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"No matter where I am, your teachings fill me with songs." - Psalm 119:54 (CEV)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Imperfections


I've noticed that I have a tendency to make myself look perfect.

It's probably because I'm a perfectionist.

I want everyone to see me as absolutely flawless.

The problem is, I'm not.

I have endless flaws,

Planted so deep within me I can't get them out on my own,

And letting God weed them out is a slow and painful process.

I've noticed that I've been portraying the way this challenge is changing my life as perfect, too,

Talking only about the joy God has allowed me to find in Him through it,

Yet never speaking of the joyless moments I have also found along the way,

The many, many times I have regressed yet again to my former state.

I decided today would be a good time to give a small example of that.


The last two weeks have been absolutely crazy.

I've had no time to do anything,

Or, at least, I perceive myself to have no time to do anything.

("Perceive" because, somehow, in the midst of all this, I still have twenty minutes to cut my nails.

I mean, really?  My nails?  When I don't have any time?  Really?

Anyway, I digress.)

That leads to the typical patterns that pop up in my life

When I'm buried in homework

Or unable to get alone time:

I make just as much time for God as I feel obligated to,

Yet never as much time as I need to.

I forget who God is

And my love turns to utter apathy.

I cease to care

And cease to care that I don't care.

And it

Drives

Me

Nuts

That I do this

Over

And over

And over again.

Usually it only lasts a couple of days.

This time it lasted around two weeks.

I essentially forgot who God was

For two weeks.


Now, here's where the challenge comes in.

The whole two weeks, I'd been counting

But I'd found no joy in God.



Just because I'm counting doesn't mean I really care,

As it can easily become a duty and an obligation.

Just because I'm counting doesn't mean I have a good relationship with God,

Because I am very good at having tons of head knowledge yet a stone-cold heart.

Just because I'm counting doesn't mean I'm finding joy in God,

Because I have a great ability to read words yet have them mean nothing to me.



I am a sinful, fallen creature.

I am perfectly capable of screwing up completely on a daily basis,

And I do.

Every day.

Again, that shows my utter dependence on His mercy and grace.

I

Can't

Do

Anything

Right,

At least not apart from Him.

Nothing.


So, the counting?

It's just a tool.

If He's using it to bring my heart closer to Him,

If my heart is responsive to that,

He can do amazing things with that tool.

If I am ignoring Him in my pride and arrogance,

If my heart is cold and lifeless,

And that tool doesn't work anymore,

That is not the tool's fault,

That is not God's fault,

It is my fault for failing to seek after Him as I ought,

Failing to love Him as I ought.


So, is the challenge good?

In a way, yes, as it was formed with the intention of helping me to know God more.

In another way, no, because it is imperfect, inspired by God's tiny nudges, yet brought into full formation by my weak and imperfect mind.

It is God who is Good,

God who is Perfect,

God who is Faithful

In drawing us unto Himself,

God who chooses to use imperfect tools

To bring His people back to Him.

And I've seen that this week, too,

Where, in my emptiness, in my apathy,

And in my brokenness over the lifeless state of my heart

He has brought the cure,

Brought it through a worship leader on the stage shouting out God's character,

Brought it through leading me to exactly what I needed to hear,

Brought it through blessing the time I finally made to just be with Him,


And the cure is this:

Seeing Him for who He is,

Loving Him,

And worshiping Him.


And, really, that was the whole point of the challenge.

When I go back to the ways that He, through this challenge, taught me to see Him,

Taught me to seek Him,

Taught me to love Him,

Taught me to worship Him,

I find Him,

And in Him I find joy,

And I keep counting

And I never want to stop.

Never.


