Heaven from Betsy

My husband and I are a team.  We have the same views on most subjects in life.  You know, the important things:  we like the same football team, we eat the same foods, we like the same bands and we feel the same way about pets…NO PETS IN THE HOUSE!  We had always been staunch in this belief until our little girl looked at us and said, “Can I have a cat?”  You know that it’s always hard to say no to your children.  But I tell ya, it’s very hard to say no to a blond, curly-headed, big blue-eyed cutie that is the caboose of the family.  So we did what any parent in their right mind would do…we got a cat.

Betsy Lynn Optimus (yes, that part of the name is from our boys) Freeman came to live with us in May of this year.  She was Chloe’s 7th birthday present.  We rescued her from the animal shelter and I have to admit, we’ve enjoyed this new addition to our household.  I grew up with cats and dogs but never had a true house cat that totally depends upon her family.  We have to feed her, supply a place for her to answer the call of nature, clean up after the call is answered and care for her when she’s ill.  Without us, Betsy would be in great need.

Cats in general are moody, finicky, aloof, sassy and think they are in complete control.  Betsy is no different and is also very determined.  She has decided that our kitchen table is HER table upon which she can bask in the sun.  Trying to explain to Betsy the she is not allowed on the table has been quite the challenge.  She doesn’t seem to speak english or irate human!  She does, however, speak BROOM!  You would think after being “spoken” to many times during the day, she would take the hint and stay off the cotton-pickin’ table!  But no, she consistently tries to make that her home.

While noticing her persistence, I started to think about what spiritual lessons I could learn from dealing with a very, hard-headed cat.  Her actions remind me of the story of the persistent widow in Luke 18: 1-8  “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’ ”  And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says.  And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?  I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

Jesus made the point that if an unjust judge will give in to the persistence of one woman; surely a righteous, loving and merciful God will hear the prayers of His people and answer!  The story of this woman and the real life illustration of my cat have revealed a chink in my spiritual armor.  I give up too easily!  Yes, I pray and ask God for His will to be done; for wrongs to be made right; for His kingdom to come but when I don’t see an immediate answer, I stop asking.  When the answer is, “not now”, I don’t ask again.  I’m just not willing to keep on praying until God’s heart is moved to show His Glory!  However, in this passage, we’re told that our prayers are powerful and will move God to act on our behalf.

I want to desire God the same way Betsy desires that spot on the table.  I know I am just as dependant on Him as Betsy is on me and I want to be willing to go through whatever it takes to enter into God’s presence and bask in Him. Hopefully, as I study God’s Word and live with this quirky cat, the lesson will go from my head to my heart and persistent prayer in all things will be my life’s theme.  Thanks Betsy Wetsy!

Plan B

I have recently began teaching a Bible study at my church.  We are reading through the Bible from the beginning to the end.  We are currently in the prophetic books.  You know, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and the like.  These books are really interesting and filled with great truth.  But to be honest, they can be confusing and hard to relate to.  I’ve never been exiled…have you?  So, finding the way it applies to me…mom of three, living in the lap of luxury, and a less than genius kind-a-gal…can be daunting.

Before I dove into Lamentations (Oh Boy!) this morning, I picked up my Journey (Lifeway’s devotional book for women) to see a familiar passage.  At the top of the page was Jeremiah 29:11.  “I know the plans I have for you…plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”  Having just finished the book of Jeremiah in class, it struck me that I don’t remember underlining that passage or talking about it.  I LOVE that passage, so why did God plaster it before me today and not last week?

As I continued to read, I realized why.  A couple of posts ago, I shared that God is working in my life.  He’s wanting me to take steps toward what He has for me and who He wants me to become.  That’s a scary venture, but I’m being obedient.  The devotion dealt with the subject of Plan B…what to do when our dreams seem to be on hold or even fail to materialize.  I have to admit that I fear the loss of my dreams so I could totally relate to the story being conveyed in the article.  It was the prayer at the end that spoke to me the most.    “Father, help me resist the temptation to take matters into my own hands when I don’t see You acting fast enough.  I know You are working even when I can’t see it.” 

As I mentioned, Lamentations is the book for my Bible study class this week.  There, Jeremiah shared his struggle to believe that God would bring to fruition his dream of seeing the nation of Israel restored.  Jeremiah felt abandoned, trapped in a “hopeless” situation.  He seemed to struggle to remember the word of the Lord he had delivered in Jeremiah 29:11.  But God is gracious and allowed His faithful servant to pour out  his desperation. Jeremiah then turned to the only one who could deliver him – Yahweh!!  He remembered that, “Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.  ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I hope in Him’. The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.  It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.”  Lam. 3:22-26  I’m sure Jeremiah never dreamed of being exiled, but it was God’s plan to preserve His people.

