Monday, October 27, 2014

A Thought...A Lesson Taught

Just a thought...and a lesson taught from little bundles of energy on Sunday. I'm continually amazed, amused and admit I learn so much from the beautiful kids I get to be in class with each Sunday morning.  True, you never know what's going to come out of one of those little mouths.  True, sometimes you think they're not "listening" and are distracted by  a million little things around them.  I find that even though they may not be looking you in the face and while they may seem a million miles away, most of the time they're "listening their own way."  The proof is in the question time at the end of the story! 
And I wonder...are we like that as adults?  While we're wrapped up in our busy day, going about doing what we think is important and what we think is top priority for our day, are we "listening" for the voice of God?  He speaks in so many different ways, yet are we too busy to notice?  Are we too distracted and totally out of the loop?  Regardless of the distractions throughout my day, I want my heart tuned in to hear what He speaks to me. Yes, there will be times when life is busy and quite noisy and the distractions are overwhelming...yet, let us come to Him as little children.  Listen for Him today...learn the lesson...answer His call.  When "the end of the story" arrives, whatever time of the day or night it might be,  I want to have the right answer.  "Yes, Lord!" Side note: Remember, one day soon the trumpet of the Lord will sound and we sure don't want to miss that!!!  Practice daily...let's keep our ears in tune! 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Teacher of the Year

I'm sure we can all relate to that "dreaded test" which we've studied for what seems like hours for.  Final exams in high school always seemed like a nightmare to me!  Pouring over the books and notes, being diligent in study; however, still not quite sure if I had it all together.  Remember those answers that were tricky?  Multiple choice questions where there might be more than one correct answer?  What about those questions which required your answer in essay form?  Remember, you studied...but was it enough?  The teacher sits quietly at the desk absorbed in her pile of papers, red pen making marks like a blazing sword...and you have a question.  Trying to ignore the dull aching sensation in the pit of your stomach, you decide there's no sense in raising your hand, she doesn't answer or help at test time.  She was available during study hall and tutor sessions, but NOT at test time.  I have some good news and bad news.  Bad news first: there are tests in life which we have to pass even after our school years have come and gone.  You know, the school of life.  Good news: we can get help from the teacher during test time!  We don't have to do it alone.
That's the beautiful thing about serving such an awesome God.  He does give us tests, but He longs to see us pass.  He sees what we can be when we graduate and He has great plans for us.  Therefore, He doesn't sit at His desk ignoring and leaving us to figure it out on our own.  He's always available and willing to help.  He's committed to bringing out the best in us and He'll give the test over and over until we pass it.  He may be quiet during some tests, but He's always available, His attention is always directed toward us, and He'll walk us through every question if He needs to.  Who wouldn't want a teacher like that?  And with a teacher like that, who would be afraid of their report card?!  Don't be discouraged if you don't pass the first time around.  Get back up and try again.  He's patient! Kind! Long-suffering!  And He loves you!!!  Can somebody say, "Teacher of the year?"  I'd say He's the Teacher of the Ages!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Goodies...From a Known Source

Pumpkin roll, Banana Nut bread (or zucchini), Coconut Cream pie, Caramel Corn, Peanut Butter cookies, etc.  Why is it that we so easily turn to a cookbook and pull a recipe, prepare it, then sit down to enjoy it; yet, we hesitate to pull something from the Bible, apply it, then enjoy the results?  Is it not just as simple to apply God's principles to our lives?  Still at times, we make it out to be the absolute hardest thing ever to accomplish!  (I said "we"!)  It's been said many times before that the Bible is our "road map" to Heaven and the things of God...but why is it that we turn to other things instead?  Think about it...a recipe, whether obtained from a cookbook, online, or from a relative - it probably came from Mrs. Suzy Homemaker who lives somewhere in the hills of some little unheard of town.  How is it that we'll use her (someone we don't even know!) recipe to satisfy our craving for Pumpkin Cheesecake but not trust God's (who we DO know) way of working out our situations?  Am I making it clear for you?  Hello!!!  Pull out God's Word, get some Godly counseling from the RIGHT sources...don't chance your salvation and questions to someone you don't even know.  You are not their priority!  Trust God and those people He's placed in your life to watch over your soul.  Just a thought!  Ok...that's it...now let me go enjoy some goodies!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

