Tangled Trust

Many wonder what true trust and faith looks like in everyday life.   Me, too.

Next week a few Jesus-lovin gals from our Precept Bible study are going out to the Lancaster area to see the premiere show of MOSES.  I’m excited. An incredible journey comes to life in every show while you sit on the edge of your seat in the Sight and Sound theatre.

You know the story – of the famed Moses found in the book of Exodus 2:1-10.

Got me thinking of his mom, Jochebed.  A real lady, in real time, forced to make real life decisions that involved real trust.

Real-big-trust.

She lived in a time when hungry shepherds and their families multiplied in the land – too quickly. Pharoah of Egypt was afraid of the countless Israelites, so he made them slaves.  Then he became afraid of the countless slaves, so he commanded that all newborn boys be put to death to cut down on the population.  A horrible law.

I can’t imagine the tangle of joy and sorrow that Jochebed carried in her heart while carrying the treasure in her womb.  She hid her baby for three months.  She made sure her son would live so she placed him in a basket upon the crocodile-infested waters of the Nile.

What?

imagesShe trusted completely as she watched her child drift away.

Sometimes we’re called to do the same.

The wild abandon of this trusting mother knew her Father-God would rescue this child. And he did.

The baby boy who was rescued and raised by the Egyptian princess, right under Pharoah’s cruel nose, grew up to deliver and lead the fertile Hebrew people and to go down in history for talking face-to-face with the radiance of Jehovah.

Wow. Do you trust God with the pen of your story?  This is what He wrote for the woman  He trusted with His Moses.

What if she wouldn’t have believed enough to surrender her hold on the basket?

Many wonder what true trust and faith looks like in everyday life. It doesn’t matter that it was before clocks.  Life is life.  Trust is trust. And God is God.

What can an ancient woman teach a twenty-first century woman?

To trust God with the most precious thing we hold on to and let it go into His care.

Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.  Psalms 56:3

Desert or Dessert

It seems no matter how early Ash Wednesday shows up on the calendar, we have the assurance Spring is waiting around the cold corner to pour out new life and breath.

While the earth sleeps under a heavy blanket of snow, we’re called to wake up during Lent.  We need a season of new beginning just as the earth needs to experience spring.

It has a way of uncovering what’s beneath the dirt.

images-6Lent begins in the dust of ashes, journeys through darkness, and ends up in beauty and triumph.  But, how do we get from desert to destination while pressing through the temptations in the wilderness of the world?

By taking a new route and making several God-stops.

Matthew (4:1-11) tells how the Lord was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  He fasted for forty days and became human-hungry.  The tempter came with his forked-tongue empty promises and the Messiah shut him up with a holy “It is written.”  He hates that phrase and quickly flees.

We can do the same in our desert experience.

We can behold the Lamb and the wonder of Easter by dusting off the dry places of our spirit and take time to reconnect, refresh, and renew our weary-selves in the Word of God. The holy stillness will move out the clutter and create a deeper space for Jesus to reside.

Jesus journeyed to Jerusalem to face betrayal, beatings, and brokenness on the cross . . . and we give up sweets.  Sounds crazy.

How can we choose the desert instead of just passing by a dessert?

By living Lent daily and recognizing His God-ness and His sacrifice.

What will this season look like for you?  For me?

My hope for both of us is that we will experience a forty-day revival by taking just ten minutes a day to get rid of our stuff . . . the dry well of bitterness, anger, complaining, worry, and countless others that get in the way of receiving the fullness of Living Water.

Isn’t it worth at least 400 minutes in the presence of Jesus on this Lenten journey to rediscover your heart  . . . and more of His?

Cardinals and Crutches

Countless Pennsylvania snowstorms, power outages, lost work, and accidents brought me low this morning.   But, I wasn’t seeing the big picture at the moment.  I was busy looking at the small picture of me.

After all, it seemed there was nothing more limiting than snowdrifts a few feet high except one foot adorned with cast and crutches.  Yes, a torn ligament and tendonitis only added to spiraling downward.

Fretfulness seems to open the door of ingratitude and discourtesy to the grace sufficient for the day.  Available every–day.  It was fairly easy to fall into the trap of seeing only what I was looking at –snow and crutches.

I ran across an old blog I published a few years ago.  I hope it will remind you, and me . . how we often take things for granted;

Unknown-3Like most mornings, I woke up at 5:30 and realized by the chime of 8 (9000 seconds later) that I hadn’t taken even one of those seconds to murmur a thank you.  In the rush of moments that make up every 24 hours, I usually get caught up with life like many of us.

