Psalm 7- Don’t be surprised by struggle.

Read Psalm 7. A couple times. It’s short.
Our older daughters are in an English program that is rigorous, (read excruciating) at times. Mostly for me and the younger of the two. She is the absolute youngest in the class, and has struggled to complete the work. And me right along with her. She needs my help. And a lot of it. She gets frustrated easily, because it is not easy, and me right along with her. She is a perfectionist. Learning is often hard for her because she does not accept that something should be hard before you learn it. Chew on that for a minute. But then, for her paper this week, there was a break through. She was doing more and more on her own. And it was wonderful. She even set her alarm to get up early this morning to put on the finishing touches. It wasn’t perfect. But it was done. And she was so proud of her alliterations, and countless other decorations she added with much less frustration. And I saw that light at the end of the tunnel. And relaxed. It has to be hard. It has to be a struggle. Or else it wouldn’t be learning, it would be learned already. And here I am, in the same struggle. I have been reading in Samuel, but not writing. That part is hard, and this week hit me like a ton of bricks. Too many unplanned struggles and me trying to keep my head above water did not include trying to formulate words in a way that made sense to the casual observer. I couldn’t possibly. Could I?
One huge benefit I have noticed from writing this blog is that that lessons I am reading from God’s word are really impacting my life. Normally I read, and I meditate on those words, and then I forget. But something about this exercise of writing it all out having to really think it through has changed me. Yet for some reason, I don’t want to do it. It’s a lot of work. It’s a struggle. Until I break through for a minute and feel the blessings of what was learned. Then it isn’t a struggle. For that brief moment or isolated moments to follow when those lessons are worked out in living color, I reap the rewards, until the struggle begins again.
God gives us so many real life physical examples of our spiritual reality. Eating right and exercising well are a struggle. The whole point of exercising is to struggle. If you are not sweating, or exhausting your muscle, then likely you aren’t getting anywhere. Eating is easy, but eating healthy requires denying your wants and your desires for your goals. And that is a struggle.
I Timothy 4:8 For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.
I have referenced before the baby sea turtle, struggling to get to the water. Yes he is struggling, but don’t pity him. It is strength that he is building in the struggle, muscles that he will need for later.
Here in Psalm 7, David continues to struggle. He feels betrayed, falsely accused. Have you ever been there? I have. My stomach still turns at the thought of it. I want to respond how David responds. In prayer to God.

7 O Lord my God, in You I put my trust;
Save me from all those who persecute me;
And deliver me,
2 Lest they tear me like a lion,
Rending me in pieces, while there is none to deliver.

He continues pouring His heart out before God. You know. You see. You are just. And that has to be enough.
David finishes this Psalm as he so often does… in praise.

17 I will praise the Lord according to His righteousness,
And will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.

Don’t be surprised by the struggle. It has to be. But as we see God come through, time and time again, I pray that we would be strengthened through the struggle and that we would comfort others as we have been comforted as we praise God, putting our trust in Him.
John 16:33 These things I have spoken to you that in Me you may find peace, In this world you will have tribulations, but be of good cheer I have overcome the world.

6 Ridiculous Arguments Used For Legalized Abortion

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There is a constant cacophony from liberals with the same tired illogical arguments for legalized abortion. I don’t usually get too bothered by it. I don’t expect logic from them.  However when the noise starts coming from those that claim to be Christians, that’s when it becomes like nails on a chalk board, and I feel compelled to respond.
So here is a short list with those reasons I seem to hear the most often.

1. “Yes, I believe it is murder, but who am I to judge? I know I would never choose it, but I support a woman’s right to do it.”

For starters, how does that even come out of a person’s mouth?
Ok, so wait, you did just agree that it is murder? And then added that you are ok with it?
The truth is that I have more respect for someone who says “It’s *not* a life, and it’s my right” then this crazy, “yes it’s murder, but what can ya do?” nonsense.
Either it’s murder or it’s not.
If it is, well, then isn’t prohibiting murder kind of a big part of why we have a legal system?
Yes, if murder is happening, you really do have a moral obligation to try to stop it as much as is within your means. And it certainly is within your means when it comes to abortion. (i.e. at the very least voting)

2. “How can you say you are pro life, and also be for the death penalty! Hypocrite!!”

Not exactly the most honest comparison. A man brutalizes and murders countless children, and then you compare his right to life with helpless babies? And before you say “just lock up the murderers for life,” check out this article about killers that were given life sentences that were freed only to kill again. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2421724/Revealed-The-murderers-given-life-jail-freed-kill-again.html Yes, so please, no more with this argument. The death penalty is about protecting innocent life from being taken by a murderer,which is  kind of exactly like my pro-life stance.

