Friday, December 20, 2013


I had baked chocolate cupcakes with boiled chocolate icing.....and boiled chocolate icing  is one thing you definitely need to eat before you die.

 In Titus 2, Paul tells men they should exhibit love, patience and  self control besides some other qualities.  When he got to women, Paul said, "Similarly, women should also..." meaning  women should exhibit the qualities I expect from men (which is actually the fruit of the Spirit)  plus a couple of others as well. 

 I had thought a lot about self control  since I stood up in front of all these women and taught Titus 2, telling them the reason we are to teach younger women is because we've been there, done that, done it the wrong way, learned the right way and are now following that way which is God's way...allowing Him to work in us so we produce the fruit of the which is found...self control.  

So in light of that,  I was going to have one portion (one half cup...which is a minuscule amount if you've not measured anything recently) of mint chocolate chip ice cream with my one chocolate cupcake.   A friend had left it for us the night quart, unopened.  

I searched everywhere and could not find it.   So I called to my husband, "Do you know where the ice cream is?"

"I ate it."


"In two sittings so it really didn't count as the whole thing."  Both sittings were in like a two hour time frame.  I think that counts.  

I was outraged.  Do you know what his cholesterol numbers are?  And mine are stellar...and my weight is stellar so I was the perfect person to let him have it.  Which I did.  Facts + guilt.  A ton of guilt.


We went for a silence ...while he tried his best to walk my legs off to prove that my BMI might be better than his  but he was in better shape than me...HA!

We are out in the country....walking like men possessed,  by a big pond...quiet, serene.  

You got it
             ...and God said,

"I gave you the word 'self control' two days ago, to ponder this week.  I watched you prepare all that food for the party yesterday.  And sample it all...and sample it all through the party.  I never let you have it."

I wondered where  mercy..or love...or patience that has been so prominent in my readings lately, went.  Instead of a rant, what about, "Honey, I'm concerned about your health.  I want you around when we're both old and decrepit," and then let it go, hug him and walk away?  When did both barrels change behavior?"

Good question.    Never. 

I make a good trainer.  I've done it all the wrong way first.  Or second...or third....  

I am so grateful though that God's mercies are new every morning.  Great is His faithfulness.

And if I am reflecting mercies should be new every morning as well. 

What a thought.


"The truths of eternity have an infinite power.  They are often powerless because we do not give them time to reveal themselves." ( Andrew Murray's Daily Experience with God)

They reveal themselves in the quiet of the early morning hour.  "The Word that we get from the mouth of God brings the power to know and do it." (A.M.)

"Self control"  has been the word this week...for food, money, mouth, schedule.  It was affirmed by a casual reading of The Week (an app of world news for the day) which I never read but read yesterday...which had an article on... you guessed it...self control.  

"Plan" surfaced as well.  A plan is a detailed formulation of a program of action.

Plan is all through often in relation to God.  "I know the plans I have for you..."  "the plans of The Lord stand firm forever..."

Revelation 9:15..."And the four angels who had been prepared for this hour and day and month and year were turned loose to kill one third of the people on earth, leading an army of 200  million."  How detailed is that.

...or the orbits of planets, or body chemistry or the formation of babies in wombs.  God is an incredibly detailed architect.

Then...I'm reading The Grace Awakening.

How  do grace and self control and plan fit together.  

At issue is not making a plan that I will stick to so I exhibit self control.  I've tried that countless times with every area of life.   At issue, God said this morning,  is if I am filled with the Spirit.

So I have a little plan.  But the message to me when faced with whatever usually kills my self control is not the plan and me doing the plan, it is who is filling my heart and mind.   Me or the Holy Spirit.  That's the question.

Because if the Holy Spirit is filling me and "me" is no longer in the mix, He is not compromised by me or my will.  He is free to work. grace....that He would work in someone like me.

God's words, revealed in the early morning hour, are  from the mouth of God.  Accompanying them is the power to know and do says Andrew Murray.  And that is a true statement.

Return to Me.  Breathe.  

Breathe "me" the Holy Spirit can expand to fill my whole heart.

Return to Me II

The Auburn football team runs a fast paced offense especially when they are making 8, 10, 15 yards on a play.  They just keep getting faster and faster.  

Forget a huddle, they just run back to the line after each play, the quarterback takes a cursive look at the defense and the center snaps the ball when the quarterback gives the signal.

But every once in awhile, the quarterback doesn't like what the way the defense is lining up or the plays called in aren't working or there is confusion at the line so he calls a time out.  Or the coach sees all this from the sideline and calls a time out and every player comes over to the sideline for a 30 second or 60 second time out.  They stand  huddled around the coach, drink water and listen.   He has their undivided attention.   They want to know what he thinks...and then they go back on the field and do whatever he tells them to do.

Big difference in that and a touch and go where a plane is practicing take offs and landings from an airfield.  It lands on a runway and takes off again without coming to a full stop.   It touches  down long enough for it to "count" and then takes off again.

Big difference in "hey" and a wave and walking into someone's arms and standing still ....even for 30 seconds.  Thirty seconds is time enough to take  a deep breath, reset and refocus, to listen to the Coach.... for a believer or a football team. 

