Monday, January 30, 2012

Prayer, Praise, And Standing In The Gap

Today over at A Place Called Simplicity Linny has declared Monday as a day of prayer and fasting.  People can stop by and leave their own prayer requests and also pray over those requests that are left in the comment section.  There are a lot of hurting people in our world in need of others to be "standing in the gap" as Linny calls it. 

I decided to look up the meaning of these words to see if I was understanding them,  and found that standing in the gap means to pray on others behalf.  Intercessory prayer.  I like the way these words sound....."standing in the gap".  I could visualize the person in need of prayers, those who are interceding....and God hearing them all.  

Intercessory prayer is what we do in The Knee Team.  The Knee Team is Linny's group of prayer warriors that she started in response to all the prayer requests that come to her.  At this point I am helping her lead the group and it is such a blessing to be a part of such a committed group of pray-ers...and you don't have to literally get down on your knees, just be willing to pray pray pray.  If you would like to join or leave a request stop over to Linny's blog and do so. 

I find these prayer groups comforting.  And today I feel in need of it myself as I get ready for a needle breast biopsy tomorrow morning.  It is difficult to be once again wondering and waiting to "rule out" cancer.  I have been praying and fasting today for others, but once in awhile anxiety has raised up to interfere with my intercessory prayers.  God understands.  Whatever tomorrow brings, I know I can TRUST provider, my healer.

Speaking of my Healer, Joel and I have been prayerfully studying healing the past week in the Bible, with an evangelist online, and in an old book by FF Bosworth, who was a powerful man of God who believed God wants ALL His children to be healed and live their appointed time. Fascinating for an old Lutheran, and exciting for someone who has lived with illness for a long time.  Over the years we have seen friends healed from diseases, but never pondered if healing is God's desire for everyone.  In obedience to God's leading, we are opening our hearts to all God wants to teach us on this subject.

So, along with praying for others, I am also lifting up a sacrifice of praise to God..(last post) and focusing on our Healer in regards to those in need of restoration in their families, their finances, their bodies...adding my own needs, too.

Standing in the gap.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Sacrifice of Praise

Lately I have been reading scriptures that speak about the "sacrifice of praise" and pondering what is meant by these words.  As I was reading a book entitled "Christ The Healer" by FF Bosworth, this came up again as he shared what he felt it meant in regards to asking and receiving....and the time in between.

 Bosworth brought to the reader's attention that while Jonah was in the belly of the big fish he spoke with God and prayed for mercy~ to be saved, and even though he did not have visible proof that his prayer was answered, he STILL gave a sacrificial praise of thanksgiving for his deliverance.  He firmly believed before he saw the results, lifting up songs of praise to God. 

In Hebrews 13:15 we are told to continually give this sacrifice of praise.  Hebrews 13:15a says,

"Therefore let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God,
proclaiming our allegiance to His name."

This verse brings me back to Bosworth's words that Jonah gave thanks, worshipping and rejoicing BEFORE he had seen God's mercy on his life.  I could only imagine that this was really tough to do.  Here you are spending three days in the velly of a whale for your disobedience to God, thinking your life is over.  You are begging God for mercy, but not seeing light yet...just the inside of a big ol' smelly fish.   Just maybe it was hard to give thanks before he was spit out of the whale with whale puke all over him!!  Maybe it felt like a sacrifice to him! 

From the scriptures, we know we are to give this kind of praise continually.  All the time.  No matter what our circumstances.  No matter how hard it is to get those words out of our mouth or lift our hands high...we need to let go of our own feelings and surrender to God, believing His best is yet to come.  We may need to wait months or even years for an answer to manifest.  Our praises keep our focus on God, our Provider and our Healer and remind us that God is working on our behalf behind the scenes...beyond what we can see or feel.

The past few months God has been speaking to me about praising Him.  I went back to writing in my gratitude journal, and spending time giving thanks at the beginning of every prayer to Him.  Still God kept bringing to my mind the idea of praising Him.  Then I came upon the words...sacrifice of praise......and I began to ponder if this is where God was leading me.  Was there a piece missing in my prayer life...a piece between asking and receiving? 

