My sun porch

My sun porch

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

BE the church and plant the seeds...

A memory verse for today:
"He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and walk humbly with your God." -- Micah 6:8

Rest...another important topic that I have written about many times. It is something that I do not do enough. God gave us the example of resting after 6 days of creating the world. He blessed the seventh day and made it holy. (Genesis 2:1-3)  In the Ten Commandments, He instructed us to "Remember the Sabbath by keeping it holy. (Exodus 20:8-11) In that commandment, he instructs us not to work on that day...EVERYONE in our households (including the animals) should not work on the seventh day. I believe in my heart that God gave us the Ten Commandments not as a laundry list of  "thou shall nots" but as a loving guide for us on how to take care of ourselves and live a happier, God-honoring life. God knows our bodies well (he SHOULD...he created us!) and knows that we NEED rest!

In Isaiah 56:1-8 God says he will bless those who do not desecrate the Sabbath. The dictionary states that desecrate means to violate the sancity of; treat disrespectfully, irreverently or outrageously. So, keeping the Sabbath means respecting it, treating it reverently and keeping it holy. If we do this, then God will bless us. If you read those Isaiah verses carefully, Isaiah mentions foreigners, outsiders and Eunichs (men who were excluded from the Assembly of God). The Lord would also bless THEM if they kept the Sabbath holy. I looked in my study Bible for what foreigners and outsiders meant, and found it was referring to people outside Israel (God's holy people)...people outside the church. How do people outside the church know God's laws and understand to keep the Sabbath holy????

Hmmm...this fits right in with what we've been talking about in my Sunday school class as we read Doug Pollock's book God Space. We Christians get upset when we see people in our culture not living God-honoring do they know how to live God-honoring lives if they are OUTSIDE the church? How do they learn God's word and God's loving way of guiding them?

Take honoring the Sabbath, for example. In our current culture, our kids now have scheduled ball games on Sunday mornings. In our current culture, because a vast majority of people are NOT growing up in church and learning about God's teachings, Sunday is just another day. Time is short these days...why not schedule on ball games Sunday mornings? Yes, those of us that make church on Sundays a priority have a problem with that. But, how can we expect people to keep God's laws and following his teachings when they don't KNOW them? They are "outside" the church.

Because Jesus instructed us to "go and make disciples of all nations," we know that it is our job as Christians to show people God's love and spread the good news of the gospel. We need to be concerned about those "church outsiders." If they are not coming to church, we need to BE the church in their lives. Now, this doesn't mean handing out tracts, spouting Bible verses and inviting people to church all the time. This means showing up with our Jesus glasses on and noticing the needs of people around us. When we start meeting those needs...with no strings attached, others around us will notice and start experiencing the kingdom of God in very tangible and attractive ways. They will want to know more...they will begin to be curious about this "God thing" and start asking questions.

In those Isaiah verses, why do you think God talks about honoring the outsiders and foreigners who learn to follow God's laws and keep the Sabbath holy? Why mention those people? I think God mentions them because when THEY learn to follow God, it is a big deal! People IN the church already know and understand. God will bless those "outsiders" greatly because they went from being outsiders to being INSIDERS!

If we want Sundays to be more about God than about football, we might have to play along with their game for a while. Instead of griping and complaining about how we can't go to church because our child has a tournament game on Sunday, and how terrible that is...let's take church TO the football game! Be a good example and not yell at the refs...TALK to other parents in the stands and NOTICE needs that you see and try to find ways to meet those needs...allow your child to put things they have learned in Sunday school or KidsPraise into practice on the ball field. Maybe...someday...those outsiders who scheduled games on God's holy day will have learned that God instructs us to rest on Sundays for a reason. Maybe they will someday learn God's teachings and follow them and then be greatly blessed by God!

If they don't go to do they know? BE THE CHURCH around them so they can see!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Service lessens worry and brings joy...

This week's memory verse:
"'Martha, Martha,' the Lord answered, 'you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."'" -- Luke 10:41-42

Well...I just spent an hour writing a GREAT blog post about how serving others can lessen your worry and bring you joy...I hit one key by accident and it is ALL GONE! Arrgggg!

But...I'm NOT going to worry about it! I have made a list of my worries this morning. I talked with God about each one of them and turn them all over to God...including my frustration over losing all the words I just typed! I am now going to BURN that list and feel confident that God loves me more than the birds and the flowers and he WILL take care of me and provide for my needs! I don't have to worry about anything!

