Saturday, April 12, 2014

Into the Sea: Mark 11:22-24

Excerpt from Soul Cries devotional, Theresa Regan copyright 2012
*2013 National Indie Excellence Award Finalist*

Into the Sea
Mark 11:22-24 (Amplified Bible)

And Jesus, replying, said to them, Have faith in God [constantly]. Truly I tell you, whoever says to this mountain, Be lifted up and thrown into the sea! and does not doubt at all in his heart but believes that what he says will take place, it will be done for him. For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will [get it].

Here, Jesus urges His followers to have faith in God constantly. He wants us to have an abiding and enduring faith that is rooted and grounded in our whole journey with God. What amazing words from Jesus—that mountains will be thrown into the sea at our command. We must live without doubt in our hearts, believing that our words can and will make things happen, change, and become rooted or uprooted. We must ask in prayer with belief, trust, and confidence that we will receive answers from God in His time. Sometimes it feels hard to make sense of these words. I pray that Jesus will reveal to you what He is urging you to believe. I pray that He will tell you about the life you are designed to live and embrace.
One thing seems certain. Jesus wants us not only to pray for what we need, but also to live with a posture of faith and belief. After the actual prayers are said, the posture in which we live is important. The spirit that we carry is important to God. Do we say a prayer and then live in worry? Do we brood and ruminate about all the possibilities, concerned about the outcome and timing of everything? Jesus says NO! We are to pray and then live expectantly, confidently, and in belief, faith, and trust. We can expect mountains to be removed and thrown into the sea! 
1. I pray that Jesus reveals more and more to your heart as you pray through this passage and make it your own. Pray through this scripture throughout the week and journal about what God reveals to you.
2. In what ways are you tempted to live in a posture of doubt or concern? What encourages you to live with faith and expectation in God’s power and goodness?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Why Beauty Glorifies God

This season, as I have been praying, I have found myself entranced by beauty.  The beauty of color, music, design, fabric, architecture, nature, smiles, photography, dance...  I have realized that in the past, I have believed that attention to beauty is at best "extra and unnecessary" and at worst "vain and self-consuming."  I'm sure attention to beauty can be all those things, but only in its perverted form. 

Real beauty honors and glorifies God, who is Himself beautiful on the throne, full of abundant goodness, and overflowing with kindness, gifts, and joy.  

Psalm 27:4 (The Message)
I'm asking God for one thing, only one thing: To live with Him in His house my whole life long.  I'll contemplate His beauty; I'll study at His feet. 

He is the God who is beautiful.  He is the Creator who spoke into being all things and declared them good. He is the God who gives us beauty for ashes, joy for mourning, and praise for heaviness (Isaiah 61).  

Can beauty be perverted?  Of course.  But when true beauty exists in our homes and communities, we glorify the God of beauty.  We cast aside the thoughts we harbor about our lack...and we praise our wonderful Father who withholds no good thing from us.  

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Helping Kids with Social Anxiety: Giving Them a Role

Some people thrive in a social setting.  They love the people, the celebrations, and joy of interacting with others.  Other people prefer to stick to themselves, and may have a very difficult time in social settings.  When they do want or need to be in a group, they may feel nervous, stressed, and drained.  

I recently had to take my 8 year old son to church with me when I got to lead a prayer service.  There was no where else for him to hang out on that night.  I ended up asking him to be my helper with the "technology" and the music.  I had my ipod and wanted to hook it into the sound system with specific songs playing at specific times.  

This turned out to be a wonderful thing, because I really did benefit from his help with the songs, and he felt very proud and excited that he could contribute.  He did really well in the social setting, even though that would generally be quite a challenge for him if we just showed up and he didn't have a specific role. 

When your kids are going into a crowd, try to think of ways to make roles specific if they like that.  Can they be a helper?  Maybe they can be in charge of opening the door and putting peoples' coats in the "coat room."  Maybe they can help with props for a play rather than being on stage.  Maybe they can help hide the Easter eggs or hand out the Halloween candy.

What have you tried that helps your kids negotiate crowds and parties?