What does your time out look like?

Return to Me

I know I've read Amos at least 13 times because I've had this Daily Bible 13 years.  I have never seen "still you wouldn't return to Me" until yesterday.  When I realized he was repeating the phrase, I began to underline it.  It's repeated five times.  Five.

I am going to start a class on Ephesians in January...but the focus is not on Ephesians.  It's on God speaking through Ephesians to direct your life on a daily basis...learning to listen for His voice and obeying what He says.  It is viewing the bible as His word to you...the verses you read every day being orchestrated that day for you.

Haven't you ever read a verse and it was so applicable to what was going on in your life that DAY that it gave you goose bumps? You looked up expecting to see some angelic apparition sitting on the sofa across from you...smiling.

I think every day He has a word.  I could never imagine Him saying, "You did so good yesterday, you're on your own today ... but I'll catch up with you tomorrow."

I don't think so.

The point is to stay in the Word and listen.

I do great in the morning.  Blessed blessed blessed blessed blessed.  Then the rest of my day unfolds and by night time .... even though I thank Him sporadically during the day, and I pray when things come to mind, it's never the same as in the mornings.

So I've begun to jot down phrases, ideas, words from what I read that morning, on a tiny piece of paper or on my phone and when I walk, go over them, think about them, reflect, meditate.  Yesterday I wrote down (because it was repeated five times and I'm smart, I got it) "return to Me."

The morning was great.  The afternoon cycled down hill...slowly, not a train wreck crash but by night fall I was in a funk.  "Return to Me" remained a morning word.

This morning I looked at yesterday's reading because low and behold, it was repeated today...."return to Me."    Plus, "I stand at the door and knock.  If you open the door and ask Me in, I will come in and fellowship with you."  And..."Your word I have hidden in my heart, so I will not sin against You."

And people say God doesn't speak.

He teaches us a truth and then puts us in life.   "Get it?  Nope?  Ok, let's give it another shot today."

Here's the truth.  Every day, He speaks through His us individually wherever we are.  Yesterday when I knew the spiral was starting, I needed to return to Him.  Because....that's where my joy is!    I return, open the door wide, ask Him in.  Sing a song, quote a verse, listen for His voice.

Even if a spiral is NOT starting, I need to return to Him often during the day, checking in as often as I would with a maps app if I were on a journey.

And we're all on a journey.  And He wrote our maps app.  And He's the voice in that app, directing us.

"Return to Me."

"You make known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand."    Psalm 16:11

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ezekial and Hebrews

I read a daily Bible which has an Old and New Testament reading, a psalm and a proverb each day. I can't believe I never saw this.

Read the November 11 reading...Ezekial 23 and then Hebrews 10:18-39...and see what you come up with.

Israel and Judah had both turned their backs on God and turned to idols. He had sent countless prophets to graphically tell them exactly what God would do if they did not repent and return to Him. These prophets did not make this stuff up. 

Oh no.   "The word of The Lord" would come to them.   He sent illustration after illustration, visual demonstrations, told Ezekial his most precious possession would die and he could not mourn, painting a vivid picture for the Israelites.  That night, his wife died.  

Nothing worked.  They refused to listen or obey. Judgement fell.  

God knew they weren't going to repent.  He's God.  He knew that before He created the world.   He knew the depths of depravity to which they'd fall.  These  people weren't just not nice.  Their sin  was in your face, sacrifice your children on an altar to idols kinds of sin.

He knew.... 

And yet...He sent Jesus.  

So desirous of a relationship with man, He sent Jesus, to pay the ultimate price for our sins so we would be clean, so we could "boldly enter heaven's Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus."

"This is a new life giving way that Christ has opened up for us through the sacred curtain by means of His death for us.

And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God's people, let us go right into the presence of God with true hearts fully trusting Him.  For our evil consciences have been sprinkled with Christ's blood to make us clean and our bodies have been washed with pure  water.

Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep His promise."

Amazing...truly amazing.  I would never have given man another chance, would you?  There is no human love that would go that human compassion that would try over and over....and finally, send their only son. Whom they killed.

If you ever doubt the love of God and His willingness to take you back again and again and Ezekial 23 and then Hebrews 10.  It should effectively demolish that lie of Satan.  

His love for you...and far deeper than we could ever fathom.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Give Us This Day

Jesus taught us to pray, "Give us this day...our daily bread."  We all say yeah yeah, like He gave them manna in the wilderness one day at a time.  We pray it like we agree.

But I don't function like that.  I like five year plans.  I'll even take a six month plan.  I never do day to day...not even with meals.  I plan for the week, buy groceries according to the plan, post the meals on the refrigerator.  My sister on the other hand would suddenly look up about 5 p.m. and say something like, "Oh my goodness, it's 5:00.  Are ya'll hungry?  What should we have for dinner?  Maybe I need to go to the store."  I would stand there incredulous.  Surely I was adopted.

