and teaching me in this season of opportunity and change.  Help me to not be timid or shrink back to the familiar for the sake of my own comfort, but to climb with You to new heights.  Father, I pray that I will bring You glory in all these things and that I will say yes when You say yes and no when you say no.  Be glorified in me , I pray, in Jesus name.  Amen.

I believe… but help me please!

Published January 27, 2011 by imdaddysgirl

“Listen to the mustn’ts, child.  Listen to the don’ts.  Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibilities, the won’ts.  Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me…  Anything can happen , child.  Anything can be.”  ~ Shel Silverstein

Mark 9:14-29 recounts the story of a boy who had been plagued his whole life by a deaf and mute spirit.  The history this boy knew was of seizures, convulsions and living under the influence of evil which desired to kill him.  His father told Jesus that “From childhood, it has thrown him into fire or water to kill him.”  Imagine!  Just think of being a loving parent and defenseless to protect your child from evil influence!

Sometimes the evil one is obvious.  Sometimes the devil is subtle.  This was a case of obvious evil.  Murder, rape, child abuse, beatings, verbal torment and berating… obvious evil.  Less obvious are the ways the evil one captures our attention through the lust of the eyes, the lust of the heart, the lust of the flesh, the pride of life. Much more insidious are the ways of subtle neglect and inattention to things of God.   We can set ourselves up for the enemy of our soul to creep in, steal our joy and get us side tracked.

Whether through an over-played hand or sneaking through the door, the devil has just one plan…”The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.”  (John 10:10)  BUT, Jesus said “I have come that they may have life and life more abundantly.”  God’s plan is always life promoting.  He is the author of life.

So, when the father of this tormented child brought his son for help, he tried to seek help from the disciples first, but to no avail.  “They could not.” (Mk.9:18)  So, he went to Jesus, Himself and asked Jesus “if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” (Mk. 9:22)    Jesus responded by saying, “If you can?”  “Everything is possible for him who believes.”

How many of us can relate to this father’s response?  “I do believe ( but, I thought I’ve believed before and nothing changed. I do believe but I’m nobody.  I do believe but I’ve asked for things before and didn’t get them.  I do believe, but they still died.  I do believe, but I recognize how impossible this is.  I do believe, but this is all I’ve ever seen and all I’ve ever known… fill in your own history here).  “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).

I believe, Lord!  Help me when my situation looks impossible.  Help me when I see my failures as being bigger than Your victories.  Help me when my past looms larger than the future You have planned for me.  Help me when the trap is more comfortable than Your freedom.  Help me when my desires are stronger than Yours in me.  Help me when I focus on my lack instead of Your riches.  Help me!

The rebuked spirit was obviously no match for Jesus and the boy left free.  As awesome as this account is, it’s almost a side note in the story (though Jesus delights to set people free!)   The focus is in trusting God for the impossible.

The disciples asked Jesus why they couldn’t drive the spirit out themselves.  They had learned from Jesus, seen this kind of thing happen before and evidently met with some success in ministry… so why not this time.  Jesus response is simply, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”

WHAT?  The disciples didn’t pray?  They tried to cast out an evil spirit without praying?  Really?  It seems crazy doesn’t it?!

Yet, how often do you and I go about our day in our own strength?  How many opportunities have I missed for God because I was not in tune to God’s Spirit enough to be directed by His still small voice?  How often do I try to apply the world’s band-aid to a situation which will only be changed through prayer.

Father, I believe.  Please help my unbelief.  Please help me to pray more meaningful and less perfunctory prayers.  Help me to incline my ear to Your voice rather than my own, or the voices around me.  Please help my unbelief when I see my limitations looming large.  Help me to always see You greater than whatever the need is around me.  Help my unbelief.  I love You and want to be a vessel You can use to do the impossible.  It is for Your glory that I pray this, in Jesus name.  Amen.

Dedication

Published January 9, 2011 by imdaddysgirl
    I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.” And he worshiped the LORD there. 1 Samuel 1:26-28
    (Hannah’s prayer of dedication for Samuel)

Today, I have been asked to join some friends and pray over a little girl whom they have in their care as a foster child.  In her 3 short years she has encountered untold levels of betrayal and neglect from those she loves the most.  The environment she lived in her first 2 years was the devil’s playground.

Prayerfully, her birth parents will be loosed form the grip of the enemy of their soul and free to be the people and parents God would have them be.   However, until these parents are in a position before God to present their daughter to Him, she is in a family who lives for God and loves her as their own.   Today, they want to present this precious child to the Lord in an act of dedication.

Preparing to join them in this, I’ve done some Bible reading and exploration of what it means to dedicate.  When Christian parents dedicate a child, they are making a statement to God and others that they will look to God for direction in training, disciplining, encouraging, and leading this child to follow the ways of the Lord.  It is also a statement from the parents that God’s plan is best and a promise to raise them according to God’s ways.  It is committing their child back to God so that His will may be done in their life.

The Hebrew word for “dedicate” means “to narrow”.  Figuratively this speaks of discipline,  starting something new, and training a child for the Lord.  I think of a change in focus as well.  With Gods’ vision our focus changes.  Even when we can’t see an end of a matter, how we walk through it is narrow in focus.  We walk with God through prayer, obedience to His Word and with faith that He is leading us and directing our steps.

So, it is not just dedicating a child to God.  It is dedicating yourself as a parent, as sisters and brothers, as a loved one, as the church, as a brother, a sister in Christ who will be living examples of the love and nurture of God in her life.  We are called on as a witness to this godly act that this child has been placed in the hands of God.  It is saying as a believer that this child has a plan and purpose which only God knows.  It is a statement that we have her in our care as a steward to help facilitate the plans and purposes of God in her life.  She is special, she is set apart for God. We are to rely on the Spirit of God and His Holy Word to train her in the ways of the Lord.  It is a holy privilege.

So, Heavenly Father, we come to You today and acknowledge that You are the Creator of this dear child.  We declare that she is Yours now and forever.  We thank You for the privilege of allowing her to be in our family.  We give her to You spiritually even as You have given her to us physically.  We acknowledge our need for Your wisdom to raise her according to Your Word, Your purpose and Your will.  We pray that she will know and follow You at her earliest age of understanding and that she will walk with You all her days.  We pray Your will, Your plans, Your purposes be accomplished in her and in every member of our family.  We pray a hedge of protection about her even as a wall of fire.  We pray Lord that you provide for her, watch over her, protect her, keep her on the narrow path of life and godliness and use her in a mighty way for Your glory.  We declare that God’s will be done, God’s Kingdom come in her life now and forevermore.   In Jesus name we pray.  Amen.