Saturday, July 25, 2009

Old Enough to Know Better

I have concentrated on Exodus this week as I had this burning desire to read the entire book.  I marveled at the wondrous miracles God did time and time again and yet, the Israelites still complained and doubted God's deliverance through every problem they encountered.  I found myself thinking "I can't believe you guys.  You walked across the DRY sea bed of the Red Sea with walls of water on each of side of you.  All ONE MILLION of you ate from bread that fell out of the sky each and every day.  All ONE MILLION of you drank from a rock that miraculously started springing water. Yet, you continuously moaned and complained about going back to Egypt where you "had it better!"  Unbelievable." How quickly they forgot the saving power of God.  

After 40 years on this earth, as I hate to admit it, I am guilty of the same thing. God's aim has always been to reveal himself to me.  In every circumstance, I have had the opportunity to see God's character.  I have seen him as a healer, a provider, he has fed us, he has clothed us, and he has sustained us.  I remember many "melt downs" where I doubted God's provision.  I would think "Well, I guess this is it.  God is done with me.  I think I'm being hung out to dry.  I've made bad decisions and I'm just going to have to face the grim circumstances. . . "  It's funny how in times of crisis, it's easy to forget God's faithfulness and goodness.  Personally, I think most of the battle in life is just learning to trust and lean upon God.  I'm not perfect in all of this, but I do feel like my natural instincts of fear and taking on an assumed posture of defeat has changed a lot.  I have began "catching myself" and not allowing my mind to wander into self pity and despair.  I think of the verse, "Why so downcast oh my soul, put your hope in God."  I try to rehearse and focus on past victories instead of focusing on the problems at hand.

I wrote something this morning that expounds a little on this:

Father, I feel just like Moses.  Somehow, I feel very insignificant and unable to do the great tasks set before me.  However, I do recognize a destiny inside of me, a set apart and "for such a time as this" anointing.  It is unmistakable and evident to me - like a constant humming in my ear, like an internal alarm quietly sounding.  There is a leading, a trust and a knowing of where to turn and what to do each and every day.  You have taught me to look beyond my momentary afflictions to a place of victory.  I have learned to not allow myself to be overwhelmed and befuddled over life's trials.  I immediately look for You - for your hand of deliverance.  I instinctively reach out for it like a child grabs his mother's hand for security.  The hand of my Father, who's grasp is sure, a slight tug pulling me through, helping me gain confidence through the valleys, a steadying support through the winding, rocky, trails up the mountain.  A hand to hold and dance with on the mountain tops of life.

Exodus 15:13 - With unfailing love you will lead this people whom you have ransomed.  You will guide them with your strength to the place where holiness dwells.

Monday, July 20, 2009

I'm Finally Forty!

This is the long anticipated day!  The thirties are gone forever!  I could barely sleep last night as I tried to relish the last little bits of being 30.  I am not afraid of growing older, it's just when you start breaking your life into decades, life seems to be so much shorter.  As I lay in bed, flashes of memories and milestones from my life danced through my mind.  All of these things making me who I am today.  God preserved me through many hard times.  Things that could have harmed me were reflected off my life and actually made me a better and stronger person.  I sensed such overwhelming gratefulness of God's goodness and faithfulness to me.  His Word has been an anchor and a comfort for me so many times.  I grabbed my Bible and held it close to me all night long.  His Word has kept me this 39 years and as I slept and awakened to 40, it was assuring to have His Word already cradled in my chest, ready to take on another year.

Dear Lord,
Remind me how brief my time on earth will be.  Remind me that my life is fleeing away.  My life is no longer than the width of my hand.  An entire lifetime is just a moment to you.  Human existence is but a breath. I've waited patiently for you to help me and you've heard my every cry.  You've lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire.  You've set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.  You have given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to You. 

Father, You have done many miracles for me.  Your plans for me are too numerous to list.  If I tried to recite all of your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them.  I realize now that doing something for you and bringing something to you - that's not what you're after. Being religious, acting pious— that's not what you're asking for.  You've opened my ears  so I can listen. 

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child.  But I finally feel like I am growing up and I am ready to put away childish things.  I only see things imperfectly as in a poor mirror, but one day I will see everything with perfect clarity.  What I do know is there are three things that will endure - faith, hope, and love - and the greatest of these is love.  Lord, that is my heart's cry.  Let me genuinely love like You love.  

Lord I commit myself to You today anew and afresh.  Thank you for the gift of life.

