Sunday, June 15, 2014

Times Remembererd

Times Remembered

 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.

– 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 NIV

 

Father’s Day has come around again and with it brings times of remembrance. I can see in my mind’s eye, my Dad standing behind the grill in his plaid shorts, cooking up hamburgers for a family gathering. I can see him listening to us, as we share our next pipe dream, giving us his approval on whatever and wherever our heart led us. I can see him holding my babies many years ago, and going back even further, standing beside me on my wedding day. So many nice memories. My Dad’s life wasn’t always roses but he was strong in his faith and he didn’t complain. Instead, he tried to bring some joy and laughter to others and if he did that, he was well pleased.  He had a way of making things work. He was a fixer. He wanted to fix the flat on my bicycle, the engine on my car, my problems. I often chided him that he was giving too much advice, but now being older and understanding him more, I too, find myself wanting to help, to make things better for others…to be a fixer, too. No, my efforts are not often appreciated, but I learned from the best and his heart was in the right place. I can still hear his counsel deep in my heart. “Listen to your father, who gave you life”, from Proverbs 23. He was always there, he turned the other cheek, he provided everyday and he asked for very little in return. He just wanted to be remembered now and then. I will be faithful to do what I have done every year and that is to remember him with an extra dose of appreciation for how his life touched mine and still does.

 

A father is described as one who is a mentor, a provider, a parent. The dictionary falls short of telling us what a father really is. No two Dads’ are alike. God made all each one to be unique, original and to be just the person his children needed. Our Heavenly Father stands beside us everyday. We may not feel His Presence. In fact, we may be too busy to notice. But He is there. I know that when I grew up and moved away, I didn’t get to see my Dad as much in person. But I knew he was there because we stayed connected by phone, cards and email. Oh, how my Daddy loved email!! Our Father in Heaven talks to us through His Word. Now, I find that I miss those little nuggets of wisdom that my Dad dispensed so effortlessly, yet I open my Bible and there it is…just what I need for the day or the situation. We are all God’s Children. He touches us, guides us, teaches us and walks beside us. God is Love. And He loves us. We don’t have to earn it or ask for it. It is simply there. Father’s Day is a good time to both honor our earthly Dad and our Heavenly Father by showing love to them and to each other. Do everything in love.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

June


June

 

The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest”.

 –Exodus 33:14 NIV

 

The month of June has come quickly this year. It’s been a favorite month of many for a lot of reasons. The children love it because it signals the end of school and the beginning of summer. Families pack up for vacations that they have saved all year for. Neighbors gather together for fireworks and a backyard hot dog. Picnics, grilling out and paper plates become the norm. Watermelons are sliced and shared outdoors. A good time has been had by the younger set evidenced by kool-aid stains on t-shirts in colors of cherry, orange and lime. Band-aids cover the scraped knees from bicycle mishaps. Fathers labor over their lawns in a battle against the weeds and Moms brace for whatever the summer brings knowing she must be adaptable. Summer becomes a chance to enjoy family, slack up a little and enjoy the tastes and joys of it all.

But in all of our busyness, I think God would have us not forget Him. A small child was asked what did he pray for that day and he replied, “nothing, I didn’t need anything”. We seem to have a tendency to only go to God with our requests when we are in crisis or have a real need. When things are going great for us, He can be easily pushed aside. As summer begins, we should invite God to be present in all we do, plan and enjoy. God is more important than ever as we pray protection over our loved ones that are on the go this summer season.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Affection


Affection


Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them. Proverbs 3:27 NLT


There is an affection that many of us have with the seashore that is deeply rooted within us. The lifestyle is casual and the pace is slow. But it is how we “feel” while near the water that fuels our affection. We flock to the beach in an effort to find answers and wisdom, hoping that we can find the clarity we need to cope with life. We subconsciously adjust our breathing to follow the rhythm of the waves. Our minds begin to clear like a cloudless blue sky day.  I believe the seashore is a gift from God.  Having walked the beach many times in search of guidance. I feel carefree, yet never outside the umbrella of God’s covering.

The dictionary describes affection as the emotional realm of love. I bet you can look back and think of all the times you received affection. Someone was happy to see you; an unexpected hug; a gift was given to you “just because”; and on and on. It is so wonderful to be on the receiving end of affection. It is also wonderful to be on the giving side too. I think I will make a list of things I can do to brighten someone’s day and then do it.  The late Maya Angelou said, Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud."

