Out of proportion maybe!?!

2019-01-14 19.52.31

Now the men were frightened when they were taken to his house. They thought, “We were brought here because of the silver that was put back into our sacks the first time. He wants to attack us and overpower us and seize us as slaves and take our donkeys.” Genesis 43:18

Now to personalize it a bit…. I was frightened and thought… they want to attack me and over power me and seize me and take my ———-! (Unless you own a donkey you can fill in that last blank with some other position or possession.) Now lets fast forward to verse 24… reality. The steward took the men into Joseph’s house, gave them water to wash their feet and provided fodder for their donkeys. Hmmm… can anyone else relate to worrying or fearing out of proportion?! In fact, I would do well to memorize verse 23, “It’s all right, ” he said. “Don’t be afraid. Your God, the God of your father, has given you treasure…. The treasure of His presence, the great I AM for all you would ever, could ever need has promised to be with you ALWAYS!

This Sunday I attended church after a war with the curling iron. Now it’s not the first time I have attempted to wrestle with that beast (always hopeful for a win) and yes, it takes time and effort to complete the whole head of curls, so by the time I’m finished, and I realize my new look now resembles a severely aged and definitely not as cute Shirley Temple rather than the soft tussled beach curls the picture on the front of the curling iron box promised, I’m out of time and once again forced into public with this look!! However God brought about the sweetest message.

I was in the church kitchen and the pastors wife breezed by and in about 30 seconds sincerely complimented the curly helmet I was wearing and alluded to the time and effort it takes to produce curls in the morning. That’s when I thought I needed to get things into proportion. Taking eyes off self and sharing even a little of His love and kindness in just 30 seconds can really bring some perspective right! I was reminded to have eyes and a heart that look out and recognize and appreciate the time and effort someone puts in rather than just judge the product or outcome. Sometimes the bigger importance is the process… do I notice and appreciate others process, others time and efforts behind the end results that are so obvious to the world?

I believe the more we move into being “doers” of the Word rather than just hearers or even just being absently present, God creates in us a sensitivity to truly appreciate the efforts and process of others. To be salt and light to be encouragers of the process rather than just judgers of the final product.

This brings me to my second point or lesson I learned on Sunday (see how important it is not to miss a week!). Luke 5:1-11 starts with Jesus observation of not one but two boats at the waters edge. He got into the one belonging to Peter and ASKED him if he would be willing to push Him out into the water a bit. Now at that moment Peter had a choice to make as do we. It is possible to be present yet so absent that we do not hear Him ask us to join Him; anyone with children knows this is a real possibility… you KNOW they heard you but nothings happening right!! God is always on the move, if we are present and we do hear His call, how do we typically choose to respond? Do we blow excuses out of proportion, thinking of every reason why He can’t possibly be asking us? Thus cheating only ourselves out of the greatest adventure of life abundantly fulfilled in Him. OR do we respond, do we DO as He has asked? Peter did.

Maybe you knew this but it was news to me, that fishermen typically went out in groups of two. Makes sense, two are better than one. So when God asked Peter to come along side Him it was because He had TWO boat fulls of fisherman to whom He wanted to display His glory! Once Peter agreed to help they ALL had to help. I’m sure there was a fair amount of grumbling and a few “accidental” elbow drops thrown Peter’s way on the way out to sea… AGAIN. God’s plan will never be thwarted and so if He had in mind to show two boat fulls of fishermen His glory that night it was going to happen. So if Peter bowed out I believe he would have asked the guy in charge of boat number two to lead the way. Now I’ve lived long enough to know that yes, immediate regret comes after trying and failing however long term, there is more regret experienced over risks not taken. So way to go Peter for not blowing things too out of proportion… he was exhausted, grumpy over the nights ill success yet he didn’t bow out he bowed in… because God said so (verse 5).

Jesus, I want to bow in every time, use my boat, send me! I want to know and hear and listen AND obey. Please give me a heart with eyes that don’t just wait for my big moment but treat every moment like its the big moment… who knows offering 30 seconds of encouragement just passing in the church kitchen just might mean the world to someone.

Independent Read: Isaiah 6:8

 

Counting Carbs or Complaints?!

