Friday, February 24, 2017

God is in Heaven.

Life here on this earth is often overwhelming. But when I remember that God is in heaven, over all, in all, and through all, it helps. He's in control. He's got a plan. I can trust Him.

Deuteronomy 4:39
Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other.

Deuteronomy 10:14
To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it.

1 Chronicles 29:11
Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.

Psalm 8:1
Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens.

Psalm 11:4
The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord is on his heavenly throne.

Psalm 33:13
From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind.

Psalm 113:4
The Lord is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Thanksgiving for the Relief God Provides

Do you ever feel overwhelmed with life? Do you ever feel stuck in a situation from which only God rescue you? Thank goodness that our God is one who has the power to relieve our circumstances, and grant us rest and restoration. He doesn't do it every time or exactly when we want Him to, but He is able. Thanks be to God!

Ezra 9:8
But now, for a brief moment, the Lord our God has been gracious in leaving us a remnant and giving us a firm place in his sanctuary, and so our God gives light to our eyes and a little relief in our bondage.

Psalm 4:1
Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer.

Psalm 25:17
Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish.

Psalm 94:13
You grant them relief from days of trouble, till a pit is dug for the wicked.

Psalm 143:1
Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief.

Lamentations 3:56
You heard my plea: “Do not close your ears to my cry for relief.”

Friday, February 10, 2017

God's Glory is Thunderous.

When I hear thunder, I don't necessarily think of God. But scripture describes God's actions, His voice, His presence as thunderous. He inspires amazement, awe, and a healthy dose of fear and reverence.

1 Samuel 7:10
While Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle. But that day the Lord thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites.

2 Samuel 22:14
The Lord thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded.
Job 26:14
And these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him! Who then can understand the thunder of his power?

Job 36:29
Who can understand how he spreads out the clouds, how he thunders from his pavilion?

Job 37:5
God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding.

Job 40:9
Do you have an arm like God’s, and can your voice thunder like his?

Psalm 29:3
The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.

Psalm 68:33
To him who rides across the highest heavens, the ancient heavens, who thunders with mighty voice.

Psalm 93:4
Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea— the Lord on high is mighty.

Psalm 104:7
But at your rebuke the waters fled, at the sound of your thunder they took to flight.

Isaiah 29:6
The Lord Almighty will come with thunder and earthquake and great noise, with windstorm and tempest and flames of a devouring fire.

Joel 3:16
The Lord will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem; the earth and the heavens will tremble. But the Lord will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel.

Revelation 4:5
From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God.

Revelation 19:6
Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: "Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns."

Friday, February 3, 2017

Reflections on 30 Days of Yoga

First of all, let's get the elephant out of the room. Yes, I'm a Christian (or a follower of Christ, as I prefer to call myself) and I do yoga. I don't see any problem with it. God made our bodies in all of their intricacies and connections (Ps 139), and I believe that He wants us to use them for His honor and glory. With that being said, I don't do yoga as a religious practice, which for me, means avoiding yoga where Buddha is a central figure, or where I'm encouraged to recite Buddhist mantras. I use yoga to calm my mind and spirit, move my body, and find stillness, something that God commands in the Bible (Ps 46:10).

I only dabbled in yoga (via my roommate's Biggest Loser yoga DVD and one bikram class) before returning to Arizona. When I started my new job, I got really excited when I saw that one of the teachers offered a weekly class after school. I started going and found that the practice helped sooth sore muscles (especially after running) and calm me down after a week's worth of work. (Classes occur on Thursdays.) Life got a little hectic, though, and I missed a few classes. At that point, I discovered Do Yoga With Me and started supplementing my live practice with yoga videos. I really relished having one spot of rest and repose during the week.

So what got me started on 30 Days of Yoga? Well, I've read a lot of blog posts about how yoga helps reconnect mind and body. I've heard that it's gentler on the body, but also still a good workout. I was getting tired of my normal workout routine and wanted something new. When Do Yoga With Me posted the 30 Day challenge, I decided to try it.

I'm a perfectionist, so I like keeping my commitments, but I have to admit, keeping this one was hard. At first, it was hard for me to give up my regular workouts in lieu of yoga. I wanted to do both! I work nine hour days plus commuting an hour, so I don't exactly have the time to do that. I don't have a ton of extra energy, either. So I decided to give yoga a shot as my primary exercise for 30 days. In that month, I learned and recognized the following:

1) I realized that yoga is a practice, which means it takes practice. I wasn't good at it when I started, and though I'd say I'm better now, I'm still can't do all the poses or make it through a long class without taking a rest. But that's not the point. The point is practice: coming back to the mat again and again regardless of last class's results.

2) My flexibility did improve. By the end of 30 days, I found myself going deeper into my forward folds and down dogs. That didn't happen immediately, but more flexibility came with time.

3) Speaking of time, practicing yoga made me more aware of and appreciative of time. The challenge warned me of the time needed to practice a day ahead, and then I had to clear my schedule. Sometimes, I had to get up early. Sometimes I needed to give up evening habits. I had to choose yoga.

Some people practice yoga without a clock, which I did. I used the time bar on the yoga videos to pace my practice, however. It helped me to know when I was only a quarter of the way through the practice, or when I was close to savasana. It forced me to embrace my time on the mat instead of wishing it away. I've carried some of that awareness with me even after ending the challenge.

4) Yoga helped my posture. I'm tall and have a bad habit of slouching when I sit. After only a week of yoga, I noticed that I kept my shoulders back and sat up straighter more often. All those resets in mountain pose started to transfer to real life.

5) I realize the value of space in my mornings. It really helps the day go better. Since ending daily yoga, I've started getting up 15 minutes earlier, just to give myself that extra time to start the day off right.

6) Yoga isn't about necessarily about time spent, but about the intention of doing it. I'm a diehard rule-follower, and my rule for myself is that I need to work out 30 minutes a day. Well some of the yoga classes were 13 minutes, and some were 73. I had to accept this and learn to relish whatever time I got. Doing this helped me be more flexible in my mind.

7) The results of my personal yoga practice correlate with the information I read. Practicing yoga every day did reconnect my mind and body. I was able to say, "No," to continued roller skating with friends because I felt pain, rather than pushing through like I normally do. My mind tells me to stretch more when my body feels uncomfortable (like it did after standing too long in one place at work today). I want to spend more time in quiet exercise, rather than the frenetic HIIT that I tend towards. Perhaps I can learn to blend the two in order to appreciate each more.

So was my challenge successful? Yes, it more ways than one.

What do I plan to do now? For starters, I plan to recommit to practicing yoga at least once a week through the class at work. (Yoga every day isn't sustainable.) I hope to incorporate more stretching into my life and keep getting up early (which means I need to go to bed earlier.) I want to keep appreciating the body God gave me, honoring it (1 Cor 6:19) more instead of ignoring it as I tend to do. These are lofty goals, but if I could commit to 30 straight days of yoga, surely I can give my new goals my best efforts.

God Washes Me White as Snow.

"I am a sinner, if it's not one thing it's another, caught up in words, tangled in lies. But You are a Savior and You take brokenness aside and make it beautiful, beautiful" ("Brokenness Aside, All Sons and Daughters).

Thank goodness for a God that washes me white as snow.

Psalm 51:2
Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.

Psalm 51:7
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Isaiah 1:18
"Come now, let us settle the matter," says the Lord. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool."

John 13:14
Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.

1 Corinthians 6:11
And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Hebrews 10:22
Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

Revelation 7:14
I answered, "Sir, you know." And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."