Wednesday, September 18, 2019

I believe!

Having been raised in the church and choosing to dedicate my life to serving the church, I have seen many things change.  Some for the good and some not so good.  

In spite of these changes, there is one basic truth that remains unchanged--believe in God. 
I don't claim to be a general contractor, but I do know that a good foundation is paramount for the longevity of any structure.  

What is the foundation of your relationship with God?

In America, there is a large group of people who would admit they believe God exists.  But believing God exists is far different than believing in God. 
  
Believing in God is another story.

Abraham believed the promise of God that his descendants would be more numerous than the stars.  He believed God existed, and then he believed in God

When God revealed himself to Moses in the burning bush, Moses did not simply believe that God was real, he believed that God was going to deliver the Israelite people out of bondage.  He believed this because he believed in God.

Jesus cried out from the cross, “Father forgive them...," He didn't just believe God the Father existed.  He was able to extend forgiveness because he believed in God, even in the face of death.

Believing God exists doesn't take much effort, but to believe God is at work in our lives, to believe His Word is true, to believe He has given us the Holy Spirit to empower us requires us to live radically different lives.  Lives that are built on a firm foundation, solid and unmoveable.

In Genesis 15:6, this foundation of believing in God was laid for all of us.  

Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

In the New Testament, Ephesians 2:8-9 says,

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
not by works, so that no one can boast.

The foundation that we build on is believing in God, just like Abraham, Moses and even Jesus did, I believe.



Wednesday, September 11, 2019

My Victory

I like to give credit where credit is due.  And I especially like to get credit when it belongs to me.    

I mean, if I did all the work and someone else stepped up to take the credit, I wouldn't appreciate that--at all. 

But Really?  Can anyone ever hear enough about how wonderful they are?  I think not!

Yet, God has this awesome ability to do just that.  He'll do all the work and give us the credit.  I like this scenario even better than me doing all the work and getting all the credit. 

There is a song that has been around a few years, but it's new to me called, Defender.  There's a phrase in this song that captured my heart. Here is my interpretation of what the song says, "You fight my battles, then call them my victory!"

Whaaat?  

God does the work and then gives me the credit.  He gets down and dirty in the trenches with my enemies, then (as the song states) brings me the head of my enemy and calls it my victory!

He goes before me into battle with my enemies.  

He fights for me.  

And I am victorious through Christ's efforts on my behalf.  

The story of the children of Israel standing at the Red Sea as Pharaoh’s army approaches is a game-changing moment for them.  They have no choice but to trust God to fight for them.   They actually aren't even trusting God at this time but complaining. (shocker) And accusing Moses of bringing them out of Egypt to die in the wilderness.  But God is about to show them, with the parting of the Red Sea, that He will fight for them, and they will be victorious.

When Believers trust God to fight their battles, fear and hopelessness will flee.  We learn when we allow God to fight for us that no battle is too big for our God.

He hasn't left us defenseless either.  In Ephesians 6, we read about the armor of God, then in verse 10 it says; (NKJV)  

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 

Are you facing a battle?  Are you feeling defeated?  Your Defender is waiting to make you victorious!

God is surrendering all the credit, when He fights for me then calls it my victory


Wednesday, September 4, 2019

"Anything new?"

In two days, I'll be married for 44 years to my sweetheart.  We've had eyes for each other since I was 15 and he was 16.  

The picture to the right is of us with our 10 grandchildren taken about two years ago.  It's a favorite.

My husband is a saint for putting up with me all these years, and I love him dearly!  

Those who know him well, also know he has to touch base with me multiple times a day.  (Sometimes multiple times per hour.)  

It's just his way, and most of the time I love him for it...except he has been known to call at the most inopportune time.  
  • Like, when I'm checking out at the grocery store, and I'm fumbling around in my purse getting money to pay the cashier.  
  • Or when I'm driving, and my phone is buried in my purse on the other side of the car.  
  • Or when I'm up to my neck in the middle of a home improvement project with paint dripping from my just moistened paintbrush.
  • Or when I'm carrying an armload of laundry down the stairs.  
  • Or when I just said, goodbye to him at the backdoor and he's backing out of the driveway.
If there's one thing my guy is--it's consistent!  ...and he almost always asks when he calls, "Anything new?"

Through the years, and especially since cell phones, he needs to be connected with me to know what if anything new is happening in my life.  