Counting numbers 374-481 this week (I met my goal, and I'm still counting!):
  1. He causes staffs to not only sprout, but bud, blossom, and produce almonds (Numbers 17:1-8)
  2. He is the share and inheritance of those He chooses (Numbers 18:20)
  3. He promises to bring water from rock when those He chooses speak to it (Numbers 20:8)
  4. He punishes those who do not trust Him (Numbers 20:8-12)
  5. He punishes those who do not honor Him as holy (Numbers 20:8-12)
  6. He proves Himself Holy, in spite of what people do (Numbers 20:8-13)
  7. He hears those who cry out and sends angels to rescue them (Numbers 20:15-16)
  8. People die exactly when He says they will (Numbers 20:23-29)
  9. He gives people up to be destroyed by those who plead for the privilege (Numbers 21:2-3)
  10. He sends venomous snakes among those who speak against Him (Numbers 21:4-6)
  11. He listens to prayer (Numbers 21:7-8)
  12. He provides a way for those dying to live (Numbers 21:7-9)
  13. He gives water (Numbers 21:16-18)
  14. He tells people not to fear . . . and gives a reason (Numbers 21:34)
  15. He delivers kings along with their armies and lands into the hands of His people (Numbers 21:33-35)
  16. He protects those He blesses (Numbers 22:10-13)
  17. He tells people what to do (Numbers 22:20)
  18. He opens the mouths of donkeys (Numbers 22:28)
  19. He opens the eyes of people (Numbers 22:31)
  20. He allows people to see the unseen (Numbers 22:31)
  21. He sends His angels to oppose those whose paths are reckless before Him (Numbers 22:32)
  22. He gives words (Numbers 22:5)
  23. He is not human (Numbers 23:19)
  24. He does not lie (Numbers 23:19)
  25. He is not a human being (Numbers 23:19)
  26. He does not change His mind (Nubmers 23:19)
  27. He commands to bless (Numbers 23:20)
  28. His blessings cannot be changed (Numbers 23:20)
  29. His shout is among His people (Numbers 23:21)
  30. He gives His people the strength of a wild ox (Numbers 23:22)
  31. He does things so amazing that others say, “See what God has done!” (Numbers 23:23)
  32. He allows people to see clearly (Numbers 24:3)
  33. He allows people to hear His words (Numbers 24:4)
  34. He allows people to receive visions from Him (Numbers 24:4)
  35. He gives people knowledge from the Most High (Numbers 24:16)
  36. He is the Most High (Numbers 24:16)
  37. He opens the eyes of those who fall prostrate (Numbers 24:16)
  38. He crushes foreheads and skulls (Numbers 24:17)
  39. He conquers peoples (Numbers 24:18)
  40. He causes His people to grow strong (Numbers 24:18)
  41. He is zealous for his honor among his people (Numbers 25:11)
  42. He sees those who are as zealous for His honor as He Himself (Numbers 25:11)
  43. His people's zeal for His honor convinces Him to turn away His anger (Numbers 25:11)
  44. He decides not to put an end to people in His zeal (Numbers 25:11)
  45. He makes a covenant of peace with those zealous for His honor (Numbers 25:11-12)
  46. He makes a covenant of lasting priesthood with the line of one who is zealous for His honor (Numbers 25:13)
  47. He counts zeal for His honor as atonement (Numbers 25:13)
  48. He instructs His people to treat other peoples as enemies (Numbers 25:16-17)
  49. He instructs His people to kill their enemies (Numbers 25:16-17)
  50. He gives instructions for allotting lands (Numbers 25:52-56)
  51. His words prove to be true (Numbers 26:65)
  52. He knows what is right (Numbers 27:7)
  53. He carries out His promise to punish those who do not obey His commands to honor Him as Holy (Numbers 27:12-14)
  54. He gives breath to all living things (Numbers 27:16)
  55. He appoints leaders (Numbers 27:15-21)
  56. He instructs through people (Numbers 27:23)
  57. He commands people to take vengeance (Numbers 31:1-2)
  58. He subdues the land (Numbers 32:3-4)
  59. He honors and blesses those who follow Him wholeheartedly (Numbers 32:10-12)
  60. He commands that journeys be recorded (Numbers 33:2)
  61. He strikes down the firstborn children of His people's oppressors (Numbers 33:4)
  62. He commands His people to drive out the land's inhabitants (Numbers 33:51-52)
  63. He commands that carved images, cast idols, and high places be destroyed (Numbers 33:52)
  64. He gives His people land to possess (Numbers 33:53)
  65. He commands that people take possession of the land and settle in it (Numbers 33:53)
  66. He warns of what will happen if His commands are not obeyed (Numbers 33:55-56)
  67. He threatens (Numbers 33:55-56)
  68. He sets boundaries (Numbers 34:1-2)
  69. He commands that the land where His people live, the land where He dwells, not be defiled (Numbers 35:34)
  70. He increases the numbers of His people so that they are as numerous as the stars in the sky (Numbers 35:10)
  71. The land He gives is good (Deuteronomy 1:25)
  72. He fights for His people before their very eyes (Deuteronomy 1:30)
  73. He goes before His people (Deuteronomy 1:30)
  74. He carries His people (Deuteronomy 1:31)
  75. He carries His people as a father carries his son (Deuteronomy 1:31)
  76. He carries His people until they reach the place He wants them (Deuteronomy 1:31)
  77. He goes ahead of His people on their journey (Deuteronomy 1:33)
  78. He searches out places for His people to camp (Deuteronomy 1:33)
  79. He shows His people the way they should go (Deuteronomy 1:22)
  80. He gives the land He promised to those who follow Him wholeheartedly (Deuteronomy 1:36)
  81. He pays no attention to the weeping of those who have turned from Him (Deuteronomy 1:45)
  82. He turns a deaf ear to those who disobey Him (Deuteronomy 1:45)
  83. He blesses His people in the work of their hands (Deuteronomy 2:7)
  84. He watches over the journey of His people (Deuteronomy 2:7)
  85. He stays with His people for years (Deuteronomy 2:7)
  86. His people lack nothing (Deuteronomy 2:7)
  87. He gives His people all the towns He promised – not one is too strong for those He is with (Deuteronomy 2:36)
  88. He shows His servants hints of His greatness (Deuteronomy 3:24)
  89. He shows His servants hints of His strong hand (Deuteronomy 3:24)
  90. No other god in heaven or on earth can do works or deeds as mighty as His (Deuteronomy 3:24)
  91. He becomes very angry (Deuteronomy 3:26)
  92. He commands His people to speak about some matters (Deuteronomy 3:26)
  93. He destroys from among His people all who worship idols (Deuteronomy 4:3)
  94. He allows those who hold fast to Him to live (Deuteronomy 4:3-4)
  95. He is near His people when they pray to Him (Deuteronomy 4:7)
  96. He gives His people righteous decrees and laws (Deuteronomy 4:8)
  97. He makes His nation great (Deuteronomy 4:7-8)
  98. He wants His people to revere Him because He is worthy of reverence (Deuteronomy 4:10)
  99. He makes the mountain blaze with fire to the very heavens, with black clouds and deep darkness (Deuteronomy 4:11)
  100. He is a consuming fire, a jealous God (Deuteronomy 4:24)
  101. He can scatter the corrupt among the peoples, and only allow a few to survive (Deuteronomy 4:25-28)
  102. His people can find Him from any place, so long as they seek Him with all their heart and soul – He is always within reach (Deuteronomy 4:29)
  103. He is merciful and does not abandon or destroy His people (Deuteronomy 4:31)
  104. He does not forget the covenants He has made which He has confirmed by oath (Deuteronomy 4:31)
  105. He takes for Himself one nation out of another nation by testings, signs and wonders, war, a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and great and mighty deeds (Deuteronomy 4:34)
  106. He is God – besides Him there is no other (Deuteronomy 4:35)
  107. He makes His people hear His voice from heaven, that he may discipline them (Deuteronomy 4:36)
  108. He loves His people and rescues them by His Presence and great strength (Deuteronomy 4:37)