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Daylight


 

 

 

 

Daylight

 

The Lord is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear?
 The Lord is the stronghold of my life of whom shall I be afraid?

–Psalm 27:1 NIV

 

My husband and I stood outside just before 7am and watched as the sun rose over the east sky, turning darkness into light. We both agreed we think early morning is the best part of the day. We listened for the birds that sang their morning song, one after the other.  The hummingbirds’ wings fluttered from flower to feeder and back again many times. A breeze rustled the trees that were heavy with dew. The grey sky turned fiery orange when the sun emerged and then it was done…another day had come.

 

With a new day comes hope and renewal. But some must carry burdens day after day and it is hard to stay hopeful. Just in my own circle of family and friends I hear of tragedies, crisis and more. Daily prayer is the key to coping with these situations. Asking God for daily protection, wisdom, courage and grace will give us supernatural strength from Him to be able to put one foot in front of the other. What can we do when it isn’t our business to step into a situation and take charge? That is where prayer comes in again. When we are powerless to intervene, we know the One who can….God can be asked to step in and stand in the gap for us or someone else. So whatever we face in life, prayer is the answer. It seems trite to say that for we think almost everyone knows that, but surprisingly, not so. I visualize God just standing there in the shadows, waiting for us to pray and give him our concerns and burdens. He can handle it. It is just that we are so busy trying to fix and handle problems on our own, we forget to hand it over to Him. My son’s car broke down. His budget just didn’t allow for a lot of car repairs this month. On his own will he started to diagnose the problem and part by part, he began to replace what he thought the problem was. All weekend he labored and spent money he couldn’t afford to spare. I kept saying to him to pray about it. While sitting in church on Sunday, I asked God to shine a heavenly flashlight on the car problem to illuminate it and let my son have the eyes to see it. That afternoon he called to say it wasn’t the ignition after all, but a fuel problem. While I don’t understand “car talk”, I do understand “prayer talk”. We know that a car will start but not on its own.  There must first be a key that is put in the ignition and then it will start. That much I do know.  Doesn’t our prayer act as the key in the ignition which invites and engages God to come take over? God doesn’t always answer every prayer the way we would like it answered or even n our own time, but we do know He hears us. He lights our way.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Changing Direction


Changing  Direction

 


  My help comes from the Lord,
      who made heaven and earth

Psalm 121:2 NLT

 

 

When I recently walked the beach, I started to look for beautiful whole shells to bring home with me. Bending down and searching closely, there were just little pieces of broken shells littering the beach. I came across a broken sand dollar but decided to let it stay in its place in the sand and continued my search for a whole one. Usually when you find one you will find more. Soon I got tired of walking in the hot summer sun and decided to change direction and turn back. My pockets were still empty. I decided I would be happy if I could find that broken sand dollar on my way back. It would indeed be a real treasure after all. Almost giving up, there it was, in the sand, practically hidden because it wasn’t gleaming white, but was deep gray with tones of brown. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but I was thrilled to take it home. It would be a reminder of my day, when I consciously decided to change direction by shifting my focus and seeing with new eyes.

 
I have heard it said that God can use anyone. But sometimes we are not willing to be used by Him. Too many times we are busy at home and at work, careers, caring for family, rushing to and fro. When we are super busy and wrapped up in our own world, we often miss His voice. Daily living and personal interests all take time and God is set aside for another day. It is not intentional that we push Him aside like a broken shell, it just happens. But then, our whole world can get turned upside down when unexpected things happen that threaten our comfort, peace, relationships, finances, our life. The things that were once important have lost their meaning and value in our lives. It takes having a broken spirit and the choice to change direction to be able to see things with a new set of eyes. We learn quickly in our despair that all that matters is that God hears our prayers and helps us. While He has always been there, we consciously decide to make Him and our relationship with Him a priority.  It is at that very moment that God can use us the most. Our relationship with God outweighs anything else that is happening.

