Draw Near to God and He Will Draw Near to You

My title comes from James 4:8 – the Wisdom book of the New Testament.  I am so blessed to have a son who walks in the wisdom of God.

My son, Shawn, wrote the following in response to an email a friend sent him.  When I read his writing, I feel like I’m reading Scripture.  He has studied it so much that his writing has the same style.

I asked if I could use this today because he explains so well how to seek God and how to hear His voice.

Take some time right now and read some in-depth teaching on how to develop a close, meaningful walk with the Lord and how to be ready for the tumultuous times ahead and the Coming of the Lord. There’s a good teaching on The Lord’s Prayer, too.

Grab a cup of tea (as everyone says) or coffee for some of you (I like Pepsi, but I get a lot of flack for it) because you may be here for a while.

Yes, this is a time to stop hesitating in the middle-ground.  In eternity there is no middle-ground.  I believe you are feeling the Spirit of God at work in your life, convicting you of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment, just as Jesus prophesied that He would.  He is the One drawing you up out of complacency.  To cease to be in the middle-ground, one must not only accept the grace and truth of Christ and His atonement for our sins, but one must actually walk in that grace and truth to be victorious over that which He conquered for us.  One must go beyond knowing about the Redeemer, and transition into actually knowing Him.  It is written that there are multitudes in the valley of decision, and so it has been for ages.  But as it is also written (this time from the perspective of eternity), the Day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.  I believe that we are not only near to that Day in the sense of eternity’s constant proximity that is much nearer to us than many would like to believe, but I believe that we are also on the very threshold of that Day’s arrival.  On that Day, the realities of the unseen will crash into the shallow realities and delusions of this world.  And those of this generation who have wandered in the valley of decision like so many before them, will be shocked and tossed from their convenient wandering and comfortable noncommittal, and faced with the question of the season: choose this day who you will serve.  The truth of the matter is this: either Christ is the Lord of all, or He isn’t Lord at all.  God is gracious to us, but a part of that grace is that He will not just sit by and allow us to continue on in a life of stumbling and falling away from His will.  That is why He will bring much shaking as He comes to those in the valley of decision.
But if we choose beforehand to leave that valley in order to climb the mountain of God and find Him Who is the Source of all life and the Purpose of all life, then we will not have to be among those who are forced to a decision by the ruggedness and terror of the circumstances that come upon them involuntarily.  Instead, if we endure the trials of climbing the mountain of God, we will be stripped of all that was never God’s intention for us, we will become that which He created us to be, and we will reach the top of the mountain and meet Him in a more powerful way than all the encouraging encounters along the way.  At the top of the mountain, the fire of God will be imparted to us so that we might cast it into the earth and destroy the works of the enemy, starting and purifying and establishing the works of God in the earth in order to prepare the way before His Son.

You are asking the right question.  After all the time that they had spent learning from Him, and although they had already been taught much by a Torah culture about how one should pray, Jesus’ disciples asked Him the very humble and simple request: “teach us to pray.”  To truly connect with God and hear His voice, it is not enough to have the knowledge of processes, formulas, and models.  The disciples weren’t asking Jesus for a prayer model or prototype, for they already had a very Biblical prayer model, but they were asking to be shown the way to truly pray.  Jesus gave them an example of prayer, not because they were being given a formula which they could study and adapt to their life situations, but because the spirit of prayer was revealed by that which He prayed.  Just consider His prayer:

“Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed by Thy Name.  Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever.”