Counting 10,000 Reasons to worship Him:

<a href="http://maryschieferstein.blogspot.com/search/label/10000%20Reasons" target="_blank"><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-8zkGH23srZ8/T2i3Bun0O9I/AAAAAAAABSw/8giPvnJmCPI/s320/10000ReasonsButton.jpg" /></a>
Counting in community,

Also, linking up at A Holy Experience, walking with Him, sacrificing self and running back to the only One who's really worth it:


And if you have a minute to read some of the posts at the bottom of this one?  Leave a comment?  It's such a blessing!

Thank you for visiting.

God bless!

   

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Confessions of an Idol-Worshiper


I guess I'd better start by explaining that title.

I have worshiped a lot of idols in my life.

The TV,

Computer games,

Favorite shows,

Good books,

Myself -

Especially myself.

I am an idol-worshiper.

However, there is one thing I have worshiped that I never considered to be an idol:

My view of God.

(Okay, before you stone me for heresy, note that I said "view of" and keep reading.  I promise I'll explain.)


It was last semester that he said it,

Trying to teach us Biblical wisdom,

Explain the character of God.

He said that when we see God as less than who He really is

We are worshiping an idol.


An idol.

I have been worshiping an idol.

 
I grew up in the church,

Learned how God was loving,

Omniscient,

Omnipotent,

Omnipresent.

I thought I knew God.

I never realized there was more to the picture,

And he told me,

How God is Just,

Wrathful,

Righteous,

How He does everything for His own glory.

In my arrogance I thought this God was selfish,

Until he said that for God to worship anything other than the One True God would make Him an idol-worshiper.

I started to get the point,

Started praying to know this God more,

To know God as He is,

Not the idol I'd been worshiping,

But I never really did anything about it.


That is, I never did anything about it until now.

Lent came and He drew me to Himself,

Used my sense of obligation to draw me into who He really is,

Used who He really is to help me to find fullness of joy,

Begin to glimpse the pleasures forevermore.

I started counting,

And counting,

And counting,

Digging in to who He is,

And never wanting to stop.


In my counting, I ran into this:

Exodus 4:24-26

New International Version (NIV)
 24 At a lodging place on the way, the LORD met Moses and was about to kill him. 25 But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it. “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me,” she said. 26 So the LORD let him alone. (At that time she said “bridegroom of blood,” referring to circumcision.)
God was going to kill Moses.

I'm sure that, in reading my Bible, I must have read the passage at least twice.

So how did I not know that was in there?

You'd think something like this would stick out.

I was a little shocked.

The thing is, though, I was shocked that I didn't know it was there.

I wasn't shocked that God would act that way.

It's kind of funny.

The American church loves to talk about God's love,

Say how perfectly loving He is,

And never mention passages like this.

So American Christians tend to look at it and say,

"How could You do such a thing, God?

I thought You were loving."

Since I'm confessing today,

I'll confess there was a time that would have been me.

But now I'm starting to know God,

And in starting to know God,

I see Him as so much more than just loving.

(And He is Loving - please don't think that in talking about attributes like wrath and justice that I've forgotten that God is also so many other things - Good, Gracious, Merciful!  I don't mean to imply that He is not those things, but what I need to say is more about what's ignored than what's mentioned on a regular basis.  The point of this is that I want the whole picture, leaving nothing out, including both love and wrath and everything in between.)

I see that He was Patient with Moses far beyond what I would have been,

That He showed Himself to be Glorious and Holy in His interactions with Moses,

That Moses' incessant complaining provoked His Righteous Anger,

And that He showed Himself to be Wrathful in almost killing Moses,

Yet He listened to the pleas of Moses' wife

And chose to use the imperfect human who worried too much about what he could do,

Never even considering the Power of God.

It doesn't shock me that God almost killed Moses.

It's in His character to be Just and Wrathful.

What shocks me is that He didn't,

That He chose to glorify Himself instead through His Mercy.

Then, when I think about it,

What shocks me even more

Is that He let me get out of bed this morning,

Rather than killing me in my sleep.

Me,

A selfish, conceited, faithless idol-worshiper.


I think the church thought it was doing me a favor,

When, growing up, it told me about how loving God is,

Leaving out all the gory details,

How He commanded that people be slaughtered,

Ordered the earth to swallow people whole,

Sent down fire to incinerate those who oppose Him.

The crazy thing is, they weren't doing me a favor at all.

This only-loving God isn't the God I want to worship

Because an only-loving God isn't God at all.

I want to worship the God of the Bible.

I want to stand in awe of Him,

Be amazed at His character,

How He can be both Loving and Wrathful at the same time,

And be surprised that my understanding of not only His Love and Goodness

But also His Justice and Wrath

Just makes me want Him so much more.

I'm sick of worshiping idols.

I want the real thing.


I supposed I'd better qualify that statement.

All this has made me realize that I am always going to be an idol-worshiper,

That I will never, ever fully, truly know God,

(Hence my utter dependence on His infinite Mercy and Grace)

But I can make an effort to know Him more,

And that's exactly what I've been doing.

I'm counting to four hundred -

Then ten thousand! -

Finding endless reasons to worship God

Just

Because

He

Is.

