Happy 4th of July!

Independence DayIt’s Independence Day/the 4th of July! This is a day where we all usually gather together with friends and family for fun and food, which is great. I have been thinking about this holiday though and what it really is celebrating. It’s celebrating our great country and more importantly, GOD – who made it all possible. So, as we gather together and enjoy the company of one another, let’s pause and thank God for the blessing of being able to gather together at all.

This song keeps singing in my head so I wanted to share the lyrics here.

“God Bless America”  By Irving Berlin

While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free.
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair, as we
raise our voices in a solemn prayer.

God Bless America, land that I love.
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans white with foam.
God Bless America, my home sweet home.
God Bless America, my home sweet home.

2 chronicles 7.14

Do you remember the words to our Pledge of Allegiance? It is another remember of who is responsible for tPledge of allegiance boyhe blessings we have enjoyed in the United States of America. I pray we never forget and fool ourselves into thinking it was us. It’s all about Him – The One who created and sustains us. To God be the glory!

Have a wonderful holiday!

 

Fishing

I’ve never been excited about fishing. When we took our children fishing, I always took along a book and relaxed and read. My husband however, spent most of his time baiting hooks and taking off fish. Not too much fun for him. With five children, he was busy. And, since we fished off a boat, it could be a little scary with hooks flying about. fishingThankfully no one was ever injured.

This past week, we took three of our grandsons fishing. So here we were…fishing again (well, we were with those who were fishing). But, these boys were old enough to bait their own hooks and remove their own fish – if they caught anything. They were all excited and anxious to be the first to catch the big fish. Well, after a couple of hours, no one had caught a fish. There had been a few catches of moss but no fish. They had each lost a fishing lure but no fish. Well, those teenage boys moved from one spot to another. They switched bait. Back and forth they went. fish sleepingWhat a time. They were discouraged and disappointed but persevered. I never knew teenagers could be so patient! One plus was that it was so quiet, grandpa got a quick nap in. 

I started thinking about the passage in Matthew where Jesus called Simon (Peter) and Andrew to follow Him and they would become “fishers of men”.  When you fish, something has to lure the target (whether it is fish or men). Jesus was the lure (for a life lived to the fullest). He was the cure (for all that ails us or assails us). Our job as “fishers of men” is to lure people to Jesus. They must see Him living in and through us. If we are living as we should as followers of Christ, His light and His love will be seen in us. We are now the lure. Jesus is the catch!

There is someone else though who is fishing for men. His lure is temptation, self-gratification, sin itself. His name is Satan and he is after our souls. He lures us with many different kinds of bait, all tailor made for us (our weaknesses). He is crafty. He can even make it look like a good thing. He is a deceiver, a distractor, a liar! We must be on guard and not “take the bait”.  Just like the fish on this day with our grandsons, we must resist the urge to get “hooked” on whatever sin Satan puts in front of us. Just like a fish can end up in the frying pan, so can we. Taking his bait can be deadly.

fishers of menI will never look at fishing the same way again. It’s not boring; it is a life lesson. Whose bait/lure will I follow? Jesus or the evil one? The decision is mine (and yours). I want to fish for men with the love of Christ. I hope and pray my life reflects that choice.

Oh, by the way…there was a fish caught that day. Just when we were about to pack it all up, one of the boys caught a fish. They all got so excited that even though it started raining, they wanted to fish on…in hopes that they could all catch a fish (competition you know). But, it eventually rained so hard we had to go. No more fish caught that day. We had a fun anyway and I received a good visual lesson. Until next time…fish on!

06.21.19

 

Hope

{Well, I began this post two weeks ago and am just now getting back to it. Maybe my next post should be on procrastination!}

HOPE. What do you hope for? In what or whom do you hope?

Hope in God green grass

We had been searching for a used garden tiller for a few months. We had bought our tomato plants, but our garden plot wasn’t ready yet to receive them. So, we kept them in pots until they could be planted in their summer home. Then, thanks to our friends Pat and Terry, we got some wonderful compost for our garden soil. All that we needed now was a tiller to get it all in the ground. So, before renting a tiller, we searched once more. We found a couple of possibilities. One we could see right away, the other later that evening. So, off we went to check out the first one. The owner said he and his wife were downsizing due to his recent diagnosis of cancer. He also disclosed over the phone that sometimes the tiller would quilt running. But that if he unscrewed the gas cap and then screwed it back on, it would be off and running again. So, since my husband (Pete) is a handy guy, we decided it was worth a look.

