Who is in YOUR boat.....Word Filled Wednesday

Paul experienced quite a STORM in Acts 27. This storm was so violent, it shipwrecked Paul and the entire crew, landing them on the island of Malta. The coolest thing God showed me though, is that He USED Paul's storm and being shipwrecked on Malta for His glory....leading the people of Malta to become followers of Christ.

God will use our storms (when we allow Him) and turn them into "Malta-s", opportunities to WITNESS and share God's love with others.



Jesus also experienced storms....and His disciples.  In fact, they often experienced the storms WITH Jesus.

From Luke 8
Jesus had told the disciples that they were going over to the other side of the lake. They all climbed into the boat and began to cross to the lake. During the sail over, Jesus fell asleep. During this time, a huge storm comes up. "The boat was being swamped, and they were in GREAT DANGER." OK, these guys were fishermen- they were used to life on the sea. They had undoubtedly seen many storms. But this one SCARED them!

They woke up Jesus screaming, "Master, Master, we're going to drown!"

They are hysterical. They thought it was "all over."

Now, I had always "read" this as the disciples were waking up Jesus to have him DO SOMETHING. But, perhaps, they are waking Jesus up because they think they are going to have to jump ship....that this storm is "IT"....this is the end for all of them.... Are they waking Him up, thinking "How can you sleep through THIS? We are all going to die!"

Listen to what happens next. (Verses 24-25)

He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. "Where is your faith?" He asked His disciples. In fear and amazement, they asked one another, "Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him."

If the disciples had known that Jesus was GOD, would they have been scared? If they knew that I AM was in the boat with them, would they have feared? God Almighty...Creator of the universe...Who set the stars in place....Who created the sea.....Who keeps the winds in storehouses.... was with them in the boat! If they realized WHO Jesus was, would they have panicked? Peter had not yet confessed that Jesus was the Christ. And, although they knew Jesus was something NEW....a prophet, a teacher, something very special.....did they know that GOD Himself was in the boat with them????

If they did, would they have been afraid?

And, it made me think of myself. If I truly believed that the great I AM, the God of the universe, the Creator of heaven and earth, the Almighty were in MY boat, would I be afraid when the storms of life come up?

When temptations come, when trials come....do I see WHO IS IN MY BOAT WITH ME?

Do I relax in faith? Do I trust? Do I rest in knowing that in my time of need, the Lord Himself is there, in MY BOAT, as my strength, my Savior, my sufficiency?


Lord, help me to see You for Who You are. You are the Creator of the UNIVERSE! You have created all the stars, the seas, the creatures... You made ME. Give me eyes to SEE You for who You are. You are the great I AM! When the storms of life come up, help me to trust completely in You, knowing that You can calm them with just a word. You are in MY BOAT WITH ME. Help me to get a revelation of that. I love You, Lord! Praise You, Jesus! Thank You for Your glorious Word! In Christ, the Calmer of the Storms, the One, True, Living God's Name we pray. Amen!

Thirsty


“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”
-Psalm 63:1

Have you ever been thirsty, really thirsty? So thirsty that your tongue was sticking to the roof of your mouth? So parched and dry that your throat was sore?
I believe we are thirsty in today’s world. We are thirsting for God and His Word. We are longing for Him, as Psalm 63 cries. God has placed this desire in our hearts and our souls to know Him, to search for Him, to worship Him. There is a deep yearning inside of us to grow closer to our Creator. You may be feeling this desire, this longing, this thirst right now, but you are not sure why you feel it. You only know that something is missing. You have a longing, a need that has not yet been met. You begin to search for the cause of your thirst.
Unfortunately, in today’s “me-centered,” impatient society, we try to fill that thirst, that longing with a “quick fix”- a chocolate brownie, a shopping spree, a margarita, TV, our endless activities, or a gossip session with a friend on the phone. We think these worldly pursuits will fill us up, make us feel better, and quench the thirst we are experiencing. These invitations look so appealing. The world claims we will experience fulfillment and satisfaction.
And, we want instant gratification! We don’t want to wait for God to fill us. We want to control our lives, to take care of ourselves, to pamper ourselves. We look to the world’s methods of making us feel better. We don’t like the uncomfortable feeling of thirst. We don’t want our spirits to feel pain, discomfort, longing or loneliness. So, we become deceived into looking for the “water” of the world to quench our thirst.