He must think I lead a fascinating life when he's not around.

Some in my circle, may not understand the need my husband has to connect with me, but God understands.  Our Heavenly Father has the same interested in knowing what we're up to and if anything new is happening in our lives.  

The Lord eagerly waits for us to connect with Him on a daily, hourly, even minute by minute basis because He loves being a part of our lives.  

·  God wants to hear from you: Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”  Psalm 50:15
·  God wants you to be at peace: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7
·  He cares about you: "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1Peter 5:7
·  He wants you to be strong in Him:  "But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on the wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31
·  He is for you:  "What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?" Romans 8:31 
·  He loves you—Oh, how He loves you: "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8
·  And He’s sticking around:  "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39

So, I guess I'm saying, "If anything new is happening in your life--let HIM know!"


Wednesday, August 28, 2019

But I Don't Understand



Many years ago, when my children were young, I remember standing in the swimming pool with my arms extended trying to coax my frighten child to jump into my waiting arms.  

Throughout the years, this scenario played out with each of my children, as they stood on the side of the pool contemplating whether they would trust me. 

I can still hear myself trying to gain their confidence as I spoke reassuringly, “I will catch you. I won't let you fall.  You won't go under. Trust me."  

Some children need more assurance than others as they tremble at the edge of the pool mulling over the idea to trust or walk away. 

Eventually, most children will take the leap into their parent's waiting arms choosing to trust even when they don't fully understand how the whole thing is going to play out. 

In our relationship with the Lord, we can be like that scared child on the edge of the pool.  The Lord is staying, "Trust Me in this situation!  Even though you don't understand, just Trust Me!"

In my walk with the Lord, I've been in this place.  The Lord is calling me to jump, and I want to run the other direction.   He gently urges me to step out and move in a new area—sometimes outside my comfort zone, and I question His ability to keep me safe.   

I can almost see His arms outstretched, but—I just don’t understand.  So, I usually do one of two things, run or fight! 

Sound familiar?

In my life, I've run away plenty and fought the wooing of the Lord when He’s tried to encourage me into a new area of ministry.  Sometimes He’s asked me to come alongside someone in need but I’ve felt inadequate to help, or He’s trying to stretch me in my giving opportunities while I'm holding my fist tightly closed.

I may not have said these words out loud, but I sure have thought them...BUT LORD, I DON'T UNDERSTAND!

Maybe this week you have been struggling with trusting the Lord in an area of your life.   Here's a few reminders from His Word.

  • We are not forsaken--Psalm 9:10 ESV

And those who know Your name put their trust in You, for You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.

  • Don't fret--God's got this--Isaiah 41:10 ESV.   

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

  • Blessings follow trusting--Jeremiah 17:7-8 ESV

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

Sometimes, we just aren't going to understand everything, yet God still wants us to trust.  Take the leap and trust that He will catch you.  

even when you don’t understand.  







Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The Lawn isn't Growing

I keep looking out my kitchen window at the grass in my front yard.  It's been more than a week since I last mowed, and even though it has rained a bit off and on, I'm not seeing any growth.

In the dry season, we expect growth to come to a screeching halt, but why hasn't my grass started to grow with the little bit of rain we've had the past few days?  

I've had dry seasons in my spiritual life like this.  Where it seems everything is fine, but I'm really just going through the motions.  When this happens, I can inevitable look back and see that the busyness of life has come in and dried up my times of spiritual refreshing like a scorching, hot sun.  

Sure, I go to church on Sunday.  I teach my preschool class on Wednesday nights.   I pray with people here and there, but my spiritual ground has grown dry and the little bit of spiritual rain I may be getting isn't enough to sustain continued spiritual growth in my life.  

Nature tells me through the seasons that eventually, the dry times will end, and the rain will certainly come.  My lawn is going to grow long and full once again.  Still, it takes a little time for rain to soften the ground after it has become dry.  The best way to reintroduce water to dry ground is when that water comes; slow, steady and consistently.

When we are in a dry season spiritually, we hold all the power to continue in that dry spell or to begin the slow, steady and consistent steps that leads us back to growth.

