Sunday, December 28, 2014

All is well, safely rest. God is nigh.

The year is about to close. I don't know about you, but my 2014 held exhilarating highs and devastating lows. 

When I was rejoicing in the highs I think I lost contact with the flow of regular life. When I was moaning in the lows I know I lost touch with the rich blessings of God's promises. 

I want the coming year to look more like the gentle rise and fall of the waves on Grand Cayman's Seven Mile Beach on a calm day. I am praying toward that goal and engaging my heart and mind and soul and strength to attain it.   Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27

I'm beginning the process with an honest look at Reality. 
  • I live in a world that has been groaning since the Fall, and Scripture teaches that those who have entrusted themselves to Christ also groan as we await His return. Even if I make the best, most God-pleasing choices, I cannot control the outcome nor will I find perfect peace until I am united with my Savior.  Romans 8:20-22, Job 38
  • There are all kinds of forces that seem to combine to keep me disoriented. Whether it's the imperfections of this world, the results of my poor choices, the strategies of the enemy, or the intervention of the Father I find myself struggling to maintain any sense of balance.  Psalm 51:1-2, 1 Peter 5:8, John 16:33, Exodus 9:12
  • God is God. His very Name expresses his SOVEREIGNTY. Ultimately every single detail of my life is under the control of the great I AM. He created me and chose me. He cherishes me and celebrates me. Absolutely no thing and no one can prevent my LORD from demonstrating every facet of His love for me into my life both now and throughout eternity.  John 10:28, Romans 8:38-39, Jeremiah 29:11-13,  Romans 8:28-30

These basics open the way for an Action Plan.
  • I will shun the superficial and dredge myself in Scripture in order to dwell in God's view of the world. And as I write that I remind myself that I will not be perfect in this effort so I must trust the LORD to welcome my heart-felt intentions.   1 Samuel 16:7, 1 Chronicle 28:9, Psalm 119: 97-112, John 16:33
  • I will step back from frustration and learn to accept afresh the circumstances of my life with grace. And as God enables, I will embrace with equal gratitude the highs and the lows as His intimate provision for my good and His glory.  Psalm 100, 1 Thessalonians 5:18
  • I will seek El Shaddai, the All-Sufficient One, above all else, including my own selfish agenda. And in the putting down of the one I expect to move further into the sweetness of fellowship with Him. Philippians 3:7-11.

"If God is for us, who can be against us?" Romans 8:31 

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."  Ephesians 2:10

I rejoice that I will not walk alone through 2015. I'm sharing an easy Yoke next to a gentle and humble Heart so I anticipate finding rest for my soul.  Matthew 11:28-30

How about you? Could you use a little rest in the months ahead?
Why not take a look at the past year and consider what changes you'd like to see? 
The LORD longs to take His people further into balance, fulfillment, and joy. Let's pursue Him together.

Take three (3) minutes to dwell on the transition from one year to the next through this musical offering. You'll be thankful you did.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

My Christmas Gift to You

A couple of passages have stirred me recently.

1) God sent down fire on the camp because He heard the Israelites complaining.

"When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the LORD and the fire died down."  Numbers 11:2

2) God struck Miriam with leprosy and Aaron went to Moses for help.

"So Moses cried out to the LORD, 'O God, please heal her!"  Numbers 12:13
At God's direction Miriam spent seven days outside the camp and she returned healed.

These are not the only occasions when Moses went to God for the sake of those He called him to lead. Exodus 32 records the golden calf fiasco when Moses had to take a giant step into the role of peacemaker between God and His people. 

We often see in the Old Testament a hint or likeness of things to come in the New Testament. The beauty of such coordination across the Scriptures is one of the aspects that feed my love for God's Word. 

In this instance the two Numbers passages prompt me to compare the work of Moses and that of Christ.     

Here's the World-Shifting Gift I want to share with you.

We see God respond swiftly with love and mercy when Moses intervenes on behalf of the Israelites. 
The people came to understand, appreciate, and rely on that intercessory relationship.

How much richer is the Father's response when His Son intervenes on behalf of those for whom He came to die. 
How abundant our lives will be as we come to understand, appreciate, and rely on THAT intercessory relationship. Hallelujah

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." 
John 3:16

"Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them."  
Hebrews 7:25

Let us worship in light of this glorious truth on the Day we celebrate Christ's first appearing. Amen

Sunday, December 21, 2014


Too much to do, not enough time.

Too much to buy, not enough money.

Too much to wrap, not enough energy.

Too much to prepare, not enough motivation.

And the week-before-Christmas list goes on.

What are your prevailing thoughts these days? Are you telling the LORD about your need for more time, money, energy, motivation, and more? 