Numbers 278-373 this week:
  1. He is willing to leave His people in order to preserve them (Exodus 32:3-5)
  2. He speaks to those He chooses as one would speak to a friend (Exodus 32:11)
  3. He calls out leaders (Exodus 33:12)
  4. He knows His people by name (Exodus 33:12)
  5. He finds favor in some (Exodus 33:12)
  6. He is pleased with some (Exodus 33:13)
  7. His Presence goes with His people (Exodus 33:14)
  8. He gives His people rest (Exodus 33:14)
  9. He does what His people ask when He is pleased with those whom He knows by name (Exodus 33:17)
  10. He causes all His goodness to pass in front of one who asks, one He chooses (Exodus 33:18-19)
  11. He proclaims His name in the presence of one who asks, one He chooses (Exodus 33:18-19)
  12. He has mercy on those whom He chooses (Exodus 33:19)
  13. He has compassion on those whom He chooses (Exodus 33:19)
  14. He will not allow anyone to see His face (Exodus 33:18-20)
  15. No one may see Him and live (Exodus 33:20)
  16. He covers with His hand until He passes by, that His face will not be seen (Exodus 33:22-23)
  17. He removes His hand, that one who asks, one He chooses may see His back (Exodus 33:18-23)
  18. He is compassionate (Exodus 34:6)
  19. He is slow to anger (Exodus 34:6)
  20. He abounds in love (Exodus 34:6)
  21. He abounds in faithfulness (Exodus 34:6)
  22. He maintains love to thousands (Exodus 34:6-7)
  23. He forgives wickedness (Exodus 34:6-7)
  24. He forgives rebellion (Exodus 34:6-7)
  25. He forgives sin (Exodus 34:6-7)
  26. He does not leave the guilty unpunished (Exodus 34:6-7)
  27. He does wonders before His people never before done in any nation in all the world (Exodus 34:10)
  28. He does wonders that the nations might see how awesome the work is that He does for His people (Exodus 34:10)
  29. He drives out nations before His people (Exodus 34:11)
  30. He warns His people not to make treaties and allow the ungodly to be a snare among them (Exodus 34:12-13)
  31. He alone is to be worshiped (Exodus 34:13-14)
  32. His name is Jealous (Exodus 34:14)
  33. He warns His people not to prostitute themselves to other gods (Exodus 34:15-16)
  34. He commands people to celebrate (Exodus 34:18)
  35. The first offspring belong to Him (Exodus 34:19-20)
  36. He offers – commands – redemption (Exodus 34:20)
  37. He forbids that anyone come before Him empty-handed (Exodus 34:20)
  38. He commands that his people rest (Exodus 34:21)
  39. He commands His people to appear before Him (Exodus 34:23)
  40. He is the God of Israel (Exodus 34:23)
  41. He drives out nations when His people follow His commands and appear before Him (Exodus 34:23-24)
  42. He enlarges His people's territory when His people follow His commands and appear before Him (Exodus 34:23-24)
  43. He keeps others from coveting His people's land when His people follow His commands and appear before Him (Exodus 34:23-24)
  44. He demands the best of the firstfruits (Exodus 34:26)
  45. He sustains (Exodus 34:28)
  46. He chooses (Exodus 35:30)
  47. He keeps (Numbers 6:24)
  48. He makes His face shine upon His people (Numbers 6:25)
  49. He is gracious to His people (Numbers 6:25)
  50. He turns His face toward His people (Numbers 6:26)
  51. He gives His people peace (Numbers 6:26)
  52. He puts His name on His people (Numbers 6:27)
  53. He speaks from between the cherubim above the atonement cover on the ark of the covenant law (Numbers 7:89)
  54. He speaks in the desert (Numbers 9:1)
  55. He commands His people to set out (Numbers 9:18)
  56. He commands His people to encamp (Numbers 9:18)
  57. He remembers His people when they keep His commands (Numbers 10:9)
  58. His anger is aroused by His people's complaints (Numbers 11:1)
  59. He sends fire to consume those who anger Him (Numbers 11:1)
  60. He listens to the prayers and pleas of those He chooses (Numbers 11:2)
  61. He becomes exceedingly angry (Numbers 11:10)
  62. He gives and takes away the power of His Spirit (Numbers 11:17)
  63. He gives His people – six hundred thousand men – meat (Numbers 11:18-23, 31-32)
  64. His arm is not too short (Numbers 11:23)
  65. His word comes true (Numbers 11: 18-23, 31-32)
  66. He gives 1 3/4 tons of quail for each person (Numbers 11:32)
  67. He strikes those He is angry with with severe plagues (Numbers 11:33)
  68. He hears what people speak (Numbers 12:1-2)
  69. He reveals Himself in visions (Numbers 12:6)
  70. He speaks in dreams (Numbers 12:6)
  71. He speaks to those whom He chooses face-to-face (Numbers 12:8)
  72. He speaks to those whom He chooses clearly and not in riddles (Numbers 12:8)
  73. He leaves those whom His anger burns against (Numbers 12:9)
  74. He strikes people with leprosy (Numbers 12:10)
  75. He disgraces those whom He chooses (Numbers 12:14-15)
  76. He gives reasons when He chooses (Numbers 12:13-14)
  77. He causes His glory to appear before His people when He chooses (Numbers 14:10)
  78. He forgives when His servant asks (Numbers 14:17-20)
  79. He withholds rewards from those who disobey Him and test Him and treat Him with contempt (Numbers 14:21-23)
  80. He tells his people to turn back because that's what's best for them (Numbers 14:25)
  81. He sends His people out into the desert (Numbers 14:25)
  82. He makes people suffer for their sins (Numbers 14:34)
  83. He turns against those who grumble against Him (Numbers 14:34)
  84. He does what He says He will do (Numbers 14:35)
  85. He kills those who grumble against Him, sending a plague (Numbers 14:36-38)
  86. He is not with those who turn away from Him and He allows them to be beaten (Numbers 14:42-45)
  87. He commands that those who break His laws be put to death (Numbers 15:32-36)
  88. He brought His people out of Egypt to be their God (Numbers 15:41)
  89. He destroys those who band together against Him (Numbers 16:1-35)
  90. He proves His intentions (Numbers 16:28-34)
  91. He causes the ground to swallow the wicked, their families, and their possessions (Numbers 16:28-34)
  92. He sends people alive into the realm of the dead, with all their possessions (Numbers 16:33)
  93. He sends down fire to consume the wicked (Numbers 16:1-35)
  94. He puts an end to those who oppose Him (Numbers 16:41-49)
  95. He accepts atonement for the wicked (Numbers 16:46-48)
  96. He stops plagues (Numbers 16:46-50)

