Sunday, March 29, 2015

Stew is Dangerous!

HUH? WhatchUsay?

The title declares, "Stew is dangerous!"

Okay, maybe it would be more accurate to say

"Stew-ing is dangerous!" 

I ought to know. I've spent a lot of my three score and eight years stew-ing.

My computer-generated definition reads
stew, verb - to worry about something, especially on one's own

Stew is an excellent illustration for worry. It's as if we're sitting in a pot full of a variety of problems, often spicy ones. Heat is being applied which causes the ingredients of our stressful situation to combine into an indistinguishable blend.

That's great for a pot of Irish meats and vegetables, but not so good for a life filled with challenges. When the issues or situations we face blend together, it becomes impossible to sort them out or resolve them. That's what I mean. Stew-ing is dangerous!

Thankfully those who know God, have welcomed His Son into their lives, and recognize Scripture as the guidebook for life have a built in process to handle Stew-ing

1) First, as we adopt God's Truth about this fallen world, we can be happy about the results He's got planned for everything that happens to us. 
Perseverance is one of the big ones.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." James 1:2,3

2) Then, as we sit under God's tutoring hand, we can revel in the blessings He bestows.
Maturity and fulfillment are two of them.

"Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:4

3) Finally, as our needs are exposed, we can plead for help from the One whose hand is open to those He redeems.
Wisdom is key.

"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him."  James 1:5

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him."  James 1:2-5

Where are you in the Stew-ing predicament?
Are you struggling to see things from God's perspective?
Are you tuned into the blessings God grants?
Are you figuring out what you need to ask God for?
Thankfully He's patiently waiting to show Himself to you. Why not visit with Him today?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Moving Along

     I'm moving forward with the manuscript, but I still cherish the encouragement for the prequel offered by EE, my Editor Extraordinaire.

     "Mahlon hooked his arm around Kilion’s neck and pulled him down into submission. A familiar wrestling match erupted. 

     “The dining table is no place for your sparring matches.” Elimelech chided. “Come. Let’s wash our hands and then you can take it outside.”  

     Naomi noticed a wistful look as her husband went to supervise his sons, abandoning her to her labors. Could it be that he’s growing weary too?" 
p. 5   

"Great revision." EE comment

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Light Speaks and Shines and Saves

"This is the message we have heard from [Jesus the Christ] and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all."  1 John 1:5

This God, who's defined as light itself, undertook the mighty act of creation. At first the world was "formless and empty" and "darkness was over the surface of the deep".

Into this formless, empty, dark place, God communicated His nature.

"And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light." Genesis 1:3

Can you picture it?

<< Pause and consider. >>

We might imagine lighting a candle at night, but that's a mere hint of the impact of that creation moment. 

Four divine words illuminated the universe and evaporated the utter darkness as the Creator expressed His essence.

The idea boggles my mind. 

But . . . what if God provides the creation account to accomplish a larger purpose beyond information about His activity or personality?

"For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of the darkness,' made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ."  
2 Corinthians 4:6

More than an explanation. 

A profound relationship!

The Creator God places His light into the hearts of men as surely as He called light into the dawning world. And the effect is as dramatic.

His presence can illuminate and evaporate the darkness sickening any heart as surely as the rising sun dispels the night. 

His light allows a sinful soul to recognize and receive His glory and grace through the Gospel.

I know these words are true because the Light of the world has come to me.

How about you?
Have you had enough of battling against the dark?
Stop and ask the Creator to send His Light to you. He will.
Message me so I can pray for you. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Homicide on Loon Pond?

I feel like my life is slipping away.

I wonder.

Could speed be killing me?

This is a serious question I'm asking myself these days.

I'm not suggesting I'm a speed freak, a person addicted to amphetamines. 

As a matter of fact, I don't take any drugs of any kind. Praise God.

I'm not referring to the idea I'm a speed demon, addicted to high speed travel. 

The needle on my speedometer does hover near the number on the sign.

I'm talking about being a speed liver, addicted to speeding through life.

My days are particularly busy right now. I'm pulled in several directions and important deadlines are fast approaching. I realize schedules may get hectic from time to time. But when I stop and consider, it seems I've been running for months.

It's not helpful for me to throw up my hands and say the culture is forcing me to be occupied from morning 'til night. Instead I want to be aware of how my surroundings affect me, and adjust accordingly.