2019-01-11 10.02.28

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Revelation 2:4

We have reached that annual time of year in which you may spend more time waiting in line at the gym for your turn on the stair climber than you will for Space Mountain at Disney land! That time when the buzz in the office lounge is all over whether you’ve chosen to pursue the Atkins, Paleo, or Slim Fast diet to shed those unwanted pounds that came after eating quite possibly our own body weight in holiday delights (or was that just me?!). Having to losing weight: a problem most countries in this world would probably see as a blessing to get to experience! Perspective.

In Matthew 23:2 Jesus says, The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. It seems as Moses was up against the Red SEA, Jesus was up against the PhariSEES. Jesus said, They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to to move them. Matthew 23:4 This made me do some self evaluation… am I a Pharisee, in my home, church, workplace, as a sister, mother, wife, friend? In every area God has placed my life as an influence do I behave as a Pharisee? Because Jesus also said, Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30 If I am behaving as a Pharisee I am certainly not following Jesus example thus the “Jesus” people perceive in my sphere of influence would be incredibly skewed!!

Jeremiah 17:9 states, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? So I believe in my heart inspection for Pharisee tendencies I need to desperately pray daily (maybe even more frequently), Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24 

Do I live like Jesus? Do I display gentle humility which takes incredible strength? Do I offer non-judgmental yet tough true love in my relationships? Do I behave as someone who believes Eph. 2:4-6? That I already have a seat at the most important table (unearned no less) so I don’t have to play the political games! That I have jobs prepared only for me in advance by the King of kings (Eph. 2:10) so I don’t have to play the competition/comparison games, but can celebrate others! Do I “sing” directly to God, is He my deepest desire, is it His validation that means the most? Do I pursue Truth over traditions? Do I capitalize on strengths or weaknesses? Am I more concerned about what size I’m wearing or about the actual garments; have I chosen to put on praise and His joy, His armor? Do I just find the burdens or do I offer to lift them? Do I locate or am I apart of problems or solutions? Do I serve or look to be served? If we put as much time into counting our complaints as we do our carbs what would we find the health of our hearts to be?

Psalm 10:4 In his pride, the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. How scary is that!!! To be in a state of mind that has lost room for God! Back to Matthew 11:28-30 and Psalm 139:23-24 The cure to prevent that selfish, prideful pharisitical (if that’s a word) state is to “Come to me…” go to Him and say, “Search me, know me, test me…” and then God give me eyes that truly see and a heart willing to fully surrender, to go Your way.

Folks all I know is Jesus is the answer. Human yokes are not easy and our burdens are not light, its in coming to Him that we find rest for our souls because we find it’s not what or why we are going through something; its Who is with us in it. Genesis 35:3 God, who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone. He is love. The most loving Father. Like Jacob’s sensitive response to Joseph’s dreams in Gen. 37:11 and Mary’s sensitive response to Jesus in Luke 2:19, 51. God treasures His people, in Gen. 7:24-8:1 it states, The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days. But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind on the earth, and the waters receded. When it says God remembered Noah it doesn’t mean He forgot him, God doesn’t forget it just means He was now ready to act on what He had held in His heart all along regarding Noah.

Are we living like we know He remembers us, or like a small child riding on a fathers shoulders clinging for dear life to his head not realizing that the saving grip is not our own but that of the father holding onto us? If we could begin to grasp how dearly we are loved and how much He has saved us from as believers in Jesus and that He has seated us in an unearned seat at His table maybe we our natural tending Pharisee hearts would soften to flesh from stone. However this Truth is something only He can reveal but we need to chose to come.

Jesus, may we stop counting “carbs”, walking in the counsel of the wicked, standing in the way of sinners or sitting in the seat of mockers but rather let our delight be in You (Psalm 1:1-2). For those of us that have wondered deceived as the Pharisees open our eyes and bring us back to our first love – You God.

Independent Read: Jeremiah 33:3

 

Rest in your Sustainer

2019-01-03 15.47.44

I lie down and sleep; I wake again because the LORD sustains me. Psalm 3:5

At first this verse had me chuckling because last night I did NOT lie down and sleep… tired, but to no avail, for some time anyway. Ever had a night that you just can’t seem to shut off your brain as if thought wrestling were going to burn any of those extra holiday calories! Gosh, if only!!

I had to pray out Isaiah 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trusting over wrestling… hmmm well lately when thought wrestling has brought me to conclusions in which I feel I might just be beginning to see how God might be working things out… things completely do a 180! So maybe I should retire my wrestling hobby and try this thing called trusting that in Isaiah says brings not just peace but perfect peace! Worth a shot anyway!

