Monday, February 27, 2012

Gideon... Part One(?)

So I've been reading in Judges, and came across chapters 6-8, about Gideon.
I had sooo much fun reading about that dude. The story has so much to study in it and it's such a blatant showcase of who God is, and what we are.
So basically, Isreal's getting all crazy, they were worshipping a bunch of silly idols and stuff.
and God said "That's enough, I'm going to get someone, and knock some sense into you people" Okay, maybe he didn't say it exactly like that..
Anyway, so there's Gideon. Working away under a tree when, BOOM, the angel of the Lord shows up.
The angel just says this: "The Lord is with you, mighty warrior"
To which Gideon so humanly replies;
"But sir, if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said 'did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?' But now the Lord has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian"
His first word is "but"! And isn't that such a typical thing for us to say?
I think it often comes down to us not fully acknowledging God's power. But it looks like for Gideon, he was skeptical that God was even present with them at all. I mean, just look what's going on, here! How could God allow this? They say God's so great but Gideon just doesn't see it.
Completely worldy, human, questioning and skepticism of God.
Because we are so prone to believe only what we see. But faith doesn't work like that, not at all.
It's the exact opposite.
But Gideon doesn't seem like He was clinging to too much faith, here. Look what we see next.
The Lord says to Gideon "Go in the strength you have and save Isreal out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you?"
And guess what Gideon says now??
"But Lord," he says. Hah! "But Lord"!!
(we're at Judges 6:15, by the way). Where Gideon doubts. Doubting Gideon, I've come to call him.
"But Lord," Gideon asked, "how can I save Isreal? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family."
I really, really, love this part. It's incredibly encouraging to me in this way: All throughout the Bible, God uses the most unlikely people to do His big works. I LOOOVE this.
Sure, He could use a great, powerful, fabulous, strong, person to do it, (and He does in some cases) but He also uses the "little people" because what better way to display His power?
I mean, really!
The Lord answers Doubting Gideon by saying "I will be with you, and you will strike down all the midianites together."
I like the promise that God says, there. "I will be with you", I love how He says it like, 'Gideon, that's all you need to know.'
It's all we need to know, as well. When we're feeling doubty, ourselves.
But, as we doubty humans are so often inclined to do, Gideon asks for more proof. In verses 17 and 18, he says "If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you."
and the Lord says "I will wait until you return".
So Gideon goes and gets his sacrifice stuff ready, brings it back, and to make this take a little less time, I'm just going to say that God definitely proves to Gideon that He is who he says he is.
(I'm hoping that you'll read through these chapters, because there's sooo much more than I'm including here, even if I do 2 posts on the subject)

So starting in verse 25, God tells Gideon to go and take down his father's alter to Baal, and the Asherah pole beside it (Asherah was a supposed Goddess), and build an altar for the Lord. Then offer his father's bull as a sacrifice to the Lord, with the wood from the Asherah pole. ~Which I think is a great touch, by the way~
So Gideon and ten of his servants go at night, rather than daytime, because they were afraid, and do as the Lord said.
The next morning the men of the town get up and see what happened and they're all like "Whaaaaattt??!?" (well... not quite like that),
it really says that they "asked each other, 'Who did this?'"
Then they proceeded to carefully investigate and eventually find out, Gideon did it! *Gasp*
So they go and get Gideon's dad, Joash, and say "Bring out your son. He must die because he has broken down Baal's alter and cut down the Asherah pole beside it."
To which Joash replies in verse 31 (this is great)
"Are you going to plead Baal's cause? Are you trying to save him? Whoever fights for him shall be put to death by morning! If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar."
Yeahhh, you tell 'em, Joash.
So the people backed off and settled to just start calling Gideon "Jerub-Baal" meaning, "Let Baal contend with him"

So, now, God's getting ready for Gideon to take out the Midianites and their crew.
But uh-oh, Doubting Gideon is back.
He says to God in verse 37 "look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Isreal by my hand, as you said."
And sure enough, the next morning he's squeezing a bowl full of water from the fleece.

