Wednesday, November 6, 2013

More than just leaves...



It's November and the season of thankfulness.
I see friends on Facebook whose status each day is what they are thankful for.
We're trying at dinner to talk about our day and what it is we have to give thanks about.
 
But it's all so miniscule compared to all the blessings that God has showered down on us.
 
Here in the Midwest the color is spectacular.
Every leaf is trying to outdo it's neighbor in brilliance.
Footsteps are muffled in golden carpets and the sun filters through a canopy of the same; and then the wind blows and the leaves swirl down and take your breath away.
 
"Pour out Your unfailing love on those who love You. 
Your unfailing love, O Lord, is a vast as the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.
All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of Your wings." Psalm 36:10,5,7
 
As I walk through this fall's scape I am reminded by the sheltering canopies of the shelter of His wings, of the paths He's prepared for me as I kick through golden carpets and of  His many, many blessings as He pours out His unfailing love, as bountiful as the autumn leaves that swirl around me. 
 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Only ___ days until Christmas!

Is it just me or has "Christmas" come even earlier this year?

Holiday merchandise is already front and center in the stores.
A radio station had an "All Christmas Halloween" and so the music's begun.
The Sunday paper contained several holiday toy catalogs.
Starbucks has already gone to their red holiday cups. (although I can't complain there as I enjoyed a peppermint mocha...)
And a couple days ago I saw a holiday themed commercial and since September I've been receiving "100 days until Christmas" emails.

100 days before Christmas? Are we really to the point that we need to prep for almost 1/3 of the year for this one holiday??

What about today - did we prep for today? Do we have special things planned? D├ęcor? Food? Gifts? Special activities to make fond memories?

Of course not - we're too busy planning for the perfect Christmas and putting all our eggs into that basket.

But what about today?
And tomorrow and all the days before December 25th?
Are they less important?
Do we casually just throw them away since their significance is  only related to how many days away they are from Christmas?

Of course not; but it's so easy to be conned into doing just that - to rush through the days leading up to the day circled in red on the calendar - whatever day that is, a birthday, an outing, retirement, vacation, marriage or an expected birth day; and when we do so we forget that everyday is a gift.

This is the day that the Lord has made let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

So teach us to number our days so that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom Psalms 90:14 (and somehow this numbering is NOT referring to how many days are left until "xyz"!)

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes- James 4:14


I have a friend with a terminal illness.
I saw a significant accident just yesterday while out and about.
I've attended the funerals of those younger than I.
And you have too. 

While I love Christmas and while anticipation for any special day is half the fun; don't rush by today and the blessings and opportunities that God has packed into it for you. Unwrap this present!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Two observations from being sick

The past three days have been a blur of curling up on anything stationary and simple tasks, as my daughter shared her cold with me and I, being an overachiever, took it to the next level...

A few things, however; did penetrate the fog

1. One should NEVER shop for cold medicine while sick - expectorant? decongestant? cough and cold? cold and flu? daytime? nighttime? extended release? capsules? brand name? generic? Tylenol? Aspirin? Augh....! There is no sight more pathetic than a glassy-eyed sick person in the medicine aisle.

2. Being sick seriously alters your perspective.  It was a beautiful fall weekend - like jeans and sweatshirts, every tree doing it's best to outshine the others- kind of perfect.  I saw these people enjoying the day, walking their dogs, raking leaves, cutting grass, standing around laughing and I, although watching it, couldn't comprehend it.  I felt so lousy it was hard to believe that people could have that much energy.  My being sacked by a cold bug didn't mean the rest of the world stopped spinning but it did take me out of the loop.

Depression has that same effect.  It saps you of all energy, fogs your mind, and although you see others living life fully you can't imagine having the same level of participation.  There's no energy for all that activity; it simply takes all you've got to stagger from event to event.

The beauty is that no matter how we feel the promises of God do not change.
The truth of His constant presence remains - Hebrews 13:5 "For God has said, 'I will never fail you.  I will never abandon you."

His care for us does not waver - Psalm 36:7 "How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings"

He still guides us- Psalm 48:14 "For that is what our God is like.  He is our God forever and ever, and He will guide us until we die."

Watches over us- Psalms 33:8 "The Lord watches over those who fear Him, who rely on His unfailing love."
-
And is full of compassion towards us- Psalms 103:13,14 "The Lord is like a father to His children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him.  For He knows how weak we are; He remembers we are only dust."
.
      
 
God is faithful; and that, no matter how I feel, is something to hang onto.

Friday, October 11, 2013

FEED ME!


Just. so. hungry!
 
You’ve been there too haven’t you; when you feel your stomach is ready to devour itself just to be satisfied? When every other thing becomes less important as this gnawing hunger hijacks all other focus but itself.
 
It is one thing to have a taste for something but entirely different to be consumed by need.
It’s the difference between resisting the dessert cart when you’ve just finished a satisfying meal and thinking “How quickly can they get food on the table?” after it’s been a long and stress filled day.
 
Jesus was hungry. In Matthew 4:2 we read “After fasting forty days and nights, He (Jesus) was hungry.” These were not the rumblings of a stomach between lunch and dinner; this was a hunger that was so complete His entire body had been weakened by lack of nourishment.  Satan then comes and says “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” (Matthew 4:3)  In other words, “You have the power and the ability, and an opportunity to meet your own needs. Take what you need. Go for it.”
 
We hunger; but for more than food:  we long for love, power, or financial security.
We desire to be recognized, validated, and affirmed.
We hunger for wealth, ease, and significance.
 
These are our appetites and the hunger of our hearts and where we are starving Satan comes and says “You deserve it. You can take it.  Do whatever you can to meet your own needs; to make your own bread.”
 
