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Blessings under Fire

3 Dec

There is much disagreement in our world today. However, I believe there is definitely one unifying thought–it is hard to disagree that the past two years have been challenging. We have battled a world wide virus that on many levels brought to us dangers we are not used to. We have suffered separation from loved ones and revisited how we navigate the daily world and quite possibly, in some instances we had to rearrange how we navigated our own public life. Legislators, in their quest to bring us safety have often upset us with new rules and regs to follow. Frustration does not begin to describe what many of us have felt for months on end.

In times of struggle we often forget to see brightness in the day and positivity around us because we are trapped in an irritable place. This means our blessings are under fire! The good and gracious aspects of life slip away unnoticed and if we are not cognizant, they likely disappear. How sad for us that we let this happen. The attack comes and we surrender.

I just described ME!

I sometimes fail to follow my own advice.

In my kitchen I have a modest hand painted primitive sign that says, “Count your blessings daily.” I look at that sign with great frequency as it is in a prominent place by the back door where I let the dog in and out regularly. Sad to say on some days I ignore that sign. I permit my blessings to be under fire…attacked by an enemy that would rather I be glum instead of gracious and grateful.

The precious old words below would have me behave differently:

Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below

Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost
.”

AMEN!

Am I ready to battle back?

It would be to my benefit and blessing to do so.

Upbeat

1 Dec

When I was a tween and a teen I watched a show on television called UPBEAT. It was a rock and roll show that featured live music, interviews and kind of a “top ten” favorite songs for the week. As I recall there were also “Upbeat Dancers” who performed and set the fashion trends of the day. The show was originally produced out of Cleveland and then became a national syndicate. The program ran for maybe a decade.

Why I even described the show is because it was a happy program to watch with colorful outfits on the dancers and performers and the music was lively and familiar so in the comfort of your own home you could sing and dance along.

Today when we say the word upbeat, we tend to mean something positive and energetic and enjoyable. We also think of the image of optimism when we think of being upbeat.

Was Jesus upbeat?

He is sometimes described as “acquainted with sorrows, rejected and despised and a man of suffering.” Those images come from the Book of Isaiah. But Jesus’ message was one of love and truth and wisdom.

I believe just as often as Jesus wept, he also laughed.

Pastor and author E. Stanley Jones once wrote that in the days of the early church the followers of Jesus did not say, “Look what the world has come to,” but rather they said, “Look what has come to the world!” Followers of a leader must believe in the future and have a good spirit about their beliefs to express such statements as that. They were optimistic about Jesus and his mission and message.

Aren’t the images from the four Gospels upbeat, speaking of a child savior? Isn’t the Christmas story revealing of something greater than we are? And the Easter story, though featuring some darker tales, results in uplifting images.

Rev. Dr. J. Barrington Bates says:

“Jesus showed an unquenchable, confident optimism—even in seemingly dire situations. And he commanded us not to fear, but live in hope.”

A gospel not characterized by overwhelming gladness isn’t the gospel.”–Author Randy Alcorn

Yes! I believe Jesus was upbeat.

Surprise on a Drive

29 Nov

I took a drive recently. I was in the car for eight hours total with four hours to my destination and then four hours to get home. I visited my elderly dad in the middle of the time split.

On my way to his place I saw on a rather prominent sign by the road side that read, “Isaiah 41:10.” While I am familiar with certain parts of the Bible off the cuff I did not know the meaning of this verse so I quickly jotted down the passage name and number for future reference and today I looked it up.

While sometimes we read scripture and the thoughts seem elusive, I shall hang my hat on this one.

Image result for isaiah 41 verse 10

Blessed or Stressed?

26 Nov

Is this a fair question to ask during the times in which we live? Our news is packed with disturbing details! We are challenged daily to find the bodies of information that matter to us and we search desperately to discard the rest in a safe place just in case we may need that information at another time. For every 10 news reports we hear only one that seems to have positive/ redeeming qualities. THAT is stress inducing!

Did I mention life in general?

Obligations, situations, ramifications, insinuations, clarifications, deliberations, destinations can boggle the mind.

Do you know what stress is?

