I hope to inspire and encourage others through my own life experiences and my faith ...

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Abba, Daddy

My husband and I love song lyrics.  They tell such amazing stories and stir up all kinds of great feelings and emotions.  Since our first daughter was born seven years ago we have found a specific song for each of our three girls that described our feelings towards them each individually; a song that we dedicated to them and labeled as "their song".  My husband chose the Kenny Chesney song There Goes My Life for our middle daughter.  She loves listening to it and loves when her daddy sings it to her.  She could listen to it over and over again.

The other day they were out running an errand together and that song came on the stereo.  The part of the song that says,

Oh yeah..........he loves that little girl.

Momma's waiting to tuck her in,
As she fumbles up those stairs.
She smiles back at him dragging that teddy bear.
Sleep tight, blue eyes and bouncin' curls.

He smiles.....
There goes my life.
There goes my future, my everything.
I love you, daddy good-night.

My husband was singing along with it and glanced in the rear view mirror and realized that our daughter was in tears.  He quickly asked her what was wrong and she said, "Daddy these are happy tears.  I am happy because you love me so much."  It was one of those precious moments that he will never forget.  Her gentle little four year spirit recognized the great love that her daddy had for her and it moved her to tears ... beautiful!

"Jesus addressed His Father in a special, most intimate way when He was in the depth of suffering- His dark night of the soul.  He was in the Garden of Gethsemane just before His arrest and crucifixion on the cross.  He prayed, 'Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will' (Mark 14:36).  Abba is the Aramaic word translated 'Father' and is used in the spirit of a tender, affectionate child in much the same way as a child today would use the word daddy.  Jesus used Father in His prayers much more often than other Jewish teachers and writers.  Because of our new relationship with God through Christ, we may employ this display of affection, this expression of endearment, Abba, Father." - Catherine Martin, Trusting In The Names Of God Devotional.

The Great Yahweh who created the Heavens and earth is our Father ... our Daddy if you will. We are His precious children and nothing, and I mean nothing, in all eternity means more to Him then us.  He weeps when we when are hurting, He basks in joy and excitement when we are happy, He is heartbroken when we turn away from Him.  His love for us is never ending and pure.  We have the incredible privilege of coming to Him in the intimate way a child goes to their daddy.  

When we are hurting we can turn to Him and take refuge in His loving arms and His arms are ALWAYS open and willing to take us in.  No matter what we have done, even if we have walked away He is still lovingly waiting for our return ... no strings attached.  He provides the most pure love that we could ask for. 

Charles Spurgeon says, "If an earthly father watches over his children with unceasing love and care, how much more does our heavenly Father?"  Maybe you have experienced unconditional love through your earthly father, maybe you haven't ... no matter the circumstance you have Abba who loves you dearly.  Get to know Him, rest in Him, delight in Him.  There is nothing He desires more then you.  He gave His precious life so that you may have life.  Catherine Martin asks, "Will you  crawl up into the lap of your Abba, Father now and lay all your cares and worries in His loving arms?"   

In Closing This Series:
I encourage you all to read the book Trusting In The Names of God by Catherine Martin.  I have explored in my blog, Yahweh, Yahweh Nissi, Yahweh Jireh and Abba which are some of my favorites.  Her book explores many more of His names that are so incredible.  When your really get to know our LORD in all His different elements, it allows for such a deeper understanding and appreciation of Him.  Dig into this book and watch your faith grow in beautiful strides.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Give Away & Chance To Promote Your Blog!

I am finishing up my short series on some of my favorite names of God inspired by Catherine Martin's, Trusting In The Names of God. I am ending it with a fun giveaway that I think you will LOVE!

This Friday I will be doing my first drawing ... The winner of my drawing will recieve a copy of Martin's, Trusting In The Names of God and a featured guest spot on my blog!

How do you enter to win? #1 Leave a comment on any of the Names of God posts. #2 Subscribe to my blog OR "like" my Inspiring Excellence facebook page (see link in the right hand side bar of this page).

