Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Helping Hand

"I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD. " ~ Psalm 40:1-3 (NIV)

How precious is our Lord to come to us at just the right time and bring us out of the depths we are in. It's hard to wait patiently during times of crises, but God is faithful.

The Hebrew word for patiently is qavah, a verb that means:

Basically, we wait. I love "look eagerly for". Let's don't give up. Let's keep waiting and eagerly looking for God's hand of deliverance. He will hear our cries for help and He will use these times for His glory. He will lift us out of the mud and mire, the sinking place, and place us back on terra firma where we can praise His holy name.

I love the honesty I see when I read of struggles others face. It gives me hope as I face struggles of my own. I am moved more closely to God as I see how He works in others lives and pray that as I share my own struggles, others will move toward God, reverencing Him and putting their trust in Him.

"I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and salvation. I do not conceal your love and your truth from the great assembly." ~ Psalm 40:10 (NIV)

One of the best ways people learn is by example. We should never conceal our love for the Lord and what He has done for us unless He prompts us to. I believe there are times that the Lord wants us to be discreet in matters so personal that it should remain between the Lord and ourselves; however, 99.7% of the time it is to God's glory to proclaim the love and truth of God, speaking of His faithfulness to others.

How do you choose to share His love? I often speak of it with others, I email about it, blog about it, and praise Him for it.

This week I'm thankful for you. Your prayers and blogs have helped me look up, reach hold of God's hand, and be lifted out of the slimy pit. I'm back on terra firma! It feels good. Thank you.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

We were made for so much more than average. I did a word search for average in the KJV and the NIV, and the word simply isn't there. I did a word search for outstanding and found 5 uses where it described people. Even the word extraordinary was there once, describing the type of miracles God did through Paul. (Acts 19:11)

Do you long for outstanding and extraordinary in your life? If not, you should! We should always let our hearts soar as high as our dreams and hopes allow. God longs for you to experience Him to His fullest, and He, my friend, is not down in the pit of average.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." ~ Isaiah 55:8-11 (NIV)

What dream do you have for your life? If someone had asked me this a few years ago I would have said, "Oh, I don't know. Just to grow old with my husband and be the best I can for him, my grandchildren and God."

Over the course of about two years, God has shown me that my life matters. I'm not just an average every-day woman. I am His beloved! He has hopes and dreams for me that I cannot fathom.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." ~ Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV)

Since learning that He has plans for me, I have grown closer to Him in prayer, trying to discern where my plans end and His begin or how they meet in the middle. I've seen doors open and close, people come into my life and leave, and my prayers change from, "Lord, help me..." to "Lord, grow me...."

One of the biggest dreams I have had is to read the Bible through. He gave me strength for that journey and I didn't bog down in Judges like I usually do. I actually developed such a hunger and thirst for His Word that I read it through nearly 3 times in a row. I still desire to read more every day and am tracking my progress here on my blog.

Another of my dreams has been that God would grow me into the kind of prayer warrior He wants me to be. I have a verse for the year that even speaks of His impressing this upon my heart.

He has sustained me in long periods of prayer and even taught me that the shortest prayers are as effective as the long ones.

Most of all, after hearing Brandon Heath's song, "Give Me Your Eyes", I made that my prayer and asked God to help me see people as He sees them, to love them with His love, and to fill me with compassion and prayer for His children. I have loved more and prayed more than I ever thought possible! I have moved from being "Just Laurie Ann" to a woman with a purpose. Lest you think that I think the sun comes up just to hear me crow, I have a verse to back me up on this.

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." ~ Psalm 139:13-14 (NIV, Emphasis mine)

The Hebrew word for fearfully is yare'. It means:

1) to fear, revere, be afraid
a) (Qal)
1) to fear, be afraid
2) to stand in awe of, be awed
3) to fear, reverence, honour, respect
b) (Niphal)
1) to be fearful, be dreadful, be feared
2) to cause astonishment and awe, be held in awe
3) to inspire reverence or godly fear or awe
c) (Piel) to make afraid, terrify
2) (TWOT) to shoot, pour

God has truly inspired awe in me for His creation. I grew up to fear, honor and respect the Lord and the works of His hand. I am just now learning the self-respect thing - my self-esteem has gone from near nil to much better, but I still have a long way to go.

The Hebrew word for wonderfully, another way God made us, is so exciting. Palah means:

1) to be distinct, marked out, be separated, be distinguished
a) (Niphal)
1) to be distinct, be separated, be distinguished
2) to be wonderful
b) (Hiphil) to make separate, set apart

God created us with a purpose and calls us wonderful. We are distinguished and separate individuals. Our dreams and gifts are not all the same.

He has not called me out to the mission fields of a third-world country or led me to adopt a family of 10. He knows my body is not equipped for that, though it could be if He chose to do so. He has not called me to lofty heights, where people see my acts of service to Him. I admire people He has called to do that and am so glad they are, because people do need God's love expressed to them that way. It's just not what He has called me to do.

