Thursday, July 30, 2009

Follow Up

This is a link to my daily devotion. I found it interesting that it seems to follow up on what I posted yesterday...for those who might be confused....I hope it helps.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Fellowshipping in the Suffering

Author: Katie

Fellowshipping in the sufferings of Christ….

This is a blessing but it doesn’t always feel like it because what it means is that I have to be willing to be wrongfully accused, be willing to take on the punishment of those who persecute me. I must be willing to experience rejection from those I love the most (excruciating)…and I have to understand that often I will be the last on the list of important relationships/people in the lives of those I love. I have to be willing to accept that the people I love will be too busy to spend time with me and that they might see me as a fairy godmother of some sorts…only there to meet their needs, hear their requests, and make them as comfortable as they desire to be…to receive praise when I do something that makes them feel good, ignored when everything is going well, and cursed when I don't give them what they want or think they need. I am learning how much God suffers at my hand every day because everything I am experiencing is what He goes through because of me. I reject, I get too busy doing things that don't matter and focusing on things that are temporal and will never love me back to the neglect of my relationship with Christ who truly loves me. I get angry when things don't go my way. I ignore Him when I am comfortable...and He takes it. His love doesn't waiver or become more or less. I want to love like that...but it hurts so bad.

So, I ask myself…how can this be good for me? The pain is excruciating and tests my endurance and ability to stand strong in my faith every single day. Why do I continue to ask God to allow me to experience the suffering of Christ? Because It allows me to better grasp how deep and wide and far the love of God reaches for me. This is the glory that comes from the suffering…the glory of God. I experience His love and love others the way He does... like I cannot unless I am willing to accept this call…and so when I find myself in a place where I want to throw in the towel…I will not give up. I will trudge forward and press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

So even in the midst of this suffering…my God…I will try my best not to hang my head low. I will strive to not complain. I will continue to praise You! I will rejoice in the love I am experiencing in the midst of it all…I can do this because I know, Father that You are bigger than all of it and that the joy of the Lord is my strength. I praise You for this call to fellowship. Suffering is the path to truly experiencing Your love...a love that is beyond human comprehension and can be found only in You. I cannot represent you accurately to the lost unless I experience accurately the cross.

The price I pay is nothing compared to the price You have paid. Help me to stand.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Finding Joy

Author: Katie

Every year God gives me an area of my life to focus that needs growth. This year He gave me joy. No, He did not make me happy (which is what I thought would happen when I understood where He was planning to work in my life). I expected that finally, everything in my life was going to come together and all the things I have been praying for would all fall into place and finally I would have happiness.

I should have known better. Happiness is temporary. Joy is forever. If I have learned anything over the last several years, I have learned that His ways and thoughts are most certainly not like mine. So, after I returned from the retreat in which I discovered the theme of my life this year, I suffered many many attacks on my faith which resulted in great loss in many ways. However, I am learning in the loss that there is so much more to gain.

I am learning that I trust in circumstances and relationships too much...earthly things that I am learning more and more every day are very temporal. Even the strongest relationships can change in a moment's notice and be lost forever. Circumstances rise and fall with every change of wind and my emotions rise and fall with them.

God is teaching me that true joy does not depend on circumstances or earthly relationships...or any eartly thing for that matter. Joy is found hidden deep beneath the circumstances and in only one relationship. I will have joy when I find that place deep within and let my relationship with Christ be at the core of my being and the complete source of my joy...not people...not circumstances.

I am also learning that it doesn't happen overnight. I still have ups and downs but the hills and valleys of this roller coaster ride are becoming smaller and smoother...yet I know the ride isn't over yet. I still fear loss and I still have a broken heart and I still focus too much on relationships that really shouldn't matter at the expense of those that should matter more. I try to hold on to what I should let go of...what doesn't belong to me nor ever did to begin with. I want Philippians 3: 8-10 to be my testimony.

I want to live to consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I want to consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death....

This is the path to joy...the path through begins with dying to my selfishness. The more I strive to reach this place...the more I see how selfish I really am. God, help me to die in a way that brings You glory and resurrect me to find eternal and consistent joy in You and You alone. I know this road will carry me through suffering and as much as it already hurts...I know that I will find strength in Christ and joy in praise. And so I praise you for this storm that will lead me on the path to pure joy that is only found in You. Mold me...strengthen me...make me holy that I can be a purer image of You. To You be the glory for the work that You never cease doing until it has been completed. For You work all things for good as you mold those who love You and are called according to Your purpose.. into Your perfect image! I am called. I am being purified. I am growing. I am being emptied. It hurts...a lot...but I shall continue to reach for the goal which is in Christ. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I've Got Bigger Issues Than That

Author: Susan L. Prince

I have much bigger issues than Internet addiction and a cluttered life.

I have sin.

It is called bitterness.

It is eating me alive and destroying relationships.

