Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Pressure Points and Healing

Nothing beats a good masseuse or chiropractor. You know, it's that feeling, when they put their hand exactly on a spot, and you suddenly realize "a ha!", that's the cause of my problem and stress. And then they work their magic and the knot is gone, the muscle relaxed, or the area adjusted. Ah...hurts so good....

What about when God puts his finger on a place in our heart that needs some work: that "ouch", that's a tender spot feeling...?

Hurts so good?

Recently God put his finger on an attitude I had and there was the immediate recognition that this is not the way it should be, and I have to do something about it.
I didn't want to, thinking I was justified in how I felt, but that didn't change the fact that it wasn't right...

By God's grace however I've realized what a blessing it is in itself to have God reach down into my heart and exert some pressure and say, "This is not right. There is a problem here".

He is not leaving me where I am.
He is adjusting me so that I am more like His Son and better able to bring Him honor; which is ultimately His plan and what I desire.

And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Phil. 1:6

Hurts so good...

Monday, March 30, 2009

Spring Snow and Your Thoughts

What do these pictures say to you?

Add your comments at the www.thinking-on-these-things.blogspot.com page or on the Facebook comments and let's see what things you are thinking...!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Simple Items - Profound Truth

I'm finishing up a week of preparing for Jr. Church in which the kids will be making "resurrection eggs"; plastic eggs each holding a different item that is part of the story of the last week of Christ.

It's been an interesting and creative exercise, finding things that are symbolic, affordable, and, most importantly, able to fit in a plastic egg!

What I've discovered is that while these items will tell one story to the little ones there's a powerful message in them for us: the adults, who have known the story for decades and find ourselves today serving the Risen Lord.

Palm Leaf
- People are fickle. Singing praises on Sunday does not guarantee you'll not be uttering curses by Friday. Guard your heart.

Perfume - Mary sacrificed her most precious possession in anointing Christ's feet. She poured out her all and was blatantly criticized.

Towel - Jesus left us an example of service, but it wasn't glamorous. Dirty feet can be disgusting and it is a thankless job but it doesn't change the call to take care of others.

Bread - Christ Himself calls us to His table. We are invited to dine with Him. To partake of His strength. To remember that when all the work and suffering is over that we will one day dine with Him again at the marriage supper of the Lamb.

Praying Hands - Jesus wrestled with doing God's will. He agonized over it. He asked if there was another way, if He could not do it. God understands when we feel the same way. God's will was victorious. Jesus' obedience changed everything. So could ours.

Pieces of Silver - Temporary needs blind to things of eternal importance.

Purple cloth/Thorns - Self- righteous people can be cruel, rejecting and mocking. Jesus knows what it means to have his words twisted and be falsely accused.

Cross/Nails - Nails did not hold Almighty God to a cross; He was bound by love.

Linen clothes/Cloves - When all their hopes had been crushed and it was apparent that their perceptions and understanding must be absolutely wrong; those who loved Him were still faithful to Him by attending to his body.

Stone - The situation is impossible. It is all over. There's no way around this. It is too big, too heavy. There is no solution.

but most importantly of all...

The Empty Tomb- With God all things are possible. (Luke 1:37)

I pray that you will begin to understand
the incredible greatness of His power for us who believe him.

This is the same power that raised Christ from the dead and
seated him in the place of honor at God's right hand in the heavenly realms.

The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. and just as he raised Christ from the dead, he will give life to your mortal body by this same Spirit living within you.

For his Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts and tells us that we are God's children.
(Ephesians 1:19, 20, Romans 8: 11, 16)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

It's not too late...or is it?

Virginia's Birthday Reminder! Still time to send 100 Blooms for $29.99.

Seeing this in my Inbox this morning I don't remember why I thought signing up for an online florist's birthday reminders was a good thing...

It is too late. This will be the second time my mom celebrates her birthday on golden streets instead of 6412 Nature Dr.

Is there birthday cake in heaven?
Would that be angel food cake...?

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying. (Robert Herrick)

There are a whole slew of proverbs, quotes, poems and songs that remind us of this very thing.

Life is short.
There are no guarantees that the one you see today you'll see again tomorrow.
You may not have another chance.
Carpe Diem. - Seize the day.

And now my birthday reminder has become a reminder for us all.
May we all express love today to those we cherish.

Kind words are like honey,
sweet to the soul and healthy to the body.
Proverbs 16:24

A person's words can be life-giving water;
words of true wisdom are as refreshing as a bubbling brook.
Proverbs 18:4

Words satisfy the soul as food satisfies the stomach;
the right words on a person's lips bring satisfaction.
Proverbs 18: 20

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Green Milk

When the wee leprechauns came to our house this holiday they caused a bit of mischief and turned the milk green!

My daughter drank it.
My son wanted nothing to do with it convinced, because of how it looked, that it would taste terrible.