What He has placed within me is a desire to teach and minister through my blog here and minister to and encourage the people I come into contact with on a daily basis. I love where He has placed me in blogging. He has put me in touch with some of the most magnificent women of faith, connecting our kindred hearts and leading me to friendships that have encouraged me and caused me to grow in Him. I am able to share my blog with friends in real life as well, and pray they are encouraged by what they read. I am prompted to try to walk my talk more carefully because of my blog. I can tell you that!

My dreams have soared high and continue to soar higher in Christ. To quote an old hymn, "Every day with Jesus, is sweeter than the day before, every day with Jesus, I love Him even more..." The more I love Him, the more I want to serve Him.

To be able to dream and dream big is for me to place my heart in His hands and say, "Lord, unsettle me. Shake me loose from the average and send me soaring on eagle's wings. Where ever You lead, I'll go." (Lysa TerKeurst inspired me to pray, "Lord, unsettle me.) I got my nerve up and prayed that prayer. Wow! He did.

I'll let you in on a little secret. I have one fruit of the Spirit that I'm working on, and after I have given up what I need to give up, my dreams include publishing a book of devotions and pictures. Oh, I dare to dream, and dream big!

What's your dream? Let it soar. Beloved, we were made for more than just average. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. Do you believe that? Do you believe God has a plan for your life? A purpose? And that those plans are meant to prosper you and not harm you?

Dream big. Trust in Him. Let your heart soar higher than you ever thought it could.

Look familiar? This post originally ran 3/10/09.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

WFW - Strengthen Me

A Heavy Heart

Do you have a heavy heart today? Lately I have. The light in my life seemed to grow pretty dim for a number of weeks recently. I was weary and filled with sorrow.

The Hebrew word for soul is sort of what I call a catch-all. Nephesh is a noun that means:

1) soul, self, life, creature, person, appetite, mind, living being, desire, emotion, passion
a) that which breathes, the breathing substance or being, soul, the inner being of man
b) living being
c) living being (with life in the blood)
d) the man himself, self, person or individual
e) seat of the appetites
f) seat of emotions and passions
g) activity of mind
1) dubious
h) activity of the will
1) dubious
i) activity of the character
1) dubious

Our seat of emotions and passions, as well as our mind's activity and our whole living being can get downright weary and sorrowful sometimes. Mine did, and I am so glad God overcame it in me.

The Hebrew word for weary is
dalaph. This verb means:

1) to drop, drip
a) (Qal)
1) to leak
2) to weep (of tears)

I was in a deep depression brought on by a medication change. My physical body would just feel like it was dropping, and oh, how my eyes leaked. This is why I didn't blog for a while. I wept often but am happy to report that I'm better now.

The Hebrew word for sorrow is tuwgah. This is a noun which means:

1) grief, heaviness, sorrow
Strength from the Word

The Hebrew word for strengthen is
quwm, a verb that means:
1) to rise, arise, stand, rise up, stand up
a) (Qal)
1) to arise
2) to arise (hostile sense)
3) to arise, become powerful
4) to arise, come on the scene
5) to stand
a) to maintain oneself
b) to be established, be confirmed
c) to stand, endure
d) to be fixed
e) to be valid
f) to be proven
g) to be fulfilled
h) to persist
i) to be set, be fixed
b) (Piel)
1) to fulfil
2) to confirm, ratify, establish, impose
c) (Polel) to raise up
d) (Hithpael) to raise oneself, rise up
e) (Hiphil)
1) to cause to arise, raise
2) to raise, set up, erect, build
3) to raise up, bring on the scene
4) to raise up, rouse, stir up, investigate
5) to raise up, constitute
6) to cause to stand, set, station, establish
7) to make binding
8) to carry out, give effect to
f) (Hophal) to be raised up
My strength came in many forms; kind words from family and friends, prayer, and some time in the hospital and new medication. Most of all, it came from God's Word. I had my Bible with me and each morning I met with one other lady who was also a Christian. We would read the same thing and compare. She had a different version than I did and we would talk about the difference in translations, what was more easily understood in whose Bible, how blessed we were to have met and to pray and read with each other, etc. We drew strength not only from each other, but what we read in the Bible. 1 and 2 Peter is what we studied. Very interesting!

Like the Psalmist, I was able to arise, endure and be confirmed and raise myself up by God's hand by staying in the Word. It is the best place to go when your heart is heavy and grief stricken, or when you're simply having a rotten day. Of course we should have regular times of daily Bible reading, but sometimes we need extra doses to be strengthened.

