Drink Up

“What has happened to all your joy?” Galatians 4:15, NIV

I just finished my first run in over a week.  It wasn’t pretty.  I finished out of breath and a little sore.  On top of that I was parched.  I headed straight for the fridge and pulled out a Coke.

FALSE!  Not even a little bit true. 

When I finish a long run I head for a glass of water, not Coke.  Coke dehydrates.  As good as it might taste with pizza, it does absolutely nothing to restore my body or quench my thirst after a run.  I know that.

I also know that when I have a bad day and I’m feeling bummed, the temptation is to turn to eating, shopping, T.V., phone calls, and even exercise to relieve my mood and restore my joy.  Something in my brain says, “If you can just head to Sonic and get a Route 44 Diet Coke, you will FEEL better.  I’ll be happier, more content… I’ll find my joy.”  But like grabbing a Coke after my run, it just doesn’t seem to work.

But here’s what the Bible has to say… here is God’s RX for joy.

God’s Love
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” John 15:9-11, NIV

God’s Presence
“You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.”  Acts 2:28, NIV

God’s Word
“When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, 
for I bear your name, LORD God Almighty.” Jeremiah 15:16, NIV

So go fill your prescription.  Spend some time with the Lord today and let Him give you joy that is so much deeper, richer and fuller than anything money can buy!

Need somewhere to start reading?  Check out this passage.

Following and listening,
Ginger

Training

For today’s Thursday Tip we are setting our eyes on the prize…

More of HIM.

Check out the video below and let’s catch up.

“You’ve been raised on the Message of the faith and have followed sound teaching. Now pass on this counsel to the followers of Jesus there, and you’ll be a good servant of Jesus. Stay clear of silly stories that get dressed up as religion. Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever. You can count on this. Take it to heart. This is why we’ve thrown ourselves into this venture so totally. We’re banking on the living God, Savior of all men and women, especially believers.” 1 Timothy 4:8-9, The Message

Happy training, friends.

Following and listening,
Ginger

High Places

I was reading in Isaiah this morning and found a cross reference that took me back to read the story of King Manasseh, the son of King Hezekiah.  That trip then took me through the 1st and 2nd books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles.

I’ve noticed that whether or not someone was deemed a good king often boils down to two points:

1.  If they followed in the steps of King David.  (Following the Lord and obeying His commands.)

2.  Whether or not they took down the high places.  (The worship of idols and false gods.)

In speaking about Jehoshaphat, 2 Chronicles 17:6 reveals, His heart was devoted to the ways of the LORD; furthermore, he removed the high places and the Asherah poles from Judah.”

In speaking of Hezekiah, 2 Kings 18:3-4 reveals, “He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father David had done. He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it.”

That’s pretty clear cut.  They loved God and obeyed.

Also clear cut: the reigns of Nadab, Ahaz, Hoshea, Manasseh, Ahab, Joash and others.  Check out their stories.  You can’t miss them.  They are evil.

But you know what really amazed me?  It was the number of kings who followed after God but did not tear down the high places.

In 2 Kings 14 we read of Amaziah, King of Judah, He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, but not as his father David had done.  In everything he followed the example of his father Joash.  The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burnt incense there.”

Can you picture someone you know who follows after the Lord and does what is right?  I’m hoping your answer is yes.  I’m thinking of two women I know who have had a rush of increased passion in the Lord.  Over the past few years I have even watched their demeanor and character be changed through their devotion to the Lord.  They have such a desire for Him to have His way in them.  They are growing right before my eyes.

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” Colossians 3:16a, NIV

“Let the Word of Christ – the Message – have a run of the house.  Give it plenty of room in your lives…” (The Message)

“Let the message about Christ, in all its richness fill your lives.  Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom He gives…” (NLT)

I know that these women saw areas that could be considered high places in their lives.  They saw them- and rather than simply accepting that struggle or idol, they battled those places that can so easily become idols for each of us.  They have let the truth of God’s Word fill their lives to the brim.

I’m convicted.  I know that I still have high places.  My best guess about my own places?  Fear. My fear comes from pride and from a desire for comfort.  I fear not being liked and accepted by everyone I come across.  I need help to tear these high places down.  I know that saturating myself with truth is an excellent place to start.  I’m continuing to pray that God will have His way in me.

I know one thing is for sure, I do not want this to be a descriptor that follows my life…

“She followed the LORD, but she did not tear down the high places.”

Change me, O Lord.

“Let Christ’s Word with all its wisdom and richness live in you…” (GWT)

Following,
Ginger

Thursday Tips: The Main Thing

Hi Ginger!

I just started high school and I’m beginning to feel the stress of homework, extra-curricular activities, etc. I spent today anticipating the moment I could come home and crash on the couch. After having such an awful day, I was just wondering, what should I do on days like this? I find it so easy to blend in with my surroundings, and hard to understand how I can live courageously when all I can think about is the weekend. Is there anything God says I should do? -T

T- again, thank you for sending in such a great question.  This one has caused me to have many conversations aloud with myself over the past week!  (Don’t worry – it’s totally normal.)  I’ve spent time praying and reading and am hoping that we’ve come close to giving you a decent answer to a really important question.