By definition it is “pressure or tension exerted on a material object; a state of mental or emotional tension…”

Did you ever notice that many “material objects ” bounce back from stress? I was thinking palm trees that sway and bend in the wind, but they do not snap. An airplane rising upward against atmospheric pressure generally wins against the stress. I think of my back yard and how the grass bounces back after anyone’s feet pound the little blades flat while walking. Even my arm muscles bounced back yesterday as I carried in bags of groceries from the car that were very heavy and upon setting the bags on the table my arms felt relief and were ready to carry more.

Other stressors are not as easy going when it comes to bouncing back. Disappointments, deaths, failures and fumbles can really take a toll making us feel weary and even inept.

When we buckle under our stressors, which we all will do at one time or another, it is because our mind has played tricks on us. Our brain has emphasized our blunders instead of our blessings. In general, blessings are all around yet we concentrate on the blunders. When we do that, we miss the opportunity to see what God would have us do–“Count it all joy.”

James 1:2 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.”

Melissa Horvath puts it this way in her book YOU GOT THIS: “…recall the good the Lord has done for you–even the smallest things like shoes on your feet and pennies in your pocket…live in God’s grace.”

Philippians 4:6-7 Be Anxious for nothing Do not be anxious image 1

Thanksgiving

24 Nov

When I was a little girl I often wondered why there was no church on Thanksgiving Day. It seemed to me Thanksgiving was a good opportunity to pause in the week and worship the provider of the abundant table we would have.

The best we did was say grace at the table, chow down the meal and then turn to football on TV. This will pretty much be what goes on in our home this year!

Historically, the first Thanksgiving was a day of honoring God for gifts of an abundant harvest and the presence of safety and health. As a child I was taught it was also a blending of cultures as the Pilgrims and Natives shared the meal. There are critics of that story, suggesting it may not have been so peaceful and kind, but for today’s purpose I shall let it be. It was President Abe Lincoln who secured the celebration as a National Holiday in 1863. I am glad he did that. A break from work in the middle of the week with a backdrop of togetherness, fine food and memories is a welcome change from our busy times.

Thanksgiving Day is celebrated in the United States and Canada and Grenada, Liberia, Saint Lucia, Brazil and probably in other locations around the world not mentioned in the article I read on Wikipedia. Food, family and friends (and in many places, football) no doubt will make up the agenda for the celebration regardless of the geographic location. I suggest in most homes traditional foods per family will be prepared and shared.

What are you thankful for, my friends? Can you measure out some of God’s good gifts in your life? Do you feel the reward of God’s good grace?

In good times it is easy to feel thankful, but in hard times there is much faith and energy required to feel that same spirit of gratefulness. As a world we are still battling a virus and there are personal battles we may be facing as well.

Do the work!! Having a thankful heart is worth the effort despite the energy it may require in both certain and uncertain times.

NO matter your circumstance this Thanksgiving, may you feel blessed and bathed in God’s loving presence and do take a moment to utter your thanks.

See the source image

Touched

22 Nov

TOUCH is a powerful word. Touch suggests many things: tender movement toward another, feeling something meaningful in your heart, physically putting a gentle hand on someone, a tender sensation.

In the study of nonverbal communication touch is placed in a category called Haptics. Its power in nonverbal communication might be measured by the emphasis and strength of the touch and by the parties involved. Consider a hug, a tousling of someone’s hair, a shoulder rub, a punch or a shove.

In a book I have called EVERYDAY INSPIRATION it is stated that “…[humans] understand the power of a touch.” The book goes on to say that we can be touched by a gesture of kindness, a pat on the back, a hug from a friend or holding hands with someone we love and all of those physical gestures are scientific and known to bring down blood pressure, make our heart skip a beat in a good way and may help us feel peace, comfort and assurance. This suggests healing.

The touch of Jesus was healing. People flocked to be near him believing there was power in his presence.

Touch is a powerful way to express love. A simple touch can reach deep into the soul of man. God is love and love is an expression of the touch of Jesus. Jesus healed people of many different sicknesses and disabilities in many different situations. His healing is sometimes attributed to his words and at other times to his touch. (askgodforhelp.net)

Both the writing in EVERYDAY INSPIRATION and from the website mentioned stress a theme:

Jesus touched people as should we.

Remember the touch you offer can be physical, emotional, psychological and/or spiritual.

Who has touched you recently?

ALSO…consider touching someone else in a unique way by sharing spiritandsoul.net with them–a great way to share what I call a “mini devotional moment.”

Glory

19 Nov

Glorious, Gloria.