3. “We can’t afford more babies, over populated planet! No room!! Less is more!”

Here is the thing. We just aborted the guy that was going to find a way to live on mars! Way to go! Also, that whole cancer cure? Yeah, the girl that was going to discover that never saw the light of day. Oh, and the person that had a plan to end world poverty? That guy will be aborted tomorrow. You see, there are two forms of energy. Kinetic and potential. Is kinetic more powerful than potential? Roe v. Wade says yes. Science says no.

4. “All those unwanted babies become murderers and drug dealers! We are safer this way!”

I would like to introduce the people that say this to google. (google: famous adopted people)

I would also like to put money on the fact that these people also voted for Bill Clinton, who was adopted, not aborted. Next I would guess that they are using their iPhone to do this search, their iPhone developed by another “unwanted” baby, Steve Jobs. Not to mention how disgusting it is to suggest that a baby that goes up for adoption is unwanted. Seriously. So disgusting and actually just inaccurate. I would also like to point these people to the lines of people wanting and waiting to adopt a baby.

5. “Women are going to do it anyway, would you rather them lose their life in a back alley with a dirty hanger?

Ok, so let me get this straight, we need to make murder less dangerous? Seriously? Again, if you don’t think it’s murder, of course this logic makes sense to you, I grant you that. But Christians, that believe that the fetus is a living real life baby, (which is the actual definition for a fetus) are you really saying that we need to make murder less dangerous? Please, say that out loud, using those words. “We need to make murder less dangerous.”  See? Sounds crazy right?

Now let’s apply it to other types of murder as well. I mean, think of all the mothers that have lost their lives driving their children off a bridge. Shouldn’t we make it more accessible for mothers to kill their older children too? I mean, otherwise they are just going to drive their car off a bridge and die alongside their children.

God help me.

6.  “Who are you to judge?”

I just can’t hear this one anymore. Not one more time. We all judge, all day long! And thank God we do!
Should I cross the street? I don’t know, let me judge.
Should I wear a warm coat? I don’t know, let me judge.
Should I stop that man from beating that dog? Yes, I have judged the situation, and must intervene.
Judging is such an important activity, that we actually have people with the job title of “Judge.” What about that verse in the Bible that tells people not to judge? Again, google is your friend. This time try googling “What does “Judge not lest you be judged” actually mean?
Does it mean that we allow criminal activity to go unchecked? That we don’t defend the defenseless? Nope. Not for one second. No. The Bible tells us to Judge (discern) with right judgment.
There are more, so many more. This list is incomplete.  But it’s a start. And maybe if just these six nonsensical arguments were eliminated, maybe a real conversation could take place. As a matter of fact, I would be mostly satisfied if these arguments were just never used again by people that identify themselves as Christians. Just that in and of itself would be a huge step in the right direction.
These lies have been told so many times that they are believed even though they are absurd. I know many women who are grieved by the choices they made when they were ignorant. For that reason, I can’t end without stressing that there is  forgiveness at the cross. The very apostle Paul that penned most of the New Testament had committed some heinous acts of murder of which he was completely forgiven. There is no sin that Christ will not forgive when one repents. Stop believing the lies today, and experience true freedom.

I Samuel 24- God’s timing Vs. Our Plans for a short cut

Read I Samuel 24.

This is a familiar story to many of us that have been studying the Bible for some time. David has been running for his life from a man who is now sleeping in a cave, at his feet. David was anointed king. And the only thing that stands in his way, is the king who could be taken out of the equation with one fell swoop. But he walks away. Not before cutting off a piece of his robe for evidence. Then he yelled across to Saul from a safe distance to let him know.

And David said to Saul: “Why do you listen to the words of men who say, ‘Indeed David seeks your harm’? 10 Look, this day your eyes have seen that the Lord delivered you today into my hand in the cave, and someone urged me to kill you. But my eye spared you, and I said, ‘I will not stretch out my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord’s anointed.’ 11 Moreover, my father, see! Yes, see the corner of your robe in my hand! For in that I cut off the corner of your robe, and did not kill you, know and see that there is neither evil nor rebellion in my hand, and I have not sinned against you. Yet you hunt my life to take it. 12 Let the Lord judge between you and me, and let the Lord avenge me on you. But my hand shall not be against you. 13 As the proverb of the ancients says, ‘Wickedness proceeds from the wicked.’ But my hand shall not be against you. 14 After whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom do you pursue? A dead dog? A flea? 15 Therefore let the Lord be judge, and judge between you and me, and see and plead my case, and deliver me out of your hand.”
  