The Word

The Psalmist knew what the answer was to his sorrow. He asked God to strengthen Him in the Word. The Hebrew word for the phrase "according to your word" is
dabar. This noun means:

1) speech, word, speaking, thing
a) speech
b) saying, utterance
c) word, words
d) business, occupation, acts, matter, case, something, manner (by extension)

One of the ways God speaks to us is through His Word. It's as relevant today as it was when it was written. There is great comfort, assurance, delight, and hope to be found in His Word.

Remember another verse the Psalmist wrote.

"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." ~ Psalm 119:105 (NIV)

Wrapping it Up

Questions for Reflection: Do you believe this? If so, join me in reading His Word the next time you're feeling weary and sorrowful.

Verse of the Day: "My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word." ~ Psalm 119:28 (NIV)

Prayer: Father, thank You for Your Word. It truly does contain the words of strength we need that are straight from You, passed down to those You so divinely inspired. Help us to let You strengthen us according to Your Word when we are down as well as when we are up. Help us to make use of this most wonderful Resource and guide us to where in the Word we need to be when we are weary with sorrow. Thank You for being such a loving and personal Father to us. In Your Son's Name we pray...Amen.

S - Seek Him always as your strength. "Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always." ~ 1 Chronicles 16:11 (NIV)

T - Trust in Him for your strength. "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me." ~ John 14:1 (NIV)

R - Read His Word to strengthen you. "My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word." ~ Psalm 119:28 (NIV)

E - Expect to be able to act on strength in Him. "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." ~ Philippians 4:13 (NIV)
N - Never doubt Him as your source of strength through faith. "Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done." ~ Matthew 21:21 (NIV)

G - Give your whole heart to Him to receive strength from Him. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." ~ Mark 12:30 (NIV)

T - Thank the Lord in advance for His strength. "The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song." ~ Psalm 28:7 (NIV)

H - Have courage in Him as you stand by His strength. "Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong." ~ 1 Corinthians 6:13 (NIV)

If you enjoyed this post, you might like
Strength in the Lord and/or The Lord is My Strength.

The purpose of Word Filled Wednesday is to share the Word of God through photo's and Scripture. Amydeanne, over at The 160 Acre Woods, is our hostess this week.. Be sure to link up and share your own, and drop her a thank you for hosting this wonderful meme. It always blesses my heart to read all the posts and see the photos and verses. This is a wonderful way to minister to others and to be ministered to by reading others posts. Please visit by clicking on the button below.

Please accept my apology for any formatting issues. I think I used too many colors. I tried to fix it for 2 hours last night and couldn't get the spacing right.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Lynn, at Spiritually Unequal Marriage, is hosting Thankful Thursday this week. She chose random as the theme for the week and is so grateful for all the Christian bloggers. I, too, am thankful for you. Your blogs are a tremendous source of inspiration and encouragement to me and I learn so much each time I visit. Thank you. To participate, simply click the button above and share your Thankfuls or read through others...

This week I am thankful that God has promised never to abandon or forsake us. I wanted to share something I wrote March 25 with you on this topic. As I read back through this, I found myself encouraged by God's promise and love for us. He is faithful, indeed.

The Promise

This promise, originally given to Joshua as he accepted the mantle from Moses to lead the children of Israel into the land promised by God to be theirs, is one that I have found comfort in many times.

Life isn't always easy. No matter how many people surround you, it seems that feelings of isolation and lonlieness can creep in. Feelings of fear or discouragement crop up from time to time in our lives. Whatever the circumstance that allows these feelings to invade, perhaps times of illness or a crisis with family or friends, a crisis in a marriage, or even a crisis of faith, we can be encouraged by the Lord's promise to Joshua. It rings true for us, too, as with so many promises to the men and women whose stories are recorded for all time in the Bible.

Blazing the Trail

It's true that the Lord goes before us, blazing the trail of the path He has placed us on in life. While it's true that there is one narrow road that leads to eternity, I've found myself either in the ditch or wandering off in a cul de sac from time to time.

The Hebrew word for goes is halak, a verb that means:

1) to go, walk, come
a) (Qal)
1) to go, walk, come, depart, proceed, move, go away
2) to die, live, manner of life (fig.)
b) (Piel)
1) to walk
2) to walk (fig.)
c) (Hithpael)
1) to traverse
2) to walk about
d) (Niphal) to lead, bring, lead away, carry, cause to walk

The Hebrew root word of before is the verb panah, which means:

1) to turn
a) (Qal)
1) to turn toward or from or away
2) to turn and do
3) to turn, decline (of day)
4) to turn toward, approach (of evening)
5) to turn and look, look, look back or at or after or for
b) (Piel) to turn away, put out of the way, make clear, clear away
c) (Hiphil)
1) to turn
2) to make a turn, show signs of turning, turn back
d) (Hophal) to be turned back

The rest of the word, paniym, means:

1) face
a) face, faces
b) presence, person
c) face (of seraphim or cherubim)
d) face (of animals)
e) face, surface (of ground)
f) as adv of loc/temp
1) before and behind, toward, in front of, forward, formerly, from beforetime, before
g) with prep
1) in front of, before, to the front of, in the presence of, in the face of, at the face or front of, from the presence of, from before, from before the face of

I found these meanings to be very interesting. When I wander off the beaten path, it's often because my eyes are on my circumstances and not on God, who goes before me. My Savior died for me, so that I could follow Him into eternity. Truly that is the road that I am traveling here on earth, the road to eternity. I can be sure that I'm never alone. I must follow the One who knows the turns, the One who is actually before and behind, toward, in front of, and has ever present with me. As long as my eyes are on God, I can truly trust that He is leading me, actually surrounding me, guiding me. There is not a place on this road of life that He Himself has not been, is not now, nor will be in the future. How comforting is that?

As a young child I would follow behind my earthly father as he walked in the garden. One fond memory I have is a superstition that he would tell me every time I was in the freshly plowed garden with me. "Don't step in my footsteps. It will give me a headache." I laugh every time I think about it. It's probably one his father passed down to him, but our God wants us to walk in the steps He has made for us. We can be sure that we will never trip if we place our feet where we can see His feet have been. How can we find these footsteps? Surely they are not visible; however, by praying, staying in the Word, and being aware, we can find them. He truly does go before us and the evidence of His footsteps are visible more than we realize.

Never Alone

Another part of this verse that comforts me is that God will be with me. He will not leave or forsake me. When I feel forsaken by this world, I can always count on God.

The Hebrew word for His always being with us and never leaving us is raphah. It means:

1) to sink, relax, sink down, let drop, be disheartened
a) (Qal)
1) to sink down
2) to sink, drop
3) to sink, relax, abate
4) to relax, withdraw
b) (Niphal) idle (participle)
c) (Piel) to let drop
d) (Hiphil)
1) to let drop, abandon, relax, refrain, forsake
2) to let go
3) to refrain, let alone
4) to be quiet
e) (Hithpael) to show oneself slack

Truly we are never alone! He never sinks, (think Jesus walking on the water), never relaxes His walk, never abandons us or drops us. He never disheartens us. What a comfort!

I remember being at the state fair one year when I was a small child. Pre-elephant phobia, I had stopped to look at a white elephant piggy bank, and when I looked up a crowd had filled the gap between Momma and my grandparents. Ya'll, I was never so happy to see the back of my grandfather's head in my life! They would have realized I was gone in a second and would have been back for me but the loudness of the crowd drowned out my cry, "Paw Paw!" I ran to catch up and asked why they left me. They never realized I was gone but Paw Paw, laughing, pulled out his handkerchief, dried my tears and held my six or seven year old hand. I stuck close to them the rest of the afternoon. I didn't stop to look at anything unless they stopped, you can be sure of that.

One thing we can be confident of is that God will never lose sight of us. Not for a minute! Just as I held my grandfather's hand, spiritually I hold the Father's hand as often as possible so I don't get sidetracked and look to the things of this world. When I do, He never loses sight of me and I find that so amazing and personal. In a sea of a billion faces on this earth, His eyes are watching me, His footsteps are there for me to follow in, and He never let's go of my hand, even though I might try to wriggle free in unintentional distraction. When I do, just as my Momma and grandparents did, He dries my tears and forgives me for halting, and does remind me to keep up.

High But Not Dry

Another promise of God in this verse is that He will never forsake us. Forsake is just a funny word to me. I know it basically means abandon or turn your back on, because I have been forsaken by people here on earth. Let's look at the Hebrew meaning, though. `Azab is a verb that means:

1) to leave, loose, forsake
a) (Qal) to leave
1) to depart from, leave behind, leave, let alone
2) to leave, abandon, forsake, neglect, apostatise
3) to let loose, set free, let go, free
b) (Niphal)
1) to be left to
2) to be forsaken
c) (Pual) to be deserted
2) to restore, repair
a) (Qal) to repair

I love this. To be able to trust in the Almighty God's promise that He will never leave us, cut us loose, depart from us, leave behind, neglect, or desert us is a promise I cleave to. I have it in my heart and know that no matter what happens to me in life (smooth road vs. ditch or cul de sac) that I will never be cast from His presence or left high and dry. How great is that?!

Never Fear

Because of these promises, we can rest assured and have confidence. Fear is just not an option. When feelings of isolation or abandonment kick in, try to identify what's at the root. Is it something disturbing you've seen on television? Change the channel. Is it because you've limited your options at being around people due to illness? Reach out across cyberspace. Perhaps it's depression or a chronic illness. Seek treatment. Is it a horrible circumstance because of the loss of a loved one or an illness in the family? Share your heartache with others and let others help you bear the burden. Whatever the problem, God's Word tells us that we should never fear or be dismayed.