(Counting 10,000 Reasons together just below this - keep scrolling!) 

Linking up at A Holy Experience today, trying to share the way God's been changing me through this.  For more on how the 10,000 Reasons Challenge relates to sacrifice, read last week's post.



Also, please look at some of the other beautiful posts found at the bottom of this one.  Maybe bless the author with a comment?  It's a blessing to know that God has used your imperfect words to bless another.


If you'd like to join us in counting 10,000 Reasons to worship God?

You can find the challenge here,

Share this button:

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Drop a comment,

And/or link up below:





 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Button Test

With everything that's going on, I've decided to attempt to make a button for the 10,000 Reasons Challenge:


If you have Blogger, this code may work best:

<a href="http://maryschieferstein.blogspot.com/search/label/10000%20Reasons" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="155" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-8zkGH23srZ8/T2i3Bun0O9I/AAAAAAAABSw/8giPvnJmCPI/s320/10000ReasonsButton.jpg" width="320" /></a>

If you don't, hopefully this one works well:

<a href="http://maryschieferstein.blogspot.com/search/label/10000%20Reasons" target="_blank"><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-8zkGH23srZ8/T2i3Bun0O9I/AAAAAAAABSw/8giPvnJmCPI/s320/10000ReasonsButton.jpg" /></a>

 

Seeing God Move


Just today, Sylvia posted this beautiful post, sharing the 10,000 Reasons Challenge with all her readers.

(Although I must mention that I think it talks about me a little too much.  I didn't ask her to change it, though, when she asked for my approval, because I figured it probably had to be that way.  I just need to stop here and say, definitively, that it's all God's work, Him sharing with others the way He's changing my heart.  I can't take credit for any of it.)

I am blessed and incredibly humbled that this is spreading,

That God is using this challenge that has changed my life to change others,

That He (and He alone) is taking it to places I never could.

I pray that He would use it, for His glory,

That it would light many lives on fire for Him,

That we might see Him as He is and praise Him unceasingly for it,

That His name would be lifted high.

Please visit Sylvia and thank her for sharing this,

And, also, if you would pray?

Pray that God would awaken us to who He is,

That we might see Him as the Bible says He is,

Not the incomplete picture that many of us have been told,

That our awakening might bring changes bigger than any of us could imagine -

All His work,

All for His glory,

His name's sake.

I don't want any of the credit.

My name does not need to be known.

His does.

Thank You, God, for moving.

You are truly amazing.

 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Upside-Down Fasting

 
She's been talking about it here and here,

And I've been reading,

Seeing how it mirrors what I've been going through.


Ever since I started this,

Took on this challenge,

It's been changing me -

Literally rocking my world.

I don't know how something so simple

Could do so much.

It's Him.

It's all Him.


I was worried that I wasn't really fasting for Lent,

That I didn't have anything good that I could fast from,

That I wouldn't make this a time to know Him,

That it wouldn't draw me closer.

I never imagined that the challenge would do for me what no fast ever has:

It made me want Him -

Want Him in a way I haven't since Passion.

I never realized that I could feel that joy every day,

Walk with Him and know Him,

Desire Him more than anything.


And that's the key, isn't it?

Desiring Him more than anything.

I have found such indescribable joy in Him,

Simply in who He is,

That I find myself losing desire for all other things,

Not caring about what once seemed so important -

For now the smile on my face is so big

That my muscles hurt,

But I can't stop smiling

Just because of who He is.


The really cool thing is,

When I want Him more than anything,

The fasting happens all on its own.

I don't even have to try.

I can walk and talk with Him long past dinnertime and not be hungry,

I can spend all day wanting nothing but His presence,

Forget the homework,

Forget the TV,

Forget every thing I've ever known -

Save Him.  (that's "save" as in "except", just in case the wording made that hard to catch)

He is all I need.


I think there's such worth in planning to fast,

In intentionally sacrificing,

For I know that He has honored those sacrifices,

That He has moved in amazing ways -

Oh, I have heard the stories! -

But I have never experienced that,

Never seen Him move in my fasting -

And I know why.

I wasn't fasting because I wanted Him,

I was fasting out of obligation,

Out of duty.

If I want to give up,

Sacrifice,

And see Him move,

My giving up must start here -

It must start with Him meaning everything to me.

It's funny.

No one ever told me that before.

No one ever explained that I shouldn't intentionally plan to fast unless I was fasting because I wanted Him.

Really, though, it was right in front of me the whole time.

He said it Himself.

He was here in the flesh,

Then He wasn't.

And He said they'd fast when He wasn't,

It implies - doesn't it? -

That they'd fast because they wanted Him back,

Because they wanted Him

Wanted to be with Him.