And, since I don't have to worry about anything, I am going to put on my "J-glasses" and look for people today who need me. I'm sure there are ways that I can serve others today. God will bring me opportunties to serve others and bring me joy at the same time!

So, don't worry about anything today! Give your worries to God and he will bring you opportunites for joy! I know it! Be blessed, my friends!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Slow down and see the big picture....

This week's memory verse:
"'Martha, Martha,' the Lord answered, 'you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.'"

I love when multiple things come together! This morning, as I was reading my Bible study about the familiar story of Mary and Martha, I thought how this lesson fits in with the "Jesus glasses" I wrote about last week, AND also fits in well with my pastor's new sermon series about balance. It's all about missing the bigger picture. Not only to do I love when things come together, but I REALLY love it when I actually GET the message!

I have always related with Martha in this story. I am one who worries about the work around me. I think it comes from growing up on a farm. There was ALWAYS work to be done. To this day, when I am feeling lazy on some morning, I feel my dad in the back of my head telling me to get up and get moving! There's work to be done! But...sometimes we get so caught up in the work that we MISS what is really going on around us.

Jesus tells Martha that really only one thing is spend time and learn from him. I think, but wait, if Martha hadn't spent so much time doing what she did, who would have fixed dinner for her guests? Isn't hospitality a very important gift and needed to make guests feel welcome and taken care of? Yes, those things are important, but when you become so wrapped up in the details, and feeling bad about how you are the only one doing those details, you become resentful and your eyes are dimmed to the BIG PICTURE.

In order to put on the "Jesus glasses" and see people as Jesus sees them, AND learn the important lessons that Jesus wants to teach you, you have to be focused on something other than yourself.

Yes, Martha needed to be concerned with the dinner details, but perhaps she could have slowed down and listened a little more as she prepared. Perhaps she needed to slow down and connect with the other people in the house at the time.

Jesus said that Mary chose better...she chose to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to his teaching. He said that what Mary learned would not be taken away from her.

I think it's all about balance. When our lives are balanced with work and rest, and spending time with Jesus, we will find ourselves learning things that can't be taken away from us. When our lives are balanced, our eyes can focus on something other than ourselves and we remember to take time to put on those "Jesus glasses" and see the big picture.

Jesus, my life tends to get way too busy! I am over scheduled, overworked, and overextended. When I get like this, it is harded for me to spend time with you. Slow me down today and help me sit at your feet for a little bit. The work will wait...Help me to see your big picture today!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Seeing others through "Jesus glasses"

This week's memory verse:
"Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always." Psalm 105:4

It's all about opening up our eyes and the eyes of our hearts. Yesterday I talked about seeking God's face. Today I want to talk about SEEING people through "Jesus glasses."

My whole church is reading another book together. It's called God Space, written by Doug Pollock. The part I read yesterday and this morning really reached out and grabbed me! How many people do you pass in a day? On the street, at your job, at school, at the grocery store, at the mall...It is possible to pass by HUNDREDS of people each day. But do we really notice any of them?

Doug Pollock encourages readers of his book to go to the internet and watch a certain video. Here is the link:

In this video, a man seems to be annoyed by everyone he comes into contact that morning and thinks he doesn't seem to matter to anyone that day. In a coffee shop a stranger appears before him and hands him a glasses case, and then seems to vanish. The man puts on the glasses inside the case and then sees little descriptions beside each person he sees that tells what is going on in their lives. "Just lost his job." "Avoids relationships for fear of being hurt." "Battling addiction." "Fighting with husband."

The man is confused and afraid of these descriptions. What is he supposed to do with this knowledge? The woman who "stole" his parking spot is grieving for her best friend. The man he runs into as he is running out of the coffee shop "just needs a hug."  He was seeing people with "Jesus glasses." He could SEE what was going on in the lives of people around him. Those descriptions explained why some acted the way they did.

What if we NOTICED people around us and saw what might be going on in their lives? Would we treat them differently?

A quote from Doug Pollock in God Space: "When we start to notice others with our Jesus glasses on, something happens inside us...His compassion melts away the coldness in our hearts. Our callousness toward others is replaced with genuine concern."

A young mother in the library last night really annoyed me. During a program, her youngest child, a toddler, was unhappy, so she strapped him into his stroller and let him cry and scream in the hallway outside the auditorium. I was in another program down the hall and came out to see what all the screaming was about. I was so angry at this mother who just didn't seem to mind that her child was screaming and annoying many others. It didn't seem to matter to her that his crying fit was interrupting our program or upsetting other children. While I didn't confront her, (both programs were almost over) in my head I was really letting her have it! I was judging her and her parenting skills! Well...this morning as I thought back on that event with my "Jesus glasses" on, I felt a little foolish at my attitude about her. I have no idea what her life is like. Perhaps she is a single mother who is really struggling with 3 young children. Maybe her other two wanted to see the animals SO BAD she didn't want to pull them out of the program just to deal with a cranky toddler. I have dealt with a cranky toddler is not fun! Perhaps I needed to cut her some slack...even in my own head!