All of those words have roots in middle English, French and Latin. The words suggest ideas like these:

–offering praise

–giving accolades

–connected to fame

–great beauty, splendor

–honor

“To God be the glory” is a phrase often uttered when someone feels overwhelmed about a positive thing going on and it seems as though no one on earth really deserves credit. Those words were powerfully written by Fanny Crosby as only one of the 8,000 hymns she was known to have written. Crosby was of course a woman, and a mission worker, lyricist and poet and she was blind. She clearly made the most of her lot in life in the 95 years she lived.

To God be the glory, great things He hath done,
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
Who yielded His life our redemption to win,
And opened the life-gate that all may go in.
 Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
  Let the earth hear His voice;
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
  Let the people rejoice;
Oh, come to the Father, through Jesus the Son,
  And give Him the glory; great things He hath done.

I will honor God in all of his goodness and glory!

No God?

17 Nov

How sad for the person who does not believe.

What are they missing besides love, protection, inspiration, peace and grace? And why are those such a big deal?

Well, think about it…

LOVE is a desire of almost everyone. Who does not like to feel PROTECTION in a sometimes bitter world? INSPIRATION can be a feeling that makes a dreary day seem new. PEACE is something every heart needs at one time or another and while sometimes it is hard to grant GRACE to others, receiving it from the Lord is such a blessing.

Psalm 100:3

Know that the Lord Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

NO GOD? HOW SAD!

KNOW GOD. FEEL GLAD!

Amanti Art Soft Light Trees Framed Canvas Print, Brown, 16X16

AUTUMN’S BOUNTY

Enough!

15 Nov

When is enough really enough?

This was the message at church on a recent Sunday from our pastor who had many examples of how to measure “enough.” She spoke of food, of money, of earning a living and providing for family and determining when it is all truly enough.

We spend time seeking and getting , counting and collecting all the while, in reality what we have is truly enough. Most of us have enough food on our table. We have more than enough clothes to wear, shoes to put on, hobbies to engage in, books to read and television shows to watch, not to mention money to spend. Why do we often want more? We accrue to make ourselves happy. Then when happiness seems elusive, we still want more.

The Bible does not speak of HAVING enough, but rather it speaks of BEING enough.

There is a firm definition between the two and if I had to pick one, which would I choose…having enough or being enough?

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” – 1 Peter 2:9

“But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” And God said, “I will be with you…” – Exodus 3:11-12a

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:10

Wow! All of what God accomplished was for ME?

God’s words are true and they teach me about myself. They teach me to accept who I am and what I have.

They remind me that God’s love is MORE than anything I might be or have or become.

If I AM enough then I HAVE enough.

I Don’t Need Help

12 Nov

A while ago my 2 1/2 year old granddaughter was climbing up one of those rock climbing jungle gyms on a playground. A friend’s father was nearby and rushed over to be behind her in her climb. She surprised him by saying , “I don’t need your help.” As a result he backed away.

“I DON’T NEED YOUR HELP.”

Have you felt these words in your heart before? If a boss is looking over your shoulder at work does this cross your mind? If you are rushing to finish a chore or task and you just want it done, do you think this?

“I want it done and I want to do it the way I want.” (I will admit to owning those thoughts!)

Many of us love our independence and our individuality. Frank Sinatra sang, “I Did it My Way.” Gloria Gaynor sang, “I Will Survive.” Destiny’s Child, a pop group, had a song called “Independent Women” and Janet Jackson had a song flat out called “Control.” We often think we can control what goes on in our lives in our own independent ways and when we can’t, we may feel unsettled, even in a panic. We like being in charge all the while leaning on our own thoughts, ideas, and plans.

However… if we are open, God will step in to help out anytime and anywhere!

It says so in the hymn ON EAGLE’S WINGS

You who dwell in the shelter of the Lord,
Who abide in His shadow for life,
Say to the Lord, “My Refuge,
My Rock in Whom I trust.”

And He will raise you up on eagle’s wings,
Bear you on the breath of dawn,

Make you to shine like the sun,
And hold you in the palm of His Hand.

This hymn goes on to speak of snares, obstacles and terrible things that God will save you from. Faith over fear is the cliche’, that actually speaks much truth.

As I recall what the little girl said to the neighbor– “I don’t need your help, ” I will remind myself that those words do not belong in conversation with God. Of course I need God’s help and the sooner I recognize that, the more peace I will find in my heart.