So, I chose one of those moments to pause before they quickly passed . . .

A window scene caused me to give thanks to the Creator for the cardinal on winter’s branch reminding me that He cares for me even more than an intricately designed mass of feathers.

Thank you God for dawn when mercies are new each day.

And for my Bible where Your voice waits within tattered leather.

For loving parents who raised me well.  At the time it seemed so ordinary and expected, but I never take for granted when standing on the other side of the stone, remembering.

For families. Long ago when hours held more time, I was a keeper of the home with a house filled with the chatter of children.  Now, I am a keeper of an empty nest, grateful for shelter and one who shares it.  Assuming it will remain this way, as I did the house of children.  Grateful for even more – grandchildren.

Breath.  The one who heaves breath lying next to me reminds me it is a gift from God and He is the One who puts air into our lungs, beats into our heart.  Once a machine did this for the dying husband when he fell into a coma and cheated death.

Health.  Wonderfully made.  Our health seems to take flight cell by cell as we greet another birthday.  Reminded of times past, rejoicing when I could finally change the wet diaper of a baby son born with kidney failure.  A journey of a lifetime has kept me from taking function for granted.

Feet, hands, eyesight, hearing, unending mercies. . . .  Once, a son was told he would never walk again after a near fatal car crash.  God said differently. Yet, not one step or motion should we assume will always be there in the same way.  Age reminds me of the gift of mobility.

Taking mental inventory of our grateful list covers up our fretful list.

Snow melts, ligaments heal.  I feel better!  Thanks for reading with me.

How can we prevent ourselves from taking the big and the small wonderfuls for granted? 

By imagining what our lives would be without them. . . . one by one.

 

 

 

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

Everything.

The tangled love story of Hosea and Gomer is an unforgettable picture of God’s covenant love for His people.  We sometimes shy away from the book of Hosea because it can be confusing, but if you want to see Jesus in the Old Testament, it’s a must-read.

4148256042_caf23a0649_zThe real life couple star in the ancient soap opera about an unusual marriage between the prophet and the prostitute.  The story begins with Jehovah God instructing Hosea to find a wife – a harlot.

Sounds absurd, I know, but it is has a beautiful purpose.

So, the preacher obeyed and gave the fallen lady his name.  They set up housekeeping and had a family. The names of the children were pretty significant; God Scatters, No Mercy, and Not My People. Before long, she lived up to her reputation and continued her love affair with the world.  Despite his patient pleas, her bitter betrayal took her far from home and she refused to return.

He adored her, but still she abandoned him.

A broken vow – a broken heart – a broken life.

Sound familiar?

When we turn our back on God, He doesn’t wait for us to come back.  He pursues us. Hosea’s beautiful words still talk to the church today about our unfaithfulness and His extravagant forgiveness,  Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge Him.  As surely as the sun rises, He will appear.  He will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.  Hosea 6:3

Later, the Lord spoke to him again and told him to take back the wife he couldn’t stop loving.  He found her battered by life, chained in a slave auction. The broken-hearted one purchased her for silver and barley.

He paid a price for his bride.

Sound familiar?

The story portrays God’s beautiful desire for us and the great blood-price He paid to make us His own.  No matter how unfaithful you’ve been you will find redeeming arms to hold you close.

If you want to read a good love story, pick up your Bible.  Only fourteen chapters tells you about them . . . and you.  . . and me.

How has God been faithful to you even when you have been unfaithful to Him?

Dead of Winter Brings Life

One of the amazing things about nature is how God has given the ability to recreate itself.  I’m counting on this when I look down-deep beneath the snow and know there is life in the cold earth just waiting to spring forth.

crocus-through-snow-3-9-05It’s easy to feel as gray as the day when dark creeps in too early and steals the light, isn’t it?  You don’t have to live in our part of Pennsylvania to be feeling the winter blahs. Geography has no boundary this year.  Most days I need a shovel, salt, and scraper to get out the door and slide to work.

We can feel as weighed down as dry-bone brittle branches if we don’t know how to see the blooms and fruit that are sure to appear.  But the good news is, each morning when we’re searching for sunlight, we can believe God’s mercies are pouring through the cracks of dawn.

Every dawn.  Every season.

So, right about now you may be feeling a little snowbound – or just plain bound by dead circumstances. You feel your hope is hibernating along with all that is beautiful.  Maybe the life has gone out of your marriage, your health, you’re in a dead-end job, or you feel like your lifeless church needs a little CPR. . . .

