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...