Life Can Be…

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…busy.  Too much to do.  A plate so full there’s no wiggle room.  Clicking things off the list can become more pressing than time with people.  On and on it can go.  Let’s face it; life can become a blur.

We’re all guilty at times of this.  As Christians we can become so focused on serving and doing that we lose sight of “the most important thing,” as Jesus so pointedly stated to Martha.

This is a wonderful time of year to be reminded of this truth.  We’re on vacation with family for the Christmas holiday.  We are visiting a beautiful place we’ve never been to before and so there is a tendency to want to go, go, go and take in all there is to experience.  And yet, the reality is we are here together to not only enjoy this place but also to enjoy each other.  Truth number one.

There’s another truth to consider:

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matt. 11:28-30.

In my rush to get it done, especially at this time of year, I can so easily overlook my much needed time with my Savior.  Truth number two.

Jesus wants to replace my burdens with His love, peace, and provision.  In my race to win over the tyranny of my list, He waits patiently (perhaps sometimes not so patiently!) for me to remember Him.  I don’t know why it’s so easy to forget He wants to actually help me get through my day or even to help me realize that perhaps parts of my day are just not important!

As a Christian it is so easy to get caught up in “stuff”.  “Stuff” can be negative but it can also be positive.  I have a tendency to say yes to too many ministry opportunities.  They are all good, nothing wrong with any of them.  But, if they take me away from sitting with the One who loves me, then I’m too busy.

This Christmas holiday, I’m trying to wind down from the rapid pace of my life in order to do a couple of things that I believe my Savior wants me to do: take some time with Him, some writing and just “being” with my kids and grandkids.  It feels good!

Will you join me today in taking some time to be with the One who loves you?  He would love that.  I’m off…and then it’s time for a mean game of spoons with the family while it’s raining outside!

 

 

Life Can Be…

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…messy!  I don’t much like the days that are messy.  I received a phone call from a dear friend last night and her news was, well, messy.  Not the fact that she called but that she needed a friend to talk to about life that had suddenly turned messy.

This morning I read, “For this is God, Our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to death.”  Psa 48:14

Sigh!  I am grateful for this particular scripture today.  When life gets messy…seek God.  He loves it when we come.  He will guide us, through the thick, the thin, the smooth and the messies.

However, the absolute best part is this:  this is our God, forever and ever!  He is here, with you, with me, always.  I suspect He is grieved by us at times but He promises to be our God, guiding us through the hard days and the sweet days.

I’m not sure what you’re facing today, but I pray God’s love and covering over you.  Remember you are not traversing this alone.  Change the way you think this day: while the trial may be difficult, you are not alone.

I’m reminded of a song I love from days past.  “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”

We are not alone.  Our God who loves us is here, right in the middle of our mess.  And if we keep our eyes upon Him, He will guide us through this one!

Turn your eyes upward today.  He’ll show you the way through…

I Want to See God’s Spiritual Realms in My World

imageI love this photograph.  An amazing creation surrounds created man.  I do not infer man as a gender but as the all encompassing creation of mankind, male and female alike, created in God’s image.

God said, Let Us [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] make mankind in Our image, after Our likeness, and let them have complete authority over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the [tame] beasts, and over all of the earth, and over everything that creeps upon the earth. So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them.”  Gen 1:26-27 Amp.

The reason I love this photograph is because the vastness of the night sky, so beautiful to observe, helps put mankind in perspective to God’s realm.  When I look upward at night, I’m reminded just how small I am in the whole scope of life.

We often forget our true place in God’s creation.  Depending on what is happening in my life, I can erroneously become full of myself and attempt to rule not only my own circumstances but also those of others around me.  When tuned into God and His plans, the Holy Spirit quite capably brings me back, through corrections, to my proper place as represented by this photograph.

The interesting thing to ponder is that this night sky representation shows the vastness of God’s reach.  We catch glimpses of it on clear nights.  We can be set into absolute awe as we correctly realize our true place in God’s economy.  We will go to bed after such observations with a peace that God is in control and all is well in our world.  And then something happens when we wake in the morning.