What is the focus here?  Not my needs, not my wants; but the Father in Heaven.  True prayer is focusing on God, not trying to get God to focus on you.  The heart of prayer is to set oneself to seek the Father and to know and acknowledge His holy nature.
Then from that focus, considering the things that must be done in the earth, we should not be seeking to get God to respond to us and do things the way that we think they should be done, but we should be asking Him to bring His kingdom into our lives and the world around us, and for His will to be done.  And it is not enough to be general about that part.  Jesus’ prayer was not excusing us from finding out what the kingdom of God and His will are really about and how they must be manifested, but it was pointing us to the fact that we must be asking for His kingdom to be brought into the earth and for His will to be accomplished in it.  In fact, we are exhorted throughout Scripture to know our God and seek out His ways.  Jesus told His disciples that when He left them, the Spirit of Truth would be sent to dwell in them, and that He would reveal to them the will of the Father and of the Son and lead them in what they were to say and do.  As Paul wrote, it is the Holy Spirit who knows the mind of God, and it is only through the Spirit that we can come to understand the Father’s will and have His truth abide in us.  If we will understand what the kingdom of God is, and how it may be advanced into this plane; and if we want to know the will of God and how it is to be fulfilled in this time, then we must receive the revelation of these things by the Spirit of God.  And contrary to the popular belief of the mainstream, convenience-centric Church in the western world, we must receive Holy Spirit the same way that the Church of Acts did:  by praying and asking for the Spirit to be sent to them, and waiting on God for the answer.
We see in Christ’s prayer, that after one prays for the release of God’s kingdom and will in the earth, then it is wise to ask for one’s needs in the present, and that according to what God assigns for us for each day.  One may see in this a clear reference and confirmation of God’s way of feeding His people with manna in the wilderness: each had exactly what they needed each day no matter how much they gathered – no more and no less.  And so we should ask for our daily bread, which is the exact amount that God knows that we need each new day.  As with the prayer for the release of His kingdom and will, we should not just stand blind as to what we really need, but we are exhorted to make our requests known to God with prayer and petitions.  This implies that we are to deal with the problems facing us head on, by asking for that which we really need.  But how can we know what we truly need unless we find out from God?  Therefore we must seek out His will concerning the provision for our needs, and then make our requests according to that revelation.
Progressing on from the point of what we need in the present season, we should also ask for God’s forgiveness for our trespasses, that is, for the times that we have stepped out of the Way He has given us to walk in, also forgiving those who stepped across the line and violated our boundaries.
And from that point, it is wise to ask God to lead us not into temptation; in other words, that He would lead us into His best instead of allowing us to go on the path of our own choosing and just being gracious in going before us anyway.  Also, we should ask to be delivered from the evil that is very present in this world, and which is always seeking to find someone to devour.  Satan and his forces are not a joke.  He was able to tempt even Christ Himself when He was in the earth, and the founding Apostle Peter was also tested by Satan’s sifting.  There are many who have been deceived by the father of lies, not because truth lacked power, but because a lie disguised as truth is often easier to bear, requiring less sacrifice and it spares that which one refuses to offer to God in surrender.  Evil and temptation are mentioned in the same breath, because temptation comes by the evil that is ever in operation in the midst of this world, though it hides in the realm of the unseen.  The assaults of the enemy will not always be the bringing of temptation itself, but also the attempts to bring about the proper conditions for temptations to come and strike us with more impact.  Because of the deadliness of the forces of evil, we were shown by the example of Christ to pray for deliverance from evil.  Not every trial is from God, and some troubles are setups for temptation and not tests sent from Him, for He tempts no one (as it is written in the Book of James).  Therefore, ask for God to be actively involved in delivering you from evil, as it is yet allowed to operate in this world according to the greater wisdom and purpose of God.  There are some things that God’s grace will cover by His sovereign will, but there are many other things concerning which we must strive to ask for that grace and then walk in it.  God has set things up this way so that it would drive us to be dependent on God for our lives and then seek Him, and it actually prevents us from being lost in the end by falling into the even deadlier pride and deception of self-sufficiency.

So in summary, the answer as to how one might hear the voice of God, is that one must first ask for His help and teaching on how one is to pray – which is essentially, the way by which one may hear God and properly relate to Him.  When you ask Him to do this, don’t just leave with that little prayer and go about your normal business, but dedicate whatever time you can to waiting on the Lord, getting yourself in the best state you can to hear from Him.  It may be easier for you in the car, in your home, or some place of solitude, and you may find it easier to meditate and wait on the Lord as you are reading your Bible, talking aloud to God and asking for His help, or else just waiting silently for a certain amount of time, keeping your thoughts quieted so that you might hear from Him.  Ask God to lead you to the best way for waiting on Him so that you might draw near and learn from Him.  He will help you, if you truly are seeking Him.
There are also some really helpful books on the subject of hearing God’s voice, and they were written with a great deal of God-given insights into learning to hear.  They won’t show you the way to hear God’s voice – you must find it yourself by seeking God and allowing Him to lead you into it – but they may help you feel grounded and light the way for you.  Here are some of the best:  Surprised by the Voice of God, and Surprised by Power the Spirit, both by Jack Deere; Call Me Crazy, but I’m Hearing God’s Voice: Secrets to Hearing the Voice of God by Kim Clement (this one I haven’t gotten to read personally, but I know the author fairly well by his works, and this one came highly recommended); and The Beginner’s Guide to Hearing God by James W. Goll (I haven’t gotten to read this book specifically, but I have read a similar title by the same author and I was impressed by his integrity and skill in teaching and explaining what the Scriptures offer on hearing God).  Any one of these books will offer up reassurance, gems of revelation, and helpful hints for hearing God, as well as warnings concerning the obstacles and ditches on the sides.  If you are serious, I would recommend reading all of them, perhaps starting with either Surprised by the Voice of God, or else The Beginner’s Guide to Hearing God.

