Sunday, September 27, 2009

Tips For Triumphant Living -- Be Ready

Challenges are coming our way. It's not a matter of if, but when. Are you ready? Some of what we must face will feel like we're running a gauntlet. Our personal challenges and crisis will not be the same, and they will come into our lives for diverse reasons, yet we as believers share a commonality of the battle. And we need to be ready to fight.

I can remember thinking that I had nothing to be concerned about, that when I'd face my battles God would be there. He'd give me whatever I needed. To a degree that's true, but as believers we're not without responsibility. Hebrews 5:12-14 makes it clear we're not to remain infants, living on milk, but we must mature by feeding on the solid food of God's Word.

God is with us. He loves us. He is our Father and we can trust Him to stand with us. Time, experience and study of The Word builds our relationship with The Father and we will become true comrades, linked arm in arm, ready for battle.

Ask yourself,"Do I REALLY know Him well? If not, why not?"

He offers us all we need--His presence, the Holy Spirit, His Word, His Son. Therefore, if we're not well acquainted it's our fault not His. If God seems far away take a close, honest look at your spiritual walk. You will discover the reason for the distance. I can assure you it is not God who has moved away. If you long to know God commit to discovering Him. He is waiting.

Don't be afraid. God understands that growth takes time. He will meet us where we are. I've experienced that many times. One of the most dramatic events was many years ago when my now thirty-year-old daughter was just eight months old. She contracted spinal meningitis. In a coma and with septicemia I feared she'd die. My husband and I were baby Christians with little spiritual knowledge. God understood and provided faith and close friends. They held us and prayed for us and for our daughter. I will never forget those dear ones who were mature in their faith and stood with us in our time of trouble.

Since that time I've walked through many fires with the Lord and I've matured, yet am still far from the mark of perfection. Today God expects more from me than He did all those years ago. I'm no longer a babe, nor should I be. Because of His Word, prayer, worship and experiencing the ups and downs of life I've come to know God and to trust Him more. I still struggle, but I have a history with God and know I can count on Him.

Ephesians 6:10 - 18 offers a list of weapons we all need. Hold onto them. They will not let you down.

Be strong in the Lord and be ready.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tips For Triumphant Living -- Try Something New

Friday, September 15th, my husband and I went to a local concert where we were treated to the Big Band Sounds of the Glenn Miller Orchestra. Glenn Miller was before my time. I grew up with Sonny & Cheri, Joan Baez, the Beatles, and The Mama's and the Papa's. So, you might ask, why was I at a Glenn Miller concert? Simply because my cousin's husband is one of the band members, and he provided free tickets.

Sounds shallow, but it isn't really. I'd never met Gary Meggs, a fabulous musician and family member. We've been corresponding via the internet for several years and this was my first opportunity to meet him face to face. After the concert, we had a fun chat over some good food. It was thrilling to spend time with Gary and to catch up on news of relatives who live on the other side of the country. I'm looking forward to seeing more of him and the rest of the family.

I love family, but tonight I want to talk about the concert. The auditorium was packed, mostly with senior citizens--a sharp group of people I might add. They know good music when they hear it. There was a group of older women sitting behind my husband and I. They were talking about the songs they hoped would be played. One woman said exuberantly, "If they play "In the Mood" I'm on my feet." They did and she was. :-)

As I looked around the auditorium young and old, were swaying to tunes like Moonlight Serenade. Some snuggled as they were carried back to the good old days by the chords of String of Pearls. I teared up when I a young man gently sang Danny Boy. Enthusiasm bubbled up inside as I discovered a sound that had captivated an entire generation. And when they played I Know Why I looked at my husband and fell in love all over again. I wanted to get up right then and there and dance. Dance lessons are now on my list of things I'd like to do some day--don't tell my husband. ;-)

For two hours a lot of us forgot our troubles and our aches and pains. We simply felt happy and blessed to be in that place at that time. I haven't enjoyed an evening as much for a very long time. The music was beyond fabulous! And the escape into joy . . . well priceless. I actually purchased a CD and plan to enjoy more of the Glenn Miller sound.

Most of the time we fall into blessings unintentionally. This was one of those times for me. I encourage you to try something new. You just might like it.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Quiet Moments With God -- Know My Heart

How often have we heard the term, "be real"? More times than I can count. I suspect when people coin this phrase they're not thinking about being real for God but more likely considering being transparent with people. In my Bible reading I came across a verse where David has quite another perspective.

Psalm 129:23-24 says, "Search me, O 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." David invited God to examine him. He so loved and trusted his Lord that he completely opened himself up to God's scrutiny.

David was willing to look at who he was--no pretenses, no masks. David is often lifted up as an example of a Godly man and yet he had no shortage of sins. He slept with another man's wife, then had the man killed. In my opinion this comes under the category of odious sins. I would think it took great courage for David to look at who he really was.

David's devotion to God drove him toward transparency. He longed for unvarnished truth, but only because God had reigned in his heart.

So it should be with us, to desire God above all else and let Him shine a light on who we are. Then we can be fully and completely His. Being all His enables us to walk with confidence. God knows all there is to know. Even before we've taken a breath of sin He knows and loves us anyway.