Demanding days can lead to a demanding heart.

God does call us to bring our burdens to Him. 

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. ... I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."  Matthew 11:28-29

But we need to be careful not to allow cares to turn into complaining. 

"Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the LORD, and when he heard them his anger was aroused."  Numbers 11:1

I don't know about you, but I do not want to be under God's wrath. 

In order to avoid complaining I need to know what it is and what it isn't.

Complaining is when we ...

*undervalue God's favor by adding a 'but' to His mercy.
     "Lord, the manna was nice, but now we want meat."

*set a criteria for happiness based on dissatisfaction.
     "Life would be wonderful if only we had what we want to eat." 

*question whether God can't or won't meet our needs.
     "Meat for a month? There aren't enough flocks or herds."

These responses spring from unhappy hearts. Such a basic attitude of discontent will find something to complain about no matter what. And though we may couch it in pleasant sounding ways, God knows and hears the condition of our hearts.

"Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account."  Hebrews 4:13

I, for sure, want to be able to cry out to God without complaining.

Crying out is when we ...

*approach the Father with humility through Christ.
     "This is what the LORD says: ... 'This is the one I esteem; 
     he who is humble and contrite in spirit
     and trembles at my word.'"  Isaiah 66:1a,2b

     "In him [Christ Jesus] and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence."  Ephesians 3:12

     "Therefore he [Jesus] is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them."  
Hebrews 7:25

*bring a just cause for attention with a grateful heart.
     "Your compassion is great, O LORD;
     preserve my life according to your laws. ...
     May my cry come before you, O LORD;
     give me understanding according to your word.
     May my supplication come before you;
     deliver me according to your promise."  Psalm 119:156,169-170

*seek mercy and assistance rather than what has not been allotted.
     "Remember, O LORD, your great mercy and love, 
      for they are from of old.
      Remember not the sins of my youth 
      and all my rebellious ways;
      according to your love remember me, 
      for you are good, O LORD."  Psalm 26:6-7

By walking in these ways I expect to avoid the shame of murmuring against God and, instead, bring honor to His glorious Name. Amen

Where are you relative to the continuum from crying out and complaining?
Could you, like me, need to re-fasten your attitude of gratitude in place?
Let's present ourselves to the great I AM for a systems check.

"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one."  
Matthew 6:13

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Tunnel of Tragedy

I’m walking again.

Well, not like this lady.

I’m walking with a cane, but it still feels gooooood.

Walking hasn’t felt good for a very long time. The main goal of the arthroscopic surgery, hip replacement, was to change that dynamic.

The first time they got me out of bed I was hanging onto the walker for dear life. They teased me with, “Just a few steps to the end of the bed.” Then it was, “Let’s go around to the other side of the bed.” They managed to get me all the way into the hall before I went white. By the time they got me back to the bed, I lost my lunch. To say the experience was less than ‘good’ is an understatement.

Obviously things went up dramatically from there. How could they not?

36 hours after they took me to the OR I was ready to head home. I’d walked all the way down to the ‘gym’ and back, accomplishing all the tasks they set for me there. I walked up and down stairs enough to match what we have at home. I got in and out of a car without difficulty. We all decided I could make it without serious medical support nearby. And I did.

I was totally unprepared for what happened a few days later. One of the pre-procedure symptoms I was having returned. A sciatica type pain ran right down the inside of my repaired leg. I was surprised, upset, and scared. I did my best to change my position to make the pain stop. It took a few minutes, but I found relief. Thank you, Lord.

That scenario has repeated itself many times since my stay at Concord Hospital. Along the way I’ve learned that as my muscles begin to function again they return to the ways they needed to move to compensate for my deteriorated hip. For example, my entire lower back had been working so hard to stabilize my posture that I’ve had to take pain meds twice when it went into spasms.

By God’s glorious grace and the help of my Physical Therapist yesterday I figured out how to relax my lower back while walking with a cane. It felt so good. I was filled with an extravaganza of joy. Wooo HOOOO. I’m beginning to believe I really will be able to get around pain-free one day. I just need to exchange my muscles unhealthy habits for healthy ones.

As I pondered the information about muscle memory, my quirky brain made a left turn into the spiritual realm. Could there be a connection between physical muscle memory and spiritual muscle memory?

Are there times when my soul could use a set of exercises similar to those I’m following to retrain my leg and back muscles?

I considered the life-threatening circumstances and the do-or-die survival tactics they required over the last year or so AND the unspeakable toll they’ve taken, and they lead me to say YES.