As to your relative, I have heard such claims in the past, and I am wary of them.  I would not claim to have all the answers and to be the closest person to God on the earth, but I have consistently gotten closer to God and have learned to hear His voice better nearly every day, and yet I still admit to making mistakes and sinning.  Now this could be a question of definitions: when a person speaks of sin, do they have in mind the whole spectrum of how one may “miss the mark” (as the Hebrew rendering has is it), or are they merely speaking of the cardinal sins, or else a certain set that also includes sins that are a few shades less severe?  When I think of sin, I think of it in the entire spectrum of “missing the mark”, that is, failing to do God’s will and live in a manner that is pleasing to Him. There are certainly categories of sin, such as the sins of iniquity (that which is intentional), transgression (that which is unintentional), and omission (failure to do that which is right), but as a whole it all still boils down to the same thing.  And while I have never blatantly committed adultery, killed anyone, worshiped an idol, I have found myself at different times, wanting that which does not belong to me, despising others and sometimes desiring revenge, and focusing my life on things other than God.  While these may not be the cardinal sins themselves, they are the sins of the heart that lead to worse sinful acts.  And in some cases, I found that I had been committing such sins in certain areas of my life for nearly the whole of the time that I have been in this world.  I still find myself missing the mark in my being as well as in my doing, and I make no claim to being sinless.  However, my faith is so strong in the sinless Christ, both my Redeemer and my Redemption, that I am not afraid of wages of sin, and I know that as I dedicate my life to repentance by His power, turning and walking back into God’s original purpose for Adam, I will one day be entirely free of all the effects of sin in my life.  I say the effects of sin, because I believe that it has no power over me.  Occasionally the effects that sin have already had in my being tempt me to allow it place in my life again.  But even when I give into to these temptations, God is gracious and delivers me from my fall and helps me get cleaned up and strengthened so that I will not fall the next time.  With that said, He certainly does not condone my actions or inner stumbling, but I am usually so crushed about by the distance I have caused between God and myself (and this reaction is mostly due to the Holy Spirit and His conviction and discipline), that God has no reason to punish me.
So I would definitely advise caution when it comes to that relative that you mentioned.  There are many deceptions in the world today, and many Christian cults that depart from the Wisdom of God and from His Scriptures.  Ask God to help you discern between those who have the Truth, and those who do not have Him.  As to finding those who do have the Truth: that is a matter of daily bread, so ask God to bring them across your path at the right time.

Juice Plus Reduces Upper Respiratory Symptoms

JUICE PLUS+® REDUCES

UPPER RESPIRATORY SYMPTOMS.

Just in time for the winter season, a new study – conducted by the Charité University Medical Centre in Berlin, Germany and published
in the British Journal of Nutrition –found that healthcare professionals
who took Juice Plus+® over the cold winter months reported 20%
fewer days with moderate or severe upper respiratory symptoms

compared to those receiving placebo.
Over 500 healthcare professionals with direct patient contact – a population considered to be at particular risk of exposure – were recruited for the study. Half were randomly assigned to take Juice Plus+® during the winter months, while the other half received placebo.
Throughout the study, participants documented their upper respiratory symptoms every day and rated the intensity of each as none, light, moderate, or severe. Because the benefits of Juice Plus+® take time to develop, the researchers allowed for an eight-week run-in phase before a six-month comparison period.
During the six-month test period, subjects taking placebo capsules reported having moderate to severe upper respiratory symptoms an average of 9.5 days. Meanwhile, those taking Juice Plus+® reported just 7.6 days – a 20% decrease. Additionally, participants in the Juice Plus+® group did not need to take over-the-counter medications for as many days as those in the placebo group, providing further evidence that their symptoms were not as severe.
“The 20% reduction in moderate to severe symptom days is very meaningful to those of us who go to work even if we’re feeling under the weather,” said Anita Boddie, Ph.D., Senior Scientist and Director of Clinical Research for Juice Plus+®.
“You may still succumb to the elements while taking Juice Plus+®, but the symptoms probably won’t be as severe as they would be if you weren’t in such good nutritional status.”

The British Journal of Nutrition is a leading international
peer-reviewed journal covering research on human and clinical
nutrition. You can find the online version of this Juice Plus+®
study at PubMed, a service of the U.S. National Library of
Medicine (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20727236).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We have seen these kind of results in our family. Gary used to have allergies really bad. He used to have breathing problems almost every day. He was always having to take Robitussin DM just to be able to sleep at night. He used to always say he felt like he was drowning. There were many times that he was wheezing. He used to have to take allergy shots every week.