The Hebrew word for fear is yare'. It means:

1) to fear, revere, be afraid
a) (Qal)
1) to fear, be afraid
2) to stand in awe of, be awed
3) to fear, reverence, honour, respect
b) (Niphal)
1) to be fearful, be dreadful, be feared
2) to cause astonishment and awe, be held in awe
3) to inspire reverence or godly fear or awe
c) (Piel) to make afraid, terrify
2) (TWOT) to shoot, pour

While we should honor and reverence God, I think the fear that the writer of Deuteronomy was trying to get across was plain old fear and being terrified.

We can always count on God. As He goes before us, promising never to leave or forsake us, we can count on this promise that we can rest easy and not be filled with a sense of dread of isolation or lonlineness. Isn't this wonderful?

The Hebrew word for dismayed speaks even stronger to this. We are not to be discouraged as God goes before us. We can trust that He is always there. Chathath, also a verb, means:

1) to be shattered, be dismayed, be broken, be abolished, be afraid
a) (Qal)
1) to be shattered, be broken
2) to be dismayed
b) (Niphal) to be broken, be dismayed
c) (Piel) to be shattered, be dismayed, be scaredd) (Hiphil)
1) to cause to be dismayed
2) to dismay, terrify
3) to shatter

Have you ever felt this? I have. When we lost Sydney to miscarriage July 20, 1998, was the time I felt it most strongly. Not with God but just the absence of the baby I was carrying. Somehow I knew in my heart of hearts that I would never conceive again, though we didn't stop trying for another year. I was completely broken and scared, terrified at the lonliness I felt. In the radiology department I was left alone for a long period of time while the nurse who was doing my ultrasound went down to the ER to speak with the doctor about the case she had before me. She asked me if I would be okay alone and I said, "Sure." After quite some time had passed, I said, "I'm not okay being alone anymore." I said it out loud, as if anyone could hear. God heard me and began healing me right then. The Holy Spirit spoke so loudly to my heart that He may as well have spoken audibly. He said, in essence, "You're not alone. I'm with you." I remember turning my face to the side, my pillow wet, and looking around for a second, and then settling down into the most peaceful sleep I would have before the sleepless week I would endure ahead. In fact, I would not sleep that peacefully again until late March, 2000, when I had my hysterectomy.

In Closing

No matter how alone we may feel, the fact is that we are never alone in this world. We are not lost among a sea of people. God is so personal and real to us. If you have accepted Him as your personal Savior, you need not ever fear. If you haven't made Him Lord of your life, please email me at, and let me tell you about my Jesus.

You need never be lonely again.

Questions for Reflection: What verses remind you to fear not? Do you ever feel lonely and forsaken? If so, what can you do to get your sense of security back?

Verse for the Day: "But now, this is what the LORD says - he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze." ~ Isaiah 43:1-2 (NIV)

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for blazing the trails before me in life. I praise You for the paths You have set before me. Help me keep my eyes on You and to never feel forsaken or alone. I know that discouragement comes from taking my eyes off You and I never want to do that. Help me not to be distracted with the things of this world, which are here today and gone tomorrow, but to look to You and Your strength always. Thank You for the promise of never leaving me alone. Help me minister to other women and help them find the joy in knowing that we are safe when we are on the path You lay before us. Thank You for Your grace through Your Son Jesus Christ. I praise You eternally for His death, burial and resurrection and the power that is found in Him. Thank You for the promise that we need fear not. In His Name I pray, amen.

F - Focus on God rather than the things of this world. "My heart says of you, "Seek his face!" Your face, LORD, I will seek." ~ Psalm 27:8 (NIV)

E - Embrace God's love for you. "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him." ~ 1 John 3:1 (NIV)

A - Accept that God is always beside you. "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." ~ Psalm 46:1 (NIV)

R - Remember the promises of God given in the Bible. "Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope. My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life. " ~ Psalm 119:49-50 (NIV)

N - Never fear being forsaken or forgotten by God. "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand." ~ John 10:27-29 (NIV)

O - Open your heart to receive and store the truths of God's promises. "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees." ~ Psalm 119:11-12 (NIV)

T - Take captive every thought to Christ, and cast down the negative feelings of isolation the devil or your own self gives you. "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." ~ 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)


But God...

This was said during a kind of bicker or division in the church at Corinth. Some said they followed one, some said another. Paul wanted to set them straight and let them know that no matter who planted the seeds (gave the Word) or who watered the seeds (tended the church?) that it was all about God. I love this because it also reminds me that no matter how much I beckon or maintain, God is the one who makes things grow. It also takes the onus of my shoulders in witnessing, which I found intimidating in the past.

