Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Face Time

12 Then one night the Lord appeared to Solomon and said, “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this Temple as the place for making sacrifices.

13 At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you.

14 Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.

15 My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place.

16 For I have chosen this Temple and set it apart to be holy—a place where my name will be honored forever. I will always watch over it, for it is dear to my heart...

19 “But if you or your descendants abandon me and disobey the decrees and commands I have given you, and if you serve and worship other gods,

20 then I will uproot the people from this land that I have given them. I will reject this Temple that I have made holy to honor my name. I will make it an object of mockery and ridicule among the nations.

21 And though this Temple is impressive now, all who pass by will be appalled. They will ask, ‘Why did the Lord do such terrible things to this land and to this Temple?’

22 “And the answer will be, ‘Because his people abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who brought them out of Egypt, and they worshiped other gods instead and bowed down to them. That is why he has brought all these disasters on them.’”

(from 2 Chronicles 7:12-16, 19-22 NLT)

Once upon a time ago, I was a military wife. And I remember hearing the enlisted guys talk about "face time". The term referred to the amount of time they worked with or directly under an officer who would have the ability to help them get promoted. Most of the time, you wanted face time. The enlisted members who received the most face time (for positive reasons and not for correction) had a great advantage for getting nominated for service awards and medals. Especially in the upper levels of the enlisted force, this face time which equalled being known paired with awards and medals can make or break a promotion.

Here in 2 Chronicles, God speaks to King Solomon after the completion of the Temple in Jerusalem. This has been Solomon's pet project, an inheritance from his father David who could not build it because of his military background. Solomon has spared no cost on parts, materials, and labors. I guarantee you that Solomon did not accept a single "lowest bid" to have this temple built. This temple was to be grand. It was to be legendary. It was to state for all the future generations on earth how much David and Solomon loved and served their God.

"I have chosen." God assures Solomon that this is a pleasing thing he's done. God's spirit must have laid upon Solomon and David as they chose the plan and location for this temple. God has chosen both men to be king in their due time, and He has chosen Solomon to be the architect of His Temple.

In the upper enlisted ranks, there is a selection process. Packages are put together, and there are sometimes interviewing boards to select nominees for promotion. Again, face time leads to being chosen.

"I might shut up the heavens, or send plagues among you." Wow! I'm not sure how Solomon responded to this declaration from the Lord. I can only imagine how I would respond. And well, I would have been indignant. I would have wanted to point out this temple yet again and ask why the Lord might send disaster to my door. I mean, this was one of Solomon's greatest accomplishment which the Lord had just blessed, how could He turn in the same breath and say He might send calamity?

But then I think about character, especially how we develop character. I've heard it said more than once that character is defined by how you responding when everything is stripped away from you. And at the root, our real character is evident when nothing and no one is around. While tragedy and crisis work to develop our character, how you respond or act when no one is looking really defines your character.

And I wonder if Solomon understood that God was not attempting to be mean or cold-hearted, but would seek true believers but putting their character to the test through famine and pestilence. Perhaps in his magnificent wisdom he could see that the Father knew what He was going to do. Or maybe, unlike me, he was patient and waited to hear everything that the Father had to say before responding.

I would bet that when there are selection boards in the military, one of the things that they look at is a soldier's ability to stay strong, rational, and effective in the light of crisis. And, if they have done this while under the direct supervision of a high ranking officer, I'm sure that the "face time" is immense.

We need to seek God's face more. It is too easy for us to seek the admiration and glory bestowed by men. Who doesn't like to get a Kudos or an "Atta Boy" every now and then? And our society is based upon achievement which only further propagates our desire to be the best and strive for excellence in the sight of men. And yet, it seems to be almost impossible to seek fame and adoration by the masses and still have a heart that seeks God's face first and foremost.

I believe that so many of my problems today arise from my desire to seek the face of the world and ignoring God and His will for my life. I put hours into training for career skills. I worked long hours, pushed aside my family in the attempt to pay bills so that we met the "status quo", and longed for promotion. And yet, I believe had I sought God's face first, I would have made my bills without the struggle to be the best employee by going above and beyond. In fact, I believe that I likely hurt my chances for promotion because I tried so hard. I was taken for granted by my employer. And who wouldn't take someone who works hard and for little pay take that for granted?

