Thursday, January 17, 2019

HE is Faithful

I just have to give God praise!
Last night I spoke for chapel at the women's shelter of the Lansing City Rescue Mission. Speaking for chapel is something I have been doing monthly for the past 2 or 3 years. (Another senior moment - I honestly cannot recall what year I began...) But I think this time I labored over the message more than I ever have before.
Which isn't a bad thing.
Actually, it has proven to be very good.

For the past several weeks I have been thinking about it, praying about it, and making notes about it. I've asked others to pray for me. I have been "on alert" for input, and have frequently felt God's Spirit nudging me in different directions.
Finally, Monday afternoon I had the opportunity to sit down and formalize what I intended to say.
Then Tuesday at the beginning of my Precepts class we were reviewing the previous week's chapters and somebody pointed out what God did to Ezekiel in chapter 3.

"Moreover, I will make your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth so that you will be mute and cannot be a man who rebukes them for they are a rebellious house. But when I speak to you, I will open your mouth and you will say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD.'"

Ezekiel 3:26-27
She marveled at how God would shut Ezekiel's mouth and only allow him to speak when HE said so.
And that immediately became my prayer.
LORD, please shut my mouth except for what YOU want me to say!
I asked my Precepts sisters to pray thus for me, and I repeated that prayer for myself until the moment I walked into chapel last night.
And may I just say? HE is faithful!!!
The feedback I was getting from the women as I spoke told me that they were engaging with the message, and I could sense HIS presence among us. I had a couple of conversations with women after chapel at which time I found out God had spoken specifically to hearts and needs.
And I was so encouraged!
But it was when I was driving home - in the quiet of my van, with time to reflect - that I really became aware of God's hand (or mouth-glue, as the case may be). In my preparation Monday I thought it necessary to give instances of how we might be "like" the Israelites - though we don't build altars or worship statues of silver and gold. However, as I was driving I realized I had completely skipped over those examples, and it was as if God's Spirit said, That's because it's My job to convict hearts. I didn't need you to make suggestions.
Then it occurred to me I had left out some other statements from my notes, and I remembered a section I had completely cut out prior to putting the "finished" stamp on my talk. HE shut my mouth.
Honestly, I cannot even recall the exact words I used in several parts of the talk I gave.
But I know that I asked God to allow me to only speak the words HE wanted me to speak - and I believe that is exactly what HE did.

All glory to GOD!!!

Karen

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Senior Moment Alert

Yesterday a friend of mine asked my opinion about a recent sermon. I didn't recall the specifics of what she was asking and told her I would check it out and get back with her on it.
So I did.
As I was getting other work done, I listened to the sermon online and paid extra attention to the parts she needed addressed. Then I sent off a text message, telling her I thought the message was 'right on'.
Her response confused me, though.
She said, and I quote, "Wondering why you think I needed this but it was already on my list of things to do. Were we talking about it?" I think I read her words five or six times - trying to figure out if she was being sarcastic and playing with me (We do that to each other sometimes!) or if she was genuinely confused. I mean, it hadn't even been two hours since we'd seen each other.
Part of me felt embarrassed for her.
How could she forget so quickly that she'd asked me to do this thing?
So after some thought on how to address her situation I replied, "Yes. This is Karen Hossink. You asked me in Precepts today to watch it and let you know what I thought." For a minute I supposed she might think she was texting with a different "Karen". I decided to do my best to graciously set her straight. And when she responded moments later I became confident that she was, in fact, straight in her thinking.
She said, "I'm sorry Karen, but I'm sure that wasn't me. The only time I talked to you was to ask you if you were cold."
My mind quickly went back to that conversation about being cold. And that's when I realized - she was right. It was a different friend who had asked me about the sermon! Nevermind being cold anymore. The blood rushing to my face in a show of complete embarrassment took care of that problem right away. I laughed out loud and quickly sent another text confessing my mix-up and humiliation. And I asked if she thought I was too young to be having a "senior moment".
Fortunately, I have very gracious friends - and this one laughed right along with me, and made me feel less foolish for my error. Although, it would have been OK with me if she hadn't agreed that I am not too young for a senior moment.

Karen

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

When Will We Know?