So okay now, Gideon really should know that God really means what He is saying.
BUT, Gideon's still got this little fear in the back of his mind. so this is what he asks the Lord next.
"Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece. This time make the fleece dry and the ground covered with dew."

At this point in the story I'm noticing both how un-trusting we can be of the Lord, and how patient the Lord is with us. Notice how Gideon says "Do not be angry with me"... He knows that he's questioning an awful lot, but he really wants to be 100% sure.
And God was patient with him. He did what Gideon asked that night, and finally Doubting Gideon stopped testing God.
I think it's important that we make sure that we don't test God. I mean, I know this was a big deal and I totally understand why Gideon was so freaked. But like I said before, faith isn't about seeing and believing. It's about believing.

And I hope that I can learn to trust and obey the Lord and follow him without asking questioning or feeling the need to test Him.

Even if He asks me to go get the Midianites. :D

So that's the end of Judges, chapter 6!
Therefore the end of this post..
But you'll probably be seeing a Part 2 post, pretty soon.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Spending Time.

"When you kill time, remember that it has no resurrection" -A.W. Tozer
I absolutely love this quote. Because it is SO true! Time goes by sooo quickly. Especially when our lives are filled to the brim with crazy schedules of nothingness.
Nothingness? What do I mean by "Nothingness", you ask?
I'm talking about the things we spend time doing that do not build us up the way they ought to.
Of course, today, we think of our #1 time-murderers as Facebook, Twitter, Texting, you know. Things like that. And they absolutely are. There is no denying that at all.
There are also more subtle wastes of time, like shopping and other little pleasure activities we use to fill time with.
So we should just ditch all of it and meditate day and night. The end.
Just kidding! (hehehe)
No, the stuff isn't evil, we just don't need an overdose of it.
Here's a little lesson I learned yesterday-today and probably will continue learning until I get used to this new thing.
What new thing?
I am (or maybe, was?) one of those people that always seems to be online. The little green chat light just always seems to be shining away, you know? Well it was annoying me. It's not that all I ever do is sit on the computer and "like" things on Facebook. In fact, you rarely catch me sitting at the computer at all. I was accustomed to hopping on and offline while practicing guitar, or reading, or drawing. It was always multi-tasking. So I'm totally justified here. Just Kidding! (again)
Nope. I may have been doing more than just one thing, but by doing both things, my heart and mind couldn't completely be in one or the other. You know that scatter-brained feeling? Yeah. It's drives me insane.
And so, I decided to lay off the online-time. Especially during the day.
Here's how it went down.
Tuesday night I decided to change the whole schedule thing.
Wednesday morning I got up and by-passed the laptop, thinking, just for the morning. Then as the day went on, I was enjoying being outside (walking to the library!) and doing all sorts of things. Not things unusual for me, but now I was in them and enjoying them to the fullest.
And I didn't get around to computer time until I needed to message a friend, after the message, BAM. Offline and outside, for me.
And it feels so good, you know? Going out there in the sunshine. How amazing to just walk and admire God's handiwork. It's breathtaking.
Okay, I knew this before. I'm not a cave-dweller... I was just reminded of it, full force, and it's exciting.
So today, same thing. Barely touched the laptop til' now (except for earlier to use a guitar tab website but seriously there's no shame in that for me, because I legitimately need that, being that I'm teaching myself and all)
Anyway, so I've really been thinking about how I can use the time I am given wisely.
And I'm so excited! I've been loving reading God's word and writing things in my notebook and just trying to serve Him wherever, however, all the time.
Guess what? That's where joy comes from.
I'm not talking just about cutting back on social networking stuff, either.
The fact is, this really doesn't feel all that much different from before, I'm still doing the things I did before like everything I said before, guitar, reading, writing, walking, drawing, thinking, studying the bible, singing ;), attempting to write music, drinking coffee (lol), doing stuff with friends... I'm just more satisfied at the end of the day. More focused and in tune with God, I think. And it's only been two days!
And getting on Facebook tonight was somehow really not all that interesting at all.
So I thought I'd write a post here, instead, hahaha.
Anyway, my point is not that I'm super wonderful and am sacrificing the computer, or that I've been living as a total bum all this time, or that you should give up everything you do and attend a church service every night of the week and fast every day and fill your life with deep, meaningful things.
Because guess what? Deep, meaningful things, happen every day in the things you're doing.
It's just whether you take the time to appreciate them. Your child's laughter, the fluffy white clouds, the early flowers because of the extremely mild winter we've had...
It's where your heart is at in what you're doing, as much as what you're doing.