But, Jesus offers us such a better way! While talking to the Samaritan woman at the well, (John 4) Jesus talks about “living water.” He points out the “world’s” water- the water of the well, and says, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again.
Isn’t that true with our “water”? Food, possessions, praise from man, turning to exercise or watching TV never satisfies us. We continually want more and more. Our desire becomes insatiable, sometimes consuming us. The more we have, the more we want!
Jesus tells the woman at the well, “But, whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14) Doesn’t that water sound so much more refreshing? Not only will our initial thirst be quenched, but we will have a SPRING bubbling, flowing within us! Not a glass of water, a drop of water, but a source of water. You will never, never be thirsty again! Jesus says in John 7:37-38, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” Remember, your soul is thirsting for the Lord! When you fill it with Him, you will be satisfied. Come, drink of this water and be refreshed.

Father God, thank you for loving us so much! Thank you for creating this longing in our souls to know You. Please help us Father to seek you earnestly and to look to you to fill our heart’s longings. Father, please help us to ignore the invitations of the world. Help us to instead drink in Your living water. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

How are your flowers looking?


Water...it is so important for LIFE. 

I was looking at my flowers on the deck and they look "wilty", scraggly, NOT healthy and vibrant! Usually, my deck pots are overflowing abundantly with luscious, beautiful flowers.  But, this has been a summer of hurry and busy, and the flowers have suffered.  I usually tend my flowers, but have assigned the task to the kids this summer.  Pondering, I realize that there are object lesson for my faith life as well.

I need the Living Water in my life on a daily, regular, overflowing basis or I will become wilty, scraggly, or even DIE, depending on how dry I have become.  I need Jesus so that I truly live and live abundantly and beautifully.

I can't depend on others for my spiritual water.  I can't depend on  Facebook posts.  I can't depend on YouTube videos or Sunday morning sermons.  I can't depend on the latest book.  I need to spend quiet alone time with the Lord and the Word and depend on Jesus as my Living Water.  Only He can fill me completely.  While those other things are beneficial, they should never be my SOURCE of refreshment. Only personal, intimate time with Jesus will refresh, nourish, and keep me beautiful and fruitful.

I also need a steady watering, not haphazardly drinking some here and there.  My neighbors' flowers are gorgeous because they have been steadily and consistently watered. I need a continual input of the Living Water.  I can't take sips here and there, but I need to drink deeply and constantly of Jesus.  I need Him to refresh and fill and make me beautiful.  He can only do this when I spend time with Him- not hurried, take-a-minute-here, once in awhile time- but quality, abundant, QUIET time...sitting at His feet, soaking Him in. Like my flowers, it is then that I will be healthy and bloom abundantly!

"If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."  John 7:38

Lord, water me.  Fill every fiber of my being with YOU.  I know only You are life-giving water.


Rollercoasters, Australia, and Les Mis

Wow, was last week a rollercoaster of emotions!  From the passing of Jenny Groothius, the storms and flooding to Andrew leaving, not hearing from him for two days, then finally getting to SEE him thanks to Facetime, I was EXHAUSTED!

God was amazing through it all.  I have to share what a sweet, wonderful Lord we have.  Andrew left on Friday, July 4th.  We were able to talk to him as he made his way to LA and waited for his connection to Sydney.  He flew out at 11 PM.  We expected him to text or call when he arrived, using open WiFi.  The flight was 15 hours, so we knew it wouldn't be until sometime Saturday afternoon. When we didn't hear from him right away, we figured he had to get through customs and get to his transportation pick up point, but he would let us know soon that he arrived safely.  I thought we would hear from him by dinner time.

Brian and I had tickets to Les Mis Saturday night, and I thought it would be a good distraction.  Our son Aaron is Gravoche and we have several tickets to see him. When we hadn't heard from Andrew by intermission, I was beginning to worry.  My imagination began cooking up all sorts of sorted possibilities and by the time the show was over, I could not wait to get home and check email for news.  Andrew has an app to use for free international texting and calling, but he has to have Internet to use it.  The app tells you the last time he has been online, and he wasn't online since LA.  We tried calling him, the YWAM base, and the transportation company, but because it was Sunday there, we could not reach anyone!  We sent the base, his contact person, and the transportation company several emails asking them to reach us. Shortly after 1:30 A.M., Brian made me go to bed because there was nothing more we could do.  Brian reminded me that Andrew is in God's hands and he was safe. So.....we went to bed, sure we would hear something in the morning.