Let us not forget that it is in brokenness of spirit and obedience that we discover our Lord and are empowered by God. Only then will we fully see the possibilities He offers.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Tips For Triumphant Living -- Don't Forget To Smile

While reading scripture this morning and thinking about all my "obligations" I was struck by my serious nature. It's good to be thoughtful, even reflective. But in this daunting world I think there are too many somber, dour faces out there. If you're one of them, don't beat yourself up--we're only human.

When I saw this truth about my nature it hit me in the gut. I need to "chill", at least a bit. I need to smile more, laugh more and spend more time thinking about the wonders in this world, and the gift of life.

I think God wants us to have fun. If not, why did He give us to much to enjoy?

Philippians 4:8 says, "Whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."

Good advice. We need to get out of the grumpies and consider the wonders around us. If I were to make a list of things that bless my life it would begin with a husband who loves me (even after 40 years together), a caring family, grandchildren who live close and who make me laugh, every day. There's nothing that warms me more than chubby arms wrapped around my neck and a kiss from a little one who says, "I love you, grandma." On my list I'd also have to include good friends, a beautiful home set in one of the most stunning places on earth, and I must not forget that I have a Lord who loves me just as I am and who died for me so I might live.

With all these blessings, and more, how can I feel grumpy? The sad answer is ingratitude. In light of this revelation I'm mortified at my lack of thankfulness. I have lots to smile about. I'll have to make sure to include praise time in my prayer time. :-)

You might like to put your own list together--write down all the good stuff in your life. I bet there's more than you realize. And when it's written down, post it some place where you'll see it every day, then remember to be grateful.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Monday, September 07, 2009

Quiet Moments With God -- Flowers for Crystal

Today my daughter and I took orange roses to the cemetery. Orange roses were my nineteen-year-old niece's favorite flower and orange was her favorite color. Today is the four year anniversary of her death. It feels like Crystal left us only yesterday. There is still a hole where she belongs. We miss her and long for her one of a kind smile and the great "Crystal Hugs" she used to give.

Yet, even with the pain of her absence my family and I are assured that the separation is only for a time. Crystal is in heaven. And God has promised that we will be reunited. I'm looking forward to a "Crystal Hug".

On my way to the cemetery I was thinking how different my perspective would be if I had no assurance of heaven. The tearing away of a loved one would be unendurable. I was overwhelmed with gratitude. God has made a way. He has given me hope and a future. I will see Crystal again and so many others who have already gone ahead.

John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." Christ gave His life for me and because of His sacrifice I am assured of heaven--there is no guessing and wondering whether or not I get the gift of eternal life. It is mine, just because I believe.

Even the prisoner who hung beside Christ on our Lord's last day on earth was promised a place in heaven. He believed and the gift was his.

To know our farewells are temporary is the greatest comfort. But I think of those who have no hope. I remember. As a young woman I met each day with the terrifying thought that one day I would die. And then a friend introduced me to Christ. And I didn't have to be afraid any longer.

There are many who live in terror. Tell them about Jesus. God opens doors and provides opportunities. Don't be afraid. Love enough to take a risk. I'm grateful my dear friend, Kathy, took a chance and told me. Now I live with hope and when I take flowers to my loved one's graves I know it is only a place for them to be remembered--they aren't there--they wait, with The King, for a grand reunion.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Thursday, September 03, 2009

Tips For Triumphant Living -- Surrender Yourself

Most mornings begin with Oswald Chambers and his book "My Utmost For His Highest". His thoughts have a way of touching my spirit and clearing away the cobwebs that distract me. Several days ago while reading his devotional his thoughts again carried me closer to God. I wish I were able to thank him for his ministry that has touched so many lives.

He said, "Living a full and overflowing life does not rest in bodily health, in circumstances, nor even in seeing God's work succeed, but in the perfect understanding of God and in the same fellowship and oneness with Him that Jesus Himself enjoyed." And then he added, "The first thing that will hinder this joy is the subtle irritability caused by giving too much thought to our circumstances."

The thought of having the oneness with God that Jesus did is mind boggling. Is it possible? What a glorious thought! Some day.

I long to know God, truly know Him. Christ's sacrifice opened the door to that kind of relationship, but there is something I must do--surrender. I need to offer up all of me to Him. I remember many years ago when this thought first presented itself to me. I was terrified. What if God wanted me to become a minister in Africa or something like that? The idea was just too scary. But I soon saw that no matter where it was that God called me it was the best place for me. I needed to trust Him.

It is my heart's cry to know God well, to draw so close to Him that I know His every thought, His heart, and to feel His presence in every moment. I'm not there and while tied to this earth will never be. But I press closer. It is in that closeness that I will find Him, along with true joy, peace, and contentment. He is everything.

God offers rivers of living water -- rivers that run deep, cool and powerful. Rivers that never dry up. Rivers that will always refresh and strengthen his children. All we need is to thirst and drink.

I'm commited to seek after Him, to desire His will and His love, and to push aside all other distractions. Again and again I must yield myself to Him. Join me. Shall we pray for one another and discover our God together?

Grace and peace to you from God.