Lord, today as I interact with people, help me see them as you do...with YOUR eyes instead of mine...and help me to learn to notice others around me. Some of those people may just need a kind word. Some just need to know that someone CARES for them. Help me to care about people today and put my needs aside for even a moment so my cold heart is melted and replaced with concern. Amen.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Finding time to seek God's face...

This week's memory verse:
"Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always." -- Psalm 105:4

One of my favorite things to do in the whole world is have dinner or lunch with a friend, especially when there is plenty of time and we are not rushed. Of course, the eating part is good, but my favorite part is sitting across from someone I care about and sharing our hopes, struggles, secrets...laughter. There can never be enough laughter! There have been several times when a friend and I have seen the looks from the wait-staff and scooted out the door as they were ready to close. One time, a friend I and stood out in the parking lot talking long after all the staff left that parking lot! Yes, I love to talk, but it is that sharing time that I treasure so much. When you spend time with someone you care about, you see them for who they really are and you are able to listen and help them with their issues as much as they do the same for you.

God wants to do the same with us! You might say, "Oh, I don't have time to do Bible study and have quality quiet time with God. It sounds like a good idea, but there are not enough hours in the day. Where do I find the time?" Well...we tend to make time for the things we care about the most, like having dinner with a friend. Doesn't God deserve at least the same consideration? Colossians 4:2 says, "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful."

Here's another idea...if you don't have extra time to sit down and talk with God (you should REALLY try...there are so many benefits!) at least try slowing down during your busy day and take a look for God in the small mundane things in your daily life. He is there!

How about during your commute to work? Look at the beauty of the fall leaves. Take a minute and say "Wow God! Your mighty hand is so creative! Thank you for the beauty before me!"

Or, take a minute during your lunch to talk to God. Just take a moment to thank Him for your blessings and ask Him to guide you through the rest of your day.

God doesn't care WHERE you are when you talk to him...just talk to him! This might sound sacrilegious so some, but talk to him when you go to the bathroom. I know, sounds weird doesn't it? But everyone has to go sometime, and you can't take your work in there with you...well you SHOULDN'T take your work in there with you. Just take a moment in that quiet time to tell God what's going on with your day, good and bad.

Seek his face...everywhere seek his face! No, we don't SEE God's face, but when we LOOK for him, we will find him. He is there already...he just wants to spend some time with us. He waits for us to come to him.

Don't know what to say? Don't know what to ask for? Are you hurting so bad you can't put it into words? If you seek God and ask him to come to you, he will, even when you don't know what to say. Romans 8:26-27 says, "In the same way the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God's people in accordance with the will of God."

I know that sounds a little strange...that the Spirit groans for us and God understands...but I find so much comfort in that. Even when I don't know what to pray for, God works and knows what is in my heart.

It's kind of like when I'm sitting across from my friend at dinner and she knows exactly what I needed to hear at that moment. She knows me so well, she says just what I needed to hear. OR...maybe God is working THROUGH her and giving her the words I needed to hear. I don't know if that's the way it works or not, but I love the thought of that! I know for sure that GOD knows me that well.

I am thankful for dinners with close friends, and finding "God time" during my busy day! I hope you look for ways to talk to God today and seek God's face in all you do!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Me - a living sacrifice

This week's memory verse:
"Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always." -- Psalm 105:4

The word sacrafice is usually considered a negative word. It means the things we give up for the sake of something else. It means something is lost or taken from us. In Old Testament times, God demanded burnt offerings as sacrifices, but also grain offerings, sin offerings, guilt offerings and fellowship offerings. (See Leviticus 6-7) God followers were expected to give God their best...give it up and give it to God. In pagan, Indian and other cultures, live human sacrifices to the gods were a common occurance. Is it any wonder why looking at the verse "Offer your bodies as living sacrfices..." (Romans 12:1) is hard for us to understand and willingly do?

God gave us free will. Our bodies and our lives belong to us. We choose what we do with our lives and how we live our lives. And while circumstances and events come into our lives that cause things to happen, how we react to those events is totally up to us. We know this and we hang on to every bit of freedom we can.