This story pierced my heart today. Truly. Here was David, anointed by God, promised the crown, and here was what seemed to be the perfect opportunity to take what was his. But the character of his heart won out over the convenience of the capture. He was going to trust God to deliver the throne, and through his constant contact with God, he knew this was not how it was supposed to go down. Patience. What? Patience to watch God’s plan unfold. Vision for what God intended to do. 

This is the exact opposite of what we are told by the world, and also what David was told by his friends. Get what’s yours. This is your one shot! Go for the gold, whatever the cost. The end justifies the means. Dog eat dog world. If there’s a close parking spot, that’s the one we want. If there is a faster lane, that’s the one I am moving to. If there is a shorter line, I am moving my cart there. If there’s a huge sale, I have to get there first before someone else gets them all. And this me me me feeling only intensifies when you have kids. If you don’t believe this ask any teacher or coach the crazy conversations they have had with parents about their children. Or sadly, just ask me. Can I be honest? I want my kids to be the best. I want them to win the game, get the part, stand out, be first. I want them to be recognized, to feel accomplished, to succeed. But at what cost?  What happens when they don’t? What is the reaction in my heart? Or in my email? 

So many parents go crazy on their kids coaches, or teachers, sending ridiculous emails, setting up time wasting meetings, because they feel their child isn’t getting what’s theirs. I have almost been that parent. So many times. But thankfully I have a husband who just gives me one look. You know the look. It’s a “settle down pageant mom/dance mom/ crazed mom and let it go.” What is the end goal? Well, I say with my mouth that the end goal is to glorify God, and instill a love and knowledge for God and His world in our children. But what do my actions say when the chance arises to push my way to the front of the line or the temptation arises to do things my way  to get to “God’s will” faster.


 Saul said, “Is this your voice, my son David?” And Saul lifted up his voice and wept. 17 Then he said to David: “You are more righteous than I; for you have rewarded me with good, whereas I have rewarded you with evil. 18 And you have shown this day how you have dealt well with me; for when the Lord delivered me into your hand, you did not kill me. 19 For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him get away safely? Therefore may the Lord reward you with good for what you have done to me this day. 20 And now I know indeed that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand. 

 The first shall be last, and the last shall be first. If you want to be great in God’s kingdom, you have to be the servant of all. 

 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
 I pray that we would trust God for His timing and that are hearts and motives would be pure, striving for true humility and focusing on the eternal allowing patience to have its perfect work in our hearts! Amen

I Samuel 23- Every Move I make- I’ll be asking You!

2Therefore David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?”
And the Lord said to David, “Go and attack the Philistines, and save Keilah.”

David is acutely aware of his need for guidance. In this chapter, David asks if he should go in and defend Keilah against the Phillistines.  And God says yes. But some of his soldiers have a bit of a problem with it. Like, really David? We are barely hanging on here, and you want us to go defend someone else?

But David’s men said to him, “Look, we are afraid here in Judah. How much more then if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?” Then David inquired of the Lord once again.

So David asks God again, and gets the same answer. They go, they conquer. They sit down for one second and then….

 He hears word that Saul is nearby (never good), so he inquires of the Lord again. Every move he makes, every breath he takes….wait, never mind, lets just say its safe to say that he isn’t making any decision without consulting the Lord first. Why is he so dependent? Because he is in a battle for his life, for his kingdom, for his legacy. He is ready for a fight. Which begs the question, Are you ready for a fight?
One of the greatest strategies of the devil is to make us forget that we are in a battle.

The enemy knows that if we realized we were in a battle, we would need to consult the Captain for strategy, for direction, for provisions. David knew that with one false move, he could lose everything.
The simplest but most common display of pride is denying our need for daily devotions and constant contact with God. Pray without ceasing. So many times you hear people say, I just wish I knew God’s will. But the reality is, that many times we wait till a big decision comes along, and then ask, when the best way to find God’s will is to be talking to Him all day long, bring your daily decisions through the filter of God’s Word.

11Will the men of Keilah deliver me into his hand? Will Saul come down, as Your servant has heard? O Lord God of Israel, I pray, tell Your servant.”
And the Lord said, “He will come down.”
12Then David said, “Will the men of Keilah deliver me and my men into the hand of Saul?”
And the Lord said, “They will deliver you.”
13So David and his men, about six hundred, arose and departed from Keilah and went wherever they could go.