For example, it was a restful Sabbath morning when I realized I needed to drag a log out of the wood stove. I grabbed a bucket and filled it with water as quickly as possible. I donned my Honey's heavy work gloves, grabbed the non-burning end, and dropped the log into the bucket.

It seems I'm able to hurry when necessary even if the atmosphere around me is calm. 

So why is it so hard to slow down?

I suppose one reason could be that my personality combines with the culture. Checking things off my To Do List delights me. The problem is I keep adding more items. 

Maybe the reason is I care about people. I like to do whatever I can to cheer them up or encourage them on their way. That's enough to keep anybody busy 24/7.

Then again, my caring can lead me to lose track of myself and my priorities. I've been noticing that happening quite a bit lately.

What if God has the answer? Could I ... should I be drawing closer to Him to find it? 

That makes a lot of sense since God's the One who made me and has laid out my life.

Time to get serious.

1. I'm going to get up earlier each morning to spend more quality time with my Savior.

2. I'm going to pour out my heart to Him about  this addiction to speed.

3. I'm going to plead with Him to infuse me with His will and power.

"Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."  Psalm 90:17

"Show me, O LORD, my life's end and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting is my life."  Psalm 39:4

How about you? Are you being worn down by a hectic schedule?
I invite you to join me in pursuing God for His answer to the speed liver dilemma.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Rebellion in Bethlehem

The prequel is polished and ready to move to the next phase.

Feel free to cover me with prayer while I learn the process of getting it into print. 

Oh, my!

I'll keep sharing comments from my EE (Editor Extraordinaire) for you to read while you wait.

"Elimelech grabbed his wrist. 'You will not speak to your mother in that rude manner. She works hard to care for us. You will heed your speech and attitudes in accordance with the messages Yahweh delivered on Sinai.' He released his grip but locked his son in place with a piercing stare."
Elimelech to Mahlon, p. 3
Naomi: Desperate Times

"Boom! Nice."  EE

*personally I don't think Naomi looked this old, even on her way back to Bethlehem

What say you?

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Flashlight Morphs into Floodlight

My LORD knows I keep moving the beam of my flashlight to find His footprints. 

I want to follow His lead and keep up with His plan of progress for my life.

He knows I'm living in a world darkened by sin and it's hard to see.

This week I caught a glimpse of the intense journey ahead.

It started the day I shoveled some snow. Nothing out of the ordinary for winter in Maine.

I didn't do much, but I came inside and I was hurting.

At first it was a vague discomfort. That night my lower back started to ache.

By the next morning it earned the title pain and I applied heat to relax the muscles. 

Three days later I had to admit I was in trouble. My lower left side felt the same way it had before my hip was replaced. The whole area was deteriorating and I was having trouble walking. My mind began to spin with the possibility that I'd injured my bionic implant. 

Then what?  =8-O

The next day I gave in and called my surgeon's office. He returned my call and, from what I was telling him, he said I likely strained my back. I did as he directed, applying ice and heat, and taking an anti-inflammatory. 

My mind started to stew over possible scenarios. I'd lifted too much weight and pulled something apart. I'd reached out too far and loosened the screw holding in the socket. Or maybe I slightly dislocated the whole joint. Each one was more dreadful than the previous.

Three days later I had to take action. I reported that the symptoms were continuing and set an appointment to be seen. Three days later still I drove to the doctor's office. From one dark thought to the next the pain became a monster ready to devour my life. 

I was sure that any problems with the bionic device, even a small one, would mean more surgery. More surgery would mean repeating the recovery process. More downtime would mean I'd have to cancel my plans, especially my Spring Tour. More forced isolation would mean feeling helpless again. More inactivity, especially after such a remarkably speedy recovery, would lead to nothing but disappointment and fester into hopelessness. 

I was convinced of every single detail.

Right there on Route 89, before I'd even gotten to the office I was caught in a death spiral. My world had closed in. Nothing but negative, even dire, possibilities remained open to me. 

If you've been following this adventure with me in any other places, you'll know how the appointment went. After extensive x-rays and a thorough examination I got a resounding message that the implant is fine. The conclusion is that I wrenched my back, causing the muscle memory to repeat the way it responded to my deteriorated hip. The tightness and spasms, awkwardness and instability were all a product of confused physical connections.

