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January 30, 2014

Digesting 1Peter 5:7-8

I wonder if my fellow sisters in the Made to Crave study will enjoy the title of this blog entry......

"Digest"?

Get it?

*wink, wink*

(I digress before I've even begun today. Sorry, reader!)

1Peter 7-8 "casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."

The first thing I noticed was that verse 7 begins in the middle of a sentence, so in order to get the sense of what these verses are about I backed up to the beginning of Chapter 5. Here I find Peter addressing the church's elders, and exhorting them to shepherd the flock, and saying that their reward for doing so with a willing heart will be the "unfading crown of glory" (v. 4).

Peter then addresses his readers/listeners who are younger. He says "Humble yourselves..." (v.5, 6). In order to be led, younger Christians must humble themselves under the leadership of elders who can teach and guide them on the road of sanctification. 

In verse 7 he continues saying (again to the younger of the church) - and I will paraphrase - "...cast your cares and anxieties upon him, your Lord, because he will look after you. Be on guard for Satan, the deceiver, who is lurking in the background just waiting for a crack in your armor, so you may be pounces upon as a lion pounces upon prey, and be devoured." In other words, "Don't depend on your own strength and wisdom! You don't have enough of either to succeed!"

This week has been a challenge. With a successful week last week, Satan has pounced and attacked my confidence to remain focused on God and not be swayed from breaking my cravings for unneeded and unhealthy food choices.



At the beginning of this study, I humbled myself and, like many of you, openly admitted a prideful heart, repenting and asking forgiveness from my Father.

How EMPOWERED I felt! How refreshed and clean!

This week I didn't make it through with flying colors. I allowed physical ailments to interfere.

I allowed distractions to interfere.

And then Satan to begin to whisper his lies in my ear. 

"You don't need this." 

"You can't fight your nature."

"No one cares - you look fine."

"Your health won't suffer."
"Have just one. Or two. Who will know?"
Chocolate No-Bake Cookies

LIES!!!

The truth is that I DO need this study and I DO need to improve my health and I DO have people who care about my and my health and I CAN fight against my sinful nature. 

I have DETERMINED that I will remain DETERMINED in my fight against Satan.

And I can do all of this through Christ who gives me the strength to overcome the lies of Satan, and the DETERMINATION to succeed in my fight to improve my overall health.

January 22, 2014

Psalm 84:2 - Into God's Presence

Psalm 84:1-2

1.)   How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! 
2.)   My soul longs, yes, faints
        for the courts of the LORD;
     my heart and flesh sing for joy
        to the living God.

Psalm 84 is a psalm that was sung by worshippers as they approached the holy temple in Jerusalem. Many times, these were pilgrims who were returning to the temple to worship their one true God. Jews would come to Jerusalem from all corners of the earth to sacrifice and worship on the holy days of their faith.

Can you hear the delight in the voice of the singers in these introductory verses? They have been longing to return to the temple, where their living God dwells. Perhaps it has been an entire year, or longer, since they have been able to bow down before God Almighty (LORD!) and repent their sins and revel in the glory that is God's presence.

Jewish worship was not quiet and orderly. No, far from it! There were instruments, and singing of praises, and even joyous dancing. And don't forget the noise of the crowds of people and the animal sacrifices being brought to the altars. There would have been quite a din! Oh, what a sweet sound to God's ears, for the LORD to hear His people singing praises!

I can imagine wanting to return to such a place, a place where worship is all-consuming. Where a worshipping soul is satisfied. Where the one True God was dwelling in the Holy of Holies.

And that is where I want to dwell, too, in the presence of my Creator and Sustainer.

My purpose in joining the "Made to Crave" bible study is to re-focus my mind on God. To crave time in His presence. To stop making choices which do not honor Him alone.

When Christian believers pray, they enter into His presence. Believers are allowed entrance directly into the throne room, covered in the blood of Christ that makes them unblemished and pure beings, washed clean from sin.

God looks at the believer and says "You are mine".



When I am tempted by something I see and want to own or taste, or want to hear said of myself, and that thing is not for God's glory alone, I will go into His presence and pray for that temptation to be removed from me. I will demand that Satan go behind me, in Jesus' name.

And my heart and flesh will "sing for joy to the living God". For I belong to God, and God alone.

Amen!

Here is Psalm 84 set to gorgeous music by Johannes Brahms, from his "German Requiem".