We met Gary and Nancy at their beautiful home. I don’t say that lightly. It was almost breathtakingly beautiful. The property and house were gorgeous and sat on a shared pond. A lot of work has gone into the landscaping and I could have stayed there for hours just enjoying the surroundings. And, to you guys out there, they have a 5-car garage – a handy man’s dream. But that beautiful home took a lot of work to keep it that way. Gary and Nancy were both wonderfully friendly down-to earth people and we enjoyed talking with them.

Well, Gary took Pete out to his garden to try tilling. It started and ran like a champ. No issues. While they were playing in the dirt 😊, I talked with Nancy. She shared some things with me about their family and Gary’s illness. Their children live out of state and haven’t yet been told about Gary’s cancer. They are coming for a visit this summer and they plan to tell them in person. She said that they don’t talk about it much. They just go about their days trying to stay positive and hope (fingers crossed) for the best. There was no mention of God or faith. Just keeping their fingers crossed that everything turns out ok. I was sad that luck was all they were holding onto in this trying time.

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, (1 Peter 3:15)

Well, the guys made a deal on the tiller and loaded it up. I felt strongly that God would want us to pray with/for them so I asked if they would mind if we prayed for Gary. They said no, they didn’t mind at all. So out by the pond, we all held hands and Pete and I prayed. Afterwards, Nancy had tears in her eyes and said that their friends had been past the evening before and prayed for them. Do you think God directs our paths? He sure does! (Proverbs 3:5-6)

As we were driving home, I said that I thought God sent us specifically there just to water the seeds of faith that had been planted by their friends the night before. There is a reason we had searched for so long for a tiller. The timing wasn’t right. In our minds, the time was late, but God’s timing is perfect!

A funny thing happened after we got home and unloaded the tiller though. We got it around back and Pete started to till the garden soil. I’m telling you it was like a comedy show! He started it and before he could even step back to the handles, it died. That went on and on and on for so long that we were laughing. I know his arms and shoulders hurt from pulling that cord so many times in a row. It would have been quicker and much less effort to just shovel the dirt and compost together! We believe God has a sense of humor and we had to laugh. Eventually though, the garden got tilled and the tomato plants put in the ground. As we watch the garden grow, we will remember to pray for our new friends Gary and Nancy. Thank you, God, for showing us that following You always leads to blessings.hope in God

I am thankful that my hope is in the Lord. What about yours?

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

05/20/19

 

Easter

The other day I was thinking about how our world celebrates Easter. We have an Easter bunny hiding eggs. We fill baskets with fake grass and chocolates. It seems like a very strange combination to me. I wonder how the bunny and eggs got together in the first place. After all, bunnies do not lay eggs and chickens do not have floppy ears. And, chocolate bunnies and eggs? Easterbunny_1Then we have Easter egg hunts. Someone hides the eggs and then the search is on. Children run to see who can find the first eggs and the most eggs. Then they crack them open to see the treasure inside. That treasure might be candy, a trinket or even money. We even have helicopters dropping eggs for kids to run and find. I wonder…what do any of these things have to do with the true meaning of Easter?

I’ve come up with a few connections. There are no bunnies, eggs or helicopters in the real Easter story. But, there certainly was a search launched and a treasure found. Jesus had been crucified and buried in a tomb. Some of the women who followed Him went to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body with spices. They were searching (hunting if you will) for His body. And treasure, He was a treasure to them. However, they thought that treasure was gone.

Here is the account as written in Mark 16:1-8 “When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

“Don’t be alarmed,” hempty-tomb-of-jesuse said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”

Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.”

Here is John’s account as written in John 20:1-18 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So, she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

So, Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb.  Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally, the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)  Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.

Matthew 28.5-6Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.”

God assures us that if we seek Him, we will find Him.

Proverbs 8:17 “I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.

Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

And don’t forget…Jesus first sought us.

Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

What love! So, on this Good Friday and the upcoming Easter (Resurrection) Sunday, let’s remember the Easter hunt with an everlasting gift/treasure – a relationship with our risen Savior – Jesus Christ!