In Colossians 2:6-7 the Living Bible says this:

And now just as you trusted Christ to save you, trust Him, too, for each day’s problems; live in vital union with Him. Let your roots grow down into Him and draw up nourishment from Him. See that you go on growing in the Lord, and become strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught. Let your lives overflow with joy and thanksgiving for all He has done.
One of the signs you're spiritually thriving is to check your joy and thanksgiving for all the Lord has done for you!

























Wednesday, August 14, 2019

What's in Your Cup?


When I was a teenager, I loved to write little quotes in my Bible.  Every blank page was filled with my youthful collection of meaningful nuggets, sermon notes or memorable poems.

In the many years since my youth, I have often wished I could read some of those poems and quotes that are fading from my memory.  Every once in a while, these little gems will surface and make for a perfect illustration.     

There is one of these quotes that I've been pondering a lot of late, I first jotted it down over forty-five years ago in my Bible.  This is the way that I remembered it:  “A cup full of sweet water no matter how violently shaken can only spill out--sweet water.”  Jesus said it another way, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”

I can recall a little too quickly, a few times in my life when the water that spilled out of my cup was anything but sweet.  Still, I am ever thankful for the gentle working of the Holy Spirit in my life.  He gently reminds me to be thoughtful and kind in every life situation. 

On the turbulent days, when your cup gets bumped, let this scripture be what spills out, “Pleasant words are a honey comb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." (Proverbs 16:24) 

This week, there’s an excellent chance your cup is going to get bumped.  Will you purpose in your heart NOW to let kindness be the rule of the day?   

What's in your cup? 

(This is a revised version of the first devotional I wrote for my blog in October 2015.   It has been in my heart of late, and I thought someone may need to be reminded to be ready with kindness the next time your cup is jostled.  I know, for me, I can never hear this enough!) 



Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Into The Light



 A haircuts can be an amazing confidence booster or an epic fail!

I love going to the salon.  It's my chance to sit back and enjoy a moment of pampering.  However, there is one thing that is always daunting for the person in the chair. 

Recently, I strolled into the hair salon, I was feeling pretty good about myself.  I had applied my makeup to perfection, and I was soaring high at the thought of a new hairstyle, until I sat in that chair.

The stylist draped my body with a black shawl and positioned me directly in front of the mirror.  On three sides, the mirror was framed with intrusive, glaring--lying lightbulbs. 

I glanced up at the ceiling and shielded my eyes from the huge fluorescent light.  That overhead light, along with the lights on the mirror, were not being kind to my aging face.

Looking back at me from the brightly illuminated mirror was a ghostly white person with no visible signs of one bit of makeup.  Let me add that the person in the mirror also looked way older than me.  I was sure that not even an amazing haircut was going to change what all the light had exposed.

A light had been cast on me that changed everything.   There was no place to hide.  All my external flaws were brought into the light

Daniel 2:22 says, He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.  

Even when we don't like the process, if we allow God to shine His light on us and take the time to examine what needs attention in our lives, we will be the better for it even when the process is unsettling.   

In Hebrews 4:13 we are reminded that when we choose to ignore or hide what is going on in our heart, God still sees. 

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight; everything is uncovered and exposed before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

Sitting that day in front of that revealing mirror, under the massive lights, caused me to take a good look at me!  I didn't particularly like what I saw, but when the stylist was finished, I didn't see my glaring white skin or even the wrinkles on my face.  My eyes were pulled away from the negative and focused on the positive.  

Today, you may be experiencing the intense light of God shining on an area of your life.  Don't run away from the light. Allow God to do His work because we are always the better for it, when we
 come into the light and allow God to make the necessary changes in us.






Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Put it on the Altar

When I want something, really bad, I usually go after it with determination.  

In my life, there have been occasions, when I believed I knew best and went after those things with gusto.  

Later, I regretted my pushy, forceful ways when I got what I thought I wanted.  I wasn't happy with my behavior or the ultimate outcome.   

In Christian lingo, this is sometimes jokingly referred to as giving birth to an "Ismael." 

Ismael was Abraham's first born son.  The one Sarah schemed and plotted to push through in her own determination to see God's prophecy fulfilled.  Sarah did this instead of waiting for God's timing.  

Even when the promise one, Isaac, arrived, Abraham was challenged by God to put the one he loved on the altar and trust God.  

Genesis 22:2 says, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”

Abraham did as God instructed.  He put his dreams and hopes for the future regarding his precious son Isaac, on the altar and turned to walk away from the one he loved.