The second part of Ps. 3:5 really grabbed my attention. I wake again because…. why?! Because the LORD sustains me! Gosh, how often have I just taken for granted that my eyes open up again in the morning?! It says in Psalm 139 that all my days are ordained for me ahead of time so of course His waking me up with a breath in my lungs one more time is done on His intentional part, and not due to any of my stellar thought wrestling abilities! This fact is reason enough to start each day of mine off in ecstatic praise! It’s nothing short of Him working a miracle in me in order to just to wake up again! And if He did He must not be finished working things out in my life.

Interestingly too that today I read in Genesis the story of Noah. God made something new jump out to me like it hasn’t before. Gen. 7:15 Pairs of all creatures that have the breath of life in them came to Noah and entered the ark. Do you notice it says, “came to Noah”! In Chapter 6 God gives Noah directions to build an ark, gather two of EVERY kind of animal and gather the food. So verse 22 states Noah obeyed… he just got right to work starting with what he could. He built the ark and gathered the food… nowhere is it recorded how Noah was stressing about how in the world he was going to capture two of EVERY kind of animal and then persuade them onto the ark!!

This is why God did not make me Noah because the world would have all gone down while I sat worrying about the animal crisis, neglecting all that I could do like getting to work on hammering some wood together to build the ark and gather food… Noah however had a mind kept in perfect peace because he trusted God and sure enough our faithful Lord brought all the animals needed, TO Noah! Always above and beyond what we could think ask or imagine, that’s why we need to apply trust to keep in peace.

By His grace and mercy He sustains yours and my life every morning that we wake up and why… because He has a job for us that we may very well feel is out of our reach and beyond our capabilities or mind power to figure out but I don’t think that’s what He is asking of you or I. I think He is asking us to wake with ever increasing trust in Him, so that we will keep in perfect peace in order to do what we can and watch and wait as He so faithfully unfolds the rest in His perfect timing.

Rest in His promises, we could ride a rainbows worth of them! 😉

Independent Read: Psalm 46:10, Ephesians 3:20-21

 

Display His Splendor

2019-01-02 11.07.07

You are my servant… in whom I will display my splendor. Isaiah 49:3

In Acts 17 Paul goes from city to city sharing the good news of the Gospel of Jesus. Acts 17:17 states that Paul persisted, day by day with those who happened to be there. I find Paul’s example so encouraging because in just one prior verse, verse 16 it states how greatly distressed he was to see the city so full of idols! Yet the odds stacked against him did not dissuade him from persisting day by day to ANY who happened to be around!!

Acts 17:26 states something I want to keep in the forefront of my mind, …and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. WHY? KEEP READING! Verse 27, God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, through he is not far from each one of us. Encouraging isn’t it that He is not far from ANY of us! He already stepped out of heaven and came down to us, died for us, rose again for us!! We who believe, who’s hearts He has already called and opened to Him just need to display His splendor! You have an angle that displays Him that people He has positioned around you in this place at this time will be susceptible to knowing Him through you, through the way He created only you display His splendor right here right now!!!

Why do you think, though Paul greatly distressed, did not give up due to overwhelming odds? Paul knew first hand what it was like to live apart from the Truth and he had experienced the love and pursuit of a Savior that surpassed anything he had ever experienced before, more fulfilling than anything else he had wholeheartedly pursued in his life and he could not keep that splendid treasure to himself! Paul also knew as Acts 17:31 states, For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead. Paul knew Truth now and so persisted day by day because a day is set and is coming still in which time will run out to make a choice in whom you will serve. So, choose this day whom you will serve… but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. Joshua 24:15

Acts 17:32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of the them sneered, but the others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” Despite great distress at the odds that seem to stack against us in trying to evangelize planet earth before Jesus returns, God does say the harvest is plentiful.. .PLENTIFUL! So we will never find those that want to hear us again on the subject if we don’t keep trying day after day and with ANY who happen to be around us in this very place for such a time as this!

There is no time like the present… your time and place is a God given gift to you! You are a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:3

Independent Read: Matthew 9:37, Romans 5:8, Matthew 28:6, John 11:25, Revelation 19:11-16, 2 Peter 3:8-10

Are you asking the right question?