He promises that if we seek Him, we will find Him. Remember, He sought us first – to save us from sin. What a glorious gift!

Hallelujah! He is Risen, He is Risen indeed!

04/19/19

Imaginary Friends

Did you ever have an imaginary friend when you were a child? I did not and in fact, I can’t think of anyone I know who did. But I have heard that many children do have imaginary friends. I guess that’s when imagination starts, in children. imaginary friendThe benefit of imaginary friends is that they are whatever you want them to be. They never have to get mad at you, they can always be by your side and agree with all you say and do. You can make them do the scary things that you are too afraid to try. They can take the blame whenever you get in trouble. You can be with them or ignore them whenever you want. It’s a one-sided relationship where you are totally in control. The trouble with that is…they are not really a friend at all. They are not real and true. You are just as alone as if you had never imagined them in the first place. In order to have a friend and be a friend, you must get to know the other person and allow them to know you. imaginary-friends - facebookThat takes effort and it takes time. Life is lonely with a friend who is only imaginary.

Do you know people who have a relationship with God like that? I guess the more important questions is…have you ever had that relationship with God? Where you imagine Him to be what you want, when you want? Pick him up when you need Him and then ignore Him when life seems to be going well? Is it a one-sided relationship where you do all the talking and no listening? Does this imaginary god love you just as you are but doesn’t want to work in you to make you better? That’s not real – that’s not God. He does love you just as you are but…He does want to work in and through you to make you better. He has a plan for you and it’s a plan for YOUR GOOD. The thing is, you can’t be in control. You can’t pick God up when you want and then drop Him when you want to go your own way. You must let God be God in your life. He’s not pushy; He gives all of us freedom of choice. We can choose to have an imaginary god or we can choose to follow the real, personal and only true God. What will you choose today? Imagination and deceit or reality and truth? Deceiving ourselves only leads to destruction.imaginary friend cartoon - God

I choose GOD! I pray that when I try to take control and make God what I want, I will quickly realize it and use my imagination for something beneficial, not making a false God. His will, not mine. He is God, I am not.

Isaiah 65:2 “All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations”

2 Peter 1:3 “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

John 17:3 “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

Ephesians 3:20-21 “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

04/01/19

Wait

I don’t think any of us like to wait – unless it’s for something we are not looking forward to enduring.  It’s like one of “those” 4-letter words, isn’t it? As children we often hear “wait your turn”, “wait a minute”, or the infamous “wait until your Father gets home”. As adults we are not used to waiting for things and we don’t like it when we are forced to wait. Here are just some examples I’m reminded of:

We don’t have to flip through a TV Guide to make our viewing selections. We can click a button on our remote or even watch on our phones, computers or tablets. We have streaming on demand.

We don’t have to dig out a dictionary and flip through the pages to find out the spelling or definition of a word. We just search on-line, ask Siri or Alexa. We get immediate answers to our questions and don’t have to search for them. I wonder if we are forgetting how to problem solve since answers come so easily by just asking.

We don’t have to wait for our food to be prepared from start to finish if we are in a hurry. We can go to fast food, order ahead of time and pull up for them to deliver it to our car.  We can even order from a restaurant and have it delivered to our home.

We don’t even have to do our own grocery shopping any more. We can place our order ahead of time from our phones and have someone at the grocery shop for us and bring it to our car.

What do all these things say about us? We want immediate action, access, answers. We don’t want to be delayed or inconvenienced. We don’t want to wait!

What about when we are waiting for an answer to prayer? How well do we wait on God? Do we jump in and try to “help Him”? Do we keep our eyes open to His leading? Do we spend time in communication with Him through prayer and His Word? Do we “wait upon the Lord”? I know in my own life I sometimes get way ahead of myself. A circumstance arises that causes some anxiety, or I think needs my immediate action of some sort. Even though I pray about it, for some reason still think I must “do something now” while I wait. Maybe sometimes I do need to do something. But, often, if I just keep praying and watching and waiting on God, things work out as they should. Funny how that happens. God does know what He is doing!