I had intended to write a light-hearted post today, reflecting on how my kids are growing - and how I am growing older. But I just finished my Precepts homework for the week, and I am feeling anything but light-hearted at the moment.
My Precepts group is going through the book of Ezekiel this semester, and this past week we looked at chapters 4-7. (It is not a light read, by any means. But you may be interested to take a look.)
A quick background: Ezekiel was a priest/prophet and wrote this book while in exile in Babylon with most of the rest of the people of Judah. At the time of this writing, Jerusalem had not yet been destroyed. You may (or may not) know that Judah's captivity came after God had repeatedly called upon His people to repent from their evil ways and idol worship, lest destruction come by His hand. Yet they refused to listen.
OK. With that history in mind, chapters 4-7 of Ezekiel are filled with prophecy regarding what is about to happen to the land of God's people. Destruction, doom, death, and disaster are all foretold. And these things are said to come because of the ways and abominations of the people. It is very difficult to read - knowing the terror could have been avoided if they had just listened to the LORD.
And then?
Then came the application question: Might God do this to your nation? Why?

Oh, LORD, have mercy!
So many do not know. But they will.
That was the prayer which flowed from my heart in response to the application question, as I considered how severely the United States has rebelled against the ways of the LORD. We have gone so far astray, and we desperately need God's mercy.
I realized, however, most people have not studied His Word. Most people in this nation are not familiar with the history of rebellion and judgment and restoration through which God's people have gone/are going. To be fair, most people simply don't know. But I reflected further on what I have been studying and my heart reminded me - Though they don't know right now? They will.
That is to say, even though some people may not know what God says because they haven't studied the Bible - I believe everybody knows within their heart if they are rebelling against God by going their own way, doing their own thing, following their own system of what feels right to their self.
Each of us knows when we have done wrong.
And in case we miss the knowing, Ezekiel painted a picture of how it would become clear to the people of Judah. The phrase, Then they will know that I am the LORD is repeated several times in chapters 6 and 7. And this is what I saw as I marked that phrase:
Ezekiel 6:7, 10, 13 When disaster comes to the mountains and the slain fall among them...
Ezekiel 6:14 When the land is desolate and wasted because of the LORD's outstretched hand against it...
Ezekiel 7:4 When their ways and abominations are brought upon them...
Ezekiel 7:27 When they are dealt with and judged by God...
...then they will know that [HE is] the LORD.

Oh, that the United States would turn from our rebellious ways in submission to God - before His righteous hand of judgment has to fall upon us, that we might know HE is the LORD.

Karen

Monday, January 14, 2019

HE Will Help You

I've come pretty far.
The older version of me would have had a fit that I had less than two cups of catsup for the sloppy joes - when the recipe called for four. But the current me shrugged it off and said we'll survive.
The older version of me would have cringed at the glare on my face from the lighting on today's video and immediately re-recorded it. But the current me shrugged it off and said I'll survive has guests coming over and doesn't have time to re-record it. Haha!

Anyway, hoping the glare won't detract from whatever God may have to say to you today. *wink*



Karen

Friday, January 11, 2019

Praying for Strength

So, I was telling you about the journey of baby steps I have been on toward five-minute planks...
One question I frequently hear when talking to someone about this feat is, "What do you do all that time???" And I have to tell you, the what do I do portion of this journey has been the greatest of blessings - which I did not anticipate when it all started.
In the beginning, I would get myself situated on the floor with my phone in front of me and the stop-watch app going. To keep from staring at the time (and agonizing over how much of it was left!) I would close my eyes and recite the lyrics to hymns or praise songs. And that worked well when I was holding planks for up to 90 seconds. But much longer and my mind was going elsewhere, while my eyes were staring at the stop-watch.
So I started praying when I was planking.
And I discovered something wonderful.
Whereas the lyric recitation had been intended to serve as a mere distaction, my plank prayers were so much more. The longer the planks became, the greater the physical challenge got for me - the more earnest and passionate were the prayers which flowed from my heart. When you know someone is struggling with a trial, when there is a desperate need for endurance, when somebody is on the edge of giving up - and you're praying for them and asking God to give them the strength and grace they need for their situation - while simultaneously fighting for the strength (and asking God for it!) to hold a physical move, believe me! Your prayers take on a whole new level of urgency.
And when you fall to the floor after hitting your goal, thanking God for holding you through the moments you thought you were going to collapse - but realizing you didn't - your belief that He will similarly hold the ones for whom you have just been praying increases exponentially.
The thing is, I don't think God is any nearer to me when I pray during a plank than when I'm praying any other time. I don't think He's listening more or with greater compassion while I'm planking. He certainly isn't more "good" or more "faithful" or different in any other way.
But somehow, when I plank and pray, I feel nearer to Him. I feel like I am more a part of the battle - more of a participant in fighting for the ones for whom I am praying. More invested in the outcome.
Though God isn't different, I think I am.
It seems to me there is something about my physical act of struggling as I pray for those who are also struggling in physical or spiritual ways which brings me closer to the battle. Because of the physical, my spirit is more aware of the fight. I won't pretend to understand the link between our physical and spiritual worlds, but let me tell you - I know it is there. And I understand now that as I pray while I plank - asking God to strengthen those who are in the midst of battles - I join with the heavenly armies.
What an honor it is to fight with them!