I will announce the winner this Friday at noon mountain time. If you win, you will recieve the book and be scheduled for a featured spot on my blog this April. If you are looking to bring new readers to your blog, this is a great opportunity! Can't wait to hear from you ...

The Eternal I AM

But Moses protested, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?” God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. Say this to the people of Israel: I AM has sent me to you.” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: Yahweh, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you. This is my eternal name, my name to remember for all generations.” -Exodus 3:13-15.

Until I read Martin’s chapter on Yahweh, I never really grasped the power behind His name. Yes, I "feared" God and I knew that He was the Almighty, Most High, Creator of heaven and earth but the power never really hit me until I learned more about it.

A little background on the name Yahweh: The Hebrews revered His name as so incredibly Holy that they would not even write or speak the name Yahweh in its entirety. The name held such importance and power that they felt unworthy to let it roll off their lips. They usually replaced it with Adonai or my lord.

If you think about it “god” is a general term. Many cultures worshipped different gods. A god was, and still is, considered a greater power and an unknown deity. Around the world different cultures claim to worship the same god but through a different name … but He isn’t just a god … He is THE GOD. He has ONE name. I think it’s fascinating that God showed the world who He was through His name. He isn’t known as just “God” the unknown deity. He personified himself by using a name. He is set apart.

I always think of Moses asking God who he should call Him when addressing the people of Israel, “I AM, WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14). Or when Jesus said, "'I tell you the truth … before Abraham was born, I am!'" (John 8:58).  "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” (Revelation 22:13). It literally gives me chills to think about those words. My lowly words cannot even express the significance of what that means.  HE WAS, HE IS, HE IS TO COME.

Think of Him … His power, His image, His ultimate majesty ... If you truly grasp and understand the depth of His being, how could you not fear Him? I know that for me personally, after I recognized the significance of His infinite power I dropped to the floor on my knees, head buried in the floor. I felt so unworthy and small. It’s unreal to imagine that He in all His glory could love me, little ol’ Sarah, but He does … The "I AM" is my God and though unworthy, I am so grateful of His love and adoration of me. 

There is a song out there by Phillips Craig and Dean that I think truly puts into words Yahweh in all His greatness. I highly encourage you to read the lyrics or listen to the song here . Draw near to Him and give Him the praise and adoration that He deserves. Thank Him for simply being Him.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Yahweh Jireh, The Lord Will Provide

The six month of his unemployment was about to dawn.  We had used what little savings we had to cover our costs for the previous five months and we were literally down to the last few dollars.  He had sent out hundreds of copies of his resume, been on dozens of interviews and nothing ... We had made it this far and been ok but what next?  What happens when those last few dollars are spent and our income is non-existent?  There are three children here .... How will we feed them?  Will we lose our house?  An indescribable fear hung over our heads as we contemplated our future.  I pleaded with God saying, "Please, please, please God open up doors of opportunity.  Take care of us as we continue through this time of uncertainty.  Please provide for our family and don't let us drown."

And then a day like any other day came upon us.  He was off to yet another interview.  His stomach was in knots as he believed that this interview, like all the others would result in nothing, leaving us at the bottom of an empty well.  I went about my afternoon caring for the girls as usual when the phone rang ... "Well ???"  I asked expecting to hear another "we'll call you if we find that you're a fit".  He answered back, "Well they loved me.  They took me right in to talk to the Colonel and he hired me on the spot!  I start immediately."  My heart lept as relief washed over me... Amazing!   He got a job- and not just any job, a job in the field that he had been pursuing.  A job that would not only take care of our family, but that he would be extremely happy in- something he hadn't been in years.  God answered our prayers ... He provided for us in our deepest time of need.
Can you imagine how Abraham felt as he traveled up Mount Moriah knowing that he was about to sacrifice his son?  To lose a child is a tragedy in and of itself but to lose a child that God blessed him and Sarah with, a child that fulfilled such a significant promise ... I cannot imagine that angst he felt as he made that journey.  Despite everything he obeyed God and didn't question His command.  When Abraham reached the point where he was instructed to sacrifice Issac he laid down his son and raised his arm, knife in hand ... "Lay down the knife, " the angel said.  "Do not hurt the boy in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God.  You have not withheld even your beloved son from me."  Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a bush.  So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering on the alter in place of his son. Abraham named the place, "The Lord Will Provide" ... (Genesis 22:12-14). 