I am learning, as Jeremiah did, that my only hope for anything is this life or the life to come is found in the LORD!  His plans for me are far greater than any plan I have for myself.  My trust must be in Him!  I am also discovering the dreams that are from God will always exalt Christ and not myself.  That’s hard to accept but it’s true.  As a child of God, my personal fulfillment is found in exalting my Savior and it’s up to Him when, where and how He chooses to use me for His glory.

Will I continue seeking what God has for me?  SURE

Will I continue to follow the dreams of my heart?  ABSOLUTELY

The bottom line is this; I submit to His plans for me and I chose to lay down my own dreams when He asks me to do so.  Will you join me?

There is JOY in Plan B!

Captured

I attended a music conference this past weekend.  It was for church music ministry leaders to come together to worship and to share with one another new ideas and information.  The event opened with a corporate worship time and a sermon by the conference pastor.  He delivered a wonderful sermon regarding worship taken from Revelation chapters 4 and 5.  As I listened to this passage, I was reminded of a song that I wrote several years ago now.  The song was written after I had read this text.  The story in Revelation 4-5 is that of a worship service in Heaven.  What a powerful passage that moves my heart every time I read it.  One part that grabs my attention is the mention of golden bowls that are used the hold the prayers of the saints (us) and how God breathes them in as a fragrance…what a picture!

Although scripture doesn’t say for sure, I wonder if God takes each bowl and holds it.  If so, it would be held close to His heart as He breathes in our confession, our petition and our praise.  I can imagine the pleasure this brings to our God as we totally depend on Him and know that He hears our prayers.  Just thinking about this causes me to want to pray more than I do.  Oh, that we would understand how He longs for us to share all of ourselves with Him.  May this song help you to understand that you are valuable to God and that even your deepest thoughts of Him and to Him are captured and treasured.

 

I am one voice in the expanse of humanity.
A vapor in time, here today and forgotten tomorrow.
My voice gets lost in a sea of many.
But when I call to You, You know me.

Oh that my words, would be captured by,
The hands that were, crucified for my sin.
And placed near His heart, for the glory of Him.

Your Word says you hear every prayer sent to Heaven.
They rise up to You, as an offering.
The pleasure they bring, To Your heart as they encircle You.
You keep them with You and think of me.

Oh that my words, would be captured by,
The hands that were, crucified for my sin.
And placed near His heart, For the glory of Him.

 

“And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb.  Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.”  Revelation 5:8

Satisfy (new song)

Do you struggle with being satisfied?  I do.  I have this internal drive for something more.  I am grateful for my blessings, but I don’t seem to stay satisfied for very long.  As I read scripture, I have realized that satisfaction is something we are all searching for but seem to miss.  I think it’s because we are looking in the wrong places.  We seek it in our possessions, our positions in life and in our relationships.  The fact is none of those things can give us true and lasting satisfaction.
Our only hope is found in our relationship with Christ.  I have to admit that I struggle here too.  I am still learning how to find contentment in Him alone.  The apostle Paul got there so I know it is possible.  I’m taking steps that I feel certain will lead me to the place I desire to be;  daily time with God in His word, talking with Him through prayer and cultivating the gifts He’s given me so that I can help others know His truth.

A few months ago I was not feeling very satisfied in any area of my life and the phrase “He’s all I need” kept going through my mind.  I so wanted that to be true in me but I lacked faith to believe it.  So, I wrote this song as a prayer to God.  I am very thankful that He answers it every day.  May you seek Him and know that He alone satisfies.

 

Satisfy my weary heart
Lead me into perfect rest
Give me strength to walk, Your journey everyday
Satisfy my weary heart

Satisfy my lonely heart
Draw me close into Your arms
Whisper words to remind me that I’m Your chosen child
Satisfy my lonely heart

Satisfy my struggling heart
Fill it with the faith You give
Show me how to live my life and know Your peace is real
Satisfy my struggling heart

You, are all I need
Help me to know You, are all I need
I want to believe that You, are all I need
Help my unbelief

Satisfy my trusting heart
Guard it from all doubt and fear
Stand with me and guide me and remind me You are near
Satisfy my trusting heart

Satisfy my wandering,
Satisfy my longing,
Satisfy – my heart.

“Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”  Psalm 90:14