Conversation

10 Nov

When you think of all the people you like to talk to, I wonder who is high on your list? Siblings, friends, children, other family members may top your list, but what about God?

Sometimes it is hard to imagine conversation with God. We are so used to face to face communication with loved ones or even digital communication with dear ones and those methods don’t seem to measure up when we think about conversing with God.

I do believe, though, God is quite the good listener. I picture God in this crazy busy world with ears and eyes wide open for when we dare speak to him; attentive, devoted and ready is the Lord.

But some may find it funny to chat with God because it feels like a one way conversation.

Is it really?

Failings I have in my conversations with God are my willingness to talk and talk and my forgetfulness about listening.

There is a still small voice uttering value into my life and I dare say I miss out—not paying attention.

 Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts. –Zechariah 4:6

That verse suggests that God’s conversations with us might not be out of a dramatic storm, nor will they come from a powerful wind or a crashing sea, but instead in a soft tender message possibly missed by those of us still talking.

In a good human conversation there is give and take, shared ideas, turn taking to keep things even.

I shall consider this true with God.

See the source image

Prayer Possibilities

8 Nov

Do you pray and believe?

Has life taught you through experience that it seems like some prayers go unanswered?

Do you believe that no answer to a prayer is still an answer?

Do you despair when God’s answer is different from your original plea?

If God already knows our wants, needs and desires, why should we pray?

Does prayer have possibilities?

My post prior to this one was a praise prayer and a few future posts will also reflect ideas on prayer. My opening questions were meant to provoke or offer a gentle prompt to your thinking about prayer.

What sort of prayer life do you have? Constant? Intermittent? Rare? Never?

Is God truly available with a listening ear for our beckoning?

Does prayer benefit God or me or both?

OKAY…the quiz is over. Your prayer life is YOUR prayer life, but I hope I made you think!

Be well, my friends!

Image result for Prayer Quotes and Sayings

Praise Prayer

5 Nov

P erfect God, this is my

R esponse to your love which is

A lways available to me

I n everything I do.

S o, I shall

E xalt your name at all times.

God’s Gifts

3 Nov

Do you live in a place that shows the changes of the seasons in an obvious way? Living in western New York affords me seasons of weather that are VERY obvious. Spring brings rain and green growth, blossoms and gentle warmth as the angle of the sun changes. Summer in Buffalo is beautiful but seemingly short. So much to do while the weather is so forgiving! Summer brings warm breezes, sunshine and beautiful green grass and flowers with full trees for shade. Fall is our current season and God has done wonders with whatever paints were used to decorate the trees. Even with leaves falling, cooler temperatures and some rain present, the days albeit shorter, still offer some warmth and beauty. Winter will come with its frigid winds, piles of snow and limited sunshine. It still can be lovely and I appreciate living in a locale that offers me such wondrous weather variety.

I chanced to take a drive recently on a sunny fall day and the colors of the leaves were grand. God–your seasonal gifts are so good!

On the other hand, Spring can bring devastating floods, summer can offer hurricanes and fearful droughts. Fall can bring tornadoes and winter’s bitter cold can sometimes seem endless as the snow piles up and thoughts of spring relief seem distant.

When we are loving the seasons we feel blessed and when we fail to appreciate the seasons we feel discouraged.

God still provides.

Gods attention to detail is ever present.

He pays attention to the world decorated with keen handiwork and He notices the needs and wants we have as well.

How blessed we are to love an amazing all loving God who loved us first in ways we can barely fathom.

For that let us give praise!

Quotes about God Loves Us (133 quotes)

AMEN! AMEN!

The Cleansing Rain

1 Nov

One of the things I love about the fall season is the array of colors emerging from week to week like a festive light and color show to reward us before the harsh winter comes. I can say this because I live in Buffalo, NY.

One of the things I dislike about fall is the cold rain that sometimes goes on for days. As I write, my neck of the woods is in this season. I was out this morning in sideways rain with 45 degree temperatures and I decided it was a rough way to begin the day.

I found a definition of rain and its function by reviewing a few websites and her are the basics:

Rain is obtained when moisture from oceans, freshwater, and geological features evaporates and condenses in high, cold air, generating clouds in the sky. Rain falls from these fluffy clouds, rehydrating the ground and air. Rain also referred to as precipitation, is the consequence of water condensing in the surrounding atmosphere. Hail, rain, snow, and sleet drop to the ground immediately when the air can no further sustain the pressure of the moisture.