Reminds me of James 1:2, "whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy..."

Trouble = Joy?
Green Milk = delicious beverage?

Remember this passage?
If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? (Luke 11:11-13)

It's a familiar phrase - When you can't trace His hand, trust His heart.

One of my children knew I wouldn't give her something spoiled; although the milk was not as she expected it to be she trusted the person giving it to her.

Ah, and there's the lesson.

Whenever trouble comes your way, (which we do not like the looks of), let it be an opportunity for joy (or consider that it is something good for you which it sure does not look like!). For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.

If what is on your plate does not look like what you expect, let your trust be instead in the One who has given it to you.

Patterns O' Thinkin'

Ay, Top of the mornin' to ya lads and lassies.

This mornin' being St. Patty's day a cheerful Iri'sh lass appeared to waken the wee ones from their slumbers and welcome the new mornin'. Of course the wee ones were a bit perplexed at the change in their mum but were happy to go along with discoverin' the mischief and the gold coins the leprecans had left during the evenin'.

Until the wee mites were off to skool the Irish banter continued and the little lassie herself tossed back to her mum a few phrases of her own from the Emerald Isle.

I found in the scant hour I spoke (or attempted to speak!) as one from the Isle across the sea that I had to speak more slowly, oftentimes thinking about how to phrase something differently so that's it's language reflected another culture and its way of relating to a subject. After the kids had left I found I was still thinkin' in this Irish brogue as I set about to brew meself a cup of coffee to draw off the mornin' chill...

If a Chicago girl can amuse her children with a goofy Irish accent for a morning simply by stopping to think about speaking this way, what effect could we as believers have on the world if we would take seriously the command to "not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of our minds"? (Romans 12:2)

If we remember that we've been urged to as strangers and pilgrims in the world to keep away from sin that destroys our souls and to live in such a way that God is glorified (I Peter 2:11 paraphrased) would that not effect how we think?

And if we also remember that we are " a chosen people, a royal priesthood...a people belonging to God (so) that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness and into His marvelous light" (I Peter 2:9) wouldn't that also change the way we think, which will effect how we speak and act and therefore impact for God, the worlds we move in - the people within the sphere of our influence?

It's a simple concept.
We immerse ourselves in God's Word to see what He thinks.
We begin to view the world and ourselves as He does.
Our thoughts impact our words and our actions.
And we find ourselves then being transformed to be more like Jesus.
And this brings glory and honor to God.

Which is much more important than the fact that the comin' of St. Patty's day has turned a normal mum into an Irish lass for the mornin'...! :)

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Some additional thoughts:
I have returned to the practice of reading the chapter in Proverbs that corresponds with the date. In each chapter I find one truth to think about that day and put into practice. It's a small step, and it's simple but if "the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" then I am on my way!
I encourage you to try it as well.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Grand Gesture

It was a girlfriend's birthday - one of the "big" ones.
Two months previous to the big day a trio of us met to plan.
This could be no ordinary birthday.
It had to be big.
Really big.
No thoughtful individual gifts would do, we needed to pool our creative and monetary resources and do something extravagant.

The plans were made - met at 10 pm, wear all black, bring the signs, get balloons; she'll be so surprised in the morning when she looks out the window...

My van and I were getting the balloons - lots and lots of them!
All the way there it was extolled to me how better the money could be spent. How we could have gotten something beautiful and lasting or valuable and substantial; not something that would just last for a day or worse yet, all fly away during the night.
"It's cold now, they won't even float. Whose idea was this? Didn't you even think about this when you made this plan?"
By the time I reached the store if I'd had my phone I would have called the others and called the whole thing off - from any angle this was a colossal waste of money and a foolish expenditure of energy and resources.

I got the balloons.
We snuck over in the darkness. It was 20 degrees...
No matter how foolish it seemed, this was the time for the grand gesture.
The "Wow" moment.
The over the top, "this money could have absolutely been better spent on something else but we chose to be extravagant", kind of gift.

It was time to say "I love you" in an undeniable and unforgettable way.
Like O'Henry's The Gift of the Magi, except for a friend's birthday in the spring and not a spouse's Christmas gift in the winter but still... you get the idea.

Wasn't Calvary the same way?
How foolish for God to stoop down to inhabit the body of a man and then have that body sacrificed in a cruel death for people who didn't even care, or who might never receive the gift of salvation. Or to offer himself up for the atonement of the very people who cried out for his crucifixion. There's no wisdom in that, no common sense, no frugality - talk about over the top in extravagance...

We needed the grand gift, the extravagant grace, and that exuberant love.
What else would speak to the hearts of men two thousand years later?
What else speaks so deeply of God's great desire for us to be his own children?
What else but this magnanimous display of affection could draw us from the depth and darkness of living lives on our own terms and to the Savior?

Why have people withstood persecution or left home and family to travel overseas to tell others about God's love?

