Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Memory Verse a Week for the Weak: 2 Thessalonians 3:3

2 Thessalonians 3:3 (TNIV): "But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one."

Woah, wait a minute did you catch that? 
"he will strengthen you..."
It doesn't say, "But the Lord is faithful, and he will let you sit back, relax, and protect you from the evil one."

It doesn't say, "But the Lord is faithful, and he will solve all your problems instantly and protect you from the evil one."

"he will strengthen you..."
Those four words practically hopped off and smacked me upside the head. Those four words explain what I already knew to be true, but seeing it in the Word unexpectedly really took my breath away.

Building muscles isn't an easy, pain free, process. If it were, then everyone would have muscles like Arnold Schwarzenegger (someone help me come up with a better example!!!). I studied the muscle system last quarter in Anatomy and Physiology, and learned the physiology behind building muscles and keeping them. In short, like air miles, you either use them or lose them (again not the best example). It doesn't take long for your muscles to atrophy. My husband is one of the strongest people I know, but he also uses his muscles every day.

There is One stronger than my husband, and He says in His word, that He will strengthen me??? So does that make God like my personal trainer? I THINK SO!!!! YES I DO!!!

Jesus does go on runs with me nearly every day. >>>Can you picture it, Jesus running and rocking out with me as a run down the road??? I really need him on these Tennessee roads. :) <<<  I think 2 Thessalonians 3:3 is referring to more than abs of steel. I think it also means that God will strengthen my heart and make me a stronger person for the battles I fight every day against "the evil one".

When I run and thoughts go through my head like "I can't go any further", Jesus is there saying, "Oh yes you can!", he is my source of strength (he and music with a good, uplifting beat). And each day I go a bit further because I know what Jesus and I conquered the previous day.

This past January, February, and March, when my days were really dark and I thought, "I can't go any further...", my Heavenly Father was there (through the word, people, circumstances), whispering, "You're right. You can't. But I can for you. We can do this." Looking back at that time, I now know He was strengthening me...

The strength from the Lord is like our muscles; if we don't use it, we lose it. And unfortunately, it's often in the tough times that I go to God for the source of my strength. The more strength I receive from my Heavenly Father, the more my faith increases.  Which answers why God would allow me or anyone to go through tough times. He desperately wants us to trust Him (not because He needs our trust, but because He knows we need Him). I'm a skeptic, it's my personality. As much as it hurts sometimes, I need the strengthening, oh I need it, because I require the proof that produces the trust (I admit it, I'm a weak, fallen, damaged child of God).

So when my ACT scores aren't what I would like them to be...
and I'm across the country from my Superhero...
or when I find a huge snake skin a few feet from my pick up and on the path I walk every day to get to my front door...
or there are all kinds of crazy bugs, and big spiders, and gnarly amphibians all up in my personal space...
and when I can't celebrate my Grandma's 80th birthday with her...
when I miss out on a cousin's wedding...
or when money is tighter than I would like...
or when I don't want to run any more...
I choose to let God use it as an opportunity to strengthen me, and ultimately build my trust and love for my Heavenly Father.

May I encourage you to make the same choice?

Here are some more Bible verses for this week's theme:

Isaiah 40:29-31, NIV. "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." 

Psalms 27:1, NKJV says, "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid."

Please also see Hebrews 12.

Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Here are some music videos that also address this strengthening topic:

And one of my favorite songs to exercise to... for the past ten plus years:

God is love, 
and the ultimate source of strength,

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Gift of Surrogate Family & A Memory Verse a Week for the Weak: James 1:17, Matthew 7:11

Recently it was brought to my attention that I have a pile of "surrogate mothers".

In thinking about this, I realized that I have surrogate everything; mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, brothers, sisters, aunts... the list goes on and on.

One of my surrogate grandmothers.

My surrogate mother/prayer warrior/big sister

My surrogate everything.

My other surrogate everything.

A couple of my surrogate grandparents.
My surrogate much much much older annoying brother. ;)

One of my surrogate sisters... mainly because she knows too much! ;)

My surrogate nephew at his first birthday party.
My surrogate little sisters. Who I am so very proud of.
I didn't think it was possible to have surrogate best friends, but I now know other wise, since I'm now either states or continents away from my friends...

My surrogate best friends, and body guards, and snuggle buddies, and children.... and the list goes on....
Google defines "surrogate" as follows:
  • 1. someone who takes the place of another person

  • 2. foster: providing or receiving nurture or parental care though not related by blood or legal ties; "foster parent"; "foster child"; "foster home"; "surrogate father"

  • 3. deputy: a person appointed to represent or act on behalf of others

I'd like to define surrogate a bit differently:
A human being(s) that has been placed in ones life as a gift from God, for either a short or extended period of time for reasons to be determined by God. 
The people I mentioned above (or anyone else for that matter) could never take the place of my biological family etc, because they are irreplaceable.  And frankly, I don't want to replace them, God gave me them too.  God in his ultimate wisdom, can even enable biological family members to be "surrogates" too... For example, my Aunt Jeanie has been like a mom, or best friend, or spiritual leader in different seasons of my life. My grandma is so much more than just my grandma. Hopefully you're getting the idea here. 

There are not words to express how blessed I am with the many "surrogate gifts" my Heavenly father has given me... actually maybe there are some words... Two Bible verses come to mind (finally this week's memory verses):

Matthew 7:11

The Message (MSG)
 7-11"Don't bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn't a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we're in. If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn't think of such a thing. You're at least decent to your own children. So don't you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?

James 1:17

Today's New International Version (TNIV)
17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

It's late here in E.S.T. land, and I kinda feel like I'm not making much sense, but hopefully you're pickin' up what I'm puttin' down.

Am I making sense? Do you have  "surrogate gifts"?

God is love, 
and the King of good gifts,

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Memory Verse a Week for the Weak: 2 Timothy 1:7

This week's verse was inspired by a card that my friend Kate sent me. I received her card today. Her card is the first I've received here in Tennessee... She knows how special snail mail is to me. I hope she knows how special she is to me too.

Here's the verse:
"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and self-discipline." 2 Timothy 1:7

Kate also included Jeremiah 29:11-13 and Isaiah 26:3-4 and an encouraging note in her card. I appreciate the card and her friendship so much! These past several months have been "crazy" and now I live across the country... but our friendship (with God's help) is up for the challenge!

Love ya KatieBug!

God is love,

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Memory Verse a Week for the Weak: Genesis 12:1

"The Lord had said to Abram, 'Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.'" Genesis 12:1

I can relate... a little.

God is love,