And I am learning this,

Learning that all fasting of worth must be done upside-down, . . .

Or should I say right-side up?


Counting 10,000 Reasons,

Numbers 170-277 (again, not counting today's):
  1. He is highly exalted (Exodus 15:1)
  2. He hurls horse and driver into the sea (Exodus 15:1)
  3. He is our Strength (Exodus 15:2)
  4. He is our Defense (Exodus 15:2)
  5. He is our Salvation (Exodus 15:2)
  6. He is my God (Exodus 15:2)
  7. He is a warrior (Exodus 15:3)
  8. His right hand is majestic in power (Exodus 15:6)
  9. His right hand shatters the enemy (Exodus 15:6)
  10. He throws down those who oppose Him (Exodus 15:7)
  11. He has great majesty (Exodus 15:7)
  12. He unleashes His burning anger (Exodus 15:7)
  13. He is majestic in holiness (Exodus 15:11)
  14. He is awesome in glory (Exodus 15:11)
  15. He works wonders (Exodus 15:11)
  16. He causes the earth to swallow His enemies (Exodus 15:12)
  17. His love is unfailing (Exodus 15:13)
  18. He leads His people (Exodus 15:13)
  19. He guides in strength (Exodus 15:13)
  20. His power makes the nations fear and tremble (Exodus 15:14-16)
  21. The power of His arm holds the nations still (Exodus 15:14-16)
  22. He brings His people in and plants them on the mountain of His inheritance (Exodus 15:17)
  23. His hands established His sanctuary (Exodus 15:17)
  24. He reigns for ever and ever (Exodus 15:18)
  25. He makes bitter water fit to drink (Exodus 15:23-25)
  26. He issues rulings and instructions (Exodus 15:25)
  27. He rains down bread from heaven (Exodus 16:4)
  28. He hears grumbling (Exodus 16:6-9)
  29. He gives meat to eat in the evening (Exodus 16:8)
  30. He gives all the bread you want in the morning (Exodus 16:8)
  31. His glory appears in clouds (Exodus 16:10)
  32. He fills His people (Exodus 16:11-12)
  33. He sends enough quail to cover a camp (Exodus 16:13)
  34. He sends dew that turns into bread (Exodus 16:13-16)
  35. He gives everyone as much as they need (Exodus 16:15-18)
  36. He gives the Sabbath (Exodus 16:29)
  37. He provides enough bread for His people to rest on the Sabbath (Exodus 16:29-30)
  38. His bread tastes like wafers made with honey – sweet (Exodus 16:31)
  39. He gives enough bread to leave some as a remembrance for future generations (Exodus 16:32)
  40. He fed His people for forty years (Exodus 16:35)
  41. He makes water come from rocks (Exodus 17:5-6)
  42. He blots out people's names (Exodus 17:14)
  43. He is our Banner (Exodus 17:15-16)
  44. He wars against those who lift their hands up against His throne (Exodus 17:16)
  45. He is our Helper (Exodus 18:4)
  46. He saves (Exodus 18:8)
  47. He is greater than all other gods (Exodus 18:10-11)
  48. He tells people what to say (Exodus 19:3-6)
  49. He carries His people on eagles' wings (Exodus 19:4)
  50. He brings His people to Himself (Exodus 19:4)
  51. Those who obey Him are His treasured possession (Exodus 19:5)
  52. He comes in a dense cloud (Exodus 19:9)
  53. He descends in fire (Exodus 19:18)
  54. He covers mountains in smoke (Exodus 19:18)
  55. He causes mountains to tremble (Exodus 19:18)
  56. His voice answers (Exodus 19:19)
  57. He breaks out against the unconsecrated who approach Him (Exodus 19:21-22)
  58. He brings His people out of slavery (Exodus 20:2)
  59. He speaks (Exodus 20:1)
  60. He punishes those who hate Him to the third and fourth generation (Exodus 20:5)
  61. He shows love to those who love Him to the thousandth generation (Exodus 20:6)
  62. He holds no one guiltless who misuses His name (Exodus 20:7)
  63. He blessed the Sabbath and made it holy (Exodus 20:11)
  64. He gives long life (Exodus 20:12)
  65. He comes to test His people (Exodus 20:20)
  66. He is to be feared (Exodus 20:20)
  67. He comes in thick darkness (Exodus 20:21)
  68. He speaks from heaven (Exodus 20:22)
  69. He allows people to see that He has spoken from heaven (Exodus 20:22)
  70. He demands sacrifices and offerings (Exodus 20:24)
  71. He causes His name to be honored (Exodus 20:24)
  72. He comes and blesses His people when He causes His name to be honored (Exodus 20:24)
  73. He takes away sickness from His worshipers (Exodus 23:25)
  74. He establishes the borders of His people (Exodus 23:31)
  75. He drives out peoples (Exodus 23:31)
  76. He allows some to see Him (Exodus 24:9-11)
  77. He chooses not to raise His hand (Exodus 24:11)
  78. He gives laws and commandments (Exodus 24:12)
  79. His glory settles on mountains (Exodus 24:15-16)
  80. He calls from within clouds (Exodus 24:16)
  81. His glory is like a consuming fire (Exodus 24:17)
  82. He lets people enter His presence (Exodus 24:18)
  83. He dwells among His people in His sanctuary (Exodus 25:8)
  84. He meets with His people (Exodus 25:22)
  85. He speaks to His people (Exodus 29:42)
  86. He consecrates places by His glory (Exodus 29:43)
  87. He dwells among His people (Exodus 29:45)
  88. He rescues His people that He might dwell among them (Exodus 29:46)
  89. He fills people with His Spirit (Exodus 31:2-3)
  90. He fills people with wisdom (Exodus 31:2-3)
  91. He fills people with understanding (Exodus 31:2-3)
  92. He fills people with knowledge (Exodus 31:2-3)
  93. He gives people skills (Exodus 31:2-3)
  94. He appoints (Exodus 31:8)
  95. He gives ability (Exodus 31:8)
  96. He makes His people holy (Exodus 31:13)
  97. He made the heavens and the earth in six days (Exodus 31:17)
  98. He makes a covenant with His people (Exodus 31:18)
  99. He inscribes His law on stone tablets with His own finger (Exodus 31:18)
  100. His anger burns against those who turn away from Him (Exodus 32:7-10)
  101. He rescues His people with great power and a mighty hand (Exodus 32:11)
  102. He threatens disaster (Exodus 32:10)
  103. He listens to the pleas of His servant and relents (Exodus 32:11-14)
  104. He commands people to kill brothers and friends and neighbors (Exodus 32:27-28)
  105. He sets apart those who stand for Him against their own sons and brothers (Exodus 32:29)
  106. He blots people out of His book (Exodus 32:33)
  107. His angel goes before His people (Exodus 32:34)
  108. He punishes people for their sin when the time is right (Exodus 32:34-35)


