Great start…

… 2009 has gotten off to a great start.  To begin with, on New Years Eve my daughter Valerie wanted to have a ring ceremony for her decision to “True Love Waits.”  dsc08378

We had a private ceremony hosted by our friends Nat and Tonya in their home.  Valerie invited some of her friends over to join in the celebration.  My friend Joel was there and led us in a song.  Valerie asked if Joel dsc08372would sing Beautiful Day by U2 during the ring ceremony. 

I challenged Valerie to hide God’s word in her heart so that she will not sin against God.  She pledged to seek God and to keep herself sexually pure until she gets married.  “I’ve banked your promises in the vault of my heart…” (The Message).

walker1st010109The next day Walker calls me to let me know something exciting happened!!  He was so excited to lose his first tooth.  He said he got 5 bucks for his tooth from TF (the Tooth Fairy).  The only thing is that TF left the tooth under the pillow.  I told him that maybe he ought to bring it over to my house the next time he is over to see if it works again!! 🙂

The Read Through the Bible has gotten off to a great start.  I know that I have several friends who are also walking through the Bible this year as well. (Joel, Nat, Jason, Randy, and (Amy C, aka Raging  Genius)  Keep it up!!  I hope to hear from others who are as well.

I’m praying some outrageous prayers these days too!!  I know God is going to work in them, in my family, and through all of the praying!!  I’m glad I can talk with Him about the things on my heart.  God is good!!  I look forward to seeing God work in my life in 2009!!!

I’m only 2 weeks away from the Full Gospel Business Men’s Advance too…

Psalm 16

My choice is you, God, first and only.
      And now I find I’m your choice!
   You set me up with a house and yard.
      And then you made me your heir! 

The wise counsel God gives when I’m awake
      is confirmed by my sleeping heart.
   Day and night I’ll stick with God;
      I’ve got a good thing going and I’m not letting go. 

I’m happy from the inside out,
      and from the outside in, I’m firmly formed.
   You canceled my ticket to hell—
      that’s not my destination! 

Now you’ve got my feet on the life path,
      all radiant from the shining of your face.
   Ever since you took my hand,
      I’m on the right way.  (Psalm 16:5-11, The Message)

Kyrie Eleison (pt. 2)

In The Message, Genesis 42:9 states, “Joseph, remembering the dreams he had dreamed of them…”  I don’t know for sure but it sounds like Joseph didn’t dwell on the dreams.  As I read this verse, I began to think that maybe he had let them go but due to the circumstances he recalled the dreams he had.

It almost sounds like the dreams he had as a teen allowed him to understand the circumstances that he was  living in many years later while serving Pharaoh.  God was there all of the time in the middle of it all.  Psalm 1:6a, “God charts the road you take.” (The Message).  There is comfort knowing that no matter where we find ourselves God is there.  He is in the middle of all we experience. 

In Psalm 23 we read that God is our Shepherd.  W. Phillip Keller states in his book A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23,

To think that God in Christ is deeply concerned about me as a particular person immediately gives great purpose and enormous meaning to my short sojourn upon this planet. (17).

Yet the staggering fact remains that Christ, the Creator of such an enormous universe of overwhelming magnitude, designs to call Himself my Shepherd and invites me to consider myself His sheep – His special object of affection and attention.  Who better could care for me? (19).

Job has always fascinated me.  I still have a difficult time grasping his life and the things that transpired.  After-all he was a man totally devotedto God.  Yet through all of the circumstances in his life there was so much pain, disappointment, heartache, and gut-wrenching questions.  At the end of all of it all Job answers God.

“I’m convinced: You can do anything and everything. Nothing and no one can upset your plans.  You asked, ‘Who is this muddying the water, ignorantly confusing the issue, second-guessing my purposes?’  I admit it. I was the one. I babbled on about things far beyond me, made small talk about wonders way over my head.  You told me, ‘Listen, and let me do the talking. Let me ask the questions. You give the answers.’  I admit I once lived by rumors of you; now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears! I’m sorry—forgive me. I’ll never do that again, I promise!  I’ll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor.”  (Job 42:1-8, The Message).

Job – a man totally devoted to God – came to know God in a way he would have never known had the road he traveled not had a life changing struggle.  He got to know God firsthand through the devastation, pain, loss, and struggles he experienced in his life.

In Genesis 42:7, Joseph’s brothers bow to him – not knowing at the time that he was there brother.  His brothers sought food to take back to Canaan.  When Joseph reveals to his brothers who he is – he tells them not to despair over what they had done- that it was all in God’s plan.

“Come closer to me,” Joseph said to his brothers. They came closer. “I am Joseph your brother whom you sold into Egypt. But don’t feel badly, don’t blame yourselves for selling me. God was behind it. God sent me here ahead of you to save lives. There has been a famine in the land now for two years; the famine will continue for five more years—neither plowing nor harvesting. God sent me on ahead to pave the way and make sure there was a remnant in the land, to save your lives in an amazing act of deliverance. So you see, it wasn’t you who sent me here but God. He set me in place as a father to Pharaoh, put me in charge of his personal affairs, and made me ruler of all Egypt. (Genesis 45:4-8, The Message).