Because God is who he is: all knowing, all seeing, all powerful, he COULD exert his power upon us and make us do whatever he wants. That means he COULD have created a world with no sin, no guilt, no pain. He COULD have created a world of humans who did exactly what he said and loved each other all the time. I often wish that he DID exert that power so I wouldn't have to see the suffering that I see in the world every day. As the song says, "What a wonderful world" that would be.

But, that is not the way God decided to work in our world. While he created us, he gave us the CHOICE to love him or not. We have the CHOICE to follow his teachings or not. We have the CHOICE to love others or not. It means so much more to God when we CHOOSE him!

When we do choose God and make our bodies living sacrifices to him, He renews our minds. This is a process and does not happen immediately. We are a work in progress! The more we choose Him, the easier it becomes for us to follow him and choose Him again!

There are times I make the right choices and my body and my mind are serving God in a way that pleases him. But, there are also times when I make the wrong choices and choose myself and my own selfish ways instead of God's way. The good thing about this is God's mercy. He knows I will trip and fall and make mistakes. He knows that I love Him and will reach out to Him for help again and he provides the help I need to start again.

I WANT to sacrifice my body mind and soul to God! I want everything I do and say to bring God glory. I want to give up my wants and selfish desires for Him. It is not easy, but it is my heart's desire! I am thankful that my mind is renewed each day and I get another chance to CHOOSE God!

Monday, October 22, 2012

God Stories in cardboard...

This week's memory verse:
"Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always." -- Psalm 105:4

I was blessed to watch some very brave people yesterday. They stood on stage in front of a large crowd and made silent statements of how God rescued them from their worlds of trouble and pain through their relationship with Jesus Christ. Alcoholism, cancer, drugs, an abusive father, being childless, feeling like a zero, being an antheist...poster-board testimonies of darkness were flipped over to reveal how they were delivered, cured, saved, recovered, redeemed, made whole, made complete.

I personally know all of the the people that walked across the stage, and though I do not know all the details of their stories, I know that I see God and Christ's love shining in each of them every day. Each of them exhibit the attitude of Jesus in everything they do. They show tenderness and compassion for others, and think of others above themselves. No, they are still not perfect and each of them still make mistakes every day. But, they have an example to follow...Jesus, and it is obvious to all who know them that they do follow Jesus.

Lord, I want to be like you...I want to live like THAT! I want the world to know that I follow you and the only way that is possible is for me to act like you and follow your lead. This world is filled with trouble, guilt and pain. It is easy for me to get wrapped up in my own trouble, guilt and pain, and easy for me to show the world judgement instead of compassion. Help me today to open my eyes to the God stories around me to reach out to others who are stuggling with their own troubles and show them your love and compassion. Help me to remember the blessings of the cardboard testimonies of my friends today so I can see people of all types through your eyes and not my own. Amen.

If you want to watch our carboard testimonies for yourself, click on:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Getting an accurate reflection...

This week's memory verse:
"My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises." Psalm 119:148

Have you ever know someone who complains about someone else's behavior while exhibiting the exact same behavior? I have known several people like fact, I have BEEN that person on several occasions. It is very easy to see the faults and bad characteristics of others and very hard to see our own faults and bad characteristics. It's like we look in the mirror and see what we WANT to see, not what is really there, staring back at us.

Romans 12:3 says, "For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you."

Lots of good stuff packed in that little verse! Sober judgement...seeing yourself accurately, through God's eyes instead of your own. God has distributed you the right amount of faith and grace to look at yourself accurately, you just have to CHOOSE to USE it!

People who are not using that faith and grace might have too high a view of themselves, making them proud, vain, judgemental and accusing. But, in the same way, some may have too low a view of themselves, making them timid, lacking in self confidence and always deferring to others. When we look at ourselves in either of these ways, we can push others away from us instead of attracting, and we can also push God away as well. Seeing a distorted view of ourselves keeps God from being able to work in us and through us in the ways he has planned for us.

In KidsPraise, we teach kids that the Bible is like a mirror because it shows you things about yourself that you need to change, or more accurately things that GOD can change when we open our hearts to him. God's grace helps you to be truthful about yourself.

KNOWING that God's grace is meant for me allows me to know and be reassured that God's love for me is unconditional. This allows me to hold the mirror up to myself and ask God to fix the things that are lacking or wrong AND allows me to celebrate and praise God for the good in me as well!

Dear Lord, I ask that you allow me to see myself accurately through YOUR eyes and know that I don't need to judge myself against anyone else. I don't need to judge others either. Thank you for who I am in you. Amen

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Secret music of my soul...