Recently, a big decision was in front of me, and it wasn't my decision alone.   It can be difficult working with other people when you have differing ideas of how things should be.  

I presented my case, best I could.  I laid out the pros and cons thinking I had the best plan.  Couldn’t they see that God had dropped this amazing gift in our laps?  But, in the end, my choice turned out to be wrong.     

Don’t you just hate it when that happens?

Without stating these exact words, “I’m gonna just put this thing on the altar and see what God’s got to says.” 

I simply put the thing that I wanted, that I thought was best, out of my mind and walked away from it.  

I didn't even consider it a possibility--until the phone rang. 

Or in Abraham's case, an angel called his name.  Genesis 22:11-14

But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” 

And he said, “Here I am.” 

He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 

And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 

So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide.”  As it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”

Are you trying desperately to push your own agenda through, determined to have your way, believing you know best?  

Is it possible God is saying, "Put it on the altar?"

If it's meant to be, God will resurrect what you willingly surrender to Him.  But only in His time and if it's best for you.








Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Blooming

My husband doesn't bring me flowers.  It's my own fault.

It was over 40 years ago, when he stood at the door with a big smile, as he extended his gift to me with a "Happy Anniversary."

My reply, "Did you get those from the funeral home?"

Yup!  That is what I said word for word.

Not only that, when he tried to persuade me that he purchased the gift, I went on to accused him of getting the plant for free at the funeral home because he had participated in a funeral that day.

The fact was he had saw the blooming plant at a stand along side the road on his way home.  He thought the plant was beautiful, and he wanted to share that beauty with me.

I, however, did not think the plant was beautiful.

Even as I retell this story, I'm ashamed of myself!  I did not appreciate this gift from my husband nor see the beauty in the blooming plant.

In Matthew 6:28 it says, "See how the flowers of the field grow."

How often do we really take the time to see the beauty of God's creation?  Do we really appreciate the creative genius of our God?

The Bible tells us that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these...(blooming flowers).  If this is how God shows His care for a flower, how much more does He care for us who are created in His image?

We are precious in His sight, so why should we worry what other people think of us.  The eyes of this world have an artificial standard of beauty, but our creator see's our value.  His eyes warm with love when He looks at us.

When my husband presented that blooming flower to me all those years ago, I didn't see the beauty of his gift or God's creation.  But I'm thankful our Heavenly Father doesn't look through the lens of my eyes.

We are uniquely created and redeemed through the blood of Jesus which enables us to bloom whatever our circumstances may be.  We have the ability to bloom wherever He plants us.

Whatever season of life you are in today, remember God created you to bloom!

My friend took the picture below just a few weeks ago and posted it on Facebook.  She said I could use it, and I think it speaks for itself.


(Photo Credit Candi Korpi.)


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Keep Swimming

After a slow start to summer, it's full-on swimming weather.  Yeah!

For me to really enjoy swimming, the weather needs to be at least in the 90's.  Then I'm willing to get in the water and splash around.  But when the air is cold, even if the pool is heated, I'm not a fan.

So, I guess I'm saying, I want everything perfect.  However, life is not always going to give us the perfect weather, with the perfect water temperature.  After all we live in Michigan! 

In 2003, Disney introduced a great animated picture called Finding Nemo.  For the few people in the world who may not know anything about this movie, Nemo is a little fish that gets lost and his father goes on a desperate search to find him.   

The father battles through his own personal fears and every obstacle that gets in his way on this mission--to find his lost son.  

Humm?  This story sounds a bit like a Bible parable.  

In the Nemo movie, there is a little blue fish that befriends Nemo's father, Marlin.  Her name is Dory, and she sings this song in the movie called Just Keep Swimming.  

There are only a few lines in the entire song.  In this catchy little tune, the song title is repeated over and over again. 

The little fish, Dory, attempts in her clumsy way to encourage Nemo's father by singing this song.  

Just Keep Swimming
Just Keep Swimming
Just Keep Swimming

In my life, there has been occasions where I could have used a Dory singing to me.  Someone to spur me on when things seem bleak--Keep Swimming.  Someone with an awesome and cheerful disposition--Keep Swimming.  Someone who is resilient when I am gruff or impatience--Keep Swimming.  

