What's in your tank?

COVID-19 has impacted the world. No landscape is immune! What has your reaction been? Have you gone to a place of fear, paranoia, anxiety, panic, depression? If so and you have ventured to the grocery store and have seen the empty toilet paper aisle, you realize you are not alone!

What you do next is what matters the most! You see, we each have a choice. We can follow the fear, anxiety, and panic and fill our tank with the black hole of darkness. Or, we can turn our focus to God and fuel up with peace. Personally, I find it difficult not knowing the whole picture. My mind likes to complete the puzzle. However, God knows I am unable to process the entire situation. He reveals portions at a time. While I find it frustrating not to have all the answers, I realize God does this not because He doesn’t want me to know, but because He is Abba to me. In the same way I would protect my child, my Daddy is protecting me from being overwhelmed or discouraged.

For God will never give you the spirit of fear, but the Holy Spirit who gives you mighty power, love, and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7 (TPT)

In any life, there will be times of uncertainty. Because this world is broken, people will have indiscretions, addictions, disease and illness. Corrie ten Boom was a courageous woman of faith in a horrible WWII concentration camp. As a survivor, she became a well-known author and speaker. In one of her books, she mentions how life is like a stitching project where God is weaving the beautiful embroidered scene, but while it is in process we only see the ugly threads on the backside. When I am in the midst of pain and heartache, I am unable to see the golden thread of good God is weaving into the tapestry that is my life. My tunnel vision sees only the knots of threads on the backside. Often, it is in hindsight I can view the overall picture of that season and see beauty from the ashes.

Our culture tends to complain just because something becomes inconvenient, not even close to life-threatening. Ponder this: if I change my attitude of fear to an attitude of thankfulness, will it spread to those close to me?

 I choose to be thankful my pantry is fairly well-stocked, my husband can work from home, and prayer warriors are stepping up and kneeling on behalf of the world. I still have moments of uncertainty, but God grants His peace and comfort. This situation is completely out of my control. Where do I turn?

I look up to the mountains and hills, longing for God’s help.
But then I realize that our true help and protection
come only from the Lord,
our Creator who made the heavens and the earth. Psalm 121:1-2 (TPT)

Abba, may we remember You hold us in Your arms of protection and grace! May our tunnel vision be a vision of Your love! May supernatural peace be contagious to those around us and spread faster than any virus, bacteria, or disease! Thank You for filling and refilling our tanks with Your peace, love, power and grace!

lg

Would you bring a rock to a sword fight?

And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and may the Lord be with you.” I Samuel 17:37 (NASB)

Young shepherd David brought a stone to a sword fight with a giant. The king insisted he wear armor, but it was too large and cumbersome. Here is this youngster with a slingshot and a rock standing before giant Goliath. David wasn’t just courageous. He had faith in God who called him to the task. He lived his faith. If you have read about David’s life after slaying Goliath, you know he did not live perfectly. Still, God called David “a man after my own heart.”

Each one of us has a measure of faith. When you step up to the sink to wash your hands, you turn the faucet handle or wave your hands for the sensor and water begins to flow. When you switch the light switch, you have faith the light will turn on (or off). When you start your vehicle by turning the key or pushing a button, you have faith the internal combustion engine will roar to life. If you drive an electric car it will hum to life. We like to joke that our hybrid vehicles should play “It’s a Small World” when in all electric mode. Then, people would hear us coming.

In some ways, that is living our faith. What about your true faith? So, you attend church, sing in the choir, lead a small group and greet everyone entering the building. While those activities are productive, what happens when you are away from a church related activity? I want to live my faith every day, not just on church days.  One of my difficulties is driving. I can turn into a real hot headed driver if traffic isn’t flowing the way I want it. God is working in me to fill my grace reservoir. Some days I have success and some I do not. Recently, I started thinking about what people would say was my impact in this world. I’m nothing different or new. I am definitely NOT perfect, but I hope I am consistent in how I live. So, in my little corner of the world, what I have contributed to community? I am working for The King of Kings not for Linda. As His representative, I must stay in constant connection and communication with Him daily. He desires His children to be beacons of light in this dark world. I am asking myself “am I a lighthouse in the fog?”

Father, my desire is for more of you and less of me. When frustration tries to derail my joy, help me to live my faith that you work all things for my good. Thank you for holding me when I stumble in my flesh. May Your light shine.