But if I had instead sought God's face, face time with the King, I believe things may have been different. My desires would have been different. My relationship with my children would have been different.

And the amazing part of it all is this: When I realized my error, and I turned away and began to seek the face of God, grace was there to wash away my past mistakes. God forgot about my misplaced priorities. He restored me--to my children, to the community, to the church, and to a loving marriage. All I had to do is seek His face.

Father, I am amazed at how easy it is to please you sometimes, and yet how ignorantly I choose to do things that are anything but pleasing. Please forgive me for the error of my ways. I come to you now seeking your face and the glory that only you can give me. And I pray that the beauty of your face will be reflected upon mine as I strive to know you more and more and serve your people. In Jesus' name, AMEN.

Check back for Part Two: Knee Time

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Sigh. I am taking a break from the political scene. I can't stand it anymore. The media bias has overwhelmed me--from both sides, from the mainstream left to the "backwoods" right views. I am tired of this campaign.

To be honest, I think the two major political parties have NOTHING new to offer. And I know that the smaller parties don't have the money to gain the support needed to win the election.

I am voting, rest assured. I wouldn't miss it for anything. Because above the irritating whine of the media is the knowledge that I have a voice, even if it is a small one.

And even bigger than that...I'm praying. Because I believe that the only thing that can save our country from where it is right now is God.

So I'm turning off the TV news. I'm avoiding some of my favorite blogs and websites. I'll be back on Wednesday. Until then, I'm going to pray. Perhaps I'll fast and pray too. Join me, won't you?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Starting over...again

So, I'm going to be perfectly honest with all of this. Two years ago, I joined LA Weight Loss and in just seven months, I lost nearly 70 pounds. I didn't do the supplements. I just changed the way I ate. The program really worked for me. I felt great, I looked great. I WAS GREAT!

And then I met my wonderful husband. I stopped going to the gym four times a week. We started keeping sugar and white flour in the house. I got pregnant. I worked fulltime during my pregnancy which sucked out all the energy I had to start with, so I sat on my rear end for nine months. And surprise, surprise...I put back on EVERY SINGLE POUND plus a few new ones.


And while I know that I can do what I did back then again, it has alluded me. I've tried other diets, only to find them expensive and then quitting. But tonight, I set out to find a diet plan online that was similar or identical to the eating plan I used before.


So this weekend is payday. I resolve to sit down and plan "our" menus for the next two weeks using the plan. I resolve to get exercise back into my routine EVERYDAY. And I resolve to really work hard on the maintenance this time because it is absolutely embarassing to know that I did so well before only to put it back on.

Check back later. I'm going to post a "before" pic. In it, I will pose very similarly to what they do on the Biggest Loser. I'm going to mark out a spot in the house and an outfit to wear. Every four weeks, I will pose again. I am going to keep the diary and record the water intake, the food, the exercise. Why? Simply because I know it works.

So here's to starting over again!

Monday, October 6, 2008

The problem is me

That may seem like a big statement to make. In fact, even as I sit here writing this, I want to say no and go to bed and ignore what is on my heart. And yet I know that like Jonah, I will be tossed in the sea and spit out by the big fish if I am not faithful to the command of the Lord.

We all have problems. Jesus said in Matthew that in this world, well, we would have problems. We would persecuted because we love him. But from the time that rotten old serpent slithered his way into Eve's vision and brought doubt into her mind, this world has been full of problems. Sin created our problems.

But, what of the born again, sanctified, blood-washed saint? Paul said in Romans 6:14,
Sin is no longer your master, for you are no longer subject to the law,
which enslaves you to sin. Instead, you are free by God's
grace. (NLT)

If we are no longer slaves to sin, than how is it that we still have problems?

With the economy what it is, and the choice we have made for me to stay home and raise our children and manage the household, we are struggling at times to make sense of it all. As we pay off debt, our utilities increase. We never seem to get ahead. We continue to tithe, as we continue to pray believing that no one can afford not to tithe, nor can anyone afford not to spend time in prayer.