 Linking up over here today, the practice of sacrifice (finally, my post matches the prompt!), walking with Him at A Holy Experience.


Please take the time to read some of the other beautiful posts at the bottom of this one.  Maybe drop a comment, too?  It's such grace.

Also, anyone who'd like to join me in counting?

(If not, that's okay, too.  No one did last week.  But just in case . . .)





 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Refocusing

I'd been feeling so distant,

Lost in this darkness

And where was that light I once knew

And how do I get back there?


I hadn't learned,

Had never known

That, sometimes, when you want to get back to something,

If you just zoom in,

Refocus,

You'll find it's been right in front of you the whole time,

Shining brighter than you'd ever dreamed.


I didn't know,

When I started my Lenten challenge,

That it was going to do just that -

Help me zoom in,

Refocus.

It didn't take me long to figure it out, though.


I'd only been counting 10,000 reasons for five days,

Only made it up to 75,

When I posted how it had changed me -

Already how it had changed me.


I can't even describe how much more it changed me

Just to write it,

To tell the incredible story with my keyboard,

To open my eyes again to who He is,

What He's done,

Why I should worship Him.

All I can say is, I wanted to take a walk.

In the middle of the day,

Plenty of homework yet to do,

Friend visiting any minute,

I just wanted to take a walk.

So I did.


It was a beautiful day.

I walked,

Smile on my face,

And I talked -

Not audibly,

Not to anyone I ran into,

Just to Him,

Just in my heart.


I didn't tell Him about me, either -

And, oh, when I talk to Him, it always seems to end up being about me,

About my needs,

Or about the needs of others,

The ever-expanding list of prayer requests.

I know better than to stop praying for those things,

For they are very important,

But relationship isn't praying requests,

Relationship is praying praises,

And that's just what I did.

I walked

And I praised.


You know, I always get bored when I pray a lot.

I always run out of things to pray about,

But something about this was different.

Somehow, it didn't matter if I said the same thing ten,

Twenty,

A hundred times,

Because it was that true,

Because He is that much and more.

So I just praised Him for who He is,

Thanked Him for who He is,

And I wasn't bored at all.

In fact, I felt like I could do it forever.

Praising God gave me the joy my heart was lacking,

Walking with Him filled my heart so full of joy I was sure it would burst -

I'm not speaking metaphorically, either.

I literally thought there was so much joy in my heart that my heart could not possibly continue to contain it all.

I expected it to explode,

Spill over.


It did.

I casually glanced around,

Made sure no one was watching,

(By the way, my next goal is to not look,

To not care who's watching.)

Then I raised my hands,

And my heart sang at the top of its lungs:
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
O my soul,
Worship His holy name.
Sing like never before,
O my soul,
I'll worship Your holy name
.
And the joy just kept coming.


I have never felt so full.

I have never felt so free.

I never want to lose that.

I never want to leave.

It's true.

It's really, really true. 

Psalm 16:11

English Standard Version (ESV)
11 You make known to me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;
    at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.


Here are my reasons #76-169,

Again, not including today's,

But another week's worth of discovering who God is.

Some of them seem kind of simple,

Repetitive,

But each and every one is helping me see God in a new light,

See Him as He is,

Want Him more and more.