Reading this, I was drawn to the last few words–“pressure of the moisture.”

Most people don’t like pressure. Pressure suggests being forced or rushed into something. Many of us resist that feeling because we prefer to control things and decide how we might go about our day.

This may describe my negative spirit about fall rain. Fall rain seems pushy!

But then we all know there will be no rainbow without rain. There can be no light without darkness. There can be no strength until we have felt the sensation of weakness. We search for joy after a season of sadness.

Dearest Lord, I will tolerate your rain. I will appreciate the need to rehydrate the ground allowing for growth and fertility that will ultimately bring spring. I know rain can be cleansing, renewing and much needed. I will endure this weather spell I am experiencing with the courage and knowledge that a sunny day will emerge soon. That is just who you are, God—the giver of all gifts. AMEN.

The View from a Child

1 Nov

Kids are so smart! They see things we adults miss and they appreciate things in ways that the adult imagination fails to embrace.

The concept of God is a mystery to us all, but children offer the most precious perspective. I recall when my daughters were maybe 4 and 6 years of age the younger one asked the older one “What do you think of God?” The reply was this: “God is kind of like magic.” At the time they were both watching an afternoon children’s show while I was nearby in the kitchen working on dinner. I had to evesdrop in order to catch this conversation and I have held it close to my heart all these years. Both daughters are mothers now and I bet they do not even recall that tender conversation.

I have referred to this book before on this website. CHILDREN’S LETTERS TO GOD. It is a compilation by two authors, Hample and Marshall. Here are a few samples:

“Dear God, My grandpa says you were around when he was a little boy. How far back do you go? Love, Dennis

“Dear God, I am American. What are you?” Robert

“Dear God, Why is Sunday School on Sunday? I thought it was supposed to be a day of rest. ” Tom

“Dear God, You don’t have to worry about me, I always look both ways.” Dean

“Dear God, I think the stapler is one of your greatest inventions.” Ruth

“Dear God, If you watch in church on Sunday I will show you my new shoes. Mickey

What is there not to love about those genuine, disarming and cute questions and comments?

What is there not to appreciate about the thought of kids and God connecting? It is Biblical!

The Little Children and Jesus –Mark10:13-16

13People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.

What a precious thought, how God sees and loves all children. It is also a precious thought that the children would seek God’s presence and God’s love.

By the way, this notion is not just for the little ones, because YOU and I are also God’s children.

Try to draw nigh.

Who Moved my Cheese?

29 Oct

Are you familiar with the Spencer Johnson book with the above title?

Who Moved my Cheese?

This is not a children’s book, but rather a book for adults done in parable style that teaches us about our own human habits, routines and sometimes our stale thinking. This was a popular business and career book in the late nineties.

There are four characters in the story–two tiny mice and two humans–the size of mice. It’s an imaginative tale. The two mice are named Sniff and Scurry. The two miniature people are named Hem and Haw. As the story unfolds, the four of them are in a grand and angular maze looking for cheese. Sniff and Scurry act as their names suggest seeking, finding and if there is nothing to find they scurry along to the next destination. Hem and Haw also live up to their names. They are also looking for the cheese and upon finding it they hunker down feeling their work is done while Sniff and Scurry keep looking for other cheese even if they find some…they seek a back up plan. Hem and Haw relished meeting their goal and rested a bit in their accomplishment while the other two characters still sought out more locations of cheese. One day Hem and Haw entered their secret location and their stash was gone. “Who moved my cheese?” they wailed. In contrast, when Sniff and Scurry came upon a place where cheese had once been, they shrugged and slipped off further into the maze to seek out cheese somewhere else. Meanwhile Hem and Haw were analyzing, conjecturing, complaining and wondering about the original cheese lost instead of moving forward. In the grand scheme of things, who do YOU think found the most cheese?

This reminds me of my faith. If I hit a roadblock of unexpected disappointments do I hem and haw or do I try to scurry and sniff out a plan for moving forward?

The following quotes help us see a fuller and more active faith:

  • “Faith is seeing light with your heart when all your eyes see is darkness.”
  • “Faith, it’s all about believing, you don’t know how it will happen, but you know it will.”
  • “Let your faith be bigger than your fear.”
  • “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
  • “Your faith can move mountains and your doubt can create them.”