So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are his lovers who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose. Romans 8:28 The Passion Translation (TPT)

lg

Clearing the Closet

Recently, I cleared out the floor in my closet. It had been six months or more since my last purging. My habit is to pile the items I will donate on the closet floor, usually in a box. Well, the box was overflowing like a volcano spreading lava all around it! And, I had a secondary box in my dining room! My intention had been to purge prior to Christmas. Obviously, my intention was gone with the December wind. January provided me with a needed ministry break. One morning after coffee, I resolved to tackle the closet. My thinking was that it would take the entire morning to complete. To begin, I pulled out the donation volcano. I separate the clothing from the non-clothing items and write the inventory. Once the inventory was complete, including the dining room box, I re-box everything. No more volcano! I set the boxes near the back door. Heading back to the closet, I reorganized my 3-drawer cabinet and my shoe rack. I really must vacuum the carpet. Since everything was looking neat and tidy, rearranging would be simple. It looks functional again. I feel less chaos when things are in the correct places. I finished in less than two hours!

Are you wondering “where is she going with this?”  Many years ago God revealed to me that my heart is like a closet for my life. I put in it things no one else will see: hidden things, out-of-sight things. I can shut the door or even lock it if I choose. In some cases, I treat it like a bank vault and only check that it’s still locked, rarely opening it. God wants in the heart closet. He already knows what is in it. The hurt and sin it has brought into my life. He wants to restore and heal my heart. I can clean it, but if I don’t invite God to inhabit it, dust and cobwebs will creep back into my heart.

Matthew 23:25-26 “Great sorrow awaits you religious scholars and Pharisees—frauds and imposters! You are like one who will only wipe clean the outside of a cup or bowl, leaving the inside filthy. You are foolish to ignore the greed and self-indulgence that live like germs within you. You are blind and deaf to your evil. Shouldn’t the one who cleans the outside also be concerned with cleaning the inside? You need to have more than clean dishes; you need clean hearts! (TPT)

Dear One, God is holding our hearts in His hand already. He sent Jesus to restore our relationship. Will you join me today and ask God to inhabit your heart, even the bank vault? God did not say life on earth would be easy. In fact, He said just the opposite: John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (NASB)

lg

NOT ANOTHER NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION

snow-on-blossoms500

So, I got out of bed this morning and headed toward the closet for my workout clothes. I grabbed what I needed and begin to put on the socks first. Except, in my sleepiness, I had not removed my pajamas, including socks for my cold feet! Although there hasn’t been much restorative sleep in my house as of late (my husband had the flu for 6 days and nights), in my grogginess I realized if I do not take off the old habits and put on the new ones in Christ, it is like putting lipstick on a pig! The pig is still a pig. Christ told us in Luke 9:23:  Jesus said to all of his followers, “If you truly desire to be my disciple, you must disown your life completely, embrace my ‘cross’ as your own, and surrender to my ways.” (TPT)

What does disowning my life look like? Is it abandoning my family and giving away all my possessions? ABSOLUTELY NOT! I must evaluate all aspects of my life and purge any part that is contradictory to a Christ filled and led life. Personally, I am being convicted of the many distractions keeping me from focusing on Him. One of my favorite hobbies is putting together jigsaw puzzles. I had the app on my tablet and completed at least one puzzle per day. Notice, I used “had”. One day as I am about to open the app, I felt a nudging to delete it! WHAT? Are you sure? Deleting the app would delete all the puzzles I have added and the list of completed puzzles! Longing to be obedient to the Lord, I deleted the app. I still enjoy puzzling, but I am sticking to the tactile version on a table. In the puzzling vein, I am a bit of a wordsmith and enjoy playing and watching word games. Sometimes this “love” inserts itself before quiet time with God, before reading Scripture. My need for focus trumps my need for puzzles and games. I have found when I put those things behind me and study God’s Word, listen to praise music, or pour myself into a book study, I do not feel deprived of anything. In fact, I feel the opposite. My spiritual cup is filled and overflows.

What’s that? I’m talking about minor things not sinful habits to shed? Then, let’s get real. In our culture, it is common to speak damaging words regarding others. This can be viewed as venting or telling the facts. Matthew 15:18 But what comes out of your mouth reveals the core of your heart. (TPT) This verse has been nagging me for a few weeks. Just last evening, I was caught up in speaking poorly regarding a contractor who lives in my neighborhood. It was not my intention to make others think less of him. Or so I thought. In reality, I gave in to the peer pressure to agree with someone else’s assessment. To truly follow Christ’s example, I must refrain from even thinking disparaging thoughts about someone else! This world is deeply broken and humans disappoint other humans. If by God’s grace I can see the other human as God sees them, I can see the good person created in God’s image. I am far from perfect and have disappointed others on too many occasions to count! I would hope for God’s grace to cover my inadequacies. 2 Cor.5:17-19 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. (NASB) (emphasis mine)

Father, thank you for revealing distractions in my life! May I be obedient to Your nudging and remove distractions. Please keep one hand on my shoulder and one hand over my mouth to keep me from mouthing off. May I remember You are the God of reconciliation and You see me as Your child, perfectly loved. Amen.                          lg

Ps. 40:3 He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God;
Many will see and fear and will trust in the Lord. (NASB)

Take this world. Give me Jesus.

imagesSomedays it seems that the world is full of more darkness than Light. Recently, I read that if I focus on the Light in the world and the good things people do, I will be less influenced by the darkness. I equate this to the “junk in, junk out” philosophy. When I continually, focus on the dark it becomes overwhelming. My attitude deteriorates. My mood becomes cloudy. When I notice the kindness of others, the beauty of nature, the smile of my grandson, the many blessings God has given, my attitude becomes lighter. My outlook reflects this with gratitude.

