Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tips for Triumphant Living--Soaking and Souring?

Marcus Antonius said, “The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.”

My mother used to make what some considered to be “the best pickles”. I never did understand why. They weren’t my favorite food. It doesn’t make sense to pick fresh, crisp cucumbers and soak them in brine until they turn soft and sour. Some say that soaking and souring changes a fresh vegetable into something delicious. I don’t agree, at least not in this instance.

We humans also soak and sour. How you ask? By dwelling on the negative. How often have we set our minds on a wrong done to us or a mistake we ourselves have committed. What good comes from deliberately pondering on the destructive things in life? I can’t think of even one instance when it made something better.

Philippians chapter four, verses 8-9 says, Finally brothers, whatever is true, 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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Paul’s words couldn’t be more clear. The dwelling we do should be on the excellent things in life. We need to get our minds off ourselves, off our circumstances and on God’s goodness. This kind of thinking can transform us from someone who soaks and sours to someone who lives with a heart full of praise.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Quite Moments With God--Look For Him

The world is a scary place. There are wars and famine. Terrorists are biting at humanitie's heels. Here in America the family structure seems to be coming apart. And the world economy is unpredictable and threatens to unseat us from our throne of prosperity.

We don’t know what tomorrow holds. Some days we may feel like finding a dark cave where we can hide, a place that seems safe from the dangers and demands of our world.

The Lord is coming . . . one day. In I Thessalonians 5:1 – 11 it talks about the day our Lord will return. Oh how I long for His coming. But . . . what should I be about while I wait?

Scripture says, The Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety”, destruction will come on them suddenly as labor pains in a pregnant woman.

I ask again, “What should we be up to until He comes?” God’s Word tells us, we should not be ignorant about those days and to be watching. It also says, We do not belong to the darkness but we belong to the day. We should be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate and the hope of salvation as a helmet.

It is our faith and love that protects us from the evil one. Have faith in our Lord who loves us and who will keep us from wrath. We need not fear. Instead live lives that are filled with faith, hope and love. To do so, will enable us to trust in God and reach out to others, sharing our faith with those who do not know Christ.

People want to know. They long for a God who loves them and who has provided a way of salvation. We can tell them what Christ did for us and that he lived and died so we can spend eternity with our Heavenly Father.

We also must encourage fellow believers. These are difficult days and we need each other; we can help hold one another steady in the midst of the storm. We’re never alone; Christ is with us always and we have a family that is so huge their number cannot be counted.

So . . . while we wait what is our niche? What is God calling us to do? Find out and then do it.

The hour draws near. May we watch and wait with expectation.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tips for Triumphant Living--Seek God First.

Life is filled with diversions. Days are packed with work and parenting and grandparenting. We make time for our friends and our church and sometimes for our community. And for activities that are wasters of time. And when the day is done, we fall into bed craving sleep—no time for prayer, no time for Him.

How do we begin our days? Do we crawl from bed and hurry to get to our busy schedules? Are we moving in such haste that we forget to take time to speak with Him?

Our Lord waits for us. Matthew 6:33 says, "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

What is Jesus speaking of? The preceding verses talk about our day-to-day needs, our worries—what shall we eat and drink, what shall we wear? Christ assures us that we’re not to worry about the things in the world. Instead we are to seek Him and He will see to our needs as he does for the lilies of the fields and the birds of the air.

What is it that steals our attention away from Christ? Most of us can name that something or something’s immediately. We know what they are, the activities that drag us away from quality time we could spend with our Lord, our children, spouses, family and friends.

We need to kick out those distractions that steal rather than give. I have my list of empty diversions.

I’m convinced if we do as Jesus says and seek first His Kingdom, above all else, then all the rest will be given to us; all that is good and beneficial for us and for the world. If only we’ll seek Him first.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Quiet Moments With God--Power in The Word

In my reading today I came across an interesting verse, most likely one that has sparked vigorous discussions. The disciples were committed to the truth, which is one of the reasons this verse stands out to me.

Phillippians 1:17-18 says, "The former (those who preach Christ out of envy and rivalry) preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice."

Amazing words. Paul rejoices in Christ being preached even when the motive is ALL wrong. This raises a question for me. How often do I/we feel at odds with “the church down the street” because they do things a little differently than we do or their motives seem out of line?

Paul does not mince words, but states clearly that no matter what the motives, God’s Word is vibrant and living. No matter who is speaking, if Christ is preached it’s good. I’m not advocating heresy; heretical doctrine cannot be supported. But that doesn’t mean we’re to spend our time scrapping over the differences in our faith, or our music or teaching styles.

If I’m to be completely honest, my own motives are not always what they should be. How often do any of us have absolutely pure motives? Don’t we sometimes hope to get something for what we give? Whether it’s a thank you or admiration, or status or . . . The list is long. Therefore, if we who endeavor to serve the Lord with pure hearts cannnot manage to do that, then who are we to judge someone else’s motives?

If we keep our focus on Christ and not on each other's shortcomings there will be less strife, which will naturally create more time to accomplish God’s will. I say our time is better spent serving, loving, and teaching God’s Word rather than sniping at each other.