Yahweh Jireh, The Lord Will Provide.  Throughout the Bible we see other examples of God providing for needs that seemed otherwise impossible to meet.  Jesus fed five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fishes.  After a night of catching nothing, Jesus instructed His disciples to cast their nets on the other side of the boat and they were overwhelmed with the enormous catch.  Peter caught a fish that held a coin, a coin that would pay his taxes.  The Lord will provide!

Today we still face various needs.  Whether the needs be monetary, emotional or physical we all have them!  Take heart that God is a God who provides.  God does not wish to see you drown in your troubles.  He has the ability to help you through anything and He wants to help you through everything.  Trust in His provisions.  When you think that there is no hope and that there is no way that life could iron itself out trust in His provisions!  Seek Him and make your requests known to Him and don't get discouarged if His provision isn't exactly what you had in mind ... He sees things crystal clear and His plan and provisions may be better then what we expected!  I close with a verse that so simply expressess His desire and intent to provide for us ...

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?  And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?" Matthew 6:26-30

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Trusting In The Names of God - Intro

A couple of years ago I read the book, Trusting In The Names Of God by Catherine Martin ... if you haven't read it already I highly recommend it!  God has recently put that book and its message on my heart again so, I am going back through it and want to share some thoughts with you along the way.  To start, I am re-posting an old post I wrote on my favorite name of God.  I hope that you enjoy these next couple weeks as I journey back through Trusting In The Names Of God ... God has really placed this topic on my heart and encouraged me to share!  Stay tuned for a fun give-away coming soon!

In my quiet time today I was led to read my Trusting In The Names Of God book by Catherine Martin. The book talks about all the different names of God and what they mean, how to use them, etc. I turned to the chapter on Trusting in Yahweh Nissi – He is your Victory. It spoke to me and a dozen of you came to mind. I felt called to speak this message, if you will, to you. I thought I would highlight some of what the chapter talks about and hope that I don’t bore you but instead inspire you to know that despite your present circumstances Yahweh Nissi (God) is on your side fighting your battles and if you let Him, He will bring you victory!

“What does knowing Yahweh Nissi tell you about yourself? You need someone to fight for you and bring victory in your life. The Lord is the one who fights for you. Run to Yahweh Nissi when you need victory in the battle you face today. What will the banner of the Lord look like in your life? Some scholars suggest that Moses’ upraised hands represented prayers and petitions and intercession on behalf of the people of God in the heat of the battle.

What banner do you hold in your life? Is Yahweh Nissi your banner? Or do you carry the banner of self, believing you are the only one to fight the battle? Or do you carry the banner of money, believing if only could be a millionaire, you could win your war? Or is the banner of position your reliance, believing if only you could have the perfect job, your problem, whatever it may be, will be solved?

When you are in the heat of the battle, think of Moses and the staff in his hand. When he had the staff high (trusting and following God’s commands) in his hands, Israel won, and when it fell, they began to lose. And so it is with you – defeat is sure if you hold up any banner but Yahweh Nissi. Victory is certain if you hold high your banner, Yahweh Nissi. Look to the Lord to fight your battles. Cry out to Him. The Lord will give you wisdom every step of the way as He leads you.