God continues to be faithful. He was, He is, and He is to come. Not one letter of His word has changed since He first delivered it to the writers via divine inspiration. And yet, with all of the Bible that I have read and studied, with all of the witness and testimony from my own past, I get afraid. I worry. I doubt. I cry out in exasperation. And I wonder what my problem is.


Without grace, I am nothing. I am nothing more than a leaf blowing in the wind. I am here for a season, and then I am swept away. Without grace, I am a sinner who deserves nothing but death. I am a child who needs discipline and reproof yet laughs in the face of the teacher. Without grace, wisdom bestowed upon me is wasted and thrown away. Without grace, I have no value.

But I know that I have been bought with the price of Jesus' blood. I know that His blood has bought for me victory, joy, breakthrough, blessing, and a whole host of other gifts that the Father has given me. Through grace.

And yet, I see myself as having no value. Although I strive to be like Jesus, I badger and belittle myself when I fail. When I feel as though I have no value, I blame my children, my husband, my family, my friends for not seeing and praising me for my value. I tell God that no one appreciates me. I ask for another blessing, but only with my tongue in cheek because I have just told Him that I have no value.

The problem is me.

I have two wonderful boys who God has entrusted me to raise. They share a bedroom and a great distaste for taking responsibility for their own actions. I am actually starting to believe that there is a third boy sharing their bedroom. His name is "Notmee". I say this because I can be assured that this third child is destroying the room that the other two have cleaned. I know this because when I ask them who made the mess on the floor, who took the books off the shelf, who threw their dirty clothes on the floor, they always tell me, "Notmee."

But perhaps the bigger point here is learning to take responsibility for the actions that they blame on each other. The younger of the two always tells me it's not his fault when he spends all of dinner time in laughter because his brother made him laugh. The older one tells me it's not his fault when he hits his brother because his brother made him mad.

To which I ask, "Did he tickle you?" or "Did he get inside your head and tell you that you had to be mad?" They don't like those questions. They dislike the whole idea that while we cannot change the past actions of those around us, we are always able to choose how we will respond to them. Of course, if you are 7 or 10-year olds, you just respond without thought. But not so as an adult and parent, right?

But that's it exactly. When I get a utility bill that has almost doubled, I immediately panic and get afraid and want to blame the utility company for raising their rates. I pray to God and ask Him why He's letting them do this to me. Why am I being punished for their desires? And what I fail to see is that the problem here is not the utility company, it is not my family's fault (well, not least), and it is not God's problem. God did not create this problem. And in a heartbeat, I have taken the problem away from Him by becoming irrational and forgetting His promises:
And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
(Matthew 28:20),
So I tell you, don't worry about everyday life-whether you have enough
food, drink, and clothes. Doesn't life consist of more than food and
clothing?... your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are far more valuable
to him than they are. (Matthew 6:25, 26b)

The problem is not God. God's faithfulness has not changed. His love for me has not changed either. The problem is my own doubt and fear.

Perhaps you are experiencing this yourself. Perhaps you have come to the conclusion that the greatest detriment to your own faith deepening isn't the "horrible" choice of songs during praise at church, nor is it the offensive perfume/cologne someone beside you decided to wear. It is not the teaching geared to the soul who is sitting there for the first time hearing the good news, nor is it a baby crying or giggling. The biggest stumbling block in the growth of our faith is ourselves. We tie ourselves to the past, to our failures, to our fears and doubts and then we become the problem.

God has already promised over and over to provide for us more than we can begin to hope or ask for. We need to get out of the way.

Father, I realize that the problems I am experiencing have nothing to do with my intrinsic value in your eyes. They have nothing to do with your faithfulness and promises. The problem is that I want me first--not you. Father, search me and know me. Let me see these things just as you see them, and then remove them from my character. And above all, remove all of my selfish nature. Teach me to ask to be a blessing, and not to just receive one. Teach me to lift others up instead of just trying to stand on their shoulders. And above all, give me more of you and less of me so that I can be light and salt in this world, my temporary home. In Jesus' name, AMEN.