Karen

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Baby Steps

So, I'm doing this thing.
I don't exactly know when I started it, but I'm almost there.
That is, I am on my way to doing five-minute planks.

And if everything goes according to plans, I should be there Monday.

It all started, well, I just said I don't know when it started.
But, generally, maybe last spring I made an attempt to get back into working out regularly. And I made planks a standard part of my routine.
That is, I do three sets of five exercises when I work out - and a plank is always the first of those five movements. So, last spring when I was getting into the grove of doing planks I probably started with 45 to 60-second holds. Going into the summer I gradually increased the length of each plank until I impressed my husband by holding them for three minutes. And for some reason I just kept going.
Probably because I like impressing my husband.
Well, I tend to work out on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Three days. Three planks per day. And it seemed reasonable to me to add five seconds to one plank each day, which resulted in a complete five second addition each week.
I mean, really, five seconds isn't a big deal. Anyone can hold on to anything for "five more seconds," right? So I found myself taking baby steps toward an unknown big goal.
Then I came to mid-October. I hit the four-minute mark and I had to ask myself, How far am I going to take this thing? Because I didn't think it reasonable to keep adding five seconds a week for the rest of my life. *wink*
That's when I decided on five minutes.
And I distinctly remember thinking at that time, I'll never make it to five minutes.
Although... at two minutes I probably wouldn't have considered being able to do four.
Yet there I was.
I had made it that far by taking baby steps and, according to my math, I determined in twelve weeks I could baby-step-it there.
So, yesterday I did two planks for four minutes fifty-five seconds and the third for four minutes fifty seconds. I fully expect that I'll be able to do all three for the full four fifty-five tomorrow.
And come Monday? I'll hold my first plank for five minutes.
Indeed, twelve weeks ago I didn't believe this achievement was reasonable, possible, likely, or ever going to happen. But here I am. The baby steps have been huge for me in achieving this goal. (Yes, I included that paradox on purpose. Did you catch it???) And there are some wonderful spiritual lessons which can be applied to the journey on which I have been going. There has been a far greater benefit/blessing I have discovered from my plank-challenge, however, which I didn't anticipate at the onset. 'Nuff said for today, though. I'll write about that blessing tomorrow!

Do you have something large looming before you? Think baby steps might help you overcome it???

Karen

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Moving Day

It was almost 21 years ago that my son made his first move - from my womb into the world. (The actual anniversary of said "move" is Sunday.) He moved from depending on me (my body!) for everything, to letting his own little body function for itself - as it had been preparing to do for 9 months.
And today that son of mine is making another move. One of greater distance, and perhaps more significance. I say "more significance" because that first move still had him pretty dependent on me. Though he could eat and breathe on his own, he couldn't do much without my help.
But today?
Today that boy man is moving out of my home and into his own apartment.
And it's a good thing, really. It's time. He's ready to take this step of independence. He wants to grow up more, and he knows this decision will cause him to do just that.

I have to say, though, the past several weeks while I have watched him prepare for today have been interesting. And I mean "interesting" in a good way.
For one, my husband and I have become smarter. That is, this son of ours has become remarkably more interested in our input on things like budgeting and daily living.
For two, I have become a better cook. At least this son of mine has been markedly more verbal in his appreciation for the meals I prepare.
And, for three, purchase decisions have become a matter of thorough contemplation and consideration. Because "somebody" now has a greater financial commitment in life and he's thinking hard about his bottom line.

These changes which I have observed (not to mention God's gracious remninder for me to BELIEVE His promise) are building my confidence in letting my son spread his wings to fly. He only had nine months to prepare for his move into this world. But for nearly 21 years we've been preparing him for today's move. And, by the grace of God, I believe he's ready.

I just hope he finds a way to subsist on more than Ramen noodles and peanut butter sandwiches!

Karen