Monday, March 26, 2012

In Control

Jesus instructed…..

Matthew 11:28-30, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (NIV)

I have noticed recently how little I practice this.

I am one who feels weary….often.

I am one who feels burdened too often.

Jesus promises me rest, if I will only come to Him to seek that rest.

His yoke is light; I can learn from Him. He is gentle and humble in heart.

I don’t believe I will learn from Him unless I become the same…….gentle and humble in heart.

In order for me to learn from Jesus, I must become more like Jesus. If I remain stubborn, bold and hot headed….

I am not teachable.

If I am easily offended…

I am blinded by my own insecurities.

I so much desire to find rest for my soul.

Jesus must know how difficult it is for me to live here, in this world, surrounded by so many demands, so much heaviness. Otherwise, He would not have told me this.

Each day, I need to go to Him for rest. It is for my good He offers Himself.

It is to my disgrace when I ignore my Lord and my Savior; the One who created me, and knows me better than I know myself, and yet….

….still loves me…unconditionally.

I am so grateful to have a Savior; this One who is completely in control of ALL things, and yet, considers me to be of such importance to Him. He knows my every move. Nothing happens that He does not see.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Ceramic Ants

While browsing through an artisans shop in a nearby town, I came across a ceramic piece I found interesting.

It was painted in spring tones, and came complete with a wire hanger. It simply read: “There are Always Ants at a Picnic.”

Initially, I walked away from this piece, but I couldn’t seem to get it off my mind. “There are always ants at a picnic.”

It hit me right away how true that is of life. Our lives carry on, day by day, with many amazing yet challenging scenarios. No matter how wonderful our times may be, there always seems to be that difficulty that will rear its head somewhere in the middle.

I continued to browse, but returned to that piece hanging on the wall.

I just had to have it.

It spoke to me.

It was as if the Lord was prodding me, saying, this is how life should be viewed. Many things that happen are not the tragedies I make them out to be; they are merely inconveniences. “There are always ants at a picnic.”

They do not destroy the good times; they don’t possess that power unless I allow them.

Ants are merely a nuisance. 

While there are many serious matters that do pass through our lives, the tendency to over react on those that are not serious, has left us unbalanced and therefore poorly equipped to handle those that are serious.

Life, with all its hills and valleys, definitely does have its tribulations. Ants certainly are a nuisance and difficult to get rid of.

But I need to remain balanced and choose my battles wisely. I must see and adhere to, truth.

When that truth stands in front of my face so closely that I cannot turn my head, this is what it speaks to me:

Philippians 3:8
…I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.” (NIV)

I purchased that ceramic hanging, as you can see by the photo. It helps me to maintain a proper perspective when I find myself becoming distressed.

Have a blessed day!

Monday, March 19, 2012

True Worship

I had a dream last night. In this dream I was a lead singer in a band.

In reality, I am challenged to carry a tune across the street.

It was a grand sensation, standing up there, microphone in hand, singing my heart out.

When I awoke from my dream, I felt disappointed. Yes, my reality had returned and found me empty handed.

Music has always been a love of mine. I have listened to and appreciated music as far back as I can remember. When I was eight or nine years of age, I recall walking around with my tiny transistor radio, listening to the tunes of the era. I wish rechargeable batteries had been around then!

 I envy those who are gifted in the area of music. I know it is wrong to be envious.

I must admit, I do have more admiration for those who have prepared themselves and done the hard work to succeed. They make it look so easy.

I had believed it was simply a gift, and no other effort had been required. I suppose maybe for some, possibly a handful, it has been. But for most, it requires work, hard work.

The Lord spoke to me this morning.

He reminded me that nothing comes to any of us without hard work; without great effort on our part.

He repeated to me something He has spoken to me often, and it is this:

It takes great effort to follow Me. It takes a lot of hard work, determination, humility, faith, trust, and love. It takes more effort to follow Me than it does to develop any musical talent, or any other skill. To follow Me will take everything you have, and then some. That is why so many continue to fall short; the hard work is exhausting.

The utmost you will ever accomplish in your life on this earth, will be to follow Me; to glorify Me.   

Whether you do this in part, through a talent such as music, writing, speaking, or working with the oppressed…..whatever you do, whoever you come into contact with….whatever obstacles you may face….
do it all to honor Me. And most importantly, do it in love.