Sometimes we are fortunate enough to have a Dory in our life and sometimes we're not.  But we will always have God's word.  The powerful truth of the Bible is there to spurs us on, gives us encouragement and the Word is steadfast whatever our situation may be.

In Hebrews 12:1, God's Word says, “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” 

I think the Message Bible may say--Just Keep Swimming.  (Not really, I made that up.)  But the principle of perseverance in the race and just keep swimming sound similar.  

You may be facing some difficulties today, and you may feel like giving up.  But don't.  Here is what The Message Bible actually says in Hebrews 12:2-3.   

Keep your eyes on Jesus
who both began and finished this race we’re in. 
Study how he did it. 
Because he never lost sight of where he was headed
—that exhilarating finish in and with God
—He could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. 
And now He’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. 
When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, 
go over that story again, 
item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. 
That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

...Just Keep Swimming



Wednesday, July 10, 2019

A Gentle Response

I try not to be a yeller.

I try...but truth is...sometimes I yell.

...and there are a few situations that warrant yelling; like when a child is heading into a dangerous situation or the dog is running towards the road or somebody scares me.

I've yelled like a crazy person in all these situations.

But when one adult, yells at another adult that is over-the-top uncomfortable.

I've been in a situation like this a few times throughout my life.  Usually, when the yelling starts, I turn tail and get out of there.

Don't want to see it or hear it.

Recently, I was an innocent bystander when this happened.  There was one adult who yelled at another.

Awkward!

I was trapped--no way out.  I sat in shock as one of the adults yelled angrily at the other.  It was venomous.  I was frozen to my seat contemplating if I should attempt to defend the one being yelled at or remain a silent observer.

I watched the face of the person being yelled at and wondered, what would she do next?  Would she yell back?  Would she become defensive and get emotional against the verbal attack?  Would she stand and point her finger in his face and shake it with equal dramatics?

My inner self was taking offense, as I silently watched the scene unfold.

Then it happened.

Right before my eyes and ears, she spoke.  Her voice was in control without the slightest hint of fear or indignation.  Her tone was clear, and her thoughts were in order.

Then the yeller interrupted her and verbally attacked again.  Yikes.  This was really getting ugly.

She responded again with confidence and in a non-combative way and...he finally heard her.

Proverbs 15:1 in the NET Bible says, "A gentle response turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath."

I wish in every situation that my 'go to' place was "A Gentle Response."

It's a win/win!  God says so, and I saw it with my own eyes.




Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Not Alone

I like my alone time.  Sometimes I just want to curl up in a chair with a blanket and zone out while watching a predictable Hallmark movie.  I don't want to answer phone calls, nor solve anybody's problems.  No adulting what-so-ever!  

On occasion, being alone is exactly what I need to recharge my depleted battery.

But not everyone is me, some people are just the opposite.  They need people around them, and they gain strength from being with others.  I have some family members like this.  When they are feeling low, they want people around them.  

In church recently, these words flooded my thoughts.  You're not alone.  I haven't left you to toss and tumble on the waves of life without support.

I thought, whhhat?  But I like alone.  Alone is good.  Alone is quiet.  Alone is peaceful.

That's when I realized the words weren't for me--well--not completely.  

Maybe you are reading this today and are struggling through a difficult situation in your life.  Do you feel like you're being tossed on the waves of life?   Do you feel everyday it get's harder and harder to see another morning come?

In the Bible...
  • David experienced many difficult times, trials and battled deep despair.
  • Elijah was discouraged, weary, and afraid.
  • Job suffered through loss, devastation, and physical illness.
  • Jeremiah wrestled with loneliness, feelings of defeat, and insecurity. 
  • Even Jesus hit a few rough spots.  Like the time he asked his disciples, "Couldn't you wait with me one hour?"  Sounds like a question asked by someone feeling alone.

God is able to use whatever season of suffering we are in to bring about good in our lives.  Maybe even make us stronger!  

He is our Redeemer, Restorer, Healer and Friend. 

Isaiah 41:10 says... (ERV)
Don't worry--I am with you.
Don't be afraid--I am your God.
I will make you strong and help you.
I will support you with my right hand that brings victory.

Whether you are a person who likes to withdraw or a person who likes to be where the action is...the truth is--we are not alone.  

Even when we think we are--we're not!



I believe!

Having been raised in the church and choosing to dedicate my life to serving the church, I have seen many things change.  Some for the g...