My take away from reading these chapters is that Joseph remained true to who he was in loving God.  He stayed true to the purpose for his life… despite his circumstances… despite the things that had happened to him that made him a slave in Egypt…

Ultimately, Joseph’s circumstances were the result of the road God had prepared for him to travel.  Many times we blame others, ourselves for “bad” decisions, and we blame God for the circumstances in our lives (especially when the circumstances are less than desirable). 

When I was young I thought of growing old,
of what my life would mean to me
Would I have followed down my chosen road,
or only wished what I could be

Kyrie eleison, down the road that I must travel
Kyrie eleison, through the darkness of the night
Kyrie eleison, where I’m going will you follow
Kyrie eleison, on a highway in the light

Kyrie Eleison

I want to understand more about how God has spoken to others through dreams.  As I read the Bible I am coming up with more questions.  I am reading in Genesis 37 and the chapters to follow about Joseph and the dreams he had been given as a teenager.  He was also given the opportunity to be used by God to deliver the interpretation of dreams.

As it pertains to the dream he was given, I wonder what ran through Joseph’s mind as he lived each day.  Did he know in his heart of hearts that his brothers would really bow to him?  Did he ever regret telling his brothers and father his dream?  Did he think it was going to take so long to see the fulfillment?  Should he have kept the dream to himself?  Did he prematurely speak about it?  No matter what the answers are – the dream was real and the dream became reality. 

But before the dream became reality – what was on the mind of Joseph?  How did he live the way he did… where did his hope come from?  Did the dream stay on his mind?  Did he never think about it again?  Was he looking daily for it to become reality? Or did a set of circumstances down the road bring him back to his teenage dream?

As I have been reading for whatever reason “Kyrie” by Mr. Mister keeps playing in my head.  The words Kyrie eleison keep coming to my mind.  I realize Joseph was Hebrew but I wonder if he would have prayed these words, Kyrie eleison?  I’m sure in some way he must have prayed, “Lord, have mercy.”

(kĭrēā əlāēsŏn, –sən) [Gr.,=Lord, have mercy], in the Roman Catholic Church, prayer of the Mass coming after the introit, the only ordinary part of the traditional liturgy said not in Latin but in Greek. It has nine lines: “Lord have mercy (thrice), Christ have mercy (thrice), Lord have mercy (thrice).” As the first invariable hymn, the Kyrie is often the first piece in a musical Mass. An English version is used in the Anglican liturgy and in the reformed Roman Catholic vernacular liturgy. The phrase Kyrie eleison used by itself is, of course, common in the Eastern rites, but without the phrase Christe eleison.The corresponding prayer in the Russian Orthodox church is often called a Kyrie.

Kyrie eleison, kyrie eleison, kyrie

The wind blows hard against this mountain side,
across the sea into my soul
It reaches into where I cannot hide,
setting my feet upon the road

My heart is old, it holds my memories,
my body burns a gemlike flame
Somewhere between the soul and soft machine,
is where I find myself again

Kyrie eleison, down the road that I must travel
Kyrie eleison, through the darkness of the night
Kyrie eleison, where I’m going will you follow
Kyrie eleison, on a highway in the light

When I was young I thought of growing old,
of what my life would mean to me
Would I have followed down my chosen road,
or only wished what I could be

Kyrie eleison, down the road that I must travel
Kyrie eleison, through the darkness of the night
Kyrie eleison, where I’m going will you follow
Kyrie eleison, on a highway in the light

Kyrie eleison, down the road that I must travel
Kyrie eleison, through the darkness of the night
Kyrie eleison, where I’m going will you follow
Kyrie eleison, on a highway in the light

Crossroads

Are you familiar with the ending to the movie “Cast Away”?  Tom Hanks is standing there in the middle of this intersection in the middle of Nowhere, TX.  As far as he can see in all directions is nothing – yet he has been given the gift of life to be lived another day.  How would you chose to decide where to go?  I would have followed the truck with the wings. 

We all find ourselves at places in life where we are at an intersection and we aren’t sure which way to go.  In the movie, he isn’t sure where he is going to go.  He pauses and gets out of the Jeep with his map and ponders for a moment or two.  During this moment of contemplation is when the person he was looking for drives up.  

I wonder how many times in life we come to crossroads and ignore it and just keep driving our lives right on through.  Or – how often do we get there – and recognize it… and then we get stuck there afraid to move at all.  Maybe there has been a bad decision in the past and fearful of getting burned again.  

No matter the reason or how you respond to the situation it is still a decision that must be faced and made.  How do you make the decision?  What steps do you take?  Do you get the Road Map out?  In my life, the Map has become God’s Word found in the Bible.  No, it doesn’t tell me to turn right or left and any specifics like that at all.  I can say the Holy Spirit gives insight I can’t explain.  Which is often followed by a peace I can’t explain. 