"How Lovely Are Thy Dwellings Fair" by J. Brahms. The Westminster Abbey Choir

January 17, 2014

Music and My Personal Identity

What is it about music?

How is it that music can touch us in the center of our very souls?

Why does it have the power to evoke intense emotion?

What language is it speaking to us?

Are the very words that God breathed out at creation still reverberating throughout the universe as music?

Is it God's breath our souls are yearning for, and somehow music fills that longing to be one with our Creator?

There are no definitive answers, obviously. They are simply questions I ponder from time to time.

Because I am a musician. Ask me to talk about myself and the word "musician" or "music" will pop up in the first few phrases I utter. Because I identify with music so strongly.

Plymouth Fife and Drum Corps Alumni
Me, Debbie, Cheryl

I am also a wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, actress, friend, student, sister, daughter.

But music - that is something that resides at the core of my being.

Performing music is something I feel driven to do, whether with my flute or with my voice.

UMS Choral Union with the DSO - from their webcast

I can no more see myself not singing or not playing flute than not eating or breathing. Music is part of who I am, part of my identity as a human being who is existing on earth at this exact place in the infinite continuum of time, by the grace of God.


Plymouth Community Band



Music is so much more to a musician performing it than to an audience experiencing it.

It is playing or singing just for the love of creating something beautiful.

It is engaging with other humans in the performance of it.
Stuart and Carl


It is communicating in a most basic way to the audience.

It is a choice.

It is essential to life.

It is me, and I just am compelled to share it with you.

January 16, 2014

A Verse For Life

Big Bay on Lake Michigan near Traverse City, Michigan
I came to know the Lord later in life, in my late 40's. There was a lot of road under my tires, so to speak.

A lot of life lived without a moral compass.

A lot of wandering, seemingly without purpose.

And yet, after becoming one of God's own, when I looked back at all of the years, I could see the hand of God firmly placed in the timeline.

To my eyes, I had been wandering aimlessly. But in the eternal plan, God was orchestrating every single event of my life. My free will was choosing the wrong things, yet God using those choices for my eventual good, for salvation.

One day I was asked about my "life verse" during a gathering of ladies at my brand new home church. I didn't know what that dear lady was talking about, being a "newbie" Christian and all. She kindly explained that a life verse is a scripture that I would turn to in times of uncertainty, or times of rejoicing, or even during times of grief. And that I didn't really need to have one if I didn't want one!

However after a bit of head scratching, I settled on Jeremiah 29:11, a verse that had echoed in my mind many, many times after reading it:

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." ESV

Those words are a reminder to me that God has things neatly under His divine control. As I pray for the salvation of other family members and friends, I remember Jeremiah 29:11 and I don't fret. 

Hope is there for everyone.


January 15, 2014

The Life Re-Boot

When God gave me the gift of retiring from my career, I had such great intentions.

Such as living intentionally for God.

And I have failed.

Oh, I have had some good moments.

But time has been frittered away by me in useless and unproductive activities.

Satan will use my weakness in order to distract me, and oh how he knows my weakness(es)....



TIME TO RE-BOOT!

It's time for a re-boot of my retirement, my blog, my focus, my daily life. I am ready to walk the moments of my days in lock-step with Him.

My plan:

1. Have a plan!

Copyright Ann Voscamp





I am making a plan for my days. What I will eat, what I will clean, appointments to keep, the scripture I want to commit to memory, and on and on. Writing it down makes it real for me. Five minutes before I go to bed every night.
Find it here: Daily Planner Download
2. Get to know Him better through his Word.




I will be memorizing the gospel of John this year, one verse a week, with the help of Ann Voscamp at A Holy Experience.












And I will be studying Scripture with other women who desire the same thing. Our Women's Ministry at Berean is studying the Book of James (James the Just, Jesus' brother). And I have joined an online study of this book "Made to Crave - Satisfying your deepest desire with God, not food."













You see, Paul writes that we are in a race, and that no matter what we should not give it up. Persevere. Keep at it.

I have stumbled. Badly.
Many. Times.

Today I have picked myself up and set myself back into the race.

I am staying in the pool until my laps are completed.

I am unplugging so that I may plug into my purpose.

Why else would God have me here at this moment in time except to stay focused on my purpose -

To delight in Him who created me, and to serve Him all of my days.


I'll stay in touch and let you know how it goes.