This week's memory verse:
"My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises." -- Psalm 119:148

Have you ever felt the joy that comes from doing something you enjoy doing? I'm sure you have. At least I hope you have. We all need to do some things we enjoy doing because it feeds another need in our soul. Last night, I did something I haven't done in over 20 years...I went to Messiah practice. Yep, I signed up to sing in this years Civic Chorus' production of Handel's Messiah. I sing all the time, in church, at home, in the car...anywhere that is acceptable! All of those places bring me joy, but last night I felt GOOD! Even though I haven't felt the best in the world in the last few days, singing this music made me feel envigorated and alive! It is hard stuff, very high and difficult runs, or melisamas and complicated rhythms, etc. However, by singing with 70 some other people this inspired music, my heart had no other option than to feel inspired as well! I was hot and exhausted when I left because it is hard work! But, I also felt so alive! I called my mom to thank her for encouraging me to do this, because I just had to share how good it felt!

This morning, as I read my Bible study lessons, I am touched with how God really does know the inner most, secret longings of our hearts. Today's lesson in my book was about how we tend to hide our inner most secrets from everyone, including God and ourselves. Some things we hide because we are ashamed of them, like thoughts and deeds that we know are wrong. But sometimes there are things inside us that we have pushed aside so long, we have forgotten them.

Proverbs 20:27 says, "The human spirit is the lamp of the Lord that sheds light on one's inmost being."

Psalm 139:23-24 says, "Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."

God not only knows the anxious and wrong thoughts and motivations in our secret hearts, he knows the things that bring us joy that we have forgotten about ourselves as well. God wants ALL of us...every part. He wants us to guide us in the way to a clean heart and he also wants to help us find the joy that we hide away.

So, God knows my struggles with pride and vanity when it comes to my voice. He knows that sometimes I sing for the wrong gain attention; to seek approval; to hope that people like me. BUT, he also knows that music, especially inspired, moving music, moves my heart and invigorates my soul.

Struggling with bouts of depression in the last year have been difficult for me, and I have prayed and prayed that God would walk me through it so I could again be the happy person I long to be. Last night, I felt a glimpse of that happy person again! I might find myself sliding into depression again sometime, but today, I want to hang on to the euphoria I felt singing those high notes that spoke of the glory of the Lord!

Thank you Lord, for seeing the secret, innermost longings inside of me, and granting me even a moment of pure joy! Amen.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Spiritual fervor produces hope in a depressing world

This week's memory verse:
"My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises." Psalm 119:148

I have been reading some of the works of James Joyce recently...I'm not sure why. It is pretty depressing stuff most of the time. And looking at the life of Mr. Joyce, one can see that his life was rather depressing stuff as well. It seems that most great writers came from rough, depressing backgrounds, struggling from depression and multiple mental issues.

Why wouldn't one be depressed and mentally unstable living in this world? Life is hard and filled with trials, troubles, and afflictions. It is hard to stay hopeful sometimes...well, most of the time, really. So, how DO we stay hopeful?

I have been asked how I remain "happy" in my life. I have written on this fact many times, and have studied the facts of my life often. I really have no explanation for my cheerful dispostion, except for my faith in God and his promises.

Look at Romans 12:11-12 "Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."

Spitual fervor - I think that's what I intense feeling of God's spirit inside me. Wow---That sounded pretty heavy didn't it? But that's it! Believing in God and his promises is what fills my heart with hope. That hope burns inside of me and makes me confident of the end of the story. God wins in the end...which means I win in the end. I will spend eternity in heaven with him. THAT makes me joyful and that joy makes me eager and interested in pursuing Christ even more. It also allows me to be patient in affliction. I have troubles, just like anyone else. But that hope that is burning inside me helps me to believe that my troubles are temporary and my suffering is momentary, especially when compared to ETERNITY with Jesus!

When I read more stories by James Joyce, or when I turn on the TV to see the suffering of others in real life and in the fictional lives of TV characters, I wonder why others can't see what is right in front of their faces...God's promise of hope and help through the troubles of this life. So much time and effort is wasted in suffering. Yes, life is hard, but I will use my "spiritul fervor" that produces hope in my heart and patience in affliction over the suffering this world brings any day of the week!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Fully Rely on God's Strength

This week's memory verse:
"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9

Those of you that know me well know that I love frogs. My house and my beloved sun porch is covered with them. People get me frog related knick knacks, pictures, stuffed animals, magnets, etc. all the time and I love them all! Those of you that know me also know where my obsession with frogs came from.

