Category Archives: Challenge

Stickability

  I have a variety of postage stamps bearing different denominational values. Though the price of the stamps was paid for, they are of little value if I just let them stay hidden in a dark drawer. Their value is not realized until they are used for the purpose they were created for. Each stamp, like us, has a value and purpose.

   A first class stamp on a postcard is functioning beneath its intended purpose. It can easily do the job, the postcard will be delivered, yet the stamp was meant for more. Likewise, if a first class stamp meant to send an envelope were placed instead on a package, it’s not likely to succeed in seeing the packaged delivered. Like stamps we need to understand our value and assignments.  Sometimes an individual stamp is all that is needed, other times it needs partnered with others in order to accomplish a task.

   A postage stamp also needs “stickability”, a stamps true value, or usefulness, is only realized based on its ability to stick to its assignment, an envelope, until it has been delivered. As Christians we also need stickability, which is a person’s ability to persevere with something; having staying power. In tough and uncertain times we need to be able to stick to our faith unwaveringly; to stick to reading the Bible, to prayer and times of devotion. In the face of persecution or opposition, do we have stickability to our convictions?

   Hebrews 10:19-35, is a call to persevere in faith “Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings”…”Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching”…”Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.”

   Let’s be like stamps – have stickability to our God, faith, purpose and assignment – to the end!

For Such A Time

worshi - onlineWho knows but that for such a time as this you are here?  We all have a reason for being. God has plans for each of our lives.

   In the midst of her fears and a desire to remain silent, Queen Esther was challenged to take action in dire times, by the words “For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”  Esther 4:14. Rightfully so, Queen Esther was scared; after all, she remembered what happened to Queen Vashti when she stood her ground.

   What would the Lord say if we sat down to ask “What time is this Lord, and what would you have for me to do?”  Let us imagine the scene, a loving Father looking at his beloved child with a proud Papa’s heart, taking delight in our willingness to ask tough questions and willing to act. Would He begin with…

Live, live life, live it to the fullest, let your light shine before men, live without fear of them. Let your life draw others to me. Be a source of encouragement and love. You can speak truth in love; you do not need to be silent for fear of offending people. They need what you carry; the peace you walk in that only comes from me. I have blessed you, be a blessing to others. Be vigilant in prayer. There is a spiritual battle being waged. The fervent prayers of righteous men (and women) avail much. Prayers turn the tide, the inflow of evil is pushed back; like saltwater entering into tributaries is pushed back by the outflow of fresh water, prayers push back the evil tide. Where fresh water is – life flourishes.

   What else would Papa say as we intently listen on?

   What questions could we ask? In such a time as this – what have I come into the Kingdom for?  If I had no fears, what would I being doing in this season of life? What is God stirring within me and what has He placed in my hands to use?

   For such a time as this we are here!  God has plans for our lives.

Will You Be Mine

rose after rain-online  Have you noticed some dating couples are content with a casual relationship? They spend more time with their individual friends and separate interests than with each other? Then other couples desire to be around each other frequently, pursuing similar interests and common friends. Someday, they will fully commit to each and marry. Other individuals know after the first or second date that this is the person they will spend the rest of their life devoted to; the relationship is full of passion and devotion. The woman anticipates the day her beloved asks “will you be mine?”

   Do you see these types or relationships playout in the spiritual realm? Some accept Jesus Christ as savior, have their “fire insurance” so to speak; they are safe from hell but only spend time with Jesus once a week; they are content with a casual relationship, not wanting to fully give up all their old ways. Then others upon accepting Jesus pursues a deeper relationship, you begin to see lifestyle changes as they grow in faith, they enjoy being with Jesus and other believers; yet the ways of world still has some draw. While other individuals leave no doubt when they say yes to Jesus; having heard Him ask “will you be mine?” they are completely sold out, head over heels in love, fully committed with radical life changes. They strip off all the old garments abandoning their former lifestyle in pursuit of the One who loves them the most and set them free.