God said to go fight and he did. And he must have felt a much deserved need for a rest. But God told him to keep moving and head back to the wilderness, so he did that too. I am pretty sure he felt like saying “Seriously God? Really? More troubles?? Can’t I get a break?” But he does better than that. This guy is a man after God’s own heart.  He gives us reality mixed with hope in Psalms 34.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all. Psalm 34:19
He will deliver. He will deliver. Out of them ALL!! Thank you Jesus!!
I pray that we would bring our decisions big and small to Jesus. Take it to the throne before the phone! Ha! (I know you’ve heard that before, but I think I need to tape that on my phone!!) He will answer. And I pray that though our troubles may be many or few, little or big, we will rest in the knowledge that He will deliver us out of them all!

I Samuel 22- God still speaks through His word, even in January.

Thanks to the date on my last blog I have realized that I missed a lot of days. Here’s why. (That “Here’s why” was for Pastor Bob, who clearly reads my blog, as evidenced by his sermons that “coincidentally” say the same thing (totally kidding (how many embedded parentheses can I have? (ok last one ))))
Well, the biggest reason for the gap is that school is back in session, and my focusing ability is totally depleted during the day, by the five cutest students in the world, leaving my nights (when I usually type out my devo blog) completely devoid of the ability to form a coherent sentence. But another reason, would be that I seem to have had a case of the Januaries. I know I am not alone, because I have confessed this “Blah” feeling to some of my closest friends, only to hear many of them echo my sentiments. Oppressed seems like a strong word, but yet it is the right word. This past week I felt somewhat better, despite circumstances around me getting worse. However, in the middle of it, if you have ever been there, and are in charge of or responsible for anyone else, it’s easy to feel unqualified, defeated, thinking “How do I take care of my children, or students, or coworkers, or fill in the blank….when I don’t even feel like taking care of myself?”
So I decided today that I wasn’t going to let another day go by without digging into the word. And while the kids were playing on the play set at the park, I pulled out my phone and started reading. (that’s right lady judging me at the park for being on my phone….I was reading the BIBLE!) 😉 So I began reading and read this:
 David therefore departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. So when his brothers and all his father’s house heard it, they went down there to him. 2 And everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him. So he became captain over them. And there were about four hundred men with him.

David was running for his life, trying to cling to a promise that was given to him, betrayed by his master, separated from his best friend, and crying out to God regularly for protection. Yet in this broken state, they came to him, those that were discontented, and in debt, and distressed. And he became captain over them. How? How did he do it? He was anointed to do it. He was chosen to do it. He was empowered to do it. He was surrendered to God’s will. And he chose to do it.
 I could relate. There are those days, too many lately, where I felt like I was struggling to take care of myself properly, yet here they came, the distressed, the indebted, and the discontent, needing me to be their captain.  So I pray that as we stand before the Lord, possibly feeling like we have nothing left to give, that we would realize we never had anything to give in the first place. That is through Him and Him alone that we do anything good. So by the power of His Holy Spirit, there is nothing we cannot do.

5 Now the prophet Gad said to David, “Do not stay in the stronghold; depart, and go to the land of Judah.” So David departed and went into the forest of Hereth.
Regardless of how little David was in control, he was still in control of whether or not he chose to obey. And here he does. He receives council from one of the prophets and acts on it.
The end of the chapter gruesomely recounts the consequences of David’s lies to the priest. Saul hears from a man that was there and witnessed the priest aiding a deceitful and desperate David. He reports to Saul all that happened and many are killed because of it.
The last chapter we saw how our victories in Christ empower us for even bigger victories in the future. However this chapter reminds us that our disobedience alsohas far reaching consequences into the future. Our society tries to deny this reality. We as Christians also can pretend this is not true. Sometimes we think that we can pray away the disastrous results to our bad choices and sins. We are forgiven. That is for sure. But our decisions have consequences. I pray that our eyes would be opened to those sinful decisions we are making….pride, covetousness, blasphemy, lust…..those commandments being broken, and that we would take them seriously, knowing also that we serve a just and loving God, who longs to be gracious to us. Isaiah 30:18 Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him.

I Samuel 21- Future Provision Through Today’s Obedience.

Arent de Gelder: Ahimelech giving Goliath's sword to David
Read I Samuel 21

 Now David came to Nob, to Ahimelech the priest. And Ahimelech was afraid when he met David, and said to him, “Why are you alone, and no one is with you?”
So David said to Ahimelech the priest, “The king has ordered me on some business, and said to me, ‘Do not let anyone know anything about the business on which I send you, or what I have commanded you.’ And I have directed my young men to such and such a place. Now therefore, what have you on hand? Give me five loaves of bread in my hand, or whatever can be found.”