There are certainly benefits of waiting, especially waiting upon the Lord. Now, waiting upon the Lord is not the same as procrastinating so I/we must not confuse the two to excuse ourselves from action. Procrastination is more about avoidance than waiting. First, we must call upon The Lord. Then we wait upon Him – in expectation, being faithful to stay connected to Him through His Word and Prayer, keeping our eyes and ears open so that we recognize His answer when it comes. I searched God’s Word for some wisdom about waiting on Him. Here are some:

 In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. (Psalm 5:3)
We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. (Psalm 33:20)
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. (Psalm 37:7)
Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!”
    Wait for the Lord, and he will avenge you. (Proverbs 20:22)
I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. (Psalm 40:1)
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. (Psalm 130:5)
Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
    therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
    Blessed are all who wait for him! (Isaiah 30:18)
Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. (Isaiah 64:4)
 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him. ”The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. (Lamentations 3:24-26)
 But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. (Micah 7:7)
On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. (Acts 1:4)
Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God. (1 Corinthians 4:5)
saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.”[ And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised. (Hebrews 6:14-15)
But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,  keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. (Jude 20-21)

wait Isaiah-40-31Patience and waiting are very hard for us but are so worthwhile when God is working in our lives. The outcome is always best when we wait upon the Lord and let Him lead as we follow. Let’s agree to slow down, calm down, and be joyful knowing that God is in control and we can trust Him, even in the waiting.

{February 22, 2019}

When GOD speaks – LISTEN!

Do you remember the old E. f. Hutton commercial (“When E. F. Hutton talks, people listen”)? I was thinking about that commercial and thought the truth is, E. F. Hutton might have good advice but, what we really need to know is, “When GOD speaks – LISTEN”!

God doesn’t put people or things before us by accident. God speaks to us in a variety of ways. He speaks through His Word, a song, devotional writing, during prayer, when God answers our prayers, another person, circumstances, etc. god speaks in circumstancesThe question we must ask ourselves is this: Are we listening for/to Him? And when we hear His Voice, how do we respond?

I am studying “A God Centered Church” written by Henry and Melvin Blackaby. We have been talking about how God uses all of us within a local body of believers to work together for the good of all and to reach those far from God with His precious gift of salvation.

The other day I was reading 1 Chronicles 22. In this chapter David is organizing the building of the temple. He knows that his son, Solomon will be the one to build it, but he is planning and organizing for him. He has gathered those who God has gifted with special talents so that it can all be accomplished for God’s glory.

god speaks in stillnessAfter reading and sitting quietly before God… these two things came together for me. God gave me an idea to help each of us in our class to recognize our own gifts or talents and to acknowledge those of others and encourage them. I don’t know where this will lead us but just maybe (hint: God has a plan, remember?) God has something in store.

God gifts each according to His Will, not ours.

I love music. I love to sing. I would love to be able to play an instrument well. Neither of those things have been gifted to me. Why? It’s the desire of my heart and God tells us in His Word that He will give us the desires of our hearts. (Psalm 37:4). BUT, and there is a big but… it’s when our desires become whatever His desires are. That’s the kicker.

God puts us all together in a body of believers for His purposes. We don’t all have a beautiful singing voice or musical talent. We don’t all have the gift of teaching and engaging children. We don’t all have the gift of administration or preaching or a good financial mind. That’s the point. God created us all to work together using our individual gifts for the common good.

The questions is this – Do we recognize the gifts God has given to both us and others? Has it prompted us to ask God what He has in mind for us to do – together? Have we asked God (or been quiet enough to hear His still small voice) what it is He is trying to accomplish in and through our lives right now, right here? God’s timing is not our timing. God’s thoughts are not our thoughts. We must get out of the way to let God speak to us. Sometimes what we think God has in mind is scary.  Sometimes it’s intimidating. Sometimes we think it’s us and not God who has this idea. But I have learned over the years that procrastinating, even if for “my good reason” that it might be me and not God or that I am not able, all I have done is miss an opportunity with good intentions and no follow-through. I have had many good intentions over the years that ended up missed opportunities.god is speaking I am trying to remedy that by moving forward and stepping out of the water when God calls me to walk with Him. The criteria I tend to use now is this: If it is a good thing and not bad, if it will not hurt anyone, then no harm done if it is me, not God. God will correct and re-direct me. But, IF IT IS GOD speaking to me, I better immediately obey! Who knows what blessing is ahead – it might just be an answer to one of my prayers.

01/14/19