A new day dawns, bright and clear, and off we go into our life.  If you’re anything like me, it may not be long before I enter into the circumstances of my life, forgetting that God has His ways — and I have mine.  I can easily fall prey to taking back control of my life as the onslaught of issues in this complicated world present themselves to me.

You see, the truth of life is that if I were to look up in the day hours, I wouldn’t see that beautiful heavenscape I witnessed the night before.  It seemingly vanishes from sight with the light of day.  Truth is though it is still there, just hidden from my seeing at the moment.

The same is true of the spiritual realms.  They are with us, always, however they are not easily seen.  God can anoint us to see into the spiritual realms and I believe He loves to open our eyes to this potential.  But, in order to see spiritual realms, we must first realize and acknowledge they are there!  Just because we can’t see them clearly, doesn’t mean they don’t exist.  God is a mystery, too glorious to comprehend.  But as He grows and matures us in our faith, more is revealed.  And if we are actively seeking Him (His heart’s desire), I believe He is overjoyed to reveal to us more and more of His economy.

“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.”  Pro 25:2 NKJV

I want to invite you today to join with me in asking Papa God to anoint our eyes to “see” His spiritual world. Perhaps for the first time or possibly in a renewed look, let’s turn our eyes heavenward and ask that He reveal more of His ways to us.  In this way, we open ourselves and give permission to Papa to allow us to take part in more of His mysterious ways.

Would you agree with me that catching a glimpse of His creative and blessed space in daytime would be a most welcome sight?  Who knows what He might choose to show you…perhaps He longs to give you an answer to the question you’ve been asking Him for a long time now.

Moses turned aside to observe the burning bush (Exo 3:3-4).  That singular act, separated Moses from the rest and God chose to show him (Moses) His glory.  Let’s turn aside today, shall we?

Lord, we long for more of You and we long to see Your spiritual realms.  I believe there is something You desire to show each one of us this day.  Help us Lord to see.

P.S. Take a look at the photograph again.  God just gave me a glimpse of His hands in that rock!  Holding us in His hands, protecting His creation in love.  Ahhh.  Thank you Lord.

Declaring the Red Sea to Part

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I am declaring today.  I am declaring with my mouth, “Lord split the Red Sea in my life!”  I believe the Bible is our blueprint for living.  I believe that what is shared in the Bible is the living, breath of God, there to show us the way through the circumstances of our life.  I believe “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” Heb 13:8. I believe God answers the cry of our hearts.  I believe the Lord desires us to ask and then not to doubt.

I am asking today.  Lord, I’m standing on this side of the Red Sea of my life, facing the impossibilities.  I know you want what I’m asking because it lines up with Your Word.  So today I’m declaring the sea to part while I cannot yet see the miracle of Your love.  Come Lord Jesus!

Will you join me?

Jump for Joy: I Want to Radically Embrace Hope

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This photo says it all.  This is what all out praise is about!  Jumping as high as I can in celebration of the One who is worthy to receive.  This is what hope is; tossing cares aside with abandon and placing your trust completely in the unseen future.  I don’t know about you, but this is what I want for my life.  Jump this high, joyously.  Hope this much, expectantly.  Trust this much, with abandon.

I’m heading into deep waters this week.  I caught hold of error this morning at church, asking a friend to pray for me.  I said with my mouth something quite negative.  I asked for prayers to cover that which I anticipated to be like every other time I’ve walked into muddy waters.  Can you relate?  It wasn’t until I walked back to my seat that I felt the nudge from the Holy Spirit; “is that what you really expect this week Linda?”  I don’t know about you, but I absolutely hate it when I say something in the spirit of stupid!  My words conveyed what was in my heart, expectation that this will be the same ‘ol same ‘ol and nothing is ever going to change.

But NO!  I repent Lord.  I don’t want to walk into this week with despair.  I want to enter into it with an attitude of gratitude that You are giving me another chance to go expectantly this time.  Earlier today I was reminded of the children of Israel fleeing to the desert as they left Egypt.  They arrived at the Jordan and saw an obstacle.  You know the story.  The river before them, Pharaoh coming in hot pursuit behind them.  “Oh what are we to do God?” they cried.  When the miracle had happened and they were safely on the other side, the people marveled at all the Lord had done.

