Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Quiet Moments With God -- He Has A Plan

God is persistent. I love that about Him. Whenever He's trying to make a point or get me to see something important I'll hear His truth from all sorts of sources and usually in a short period of time, which helps to make the point.

This morning when I opened my devotional, these were the words meant for me today. "Your life path has been difficult, draining you of strength. Come to Me for nurture. Let Me fill you up with My presence. I in you and you in Me."

I in you and you in Me. Me and God together. Love that.

Last night during our group study this truth was one of those God meant for me to hear. The study was filled with nuggets of truth, but when we turned to the story of the pilgrims it was as if God reached into my heart. Called by God, Puritans fought religious persecution. They set sail for America, convinced that God had called them to the new world where they could honor Him and bring glory to Him without persecution. It would be a new beginning.

They set off on a difficult journey, convinced they'd been set on a new path by God. They could do nothing less than obey. I can't even begin to imagine how much courage it took for them to leave everything they knew and sail across a broad and dangerous sea. They landed in Plymouth in 1620 and that first winter half of the people died. In the spring, the captain of the ship that had brought them to the new land begged them to return to England. Not a single one left. They would stay even if it cost them their lives. God's strength and their convictions held them steady as they stood against unbelievable hardships. They knew in whom they believed. And I think they understood they were part of a much bigger story. We all are part of that same story.

No matter how difficult our journey, when we are called by God we must push on, trusting that He has us in the palm of His hand. He knows where and why He has called us.

Have you considered why you do what you do? And whom you serve? God will help each of us fulfill our calling, but we need to remember who we are. We are His. And He has called us to become part of the greatest story ever written.

What role are you meant to play?

Grace and peace to you from God,


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Topic of the Day: Where is Christ?

Today is Good Friday, the day Jesus Christ was nailed to a cross and died. A momentous day in world history. A day when the Son of God allowed Himself to be nailed to a cross and where He willingly hung there until He died . . . for us. His sacrifice offered mankind entrance into heaven. And yet, the headlines don't mention Jesus Christ or the greatest gift ever offered.

On google trends there is no mention of Him. Instead I found articles about Doris Day and Donald Trump. Other headlines talked about how to decorate Easter Eggs or how to get the best car deal. And one addressed the problem of smelly feet. But Christ didn't make the headlines.

Society has lost its way. We should offer up this day to the King of Kings, contemplating the God man who gave everything to set us free from our sins. Instead, we talk about fashions, movies, and Easter recipes. I don't think there's anything wrong those things, but what disturbs me is who is not mentioned.

The night Jesus was arrested, He waited and prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. He knew what lay ahead of Him. He understood the suffering that would soon be laid upon him. He even asked His Heavenly Father if there were another way. While He prayed, he sweat blood. In the end, he gave up His will for the Father's.

Should we not give Him a little of our time? Should we not remember what was done for us and then offer Him our thanks?

It's easy to forget what Christ went through. Anyway, it is for me. I lose sight of the horrendous price that was paid. Because I know that about myself every year during the Easter season I watch the movie, The Passion of Christ. And then I remember and invariably as the movie comes to a close I sob, my heart broken beause I'm overwhelmed with gratitude and guilt, for it is my sin that placed my Savior on that cross.

My family and I will watch the movie again tonight and be reminded of the greatest gift ever given to man. We will remember that our Savior made a way for us. With His final breath He said, "It is finished." His work here on earth was finished and His death made a way for all who believe.

The captives have been set free. May we be a light to the world.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Quiet Moments With God: Lonely?

Sometimes I'm lonely. And I wonder what God was thinking when He set me atop a mountain in front of a computer. Recently, from many quarters, I've been hearing about lonely people who can find no way out of their isolation. Sadly, this is common in our present society, which seems to have given up on personal relationships. We have too many tasks to do to be bothered with others.

I always counted on family to fulfill the empty places. I've been blessed with a family who loves and cares for and about one another. But we've scattered. My mother lives a state away. I have one brother and sister who live in Alaska (I'm in Oregon) and I have another brother who lives on the other side of the country. It's difficult to remain close when the distance is so great.

Now that my children are grown, they have lives of their own and that often means little time for Mom and Dad. That's been a hard pill to swallow.

My husband and I, thankfully, have each other but we also have busy lives and cutting out time together can be difficult. We're trying.

Friends . . . well they have families of their own. And like me they're busy. There's just not enough time for fellowship and fun.

So, what do we do? Being lonely is painful and it seems to feed upon itself. The lonelier we feel the lonelier we feel. Depression and despondency can set in and each empty day becomes a sorrow we must get through, and there seems to be no way out of our solitude.

