child-like

I was hanging out with a group of little children the other day, and watched an interaction between a 5 year old and a 2 year old that made me laugh at the ridiculousness of the moment, and then God spoke directly to my heart about idols and my own ability to lose focus on the blessings of God. Let me start from the beginning. There was a bucket of toys, mostly trucks and cars and toy planes. the 5 year old, lets call him johnny, started playing with them as so the 2 year old, lets call him sami,  wanted to play as well. now it would be great to say that they both picked trucks and cars and played happily but were are talking about humans with a sin nature born into them . . . Johnny has his toys and Sami reaches in the bucket and of course picks what quickly becomes the only truck Johnny wanted: "But that is my favorite truck, that is the truck i always want to play with, that is MY truck" now i really wanted to stop the conversation here and reply with; "if this was your favorite truck why did you now pick it out of the bucket when you took your other 5 trucks?" but knowing that reasoning with a 5 year old is a bit pointless i let the situation play out before me.

Sami was as happy as could be with his array of trucks and cars that was before him, but Johnny, while he had the an entire bucket of cars, and the cars he had selected before Sami even arrived to play, he couldn't get his focus off the that one truck.  Johnny even started to manipulate the truck out of Sami's possession. "Sami, look at how many trucks i have! if you gave me that one truck then i would give you all these and you could have more." "I have the best truck and an airplane Sami do you want an airplane?" "i would give you this plane if you for that old truck"

It seemed as though Johnny couldn't enjoy himself or find anything to play with because he was so focused on getting the one thing he wanted? that truck that he didn't want till someone else had it...He spent his entire play time trying to scheme and plan a way to get back what was never his, growing in frustration and anger until he put all his other cars in the bucket and walked away.

I couldn't help but laugh at the ridiculousness of this moment. no sooner did i laugh to myself and thank God that i am no longer 5 did God response by reminding me that i am more like a 5 yr old then i would like to admit. "Jeniffer-- don't you get your mind so fixed on your desires that you miss the blessings i have for you?"

It was embarrassing . . . actually . . . humbling. I so wanted to believe that i was so far beyond being 5 and wanting what i can't have because i can't have it. but i am not. instead of enjoying all the blessings i have around me (from people, to things, to time, to resources) i get focused on that thing i want... somedays it is a husband, some days it is an ipad, somedays it is a family, some days, it is a couch, somedays it is a social circle, you name it at some point i have wanted it....and i have wanted it more than what i have. which makes "it" an idol; a thing that is neither good nor bad but has been desired with more passion then my desire for God.

it is as that point, the moment i can no longer see the incrediable outpouring of God's blessings in my life, that i have lost focus. That i am choosing to place what i don't have over what i have been freely given. My heart is so focused on what i think i need or desire that i am choosing to live in a place of brokenness when wholeness and abundance of joy is mine.

the voice of God

students often ask me how i hear the voice of God. WOW! i wish that was an easy answer. I so desire God's voice to Shout from the heavens. That every thing he speaks for me started with my name and end with "this is my will for you, Jeniffer, know that i am God." Ohhhh... how much heartache would be avoided if God's voice was that clear. But it is not, and so we must interpret the thoughts that run through our head and sort through the busyness of  our mind to find the clarity of God. God makes it clear in scripture that he is NOT a God of CONFUSION, but one of peace and lucidity. so what does it mean when we don't understand what he is asking...maybe just maybe he is asking us to wait, to not move until we have clarity because in the waiting he refines our hearts and our minds. so that when he brings about his hand of blessing and his still soft voice speaks we will recognize his voice!!! after all isn't that what he says: "they will know my voice"

I am convince that sometimes we get so impatient in the waiting we stop trusting and listening to God and start to search for the fruition of our plan, our desires. This is the moment that SATAN can launch his greatest attack. He will speak to the desires in your heart as though he is God, He is after all the great deceiver. Satan walks in the open door and ushers in the very thing God is asking you to wait for, but because you have waited a bit and you are more about the waiting ending than pressing into the one who is asking you to wait, thus you see Satan's promptings as God.

You have the ability to interpret your circumstance to mean anything you desire. But that is NOT what God has for you because when you walk outside of the will of God knowingly or unknowingly you are walking out of the protection of the hand of God. so how do you know that you are interpreting your circumstances incorrectly...

1. seek wise counsel from people you know will tell you truth -- if you are only talking to specific people because you know they will support your predetermined choice you are not seeking wise counsel --If you are with holding specific facts from your circumstances because you are afraid of the response they will receive you are not seeking wise counsel. -- in both of these cases you are manipulating the flow of information to seek affirmation and not allowing God to direct you, it will make you feel good because you will be affirmed in your choice, but it will further open the door for Satan and block off a pathway for God to speak to you.

2. search your own heart for your desires --even in the greatest confusion i believe people know if they are being honest with themselves, the the spirit of God living in them will rise up and create a great uneasiness to warn you if you ask him too.

3. lastly and most importantly: read scripture and pray -- your choice should line up with the word of God. -- you should have the peace of God in your heart about your choice even if you don't completely understand the details. -- remember if can blocking out the voice of wise counsel you can also block out the truth of scripture and the voice of God. Having "peace" alone is NOT confirmation that you are in the will of God.

Remember scripture says that we must take every thought captive, meaning they are not all ours. we must capture our thoughts, hold them, examine them before God and determine: is this our thought, God's word for us, or is the part of the great deception. Look and listen for the promptings of God in small things (i feel like i should help that person.... I really want to go sit over there today..... I think i need to go to school early today.... i want to write her a note....) and you will begin to recognize God's voice in the big things (yes i should go to that college, i should apply for that job...).

God is speaking to you... are you listen to him?

God is good

i am convinced that the power of prayer is not so much in the swaying of God's heart to our cause as it is in the aligning of our focus and efforts with God's heart. God knows the promises he has made to us, and he is forever remembering us. There is nothing that comes into our life that he is not keenly aware of, and prepared to bring about blessing from the tragedies. I say this with hesitation as i know there are some who read this and think how can the death of ___________ be a blessing, or how can my illness be a blessing, or how does _______________ ever become good?? I have walked through enough life to know that sometimes the depth of darkness feels as though it is crushing you beyond your ability to survive. As i look back on my life i can honestly say i have made some poor choices and i have been the victim of others poor choices, and while i would never want to relive those i would never want to live my life without them. They have made me who I am today, they have given me a depth to my relationship with the Lord that i could never have achieved with out suffering. I also know that i would have been crushed under my heartache if it had not been for prayer. For the peace that surpasses all understanding that was imparted to me as i held onto the truth that God had not forgotten me, that he was at my side, that he knew every thought, that he captured every tear, that he had a plan, and this...this moment... this tragedy was not a surprise to him. Nor did this tragedy have the power to thwart God's plan for my life.

I don't know why God allows some evils to exist or some extreme cases of suffering to occur... i can't see good in all tragedy, and i don't understand how people can physically survive some of these evils. . . But i know, I believe and i stand firm that even in the midst of these horrifying evils...God is good.