A few years ago, I heard a teaching on this subject and the speaker shared how the Israelites were so frightened on this side of the Jordan.  They were up against it; water before and an attacking army behind.  They panicked.  Once safely out of harms way, they finally were able to see the hand of God and they rejoiced at what God had done on their behalf.  Then the speaker made a suggestion: while this story has a good ending, what might have happened if the children of Israel had rejoiced on this side of the river?  Might the outcome have been different in that they were rejoicing at what they knew God was going to do because it’s His nature to care for His beloved children?  Even though they couldn’t see His provision, doesn’t mean it was not there all along!

And that is where I find myself this morning.  Facing a Jordan ahead of me and the enemy behind taunting me with words such as, “it’s never going to change, this week will be a trial for you, and you’re already tired and this week will only serve to suck more energy out of you!”  I have a choice to make — right now.

I am choosing to radically embrace the hope of my Savior.  I am going to stand on edge of the shores of my week and declare, “God you are for me and all I do in the coming week is in Your hands.  I am declaring that this week is going to be different because YOU ARE IN IT!  You want the changes I desire even more than I do Lord.  You love the people I’m going to be with this week even more than I do and You want glorious, wondrous change to happen for them.  So Lord, I am going to rejoice on this side of the river on their behalf.  Do what you want to do and help me be part of the change!”

What are you facing this week?  Difficulties in your job?  Your marriage?  Your future?  Would you like to stand with me right now and give thanks and praise for what God is going to do before we even get there?  Would you stand with me, right now, right here?  Yep, get up out of your seat and leap in the air with joyful expectation that God is going to perform a miracle for you this week.  Let’s do it!

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”  Ephesians 3:20-21 (NKJV)

Jump high joyously.  Hope expectantly.  Trust with abandon.  We can do this people!

Unfolding Something New – Part Two

Pastor DouglasSometimes I get in too big a hurry to post and miss things.  It didn’t take long yesterday to realize I’d forgotten something in the telling of this story.  Unfortunately, the missing piece was quite important!

When I told you about the new church plant outside Pastor Douglas’ village, I mentioned that people come from all over the region, some who cannot walk, some who are sick, some who are blind.  Well, as he talked over our breakfast the other day, his eyes were big and the ever-present smile was in place as he told about a couple of folks who were delivered of demons.  One person in particular was not able to walk and had been dragged to the church on a blanket slung between two poles.  The man wanted Jesus to come into his life but the dark spiritual presence was giving him resistance.  The church came alongside and prayed…and the man was delivered.  As he raised his hands in victory, he got up and walked!  Not just walking, but skipping and jumping, something he hadn’t been able to do for a very long time.  The church exploded in praise!

In Africa, the people are quite used to the spiritual realms.  You don’t survive terror they way they have and not know what the dark side looks like.  They recognize miracles when they happen — and they happen quite frequently.  Of course, they are also quite familiar with stories that don’t have happy endings.

Life and death, want and provision, Light and dark.  They know it all.  And those who are meeting, accepting, and pressing into God through the teachings of folks like Pastor Douglas are witnessing the works and the miracles of Jesus Christ.  The people are not confused nor ignorant of spiritual things.  That is probably the difference between us and them.  They know.  Many have survived terror at the hands of people not associated with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Others have suffered at the hand of need:  clean, disease free water; food; loving arms to hold them.  And because of this, they give thanks and praise to God when they witness Him at work.  And it is from that knowledge and their appreciation that the smiles come.

Please pray for the people of Africa and other nations who have witnessed and lived through darkness.  Please pray for our country, that our eyes would be opened to both the dark and Light sides of the spiritual realms.  Just because we don’t see it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.  Open our eyes Lord and help us learn how to help others be set free.

Unfolding Something New

fern-215735_1280I met a man today.  He’s no one special according to his own definitions, just a man with a story and a future according to God’s plans.  My husband and I were invited to have breakfast with three friends and this man, a visiting pastor from Africa.  He spoke at our church last night about our God.  It was something.  We serve the very same Lord and yet his stories sounded quite different from ours here in the U.S.