That is true worship.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Gone Forever

I received a phone message on Saturday evening.

A disturbing phone message.

My brother had died earlier in the day.

I have not seen my brother in over thirty-five years.
Although I have spoken with him on the telephone, it was never a pleasant conversation.

My brother walked away from our family those many years ago. Why he turned his back on me remains a mystery to me to this day. I will never have the opportunity again to speak with him to find out what happened to bring this about.

Truthfully, I probably would never have found out anyway. But now, it is for certain that I will never know.

I have been heard to say, over the past years, that my brother is dead to me. This has been obvious because of his extended departure from my life.
In fact, I would also say, I have no idea if he is still alive. 

When I said those words, I had believed at the time that it would not matter to me. Our family had been dead to him; there had been no relationship, no respect, zilch. Why then, should his possible demise ever infringe on my life?

But, it did. It still does.

He was my brother.

My flesh and blood.

He was disturbed and battled many demons.

I do feel badly now. I find myself shifting back and forth between the good and bad memories of us when we were younger.

Sadly, there were not many good memories.

Nevertheless, he was my brother. He was also God’s creature. Created by God; made in the image of God. He was made to do good works.

I had prayed for him sporadically, over the years; but not recently.

I don’t know where he is now. I don’t know if he ever turned towards the Lord.

But, in recent weeks, the Lord had put him on my heart to pray for him. I did.

I prayed for his salvation; I prayed he would come to know the Lord.
It is our prayers that make God work. We need to pray for others, and not rethink it past that biblical truth.

Don’t think about it. Just pray. Just love. Love enough to get just an inkling of the love the Lord has for us…

…before it is too late.

I am thankful that I obeyed the Lord’s prompting and prayed for my brother.

What an honor it would be to be used by God to help bring eternal peace to one of his children that had no peace while in this life.

One who is not prayed for….has no hope.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Me Against the World

Isn’t it difficult…let me rephrase that: Isn’t it impossible for me to love everyone?

Do I speak for you as well, when I ask that question?

No matter how hard I try, some people just grate on my nerves and when I look at them, the feeling I experience is definitely not love.

Various thoughts entertain my mind. I can’t seem to help myself. Sometimes, my defense is that they are the ones who have turned against me.
What can I do about that?
Am I not justified in my feelings, in my thoughts?

While I do know that I only damage myself with these feelings, I can’t seem to shake them.

It’s not right for that person to be against me.

They are the ones at fault here, not me.

I have no choice.

But then I am convicted.
I pick up my Bible, and ask the Lord to show me his truths.

James 5:9: “Don’t grumble about each other, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. For look – the Judge is standing at the door!” (NIV)

1Peter 1:13-16: “So think clearly and exercise self-control. Look forward to the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” (NIV)

Scripture overflows with passages on loving others and being holy.
Don’t judge lest you be judged.

I would have hoped to have been on board with the Lord by now.

But sadly, I am not.

I know I can do nothing without him: He is the vine and I am the branch.

The only way I know to continue in obedience to the Lord in this area, is to see Him in the eyes of each person I look at; every person who enters into my thoughts.
I know I have said this before. But, I still don’t have it right. I continue to struggle…..

…And, because of that, I am ashamed. Clearly, I am not trying hard enough.
I must try harder to focus on Him and leave my selfish ways behind.

The Lord is with me: he will help me to overcome.

Lord, I ask you to help me to love those you put in my path. Help me to overlook their weaknesses. Help me to love in spite of circumstances, Lord. Help me to understand that I do not need to understand nor agree with everyone in order to love them. As your servant, I am to love my brothers and sisters. To do this, I need you. Fill me with your love Lord, and as it leaks out, refill me. Continue to alter my thoughts so that they will be your thoughts. I thank you. In your holy name I pray, Jesus. Amen.

Praise be to him for his faithfulness!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

New Season, Old Promise

Spring is in the air!

This is often the time of year when I feel like making a new start. Many things around us will soon be coming into, and making themselves a part of, this new season.

The buds on the trees and the greening of the grass; the freshness in the air; it all brings such newness of life to our surroundings.

…And the countless numbers of offspring born in the midst of it all; the peeping, cawing and chirping of the numerous varieties of birds.
These make it impossible to slumber in the mornings, yet they awaken us to this newness.