2 Corinthians 5:7 says…

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

Matthew 17:20 says…

“He said to them, ‘Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.’”

On my faith journey, I pray for the strength and wisdom to trust the Lord and sniff and scurry rather than to hem and haw.

Servanthood

27 Oct

So many times we think of being a servant as a negative thing. I am someone’s servant? Hmmm…. if I am someone’s servant, what do they expect from me? On the other hand, we love the notion of serving God and serving others. Which is it? A good thing or not so much?

God would have us believe servanthood is a good thing. Servanthood is NOT slavery. Slavery requires total obedience despite desire. Servanthood is freedom to work for a chosen cause / master. I serve my Lord and I am not a slave to my Lord. It is my desire to serve God and others.

Pastor Rick Warren in his best seller from the early 2000’s THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE speaks of servanthood by quoting 1 Corinthians 12:6

” And there are different ways that God works through people but the same God works in all of us in everything we do.”

That suggests that our servanthood is God-led and God-inspired.

“We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.” Ephesians 2:10

Warren goes on to explore this by saying that we were deliberately shaped by God for service. Each of us has a ministry designed for us to cultivate and use by reaching out to others and by honoring God with our gestures of service. We were carefully designed for servanthood. And indeed we can lead others in this manner. I like the quote below, but will add this….

Keep God at the center of your servanthood.

See the source image

Am I a Christian?

25 Oct

C hrist follower

H eaven bound

R everently seeking

I nquisitive and thoughtful

S haring good news

T rying to do good

I n places I go

A lways knowing God is

N ear

Women of the Word

22 Oct

I have a book by that title. The author and illustrator is Mary Lou Sleevi. Every now and then I go through old books and decide which ones I want to donate or give away as a RE-GIFT. This publication dates back to 1985.

I have kept it.

In the book, Sleevi uses some beautiful artwork and poetry to tell the stories of some Biblical women. In the Foreword of the book she has a 13 stanza poem about God’s artisitic creation of each of us–God’s children. I share just a portion below:

“God is the Artist

God paints all day, everyday, every moment.

God has imagination and time.

God loves the palette because color is light and God is light in time.

The original [artist] who does only originals, never paints by numbers.

Ever since Eden, no two beings nor moments are ever the same.”

I love God the creator. God makes things just right, while nuancing each being. Each animal, plant and person is “an original” of God’s making. Even in our human view when we think something is too different, or odd or ill seeming, God deems it perfect. The giraffe is supposed to have that long neck and the Basset Hound is supposed to have those long ears, mosquitoes are meant to bite and Poison Ivy is supposed to make us itch. These are God’s designs, not ours.

Our individuality is by God’s plan. We are who we are as part of God’s magnificent plan.

Even our frailties, human failings and our “Oops” ways of living life are part of divine design and precious to God. God’s mighty forgiveness can cover and mend any version of Oops, if we only trust, if we only ask, if we only believe.

For the women reading this—WE ARE WOMEN OF THE WORD! PERFECT!

For the men reading—YOU ARE MEN OF THE WORD AND ARE COMPLETE IN GOD’S PLAN.

AMEN.

Doubts

20 Oct

Here we are going through life, fighting our own personal battles, witnessing world injustice, crime, pockets of evil, illness and just overall feelings of malcontent. It’s hard to feel joyful and optimistic in this pandemic world that many of us thought would have ended by now. SIGH….

Don’t we want to cry out, “Why?”

Then enters the word of the Lord:

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. Isaiah 55:8 (New Living Translation)

The words help me realize a few things.

God’s hand is on the spin of the earth.

God’s love is in every corner of the world.

God’s watchful eye is powerfully upon us.

God winces when I cry out, “Why?”

It would be God’s preference for me to express my love, patience, faithfulness and trust. And then I wince.

But thankfully, God is a patient being. God knows all of the comings and goings of my world, of my mind and of my heart. God is a listener and my advocate. I want to give back to God just as he gives to me.

In response to God’s gracious love and care, I will each day try to return the favor in some small way.

Image result for A Flower. Size: 119 x 102. Source: flower-tops.blogspot.com

God’s Good Grace

18 Oct

GRACE–what a beautiful word! It speaks of love, care, sincerity, forgiveness and more.