But we started taking Juice Plus about 4 years ago, and we have felt better ever since then. Gary feels good most of the time now. If he does have a flare-up of allergies or an upper respiratory problem, it goes away faster than it used to. He’s one of those people who will go to work even if he’s feeling under the weather, so the “reduction of moderate to severe symptoms” mentioned in the study has been a definite plus for him.

Oh the Glory of His Presence

I love this song. It takes me into His presence.

The pictures in this video are very touching, too. You see the majesty of His presence, then you see the personal comfort of His embrace as you enter His presence.

I love the pictures of Jesus holding people, especially the children. And the one that makes me cry most of all is the one of a little girl hugging Jesus. It’s at 3:55 in the video. It is just precious.

Talk about undone. Yep, that’s me.

In His presence, we feel the power of His love for us. It’s almost more than the human frame can handle.

Thanksgiving is About More Than Just Eating

My girls helped a lot with the cooking and preparing. Fiona helped cook because she wants to be a chef some day.

Anna stirs the gravy.

Abby got to eat first. Call it a peace offering.

Emma is a two-fisted eater.

Fiona’s happiest when she’s eating. Maybe that’s why she wants to be a chef!

Anna and Morgan dig in.

Kelsey’s plate is loaded!

The twins and Emma had their own little table.

Lots of compliments and sighs of contentment were heard at the table. The twins helped make the place cards so that we would all know where to sit this year. That actually did help!

Patrick and Morgan were happy to be seated close to the turkey.

I do love my own cooking. Every Thanksgiving I find out what a good cook I am! Shawn likes my cooking, too. He told me numerous times during our feast! What a great son!

Great shot of Patrick

The clean-up crew

Emma and Fiona make “turkey cookies”

We used holiday Fudge Stripe cookies this year, so our turkeys had red and brown tail feathers!

Kelsey and Fiona love making turkey cookies! They’re finger-lickin’ good!

The turkeys get more creative every year!

Fiona put a hat on one of her turkeys and called it a gardener.

I had to get in on the turkey act.

We watched “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” – family tradition, you know. There are important lessons taught in this movie. That’s where I got the title for this post!

Then I let it keep running and a movie I’ve never seen before came on. It was called “It’s America, Charlie Brown – The Voyage of the Mayflower”. We were watching it on Hulu, and that was what came on right after the traditional Peanuts special. It was wonderful. It gave a lot of history of the hardships the Pilgrims faced on the Mayflower and in America after they arrived. It was a great review for my kids, and it really held their attention. I can’t believe I never knew about this show!

Of course, we had to have popcorn while we watched movies. The littlest one requested it. And it made our Thanksgiving celebration more authentic!

The Peanuts gang played the Pilgrim children. I was amazed at how much information they gave in an enjoyable way.

Here’s the video of “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” and “It’s America, Charlie Brown – The Voyage of the Mayflower” for your viewing pleasure!

I thought the day was about over, and all the educational value had been squeezed out of our activities. But, lo and behold, Fiona came to me and handed me two papers for me and Daddy. One was about the Pilgrims and the other about the Indians. She drew adorable pictures of the Pilgrims on the Mayflower and the Indians with a turtle that put a leaf on its head so that it looked like it was wearing a feather. Even the sun had a feather headband. I was really pleased with her creativity and initiative.

She folded her paper up like an envelope and drew pictures on the outside. This is how the Indian picture looked when she brought it to me. She took these pictures herself with my camera.

These are the two envelopes with the Pilgrim and Indian pictures drawn inside of them. I think these were brilliant. And she’s not afraid to try new things. She learned a little about using my camera, too.

Today was a great culmination of our unit study about Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims. I didn’t really plan any school type stuff today. It just happened!

I have so much to be thankful for. Thank You, Lord, for a wonderful family and a wonderful day with them today.

Pennsylvania, Here We Come! We Are Thankful

After all of the months of waiting and packing and praying, we finally have a destination. We found out today that Gary has been hired by a company in York, PA. He will start work on Dec. 6. So now I have less than two weeks to get us really packed and find a new house for us and make all the plans for a move to Pennsylvania.

I had a feeling that God was stressing Thanksgiving for more than one reason. Yes, He did want me to not be anxious and to make my requests with “thanksgiving”, but I believe He was also giving me a clue that we would find out about our new assignment around Thanksgiving – the day before, to be precise!

Our children had been praying, and they heard the Lord say “three weeks”. Yesterday that three week period ended.

So we have even more to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. A better job, a new place, our next assignment, excitement and hope for a better life.

Again I say “HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!”