So yeah that's what's on the mind, lately.
Time, time, time.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Can I teach you a children's song?

Like I said, me and little kids? We get along. Every Wednesday, I help teach 2-6 year olds about Jesus while their moms are in Bible Study classes. I do the review of the lesson, asking them questions about what they just learned and whatnot. But before that, before they even hear the lesson, we get all the classes together (2 year olds, 3 year olds, and 4-6 year olds) and we sing songs. Tonight as I was thinking about things, this one came to mind.

Sometimes God answers "Yes" when I pray,
Sometimes God answers "Wait" when I pray,
Sometimes God answers "No", just because He loves me so,
But I know He always answers when I pray.

I'll tell ya, these are really big lessons, which someone oh-so-cleverly composed into children's songs.

I remember when I was a little kid, my brothers and I would follow my mother through stores like her 3 little ducklings. And in pretty much every aisle or section of the store we paraded through, we were able to find something that we just Then the pleading began. "Mommy, look at this! I don't have a doll like this yet!" "Mommy, look at the cookies!! YuMmmMMmmMm!" "Mommy, could I please have this?"
Sometimes she let us have it, sometimes she didn't. Sometimes she said "Maybe next time"
My Mother was-- I mean is, smart.
I recall very often hearing her reply "No, you don't need that"
Our young minds did not compute this answer. How could she say that we didn't need it? Surely she did not understand the importance of this thing that we so desired to posses.
Sometimes we were little brats and pulled some tears, sometimes we drooped our little shoulders and widened our eyes to full capacity, but like I said: Our mother was smart. She said we didn't need it, and sure enough! 10 years later, I am still alive and well. Even without that "necessary item" I always managed to find at the store.
So now I'm all good and never want anything anymore. Hahahahahahaha yeah, right.

After all those years, many toys never being owned by me, after soooo many life lessons, "talks", and sometimes punishments for acting up, I did learn. I matured and it is very unlikely that you would now find me stomping my feet and sobbing in the middle of a store (Ask my mom if that happened, I don't actually remember the extent of my tantrums). Even so, there are still things in life that I desire to have.
In fact, right now, I would love an acoustic guitar. But, I don't necessarily need one.

And there are other things that I want sometimes. Not material things that you can buy, either.
So when it comes to that, what am I supposed to do? Go to mom and ask her to give me a good hair day? or unending knowledge of all things music? Or perfect coordination so that I can stop dropping eggs on the floor for pete's sake!?!
Well, that would be dumb. Because those are things that she can't give me, no matter what price tag.
So, that leaves me to either
1. Take it to God
2. Sulk
3. Live with what I've got.
4. Talk to God, thank Him, and be joyful in things he's provided for me.
Those are my options. I'm thinking #4 looks like a good option. But do I always do that?
All together now. "nooooo"
Sometimes I even sulk to God about it. (Did you see that? I mixed options #1 & #2 together)
But why would His answer change? He knows whether I need it.
He knows what's in my best interest, ultimately. Because He sees all time and space and everything.
If I thought my mom is smart (which, I totalllllyyyy do, Mother Dearest!!!) then what about the one who created her?
I should be willing to not only be content in what He has given me, but be joyful in it. Because when it all comes down, I am blessed upon blessed upon blessed.
I need to embrace that, as well as God's eternal and unchanging LOVE for me! Because if He loves me like He says He does, then I can rest assured He's not going to give me something I can't handle with His help. And He's not going to leave me. Therefore, I will always have what I need.