In my teaching at a Christian college, students who need a little more time to work on some assignment ask for grace on the deadline. When I need a little more time connecting with God, I ask for grace.

Many authors have spoken about amazing and sometimes mysterious grace:

“Grace is free sovereign favor to the ill-deserving.” – Benjamin B. Warfield

“Grace can neither be bought, earned, or won by the creature. If it could be, it would cease to be grace.” – Arthur W. Pink

“Courage is grace under pressure.” – Ernest Hemingway

“Grace isn’t a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It’s a way to live. The law tells me how crooked I am. Grace comes along and straightens me out.” – Dwight Lyman Moody

“Because of the favor of God, we can have peace in the midst of chaos.” – Crystal McDowell

There are word derivatives of grace that include these: gracious, graceful.

Old and Middle English taught that the original meaning of the word was this:

“God’s favor or help.”

The Bible tells us this:

  • Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

Thank you, oh amazing God, for your gift of unfailing grace.

God the Accountant

15 Oct

Accountants are interesting people. They are counters! They count funds, keep track of numbers and pay attention to numerical details of all types. Every number matters!

God is an accountant–he counts EVERYTHING!

He pays attention to our comings and goings, he numbers the hairs on our head, he cares for our prayers and counts the stars and measures the waters on earth. How do I know this? These points are recorded in the Bible.

“He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.” Psalm 147:4

“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand,
    or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?
Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket,
    or weighed the mountains on the scales
    and the hills in a balance?” Isaiah 40-12

“Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. ” Luke 12:7

Because God counts everything, I believe I count to God. It is not a numerical thing, it is a value thing.

God values my very existence.

I MATTER to God.

I praise God for that!

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Blessings by Laura Story

13 Oct

On Sunday in church our soloist sang this piece self-accompanied on keyboard. It is such a startling yet tender message! I am unable to listen to the actual piece without sobbing. It speaks of God’s mystery, goodness, care and strength when we need him the most. Laura Story wrote the piece as a young wife whose husband had been diagnosed with a serious brain tumor. They were newlyweds facing their first huge trial together.

The piece runs the gamut of emotions we often feel when despair hits us before hope kicks in. I share her beautiful lyrics below and perhaps by GOOGLING the title of this post, you will come across the actual song and you can listen to its glorious message. Be well, my friends!

BLESSINGS (lyrics)

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
And all the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your word is not enough
And all the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not
This is not our home

It’s not our home

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near

What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life-
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

THIS WAS REPRINTED AS FOUND ONLINE WITH PUNCTUATION AS IS ON BING.COM.

Being Prayerful

11 Oct

Prayerful? Am I prayerful? Do I know prayerful people? What does it mean to be prayerful?

A few years ago I purchased a book called A YEAR OF LIVING PRAYERFULLY by Jared Brock. This was the story of a Canadian (millenial) husband and wife couple who decided to explore prayer deeply and internationally and intentionally and ecumenically for one year with a goal to enrich their prayer lives. They used savings and frugal travel styles to make this happen. The couple runs a not for profit agency called Hope for the Sold, which works against the worldwide evil trend of human trafficking. Their travels taught them about many ways and reasons to pray.

A quote from the book sums up the couple’s initial plight and their “soul goal” to make prayer matter more to them.

“What do you do when prayer becomes routine? What do you do when your prayers feel like they are hitting the ceiling and going nowhere? How do you keep your prayers from getting boring? What if God is silent? What if God does the exact opposite of what you’ve just prayed?”

Those are powerful questions to consider in the midst of our distracted lives when a prayer utterance is sometimes the last thing we do before falling asleep at night. (I speak for myself.)

The point of the book was for this young couple to get in touch with God, but more than that, to be in tune with the creator and the world given us.

A quote also included in the book, was from Armin Gesswein, a Lutheran Pastor who has studied multiple aspects of prayer. He states this:

If God wants us to pray without ceasing, it is because He wants to answer without ceasing.”

Now THAT is powerful and prayerful!

The essence of all of this is captured in the first two verses of the James Montgomery hymn written in 1818.

1 Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire,
uttered or unexpressed;
the motion of a hidden fire
that trembles in the breast.

2 Prayer is the simplest form of speech
that infant lips can try,
prayer the sublimest strains that reach
the Majesty on high. AMEN!