Here are some more practical thoughts…

“Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” (Psalm 34:10b)

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith… And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. (1 Peter 5: 7-10)

May He restore, support, strengthen, and establish you as you continue to press on!

Following,
Ginger

Check the Connection

I spend much of my day typing away on a lovely little Macbook.  It’s dependable and I very rarely get upset with it.  (Don’t try and tell me that you don’t get upset with inanimate objects.)  But lately I’ve found my blood pressure rises in the following situation.

I charge the laptop overnight.  I wake up and the red charging light has turned to a refreshing shade of green.  I unplug the mac and bring him over to the kitchen table.  Over breakfast I catch up on news, blogs, and e-mails for almost an hour.  By the time I’ve finished the charge level has drifted from 100% to somewhere in the 50th or 60th percentile.  So I take plug the mac back in, pour my coffee and head to “my spot” to have some time in the word.  I return to my computer to start the work day only to discover that instead of increasing in percentage, my power is now listed as “not charging.”  I fumble with the cord only to discover that the charge level reads 21% and falling.  At this point I begin my friendly yelling match.

What’s the problem?  In my rush to move from activity to activity in the morning I fail (on numerous occasions) to take the time to make sure my computer is actually connected to the power source.  It’s not enough for the charge cord to just be touching my computer, it needs to be properly and directed connected in order for any improved power levels.

It’s the same with our relationships.  I know that I can speak from experience when I say that too often I fly through re-energizing with the Lord and find myself falling flat.  Crisis comes and I recognize that I have once again made God my roof rather than the foundation of my life.  I talk a good game.  I read blogs and share verses right and left – but I forget to make sure that I’m actually connected to the main source.  I know when I’m chasing other things to fill me up.  I may not admit it to myself in the moment, but my journals are full of laments from the last decade where I say, “Lord, why am I so far from you?  Why have I stayed away from your word?  Why am I avoiding the very thing that I need so desperately?”

The Lord says, “All you who are thirsty,
come and drink.
Those of you who do not have money,
come, buy and eat!
Come buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
Why spend your money on something that is not real food?
Why work for something that doesn’t really satisfy you?
Listen closely to me, and you will eat what is good;
your soul will enjoy the rich food that satisfies.”  Isaiah 55:1-2, NCV

It’s true – you and I were designed to do extraordinary things… but not in our own strength.  If you find yourself running out of energy and unable to make it through the day, might I suggest something stronger then caffeine?  If your connection is loose everything else will be out of order: your emotions, your relationships, your priorities.

When was the last time that you drank deeply from the Living Water?  

My laptop is only useful to me when it has the power to run all of the programs I need.  Without the power, it’s just an empty shell.

Following,
Ginger

Fanning the Flames

Hi Ginger! I just got back from an amazing weekend at camp where God did some amazing things in my heart. How do you keep “the campfire burning” after you go back to real life? -T

Hi, T!  You always send timely questions!  The last time I talked about something like this I had just returned from a week of camp.  We explored how the elements that encouraged you to worship (the body of believers, the Word of God, and the Spirit of God) are all things that aren’t just for camp or retreats – but things that are accessible to us all year long.

I just returned from another retreat and I’m once again thinking of the young women who attended and praying that they would also continue to grow… that the fire that was stoked this weekend would not burn down to embers.

So, how do you keep any fire stoked?  (I knew 10 years of Girl Scouting would come into play on this blog one day!)

Continue to add fuel to the fire.  Sometimes a spiritual “high” can look a lot like someone spraying lighter fluid onto an already lit fire.  It goes crazy for a brief moment and then it dies back down.  If you want to keep a steady fire burning it’s going to take care and attention.  You need to be prepared to consistently feed yourself fuel and kindling.  What’s the fuel?

Eat the Word“When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, 
for I bear your name, LORD God Almighty.”  Jeremiah 15:16, NIV

Stay Connected –  “We should not stop gathering together with other believers, as some of you are doing. Instead, we must continue to encourage each other even more as we see the day of the Lord coming.” Hebrews 10:25, GWT

I know it sounds almost too simple to be true, but I honestly think those two components are critical!  I know that post summer-camp, I used to fill up my journal with memories from camp.  I wrote about the talks I heard, the songs I sang, and the relationships I formed.  But all of the things I treasured: godly wisdom, worship, and friendships were also available to me back at home.

Remember, a relationship that’s just built on feeling isn’t built for the long haul.  It’s exciting to hear that your experience stoked and cultivated your spiritual flame.  I would challenge you not to spend your time trying to make your relationship feel the way it did during camp.  Instead I would encourage you to keep knowing God in a more intimate way through prayer and through His Word.

Let’s meet back here tomorrow and we will talk about this some more.

You tell me, readers.  How would you answer T’s question?

Following,
Ginger