Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pondering Hermit Crabs

Several weeks ago my friend Eileen posted a comment saying that one of her family’s hermit crabs had escaped...without its shell, mind you! 
(I immediately imagined the shell-less creature curled up in a corner dehydrated and, unfortunately, deader than a doornail. Kind of like a spider that has “bit the dust.”) I followed the ongoing saga for several days, but alas, the naked critter was never found. The truth is, hermit crabs, without shells, are extremely vulnerable and they don’t last long.

Which brings me to this morning’s revelation. This is how God most often speaks to me...not when I am expecting it, but sometimes when I least expect it! All of a sudden, in the midst of my early morning, still-dark-outside, quiet time...deep into the Word and pondering His Truths, God reminded me of that hermit crab...naked, alone, exposed and helpless. The revelation was how much we (I) can be like a hermit crab. There you have it. Wasn’t that profound?
Okay, here is the issue...I have issues! Oh, please believe me when I tell you I am working on them and I certainly have a lot fewer than I used to! You see, I am determined to travel this journey of life emotionally and spiritually healthy. That means I am on, what seems like, a never-ending and ongoing process of dealing with “my stuff.” And I’m okay with that-as long as there is progress and as long as He is leading the way. (I know I can’t do this by myself...that’s what lead to the issue of issues to begin with!)
So here is my “hermit crab issue.” I need security. Let me say that again, with more emphasis, “I desperately need security!” I believe this is, most likely, a result of MANY years of living under a spirit of extreme and paralyzing fear. Blessedly, God miraculously delivered me from fear in 1998, but still the need for security persists. 
We all have a certain need for security; It is one of our very basic needs as human beings. But, for some of us, and I think women especially, there is a heightened need to be secure and to feel safe and protected. It’s why when I watch a movie like “The Patriot” or “Braveheart” or “The Last of the Mohicans” I tend to concentrate on finding a place to hide in the story. (If I were there, living then, experiencing that, where would I go to hide, to be safe? I can’t enjoy a movie that offers me no escape!) 
The same is true off the screen, in real life.  But, what I have discovered in life, is this;  all the “safe people” and all of the “safe places” in one’s life can be totally destroyed. They can become unsafe people and unsafe places. The one’s you thought would protect you can even become the enemy and your hiding place can become the scene of your worst nightmare. 
And so here is how I am finding divine healing for this major issue in my life. It began with the realization that there is only One truly safe Being and ONLY in Him and in His Presence will I ever find the security, the safety and the protection I need. And, here’s the bonus! I can find that even in the midst of chaos and trial and tribulations of all kind. 
One of the most helpful things I have found to bring healing to this profound need of mine is this... I keep a “Security Journal” of sorts. Then, when I find a scripture that gives me a picture of a “safe place” or an element of security that speaks to me, into the journal it goes. The scripture is also highlighted, usually in pink (for me), and a small star is placed beside it. (You know He knows each star by name and He knows me too!)
Believe me, there is nothing quite so secure as finding Him to be your High Tower, your Dwelling Place, your Refuge, your Rock, your Shelter. He is my Covering, my Shield and my Protector. That beats anything else the world has to offer!  I have my own real live, everlasting and incredible SuperHeroSupreme! Here are some of my favorites. 

Find security here....                                                      
Psalm 125: 1-2 "Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds His people both now and forevermore." 
Psalm 17:8 "Keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me in the shadow of Your wings."                                                                                       
Hebrews 13:6 So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"                                                                                                                 
Isaiah 40:11 "He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young."                                                                                                                          
Psalm 32:7 "You are my hiding place; You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance..."  

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pondering Ministry

Oh, I was hungry today...hungry for a word from the LORD. He did not fail me...He spoke right to where I am...what I struggle with and also where I want to be, right from the pages of a book I plucked off the shelf beside me in the midst of my desperate longing.

The book is called "A Place of Quiet Rest" by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Here is what she wrote, maybe God will speak to you through it, as well... Or maybe it will become a prayer for your pastor or spiritual teacher.