2018-12-30 15.07.51

…though your riches increase do not set your heart on them. Psalm 62:10

I recently read a tragic story about a doctor that tried desperately to save a young child trapped under a heavy rock just below the surface of some water. He did everything to try and lift the rock with no effect, so he ran to a near by home to get assistance. It took a few men to finally lift the stone however the little one had already tragically passed away. The doctor so distraught played and replayed the situation in his mind feeling he should have been able to save the child. Walking through this same area he noticed a nearby garden hose and it hit him he had been asking the wrong question all along! He had been thinking the problem was the rock so he had been focusing on the question – how can I remove this rock? When in actuality the rock wasn’t what killed the child it was that he was under water and could not breathe… he should have been asking himself how can I get him to breathe?! If he had been trying to solve that problem he would have noticed the garden hose, cut a piece to use as sort of a snorkel for the child to get air until they could remove the stone. “A problem understood is a problem half solved.”

I had the privilege of hearing a wonderful sermon given by a young man wise beyond his years on the passage in Luke 15 about the prodigal son. The prodigal begins life trying to celebrate me, myself and I like much of our world today and if I’m honest like me too much of the time. But gosh that way of living always lands you like the prodigal in a pile of pig muck. Unfortunately though many of us, your’s truly included have at times done a pretty good job of making our pig pens look good but like the preacher said at the end of the day its still just a pig pen.

We all, like the prodigal have a choice to make and God will honor our choice to go our own way or to follow Him. Maybe as we gaze into a new year it should be a time of, as Luke 15:17 states, When he came to his senses… to realize something bigger than me/myself and I is going on, that there is a better way to live! Coming to your senses will inevitably invoke some kind of action as it did for the prodigal in the very next verse (18) I will set out and go… Where is your life going?

Maybe you see you are in a pile of pig muck but you expect someone or something else to fix it. John 1:14 says, The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. Flesh, vulnerable flesh! To a people that would not return the favor! Not that He might RISK His life but that He would GIVE His life for us! He came fully aware He would die in our place so that we could choose to turn from our sinful ways and receive abundant life that can only be found in Jesus, the only One worthy of celebration! He is the Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6) so when we realize we are in a pile of muck lets choose to take responsibility and humbly come before the Wonderful Counselor who became vulnerable flesh yet remained without sin for your sake and mine. He knows what it feels like to be treated unfairly to feel like the plan should go another way, the feeling of abandonment, prayers not being answered, no one knows better than the Wonderful Counselor! Jesus already took the first step what more do we expect?! Step out of the muck into His open arms – He can’t wait to celebrate you! THAT is good news right there!

Apart from Him we can bear no fruit, we can do nothing (John 15:4-5). Have we deceived ourselves into thinking we can do this thing called life on our own?! Have we chosen to build our lives on the sand rather than the Rock? (Matthew 7:24-29) New’s flash, the storm hit both ways of life folks but which house was left standing in the end?! The one built on the Rock!

As we all glance at 2018 just about in the rear view mirror and gaze into the future of brand new, fresh and clean 2019 are we asking ourselves the right questions? Are we running around just trying to fix the latest big rock on our chest as we literally suffocate under the way of the world? Are we just looking for a temporary fill rather than to be FULL-filled?! Folks the Word became flesh to dwell with us, might we make it our hearts deepest desire in 2019 and beyond to continually ask this question as it says in Psalm 27:4 One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. No more running, no more muck, turn to Jesus and be saved!

There is a whole world out there that needs to breathe, needs the saving work of Jesus, are we asking the right questions? After all, “a problem understood is a problem half solved.”

Independent Read: Isaiah 45:22

Where are you staying?

2018-12-29 09.59.16

“Come,” he replied, “and you will see.” John 1:39

My husband and I started out the day playing Lumosity games together for fun, laughs and maybe even, if even just a little bit, to ward off the fear of losing our minds and not because we have six young kids and a moose for a dog! No, those six are our richest blessings for sure and make life a grander adventure than we could ever have hoped for or even imagined which makes the fear of losing our mind in our old age even more frightening… I mean I’m already planning play dates with my future grandchildren!!

Why do we let fear and worry have such control in our lives?! Fear is faith in the enemy, the liar… F.alse E.vidence A.ppearing R.eal Isaiah 9:6 states Jesus is the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace… Phil. 4:19 says He will provide for all our needs – so then why are we so inclined to default to fear and worry?