David lies. But for a good reason. Does that mean that if we lie with a good intent it is ok!? No. In fact, although it works out for David, we see in the next chapter, that it definitely does not work out for the deceived priest. And this is an important point. People sometimes point to the heroes of the Old Testament, looking at their decisions, and attempt to justify their own sin. However, nowhere in the Bible does it say that those fathers of our faith were perfect. In fact it says the opposite.   The bible says that there was one that committed no sin. (1 Peter 2:22) please remember that the next time someone tries to justify there sin by pointing to someone in the Bible.

David then asks the priest if there are any weapons on hand. The next few verses play out of a scene from a blockbuster movie.

So the priest said, “The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the Valley of Elah, there it is, wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. If you will take that, take it. For there is no other except that one here.” And David said, “ There is none like it; give it to me.” (I Samuel 21:9 NKJV)

The lesson here really took my breath away. Each victory in Jesus gives us the tools to fight an even bigger battle. And it’s the daily battles that are the hardest to win. But as we fight through the temptations in life, crucifying our flesh, our future is being defined, and mapped out.

As I watched the news tonight my heart broke. These choices people are making leave me literally shaking my head, asking why? But I know that it is the daily decisions, the little compromises, “small” disobedience, that one by one leads them to this place of utter self deception.

Instead of walking away from the Goliaths in our lives, big or small, I pray that we would walk towards them, and conquer them through the power of the Holy Spirit, and in doing so, be more prepared for the path that God has for us.

Lastly, there was one more thing that shouldn’t be missed.

10 Then David arose and fled that day from before Saul, and went to Achish the king of Gath. 11 And the servants of Achish said to him, “Is this not David the king of the land? Did they not sing of him to one another in dances, saying:

‘Saul has slain his thousands,
And David his ten thousands’?”

12 Now David took these words to heart, and was very much afraid of Achish the king of Gath.
 
David had received high praise. The servants of this other king recognized him. Fame. Popularity. If this were today, David would have more followers than Justin Bieber. But instead of basking in the glory, David realizes the weight of this notoriety. David knew that with this celebrity came a target on his back. He “took these words to heart.” How many people have we seen that are thrust into the spotlight after going viral and then predictably crack under the pressure? And then the same people that lauded them and “liked” them on facebook, now mock them. Everyone wants to be known, but there is a cost, and we should take these things to heart as well, praying for our pastors, leaders, writers, teachers who are in the spotlight, with a target on their back, with an enemy that roars looking for someone to devour. Take a moment today to pray for someone you know, or have admired that might be in this place. I pray for my pastor, and many leaders at my church, and also leaders in politics that have been persecuted and attacked as they are in the public eye standing for truth. Amen!

Coventry’s Costa Rican Chicken

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(Coventry, Amy, ME, Dianna)

In the late 90’s I went on my first missions trip, and it was to Costa Rica. The lessons I learned and the experiences I had will stay with me forever. But love, salvation, and friends were not the only blessings to come from this trip. A delicious meal, nay, a family staple, was born on that trip, created by the culinary wizard, known as Coventry Myers. My mother was just asking me for this recipe and I thought, no mom, not just you! The world needs this recipe! So here you go world, (or 50 or so people that read this blog) Print Here

Coventry’s Costa Rican Chicken

(This would serves about 4)
I double this and it feeds our family of 7 with lots of leftovers.

Package of tortillas, either burrito or taco size will do.
2 cans black beans
1 1/2 chicken breasts
1 cup  rice (uncooked)
1 small onion sliced
1/2  stick of butter
Lizano Salsa** (or your favorite salsa or sauce)

1.First boil your chicken breasts (mine come straight from the freezer, and that is just fine!)

2. Start cooking rice (I boil 1.5 cups of water with some salt and olive oil, and add 1 cup of rice when boiling, perfect in about 20 minutes)

3. Prepare black beans
4.Shred cooked chicken

5. Saute sliced onions in one stick of butter till translucent and tender, not browned

6. Add cooked rice

7. Add shredded chicken. Stir together and cook for a few minutes to get all the flavors mixed together.

8. Place chicken mix on warmed tortilla followed by black beans and then salsa.

Lizano Salsa is more of a sauce then what we typically think of as a salsa. (salsa means sauce in Spanish.)
For the last 10 years we have gotten it from my dear dad-in-law when he went to Costa Rica to surf, but I just found out I can buy it here! And it arrived to my door in 2 days! The kids went nuts. Seriously people. It’s that good. Straight from Miami, straight from Costa Rica. Now,although, what makes this recipe “out of this world” amazing is the Lizano Salsa. But if you have a sauce, or salsa you feel that strongly about, then this here recipe would be the perfect place to highlight it’s flavors!

It’s a hit.