Monday, October 14, 2013
Monday, September 30, 2013
A lot has happened since the last time I wrote a "Shepherd's Voice" post...church camp, family birthdays (including my own 30th!), grad school, the start of college football season...
The theme for our week of church camp back in mid-July was the Beatitudes, and they've been on my heart since then, so I just wanted to share them, along with some of my own prayers-thoughts here.
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
Lord, help me to learn more of what it means to be poor in spirit. Never let me forget my undeniable need for You, and the fact that it's only in You that I live and move and have my being.
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."
Dear God, if there's any concept You've taught me from Your word this year, it surely would involve mourning. I'm thankful, though, that Your word also describes you as "the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort."
"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth."
When I read this verse, the first thought that comes to mind is that of Jesus. I love His words from Matthew 11, where He says, "Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Help me to learn from Him how to be like You.
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled."
Thank You for filling me with a hunger for Your word and for Your righteousness. Help me never to grow weary in my pursuit of these things.
"Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy."
When I think of your mercy, I think of a passage from Lamentations: "Yet this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord's great mercies we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God."
When I think of what it means to have a pure heart, I think of your servant David. His heart was certainly one that went astray on multiple occasions. Yet he was described as a man after Your own heart. And I can't help but identify with his plea, that You create a pure heart within him, and renew a steadfast spirit within him.
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God."
I can't help but think of how many times in Your word you are described as a God of peace. It is one of the fruits of Your Spirit. Your word describes You as being pleased to have all Your fullness dwell in Christ, reconciling all things to Yourself, making peace through His blood. And now You have given to us this ministry of reconciliation. May we be peacemakers in that sense, helping to draw all men unto You.
"Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
Father, I'm thankful to live in a time and place where I don't have fear of persecution the way Your servants did years ago, nor the way some do in other parts of the world. But regardless of what I may have to face, I pray that I learn, as Peter taught, how to "live such a good life" that those who may want to accuse will only see good deeds and glorify You.
Posted by mmlace at 10:49 PM
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
With age comes wisdom. So I've heard, anyway. I don't think I'm old enough to know from personal experience just yet. But I did just turn 30 yesterday. I've got a coworker who's two days older than me. He turned 30 on Sunday. When I saw him on Monday, I asked him, "So tell me, how does 30 feel???" He didn't exactly have an answer for me.
When I talked to my younger sister on the phone yesterday afternoon, she asked me, "So are you depressed?" "No...Why on earth would I be?" "Because you're thirty." Well, thank you so much for your concern, dear sister, but no; I'm 30--not dead.
However, I thought I might just go ahead and make an effort to describe--for those of you like my younger sister or my former self from two days ago--who haven't experienced it yet, what 30 feels like.
For me, thirty felt an awful lot like waking up at 5:00 in the morning, in order to spend a few minutes on the elliptical before having to go to work.
It felt like having to clean out the drain in your tub--and the tub itself--because you've got so much hair that it easily gets clogged and doesn't want to drain properly.
It felt like a busy enough day at work that you take a short lunch and still don't get everything on your desk done that you'd like to by the end of the day.
It felt like getting home from work in the evening, washing the dishes, and cleaning the kitchen.
It felt like spending a couple of hours working on homework assignments for your online grad school 5-week summer course, to be turned in. And then spending another couple of hours taking an online test for your grad school 5-week summer course
It felt like taking a few minutes from your busy schedule, before you go to bed, to read through a few chapters of the book of Job, because, although it's a book you may have read before, you've decided over the past few months that perhaps you're not as familiar with it as you should be.
None of those, in my opinion, sound particularly exciting or enjoyable.
And yet...I feel thankful.
I feel thankful to be able to spend 20-30 minutes on an elliptical in the mornings. It's a good stress reliever, and a good way to wake up my sleepy body. And mostly I also spend that time listening to a Dr. Mead lesson, which is usually funny and always convicting, in a helpful way.
I feel thankful to have to clean my tub, because I live in a place where I don't have to worry about having water, or being able to shower.
I feel thankful for a job that keeps me busy most of the time. While so many people are without jobs, I'm grateful for the opportunity to both earn a living, and to take pleasure in the work I'm given to do.
I feel thankful for having to clean the kitchen and wash the dishes, because I'm thankful, first of all, to have a place with a kitchen to come home to. A nice, air-conditioned home with a kitchen with food in the fridge and dishes in the sink, because I've spent time in there, cooking some food to take and eat with some dear friends of mine.