I love you.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Family Time is Overrated

Kevin and I have been heavily involved in church ministry for our entire 19 years of marriage. We have done everything from being youth pastors, singing every week on the worship team, working at our local church as a bookkeeper, secretary and administrator.  We have lead events, Bible studies, men's and women's groups, prayer groups, headed up children's ministry and anything else that we could do, we did.  Whenever we were needed for anything at church, we were there. If it was 3 nights a week, we came.  If we were needed on the weekend to help in preparation or anything else, we were there.  I would never trade these experiences for anything because we have had the privilege to serve and meet so many wonderful people.  We have grown through these wonderful times!

The Bible says to seek God's kingdom first and all of these things shall be added unto you. Serving at church and helping people is definitely a part of seeking God's kingdom but I am beginning to learn that "His kingdom" is not just within the four walls of a church building.  I had convinced myself that my Sunday church service participation was the only eternal thing that I did all week, so I had better give it my all AND never miss it.   Church had become first on our list and if there was any time left over, we would try and squeeze out some time with the family.  

I know for myself personally that I felt that family time was overrated.  Many times volunteers would come to me and say "I need to take a season off as my family is suffering right now because of this commitment."  I would say "Okay, we understand."  But deep down inside I would think, "I'm doing 3 more jobs than you and don't really spend much time with my family, and we're doing great!  We are working and sacrificing for God's kingdom and that's just how it is."  

Back in 2003, I was able to reconnect via email with a precious couple Kevin and I had admired from our church in Indiana.  They were very active in church and I barely ever remember them missing any church service or activity at the church.  They had wonderful children who were all serving the Lord and all went to college and achieved educations with honors.  I asked them a few questions about child raising.  Their answers were so inspiring that I have kept a copy of them to this day.   One of the questions I asked was "Is there anything that you wish you would have done in raising your children that you didn't?"  Their answer was something I never forgot and am just beginning to receive revelation on.

"The major thing we wish we had done that we didn't do is take family vacations.  I didn't say MORE vacations because we only took one the entire time we raised the boys.  That is out of balance.  We need to be serious, but that is far, far too serious.  I think we missed out on some great times of having fun together enjoying God's blessings.  Working hard to get out of debt, working hard to stay out of debt, working hard to see churches built, people fed, lives changed, souls won.  Working hard to get the boys through college without having to start out in debt. All very noble causes, but I'm sure God would have provided for it all, including vacations.  I wish I would have started earlier in my walk with God to know the difference between what was seed and what was bread in our finances.  You don't want to eat your seed, but you don't want to plant your bread either - there is no harvest on planted bread, and no vacations either."

So, from this day on, we have decided to be a little more balanced and realize that investing in our family is valuable.  God is not looking at his watch waiting for us to finish those family moments so we can get back to "His kingdom business."  I realize now that family business is kingdom business too!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

I Just Need a Break!

If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times.  I just need a break!  My mind would wander to a deserted beach somewhere in the caribbean, or a mountain top cabin in the foremost corner of Alaska.  I would think of the feeling of rest I would gain by having that conference planned, or that looming project at work completed once and for all.  However, God stopped me in my tracks the other day about "rest" and I wanted to share it.

As usual, I was thinking about the break I was needing from my day to day life.  A song rose up in my heart and I heard the verse "Find rest my soul in Christ alone.  Know His power in quietness in trust . . . "  Then, it hit me.  True rest is found in Christ.  I will never gain true rest from any natural source - sleep, vacations, excursions, an organized and spotless house, or completed house and work projects.  I had been looking for a certain time to "rest", but it seemed like it would never come.  

Hebrews 4:8 says "This new place of rest was not the land of Canaan, where Joshua led them. If it had been, God would not have spoken later about another day of rest."  Okay, so the Israelites were waiting 40 years to enter into the promise land.  Don't you think they thought once they got there that it would be the all in all?  That land was their destiny and it would be full of everything they could ever need or want.  Well, apparently it didn't hold EVERYTHING and that was a place of God's rest.

I have found myself time and time again thinking, "once this is accomplished, then I will really rest.  If I can get this church event out of the way, then I'll be good.  If our church can overcome this or that and get this many members or volunteers to do this or that, then we can rest a bit. . ."  Well, there is no destination to rest as it is not a physical place or occurrence.  

Hebrews 4:9-11 says "So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God.  For all who enter into God's rest will find rest from their labors, just as God rested after creating the world.  Let us do our best to enter into that rest."

So, we have God's rest inside of us.  We should focus and aim for God's daily rest and not just a vacation to try and "catch up" on rest.  The question is not what can I do to get rest but how can I LIVE in God's rest?