I found myself wondering just how do we keep going when life knocks us down.  Just how do we overcome our fears and our worries.  Just how do we wait patiently for God's answers.  We know God LOVES us.  He wants the best for us.  He tells us if you ASK you shall RECEIVE.  So what happens if there is a period of empty space between the asking and receiving?  I think, in obedience, we fill it up with praise.  Giving thanks for God's promises ~ believing and rejoicing.  We give to God our own sacrifice of praise!

Stop over and visit Charlotte at Spiritual Sundays to read inspirational posts or link up your own.

Monday, January 23, 2012

MBM: Always Enough

Today is Memorial Box Monday, which Linny over at A Place Called Simplicity created.  Linking up, we share our memories of God's faithfulness and provision in our lives in the past.  Linny bases her MBM on the time God told Joshua to gather large stones and put them in one area to remind the people now and in generations to come of God's faithfulness.  You can read more about it HERE on Linny's blog.  Remembering all the times God has been faithful in the past is what helps to get us through tough times now.

The story I am sharing just happened, but let me backtrack a bit.   A few months ago Joel and I made a prayerful commitment to buy anything we would need with cash...even big items.  We have been working to become debt free, which is challenging with Joel on disability and both of us getting Lyme treatments that are not covered by insurance, BUT we believe God will provide more than enough as we follow through on our commitment to become debt free.

I wrote a post back then sharing that since making that decision, BOTH our TV's broke within two weeks, the dehumidifier quit working, the washer started leaking, our large clock stopped working, the CD player broke, and the bathroom sink plunger too.  It was crazy!  We could not help but laugh over all the things that went down for the count!  We often shake our heads and say...this is a test...only a test......

We were able to fix the bathroom sink, dig out the old dehumidifier to use, and manage the water leakage from the washer.  Our son and DIL came up for a visit and surprised us with their TV they brought from their own family room.  What a blessing that is! 

Now for the rest of the story.......

A couple of years ago we felt led by God to give a sum of money to someone we know well.  They did not want to accept it, but decided if God had told us to give it to them, they would.  Just a couple of weeks ago they returned that money to us "with interest"!  That was unexpected~ we have given them a gift, not a loan, but we thanked them, and tucked it away thinking we would use it for our Lyme treatments.  Then.......

Our trusty washing machine let us know it had little life left in it!  Joel has fixed it several times over the years, but the repairs now would cost more than the washer.  We had purchased the set USED at an auction 22 years ago.  It had been faithful to us as we washed clothes for 10 people down to eventually just Joel and me! 

Just a few weeks ago we would not have had the money for a washer. 

God had it all worked out.  In His perfect timing He provided for us just when we needed it.  Just in time!  So we are getting a new washer and due to the "interest" part of the gift, we may be able to get a dryer too!  Isn't is wonderful how God provides! Always enought!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Trust Me

These words from Sarah Young's devotional book, Jesus Calling, remind me where to turn when life is an uphill climb. 

"Trust is like a staff you can lean on as you journey uphill with Me."

Sometimes life is an uphill struggle.  So, when those times come, where do we turn?  How do we keep going?  Well, we Trust....we Lean.  We Trust.  The words of Proverbs 3:5, 6 come to mind:

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight." 

Yes, God promises to make our paths straight if we TRUST Him and lean not on our own understanding. Seems so simple...but it can be so hard!   God's instructions are for our own benefit, though.  Trust......Lean....Acknowledge and then.....and then! He makes the way clear.  In His timing adn His way.  And don't forget, He never leaves us alone...He always walks with us!  It is a comfort to know God is by our side.   

Oh God, oh God, you are our strength.  You love us...your love for us is so deep and wide!  You want what is best for us.  We won't always understand your ways, but we trust you Lord.  We will trust and obey.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

For One Little Girl

I have been meditating and writing about obedience the past ten days or so, as God led me to study what this means for my life in the coming year.  In doing so, I shared last week about "radical obedience" and what I think that means....."Doing what God says, obeying Him when it does NOT make sense."  Trusting God even when we do not understand.