About 11 years ago, a wise, older friend of mine complimented me on my dangling frog earrings. (They were handpainted frogs that I got in Seattle on one of my favorite vacations ever!) She then explained to me that FROG stands for Fully Rely On God. I had not heard that before, and from that moment on, that statement became my favorite saying and my mantra. That statement and the reminder from all the frog stuff in my life has gotten me through many a difficult situation. It also gives me strength when I am at my weakest.

In Psalm 18:1-6 David is troubled and cries out to God. Why does he do this? Why cry out for help from someone who you can't see, you can't have a conversation with? Because David had experienced over and over again the help and strength that comes from God when he asked for it. He says that God is his rock, his strength. Over time, he came to trust God was there and relied on that trust again and again.

When we put our trust in other other flawed human beings...we ARE GOING TO GET LET DOWN! No matter how good, wise, trust-worthy and wonderful our friends seem, there are times when they are going to disappoint us. THAT is a life-fact! So what are we to do?

I believe we were created to have a need for inner strength that can only come from God...NONE of us are strong enough to get through this life alone. God hears our cries for help...our cries of frustration and fear...our cries of lonliness...our cries of hurt feelings and broken hearts...He may not answer those cries with words, but when you believe in your heart that God does hear you and is there, your heart and mind are strengthened by GOD'S strength and you CAN get through whatever you are going through.

How do I know this? I have experienced it time and time again! I pass my frog obsession on to you...keep a picture of a frog in your mind when things are tough. It might seem silly, but it might also remind you that if you FULLY rely on God's strength instead of your own, you will find the strength you need. It is God's gift to you!

Who doesn't smile when they see Kermit???

Have a great weekend my friends!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Time marches on...

This week's memory verse:
"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9

"Honey, time marches on and eventually you realize it is marchin' across your face," -- Truvy in "Steel Magnolias"

Isn't that the truth? Time does march on, and we are never ready for it to move forward, especially across our face!

Psalm 90:12 says we are to number our days so we may be given a heart of wisdom. Paying attention to the fact that time is fleeting and we have no idea how many days we have on this earth is an important step in become a muture adult. When we are young, we think we have PLENTY of time to do the things we want and to learn to become the people we want. As we become older, as we see the evidence of time marching across our face, we learn that time is not something to be can get away from us quickly and if we are not careful, we look back and realize how much time we wasted on silly, selfish, pointless things.

Wrinkles aside, as the lines from the old Steve Miller Band song goes, "Time keeps on slippin, slippin, slippin into the future." What do you spend your time doing? Think about your days and weeks and make some mental notes of what tasks and events and commitments are written across your calendar. The blocks in my calendar are pretty full these days, and when I look back on the weeks past, I wonder about the importance of some of those things...was my busyness really worth it?

Today, I pray for the ability to number my realize that time IS fleeting and I can't get back the moments I lost to my busy schedule. I ask God to help me find the wisdom to discern the importance of the things on my calendar and choose the ones that make the biggest difference to my family and my community and let some of the less important stuff slip away. I also ask God to help me find time for myself on that calendar as well...I believe God wants us to be reasonably happy and extremely healthy in our earthly lives. If my calendar is so full of obligations that there is no time for healthy activities and things I enjoy, I will find myself sick, tired and unfullfilled. All that is a lot to ask...more than I have been able to do for myself, as you can see if you look at my calendar (and my face)! But, with this prayer, I am asking God to help me, and I know that anything is possible for God, even a more balanced sense of time for me!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The encourager!

This week's memory verse:
"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." --Galatians 6:9

Have you every played that game...if you could have one superpower, what would it be? I'm not sure what superpower I want, but I know what I want my name to be..."The Encourager!" There she goes! More bubbly than a shook-up soda bottle...Able to lift the spirits of 10 people with a single word...Able to put a smile on even the grumpiest face...It's a cheerleader! It's a motivator! It's THE ENCOURAGER!

Now THAT's my idea of the perfect superhero! I mean, the world is full of grumpy, disgruntled, disappointed and unhappy people. What we need is more people to step into the nearest phone booth (wait...what's a phone booth???) and put on the smiling face and cheery disposition of the Encourager!

