Tuesday, November 30, 2010

the Changer

In John White's series, "The Archives of Anthropos" (similar to the Chronicles of Narnia books), he talks about the "Unchanging Changer" - his description of God.
I loved this concept when I read the books, but I don't think it really hit me until today.

- Only GOD can change things...anything, all things. -

I think intellectually I knew I couldn't change circumtances, but somehow I was still trying to change others, to change myself, to "change the world."

The reality is I can't change circumstances.
I can't change other people.
I can't even change myself.

Oh, I can try. I can exert my willpower and do things a little differently for a period of time. But I can't truly CHANGE myself.
Only GOD can change me. Only God can change my circumstances. Only God can change other people.

Isn't it fascinating that the only person who can change things is the One who never changes?

On the one hand this concept is frustrating. I have to learn to accept this truth - I can't change a thing.
On the other hand, this is freeing - I can ask God to change all things! -- me, circumstances, other people...anything!

And I can trust Him to change what HE wants to change in the way HE wants to change it and in the time HE wants to change it.
He has been patiently working over years and years to change me. He will continue patiently working to change other people over the years. He will change circumstances as He knows is best.
And one day He will make everything right and there will be no more need for change ever again! Hallelujah!

The Unchanging Changer is our Rock, our Hope, our GOD.
Amen.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Not Now

Don't you love it when God gives you one of those "Aha!" moments? I had one just this morning.

I was reading a passage I've probably read a hundred times before, but this time a verse jumped out at me.

“You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

How many times have you asked God,
"What are you thinking?"
"Why would you do this?"
"What's going on here?"

Did you know He already gave you this answer? “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

You might be surprised to know where I found this verse. It's from John 13, when Jesus was washing the disciples' feet. Peter refused to let Jesus wash his feet. That's when Jesus said, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Instead of saying, "Ok, I trust you," Peter came up with a better idea - wash all of me!

Don't we do the same thing? When we don't understand something God is doing, we refuse to submit to the Lord, or we tell Him we have a better plan.

In those times when God doesn't make sense, what does He desire from us?
Trust
Submit
Do it His way
Trust

That's what Jesus wanted from Peter. I believe that's what He wants from us.

I don't think this verse is necessarily a promise that we'll always get an explanation from God or always understand what He's doing. But I do think it gives us a helpful principle. Many times God asks us to trust Him Now. And to wait for understanding to come later.

And when it comes, we'll know that it was worth the wait. =)

.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Engaged

...Before you start doing cartwheels, this post is not about a marriage engagement.

This post is about being engaged - fully present - in where we are, what we are doing, and who God is...RIGHT NOW.

I believe it was Jim Elliot who said, "Wherever you are, be all there."
This is a phrase that has stuck with me through many years. It's something I aspire to, yet something that seems so elusive, so difficult to put into practice.

At present, my reality is the four walls of this room. About once a week I leave the house to go to the doctor. Otherwise, my life is inside. It is small. It is hard to be all HERE. I'd rather take a trip down memory lane, to better days. Or dream about the future and what possibilities it might hold.

Yet, HERE, in this place, is where God has put me. This is where He wants me to be. This is where I need to be engaged. If there is a secret to consistently living life this way, I haven't found it yet. But I'm trying to start with this verse:
"This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." (Ps. 118:24)

I know my Lord has the best plan for me. I know I am exactly where He wants me to be. I know He always does what is good.

So here I am. Rejoicing in today.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Proud Aunt

Have I ever mentioned that I have the most adorable nieces and nephews in the world? =) They're also SO sweet to their Aunt Joanna! They pray for me, and draw me pictures, and just cheer me up with their tender hearts!
Here are some pictures of a few of them.





Friday, July 16, 2010

unshakable

Hebrews 12:22-24 says,
"But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel."

This is what is waiting for us. This is our heavenly home. This is a picture of eternity.
Some days more than others, I need to be reminded of this.
Right now, we live with problems, unrest, uncertainties...a world that is shaking. But it is only temporary. Praise God a better day is coming!

"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe." -Heb. 12:28

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

let it rain...

Hebrews 6:7 says,
"Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of the God."