The Lord said to me: "You are allowing yourself to be anxious and wrought up and it's draining you mentally and physically.  You are magnifying your duties and not me as you go about life. You are looking at life as a mountain you are forever climbing and an obstacle course that is forever zapping your strength.  You've got to change your perspective.  Life is not a chain of duties and tasks.  You are not enjoying the big picture."

Now I'm not advocating working yourself into a frenzy while trying to rely on the "inward rest" of God, but I do think I have misplaced my focus on what "rest" is.  So, once again, I'm learning. God help me to enjoy the "rest" of my life which only comes from You!

Some Regrets

Two more days until 40!  I have been mulling over my life today and I have many happy memories but some regrets.  I think the number one regret is that I have put my work, "church duties" and household responsibilities ahead of relationships, including my family.  It just hit me today that I haven't spoken to my 92 year old Grandma in Indiana for 2 1/2 years!  I hadn't spoken to my grandparents in Fort Worth since we visited with them after Christmas.  These are people in my life that have poured into me as a child and helped me become what I am today.  I picked up the phone and called each one today.  I specifically told them special memories I had of us together.  Then, I told them how much I loved them and how sorry I was for letting time get away from me and not keeping in good touch.  Those two calls today yielded laughs, tears, and affirmation of our love for each other that we will never forget.  I am thankful for the opportunity to have some of my grandparents still around to be able to say "I love you." I am thankful I took that opportunity today.

I will be careful the next 40 years of my life to not neglect the very ones that God has put under my own roof or in my family tree.  If a man gains the whole world and loses his family, what has he gained?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Eve Was An Idiot

Eve had it all.  She had the beauty of the garden to call her home, the man of her dreams walking hand and hand with her just enjoying life, and the God of the Universe loving her and taking care of her every need.  Everything in the garden was hers for the taking except one thing - the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  God said, "Don't eat of this tree or you shall surely die."  Uh, well that's pretty clear, isn't it?  I don't see a lot of room for misinterpretation there!  So, God said she would die from eating it and Satan said "You won't die.  Go ahead and eat it."  Eve convinced herself that death would not come upon her.  In fact, this forbidden tree became something so desirable that the thought of immediate gratification drowned out any fear of future consequences.  She was sure she could "handle it."  God surely wouldn't want her to miss out on something so pleasing and life-changing.  Eve for the most part was an idiot.  I used to think that I would never have given in to this temptation, but I've proven time and time again that I would.

One thing that comes to mind is my gluttonous behavior I exhibited for most of my life. A glutton is someone who eats and drinks too much and that pretty much summed me up.  Day after day, meal after meal, I would eat to my every whim.  I would display no discretion and I packed on the pounds.  Fully knowing that my father died of a massive heart attack at an early age and his father died of a massive heart attack, I continued to overeat believing that God would satisfy me with long life.  Softly and gently the Holy Spirit would talk to my heart and say "You need to submit this to me.  You are not on a good track right now.  You should judge yourself in this area."  But like Eve, I would twist God's words and think "surely God wouldn't want me to pass up this homemade cheesecake right now.  After all, it's my Aunt's birthday and it's a special occasion.  It's just ONE piece of cheesecake.  I'm not going to keel over and die from it for heaven's sake!"  That immediate gratification of partaking of something I wanted right in that moment was overwhelmingly satisfying! It became a habit and a continual cycle of disobedience with the twist that God loves me and I won't die early because of this.  

Being overweight was a weakness I had forever and I had convinced myself that I would probably never overcome it.  I'll never forget the day when I realized that I would never be able to lose the weight in my own power.  To make a very long story short, God gave me a healthy eating plan that worked and I have veered very little from it for the past year.  It has been so amazing!  With a loss of sixty six pounds, I have never been healthier in my life.  Thank you, Lord!

I think some of us have certain sins in our lives that have become our weaknesses.  However, we've allowed the devil to convince us, like Eve, that somehow they are not a sin at all.  In fact, we are convinced that God WANTS us to do the exact OPPOSITE of what He said not to do.   I've seen fellow Christians partaking in fornication, adultery, drunkenness, homosexuality, carousing, unforgiveness, lying, etc. and absolutely have no problem with it although God CLEARLY says in his Word NOT to do it.  However, when God says not to do something, it's because He knows the big picture.  He is our creator and He knows what is good for us and He knows what will hurt us.  He was trying to protect Eve when He told her not to eat of the fruit of that tree.  He wanted to protect me from dying an early death and I thank God He allowed me to see that!  He wants to protect us all!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Just Let Me Deal With Them

My sister-in-law, Amy and I used to joke how she was "mercy" and I was "judgment."  Amy was always the happy-go-lucky one who believes the best in everyone and I was the one who couldn't wait to lay down the law and whip everyone into shape.  I had almost succumbed to the fact that this was "the way I was" until lately.  Today, I was reading Galatians 6:1 which reads "If someone is in sin, you who are spiritual restore him gently . . ."  I began thinking about the way I have handled people over the years.  I have to say there have been too many times when I reacted in an "ungentle" way.  I thought to myself, "What if God dealt with me the way I have dealt with others?"  