But seriously, I love making people feel better about themselves and about their situation. I love playing "devil's advocate" and encouraging others to think about the other person's point of view. I love cheering someone up with a smile or a silly song. I know I can be so nice I annoy people...but I LOVE being "The Encourager!" But...I don't want to steal all the glory for myself. There is a LOT of encouraging to be done, even by a person like me with superhero-type encouraging strength! You too can join the team and be an encourager! Send a friend a text just to say you are thinking of them and you care. See someone frowning and sad, at least give them a nod and a smile. Give someone you meet a genuine compliment. Never tire of this good work! God smiles on those who make others smile and feel better about themselves!

I'm off now to find someone else who needs encouragement today...You might not see it happening, but I am there! Disguised as a mild-mannered librarian, I appear out of nowhere...Armed with a smile and a glass half full!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Filled to the measure!

A Bible verse for today:
"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." -- Ephesians 3:14-19

We have all been told that we need to "take care of ourselves." When I leave someone who has been injured or sick, I often find myself saying "Take care!" It is a common phrase, meant to be caring and loving. But I had a friend tell me one time that he didn't like that phrase, because it implied that HE had to take care of himself, instead of someone coming to take care of him. He thought, if I could TAKE CARE of myself, I wouldn't be sick! I had never thought about my caring phrase in that manner. I now try to think before I speak, and ask what I can do for that person to care for them, instead of leaving it all up to them.

Putting others first...putting others before my own needs is sometimes hard, and can be a little overwhelming sometimes. I find myself doing things for so many people that I run out of time to "take care" of myself. But, I have also found that when I am in the habit of putting others first, God takes care of me by placing people in my life who want to "take care" of me! It is in THOSE times that I really experience being "filled to the measure of the fullness of God."

This past weekend was one of THOSE times! After a difficult and busy week, I was looking forward to a trip to Amish Country with some dear friends, and that trip met all my expectations and then some! We talked, we laughed (A LOT) and had serious moments as well. We helped each other deal some issues...we were THERE for each other! I felt so ALIVE and so tired at the same time when our adventure was over! Those friends were the support and strength I needed this week. They were GOD in my life! My cup runneth over!

When I think there is not enough of me to go around...when I think that I cannot give advice or support to one more person because it is weighing so heavily on my heart...when I am so tired from running from place to place all week long...I see and experience God placing others in my life to "take care" of me and I am filled to the measure! It is true...when we die to ourselves and our own selfish needs...God takes care of us and our needs through the gift of the others in our lives!

Thank you, Lord for my friends! They fill my cup to the brim!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Demolishing my bad attitude!

This week's memory verse:
"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." Isaiah 43:19

Bad attitudes...they are every where, even in my own head! This had been a hard week, with family disappointments, the stress of too much on my plate and worry. Those things seem to fill my mind and take up so much room, there's not much left for good thoughts and positive attitudes. So, I find myself grumbling, cursing more then usual, venting to anyone who will listen. Not some of my proudest moments!

I open my Bible this morning to read 2 Corinthians 10:5. "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

I had to read that a few times to understand it...but then I got it! I need to demolish my bad attutude and take my negative thoughts captive! And while this seems impossible for me, nothing is impossible for God. What I need to remember though, is that God won't take my thoughts captive without my effort to do so as well. Good thoughts just don't happen...I have to think them and study them and give God permission to demolish them! I can pray that God will take away my bad attutude, but I have some responsibility as well. I need to replace those bad thoughts with good. How do I do that? I need to focus on the good stuff!

Philippians 4:8-9 says, "Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me - put it into practice, and the God of peace will be with you."

There is a lot of important stuff packed in those verses! I need to concentrate on the good...I may need to go looking for it, but there IS good in my life. I need to think about THOSE things. But I'm not done just by thinking about them. No, I need to put the good thoughts into PRACTICE. Do good for others...give a kind word or a someone who needs instead of frown...sing instead of grumble. Putting the good into practice will allow God to have room to work in my heart because doing good helps to demolish the bad.

Just by thinking about that possibility, I feel better! Just by writing these words, I feel my bad attutude slipping away! Have the bad things in my life disappeared just because of this? No. They are still there. But, my attitude about them is getting better. I can't change those things, but I CAN change my attitude about them. With God's help, I CAN demolish my bad attitude today! It's Friday and I feel a smile coming on! I feel a song in my heart! I plan to make people smile today!

Do you have some bad attitudes to demolish or take captive today? It's a new day and God can help you make the switch from grumbling venter into a smiling helper!

Happy Friday Friends!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

This week's bible verse:
"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." -- Isaiah 43:19

As a librarian in a public library, I have a responsibility to provide materials about all sides of an issue, no matter how I might personally feel about the issue. I highly value this job and it is why public libraries are essential in every community. It is a place to go to read and learn about all sides of an issue so you can make up your own mind in an educated manner.