When I read this verse, I picture myself as the land. And my trials are the rain. Do I "drink in" the trials? Do I let them soak into my soul as something useful that will produce a crop? Or do I resist them, causing the water to "run off" and be inefffective in my life?

Honestly, I don't want to "drink in" the rain. But this verse says the land that does so is the land that produces a crop and receives the blessing of God. We already have every spiritual blessing in Christ. But maybe we don't experience them all when we're resisting the rain.


Do you remember the scene in "The Emperor's New Groove" with the waterfall? Cuzco and Pancha are tied to a tree trunk that's floating down the river. Pancha says, "Uh oh."
Cuzco is in the back and can't see, but he knows what's coming. "Don't tell me, we're about to go over a big waterfall?"
"Yep."
"Sharp rocks at the bottom?"
"Most Likely."
Then Cuzco says, "Bring it on!"


I'm not sure I'm able to say "Bring it on!" but I do want to be land that willingly "drinks in" the rain that God sends me.
By His grace, I know He'll produce the fruit in me.
.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

My Prayer

"You have granted him the desire of his heart...Surely you have granted him eternal blessings and made him glad with the joy of your presence. For the king trusts in the Lord; through the unfailing love of the Most High he will not be shaken." -Psalm 21:2, 6-7

This is my prayer - that the desire of my heart would always be to be glad with the joy of His presence and to TRUST in His unfailing love.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Think About It

You've probably heard the statement "You don't know what you've got until it's gone." I think this is sad, yet true.

But have you ever considered the following statement?
You don't know what you don't know until someone tells you.

That's something I've been pondering lately.

You've probably also heard that "ignorance is bliss." Whoever said that clearly didn't know what they didn't know. Most of the time ignorance is actually harmful.

If no one had ever told you about Jesus and you were completely ignorant of His forgiveness and love, would you be living in bliss? Not hardly.
If no one ever told you that sugar is harmful to your body (causes inflamation, contributes to fungus growth, etc.), your mind might be blissful without that knowledge, but your body would still suffer the consequences.

So what's the point of thinking about these statements?

Learn to be a better listener. Be eager to learn new things.
(And feel free to tell me something I don't know.) =)

You might be surprised at what you don't know.

.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Champions

I really enjoyed watching the Olympics the last couple of weeks. It's always exciting to see people overcoming obstacles, working hard, and finally achieving their goal of winning a medal. I guess we all think there's something special about champions.

At the same time, I honestly cannot imagine devoting my life to a sport. Some of those athletes train up to 10 hours a day, every day, for years. They sacrifice all kinds of things in order to become the best at what they do. I can admire that kind of dedication, but it saddens me somewhat that it's all in pursuit of a sport.

Yet, most of those athletes put the rest of us to shame. They have a greater love and passion for something inanimate and irrelevant in view of eternity, than we often have for our awesome God.

I've been thinking about what it is exactly that makes them champions. I think the answer is that they in essence lay down their will daily. They die to their lesser desires in order to pursue their greatest desire. That is what enables them to work longer and concentrate harder than other people who give in to those lesser desires for relaxation, more sleep, unhealthy foods, etc.

Many times I've thought that I'd like to have the heart of a champion. But I just don't have the kind of drive and ambition for anything on this earth that it takes to be the best at something. However, after seeing things in this new light, I think God also wants me to have a champion's heart. He wants me to daily lay down my will to Him, dying to my own self-centered desires, and to have a greater love and passion for HIM than for anything else.

That's not something I can somehow "work up" on my own. It's something God has to work in me. Remember what Paul said in Romans 8:37? He said we are "more than conquerors" - how? "through HIM who loved us."