Last week I mentioned my friend, Linny from A Place Called Simplicity and the radical obedience I have observed in her life. Linny and Dw have a passion for the orphans and believe that God has asked them to adopt children and help those in Uganda who are in need of not only parents who can love them, but food and medical care.  Dw is also a pastor, and he and others have held leaderships conferences in Uganda to help pastors there who want to further their education and help their own congregations.  They have 11 children that grace their family, and 4 more children in Uganda who as young adults call them mom and dad.

About 8 months ago Dw and their daughter Emma met little Ruby Grace when they visited one of the orphanages in Uganda.  She was severely ill with hydrocephalus and other health issues and in need of medical care.  Dw told the head of the orphanage that they would do whatever they could to make sure she had the medical care she needed.  He came back home to an email asking that if they meant that would do anything they could,  would they adopt Ruby Grace and give here the care she needed?  After praying about it, of course they said yes.  Fast forward (after all this is their story) to today.  Ruby just had her 5th brain surgery yesterday, 4 of those taking place in Phoenix.  They have to live within an hour of a highly trained neurosurgeon and facility in order to get Ruby the care she needs. Stop over and read how God has orchestrated the best doctors and even the best machine to help her brain heal. Here

Now here is where the radical obedience came in.  Their home, until a few weeks ago, was in Durango Colorado where Dw was Senior Pastor of a congregation and Linny also was on staff.  They lived in a newly built home with a view of the Rockies and were active in their church and community. 

God had other plans.

When they were in Uganda talking with the neurosurgeon who did Ruby's first surgery, he told Linny they would need to always live near specialized medical care.  This really shook up their life as they had no idea what was really involved in raising a child with hydrocephalus.   By the time they were able to get Ruby home to the states they flew right in to Phoenix and she went right into the hospital to begin the surgeries needed to help her survive and thrive.  Dw. was at home with the rest of the family, telling his congregation that he was resigning and they were all moving to Phoenix as God had led them.  For one little girl....the whole family was moving.....Dw was letting go of his job as a pastor.....and they were venturing out from the Rockies to the desert and big city...for one little girl. 

No job, no place to live, no secure future.....for one little girl. 

Radical obedience.  And how God has guided, shaped, and blessed this family in response to their obedience and His plans for Ruby (and the rest of the family) will humble you and knock your socks off at the same time.  They can use your prayers!

I am already learning more than I ever imagined about obedience and what the Bible shares on this subject ~ and in just 10 days too.  I was a bit apprehensive about what God would ask me to be obedient in......  but now I am looking forward with anticipation (well, most of the time anyway) ~KNOWING that God has a plan for my life and He and He alone knows what is best. I look forward to what He will show me in the written Word and in the lives of others and ourselves.  I just ask God for the strength to obey even when it does not make sense.

Stop over and visit Charlotte at Spiritual Sundays to read inspirational posts or link up your own.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Obedience And Love

comes in

Our response
of His
is to

Pastor Joel's
1 John 4

Monday, January 9, 2012

MBM: It Changed Our Lives Forever

I am studying and meditating on the word obedience this year, as I have felt led by God to do so. I just wrote a post about "radical obedience" and mentioned our friends Linny and Shannon in that post. I have observed how they obey God "even if it does not makes sense", how out of love they trust God in their obedience to Him.

I have been praying about what to write about today for Memorial Box Monday and have tried to look back and remember times when God asked obedience of us when it did not make sense to us or to others. In doing so, I cannot help but think about the time when Joel was in Seminary and his year of internship was coming up. It is a wonderful memory of how we were richly blessed in our obedience, and how it changed our lives forever.

Joel spent 8 yrs in the Air Force before leaving to attend Luther Seminary in St. Paul MN. We bought a very old house with an apt upstairs that we could rent out, and with our 4 children at the time, we settled in. After 2 years of study it was time for his year of internship to take place. For our family of 6, there were only 3 places we could go unless we stayed in the city. One was up in northern Minnesota which was not a good fit for our family. One was in my hometown which would have been so easy. The other was out in Malta Montana, where Joel would be part of a 4.5 parish, and serving churches on his own. Of course the easiest place for him to serve out his internship was right where we were. We would not have to sell or rent out our home, and the kids would not have to change schools. I could continue with my day care business and all would be well. So easy. just did not seem right to me. We prayed and talked about it, and I felt God leading us to Malta Montana. Joel thought the Montana internship sounded great, but he was worried about money. He was worried about selling our home and coming back with nowhere to live for his final year of seminary. His feet were in cement over what made sense to him. He struggled with taking the risk.