Is there someone you long to redeem today? Is your burden great for them? Realize that you cannot pay the debt they owe, just as you couldn't pay the debt you owed. No man can. That is exactly why Christ was sent into the world. It wasn't about Silent Nights and shiny gifts under a tree and sharing stories about the sweet baby Jesus over huge family get-togethers.

Jesus was born to die. Born to redeem us into an eternal life that will never see decay.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." ~ John 3:16-17 (NIV)

It's up to you to plant the seed, true enough; however, it's up to the individual and God, who makes them grow, to make a choice. As for us, no payment is ever enough to buy someone's way into the kingdom of God, but you can invest time, prayer, teaching, friendship and sharing the Word of God to plant that seed. Just remember that God is the One who makes it grow.

If you find witnessing intimidating, find freedom in knowing that although your burden may be great for someone, it's ultimately up to them to accept Christ. Share with them what's on your heart and show them the gift of grace.

I was talking with Laurie and Jennifer about this the Friday we met in Grenada for lunch. The first time I witnessed to someone, she chose not accept Christ. I felt such a sting of rejection (I think it was more of a pride thing, looking back) that for a long time I had a hard time putting myself (there's that self-thing again) out there and sharing God's love for others.

No more. These Scriptures from 1 Corinthians and Psalms confirms that it's not about me. It's about Christ. Isn't it amazing how God will send you Scriptures in a Bible reading to confirm something you just talked about? His love for us is that great. I will never call it a coincidence. I think it's God's timing.

Let's go plant some seeds, or water some that have been planted. Then let's watch God....


Monday, July 13, 2009

My Prayer

Many of you know that my theme for the year is prayer. It's something God has laid on my heart and I know that because it is of Him giving me this desire that it has remained a theme for the year. Growing, learning, spending more time with's not about me but for me and my devotion to Him.
"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." ~ Colossians 4:2 (NIV)

More than devotion, it's glorifying Him, even during the tough times. I cannot say that it has been an easy year. There are times when I feel spiritually hoarse and unable to pray even for myself. I recently received a diagnosis that not only disquieted my soul, but made me realize that although God has the ability to heal me, He may choose not to. And I am okay with that. I have, in addition to depression, anxiety, IBS and fibromyalgia, an illness called bipolar affective disorder.

It has rocked my world. My depression had been under control for years but because of one simple side effect of one of the medications, we felt brave enough to rock the boat and switch it. Whoa. Wrong thing to do. I spent some time in the hospital and got that out of my system. We replaced it with three other meds, only to have one more added recently after a doctor's visit.

Prayer is something I'm doing alot of these days. I had reached a point to where I couldn't pray and ended up finding out that that was okay. I knew I was covered in prayer by family and friends. I also remembered this:

"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." ~ Romans 8:26 (NIV)

That said, I have issues with this diagnosis. I am reading about it to learn more; however, I wonder how one suddenly become bipolar at the age of 38. The more I read about this illness, the more I realize that the signs were there all along, and confess that I'm a little more put out with the fact that it was mis-diagnosed as unipolar depression. I did recently read more about how it can be triggered by an anti-depressant, specifically an SSRI; yet, I signs were there that I've had it at least since the age of 9.

At the end of the day, I know I'll combat it with the medications I am given and praise the Lord that it isn't something worse. My uncle is fighting for his life with malignant melanoma and I'm worried about bipolar disorder. Oh my stars!

Worries can really get us down. In times like these, or whatever your personal situation might be, I would encourage you to pray as I am right now, not only for myself but for those I know need prayer. And when you pray, glorify God. It helps lift us up from the pit, I do believe.

Teach Me Your Way

I think many of us crave a sense of direction in life. Perhaps we had it at one time or another and veered off the path of purpose God has set before us. We may tend to fall into the same routine and the same habits, and some of those may need to be re-programmed, re-taught, into God's way.

The Hebrew word for teach is yarah. This verb actually means:

1) to throw, shoot, cast, pour
a) (Qal)
1) to throw, cast
2) to cast, lay, set
3) to shoot arrows
4) to throw water, rain
b) (Niphal) to be shot
c) (Hiphil)
1) to throw, cast
2) to shoot
3) to point out, show
4) to direct, teach, instruct
5) to throw water, rain

I don't know about you, but I love to be directed, taught and instructed by God. To have His holy net cast over me, pointing out to me the things He really wants me to truly be shown is what I long for. I want His arrows cast into my heart and to have the knowledge He has waiting for me to flow through my being.

What are some of the ways we can be taught by God? Certainly one way is by reading our Bibles. We need to make Bible reading a priority. The Psalms, Proverbs, the Gospels, and the epistles of Paul and others are some of my favorites, not to mention Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and Revelation. There is so much to be learned, my friend. Won't you pray for Him to teach you, too?

The Hebrew word for way is derek. This noun means:

1) way, road, distance, journey, manner
a) road, way, path
b) journey
c) direction
d) manner, habit, way
e) of course of life (fig.)
f) of moral character (fig.)