Jesus tells us in John 14:25-27,

I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught. (The Message).

I’ve personally been at a crossroad for a long time now.  I have ventured in a couple of directions already to find that the peace and fulfillment were not in any direction I have tried thus far.  I keep going back to the Cross and asking for direction.  I am asking for wisdom… wisdom to be used for His glory and for the leadership of my family.

The Holy Spirit will teach us all things.  He will give all that we have need of.  He cares intimately about the details of our lives.  He will not leave us lonely in the dark.  Jesus instructed his disciples: 

“This is what I want you to do: Ask the Father for whatever is in keeping with the things I’ve revealed to you. Ask in my name, according to my will, and he’ll most certainly give it to you. Your joy will be a river overflowing its banks! (John 16:23-24).

One of the decisions I have made for the year to come is to follow a plan to read the Bible through in a year.  I have done this in the past and grew a lot from reading it completely during the year.  I have already begun the reading plan I am going to follow.  I want to be on track when the New Year begins and get off to a GREAT start.  I’m hoping to find in 2009 where and how God intends to use me.

I know He uses me through my job… even though I can’t directly communicate His Word… I live it.  I’m thankful for the opportunity I have to influence others in all aspects of my life.  I want to continue to do so full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom.

2009: A Look Forward – in Your eyes

Hope as defined by Dictionary.com as a noun is wrapped up in “feelings.”  But as a verb: 

  • To look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence.
  • To believe, desire, or trust.

Hebrews 10:19-25,

So, friends, we can now—without hesitation—walk right up to God, into “the Holy Place.” Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as our priest before God. The “curtain” into God’s presence is his body.

So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching. (The Message).

Are you looking toward the future or is your vision on the here and now?  I’m trying to gain all I can today from yet another extremely rare moment of quiet.  It’s rather nice.  The only light in the room is from the Christmas tree.  My heart is set on the hope of things yet to come – in Jesus Christ.

I am reading Psalm 139.  Take a moment to read the chapter.  Psalm 139:1, “God, investigate my life, get all the facts firsthand.  I’m an open book to you.” (The Message). 

I’ve never been one to make a lot of goals or plans for the beginning of the “New Year.”  Why not?  I do this (it seems like) all of the time already.  So, this year I’m going to go about it a bit differently.  I am already making some plans to implement for my life beginning January 1, 2009.  But before I get into that I would like to look at Psalm 139 as it pertains to my thoughts and direction.

I have been focused on the meaning and purpose of the life of Jesus Christ…  His redeeming mankind and making a way for all mankind to have a relationship with God.  I’ve been focused on his Holy Spirit (John 16) and the reason the Holy Spirit is in our lives today…  The power, confidence, and hope He gives.

As I read Psalm 139, I’m asking God to take a deep look into my life.  To look at all of it – inside and out.  I’m asking Him to see all of the highs and lows and to search me out east to west.  I am an open book to Him.  I am one of the verses in His book that is still being written in Acts 29.

I’ve also looked ahead into My Utmost for His Highest to see what Oswald Chambers has said on this subject and Psalm 139:

The psalmist implies— “O Lord, You are the God of the early mornings, the God of the late nights, the God of the mountain peaks, and the God of the sea. But, my God, my soul has horizons further away than those of early mornings, deeper darkness than the nights of earth, higher peaks than any mountain peaks, greater depths than any sea in nature. You who are the God of all these, be my God. I cannot reach to the heights or to the depths; there are motives I cannot discover, dreams I cannot realize. My God, search me.” (January 9).

I know, “I cannot reach to the heights or to the depths; there are motives I cannot discover, dreams I cannot realize.” without God taking a deep look into my life.  Without Him searching the darkest places and shining His light.  As I look toward the coming New Year, I’m asking God to prepare my heart for the plans He has for me.  I want to live in the power of His hope and walk boldly – with confidence – into His plans.

One of my prayers for the past couple of months – as I drive in my car – has been the following.  These are the words from the first verse and chorus of “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel.  I have capitalized the word You and made it personal to God and want to share it.

love, I get so lost sometimes
days pass and this emptiness fills my heart
when I want to run away
I drive off in my car
but whichever way I go
I come back to the place You are

all my instincts, they return
and the grand facade, so soon will burn
without a noise, without my pride
I reach out from the inside

in Your eyes
the light the heat
in Your eyes
I am complete
in Your eyes
I see the doorway to a thousand churches
in Your eyes
the resolution of all the fruitless searches
in Your eyes
I see the light and the heat
in Your eyes
oh, I want to be that complete
I want to touch the light
the heat I see in Your eyes

 

As I begin this look forward, I start with asking God to search my heart.  As He begins this search and reveals to me Himself – I will prepare for the year to come.  I will make the plans and take the steps necessary.  I look forward to complete fulfillment in the coming year – walking in His power for His glory.