So, for anyone who wants to read:
  1. He confirms His oaths (Genesis 26:3)
  2. He will not leave until He does what He promises (Genesis 28:15)
  3. He sees the unloved (Genesis 29:31)
  4. He enables the childless to conceive (Genesis 29:31)
  5. He directs (Genesis 31:3)
  6. He names (Genesis 35:9)
  7. He puts people to death (Genesis 38:7)
  8. He grants prosperity (Genesis 39:2)
  9. He gives success (Genesis 39:3)
  10. He shows kindness (Genesis 39:21)
  11. He grants favor (Genesis 39:21)
  12. Interpretations belong to Him (Genesis 40:8)
  13. He gives answers (Genesis 41:16)
  14. He reveals His future actions (Genesis 41:25)
  15. He decides firmly (Genesis 41:32)
  16. He grants wisdom (Genesis 41:39)
  17. He grants discernment (Genesis 41:39)
  18. He sends (Genesis 45:7-8)
  19. He speaks in visions (Genesis 46:2)
  20. He gives everlasting possessions (Genesis 48:4)
  21. He is the lifelong shepherd (Genesis 48:15)
  22. His hand steadies (Genesis 49:24)
  23. He is the Mighty One of Jacob (Genesis 49:24)
  24. He is the Shepherd (Genesis 49:24)
  25. He is the Rock of Israel (Genesis 49:24)
  26. He blesses with blessings of the skies above (Genesis 49:25)
  27. He blesses with blessings of the deep springs below (Genesis 49:25)
  28. He blesses with blessings of the breast and womb (Genesis 49:25)
  29. He uses harm for good, to accomplish His purposes (Genesis 50:20)
  30. He hears groaning (Exodus 2:24)
  31. He remembers His covenant (Exodus 2:24)
  32. He has concern for His people (Exodus 2:25)
  33. He sets bushes on fire, yet they don't burn up (Exodus 3:2)
  34. He speaks from within bushes (Exodus 3:4)
  35. He sees His people's misery (Exodus 3:7)
  36. He gives human beings their mouths (Exodus 4:11)
  37. He makes people deaf or mute (Exodus 4:11)
  38. He gives people sight or makes them blind (Exodus 4:11)
  39. He helps people speak (Exodus 4:12)
  40. He teaches what to say (Exodus 4:12)
  41. His anger burns against people (Exodus 4:14)
  42. He gives the power to perform wonders (Exodus 4:21)
  43. He hardens people's hearts (Exodus 4:21)
  44. He brings trouble on people (Exodus 5:22)
  45. His hand is mighty (Exodus 6:1)
  46. He is the Lord (Exodus 6:7-8)
  47. He multiplies His signs and wonders (Exodus 7:3)
  48. He brings mighty acts of judgment (Exodus 7:4)
  49. He brings out His divisions, His people (Exodus 7:4)
  50. He stretches out His hand against nations (Exodus 7:5)
  51. He turns staffs into snakes (Exodus 7:8-10)
  52. He turns water into blood (Exodus 7:19-21)
  53. He sends plagues of frogs (Exodus 8:1-6)
  54. He causes frogs to die (Exodus 8:12-14)
  55. He turns dust into gnats (Exodus 8:16-17)
  56. He performs wonders that cannot be reproduced (Exodus 8:18)
  57. He sends swarms of flies (Exodus 8:21)
  58. He makes distinctions between peoples (Exodus 8:22-23)
  59. He makes swarms of flies leave (Exodus 8:30-31)
  60. He brings terrible sicknesses (Exodus 9:2-4)
  61. He sets times (Exodus 9:5)
  62. He does things when He has decided He will (Exodus 9:5-6)
  63. He turns soot into boil-causing dust (Exodus 9:8-10)
  64. There is no one like Him in all the earth (Exodus 9:14)
  65. He is capable of wiping peoples from the earth (Exodus 9:15)
  66. He raises people up to show His power (Exodus 9:16)
  67. He shows His power that His name might be proclaimed (Exodus 9:16)
  68. He sends terrible hailstorms (Exodus 9:18-26)
  69. He gives warnings (Exodus 9:18-20)
  70. The earth is His (Exodus 9:29)
  71. He brings locusts to cover the face of the ground (Exodus 10:4-5)
  72. He changes the winds (Exodus 10:18)
  73. He sends darkness that can be felt (Exodus 10:21-23)
  74. He makes people look favorably upon others (Exodus 11:3)
  75. He strikes down those whom he chooses (Exodus 11:12)
  76. He brings judgment on the gods (Exodus 11:12)
  77. He keeps vigil (Exodus 11:42)
  78. He rescues (Exodus 12:51)
  79. He goes ahead (Exodus 13:21)
  80. He travels as a pillar of cloud to guide (Exodus 13:21)
  81. He travels as a pillar of fire to give light (Exodus 13:21)
  82. He does not leave His place in front of His people (Exodus 13:21-22)
  83. He gains glory for Himself (Exodus 14:4)
  84. He brings deliverance (Exodus 14:13)
  85. He fights for His people (Exodus 14:14)
  86. He drives the sea back with a mighty wind (Exodus 14:21)
  87. He turns sea into dry ground – dry! not even muddy! (Exodus 14:21-22)
  88. He divides waters (Exodus 14:21-22)
  89. He throws armies into confusion (Exodus 14:24)
  90. He jams the wheels of chariots (Exodus 14:25)
  91. He puts the sea back in its place (Exodus 14:26-27)
  92. He sweeps people into the sea (Exodus 14:27-28)
  93. He guides His people safely through (Exodus 14:29-31)
  94. He saves His people from their enemies (Exodus 14:30)


    The bold, italicized words are from the song "10,000 Reasons" by Matt Redman.  Many thanks to this incredible artist for the song which sparked this project.

    Linking up at A Holy Experience today.  Walking with Him, focusing on Him - because that's what fasting's all about - more on how my Lenten project ties into fasting coming soon.



    Also, check out some of these other beautiful posts.


    The 10,000 Reasons Community:

    After much debate and much wrestling with my pride,

    I've decided to open up a little community space here.

    I was worried I'd end up making this about me,

    But, ultimately, I realized that I need to do this

    Because this needs to be about Him

    And how to help people know Him more,

    And I believe this is the best way to do that.

    One person has already expressed her desire to take on the challenge,

    So, as long as one other person wants to do this with me,

    I will open up space here for everyone to connect.

    If you want to dig into God with us,

    Find God-Centric reasons to worship Him,

    Find an in-context Scripture verse for each one,

    Write a post about what you're doing,

    Share how it's changing you,

    How you know Him more,

    Then feel free to add your link here,

    So we can read each other's stories,

    Know Him better through sharing,

    Be encouraged to keep digging,

    Keep blessing Him simply for who He is.

    This place is for you.

    God bless you!


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