Chelsea :o)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


That's a word that sometimes we probably don't like very much. Why? The answer is simple. In fact I'm almost 99.7% sure you've got this figured out already.
It implies work. It implies that there is a goal that we're working towards, and we have to put effort into this task in order to succeed whatever it is that we're trying to accomplish.
Well what if I set a goal to grow closer to God and tried it for a day, and it was great, it worked really well, I had a great day. And the next day I decided to take a day off?
Well on this day off, I would probably not be as productive, in general. And my attitude may not be particularly pleasant. And I definitely wouldn't feel like I did the previous day.
The thing with effort is, it's working towards the goal. If my goal is growing closer to God than I can't take a day off. Effort wants to see things through to the end. Growing closer to God is a big goal, one that's not going to be reached to it's full potential until I'm with Him in Heaven.
So why bother? It's not actually going to get me anywhere anyway. I might as well just live how I want to, cares about pleasing God aside, right? (yeah, yeah, you know the answer to this one, too.)
My goal here on earth is to please Him, grow closer to Him, and obey His commands.
But that's not an easy goal, it's going to take some effort.
Feel like we're right back where we started? That's because we are.
Sometimes if I'm not thinking about it, it's really easy to momentarily forget my goal. And it's easy to not be thinking about it, if I'm not spending enough time focusing on it.
Now. When I first set this goal, I thought "Well. I guess I need to read the Bible" (yes, I am aware it's such a basic way to start) And so I started reading a chapter of the Bible every morning. Woo-hoo, right? Well, sort of. Like I said, it was a way to start. I later realized that it wasn't amounting to much in the grand scheme of things, although it was a great way to head into the hours that the day still held. Over the past couple of weeks I've tried some other ways (in addition to the morning chapter or two) to be focused on God's word.
before I go to bed, making a list of somewhat-life-affecting lessons I learned that day.
here's a couple of examples of that:
1. God wants us to trust Him so much that we would be willing to give up our "first fruits" and trust that He will continue to provide for us.
2. It is important to never, ever, EVER, stop praying for someone. Never, ever. God can change anyone's heart. You just have to be patient and wait for His timing, His timing is best.
3. Be thankful. Don't take anything for granted. There are so many people who would give up so much just to have something like you have that you see as insignificant.
So yeah, those were some that I wrote down sometime last week. Sometimes there's obviously going to be repeats because these are the kind of lessons that you have to learn again and again, and keep reminding yourself of. That's why I've enjoyed going back and reading over these lists, it's really helpful, especially when you can remember the experience that inspired that lesson to be on your list. It's quite effective, I think.
Keeping a Bible verse in your pocket.
I just did this yesterday, and it was really fun. I wrote down a verse on a simple piece of paper with fun handwriting, put some color on it, then stuck it in my pocket. That way I had it with me all day long, something about keeping it right at my side helped it to stick close to mind as well.
The verse was Proverbs 27:5: Better is open rebuke, than hidden love.
I love that verse.
This is certainly not a new idea. As a little kid, I went to all sorts of bible programs where if we memorized our bible verses, we'd get a treat, or some sort of points that would ultimately lead to us getting a treat.
But nobody's offering me anything to memorize verses now, and so for a couple years, I had no motive to do it. But then I realized that it's my responsibility as a Christian to know about what I believe. It only makes sense. I personally, like to write the verses I'm memorizing out, over and over and over. You should see my notebook, haha.
Living like a Christian
I don't want to claim that I'm a Christian, I want to BE one, and LIVE like one. And so I've been trying to do that. Even though sometimes it's really tempting to not do the dishes when not asked. (And I've got to admit, I'm guilty of letting that one go, multiple times) But it's so rewarding. When you honor someone else's existence by doing something kind for them that they're not expecting, it has to brighten their day.
This morning I was out and again, had this on the mind. It was my goal to be kind to people, to love them as people, even if I didn't know them and they seemed a little cold in general. Because Jesus did it, and He said that we should do it, too.
"And they'll know we are Christians by our love"
So a couple things that stood out to me while I did this today.
The sales lady.
I was shopping for a dress and so I went to Dress Barn. I've been there before, I know how their sales system works. They are super-kind and write your name on the dressing room door, and offer to assist you in any way they can. The thing is, it's kind of, sort of, not always real. I got to the store approximately 2  minutes after they opened, I was the only one there and I overheard the manager correcting the sales lady on some things she did while working that apparently wasn't the stores typical way of doing it (by the way, it wasn't an argument or said in anger or anything, it was a simple correction) but I could tell that the sales lady wasn't exactly pleased to hear this--no one would be-- but she helped me just like any other sales lady at Dress Barn had done before. When she asked if I'd found anything, I said "I don't think so this time, but thank you for helping me" (insert smile here) and she smiled back. And it was genuine, and it made me happy.
The Walking Guy
I went on a back road to get to a different store, and there was a guy walking towards me on the side of the road. There was also a large pickup truck coming towards me in his lane. So I had to come to a halt, which technically I wouldn't have, had said walking guy moved out of my way in time. And I mean, I wasn't exactly thrilled with the suddenish stop, but he could see my facial expression and I could see his, so I smiled and waved at him and he lit up. I mean, I could tell he was expecting me to scowl at him and speed down the road in a huff. And his expression was one of gratitude. That made my day.

