whether or not Your lips move

You speak to me

Memory markers October 29, 2009

This week I was reminded of the importance of remembering.

One of my favorite hymns is “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” My favorite line is “Here I raise mine Ebenezer; Hither by Thy help I’m come; And I hope, by Thy good pleasure, Safely to arrive at home: Jesus sought me when a stranger, Wandering from the fold of God; He, to rescue me from danger, Interposed His precious blood.”

I’ve heard that some churches have rewritten this line because the word “Ebenezer” just makes everyone think of Scrooge. Well, this week in community group, I led us in investigating this word, its meaning, and the implications for us.

Ebenezer means “stone of help.” In 1 Samuel 7, after the Israelites had defeated the Philistines, Samuel set up a rock and named it Ebenezer.

Now, to us this would probably be a bit of a strange sight. But not for them; setting up a bunch of rocks was extremely meaningful. Later when their children or others would ask, “Hey…why is there this big pile of rocks here?” or “Why does this rock have a name?” it would be a perfect opportunity to tell them a story of God’s intervention and deliverance. Over and over in Scripture, God tells His people to REMEMBER. Throughout the Bible there are certain stories that are repeated (particularly the exodus) so that future generations would REMEMBER.

Last night we talked about this story and shared our own stories of God’s intervention. Every person has at least one. And the more you view the world as full of miracles, the more you tend to notice them.

One of my favorite things to do in the world is to listen to others tell stories of how God has “interrupted their day” as our pastor, Gary, would say. I remember my grandfather telling us the story of how he felt an angel holding his arm back from whacking off all his fingers with a butcher knife while he was trying to cut off a piece of chocolate from a huge brick of it. Last night we shared stories of how details worked out to bring us all to living in Nashville. I can recall countless miracles that have happened to those I know, from “big” stuff like being freed from addiction or walking away from a deadly wreck, down to “small” stuff like a narrow miss or being at the right place at the right time.

I think it’s important to make “memory markers” of some sort that can help us remember these events. Because there are going to be times when even though we are being obedient and loving God with all we’ve got, we will be so low and discouraged that we wonder if God forgot us or if we heard Him right in the first place. There are going to be times when we just don’t understand why a certain situation is going the way it is, or why a certain loved one is being the way they are. We’re going to feel lost and alone and like maybe God is mad at us.

These are the times we’ve got to remember. These are the times we need to recall the TRUE nature of God—that He loves us deeply and will never let us go through anything that can’t be worked out for our own good in the end. That He has rescued us before and He will do it again. I don’t know about you, but I desperately need that hope!

What do you use as these “reminders?” A ring or bracelet? A tattoo? A poster on the wall? A big rock in your front yard? Whatever would serve as a good reminder to you of how God has intervened in your life in the past, I recommend having one on hand at all times. He’s brought you this far and won’t ever leave you. Don’t give yourself a chance to forget His love and power that is at work within you.

 

God speaks October 21, 2009

Today I learned (again) that God loves to speak to us. The key is that we need to be listening.

I’ve been asked a few times by new followers of Jesus how in the world you can “hear” from a person you can’t see. Or email. Or friend on facebook. (Well, that’s probably not entirely true, I’m sure some smarty pants out there has made a profile for Jesus.) It definitely takes some time, and I’m definitely no “expert” listener… there are times in my life that I get so wrapped up in other things that I forget to really stop and be still. God’s voice is often very, very quiet. Quiet but powerful.

Back in college I led a Bible study by Henry Blackaby called Experiencing God. (I highly recommend it to all who follow Jesus or who are thinking about it.) Blackaby writes that God speaks primarily through His Word (the Bible), but also through circumstances and other Christ-followers. However, as He speaks through circumstances and other people, nothing He says will ever contradict what He’s already said in Scripture.

This is why I adamantly stress that you must be immersing yourself in God’s Word on a continual basis. Yes, even the books of Leviticus and Ezekiel and others that seem daunting or out of place. (It’s also important to read the entire Bible from cover to cover at least once in your life, because you will get the big picture of God’s redemptive story.) Themes, events, and names will start to pop out at you as you grow more familiar with them. You’ll start to catch yourself thinking about certain passages of Scripture as God uses them to hook you into His presence throughout your day. You’ll find yourself speaking God’s words back to Him in prayer, while pouring your heart out to Him. And this, my friends, is communicating with God.

As you immerse yourself in Scripture, you will begin to see the world around you a bit differently than before. It won’t happen overnight, but eventually you will start to notice that He uses people and situations to communicate with you. Look for His face in the flowers outside your apartment building. Listen for His voice in the thunderstorm. See His hand as a mother cares for her newborn. Notice how certain themes will become noticeable—for instance, last night my husband, Aaron, told me that just because writing and teaching isn’t necessarily in my current day-job description, I should still write and teach. So I posted last night’s blog. I prayed for more encouragement. Then today I made a new friend who wrote that I don’t need a position in order to write and teach. God moved in each of these ways and I got the message—“Write and teach, dear child!”

It is my sincere prayer that every person who reads this will hear from God, because He is constantly speaking to us.

 

i want to write and teach. October 20, 2009

Filed under: identity,stuff I've learned — Ash @ 9:07 pm

I have a really good life. But sometimes I find that there is a part of myself just waiting to burst out–to use an overly-used but really perfect metaphor–like a butterfly from a cocoon. Like I’m *this* close to being who I really am, who God made me to be.

I’m an overachiever by nature. I figured out really early on in life that people would like me if I was smart or could do something for them. (And yes, I have addressed this issue in my life.) Sometimes I work hard at attempting to slack off in some things simply so I can have a moment to breathe. At any rate. At the risk of disappointing myself by falling short of the goal I am about to make, I think it would be good anyway.

I’m going to write a blog post at least once a week for the next 3 months about something I learned that week and think someone else  out there in cyberspace (do people still use that word? maybe I should be cool and say ‘interwebs’ instead) might need/want to know too.

So for this first post, today I learned (again) that it is important to be true to yourself and to who you are. This requires knowing yourself, which is of course a sometimes difficult and tricky lifelong process. I also believe it requires knowing God and where you stand with Him, because who you are in Christ is what it all boils down to at the end of the day. All your uniqueness and giftedness is held together with that glue, because even if you can’t DO anything you still have an identity in Him.