   I marvel at married couples move in sync with each other like a well-oiled machine, gracefully flowing together in a beautiful dance of life. They sense what each other is feeling or thinking without a word spoken; always being attentive to each other, wanting good for them.  I marvel even more when I see individuals flow in sync with the Lord, dancing the dance of life together. They carry the beautiful presence of Jesus; the fragrance of heaven is on them. They are tuned into what the Lord is doing and strive to do likewise. They seem to embody the oneness Jesus speaks of in John 17:21.

   When you take inventory of your spiritual life, where do you fall? Casual, sold out, or somewhere in between? Do you hear Jesus asking “will you be mine?” Jesus the Groom is already committed to us; the question is where are we in our commitment to him. He doesn’t want, and I might add He doesn’t deserve, a casual relationship with us. He desires a bride who will be committed to Him, forsaking all other pursuers.

   Have you? Will you? Say yes… whole heartedly?

Ready, Set, Live

Margie - Burney Falls #1   I heard of a gentleman who worked in the library of a newspaper agency where files were kept on people. People were divided on shelves between the living and the dead. One day as he was looking through the ‘dead people’ section spotting a file on Jesus Christ, with no one looking he moved the file into the ’living people’ section.

   As we go into the New Year where do we have Jesus filed? Is he in ancient history, gone the way of the dodo bird, or is He alive in our lives?  Yes, He is the Ancient of Days; yes He died, but His story didn’t end there and neither does ours. There is no tombstone bearing the inscription “Jesus Christ, Son of God…He lived, He died, He will be missed”. Jesus rose from the dead, is alive today, as is his promises.

   Some people are just here; they exist but don’t really live.  In John 10:10 Jesus states “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly”. Abundantly means exceedingly, beyond measure, great plenty, amply supplied. What an offer He has for us! With all offers we have a choice to make, do we accept it by coming into agreement with what the Word says is for us, instead of aligning with the gloom and dread with no hope of something better, that we often hear around us.  I for one lived in that world of no hope for too long, I have no desire to return to it; let’s choose the abundant life as we forward.

    Before we start thinking gold, silver, yachts, expensive mansions, and more money than we know what to do with, I think Jesus’ perspective on abundance is not material possessions. Many people have great wealth and vast possession yet are hopeless and depressed. Jesus is not against money or possessions – after all Psalm 50:10 says “For every beast of the forest is mine, And the cattle on a thousand hills”. Money is a source to meet our needs and a way to be a blessing to others, not the source of our life’s purpose. There are things of greater value than money can buy such as: an abundance of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, true friendships, salvation and eternal life, plus an intimate relationship with the God of the universe.

   This abundance is available through relationship with Jesus, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us”. Paul instructs us to “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God”. Is your life hidden in Christ? If not it can be, refer to “Finding Freedom in God’s Perfect Peace”, in this paper.

   Are you ready for the New Year? Are your eyes set on things above? Are you ready to live, really live?

 

Whose Voice

exotic bird-onlineI was taking a trip to Oregon; having done this countless times I have my route down with a preferred cut off which takes me from the highway over to the interstate I need. The evening before I left a friend asks if I had tried this other route they take, stated it’s a 10 mile straight shot which would put me on the interstate much quicker. Quicker sounded better so I thought I would try it, after all they sounded sincere in their directions.

   The next morning I turned at the designated location. GPS kept giving me a course correction back to the original path I was on; this is normal for a little ways before it recalculates a new course. A few miles into the “straight shot” the main road curved right. The straight road seemed less traveled so I called my friend to inquire about it, I was told to go straight, don’t take the curve. Driving down the straight road I become uneasy as it began looking desolate and foreboding. GPS kept saying turn around. I decide to abandon my friend’s advice and head back for the curved road. After I am on a path that will eventually lead to the interstate I receive a call, my friend looked on maps after my call and was now apologizing for giving me bad advice. They had thought of taking that road but realized they never had: further it did not lead to the interstate as thought.  The supposed shortcut actually added extra time, miles, and hardship to my drive. We were able to have good laugh and learned a valuable lesson.