See this theme? You act like a Christian, you make an effort, people appreciate it. And when they don't, oh well! Because God appreciates it, and if your goal is to please Him anyway, bing bing bing! Win.

Now I realize this post sounded a lot like "oh see what I'm doing, oh, oh, oh, aren't I good?" but please understand that I don't succeed in my efforts half as much as I'd like to. In this post I was trying to present different ideas of how to spend more time with the Lord, and highlighting the things that are working for me.
Since I'm in a positive mood, it's easy to do.
But there are times, when I am Miss Chelsea Rain Cloud. Please don't think that I think that I'm any better than you. (My self-confidence lacking background assures me that this is not the case.)
I am just so happy about what God's doing in my life, and how he's showing me that when I do walk in His ways, it's extremely rewarding.
So I'm making an effort, and I hope you'll join me.

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Romans 14:19

Chelsea :)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

What I mean by Cadence.

The definition of the word "cadence" is this:

a. A rythmic sequence or flow of sounds in language

b. The beat, time, or measure of rhythmical motion or activity

c. a concluding and usually falling strain; specifically : a musical chord sequence moving to a harmonic close or point of rest and giving the sense of harmonic completion.

d. the modulated and rhythmic recurrence of a sound especially in nature

That's not particularly the cadence I'm reffering to.
Allow me to explain.
You'll notice that almost all of the definitions for the word speak of rythm, or beat, if you will.
Here's how I have come to interpret "Cadence" (which by the way, is my favorite word.)
Life. That's right, I said life. Our lives tend to resemble cadence in the sense that it becomes rythmic, we go along with the beat.
We live day by day in our routines, sailing through life in the sweet comfort of the melody that we have come to know ao well.
Some of us have a quiet, pleasant rythm. Some of us have the bass and drums turned up really loud.

It's how we live out our lives.
If my life was a song, I wouldn't want it to be "bum. bum. bum. bum." forever and ever, amen.
I'd want some stuff in there, to make it sound better, to make it more interesting, and to make it more appealing in general.
Nobody likes songs that are too repetitive.. especially if it's repeating a particularly obnoxious sound over and over again. That's just, well, obnoxious.

You following me, here?
What I'm saying is, we choose how we live our lives, and we can easily choose for it to be an on-going beat of boring nothingness. OR! We could choose for it to be an exciting mix of all sorts of things, things that we may not be comfortable with at first. Things that might require us to think outside the box, and take a risk for.
Things that make people think about their own lives.
Things that make an impact on the world.

I once wondered if everyone would have a fabulous voice in Heaven. So that when we all sang together there wouldn't be that person who's always throwing everyone off key. But God made that person exactly how He wanted them to be, off-key and all. And I wondered if everyones voices would be changed into perfection in Heaven, or if He has a whole off-key section up there, that ultimately adds the most beautiful harmony ever. One that no human composer could ever compose. No matter how talented.

Because if you believe that God has a plan, than you believe that even the bad things that happen in the world have purpose for ultimately, His purposes, and His glory. Because He's a really good composer. He's the best.