He's Still Working On Me...Big Kids Version

"Hammer, saw...pass me the level now, please." So, I'm finishing up my Sunday School lesson for the kids this week...and I'm sitting here so very thankful that even as one of God's "bigger kids" - HE'S STILL WORKING ON ME! :)  My heart is grateful that He has a perfect plan for us in His mind and He doesn't give up on us easily.  Luke 1:37 "For with God NOTHING shall be impossible."  He has His own personalized toolbox and knows just what it takes to make whatever He wants.  Master Carpenter, mind you.  How comforting to know that regardless of how many times we "mess up" or what shape our life is presently in, God is faithful to continue working on us if we'll be on His team ("with God!") and be willing to be submissive to His ways.  Can somebody say it with me...NOTHING SHALL BE IMPOSSIBLE!!!  In the hands of a loving God who made a perfect world in just seven days, if He can do that I'd say that's glorious news for me and you today...even if some of us are "bigger kids".  Work on, Jesus!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Once Upon A Time...Retold


Once upon a time…remember those words?  Cinderella, Little Red Riding-Hood, or maybe it was a more “modern” story.  No matter which story you remember, we all have stories in our own lives.  There are also times when we all need to be reminded that the hero will step in and save the day.  There are moments when we ask questions.  How will this work out?  What will happen if this happens?  How will we make it if such and such takes place?  How is this need going to be met?  How is God going to work this one out?  You know the million questions that our minds can produce in the matter of seconds after realizing we’re in need of a miracle. 
We know our hope and rest comes from the Lord (our ultimate HERO!) who knows all – including every detail of our lives.  We know He is our healer, protector and our provider- our Savior and deliverer.  We know nothing escapes His attention and awareness.  Yet sometimes He has to place us upon His knee just like a child and tell us a story once again.  Who doesn’t need reminded at one time or another?
Just the other night, the Lord took me upon his knee… “Once upon a time…”.   Yes, I needed to be reminded of the story how He protected me even before I can really remember when I fell off of a slide at the park.  Then He told me the story again of how He healed me of a tumor behind my eye when I was only 4 years old.  He reminded me how He brought me through toxemia after my darling little girl was born.  He reminded me how He provided food on my table and clothes to wear.  All kinds of different times, situations and circumstances…trying times in my life…times when I asked questions…but He always came through and His will was always done.  My Hero!  The Knight in shining armor who stepped in and saved the day!
If you’re questioning today, if you need your faith strengthened, ask Him to take you upon His knee and read your story to you once again.  Yes, I say sometimes we just need to be reminded that He knows where we’re at and that He’s writing our Once Upon A Time…and as His Word says…He has an expected end.  He’s ready to turn the page for you.  Are you ready to listen?

Friday, September 5, 2014

Flannel Boards & Paper Figures

Go with me, if you will.  To a Sunday school class years ago.  I can see a baby-blue covered flannel display board and the hands of a dedicated teacher as she holds up two paper figures between her fingers.  The story comes to life and quickly becomes one of my favorites - the story of Ruth & Naomi.  Loyalty, growth, friendship.  Such wonderful lessons I learned and took to heart. Today's lesson - God's ways are not our ways!  He thinks way differently from me!  Not only does He do things His way, it's ALWAYS the best for me when it boils right down to it.  God showed me this today...yes, I'm still learning after all these years removed from that class. :)
You most likely know the story too.  Naomi came home from the land of Moab with her daughter-in-law, Ruth.   She had lost much in the land of Moab and upon returning to her home place, she told the people to no longer call her Naomi, but to call her Mara.  So, that was that.  There's theology behind it all, I know, but this was the simple thought God gave me:  it didn't matter what Naomi decided she should be called at that point in her life, at the end of the book -   Ruth 4:17 says,  "And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi;"  The name "Mara" is only mentioned once in the Bible...when Naomi mentioned it.  How Naomi described herself at that point in her life was NOT what God saw or thought about her.  He raised her up and showed her His blessings anew.
Sometimes we look at our circumstances and name (call) it what we want, but that's not necessarily what God calls it.  What we may call a disappointment may just be God's appointment.  That vehicle with a blown-up motor might be called something else entirely.  The sickness your experiencing may not be that at all.  If you think God can no longer use you, if you think you've made too many mistakes or if you're feeling emptiness inside...that's most likely probably not what God says about you.  Again, I remind you, His ways are not our ways and He thinks differently too!!!  Hang on and know that at the end of this book, there is a perfect name for you and your situation.  There is a flannel board with your story on it...and you're the paper figure in Jesus' hands.  No safer place to be!  Have faith...God has great plans for you in His Kingdom.
Ruth 1:16  "And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:"

Saturday, August 30, 2014

IT'S GAME DAY!