If you search for the word path on my blog, you'll find that this is a topic of great interest to me as well. My heart beats to serve the Lord, and if I am not on that path...Suffice it to say that I need Him to teach me in all these ways.

Walking in Truth

Since receiving this new diagnosis, bipolar affective disorder, I have had to really distinguish between the truth and the lies my brain is sending. The neurons are firing in all different directions and it's a hard row to hoe getting them all straight. Indeed, I can't do it alone. One of the medications that my doctor gave me really put many doubts in my mind about things I knew to be real. I began to believe those lies, hence the hospital.

I'm getting better day by day and am asking God to help me walk in His truth.

The Hebrew word for walk is halak. Also a verb, this word means:

1) to go, walk, come
a) (Qal)
1) to go, walk, come, depart, proceed, move, go away
2) to die, live, manner of life (fig.)
b) (Piel)
1) to walk
2) to walk (fig.)
c) (Hithpael)
1) to traverse
2) to walk about
d) (Niphal) to lead, bring, lead away, carry, cause to walk

When we walk, we are either going toward something or away from it. My choice is to walk toward God in His truth, even when my brain says, "Run, Laurie Ann, Run!"

The Hebrew word for God's truth is 'emeth. As a noun, it means:

1) firmness, faithfulness, truth
a) sureness, reliability
b) stability, continuance
c) faithfulness, reliableness
d) truth
1) as spoken
2) of testimony and judgment
3) of divine instruction
4) truth as a body of ethical or religious knowledge
5) true doctrine

As an adverb, it means:

2) in truth, truly

Is it your heart's desire to walk in God's truth? To travel down the paths that lead to firmness, faithfulness, stability and continuance?

Henry Blackaby, author of Experiencing God, says, "God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways."

We are to listen to what God tells us in these ways rather than what our finite mind or the world around us tells us. Only then will we walk in the truth of God's ways. Certainly, as mentioned above, godly men and women come into our lives and give us some great advice, but God Himself is our Source.

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." ~ Hebrews 12:2 (NIV)

An Undivided Heart

When we sincerely desire to have the Lord teach us and are seeking to walk in His truth, we must have an undivided heart. We can't have one foot in the world and one in Heaven.

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." ~ Romans 12:2 (NIV)

While we certainly should maintain level heads and keep up with what's up in the world today, we certainly aren't to turn into Vashti, we must ultimately choose God or the world. If we choose God, we'll learn lessons that we can carry into eternity with Him.

The Hebrew word for undivided is yachad, which means:

1) to join, unite, be joined, be united
a) (Qal) to be united
b) (Piel) to unite

Yachad, or undivided, is a verb that implies action. If you are so far in the things of the world that you cannot see God, then it's time to unite with Him. Make a good faith effort to move back to where you need to be. I had to do this. Although I had never left Him, He would describe me as lukewarm and very divided. I ate, slept and drank getting my head wrapped around this diagnosis, when what I should have done was stay in the Word and in Him and let the doctor handle the tough stuff.

I am learning to walk in His truth by the ways that He does teach me by uniting my heart back with Him.

The Hebrew word for heart is lebab, a noun that means:

1) inner man, mind, will, heart, soul, understanding
a) inner part, midst
1) midst (of things)
2) heart (of man)
3) soul, heart (of man)
4) mind, knowledge, thinking, reflection, memory
5) inclination, resolution, determination (of will)
6) conscience
7) heart (of moral character)
8) as seat of appetites
9) as seat of emotions and passions
10) as seat of courage

Are we willing to have our hearts united in the Lord? Are we willing to let Him restore us to strength if our heart has failed? Are we willing to be alert, displaying the strength from our heart of hearts?
Look at the root word of heart. Labab means:

1) to ravish, become intelligent, get a mind
a) (Niphal) to take heart, become enheartened, become intelligent
b) (Piel) to ravish the heart, encourage, make heart beat faster
2) (Piel) to make cakes, bake cakes, cook bread

Does this excite you? Ravishing, intelligence, having our hearts just so set! This is exactly what I mean when I say that my heart beats to serve my Savior! It is passion.

Fearing God's Name

What does it mean to fear the name of the Lord? Are we to be truly scared? No, my friend. God is not some cruel taskmaster looking for ways to punish us.

The Hebrew word for fear here is yare'. It means:
1) to fear, revere, be afraid
a) (Qal)
1) to fear, be afraid
2) to stand in awe of, be awed
3) to fear, reverence, honour, respect
b) (Niphal)
1) to be fearful, be dreadful, be feared
2) to cause astonishment and awe, be held in awe
3) to inspire reverence or godly fear or awe
c) (Piel) to make afraid, terrify
2) (TWOT) to shoot, pour

I grew up to fear, honor and respect the Lord and the works of His hand. I am just now learning the self-respect thing - my self-esteem has gone from near nil to much better, but I still have a long way to go. But more than esteeming myself, I must be astonished by God. He never ceases to amaze me. The works of His hand are magnificent and the ways that He acts are beyond belief. I have such reverence and awe of Him, and I pray you will, too.