When a situation only holds a short bus ride to approach the Father or a few moments to pray together with outsiders listening in, there’s a stiltedness that occurs in the God-ward relationship. When such interactions become the norm over a long period of time with one dire need followed by another and another and another, even times of private intercession and fellowship are strained. It’s like living in a theater where somebody is constantly yelling, “Fire!”

And this has been my life for longer than I care to report.

Look, I’m no spring chicken. I’ve been around the sun more than 65 times. I’ve been married for 46 years and a Christ-follower for 43. There have been countless seasons of joy as well as stretching in my spiritual life. 
I KNOW that God never leaves me nor forsakes me. Hebrews 13:5 
I KNOW that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 
I KNOW that God’s plan for me is for my good and not to harm me so that I will have hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

I have more than one Bible that is heavily marked. There are notes with references filling the inside cover pages of all of them. I’ve raised children and cherish grandchildren. I served my husband and the Church for 30 years of his pastoral career. I am blessed to walk beside global women in the pilgrim journey. I’m drenching myself in Scripture as I write my third book that’s based on a biblical character. And yet I can tell the stress has taken its toll.

It’s time to assess the unhealthy spiritual habits I’ve developed and exchange them for healthy ones. 

Beginning steps:
  • Crawl up into my Abba Father's lap and search His face to find His love for me reflected in His eyes.  Psalm 23
  • Invite the Spirit to lay bare those places that require my confession and repentance that I might revel anew in His forgiveness and purification.  1 John 1:9
  • Drink of the Savior's life-renewing water and commit afresh to rest in Him where I live and move and have my being.  Acts 17:27

I have dreams and goals I want to reach, but setting any of them on my own according to my falleness-driven and thus-perverted will is more than foolhardy. That road only leads to frustration and destruction. I want to make my way yoked with the Good Shepherd.  John 11:11 and Matthew 11:29

Yep, it's time to retrain my spiritual muscles according to our marriage verse.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 NIV 1984

I sure do hope God’s got it on His agenda for me to be able to put on my socks by myself real soon.

How about you?
Do you find yourself spinning in circles and not able to make headway?
Could it be that you too have been caught in a tunnel of tragedies of one type or another?

Perhaps now is the time for you too to turn off the carousel and nestle into the Father’s embrace. Come join me for His glory and our good.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Hung Up in the Dark?

We're still reading through the book of Numbers. 

I'm still soaking up Truth and joy.

We were in chapter 10 today, but a cross reference took me back to Exodus 40:17.

"So the tabernacle was set up on the first day of the first month in the second year."

This is a simple statement that signals how long it took, after escaping Pharoah, for the Israelites to build the tabernacle of the Testimony. They spent one full year gathering materials and following the specific directions God gave them. The primary assignment for the first year of freedom was to construct a central place to worship the great I AM.

Things got interesting less than two months later.

"On the twentieth day of the second month of the second year the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle of the Testimony. Then the Israelites set out from the Desert of Sinai and traveled from place to place until the cloud came to rest in the Desert of Paran. They set out, this first time, at the LORD's command through Moses." Numbers 10:11-13

This was not a helter-skelter, grab a bag and go departure. 

Verses 14-36 provide extensive information about the details of the journey: how the divisions proceeded, who their leaders were, what the tasks of the Levites were, how Moses addressed the LORD on rising to move and stopping to rest. 

One specific point stands out to me.

"The tabernacle was to be set up before they arrived." Numbers 10:21

The passage could be seen as simple information about a change in location. Since God chose to have the episode recorded and protected through the years, it speaks to me about a much larger dynamic.

1) When I find myself caught in a set of circumstances God has arranged I want to be alert that He's probably got more in mind than spinning my wheels. I want to make the most of every situation the Father orchestrates to nurture my growth and development. My recent surgery and recovery is an excellent case in point.

Please cause me to harken to Your voice, especially when I feel stuck, Dear Abba.

2) When it's time to move onward God will provide a signal that will be clear. It may not be as obvious to the eye as a visible cloud that drifts toward the horizon or a pillar of fire to light a path at night. I want to keep my heart and mind tuned to recognize the message when it's given. It could be as obvious as a return to full mobility.

Please keep me vigilant and responsive to Your call, Gracious LORD.

3) When God gives the specific direction and process for stepping out, it may not be about how to line up. The example given here is that the place of worship was the most significant item to transport. And it was to be erected before the camp as a whole settled into place. I want to maintain the precedents God set for the Israelites; trust, obedience, worship.

Please secure my thoughts and attitudes to Your priorities, Glorious Father.

How about you? 
Do you ever feel like you're stuck in a brown paper bag?
Do you try to fight your own way out or do you turn to God?