Pray in the heat of the battle and watch the Lord win the battle – He is victor! Oh, how exciting to watch Yahweh Nissi gain the victory in a life, whether that life is your life, a family member’s or a friend’s. Joy is your great response in praising Yahweh Nissi. Nehemiah taught the people of God, ‘The joy of the Lord is your strength!’ How can you rejoice in Him today? ‘Great are the works of the Lord; they are studied by all who delight in them. Splendid and majestic is His work and His righteousness endures forever!’ Psalm 11:2-3” -Trusting In the Names of God, Catherin Martin.

Last words – from ME!

Times are tough for everyone right now. We are all facing different battles today, this week, this month and this year. I feel pledged to tell you that you are not alone! Ask Him to help you, stay in His presence, petition your needs to Him, and intercede for those around you who are struggling … He will answer. Our God is not a God who neglects or turns His back. He LOVES us and He wants us to succeed and prosper. He does not desire to see you bound to the ground in hopelessness and despair. He desires you to stay with Him and trust Him. If you let Him, He will bring you out of your battle as the winner!!! And most importantly, it is so easy for us to come to God with our problems and plead for help (He wants us to!) but even in the midst of our battles we need to praise Him! Like the last couple of sentences above we must have joy in the Lord as that is our strength! I encourage you read the words of the song, ‘Praise You In This Storm' by Casting Crowns.

I encourage you friends and family who are struggling to turn to Him, don’t turn away, place yourself closer then ever before and He will show you a victory in your battle. You, my friend, cannot win it yourself, you are simply incapable, but with Him you can do anything! I will remember you and your situation in my prayers this week …

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Deep Understanding

I woke up today with a heavy heart.  My dreams often haunt me and expose the darkest parts of my soul.  Sometimes I remember the dream while other times I have no recollection of them although I wake up utterly shaken and the darkness of it weighs heavily.  I awake with feelings of deep sorrow, confusion and pain.  Where did this come from and why did it have to plague me today?  Why when everything is good and right do these dreams come in and stick a knife in my heart? 

I opened up my Jesus Calling book after I got up and came across this: "Come to Me for understanding, since I know you far better then you know yourself.  I comprehend you in all your complexity; no detail of your life is hidden from Me.  I view you through eyes of grace, so don't be afraid of My intimate awareness.  Allow the Light of My healing Presence to shine into the deepest recesses of your being- cleansing, healing, refreshing, and renewing you ... I speak to you from the depths of your being.  Hear me saying soothing words of Peace, assuring you of My Love.  Do not listen to the voices of accusation, for they are not from Me ... My Spirit convicts cleanly, without crushing words of shame.  Let the Spirit take charge of your mind, combing out tangles of deception" (Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, p80 & 82). 

Wow, so beautiful!  I often forget the depths of His understanding.  It is easy to remember that He created me and breathed life into me- those truths were drilled into my head as a child.  What I tend to forget is that not only did He create me but He knows me better then I know myself.  He sees and understands the complexities of my heart, which so often I don't even understand!  As I wake up and relive these huntings I am not alone; He is right there next to me.  What a comfort to know that there is another who can feel my pain, see my struggle and truly understand it.  I may not immediately resolve the issues that these hauntings root from but I am learning how to peacefully put them to rest and move forward with my day.  I am able to take comfort in His presence and fill up with His strength. 

There is something incredible about His intimate knowledge of our hearts.  I think it brings us to a whole new level and awareness of His love.  He sees those dark things that plague us.  He understands them.  He STILL loves us despite them.  He doesn't grow tired of our constant inward battles, in fact He lifts us up and carries us through them if we allow Him.  If you struggle with similar hurt and pain remember to take comfort in His understanding and seek refuge in His arms.  Draw from His strength and find peace. 

"O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.  You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away ... Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts." -Psalm 139 1-2, 23

Saturday, March 19, 2011

An Answered Prayer

"Thank you, Thank you, Thank you God!"  These are the words that were excitedly running through my head as it hit the pillow last night.  I probably fell asleep with a smile on my face. This week has been an answer to prayer in so many wonderful ways and I am thrilled to say the least.