Pray for me.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Addiction Conviction

Author: Susan L. Prince

I've been posting about what God has convicted me of recently. The first one is simple and I have been convicted about that for awhile, and it really hit me hard on a retreat weekend at Natchez Trace back in April? May? One of those months! LOL

The first is my obvious addiction to the computer, namely the Internet. I don't really do anything special online, just surf, read blogs, the news, Facebook and piddle really. The problem is that it does take time away from God. He hates that and is letting me know it. The solution to this is to curb my time online.

I was made very aware of this being a problem when I was on retreat Katie had her laptop there. She left the room and there I was, alone in a hotel room with a computer. I literally knew I shouldn't power it on and was sitting there on the bed listening to my worship music, trying to pray and study the Word, but that computer was distracting me. I had the, I understand what alcoholics must endure when they want that drink, know it's not good for them, and then are left alone in a room with a bottle of Jack Daniel's. I fought the desire to get online for a while, but then I figured, only for a few minutes and could no longer resist. I gave in.

Appalled that I was letting an addiction control me, I came home from that retreat vowing to restrict my online time, and did so for about five minutes. I'm having a bit of trouble with that obviously. That makes me beat myself up.

The second thing I am convicted about is that I need to simplify my life. I am reading "So, You Want to Be Like Christ? Eight Essentials to Get You There" by Charles R. Swindoll. The second discipline Swindoll explores is Simplicity. He asks "do you spend adequate alone time with God?"

This is something I learned that I needed to do when I first started meeting with my friend, mentor, and accountability partner Karen. She calls it guarded time and encouraged me to guard time that I set aside for quiet time before the Lord. This is not an easy thing for me and when I started being accountable to her for this time, on a scale of one to ten I said I was a two. I was able to raise that to about a four, but dropped off some.

Swindoll later in that chapter asks "have you become a cluttered person within?" Now, I despise clutter! I am miserable in the midst of clutter. I like a room that is fairly simple, not a lot of stuff on the walls and lacking in knick knacks. I like decor, but simple and tasteful. Simple.

Then a paragraph later he said look in the trunk of your car, your closet and do I have to rake stuff off the passenger seat of the car when someone gets in. He made me see that clutter has worked itself into my life. I have to admit, my surroundings are cluttered and they represent my mind.

In my quest to practice "guarded time" I have been made aware that I have a problem clearing my mind. Just like I have a problem clearing material things out of the physical realm in which I live, I also have difficulty clearing a path through to solitude in my spiritual life.

I have started changing some of my habits and forcing myself to go sit on the backyard swing and be quiet. I have taken day retreats over to the lake to sit and be quiet, but I end up frustrated because I can't quiet my mind. Swindoll has helped me realize all the clutter and now I am convicted about it and need to work toward cleaning it up. Simplify simplify simplify! He says that simplicity leads to intimacy. I want to experience the next level of intimacy with my God!

I want to start with simplifying my life; decluttering my home, my car, and letting go of any obligations that are not beneficial to me or working to distract me from intimacy with God. I plan to go room by room clearing out the unnecessary stuff and once the physical world in which I live is streamlined and in order, I am hoping my mind will be calmer and settle down so I can allow God to work there and clear out the unnecessary stuff lurking there.

And like my Internet addiction, I appear to have trouble getting this done too. I am highly unmotivated to declutter my home. I want it done, but don't want to do it! LOL

Monday, July 06, 2009

What Am I Convicted About?

Author: Susan L. Prince

I had some prayer time on lunch hour today. I wanted to use that time to whittle down the issues that God has convicted me about. Two things:

  • Computer and Internet Addiction (this is a given I know, but this is more about how to fix the problem at this point and how to give it to God because I haven't been able to kick it on my own.)
  • Simplifying my life
Tomorrow I will use part of my day off praying about how exactly I should go about remedying the situation.

Conviction is Just a Word

I'm convicted.

I've been saying that a lot lately.

Saying it and doing something about it are two entirely different things. I haven't done much to change what behaviors I say I'm convicted about.

Having been spending more time studying God's word and using some "helps" books, praying considerably more these days than I have for years, and also spending more time absorbing the words of teachers, mentors and friends in the faith have pointed out some areas of opportunity for me to change some things.

Conviction is not a bad thing, in fact, it is a very good thing because it is something God uses as He draws me unto Himself. He is jealous for me to know Him intimately and when something is possibly hindering my relationship with Him, He implants something into my heart, my soul, that helps me to see that there is something standing in the way. He is ready and willing to help me remove it so I have complete access to Him, but for whatever reason, I am sometimes reluctant.

It really is a stupid thing, to be reluctant to change something that will benefit me. Why do we do that? Why do humans do this?

I think what I need to do is take some time to pray about these things I have been convicted about recently and ask God how to go about correcting some of the issues. He is kind and gentle, merciful. He wants me to get rid of this stuff that is coming between us so I know that He will help me. Actually, the issue is not so much how to go about getting rid of the issues, it is having the strength and determination to do it. He'll help me with that too!

Conviction has a purpose, but we need to choose to do something about it. Without action, conviction is just a word.