Because of the greatness of His love

A love so vast, so deep and broad and high that we cannot comprehend it's breadth. And when we, because of our love for someone, are able to do something extravagant that experience gives us a small insight into how much God must love us.

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! I John 1:3

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

God, The Ultimate Recycler

I am not the world's greatest recycler. I blame it on PBS. My kids were very young when this whole recycling thing was reaching its political correctness and every program they watched encouraged them to make things out of trash, consequently I could never throw anything away! Talk about TV giving our kids suggestions we don't want them following!

I am amazed though how God recycles things for His own glory. This isn't a new concept and I've seen it most recently in Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Life where he says, "God never wastes a hurt! In fact your greatest ministry may come out of your greatest hurt."
It's not spiritual rocket science but still...

I wrote "He's just not that into you" yesterday out of a heart that's been dealing with disappointment for a week and looking for answers. These have ranged from rationalization - that it's not that big of a deal, to determination - just suck it up, deal with it and move on, to just acknowledging that it hurts, to prayer ranging from "why?" and "what now?" and "what is your purpose in this?" and then to that passage of scripture in Zeph. 3:17

"The Lord your God is with you.
He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you.
He will quiet you with His love.
He will rejoice over you with singing."

I've posted this above my sink (where I spend way too much time) and am currently stuck on the first phrase - The Lord your God is with you - and what that means to and for me.

Several have commented to me on how that post was good timing for them and I sit here dumbfounded that God would take my own personal hurt and have something good come of it.

A concept is just a concept to me, something I can give intellectual assent to,but when I know something is true because of personal experience, it moves from paper and into my heart.

God doesn't waste a hurt.
I still can't or won't say I'm happy this happened to me...
but this kind of recycling is way more impressive than making maracas out of milk containers!

Monday, March 9, 2009

He's Just Not That Into You

"He's Just Not That Into You" is the title of a recent movie. I have yet to see it but I assume it's a comedy.

Because if it is not a comedy, if it is really about what the title conveys, than it's all about disappointment:

Most obviously of course when you're into someone who is not that into you.

When you've lost a job unfairly and no one speaks on your behalf.

When you've been invaluable in an endeavor and are not given credit or someone else steals the credit.

When you've done your absolute best and it's not enough.

When you discover that "happily ever after" is only in fairy tales.

When a dependable relationship collapses.

When the person with the power wins out over the person with the ability.

Do any of those sound familiar? Bring something to mind?

The question is not what will you do if this happens but when...because it does. Chances are it has before and most likely will again: your love will go unreciprocated, your work unnoticed, your value unappreciated, your opinion unconsidered.

When you find that "they are just not that into you" remember this:

The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

This is more than a "Don't worry, Be Happy" sentiment. There's a lot in that verse - go ahead, let your mind ruminate on it for a while. Unpack it for yourself and you'll discover that there is someone who is really into you...

What are your thoughts?

What kind of love would it take for you to be "quieted by His love"? What would you need to hear/understand to have your disappointed heart made peaceful?

What does the phrase "rejoice over you with singing" conjure up in your mind? What would they look like? feel like? signify?

What does it do for your spirit to realize that, no matter what else happens, there is someone who is always for you? And that the One who is "into you" and delights in you is the God of the universe?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Spring Rain

Ask the Lord for rain in the spring, for He makes the storm clouds. And He will send showers of rain so every field becomes a lush pasture. (Zechariah 10:1)

Rain in the spring. I watch it fall from heaven and observe how the landscape around me is transformed.

This is what we want and what we need for the barrenness of a winter season has left our spirit browned and lifeless and we long for the lush greenness of summer.

We need the rain because we desire growth and new life.

Rain is associated in the Bible with God's blessing. He would withhold the rain when His people turned from Him but would open the windows of heaven when they listened to His commands and sought Him with all their hearts. (Deut. 11:13-17, Jeremiah 5:23-25)

A prayer for rain is not only to pray that God will send down His blessings but also to align myself in right standing with God so that my sin does not stand in the way of His favor. (I Kings 8:35, 36)

"Even now," declares the Lord, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping, and mourning."

Rend your heart and not your garments.

Return to the Lord your God for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love...

He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains as before. The threshing floor will be filled with grain, the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.

"I will restore to you the years the locust has eaten...You will have plenty to eat and will be satisfied and you will praise the name of the Lord your God who has worked wonders for you...Then you will know that...I am the Lord your God and that there is no other"
(Joel 2:12, 13, 23-17)

Lord, rain on me.

What are your thoughts?

Is your heart dried up? barren? lacking in vibrancy and life?

Was there a time it was more of a lush pasture than it is now?

What stands in the way of God raining His favor down on you?

Will you let each spring rain remind you that God longs to bless us with Himself if our hearts are right with Him and use each shower as a reminder to seek Him?

Will the prayer remain on your lips this season "Lord, send rain in the Spring"?