It just did not makes sense.

I remember sitting at the table with his cousin Luther one day and debating our situation. I had prayed hard on this and truly felt called to Montana....and I remember challenging Joel, " Do you want a true internship or not?" He said my question changed his mind as the Holy Spirit spoke to him through a few words in the form of a question.

This decision changed our lives forever

We sold the house very quickly, packed up our 4 kids and 2 cats and traveled across three states to Malta Montana. We moved into what we affectionately called "The Internage" and the pastor lived next door with his family in the parsonage! The whole year was filled with amazing learning experiences and great fun. Joel had never officiated at a funeral and had said it was one area he needed experience ~ unfortunately he was able to learn quickly, as 8 funerals occurred in the area in 3 weeks, 3 of which were murder victims. He preached in all 4.5 congregations over the year, as part of a wagon train traveling across the state and even at a rodeo. We took part in a cattle drive, country dances, and the like. We made good friends and developed important skills as a pastor and pastor's wife. The Senior pastor and his wife were our mentors and our friends, a relationship that continues to this day.  This one year shaped Joel's ministry and blessed us beyond our own understanding or imagination.

It did not make sense to sell our house,
pull our kids out of school,
close my day care business for year
and move across the country
It changed our lives forever.

We were obedient to God when it did not
make financial sense
It changed our lives.

We were obedient to God when it did not makes sense
to take our kids out of their school
It changed their lives

We were obedient when we had no clue
where we would live or what the future would hold
It changed our lives forever

Oh, and not having a place to live for our final year of seminary? Well, we prayed about it......and.......
a couple of months before we were to return to seminary we got a phone call from a fellow seminarian that we did not know, who was heading out for his internship and asked us if we would like to rent their home for that year.. He had heard about us needing a place to live from the secretary at the seminary.  We said YES, and then he said, "Oh, and when we sell it we will give you the profit for that one year!!!!

God is an amazing God!
We obeyed Him....trusted Him....
It blessed our lives in ways that still affect us.
He gave us more than we even asked for.
It changed our lives.

Radical obedience is doing what God asks you to do
even when it does not make sense.

Stop over and visit Linny at A Place Called Simplicity to read other stories of God's faithfulness or link up your own.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Radical Obedience

Happy New Year!  Speaking of new years, I have been praying for God to reveal to me what word I could study and meditate on this year, and the word I feel lead to study and meditate on is obedience.  Gulp!   This whole week Joyce Meyers has been speaking on it, and on Thursday she mentioned radical obedience, so I decided to explore that terminology more in depth. I googled "radical obedience" to see what would come up and came across a blog post by Jan Ross that defined radical obedience as obeying God when it does not make sense.  It is doing God's will when our own agenda makes more sense. Ross also wrote, "Radical obedience demands I do whatever I do in a manner which emulates the attitude found in Christ Jesus as He gave His all, through life and through death, so the Father might be revealed through Him every moment of every day."  I would also add that it can be defined as obeying God at all costs...all sacrifice.....TRUSTING Him when what we are asked or called to do is way beyond what we think we CAN do or again, what makes sense to the us or the world around us.  A good example of that would be Noah when he built the Ark.  It did not makes sense to him or anyone else.....but he obeyed God anyway and you can bet he was thankful he did when the world flooded.

The first people I know who came to mind when I thought about the radical part of obedience were Linny and Dw over at A Place Called Simplicity.  Then my mind wandered to Shannon over at Throwing Our Arms Open Wide.  I confess that in the past year I have found myself hungering for the kind of radical obedience to God's will that I see in their lives.  They both amaze me.  Linny with her passion for the orphan  or even being able to stand in the bitter cold watching her house burn to the ground...crying out to God to show her how He would use this terrible event for good and His glory.  Recently her husband, a senior pastor, resigned from his job so they could move immediately to AZ to be near the kind of medical care their newest member will need.  They know they are obeying God and have faith He will provide for them.  Amazing faith and surrender in that family.  And Shannon, who has two sweet girls with major health issues, and yet in obedience walks sometimes blindly forward every single day speaking and living out God's grace and ministering as a family to the orphans in Mexico.  Then there's Joel's cousin David Simonson and his wife Eunice who worked for 50 years bringing the gospel to...and LIVING the gospel for the Masai people of Tanzania.  I have met many others in person and online who also have touched me deeply with their surrender to God's will for their lives and their "radical" obedience to His plans for them.