Cheat.
Flirt.
Discredit another.
Gossip.
Push your way to the top.
Give in to anger and jealousy and self-aggrandizement.
Find the crumbs to feed your soul.
Do whatever it takes.
 
 But the Bible says “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4 :19
 
The Greek word here for supply - pleroo – means:        
to make full, to fill up, i.e. to fill to the full
to cause to abound, to furnish or supply liberally
to render full, i.e. to complete
to fill to the top: so that nothing shall be wanting to full measure, fill to the brim
to make complete in every particular
 
He is the bread that satisfies, fully satisfies: in John 6:35 Jesus says “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry again.”
 
In Him we find peace when financial concerns would consume us in worry.
In Him we find love when an empty marriage has us ravenous for affirmation.
In Him we find significance that a title, position, or paycheck can never equal.
“Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy!” Psalms 34:5
 
Jesus knew this.  He knew that God would provide for His needs and that it was not up to Him to do whatever it took to take care of himself. 
 
The story concludes “Then the devil went away and angels came and cared for Him.” (Matthew 4:11)
 
Which will it be: the scrapings of your own attempts to quell your hunger or plerro that comes from loving care of your eternal and almighty Father? 

Who will feed you?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

After you die...

I saw this billboard yesterday on I-55 and it got me to thinking...

you too?

What are your thoughts?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Of maps and travelling companions

This weekend I was using a map - an honest to goodness, there's not enough room to open it in this front car seat space and good luck ever getting it refolded to any semblance of it's original neatness  kind of a map.  It was weird, but had a comforting familiarity about it that I don't have with my GPS.

I plotted where we were and where we were headed; saw the various options and made choices. I had a pretty good overview of the whole drive albeit I did miss the "You are Here" pinpoint accuracy of the peg on the GPS road display...

Springing off the page this morning was Psalm 139:3
"You chart the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest.
Every moment You know where I am."

There is a confidence in having a map and knowing how the road turns, of planning a way to get from Point A to B and having a rough idea of how long it will take to make the trip.

God's done that for my life.

It's also very reassuring to know exactly where I am every day along this way. 
God's never surprised at where He finds me. I may be, but He never is. 

He had a plan and He always knows where I am.

The problem comes because I don't have the map.  I don't know where the road is leading and even sometimes when I feel I do, it seems then I reach where the map is folded over so I can't see possibly see what's next.  How am I supposed to know where to go?!

Psalm 139:5-10 (NLT)
"You both precede and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to know! I can never escape from Your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence!  If I go up to heaven you are there; if I got down to the place of the dead, you are there.  If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me."

I'm never without the trip coordinator - the One who knows all the turns, all the stops, the elevation changes, the traffic patterns, and where to get a really sustaining lunch.
 He has a plan. He knows my position and I am always in His presence.

My companion is the One who has charted out the path for me; He created the map and, I'm thinking, He even knows how to fold it!



Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Three Thoughts on Temptation

* Opportunity may knock once, but temptation leans on the doorbell.

*Every temptation is an opportunity to reject evil and get to know God better, or reject God and get to know evil better.

*No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. I Corinthians 10:13 ESV

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Dots of Paint

Seurat - He painted with dots.

Its a mnemonic device I picked up so that, years after a college Art Appreciation class, I still remember at least one artist and his style!

Georges Seurat is most well known for A Sunday on La Grande Jatte which hangs in the Art Institute in Chicago.

I've seen it in person.
It's incredible!

The painting is roughly six by ten feet, making the people nearly life sized; aand the entire painting is made up of zillions of dots. (okay, maybe not a zillion but you get the idea...)

The official art term is pointillism, defined as "a technique of painting in which small distinct dots of pure color and applied in patterns to form an image.

Close up it looks like this...

Amazing...

When all the points of color are put in their places it becomes more than just a myriad of random paint, it's transformed into an image.

We've been discussing this concept in church recently.
 Every one of us is like a bucket of paint and God is and has been stirring into our lives all the relationships and circumstances and talents and personality that makes us into the "color" that we are: a particular shade, a distinctive pigment.  And then, God takes His brush and paints us into His picture; the picture He's been creating throughout all of history.  He puts us where He needs us: a point of a unique color; in a specific place, for His glory, and, ultimately to display His image.

Individually we're dots of paint.
Random pigments on the planet.

Yet God has a plan.
It's the Romans 8:28 idea, "And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him".  And while that is true for every individual life it's bigger than just one person - it's how God is working all things, in all places, throughout all of time to show humanity how He is God.

Perhaps today God will show Himself to this needy world because you will act as God's hands to a neighbor in need; or as His voice in encouraging one who is discouraged. If  you hear His voice prompting you to act, to love, to pray, to help, to witness, to minister; do it.

He's putting you on His canvas.




Monday, February 4, 2013

"all that"

He was "all that".  He was all her heart desired although she didn't know it until she got to know Him; and as she did she found that to know Him was to love Him.

He had always loved her. He'd always been looking out for her and working things together for her good.
He wasn't her first love and even when she realized she loved Him, still her eye and attention wandered to others...

This grieved Him for He was jealous to be the only One in her heart but He never pouted, or gave up and stomped away.  Instead He continued to love; faithfully and lavishly in a thousand small ways until her eyes turned back to Him and only Him.

Her heart than remembered that she was His and even more amazingly that He was hers! Time had and would continue to pass and things would, as things must do, change. Yet His love never did: His attentions never faltered and from that history she knew they never would.

She had found that the One who had made her heart had fashioned it for Himself; so that in Him she would find all she needed and as she did gladly she trusted her heart to Him.