Are you with me?

The x-rays and the confidence of the doctor in what we were seeing brought my crazy-making mind to a halt. On my way out of the office I started willing my posture to be straight and my stride secure. There was a bit of stretching, but it felt good. My wild thoughts were dismissed by the facts. By the end of that day, without a single physical therapy appointment as prescribed, most of the pain and discomfort were gone. 

I considered that reality as I climbed into bed 10 long days after I moved that bit of snows. The transformation was striking. I wondered what this experience might have to do with the rest of my life. It's a question I ask myself often. Maybe that's what pastor's wives do through a life of sermon illustrations.

Whatever the reason, that's when the floodlight came on.

What if the crazy-making process is a habit?

What if every time I/we participate in it, we're actually crippling ourselves with our own thoughts? 

What if it would only take a serious look at the facts to dissolve the emotional, psychological, spiritual pain we put ourselves through?

Now THOSE are some answers to ponder.

More importantly, what if God delivered these circumstances to alert me/us to behavior that is stealing our joy? And He wants us content, fully enfolded in His arms.

In case you are caught in this dynamic, or have a friend who is (ahem), feel free to borrow my strategy. 

Habit Busting Tactics

1. Ask Holy Spirit to wave a red flag at me when my mind is pulled in a wayward direction.

2. Respond immediately by shaking myself, turning away from the destructive behavior and toward the LORD.

3. Build a replacement habit by putting a Godward activity in its place, such as remembering who He is and how He loves me, reciting or meditating on Scripture, singing meaningful spiritual songs.

If this is all news to you, praise God for His gracious gift and share this with others.
If you too are being challenged in this area, what will you do to win the victory?

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Lame Judges to be Removed

Today I received what my EE (Editor Extraordinaire) believes is the final draft of the prequel. She says, "It's EXCELLENT." And I haven't even paid her yet.  ;-)

"If the situation gets to be as bad as you're trying to make it, maybe it's the setting for Messiah to come. He'll arrive in a blaze of glory and power, get rid of the lame judges we have to put up with, and declare Himself King. That's what I'm waiting for anyway."

Elimelech to Naomi, page 3
Naomi: Desperate Times

Please ask the Lord to equip and enable me to complete my polishing and get the prequel in print.  Thank you.

Feel free to share the Naomi news with whomever you wish. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Am I a bad Christian?

God knows all our needs and meets them at the perfect time.

I've been struggling with the winter scenario and this week health issues laid me low.

Feelings of being useless started to crowd me. 

They always push me into a corner where I have to fight to see God.

My Father met me in a big way this week, reminding me of His loving and active presence in my life.

The following question from a reader of last week's post appeared in my in-box.

Am I a bad Christian ... not wanting to fight the battle yet? I am worried for my children ... it gives me sleepless nights.

I know this Mom. She's a precious sister who cares for a growing and busy family in another country. There's no way she could earn the title Bad Christian. 

No, you are NOT a bad Christian. You are a Mama who wants to protect her children as the Father gathers His chicks under His wings. In this you are reflecting His character and that is not a disgrace.
I understand your feelings of wanting to flee the threat you see. It is here too and I have those same feelings - often and deeply. How funny we humans are, thinking we can escape the path set before us by The One who lays it out. 
I'm honored to know that my words, out of my own struggle, are being used to encourage your heart. THIS is God's will for me, in season and out of season, no matter the setting, to point my sisters to the glories of the King. For it is in Him we can rest in the security of the hammock.
Let us agree to pray for each other in these things. That the LORD who made us and is jealous for our full attention will cause us to come to Him, be still before Him, and to know Him.
May He grant you this blessing this very day. Amen

Dear Sandra, thank you for encouraging me!
[personal information] 
I realize more and more that it is more important to prepare my children for a strong life in God, and that is more important than a university degree ... so we study ... but we also enjoy life and try to listen to the Holy Spirit so we can follow His will.

Hallelujah. And now YOU have encouraged MY heart.

Amen. Sister on the other side of the Atlantic!

Two women revel in who God is and both are uplifted by the Truth.

"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

"So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good."
1 Peter 4:19

How about you? Has God shown you His call on your life today?
Or encouraged you in it?       I pray so.
If not, ask Him humbly with your whole heart. He will answer!