I find a good example of dealing with fear in Luke 2:8-15. Go ahead I’ll wait while you read it.

Did you notice in verse 9 that when the glory of the Lord shone around them their reaction was terrified fear! Isn’t His presence suppose to bring peace and strength?! I believe it does but we have to be willing to give Him a heart of flesh willing to receive Him rather than a stubborn heart of stone. The shepherd did experience fear like all humans do but as you see in verse 15 the shepherds reaction was “Let’s go…” to God. They wanted to receive Him. They were willing to let go of fear and allow His peace to be received into their hearts right THROUGH their fear! They didn’t allow their fear to freeze them into a stone of ineffectiveness.

Now look at John 1:35-39.

Jesus asks two men “What do you want?” What if God asked you that? What would you say? The two men gave an answer I want to heed. They answered with a question back, “where are you staying?” Jesus answers, “Come, and you will see.” Interesting that Jesus didn’t give specific directions complete with land markers and an exact address. No He said walk with Me and see. Just come with Me and see.

So often we want specific answers to our fears and worries but Jesus just says trust Me, walk with Me and you will see. You will see how I am faithful and provide for all that you need, that my strength is perfect in weakness, My grace sufficient.

Today I pray to choose to respond like the shepherds. To allow His peace and strength to come through my fear and worry and take His perspective on my situation and circumstances. I choose to go and see and not remain frozen in fear but to walk with Him one trusting step at a time because He who promised is faithful!

So where are you staying? I’m staying with Jesus.

Independent Read: Ezekiel 36:26

OF what path do you run?

2018-12-29 08.40.42

to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace. Luke 1:79

So in an attempt to avoid the dreadmill, I mean treadmill yesterday I decided since my husband had the day off and could watch the kids I would take an outdoor run. However the expectation I had of an invigorating run like the kind you see runners take usually in the beginning credits of movies through crisp morning air through gently falling snowflakes… yeah, that wasn’t my reality.

My reality: I wore layers so that I could be appropriately clad for the 20 degree air as I began to warm up, however I just looked like that little boy on that movie, you know the one where he just can’t move and falls over… picture that trying to run. plus I mistakenly wore my glasses not contacts so trying to see between each breath I took through my scarf (yes I even had a scarf flaying) that inevitably fogged up my glasses so visibility was intermittent at best. Actually I even had an elderly couple stop me mid run on the sidewalk and ask if I was running for help?! Really people?! I mean some of us just can’t help that when we attempt a workout we appear to be dying!! I guess that was pretty clear direction that my dream of becoming a movie run model should just die!! But wait there is more…

I was determined to be invigorated and energized regardless of how I looked to the outside world and chose to listen to a podcast sermon on PEACE no less! However my earbuds kept shorting out and I found myself feeling absolutely NO peace as I sucked frozen air through my scarf, searing my lungs, exhaling fog on my glasses blinding my sight all while continuing to attempt what some would question as running, in enough layers to clothe the third world!!! That’s when God got through with the whisper of the word OF.

Luke 1:79 states He guides us to the path OF peace! The path OF peace means its not a path leading TO peace, the WHOLE path is a path OF peace!! Gosh, Lord I’m so sorry! Here I am looking for peace when You are already walking with me ON it!! I was just not willing to receive it! So for the remainder of my run went something like this…

Jesus thank you that my nerves work to feel the invigorating air, thank you that I have glasses that help me see better and that they fog up to let me know I’m still alive with a breath in my lungs and a heart beat! Thank you that I have enough clothes to actually layer up, thank you that I have ears to hear and a brain that notices when my earbuds short out. Thank you that I have a family to run home to. And thank You that you have put people in the world that would stop in concern for someone they felt was in distress. Jesus thank you for guiding me on this path OF so much peace!!

My run may not have looked like the model run to the world but neither may life, because often life gets messy and complicated but that’s why Jesus came, to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death… to lift our hearts, minds and eyes to see that in Him we are ON the path of peace, peace that passes understanding. So today I wish you peace that passes the worlds understanding as you take His perspective and realize as long as you are walking/running (or in my case attempting to run) with Him you already are on the path OF peace so you can stop looking for it and start enjoying it as you receive it every step of the path. God bless!

Independent Read: Philippians 4:7