. . . or maybe you can fill in the dead blank ___________.

God is a master at bringing life back into things that have expired.

The 37th chapter of Ezekiel (my awesome favorite) paints a great picture of the re-Creator’s ability to restore hope in hopeless situations.  Ezekiel is looking at a valley of dry bones with a January-eye, but God covers them with fresh flesh and sinew and he sees the army!

The God of heaven has given us the power to revive our dead selves and speak life into our dead zones.  We only need to believe and breathe out the Word that says we can.

If we can be patient with the process that turns a season of snowdrifts into blossoms, we can rest in the beauty that faithfully follows.

Where there is life, there is hope.

Try speaking an Ezekiel prayer over the dead of winter places in your life and my hope is you will experience the vision and scent of spring.

My people, you will know that I am the Lord when I open your graves and cause you to come up from them,  And I will put My Spirit inside you in your own land.  And you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken and done it.  Ezekiel 37:13

What Would Happen?

What would happen if you read your Bible everyday this year?

Whether you’ve been reading the Bible for years or haven’t gotten around to it yet, this would be a good time to dust and open.  A new year – the magic moment when self-improvement plans for body, soul, and spirit kick in.  It’s amazing how turning a calendar page makes us believe we can rule the world in the next 365 days.

If we decide on a few do-able disciplines rather than hard-to-reach lofty goals, maybe we won’t let ourselves down.

How often have we said we’ll read the Bible cover to cover, only to get to the flood and call it a day?  Even if we get past Genesis, we know we’re heading for Numbers and Nahum, and it just seems easier to quit now.

journal_and_penSo, let’s start with a do-able.  Choose one verse or portion of Scripture for the year. (I’ve been drawn to Colossians 3, the new self).  Let it become ingrained, steeped-deep inside your heart so well, it begins to speak over your life.

It’s not simply a new year we need to be excited about, but an every-day-new-beginning where God’s mercies greet us faithfully. They are fresh to cover every failure.

I love to meet with the Lord in the morning before the day assaults me.  I’ve spent many quiet dawns and silent nights in the Psalms with David.  I need to read his journal.

And so, what would happen if you started a journal this coming year?

 Discovering God – discovering you.

It’s a no-lose * no-lose, you can’t help but be changed.

Over the years I’ve shared with women the benefits of keeping a journal.  I often hear the reason they haven’t started one is because they don’t know what to write.  It doesn’t have to be a bestseller, just jot your life . . .

  • the best thing that happened today.
  • one thing you are thankful for.
  • record a wonder
  • dump your stress
  • a victory or achievement
  • a passage of scripture
  • write out a prayer

Equip yourself with a 2014 survival kit to promote self-improvement this year. A Bible filled with miracles and a journal to record them.  All of them.

Eager to hear, blessings on the coming year . . . 

Be Still

I’m not one to make resolutions for the coming year.  But, I have an intention.

To . . . just practice stillness.

When I was young, I had an annoying habit of jiggling my leg or foot.  My mama would say, “Be still!” The teacher would say, “Child, sit still!”  Ten minutes with my gramma, and I’d hear “Still your itchy britches.”

It was a problem I didn’t lose with age.  I had to be doing something, cleaning something, fixing somebody.

Until, I heard my Father say the same thing one fine day.

Be still and know that I am God.be-still1

We think we know that we know, until something surfaces to show us differently . . .

Most of us are still in a holi-daze exhausted from the extras that overshadow the Extraordinary.

I knew I was in trouble when I was standing in the short grocery line counting the items in the cart in front of me . . . no way she had less than ten.

Then, passing everyone on the highway, including a flashing light close behind, was a sorry reminder I must be in a hurry.

The real test came when I said “amen” before I prayed . . .  definitely not be-ing still . . .

We refuse to still our busy-addiction because we’re busy working it out for ourselves.

Be still and know that we’re not God.

So, what would happen if we just stilled our thinking and doing for an intentional moment and cease from spiritual wiggling?

Not simply stilling the body, but stilling the soul.  There is a way to be present within the sanctuary where Holiness resides.

Bow and breathe. Listen.  Remember.

When we catch ourselves losing our breath from running the race – breathe in Jesus, and practice stillness in the middle of the muddle.

Let’s encourage one another for the next seven days to take at least ten minutes every day to enter the silence and reflect in the deep part of His goodness and wonder.

My prayer for you, seven days turn into 365 – your intention.

Blessings in the coming year . . . .

Be still, my daughter, and learn how the matter turns out . . . Ruth 3:16