 
You don’t have to be at your lowest point for God to use you. But too often it takes being at our lowest to reach out and take His Hand.  And when we do, He will help us. And He will use us. Our faith will build. We will want to share what we are learning and God will put us in places where He can use us. We can witness to family, lend a hand to a neighbor, provide encouragement to the young and old, or offer a prayer to a stranger, always sharing God and His Goodness. There is no limit to what God can do through us when we are willing to follow Him.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Light


Light


The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time. For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous; not one of them is broken! Psalm 34:17-20 NLT

This week I have heard of so many people that are facing trials. Health issues, family concerns, needing guidance in all kinds of situations. Many of these folks know God. (God bless the parents and grandparents that took the time to introduce God to a child, who knows Him at an early age.) When I was a young child, my grandmother told me about Jesus and we made a scrapbook about Him using old church bulletins. I am forever grateful to her. Her faith led me in a straight path to Him and He has been my Protector and Provider ever since. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. 2 Timothy 1:5

What about the person facing problems and they don’t know God? They have always relied on themselves and their own efforts to deal with difficulties and have prided themselves in doing pretty well. But they reach a situation that is more than they can handle. They face something insurmountable. Maybe they even feel hopeless. As a Believer, we know there is always hope. We have to reach out to these Dear Ones, and with God’s wisdom, show them a better way. It is our chance to shed light on their darkness. They don’t have to live in doubt about what God can do. At a time of crisis it is human nature to reach out. Choose to be the person to help them find God.  I remember that childhood song that says, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine”? One little light can make a difference.

 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Different Paths


Different Paths

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Philippians 2:3

We are offered many different paths to walk on in this life. The journey can take twists and turns and ultimately we can only rest when we know that we are on the path God ordained for us. Being created in His image, we are automatically entitled. This week I have come across examples of the differences between having an entitlement attitude and possessing a servant’s heart. Certain entitlements are good because they have boundaries and limits connecting them that keep the attitude true and pure.  For example, a boss shows leadership over his staff or a parent shows guidance over the children.  An entitlement attitude goes wrong however, when a person elevates his own agenda above everyone and everything else. And those people that assume that stature are normally the ones that get disappointed the most.  There is a connection between entitlement and disappointment. We all know people like that don’t we? The one that thinks life owes them for their “sacrifice” to one thing or another. It boils down to taking something that is not theirs to have, but they see it differently.

Conversely, the servant’s heart has no agenda but to honor God and be His hands and heart in this world. They take their God-given skills, talents and resources and seek to help others before thinking of themselves. This person often works silently, secretly and without fanfare because they don’t need recognition and don’t seek it.  The servant is often humble.

We have often heard the phrase, “pick a side”. This is our chance to seek God’s Will and to make any adjustments so we can align ourselves up with Him. When Jesus walked this earth He could have taken the entitlement attitude but He did not. He served His Father and was humble while doing so. We have seen the example of what we should be, could be, by knowing Jesus and studying his spiritual journey.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Friendship


Friendship
 
A friend loves at all times
-Proverbs 17:17a NIV
 
 
Friendship means many things to many people, but the official definition is ‘affection arising from mutual esteem and good will’. Some friendships can last a lifetime, while others are for a short while, however, both serving a purpose. The friends themselves define the boundaries of their friendship by their actions and words.  Some are spoken and some are unspoken.  There are similarities and differences in a relationship, but an equal helping of both, makes a friendship well rounded. True friends don’t judge one another, nor do they magnify one’s faults. Instead, the safe boundaries of friendship provide unconditional love and support of any kind, when needed. I believe that friendship is God’s gift to us. He hugs us through the arms of friends. He speaks through a trusted friend to give us words we need to hear. He brings us together in friendship to be able to pray for each other and our families.
 
Friendship between two people has to occur naturally. It can’t be forced. It usually starts with a smile. Young children know this. As they begin the school year, they will search for a friend to sit on the bus with, or a friend to eat lunch with, or someone that will hopefully include them in the fun and games on the playground. We can all remember those times in school when we were uncomfortable, because we didn’t feel connected to anyone. No one likes to be left out, including adults. The old saying, ‘in order to make a friend, you have to be a friend’, applies here. Taking stock of our friendships is a good thing to do. Making regular calls or scheduling some time to get together keeps our relationships alive. Friendships are investments of our time and love. If we have lost touch with dear friends of the past, is it time to make a call or send a note to re-establish the connection? Is there someone in church who always sits alone? What about that neighbor that we have only waved to in passing? There are people in isolation that needs our friendship. I think God charges us to take the first step. We can start by praying to Him that He would reveal them to us.  He will do the rest. A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24 NIV