For all the sports fanatics out there, for everyone who's out there supporting their favorite teams, for all the die-hard, devoted, team color wearing fans....TODAY IS GAME DAY!  Whoo-hoo!!!  Ready to tail gate with your "game food", to see your team beat the socks off of their opponent, prepared to cheer and jump and holler a little (or a whole lot!) when that little pig-skin crosses the plane of the end zone...IT'S GAME DAY!!!!
Guess what else it is?  Well, the fact is, it's every day, now that I think about it...IT'S GAME DAY!!!  We all have the same ugly, evil opponent who wants to see our demise.  Satan has so many trick plays up his sleeve!  He and his impish team play dirty and unfair consistently...why, we could see those bright yellow penalty flags being thrown all over the field if it were virtual.  He only has one goal in mind since he knows he CAN'T win the game - if he can just keep you tripping over your own shoe strings, if he can just beat you up enough to make you have to sit on the sidelines for a while, if he can only keep you from moving down the field toward that victory zone...my friend, he'll do whatever and use whomever to try and accomplish his evil scheme.
IT'S GAME DAY!!!  Get up, put on your team color (red for the blood of Jesus!) and get out there!  Let your whole day be wrapped up in celebrating that you're on the winning team.  Your Quarter Back is unstoppable, unbeatable, He controls the game and CANNOT LOSE!  Go ahead, you have nothing to lose because you CAN'T lose.  God is in control of every dark situation, every health or financial problem, every sickness, every...well, there's nothing, not any detail of your life that He's not aware of.  With a God (Quarter Back) like that, all you have to do is follow His play card and enjoy the game.  Get up and cheer, praise - live your day as if your team is continually in the end zone.  The time clock is counting down, all of Heaven is on their feet cheering with you.  Don't be frazzled by any tackle the opposing team may make...IT'S GAME DAY...just enjoy the game!  Can I get a "W", can I get a "E", give me a "W", "I", "N".

Friday, August 22, 2014

Low Fuel Light...FREE GAS!

"What?" I exclaimed in frustration, "We just had a 1/2 tank yesterday and the fuel light's on again?!"  I laugh at myself now, but honestly, I hate having to stop by a gas station on a hot, humid Georgia day (or a steamy, stormy or cold, snowy one for that matter!) and take time to fill up my car's gas tank.  It's a never-ending process though, isn't it?  If your vehicle is driven, gas is consumed, and sooner or later the trip to the gas pump is inevitable...whether we like it or not, right?
It's the same way with our spiritual lives!  We can leave church on Sunday being filled to the brim with all the goodness the Lord can consume us with at one time.  However, if we live in this world - which we all do - our spiritual tank will start emptying the moment we leave the church grounds on Sunday afternoon.  That's just the reality of it!  If we don't stop and spend time at the God's filling station each day, before we know it, we'll find ourselves stranded on the side of the interstate with an empty tank.  Circumstances and life eat away at our reserve and we must be vigilant to pay attention to our "Jesus tank" low-fuel light.  When we begin to get frustrated, easily irritated, find people are "pushing" your buttons...etc., might just be our low-fuel light warning us that we need another fill up real soon.
Don't be like those who push the limits to see exactly how many miles they can get out of a tank before they're completely out.  Can we make it one more exit?  One more mile?  Can we coast into the gas station bay from the momentum of the last hill?  NO!!!  Don't chance it!  Stay filled up...it's much less stressful and doesn't cost you a dime...just time.  God gives to us all the fuel we need FOR FREE; but we have to give Him the time to fill us up (Psalm 145:18-19)!  So, the question is:  Who wouldn't stop by a gas station that was giving away fuel at no cost?  Free gas!!!  Think about it...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Work In Progress


By no means do I have it all together…I’m a work in progress!  Even as I write, the things I share are snippets from my own life.  When I write about trusting God to provide, I am learning to trust God to provide my needs.  While I write about God’s faithfulness and that He’s always there, I’m reminding myself that God WILL come through just in time.  No, I don’t claim to nor do I want to come across as having all my ducks in a row - when they’re usually furiously paddling to keep from plunging head-first over the fierce, screaming falls.
While writing about “giving”; that we can never out-give the Lord…little did I know, shortly thereafter was a test - which I have found is often the case.  (God doesn’t teach lessons without giving tests, you know!)  Giving when it doesn’t hurt isn’t near as effective as giving when it can hurt.  For example:  giving $10 when you have $1000 is a bit different from giving $10 when you only have $12.  See what I’m talking about?  (Lessons from the Lord…what is $10 when He owns it all anyhow?)
A testimony to His provision, testimony that you truly can’t out-give Him…my husband and I were tested - and gave to a need.  It felt so good to do that!  Call it just life or whatever you’d like, but that evening my phone bit the dust.  (What did we ever do without cell phones?)  Can I just say that…I wasn’t able to run right out to Walmart and purchase another one? 
True...it wasn’t a life or death situation…actually it’s quite trivial when it comes right down to it, but the fact is, God cares about EVERY detail of our life.  Suffice it to say….I’ll have a brand new phone any day!  Can I get an “amen”?!  No, you CANNOT out-give the Lord who owns it ALL!  He’s such a faithful, patient teacher!
So, as I share my experiences…I my only hope is that it can somehow bring God glory and be a blessing to someone who needs encouragement.  If I can just remind you that God will do the same thing for you that He does for me.  You see, there are multiple times when I find myself going back to something I’ve previously written and reminding myself once again that GOD IS.  There are always tests.  Some we may pass with flying colors while some take more work and studying – knocks and bruises.  Nevertheless, we can all have hope and know that we are a work in progress! 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Night Time, Lightning Bugs & Mason Jars