Our church family can be the answer, but even they can disappear into the mist. I've always been involved in church activities and spent a good deal of time with my church family. Life was full. However, after an injury trapped me in my house most of this year all of that changed. I miss them. And the life I had.

So... what to do.

First we need to acknowledge that we are never truly alone. God makes that clear in Psalm 139:1-12. David says, "O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. You hem me in--behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, 'surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me', even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for the darkness is as light to you."

I am comforted to know that God is truly always with me. I am never alone.

However, God created us for fellowship. We need one another. And when we try to live our lives in isolation it just doesn't work. We've got to connect--with a family, a group or just a single good friend. How do we do that? We begin with prayer. And then we must be courageous enough to remove our masks and get honest about how we're feeling. Let someone else know. Be a friend.

I understand that reaching out takes courage. But we can do it. Years ago when my husband and I first moved to this little town, I spent many lonely months. It was my husband who took the first steps for me by asking a local merchant if they knew of any Christian women in my community. Armed with their phone numbers the next step was mine. I called each of them and invited them to a luncheon. That was the beginning of lifelong friendships.

Sometimes we have to step out and find our family. What do you like to do? Find others who are interested in the same things and you'll connect. And while you wait, get to know The One who loves you most.

And those of you who are content and surrounded by family and friends, keep your hearts open to someone who is still searching. They may need you and if you reach out, you may discover that you need them too.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Topic of the Day: Congressional Mess

These past months, or more accurately years, we've watched our leaders step into office with high ideals and hopes of making the country they love better and then over time, many lose sight of who they had intended to be. They discover if you want to get something done in Washington you have to learn to play the "game", you have to compromise your principles, make deals and sometimes even break laws. And eventually many (too many) lose their way and forget what truth and service is all about.

Today our congress is a mess. It's a place of back-stabbing, deception, power grabbing and self service. I'm disappointed and I fear for my country. And I wonder what happened to the honorable men and women who stepped into office to serve?

Our congressional mess has been nagging at me, and this morning I came across a familiar scripture verse that helped me understand what I can do to help. "In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight." I read through it and moved along, without giving it a lot of thought. I was pulled up short by the Holy Spirit and went back to reread the verse. "Acknowledge Him" tugged at me. Just how do I do that? I thought on it and prayed on it and this is what I got.

Seek God's will in EVERYTHING. Slow down and listen to Him. Desire His will above all other desires. This isn't easy. We've got to make time for Him, spend time reading and studying His Holy Word. He waits for us, longs to spend time with us. He wants us to lay our hearts and our needs before him. The whole concept of God wanting to spend time with someone like me is hard to comprehend, but it's true. The other side of all this is that we've got to listen and wait for His answers. And when we place ourselves under His authority He will show us the path we're to take. That path will not lead to lies or deception, but to decency and honor.

Who we are is linked with who God is. Our leaders are not excluded. If we're going to get out of the mess we're in, we need more than political and financial experts. We need men and women of God, for God is the only one who knows exactly what we ought to do.

Turn to The One who knows it all.

Be an example. Do the right thing even when it's hard.

Pull our own weight.

Ask, how can I help?

Be honest.

Be kind.

Honor God.

Pray for our leaders. Pray they will know God.

Tough days are ahead, but we're not alone.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Quiet Moments With God: Do The Deer Know Something We Don't?

Last week a group of six deer decided to spend the day grazing in an open field behind our house. We had a downpour all day, yet the deer persisted in staying out in the open, grazing, investigating and sleeping . . . in the rain. I thought it made more sense to find shelter and I wondered what the deer knew that I didn't.

And then I remembered what nature felt like when I was a little girl. I loved the wind and when we had a windy day I made the most of it. I remember adults encouraging me to come in out of the weather. Instead I'd head outdoors and simply run, reveling in the sensation of my long hair being caught up and blown about my face. I'd stop from time to time and turn into the invisible power of the wind, close my eyes and allow it to caress my skin, feeling the energy and untarnished honesty of it. Sometimes I'd take an umbrella with me and open it up, capturing the wind inside the small dome and then run, exhilarated by the strength of something I couldn't see.

In my reminiscing I considered how many times I splashed through puddles or stood in the rain, feeling the splattering wetness and tasting the purity of water that fell from the sky--God's shower. Do you remember?

Observe children. Life is filled with firsts. They relish discovery, and enjoy the simple things in life. The things of God.