I feel thankful to be spending so much time on school work, because I've got the opportunity to advance my career and gain valuable knowledge that will help me in the future. I'm always thankful for the opportunity to learn.
And I feel thankful to be able to end the day with some time in God's word. Job is one of my least favorite books in all of scripture (and thus, one that I usually avoid reading). But I've come to it now in recent weeks, for some sense of comfort/understanding, as I've got a small handful of people I care about, who are all dealing with some form of suffering these days. Now, I don't know that I'll necessarily find the answers I'm looking for there. But I'm thankful that, as Job says, "To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his," and that I can at least go to Him with my questions. Job also states that, "The fear of the Lord--that is wisdom." So I'll do my best to continue to practice that, fearing the Lord, and maybe one day, I'll be old and wise.
In the meantime, I'm just thankful I'm only 30.
Posted by mmlace at 11:13 PM
Sunday, July 14, 2013
Posted by mmlace at 6:48 AM
Sunday, May 26, 2013
"Jesus answered him, 'It is also written: "Do not put the Lord your God to the test."'"
At the time of this quote of Jesus, we find Him still in the middle of a 40-day trek in the wilderness, where He is being tempted by Satan. Here there are recorded three separate instances in which Satan tempted Jesus, and the first time, Jesus responded to Satan with a scripture that was from Deut. 8, as an instruction to the Israelites, during their own wilderness trek.
In this second temptation recorded, Satan tries to twist scripture himself, in order to make Jesus do what is sinful. Jesus again responds with scripture, again with an instruction from the Israelites' time in the wilderness.
Jesus response to Satan is taken from Exodus 17. I turned to this passage in an effort to find out just what this means. Because Jesus tells us--as the scripture says--not to put the Lord to the test. And yet there are a couple of other examples I can think of in scripture, when people seem to do just that (Gideon, for example). So I took another look at Exodus 17, to see exactly what the Israelites did that so angered the Lord.
The above passage describes a time when, in the middle of Israel's wanderings in the desert, the Lord brings them to a place where there is no water. Because of this, and because the people are thirsty, they begin to "quarrel" with Moses, so heatedly that he apparently believes the people are ready to stone him. They began to even question why Moses brought them out of Egypt (where they had been enslaved), if only to die of thirst in the desert! The verse that really grabbed me, though, was their question at the very end of this passage, "Is the Lord among us, or not?"
After all that the Israelites have been through thus far by the hand of the Lord, they still ask that question. Up to this point, the Lord has:
- Performed ten plagues in Egypt
- Caused Pharaoh to let the Israelites leave Egypt
- Parted the Red Sea, so that the Israelites could escape the Egyptian army
- Guided the Israelites with a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night
- Made the bitter, undrinkable water at Marah sweet so that the Israelites could drink it
- Provided manna for the Israelites to eat
- Provided quail for them to eat
And still they question the presence of the Lord among them. I would say that it surprises me.
Except that it doesn't. Because I know I do the same.
The Lord has given me grace upon grace, blessing upon blessing.
And still, when I don't receive exactly what I want, or He doesn't answer my prayer exactly as I had expected, and I feel plunged into my own wilderness without the specific blessings of God that I desired...well, let's just say I've got a thing or two still to learn from the Shepherd.
Posted by mmlace at 10:15 PM
Monday, May 13, 2013
"With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."--Micah 6:6-8
One of my favorite things to do for fun in Little Rock is go to The Firefly, a paint-your-own-pottery studio, located in a shopping center near my church. It's an inexpensive (usually--depending on what you decide to paint!) and relaxing way to have some fun and let the creative juices flow a little bit. Except mine don't really flow. It's more like a drip. But that's beside the point. I still manage to have a good time, and have painted everything from a small cross, to several tiles/coasters, a jar, a couple of coffee cups, even a couple of big platters. Most of the stuff turns out alright-but-not-great, and I usually keep it to myself. A few items, however, have been given away as gifts. One was a platter that I painted for my friends Johnathan and Haley when they got married; another was a Buzz Lightyear piggy bank that I painted for one of my nephews; another was a platter that I painted for one of my nieces last year; and yet another was this tile, pictured below.
- How many good people in Scripture, including Jesus Himself, knelt to pray;
- How many people approached their king/master by kneeling;
- How many people approached Jesus, with either a need or a word of praise, by kneeling.
- How to love people unconditionally;
- How to be a good listener;
- How to be a good spouse;
- How to forgive;
- How to be like Jesus.
Posted by mmlace at 4:23 PM
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Posted by mmlace at 11:32 PM