Who's afraid of monsters under the bed or those unimaginable creatures which lurk in a dark corner?  While we're talking about God being "at work" in our lives, let us be reminded that it oftentimes seems as dark as midnight from our vantage point.  Although God is present with us, we can't see the way out - why sometimes we can't even see our own hand in front of our face because of the darkness surrounding us.  Does that mean God is letting down on His end of the deal?  Not hardly!  Remember the song, "God is bigger than the boogie-man?"  A child's song, but even true for us adults.
It was complete darkness when God spoke our world into existence. (Genesis 1:2)  There was a plague of darkness which could even be felt for 3 dreadful days and nights in Egypt - while God was working His plan to free His people from bondage. (Exodus 10:21-22) There was darkness between the Israelite and the Egyptians during the great escape route - which was planned and orchestrated by God Himself. (Joshua 24:7)  There are many more examples too, but not many people like dark nights.  I've heard people jokingly give the excuse - "we're supposed to be children of the light" - for not liking the darkness.  I remember, as a child, not going to sleep at night without a night light.  It was terrifying! How often have you heard of a child having a "nightmare" in the day time anyhow?  
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On the way home last night - during the dark, mind you - I was watching intently out the window into the blackness all around when my eyes caught sight of tiny flashes of light here and there.  It brought excitement to my soul - lightning bugs!  Yes, I said bugs!!!  I remember as a child, capturing those little guys and placing them in a mason jar.  The more you collected, the brighter the light became; however, it only took a single lightning bug flying around in the dark to catch your attention.  
It was then that...the light came on! :)  When we're in what seems to be our darkest night, God always provides us with a quick glimpse of Himself so we'll know He's at work in our situation.  The Bible tells us Moses went into the thick darkness where God was. (Exodus 20:21)  It doesn't matter how dark it is, I'm not here alone - God IS THERE TOO!  I might not be able to see anything other than a lightning bug in my dark situation, but that light is proof enough for me that God is with me and I can rest in knowing that.  I challenge you, get your own "mason jar" and collect the lightning bugs of promise God has scattered throughout the His Word.  Instead of being frightened at what's around you and what might hurt or destroy you in your darkest night, God will open His mason jar and free 1000's of tiny lightning bugs - just to show you He's working it out and you're NOT alone.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Orange Ribbon - God @ Work

They came one day without warning.  The back side of our property is lined with a pretty dense population of pine and hardwoods.  Some time, unknowingly to us, there had been men in our "forest" marking property lines and trees to be cut down with that bright orange tape-ribbon.  Then out of nowhere, one day we awoke to the buzzing of heavy machinery and the low roar of diesel, logging trucks moving slowly around our property.  After the initial shock and several days, we decided that we'd like to have some of the trees taken down after all - as if we had a voice in the matter.  As we eagerly anticipated what it would look like, how different it would be to "see" through our forest - as quickly as it all had begun, it stopped...and we still have a "small forest" on the back side of our property. :) 
This morning as I stood at my kitchen window, I caught a glimpse of one of those orange ribbons fluttering in the breeze.  And God began to minister to me...
As long as we are living on this earth, we will continually have lessons to learn and areas to grow in.  Philippians 1:6, "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:"  God is continually searching our hearts, just as the men who were marking the trees in our forest.  Sometimes we can't see the trees for the forest!  Alone, we often cannot "see" the things that we need to work on or what needs to be cut out of our hearts.  When God thinks it's time for us to start working on another area, He marks it with a bright orange ribbon bringing it to our attention. 
One thing about God - His every attribute wants to see us be the best we can be, He will work with us and continue to extend grace and mercy as He teaches. He's preparing us for His Kingdom!  If we will submit ourselves to Him, be willing to go through the pain, discomfort and overcome, He WILL continue His good work in our lives.  There's nobody who is as gentle and gracious as our Lord is! 
Is there an area in your life with bright-orange ribbons fluttering in the wind?  Is God trying to show you something He wants to work on in you?  Don't be shocked...we're all there at times.  Remember, we're a work in progress!  Don't be afraid to allow God to cut-up your forest and eliminate things that are a hindrance to your growth in Him...be confident that He always knows best.  Can you hear Him tenderly moving through the forest in your heart? bidding you to allow Him to make some changes?  Be thankful for those orange ribbons in your life...He'll never leave you like He found you!