Through our own efforts or hard work, we still cannot be overcomers or conquerors. But through JESUS living in us, empowering us, I believe we can all be great Champions!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Vaentine's

For us single people, Valentine's Day can be either very depressing - "I still haven't met that special someone..." - or it can be encouraging - "I have so many friends and people who love me! Not to mention the love of GOD!"
Personally, I prefer the second option. =)
The world has turned Valentine's Day into a commercial holiday all about cards, candy, and cute teddy bears for your "sweetheart." Not that promoting romance is a bad thing in itself. I think it's just too easy to focus only on that and forget about the true source of ALL love - God Himself.
I John 4:8 says "God is love." If God were not loving, I believe none of us would know anything about love. All love starts with God. John also said that we love God because He first loved us. I think it's also true that we love others and they love us, because God first loved us. Without God's love poured out on us, there would be no Valentine's Day, only "buy someone a teddy bear" day. =)
Because of this, I think it's only fair that God get more of the attention on Valentine's day.
In Ephesians 3:17-19 Paul wrote, "I pray that you...may have power...to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that supasses knowledge...."
The love of Jesus is beyond our complete comprehension, and yet Paul prayed we would know more about it. Oh how blessed we are to have the LOVE of GOD that is more wonderful and gigantic than we could ever imagine!
This Valentine's I hope you'll take a few minutes to think about what this world would be like without love. Then take lots of time to thank God for HIS love and for being the source of all love.
Happy Valentine's Day! God loves you!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

7 Day Feast

Yes, you read that right. I said Feast, not Fast.
With the start of a new year many people are doing a fast, and I think that's great. Unfortunately not everyone is physically able to fast. (Though I have fasted from things besides food, like TV, computer, etc.)

Last week I read these words of Jesus:
"No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks." -Luke 6:43-45

After reading this passage, I prayed, asking God to help me to store up good things in my heart. That's when He gave me the idea of a Spiritual Feast. It's so easy to let all kinds of things crowd into our lives and only have a little time to spend with God each day. Without realizing it, we often end up storing bad things in our hearts, not good things. Maybe instead of cutting something out of our lives, we need to put more good things in!

I think a spiritual Feast would mean taking little moments throughout the day (in addition to our daily quiet time) to stop and read a Psalm, or a verse in Proverbs or another book of your choice; spending a few minutes listening to worship music instead of the news or weather; praising God for some of His attributes while waiting in line or traffic; being still and quiet to listen for His gentle voice instead of filling the air with meaningless noise.

There are many possibilities for this Feast. Be creative. Just seek an attitude of 'How can I Feast on God this week? How can I fill each day with God's truth, an awareness of His presence, His thoughts and attitudes?' I know He'll guide us. He longs for us to be close to Him and to store up His goodness in our hearts!

So will you join me in a 7 Day Spiritual Feast? I know there will be obstacles and difficulties. For most people it's a lack of time. For me the problem isn't time, but limited physical and mental energy. I'm praying God will help me for the next 7 days to spend the little energy I have drawing near to Him, feasting on HIS goodness, enjoying His presence. I'm excited to see what a difference it will make. As I store up His goodness in my heart, I hope to see it overflow out of my life!

Happy Feasting! =)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

2009 - What a year!
Yep, 2009 was a remarkable year - full of really bad things, and really good things.

From January to September I lived in 7 different "homes," traveled from FL to MO, to AZ, to ID, back to MO, then finally back to FL. I don' think I've ever traveled so many miles in one year.

Bad things - being "homeless," having to sleep in the car, running from smoke, asphalt, pesticide aerial spraying, more fires and smoke, herbicide, etc. Also, having trouble breathing, going to the ER, getting worse physically, etc.

Good things - getting to see family & friends I hadn't seen in years (in AL, MO, AZ, ID, NE, MT, etc.). Also getting to visit Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon.
- God's provision through every hardship, the love of His people, and His comforting presence.
- making new friends, writing a book, coming home again!

As you can see the good clearly outweighs the bad here. =) Praise be to God!

So now it's a new year - 2010. I wonder what this year will hold? I hope there won't be as many bad things as last year, but as long as there are plenty of good things, how can I complain?

Some of my goals this year are
1) to keep working hard on my health and Lord-willing see major improvements
2) to keep writing, as God leads and directs
3) to raise greater awareness about Environmental Illness

As part of working toward goal #3, I've written a "Frragrance-Free" Challenge for you all on my other blog. I hope you'll check it out and give it a try! =)

http://supereigirl.blogspot.com/2010/01/2010-fragrance-free-challenge.html


2010, here we come! =)
I wish you a wonderful & Happy New Year!

Grace & peace in Christ,
-Joanna