Joel and I have spent our lives together praying for strength and wisdom to do God's will in our lives.  Still, I admit, fear has held me captive at times, and I now hunger for more of a radical obedience in all areas of my life. I truly want to lay down my life in obedience and trust God for HIS direction and leading in EVERYTHING. 

Serving God in churches in Montana, Minnesota, and Iowa was a big part of God's plan for our lives, and looking back over the years our lives were an adventure in so many ways, most importantly, an adventure in faithful living.  They still are, but because we both battle Lyme Disease our dreams have shifted in many ways.We still rejoice in being able to serve God in the ministry no matter how limited it is, and we look forward to what God's will is for us in the future. 

Which brings me back to the radical obedience Joyce Meyers spoke of.  How can we serve God now?  We much prefer to wear out than rust out.

Maybe His desire for us is to serve him in small quiet ways.  Maybe it is to serve Him in a big city
which would require obedience on my hubby's part!  Maybe it is to serve him somewhere far from our children which would require great effort on my part!  Maybe it is to stay right where we are, which is not our first choice at all.  None of these options makes much sense to us...but they may make sense to God.  Still, do they fulfill the definition of radical obedience?

Radical obedience does not mean God will always send you off to distant lands, it does not mean God will ask more of you than you have to give, and it does not necessarily mean that you will be asked to do big and mighty deeds!  It means, if I understand it, that we will obey God even when it does not makes sense.

Forgiving and embracing someone who has hurt you does NOT make sense......Giving away something you cherish does not make sense.......loving the unlovable does not make sense.....loving those who persecute us.....  Just maybe radical obedience means different things to different people.

I am looking forward to what God is going to teach us about obedience in the coming year.  So far it has been mind blowing and inspiring!  With anticipation and a bit of apprehension I wonder what tomorrow's teachings will bring!  Radical obedience~ certainly something to ponder.

Please stop over and visit Charlotte at Spiritual Sundays to read inspirational posts or link up your own.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Obedience Adventure

I have been praying for a few days for a word God would want me to meditate on this year.  While talking to Joel about it a couple of days ago I shared that I felt the word might be surrender.  At that moment the word obedience resounded in my brain.  Really?  Hmmmmm   I told Joel about that word coming through but I did not think that was a very inspirational I kept praying.  I was hoping for something, joy, love acceptance.....something I was more comfortable with. 

This morning when I woke up I prayed again about the word and asked God to let me know if obedience was the word or was there another word for the year.    I turned on the TV  to Joyce Meyers and she was speaking guessed it! Obedience! 

I came downstairs and decided to read a few blogs and came across a verse in Deuteronomy at Deb's blog, Jeremiah 29:11, that spoke about reading the Bible daily and obeying God's instructions.  Okay.  That was enough for me. Not only was I planning to get into some deep scripture reading on a daily basis once again, but now the obedience word was going to be a part of that.

So, I am going to be meditating on the word "obedience" this year.  I don't know where it will take me, I don't know yet what God will reveal to me, but I know that He has a plan and I am looking forward  with a bit of apprehension to what He is going to teach me through meditating and studying this word in His Word.  I plan to share it part of my adventures in faithful living.  Let the journey begin!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Adventures Ahead

After some considerable thought I have decided to change the name of my blog from "My Autumn Years" to "Adventures In Faithful Living".  It just seems like there is an adventure around every corner when we are open to God leading us on our journey,  and I wanted my blog to reflect that. 

So, join me this year as I share our adventures in faithful living!  God has already put us on a new path in our morning Bible study, and Joel and I are looking forward to what we are going to learn along the way!  I wonder what else He has planned.