I was reminded of Peter's self confidence where he proudly proclaimed "Oh Lord, I would die for you.  I would NEVER deny you, etc.  Of course, he ended up eating those words after he denied even knowing Jesus 3 times IN A ROW!  I began meditating on the conversation Jesus might have had with Peter if Jesus was me:

"Peter, after all this time, you of all people should know better. You were a disciple, a leader for heaven's sake, and in the very inner circle!  I am so disappointed with you right now.  To deny me, the savior of the earth, is grounds for dismissal.  Really, it's the entire basis of why I even came to this earth and you have the audacity to deny you even know me!  If you don't get it by now, you probably never will.  I thought I knew you but you've clearly shown me today your "true self."  When I think about all the painstaking hours of teaching, training, leading and this is how you thank me?  Dude, we're not even friends.  You are so two-faced.  You just disgust me.  I am so through with you!  You blew it, Peter.  You don't even realize what all I had in store for you but that's all history now.  You definitely made the worst decision of your entire life.  Best of luck, pal.  As of right now, you are FIRED.

Well, this conversation never happened and maybe I "stretched" some of the verbage for effect, but you get the picture!  Jesus looked beyond Peter's momentary bad decision and saw Peter's heart.  He gently restored and loved Peter.  He did not condemn his choice or try to humiliate him and make him feel inferior.  The great love and compassion he showed Peter was the catalyst for Peter to proclaim with all boldness that Jesus was Lord.

God knows our weaknesses and our frailty.  We are but dust.  I need to learn to make favorable allowances for other people.  I pray that God will show me beyond people's faults and reveal their hearts.  I want to deal with people lovingly and gently just like Jesus did with Peter.  I don't want to be known as "judgment" any more.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Almost 40

Yea, I'm almost 40 years old.  July 20th will be my 40th year on this earth.  I've been anticipating this birthday more than any other birthday I've ever had.  For whatever reason, I feel as if I'm finally growing up.  I've had a lot of things happen to me in 40 years - so many good things and more hard things than I ever thought possible.  I've learned so many things NOT to do over the years and God has been good to teach me His ways through different situations.  This past year has been a time of reflection with the knowledge of this big birthday coming up.  I lost 66 pounds and have kept it off for almost a year.  After struggling with being overweight for most of my life, I feel like I have finally found  a place of contentment in my weight and have developed a new pattern of eating that I will continue for the rest of my life.  I am thankful to God for the strength to overcome this battle.

God has helped me overcome my outward man and now He is working on my inward man.  It is as if He is remodeling my entire being.  He is magnifying many areas of my life that is now time to work on.  Things that are popping up to change have been surprising and humbling, to say the least.  Most are things I thought I had a "handle" on but really didn't.  

I wanted to start this blog mostly for myself and to journal these golden nuggets God is giving me every day.  I don't want them to get lost in some random notebook, forever lost in a stack of papers somewhere.  The second reason to start this blog is for my children.  There will come a day when I am no longer on this earth and able to speak into my children's lives.  I have made many mistakes in life and if I can save them future heartache by them learning through my mistakes, then it will have been all worth it.  It makes me happy to know they will be able to read through this journal and see how God moved in our lives through the good and the bad.  I want this blog to a be a memorial to God for the great things He has done!

The third reason to start this blog is for other people.  I don't know who will end up reading these words, but if anything I write could help another person it would be incredible. I have heard it said that we are one relationship away from our breakthrough.  If reading one of my blogs could help another person receive their breakthrough, that would be just like God, wouldn't it?   There have to be others out there who have some of the same questions I have about life and are going through some of the same things I am going through.  

So, the journey begins, Saturday, July 11th at 12:30 pm, sitting on my creme living room couch, typing on my Mac, listening to Hillsongs "I Will Be Still."  God, I commit this project to You.  I take your hand and will walk wherever You take me.

Kee Thoughts