Well, up at 7 AM and still NOTHING.  I had rushed to my computer, sure that there was an email waiting to be opened that confirmed Andrew had arrived. When there was no news, we tried making contact again, but by then it was the middle of the night in Newcastle, and we just had to WAIT.

When we went to church, I desperately was praying. Here is Tracy, the "great woman of faith", being forced to WALK the TALK.  I am the one forever encouraging others to trust God and His plan, knowing that He is sovereign over everything. In knew in my HEAD that Andrew is in God's protection, that God called him to be there, that God was in control.....but the sick feeling in the pit in my stomach gave me away. I had been gripped with fear.

 During worship, praising God, singing the words, "I have been set free...it is for freedom that I have been set free...." I released the worry... the questioning... ANDREW... to the Lord.  God loves Andrew even more than I do.  And, IF the worst of all my imaginary circumstances actually came to pass, then God was weaving them into His plan and purpose for something greater.  I heard in my head the same words I had spoken to Brian on our Grand Canyon road trip.  We had been stranded in the Colorado Rockies during a blizzard.  The hotel where we were was full, the roads were closed and we had nowhere to go.  As Brian worried that night going to bed, we prayed, and I reassured him that God wasn't going to bring us all the way out west on this awesome trip to leave us stranded in Colorado. In the morning, a room had opened up.  In church, while singing,  I heard those same words, "God is not going to bring Andrew all the way to Australia and leave him stranded somewhere."

I immediately felt peace!

And, this is where God's  TENDERNESS completely blows me away.

Take 2 on Les Mis.

The night before I had NOT enjoyed the show one bit....I was worried about Andrew.  I just wanted to be home.

Sunday's matinee was completely different.  I felt peace about Andrew.  Grandma and Grandpa were there to see the show.  We had AMAZING tickets center and just a few rows back.  But, as we were being seated, we realized we were one seat short.  I had somehow only ordered 6 instead of 7! The usher graciously told us Abby could sit on my lap or I thought I could watch down in the green room.  But, to our amazement, the lady behind us told us she had an EXTRA SEAT!  Someone in her party could not make it at the last minute and the seat directly behind us was available!  Isn't God so awesome????

The show was amazing!  Every song perfect...Aaron did his BEST performance yet.

Then, at intermission, I received a message that Andrew had gotten to YWAM base safely and he would contact us soon.  We went in to enjoy the rest of the show. During the story, Jean Valjean 
sings an amazing song, "Bring Him Home."  This song will bring tears to your eyes, but as Valjean prayed that God would bring this young son home safely, I bawled my eyes out.  This was my prayer and Jared Rogers had me completely weeping as he sung the exact words I was feeling.

As we were walking into the lobby, my phone began vibrating, and as I looked at the front, I saw Andrew's smile.  He was calling from Australia!  The auditorium was clear and I was able to talk to my sweet boy. He had not had Internet access until then since he had arrived on a Sunday. We were able to laugh and cry and it felt GLORIOUS!  How good God is!

  

Four Days....


OK, so it has been a LONG time since I have written any NEW posts.  I occasionally get on to tinker and repost some old things, but  since beginning homeschooling, I just haven't had the time to write like I used to. With Andrew leaving in four days for Australia, I am needing to just exhale and put "pen" to paper about how I am feeling. So here I am.

When I think about him going, it is surreal...like I am watching from the outside.  Just how far is Australia from Iowa exactly? 8,990 miles.

Is he prepared?  Will he be ready?  Will he find his way through LAX OK?

I have been looking forward to him going, excited, thrilled for him and what God is going to do in him and through him....so why am I having a hard time breathing right now?  Why is there such a lump in my stomach moving all the way up through my throat and stinging my eyes?

Lord, I trust You and what You are going to do in Andrew's life.  I know You have good plans for him.  I know he is under Your protection.

But, the reality is beginning to sink in.

Of not being able to talk to Andrew any time I want.

Of real possibilities of real danger.

Of him being gone. For 6 months. Gone. 8,990 miles gone.

Lord, I know you will be teaching all of us many life lessons through this experience.  And, you are showing me what it really means to truly follow You.  Anywhere.  Everywhere.