You see he’s been involved in the planting of a new church where he lives.  Away from the village he lives in, this new church planting began under a very large mango tree, to give shade from the sun that shines so brilliantly and hot.  Meager beginnings with nothing but the Word of God.  And the people came.  And the pastor shared out of the Word of God.

They come from miles sometimes.  They come because they heard something different is happening over there, under that mango tree.  They sometimes bring others with them, some not able to walk on their own.  They’re coming on bikes, and motorbikes, on foot, on blankets slung between two poles, any way they can get there.  To hear God’s Word of life.

As this humble man speaks of the God who set him free years earlier, an interesting thing begins to happen.  The people realize they want what this man has to share.  I mean they really want this freedom, this new way of life.  And about then, it happens.  The enemy of their soul, the one who has fought so horrifically throughout their lives to keep them from this moment, begins to realize he can no longer keep this person from the truth of the Word of God.  And OUT HE COMES!

The crowd dances, shouts, and sings in honor of the One who is able to keep us from falling.  And then the person realizes they are free from the tormentor, free to invite Jesus into their heart, finally and forever, and so they do.  Now the celebration is on as the rest of the congregation, singing and dancing and shouting, rejoice with this new child of the kingdom.  That’s what we heard the other night at our church.  And I wondered what everyone thought sitting there listening to this pastor tell of life in this place.

Personally, I tracked with him and loved sitting there listening to Pastor Douglas speak.  And at breakfast the next morning, I wanted to hear so much more.  Five of us peppered Pastor with questions.  And somewhere in there I found myself watching him speak to us of his home and I became mesmerized by one particular aspect of this man’s persona.  His smile.  Pastor Douglas’ smile seemed to rise up from deep inside him and when he smiled, I just felt that life was good.

Pastor Douglas lived through the regimes of Idi Amin and Joseph Kony.  He lost his father to the terror reigns and his mother abandoned her three children when Douglas was 10 years old.  I would have loved to hear more about this, but instead we leaped to more present day situations and the emerging church in the country where he lives.  He found his way to Christ and then found he was anointed for pastoring.  And that’s what he does…

This man, Pastor Douglas, radiates when he smiles.  Knowing even just this small bit from his childhood causes my heart to ache for a child who had to learn life the hard way.  Watching him speak, both to our church and at breakfast, I became lost in his smile because I felt it was so genuine.  That huge, brilliant smile comes only when one is at peace with oneself.  It is both comforting and soothing.  No matter the subject of our questions, that smile permeated the conversation.  And peace ruled in my heart as I listened to him share.

My husband and I are involved in a home group this fall, one where we are studying how we can “Strengthen Ourselves in the Lord” by Bill Johnson.  The subject matter the past two weeks has been about thankfulness and praise and how, just by entering into these two actions, we can literally turn our difficult circumstances upside down.  The content has been rich and the resulting discussions in our group have been stretching and full.

Sitting across the table from Pastor Douglas, listening intently about a life peppered with difficult circumstances, some even traumatic, made me think of what we’ve been learning.  And as if God knew I needed a living example, he plopped me down at a breakfast table across from a man who lives half a world away, sharing about extreme circumstances and about our God that we have in common.  What do I notice?  That smile.  That radiating, full-of-life smile.

Pastor DouglasPastor Douglas is at peace with our God.  Through thanksgiving and praise he has been delivered out of the pit and into the wonderful Light of Jesus.  He is living proof that God hears our prayers, He gives us His Hand in times of trouble, He guides us through trauma and hopelessness, and He sets our feet on solid ground.

God unfolded a new truth to me; thankfulness and praise.  Powerful words.  Life-altering words. Words that belong in our everyday life so we might be lifted up and out into His glorious Light.  Be thankful and give praise to God for He will help you get through anything life can throw at you.

As our breakfast time came to a close, we prayed over Pastor Douglas.  What struck me was a picture in my mind of the blazing sun in Africa, radiating light and warmth.  And suddenly I was impressed with Pastor Douglas’ brilliant smile, a radiating beacon of hope, truth, and light for lost souls in his country.  Pastor Douglas.  Living proof that our God cares and that with Him, we can overcome, forgive, and become shining lights for others.

“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.”  Psalm 100:4 (NKJV)

“He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.  He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the LORD.”  Psalm 40:2-3 (NLT)