When I was a child I wanted to be a writer.  As I grew up things began to change and I didn't think I had what it took to accomplish that dream.  Without encouragement and also a lack of practice for that matter it became more and more of a vague dream and soon I totally forgot about it.

Over the last few years I really began to become aware of  my gift of exhortation.  God gave me something beautiful ... something that I could do so much with.  As I prayed and prayed that God would build this gifting up in me I wondered how He would use me ...

About two years ago I randomly started a blog ... My husband was in military training and away from our family for six months and I found that writing really helped ease my loneliness.  I quickly fell in love with blogging, the only problem was that nobody really read it.  Never the less I kept going and God kept working in my heart.  He gave me so much to say.  I began to see that I could use my exhortation through writing. I didn't write fluffy things to make my people feel sunny and bright but instead I used my own life circumstances to try to relate with people.  I'm a real person going through real struggles.  It isn't always sunny and bright- it's hard and sometimes it sucks- BUT He is always there to walk me through those struggles and He gets me to the other side safely.  I've learned that by humbling myself (which is a HUGE ongoing process in me!) and letting people see my struggles I am offering something that other people can connect with. 

Still, I didn't really have any readers other then a couple good friends and of course my family.  It kind of got frustrating and I felt like I was wasting my time.  Writing had again become my passion and yearning, but I had nobody to share in it with.  But, I still kept writing.  After a year and a half I stumbled across the incourage submission page.  I half heartedly submitted something that I wrote last summer and then didn't think about it again.  Although I was enjoying writing, I was very insecure about my writing abilities.  I didn't think anything would come of it.  Boy was I surprised to get an email saying that I would be posted in March ... I was elated!!!

Having my article up on Thursday literally changed everything.  It was an amazing feeling to have so many strangers from around the world reading my simple words.  I was so blessed by the response!  The next day, yesterday, I found the incourage community site ... (smile and emotional tears) ... I can't express to you the sheer joy and excitement I have for this treasure.  I have been searching and praying for something like this community for so long and at last He brought me to it.  The immediate response from all of the wonderful women was amazing.  I felt apart of a family right away.  Knowing that I can write the things that He has laid on my heart and be able to reach even a couple of people's hearts and encourage them is enough to happily sustain me for a long time. Likewise, I am so thrilled and honored to be able to return the favor and enlighten myself through their writing and words!  I am so very excited for the opportunity be apart of this group of women and to share among them. 

Sometimes God renews childhood dreams ... Sometimes He closes doors for a while so that He can mature us so that when the door re-opens we are better equipped for what He has in store.  It's an exciting journey and I am so blessed to be on it.  This week has comforted me, inspired me and proved to me once again that He knows what He is doing! 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Stand By Me? Ok ... Maybe ...

1 Thessalonians 5:11 "So encourage each other and build each other up ..."

I hate going to the gym ... you practically have to tie me up and drag me there.  You would probably never see me running on the treadmill if it were up to me showing up on my own.  I know it's good for me and that it's important but I don't like it ... plain and simple.  The times that I am there and stick with the routine of going are when I am with my girlfriends.  There is something about having that support person with you that makes it so much easier to endure.  She encourages me while I trudge through and provides the support that I need.  In the end I feel so great about going and doing something good for myself !

The same can be true in other areas of our life.  We all face struggles at some point in our lives ... whether it be the struggle of a hard day at home with the little ones, the struggle of a crumbling marriage, the struggle of a daunting project, the struggle with a loss of a job or a loved one ... Who can you turn to when those issues hit?

I am a very independent person.  I don't like to accept help, I don't like people to know when I am struggling and I often times try to resolve my issues on my own in the quiet of my own little world.  It is very hard for me to let people in and see me when I am weak.  If I let my guard down, won't people see my vulnerability and look down on me?  Isn't it safer to just keep it all in and try to get through it on my own?  It is certainly more comfortable to do things that way ...