Nancy writes...
"I love teaching the Scripture; to me there is nothing quite like seeing the Word of God penetrate and transform lives. But the process of preparing to speak is an intense one for me.

I agonize to determine what it is that the LORD wants me to teach;
I wrestle with the passages involved, seeking to understand what the Scripture really means;
I labor to put the material together in a form that is understandable and meaningful to the listener.

Throughout the process, I ask the Holy Spirit to search my own heart, to shine the light of His Word into every nook and cranny of my life, and to show me where I don't measure up to the truth I am about to proclaim.
Before opening my mouth to speak,
I spend time in prayer, pleading with God for a fresh anointing of His Spirit on my life and my lips,
and interceding for those who will hear the message.
I feel like a runner about to run an important race-every muscle taut, totally concentrated on the race ahead.
Then, while I'm actually teaching, there is more energy expended-physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
I am intensely focused, never letting up from my goal-
I want the truth to penetrate every heart;
I want every individual to say yes to God about any issue He is addressing in her life.

When I have finished speaking, the battle is still not over-that is when the enemy often seeks to discourage me with feelings of inadequacy or to tempt me with seeking the praise of men for my ministry. By the time it's all over, I am generally depleted and in need of restoration."
(Debby: And then it begins all over again!")

Probably only another pastor or teacher can understand the tension that Nancy Leigh DeMoss speaks of. I pastor a diverse group of individuals, from very mature believers with a life-long faith, to those who struggle to make it there on Sunday morning, let alone find any particular book of the Bible, to teenagers and children. How to make a message come alive in a way that will speak to all is a weekly challenge for me. That is why, at the top of every manuscript, in bright red letters it says, "Apart from YOU, JESUS, I can do nothing." I know that to be true from the depths of my being.
                                                         More of You, Jesus, and less of me.
And may I weekly, daily, moment-by-moment, courageously fight the battle with my enemy named discouragement and remember who I am meant to please.

I am A Soldier in the LORD's Army

If every pastor had just a few more soldiers with this attitude and commitment, it would sure help make ministering to those with true needs a lot easier! Thanks to all who fight the good fight of faith.
I am a Soldier...
I am a soldier in the army of my God.
The Lord Jesus Christ is my Commanding Officer.
The Holy Bible is my code of conduct.
Faith, prayer and the Word are my weapons of warfare.
I have been taught by the Holy Spirit,
Trained by experience,
Tried by adversity,
And tested by fire.

I am a volunteer in this Army,
And I am enlisted for eternity.
I will not get out,
Sell out,
Be talked out,
Or pushed out.

I am faithful,
And dependable.

If my God needs me, I am there.
I am not a baby.
I do not need to be pampered,
Petted, Primed up, Pumped up,
Picked up or pepped up.
I am a soldier.

I am not a wimp.
I am in place,
Saluting my King,
Obeying His orders,
Praising His name,
And building His kingdom!

No one has to send me flowers,
Gifts, food, cards or candy.
I do not need to be cuddled,
Cared for, or catered to.
I am committed.

I cannot have my feelings hurt bad enough to turn me around.
I cannot be discouraged enough to turn me aside.
I cannot lose enough to cause me to quit.

When Jesus called me into His Army I had nothing.
If I end up with nothing, I will still come out ahead.
I will win.

My God has and will continue
To supply all of my needs.
I am more than a conqueror.
I will always triumph.
I can do all things through Christ.

Devils cannot defeat me.
People cannot disillusion me.
Weather cannot weary me.
Sickness cannot stop me.
Battles cannot beat me.
Money cannot buy me.
Governments cannot silence me.
And Hell cannot handle me.
I am a soldier.

Even death cannot destroy me.
For when my Commander
Calls me from this battlefield,
He will promote me to Captain
And then allow me to rule with Him.
I am a soldier in the Army,
And I’m claiming victory.

I will not give up.
I will not turn around.
I am a soldier,
Marching Heaven bound.

Author Unknown