We can always count on God. We must never have a fear of doom and gloom with Him. We'll never learn anything from Him if we do, and our hearts will be so divided.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." ~ John 3:16-17 (NIV)

Praising God

God loves for us to praise Him and glorify Him.
The Psalmist did this all the time, and we should, too. Just as the people around us need to know that we love them, our God, who loves us so much, needs to hear it from us, too.

The Hebrew word for praise is yadah. This verb means:

1) to throw, shoot, cast
a) (Qal) to shoot (arrows)
b) (Piel) to cast, cast down, throw down
c) (Hiphil)
1) to give thanks,, laud, praise
2) to confess, confess (the name of God)
d) (Hithpael)
1) to confess (sin)
2) to give thanks

Aren't these wonderful ways to praise God? We must give thanks and praise to Him and we do this when we confess His name and our sins. We praise Him when we cast down the things of the world in favor for the things of God.

The Hebrew word for glorify is kabad. This verb means:

1) to be heavy, be weighty, be grievous, be hard, be rich, be honourable, be glorious, be burdensome, be honoured
a) (Qal)
1) to be heavy
2) to be heavy, be insensible, be dull
3) to be honoured
b) (Niphal)
1) to be made heavy, be honoured, enjoy honour, be made abundant
2) to get oneself glory or honour, gain glory
c) (Piel)
1) to make heavy, make dull, make insensible
2) to make honourable, honour, glorify
d) (Pual) to be made honourable, be honoured
e) (Hiphil)
1) to make heavy
2) to make heavy, make dull, make unresponsive
3) to cause to be honoured
f) (Hithpael)
1) to make oneself heavy, make oneself dense, make oneself numerous
2) to honour oneself

What way will you choose to glorify God? May our glory all go to Him, our Creator and Sustainer.

Heart to Heart: What makes you move away from God? How do you know it's time to come back? Have you gone through things that rock your own personal world and then look around at others and think, "Perhaps it's not so bad after all?"

Verse of the Day: "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." ~ Colossians 4:2 (NIV)

Prayer: Father, my prayer is this verse. "Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever." ~ Psalm 86:11-12 (NIV)

When times are hard, remember that they won't last forever. I'm telling myself that now.
Breathe - Sometimes we just forget to breathe. Taking a deep breath re-fills our lungs and sends oxygen to our brains, clearing our thoughts, reminding us that God has us in His hands. God has made our life nothing but a vapor. "You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man's life is but a breath. Selah" ~ Psalm 39:5 (NIV)
Focus - Focusing on Christ as the source of our contentment can help us find peace during the hardest of times. "You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you." ~ Isaiah 26:3 (NIV)

Pray - God is faithful to hear our prayers. Just knowing He is listening is very comforting. Think back to a time when God has answered your prayer and remember His faithfulness. "I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer." ~ Psalm 17:6 (NIV)

Release - Literally casting our anxiety on Christ, we can find true contentment. The key to this is not taking that anxiety back. Leave it with Jesus, who is far better equipped to deal with it than we are. "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." ~ 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)


Sunday, July 05, 2009

Hyssop is a plant that was used in the Bible for purification ritualt. It was first mentioned in the Bible in the Passover ritual. They used it to sprinkle the blood on the doors and doorposts in obedience to the command of God.

Hyssop was also used to cleanse those with leprosy, or others who were unclean, as well as to purify homes with mildew, and purify water. It was described in 1 Kings 4:33 by Solomon.Is it any wonder David wanted to be cleansed with hyssop?

We should desire the same in order to remain pure before both God and the ones we are to teach.The visual of God cleansing us with hyssop, applying the blood of Christ in our lives, is just so breath-takingly awesome that I cannot describe how humble and grateful it makes me feel. I know I'm not deserving of it, yet He loves us enough to truly cleanse us and forgive us for my unrighteousness. And when we're all clean, the truth and wisdom He desires for us is much easier to receive and plant. He desires to give us truth and wisdom in the inmost parts.

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly...." Colossians 3:16

It just seems easier to get it in our hearts without all the grime of the world and the flesh lurking on our skin.

Wash us whiter than snow, Lord. Sweep out any impurities or moral decay that we have allowed to creep in. Purify us so that we may stand clean before You. Please help us to keep our eyes on You, honoring You, living for You moment by moment, and living a life that is clean and pure. Thank You for hyssop and for the Blood of the Lamb and His resurrection power! In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Another re-run. I'll start writing again soon.

In Him,