Over the last year God has been teaching me so much about humility.  I've learned that keeping my insecurities, fears and struggles inside just because I am afraid of what people will think about me is pride.  Maybe He is letting me face these struggles because my experiences will help me make an even more powerful impact on someone else then if I just try to comfort alone.   

I've been blessed with some amazing friends who have patiently watched me slowly break down the walls of my pride.  They stand by me and support me through my struggles, encourage me when I am down and make me comfortable enough to open up about the hard things.  When they see me open up and share they are comfortable to do the same.  We tackle life so much better in teams and it is so much more joyful to share in celebration when we have made it through together. 

God has blessed us with community.  He wanted us to have fellowship with others and be able to lean on each other in good times and bad.  We aren't made to sit alone and try to fix our problems ourselves.  Isn't it awesome that He has given us such a wonderful gift?!  Next time you are facing struggles that you are scared of sharing or seeking support about, consider letting someone in.  Sometimes He uses other people as tools to do His mighty works in our lives.  As with the gym situation, sometimes having a companion walk with you through the daunting situations in life allows things to be so much easier and more manageable.  Likewise, we should remember to be on the watch for our friends facing difficult times.  Offer encouragement, lift them up in prayer and be the friend that you would want there for you. 

What impact has supportive friends had on your life?  Do you find that the dark situations are easier to handle when you let someone in rather then dwelling in them alone?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Battlefield For Our Minds

One of the strongholds that I face in life is looking backward rather then forward.  I am often tormented with the "what if's" ... What if I had made different choice's? What if I would have taken another road? What if I would have worked harder in this area? What if I would have just waited? What if I had been more careful about what I said? ... When I get into these ruts I begin to quickly drown in depression and anxiety.  It is not a good place to dwell.

I recently started reading The Rules Of Engagement by Cindy Trimm.  Cindy showed me that my "what if" problem was much easier to overcome then I thought.  "The most precious commodity in the earth realm is the mind.  Not only is God vying for our minds, but the enemy is vying for your mind as well" (Trimm, 40).  So often we forget that there is a spiritual battle going on around us.  Our souls are constantly being fought for. 

Ephesians 6:12  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

The enemy is always there whispering lies into our minds.  He too knows our weakness, our hurts, our desires and he slithers his way in and feeds on that.  He takes advantage of that knowledge and creates thoughts in our heads to make us believe that they are our own and that we should act on them.  He plants ideas, strife and confusion and if we are ignorant to his deceitful tools we fall victim and are seduced in.  Isn't that a horrible thought? 

It sounds so daunting and dark ... how can we escape it?  How can we take control of our minds and keep the enemy out?  The great news is that God is all powerful and will always prevail and win out in the end.  He is all we need and He will conquer.  When we immerse ourselves in His Word and stay prayerful in all things, we silence the enemy.  Prayer invades darkness.  Through prayer and petition we should seek daily protection from God, that He would not only keep us physically safe but also protect our mind and spirit. 

Ephesians 6:13-18 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.  In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

Now when I start to dip into the "what if's" I quickly turn my thoughts to the Lord.  He knows every detail of my life ... where I have been, where I am going, my heart and my desires and He has my best interest at heart.  I am His precious child and He LOVES me deeply.  So, the "what if's" don't matter anymore.  They aren't healthy, they aren't me and they don't root from God.  I prayerfully submit those thoughts to Him, put Him back in control and breathe a sigh of relief.  It is wonderful to feel those burdens lift and have His peace wash over me. 

Be adamantly aware of the enemy and his influences.  Don't go through life oblivious to his deceitful demise or he will get the best of you.  Cover yourself in the Holy Spirit and keep your thoughts centered around the Lord.  The difference that it makes is astounding and so freeing!

Can you think of times when you were all of a sudden consumed by depression, regret, anger or anxiety? How do you fight back and surrender mind control to the Lord?