Over the years, I've visited many churches. In some the preacher spoke in a way that was foreign to me, too theatrical or too subdued. Worship music has many faces. Does that make one that's different from what we're used to any less worshipful? I've listened to preachers who I felt were more interested in the money they could pull in than saving souls, which saddens me, but doesn't diminish the wonder of God's Word.

Shall we work together, side-by-side preaching Christ? We are brothers and sisters in the Lord. There is power in The Word. Power to change lives!

And so I say, "Amen to brotherhood and forbearance."

Grace and Peace to you from God.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tips for Triumphant Living--Be ready.

II Timothy 4:2 says, “Be ready in season and out of season.”

So, what does that mean exactly? Simply put, I think it means BE READY, whether you feel like it or not. We can’t wait until we feel inspiration or a supernatural pulse from God to step out in service or in faith. We need to live every day in obedience, trusting our Lord.

I’m a writer, and if I wrote only when I felt inspired I’d never get anything done. I have to plant myself in my chair in front of my computer every day inspired or not. I have to go to work.

I love my job, but often what I put down on paper feels anything but inspired. And yet, so many times I look back at something I’ve written and wonder, "Where did that come from? Did I write that?" Then I remember God is with me whether I feel His presence or not. Of course there are times when I read and shudder at what I've written. And I have to rewrite. But it’s okay; rewriting is part of the creative process. And surprisingly, I love it!

Inspired moments are to be treasured, but we can’t live in that place counting only on the exceptional flashes of inspiration to do what God asks of us. If we live that way our life will be like dust, producing nothing.

So . . . BE READY and know that God is with you.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Quite Moments With God--God's not done with me yet.

While in jail, Paul writes to the Philippian Church and says in chapter one, verses 4-6, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Heartening words to the Philippians and to us. There is hope.

Because of their faith, the Philippians endured trials and persecution just as Paul did. He wants to encourage his fellow believers. And remind them that what God began will be fulfilled.

Paul sees the Philippians as family who are working together in partnership with him for the gospel. We also are partners with Christ and with one another. Sometimes we get discouraged and, just as Paul did, we must encourage one another. We aren’t there yet, none of us, not until the day of Christ.

In the years since first accepting Christ and His good news there have been moments when I wanted to give up on being a follower. Not out of unbelief, but because the call seemed too hard and hurt too much. I wasn’t good enough, not strong enough, not dedicated enough. And I wondered what good am I to the Kingdom? I’m nothing.

Then God would remind me of Paul’s words to the Philippian church, that the One who had begun a good work would carry it on to completion. Praise Him!

I am a work in progress, imperfect, inept, and sometimes frightened. But what a privilege to be called . . . just as I am. God doesn’t expect perfection; He simply wants a willing heart. He chose me and I can trust Him to see me through.

In the early days of my walk I could see the big obvious sins and looked forward to the day when I’d have them under control. A strange thing happened on the way to sinlessness, my eyes were opened to how unlike Christ I am and always will be while residing on this planet. But He doesn't give up on me. Instead He stays close, encouraging, teaching, and sometimes carrying me while I fight my way through life.

I will praise Him in the process with the promise that one day I will stand before my Heavenly Father, perfect and brand new. A gift to big to truly comprehend.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Tips for triumphant living--Shine!

Recently I was chatting with a friend and she made a simple statement, “Just be thankful.” Her words struck me in a powerful way, I think because of the way she said them. She made the statement very matter-of-factly, as if she'd never even consider being anything but thankful.

This woman’s life has not been easy; like most of us she’s experienced hardship. She lost a daughter at an early age and her husband went home to be with the Lord a few years ago. And she’s faced serious health issues. Yet, I do not see or hear any sign of resentment. It’s as if she really believes God is in control. And life is good because she trusts Him.

Being thankful is part of who she is. She chooses to focus on the positive things in life rather than the disappointments. God must smile when He looks upon her. Her rich relationship with Him is good for all of us. Her kindness and serenity rubs off on the people close to her, including me. She’s like a light in the darkness. And isn’t that what God asked us to be, a light?

May we all shine brighter.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Sunday, May 04, 2008

Quiet Moments With God--Memories

Yesterday I spoke at a women’s luncheon; the topic was Making Memories to Cherish. The luncheon was great fun. We played games, enjoyed good food and beautiful music. Best of all, I met a lot of special ladies who made me feel welcomed. And I now have a batch of new memories tucked away in my mind.

Memories are like gifts, and the best kind of memories are those created by acts of love and mercy. I have many wonderful memories of my growing up years with my large family, funny and even bizarre moments with my kids, and special times with friends.

Through the years, God has brought warm and loving people into my life. The women at the luncheon were those kind of people. They made a special effort to encourage me and to make me feel like one of them.

The kind of event I attended yesterday doesn’t happen by accident. It takes committed people who willingly give of themselves. Women put hours into planning. Some carefully chose music and then perfected it for us to enjoy. There were lovely table settings prepared for guests, food prepared and special vignettes written and then shared. The end result was a memorable day and a warm place in my heart where I will remember it all.

In love and mercy, these women took time to give to others. Special memories last and they help carry us through the good and the bad days of life. May we savor every precious moment given to us.

Touch someone else’s life today—let them know you love them.

Grace and peace to you from God.