One recent afternoon, my attitude was flushed down the toilet (so to speak). Initially, I was unaware of the change. But, God gently nudged my inner being. Thankfully, not with the iron skillet I deserve!  He was waiting for me to reach out to Him. To readjust my focus to the Light, the Word. We were created for union with Him. Each human is searching for Him. When we do not commune with Him, we seek other ways of satisfaction and are disappointed when it doesn’t work. We must look to God first. I know I fail at this more than I’d like to admit.

My prayer for each of us: Father, thank You for Your Manual of Life! Help us not to give in to distraction. Gently, guide us back to Your Word, Your Truth. May we begin each day with praise for the many blessings You provide.

Matthew 6:33-34 (TPT)  “So above all, constantly chase after the realm of God’s kingdom and the righteousness that proceeds from him. Then all these less important things will be given to you abundantly.Refuse to worry about tomorrow, but deal with each challenge that comes your way, one day at a time. Tomorrow will take care of itself.”

Did you make a New Year’s Resolution?

 

2466553-pine-branch-with-icicles[1]Proverbs 19:21  A person may have many ideas concerning God’s plan for his/her life, but only the designs of HIS purpose will succeed in the end.

Many people make resolutions: lose weight, read the Bible, clear out the clutter, exercise more, get married, get a new job, etc. Those are human hopes for 2019. While some of those hopes may happen, God’s timing trumps our resolutions. His path may have different twists and turns than our plan.

Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.

Isaiah 55:9 As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, My thoughts higher than your thoughts.

We have to stay in-step with God. We must be intentional in seeking His path. We need to unplug from social media, games, life’s distractions and turn to God’s word – the Bible – for guidance. We need to be still and listen for His voice.

Personally, I stopped making resolutions years ago. I want to be my best everyday. I don’t need to wait for a holiday to start managing my time or taking care of my body. Tomorrow never comes…there’s always another tomorrow. Or is there?

Here’s the take away: Focus on God and live as if today is the last day of your life.

May God richly bless your 2019!    lg

HOPE: Bringing Light to darkness

Recently, the news told of two tragic celebrity suicides. We try to understand: “Why?” “They seemed to have everything.” Some would say they were selfish, only thinking of themselves. I disagree. Taking one’s life is an act of desperation. The intensely overwhelming darkness of pain and hurt boxes in a person until the only way to stop the pain, they feel, is to exit this world. I have been affected by the attempted suicide and suicide of some I know. My why is “why not ask for help?” There is no shame in asking for help. We are meant to be community, supporting each other.  Social media makes life look so perfect. Well, I, personally, DO NOT post my deepest hurts on social media. That doesn’t mean I don’t have hurts. It means I guard what information I put out for public display. No one on this earth has a perfect life. 

Jesus befriended the most unlikely: the Samaritan woman at the well John 4:1-42; Zaccheus, Chief Tax Collector Luke 19:2-10; many leapers and blind healed by Jesus, and more. Jesus looked for those who were most likely to be alone in the world. He demonstrated genuine love to them. He was interested in each individual.

Ponder this: How do you (we) demonstrate genuine interest, like Jesus did, in your (our)  community? Do you offer the drive-by “how are you?” not really wanting or expecting an answer, let alone a truthful answer? If you are asked, “how are you?”, do you answer honestly? Or play the game with a “fine”?  We need to take time, make time, to REALLY listen to our friends and family. Check-in on a deeper level. We need to reconnect to each other.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, communities had barn raising. Multiple families gathered to build one farmer’s barn. They went to each property until each barn was raised. I imagine a giant potluck of food went with each raising! And, the children would run and play nearby. Most people knew everyone around them. How many of us don’t even know the next door neighbor? You know, the one you have seen frequently at the mailbox? We are meant to have fellowship.

Connecting in fellowship, friendship, community on a deeper level will help to expose the darkness to the Light. By talking about hurts, depression, anxieties, helplessness, we can share the burdens and bring them into Light. Where there is Light, there is no darkness.

Pray! Ask God to bring you help! I have prayed for help and God is faithful to answer!

Pray! Ask God to show you someone YOU can help! I have prayed for this and God is faithful to answer!

2 Samuel 22:29 “for You are my lamp, O Lord; and the Lord illumines my darkness.”

So, can we bring Light to the darkness of depression and hopelessness?                lg

pigeon-point-lighthouse