We all quote Psalm 119:105 ... "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."  We know it, we sing it, we have plaques with it written in script.  But when you think about it, we don't actually ....because a lamp lights up a little bitty area right in front of my feet so I'll know where I'm supposed to take the next .... step.  He did not say His word was flood lights.  His word is a lamp.  Like one you hold in your hand.  That lights up just enough so you stay on the.... path.  The path He's put you on.

Give us .... this day.  

If His word is the lamp and it's lighting up one day at a time, then it's imperative that I be in the word....every day, right?   And that I anticipate Him talking to me...telling me if I need to change directions or change my attitude or make a decision that will affect tomorrow.  So I need to be in the word, anticipating HIs voice and listening.  Then I need to obey.  Cut/dried.

My latest test of this principle involved my elderly parents.  My dad had Alzheimer's.  My mom was having terrible headaches that immobilized her so she could not care for herself much less my dad.  To anticipate both needing long term care blew us away because of the tremendous cost.  My dad needed someone with him.  My mom was not getting better...we were going from doctor to doctor.  Any plans I made one day were shot down the next.  

A few years before, a cousin had come to visit.  We ended up alone in my living room and I'm sure the reason be sure I heard him.  I can tell you where he was sitting when he said this...I can see it in my mind's eye because it's come back to me came back to me clearly with my parents.  "Mary Ann, we're to do only what God tells us to do today.  It may affect tomorrow....but we're only to do whatever it is He tells us to do, today."

Then they despised the pleasant land, having no faith in his promise. They murmured in their tents, and did not obey the voice of the Lord. (Psalm 106:24, 25 ESV)

The people refused to enter the pleasant land, for they wouldn’t believe his promise to care for them. Instead, they grumbled in their tents and refused to obey the Lord. 
(Psalms 106:24, 25 NLT)

Both translations are remarkable.  I walk by faith and not by sight.  (2 Cor 5:7)  I walk by faith in the small ring of light He has given me today.   I take steps today because I know I don't need to see tomorrow...He sees it and will clearly tell me if I need to do anything about    I believe His promise to care for me.  I will not grumble and refuse to obey.  I will walk in the light given today.  

What a tremendous burden this lifts.  My daughter in law recently visited and I shared this with her.  They are living temporarily in an apartment, until one opens up in the city in their price range.  They have two months to look.  Huge city.  Incredibly expensive. 

There's absolutely no doubt God put them where they are now because of the way things happened that they could not possibly have orchestrated.  But they are on hold until  the next apartment is revealed.  So she can wait in angst or wait in peace.  If she is perfectly assured that God will tell her today what she needs to do today and that He cares for them and as their Good Shepherd will provide all they need, then she waits in peace.  She knows  He is a faithful God not only because of what she reads in the word, but because of all He's done for them in the past.    If she is not assured of any of that, she waits in angst. 

Stay in the Word.  Listen to His voice.  Do exactly what He says.  Take a deep breath.  Rest in peace, safe in His love.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Job's Friends

I've been in this particular daily Bible for about 13 years so I've read through Job about 13 times just with this book alone....not counting any other time I've read through it over the years.  

Usually I kind of speed read through his friends' comments because I know that in the end, God was NOT happy with them or anything they said and the only reason their sorry hides were saved at all  was because He allowed Job to offer sacrifices on their behalf.

But this time, I've read every word.  I'm down to Elihu, the young man who listened to all the old men talk and then when they were done, blasted all of them....including Job. 

This time I realized how often I am like Job's friends.  I love God with all my heart and soul and mind....most the time...well, a good portion of the AIM is to.   That is my goal.

And so often, I think I have it all figured out.  I read, discern, mull over, meditate on and then form an opinion .... and express it.  God's defense attorney. Like He needs one.    You cannot walk out of a room and say, "I have no idea what she thought."  You know.  And I think I'm usually right.

Like Job's friends.  Oh my.  

And they were JOB's friends.  Job, the one God described as blameless and upright, fearing God and shunning evil.  I'd think he'd pick pretty good friends don't you? Godly Job enough for Job to hang out with them.   Good enough for them to come hang out with Job when he was dirt poor and covered with oozing sores.  Now that's a friend.

They were NOT right.  Their whole point of view, stated in many words with great passion, was that Job must have done something wrong.  That's why God was judging him so harshly.  

They didn't have a clue.  All their years of studying God, they got a lot right about God, but their conclusions were dead wrong.  

God's ways were higher than their ways, His thoughts higher than their thoughts.  No way they could comprehend what He was doing even if He told them.

And I try to explain every situation?

The older I get, the more I realize it's not all zipped up tight.  He reveals the deep and hidden things that He wants to reveal and no more.  In the end, God didn't explain anything to Job.  Job just bowed in deep humility when God spoke.

I realized this morning that the older we get, and the more we realize this, the more humble we should become.  The more humility should define us versus fiery oratory,  impassioned defense.  A quiet explanation of the understanding we have been given to this point in time with the admission that we are open to further light on the subject....would probably be better received. further light on the subject. Given by Him.  Through His word. Through prayer.  Through meditation.  

Job clung to what he knew was true despite the three to one ratio against him.  

The loud, articulate majority isn't always right.