So what about the ending of the ending of the song?
b. a concluding and usually falling strain; specifically : a musical chord sequence moving to a harmonic close or point of rest and giving the sense of harmonic completion.
Cadence does not only consist of an on-going rythm, part of cadence is the ending. It's like the climax of a movie, only at the very end. It's when all the important stuff happens.
It's when you are out of time, and you look back on the song you've composed. Is it one that you're proud of? One that you've worked long and hard on? One that gives a sense of "harmonic completion" Or is it one that never really got paid close attention to, and drones on with a repetitive and somewhat meaningless and unmoving beat? Or even a giant catastrophe of a crashing sound right in the middle? Maybe a "falling strain"
Our lives are all like the latter of the examples. (Crashing sounds, and whatnot) because we all screw up.
But if we hand it over to a different composer, one who knows what He's doing, it already starts sounding better. Then, if we work hard to break out of the boring beat, and do things that our composer/songwriter thinks will fit in the song well, it'll keep getting better.
Better and better the more good things that you add to the song, until finally,
when you come to that moment in the end of your Cadence, you and your composer will both be proud of what your song sounds like.

That's the Cadence I'm reffering to. And chasing.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

"Are you sure you know where we're going?"

I've loved little kids for a long time now. Because they are hilarious, they have the simplest view on things, and they are entirely straightforward. And it's really hard to not look at a kid and just smile at them.
So over the past couple of years, I've done some babysitting for friends.
And there is this one memory that I have from one of those times, that sticks with me. I'll randomly remember it sometimes and smile at the thought.
I was watching two little boys one summer evening at our house, and we were running out of things to do.
We'd played tag, "soccer", "baseball", clucked at the chickens (we have chickens),  and I think we'd played some kind of Buzz Lightyear something. I wasn't tired, but I was running out of ideas.
After another game of tag, we decided to go on a walk. Since we live in PA, there's a lot of fields and cows. We live directly across from a field, full of cows. We decided to visit them. So we walked down the road for a little while, and soon, we couldn't see my house anymore. One of the little boys realized this and started to question me about where we were. He didn't recognize it. He said "Are you Sure you know where we're going?" and I said "Yes, I am very sure" with that having been said, he reached for my hand, and was okay.

A few minutes later we came upon the road where I always turn, to go around the block. It takes you right back to our house if you just walk around the curve, and then go back down the hill. But the boys didn't know that. Again, my skeptical little friend looked up at me with big eyes and asked "Are you really sure you know where we're going?" And again, I assured him that yes, I did. And that we would soon be back at my house. He was still a little unsure, but as we took the turn, he followed along, holding my hand a bit more firmly than before.
We walked up the hill and around the curve. Again. "You really know where we're going?" he asked.
Again, I replied. "Yes, bud, I do.. we're going to go down that hill, and we'll be back at my house"
So we continued.
We finally came down the hill, back into "familiar" territory. And my little pal said. "Oh, we're back at your house! You did know where we were! ..I wasn't so sure"

This, my friends, is exactly what I do to God all the time. I'm like the skeptical little kid, and He's the one leading me through life. He's the one who knows which turns to take, and all the "unfamiliar territory" is completely familiar to Him. But sometimes it's really hard to just trust Him, because I don't recognize everything around me. Things are changing like mad right now, and sometimes I just have no idea what is going on anymore.

But you know what? My little friend didn't stop following where I took him. He trusted that I would get him safely back to my house. He questioned, but he followed.
He probably realized somewhere in the back of his mind, that if he left me at that point and tried to find his way back, he could end up lost and alone.
If I were to stop trusting where God is leading me, and run away, trying to find my way to comfort and familiarity... it wouldn't work. I'd just be helpless and alone, and most likely, confused.

When I think about it that way, it's kind of like "Why would I do that????"

The bible says to have a child-like faith, trusting and true. Now, every time I think of that walk, I am reminded of this.
Who would have thought? Growing up and realizing, that in some ways, you knew more when you were really, really, young than you do now.

I just hope and pray that I will be able to follow along where He leads. Around the corners and going down streets I'm unsure of. But holding His hand all the way... and holding onto it more firmly when I get really, really, nervous or scared or confused or all of the above.

"I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?" Jeremiah 32:27
Is any road too confusing, for Him?