They awaken us to this new beginning.

Each day is a new beginning.

As I sit here, thrilled that the promise of spring is among us, I am reminded of yet another promise from our Lord.

Lamentations 3:22-24 reads:

“It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.

They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.” (KJV)

Yes, this is a true reason to celebrate.

The Lord’s mercies are new every morning.

They are new, not merely in a season of the year, but in each and every morning, throughout the year.
Yes, His mercies are new every morning; therefore I will hope in Him.

As I continue to enjoy the newness of this season that He has brought to us, I will remember the newness of His great unfailing love; His tender mercies….His mercies that are brand new every morning.

Thanks be to God for the sunshine, and for the rainfall that I hear as I type.

Thanks be to God for the air that I breathe.

Thanks be to God for all that He has bestowed upon us. Amen!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Can You Tell the Difference?

I watched a movie last night on television. It was called A Walk in My Shoes.
It was a good movie, with a good life lesson; a good biblical life lesson. I feel certain by the title one will easily discern the life lesson this movie provided for its viewers.

Too often, I neglect to consider others. I view and live my life through my own experiences. When I encounter someone separated from my ‘world,’ I find myself challenged.

I am ill prepared. I am not equipped to deal with another’s plight.

Yet, I have read the books. I have studied at a master’s level. Still, I remain ill prepared.

I have done the difficult work, haven’t I?

Haven’t I studied through all hours of the day and night?

Didn’t I struggle to pay the tuition and the book fees?

Didn’t I ensure that I attended all classes possible, often disregarding weather, health, or other interferences?

So why am I too often not able to deal with others who suffer?

The answer, simply, is that I neglect to remember the one very important truth.

I can do nothing without the Lord.

In John 15:5 Jesus tells us, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (NIV)

Without prayer; without remembering who my lifeline is…I am not able to accomplish anything.

I make a mess.

Every time.

It is good for me to be reminded yet again, that each time I reach out to help someone in need; I cannot do it without Jesus.

I am here to honor and to glorify the Lord. And yes, what an honor it is; there is no higher calling than to honor the Lord.

Have a blessed day!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Strangely Familiar

I believe the Lord has been touching my heart lately and showing me the flip side of a situation where I have only ever addressed one side.

Normally, I have witnessed and experienced this in ministry situations, but I have also experienced this outside of ministry.
It is this: Newcomers are often left to stand alone, making them feel unwelcomed.

I’m certain we can all relate to this. Can you recall the last time you were the new person or couple at a function? Did you experience uncomfortable moments where others who knew one another congregated in conversation while you were left sitting or standing alone?

Not a nice feeling; one we would hope to avoid at all costs.

Normally, if we tough it out, someone will approach and speak to us. But, it can be unnerving, and often, too stressful for some to endure.

The consequence is normally that the new person never returns, and everyone has lost an opportunity to meet another friend. Everyone loses.

But, who is to blame?

I generally point the finger to the people who are in their comfort zone. I know, often they are not even aware of a new person; they are busily involved in conversation, or whatever.
However, as newcomers, we must anticipate that others will come forward if given time and/or opportunity. Some will not, often because they are uncomfortable approaching those they don’t know. To you, I say, fear is not of God; he calls us out of our comfort zone. Approach and introduce yourself. It will become easier the more often you do it. You will meet some wonderful people.

Yet, there is another side. Often, when the new person/couple depart too soon, have they fairly given anyone an opportunity to come forward and introduce themselves?
We can’t be too hasty while we stand in our stressful place either.

A fly on the wall may know that the initial conversations with those who are already known, must take place. There may be plans being finalized, new issues to introduce in an ongoing matter, or simply a time to catch up.

I am addressing this today because I believe the Lord has put this on my heart, so I am sharing it with you. Maybe you need to hear it as well. If not, thanks for reading my blog today anyway. If you know someone who would benefit from reading it, maybe you would like to forward it on to that person.

I pray that for each of us, we will desire enough to be the change that we wish to see in others; that we will step forward and reach out. Because at the end of the day, it is the love we show to others that enables the Lord to smile down on us.

So, no matter what side you are on; I hope you will be fair and consider the other persons position.

Bless You today!