When was the last time you purposely stood in a breeze and tasted the pleasure of it? Or listened to the sound of tree boughs blowing in the wind? Or stood in the rain just because? Or buried your toes in the sand? Has it been a long time since you've strolled through a field and picked wild flowers? Or sat on your porch and listened to the birds sing?

We say that we're too busy for such foolishness. No. When we're busy that's when we most need to stop and treasure the gifts of God and allow them to refresh our spirits.

Take a time out. Be a kid again. Lay in the grass and smell its sweetness. And don't complain about the inconvenience of freshly fallen snow. A child wouldn't do that.

Nature is never ordinary. It's always something more. God's splendor, perhaps?

Grace and peace to you from God.


Monday, April 04, 2011

Quiet Moments With God: Is He Big Enough?

I have a prayer book. It's just a tablet that I've divided into days of the week. I pray for certain needs on different days and I have a section for special needs that a pray for everyday. In the back of my booklet I have answered prayers listed. They are a wonderful reminder when I'm feeling discouraged and wondering what's up or where's God?

Today is Monday and as I usually do I started down my list of prayer needs. When I came across a particular person I've been praying for, for quite some time without any outward evidence of change, I felt a niggle of doubt. Could God really change this person? Maybe it was time to remove him from my requests.

The Holy Spirit caught me up right away, reminding me that nothing is too difficult for God. I know the person I'm praying for has a free will of his own, but God isn't about to give up on him and neither should I.

This issue of prayer is something of a mystery to me. I know God knows it all, that He doesn't need me, but. . . He tells me to pray. I know that my time with Him is enriching and His Word says He wants to spend time with me. But . . . as to answered prayer--that's up to God. All I can do is what He asks of me--to pray. And so I do.

We all have needs, hopes and dreams. We pray and sometimes it feels like God isn't listening or He doesn't care. But God always answers with either a yes, a no or wait. We need to accept His will. He always knows best.

In the matter of this young man I'm praying for I know I'm praying God's will because I'm asking that he fall in love with Jesus and accept Him as Savior. God's Word is clear about that--He wishes that none would perish.

I will continue to pray and hope that one day this young man will see that God loves Him so deeply that He gave His own Son for him. The moment he believes, he will become a new creation and there will be rejoicing in heaven.

Just like this young man, I was once lost, thinking I had no value, no purpose. And then I met Christ. I'd been longing for Him, only I didn't know He was what I needed. I never told anyone how alone I felt. But a good friend had the courage to share the truth with me and I was changed. Now my life is filled with the love of God and the hope He offers. I wonder who was praying for me.

Thank you dear saint for your faithfulness. I'm never alone, never lost and always under the Shepherd's care.

Do you have something or someone you've been praying for and it seems God's not listening? He is. He knows our thoughts, our dreams and passions and He understands our hearts.

He loves us.

Trust Him.

Keep praying.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Friday, April 01, 2011

Topic of the Day: April

Today is April 1st. It's always been a special day in my family. It's my youngest sister's birthday. Sadly we lost her to lupus many years ago, but the day of her birth never arrives that I don't think of her. Mom always said that Leslie played a practical joke on her by arriving three weeks early and on April Fools Day.

As youngsters we always had fun trying to fool one another. We'd do our best to be creative, but we had a running joke every year that had to do with our neighbors' cows and a poorly built fence. Occasionally the cows would get out and into our garden. On the morning of April 1st we'd act distraught and run to tell our father that the cows were in the garden again. He'd grab a pitchfork and run to head them off. We tricked him the first couple of years and then he caught on, but he still played along.

For me April 1st is a day that symbolizes the beginning of spring. I envision sunshine, daffodils, singing birds and trees filled with blossoms. And on this April 1st, God blessed me with all of that plus boisterous frogs and grazing deer, some with rounded tummies. Soon we'll have spotted, wobbly legged fawns standing alongside their mothers. I love spring!

April is also a time when I think of Christ--His death and resurrection. Easter usually falls sometime during the month of April. Like spring, Christ offers hope and promises of better days.

When April arrives life seems rich with hope and it speaks of warm summer days to come. A date can't promise anything, but there's something about sunshine and the sweet smell of cut grass that helps us leave behind the frigid winter. Like the seasons we have our bitter times, and then the Son comes out and brings brighter days with Him.

I'm making plans for a garden this year and I can't wait to get my fingers in the dirt. I love to be part of the miracle of new life.

How do you feel about this day? Did you prank someone? Do some gardening? Or are you making plans for the upcoming summer? No matter what, I pray you've had a special April 1st and that you even managed to pull a prank or two on someone you know.

Grace and peace to you from God.