Sometimes learning about all sides is hard. Yesterday I was reviewing a book that called for the end of faith and religion of all types. The author's point is that many, many acts of terror, hate and bigotry have occured over the centuries and today in the name of religion, and that faith in any "god" will be the end of mankind. On over 991 people had reviewed this book and made thier very personal feelings known to anyone who wants to read them. Many of those people stated how they had been hurt by churches or by relgious people and that believing that YOUR religion is the only "right" way to live causes hate, violence and acts of terror.

While I cannot argue that fact, and I too get angry at people of all religions who hate and retreat to violence because of that hate, I do NOT believe that faith will be the end of mankind. On the contrary. I believe that faith is the only way mankind will be saved from itself. One reviewer of that book asks why people are so gullible and keep going back to religion and the idea of God...I believe that our creator MADE us to want and search for him! Why else would the idea of God and the other religions have lasted since the beginning of time? Why would Christianity have lasted over two thousand years? If it were all wrong, wouldn't people have wisened up to that fact by now? Wouldn't we have educated ourselves out of the need for God if he didn't exist?

I have faith because there is an ingrained need inside of me to believe! I am glad that I work in a public library that allows me to know about what others think and believe. There have always been those who question God. It makes me even more sure that God is out there!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Living water in the wasteland...

This week's memory verse:
"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." -- Isaiah 43:19

Have you ever thought you long for "the good ol' days?" You know, those days long ago when everything was simpler and better...Today in comparison seems so complicated and in some ways, a wasteland. Where is God in this wasteland? Where is God in the evil that we see every day? Where is God in the misery of the world?

When we wonder about where God is...we have taken our eyes off of him long enough to have our own worries and insecurities to creep in and cause doubt in our minds and hearts. We can only see what is before us and our faith and hope waivers.

But I believe God is alive and well and always has been! The verse above from Isaiah reminds me of that fact. THOUSANDS of years ago things looked bleak for the people of that time. I'm sure they wondered where God was in their "wasteland." But God said that he was making a new thing! A way in the desert and streams in the wasteland! This verse was talking about God's plan for our salvation...Jesus!

Why do we need Jesus in today's wasteland? He is the bread of life...He is the living water...He is the way the truth and the life! When we believe this, we will have eternal life. THAT is God's promise for the "new way."

Things are tough all over and really always have been. Yes, we look back our our past and long for those simpler "good ol' days. But during those days, those people were longing for their "good ol' days" as well. If you are longing for simpler times, plant your roots by the stream in the wasteland! There is hope, faith and peace in God's word and God's promises through Jesus.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The eyes and mind of Christ...

This week's memory verse:
"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." -- Isaiah 43:19

He sat there alone on the picnic bench, staring off into space. His scruffy beard, torn t-shirt, missing teeth and disheveled hair made him a little scary to approach. My friend walked up to him and began talking. I admired my friend's bravery, so I joined them. He is a broken man. He has lost a lot in the past year...his wife, his health, his son lost his house in a fire...he was lonely and sad and...just plain lost. He told us his story, repeating a great amount of it over and over. He apologized to us for staring off into space sometimes. Even though he was so sad, he needed someone to tell his story to. He needed to connect with someone. By the time he ate and hopped back on his bike to go back to his home, he left with a smile on his face. His problems were not solved...his happiness was not restored, but he talked and connected with people who cared.

This experience has stuck with me over the weekend. Just by looking at this man, he looked a little scary...his appearance and a scowl on his face...It would have been easy to pass by this man, if nothing else but for my own safety. This was such a good reminder to me that I need to have the mind and eyes of Christ. Sitting with this man, my friend and I really couldn't say anything to comfort him, but we listened. We helped to provide him a meal, which he might not have taken the time to do for himself.

Christ was from God...he should have had servants all around him, serving and catering to his every need. But, he chose to be a servant himself. He chose to touch the unclean. He chose to minister to the lost...THAT was his mission, to seek and save the lost. And that is what he wants from his followers as well...he wants us to seek out the lost and help them find Him so he can save them.

I did nothing to save this sad and lost man on the picnic bench. But, I did not overlook him...I did not pass him by. I took a chance to see him through Christ's eyes and saw a lonely man who just needed to tell his story. He may tell me the same story the next time I see him...but I will listen. I will pray for him each day. God will do the rest through the grace of Christ.

I thank God for this experience. My heart was broken for what breaks his. My mind was opened to the mind of Christ.