   How often in life do we listen to a sincere voice only to discover it was sincerely wrong? Satan constantly tries to tell us all sorts of lies, they may sound good on the surface and even desirable, but are not for our well-being; remember the forbidden tree in the garden. The GPS, like the Bible, wants to show us the right way to go. If we go astray it will give guidance on how to get back on the right path. My friend didn’t intentionally lead me astray, however they are not guilty alone in my waywardness – I still had the responsibility to verify their advice instead of blindly following it. The same thing is true when we receive life or spiritual advice – we need to compare it to God’s word to make certain it aligns, so we are not led astray whether intentionally or unintentionally.

   Jesus said, My sheep hear My voice…and they follow Me. The question is – whose voice are we listening to? If it’s not Jesus’, He allows U-turns; He invites us to make a course correction back onto the right path. We were given a road map called the Bible; like any map we need to read it in order to know the way to go.

   Lord, open our ears to hear your voice.

I’m Ready!

Bible PicWhat do you do when your loved one say’s they’re ready to go home – ready to be with Jesus?

   Even when you have heard the doctor’s report, know the test results, and see health declining, it does not fully prepare you for the moment when your spouse says they are ready to stop treatment and to be with Jesus.  It was no more a subject I wanted to discuss then, than I desire to write about now, except that hopefully someone is encouraged. The weight of the statement implied that I would become a widow; something difficult to contemplate. Nevertheless there was a white elephant, figuratively speaking, in the room that must be addressed, to ignore it – though not fully possible, would create its own issues, an uneasy tension, or even shut down communication at a time when it’s needed.  Death is an individual experience, yet, the dying process affects all those connected with the person; and just because they are nearing the end of their earthly life does not mean their feelings and opinions are no longer valid, that they are not concerned for loved ones, or have matters to settle.

   It’s prayer time! Time for a frank one on one conversation with the Lord regarding what’s going on, all the wild emotions, concerns, questions, doubts, and fears;  a time to hide nothing and a time to listen. Then to take time to bask in His loving presence, to receive His encompassing peace, being assured of his promises and faithfulness, to gather strength, courage, and guidance to face what is ahead. I find when I’m at peace it’s easier to have the difficult conversations; to clearly address concerns and know better how to pray for and with others.

   Having first settled matters with the Lord, I was able to discuss all that was on my husband’s heart with relative calm. I was able to see from a different perspective, not by looking down from my point of view at the situation, but from a knelling position in prayer and humbleness, looking up to see from his; with God’s grace I found the strength to say it was okay for him to leave if he was ready to go. For some individuals facing the end of life it helps having permission to go, it lets them be a peace instead of struggling between wanting heaven and feeling they have to remain because of loved ones. A hard prayer is – Lord, you know his hearts’ desire, be gracious to him, please don’t let him suffer; keep him in peace.

   Is it easy? NO! But, scripture tells us God will be our strength: ex: Ps 29:11, 10:17, Isaiah 40:29, 40:31, 41:10, 58:11.   In difficult times we must “Trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not on our own understanding” Prov. 3:5, and believe God works for the good of those who love him…. Rom. 8:28.
What now? Pray, trust God, love unconditionally.

How To Pray?

  Pray - onlinePray? Yes… I believe that as long as there is breath and life there is a plan and purpose.
  We heard the Oncologist report, did not dismiss it, however – wanted to also look for the Lord’s report. My friend Tammy adds a perspective “did God say he had 5-6 months? God is the one who determines when his children enter this world, He number their days. He is the one who determines when they will be with him on the other side of the physical world. It may be five months or five years, each day is to be lived in Him and He will be there for each day.”
   Most of us have heard stories of individuals given a year to live and passed away in one year, some given a few months then in a couple of weeks breathed their last, yet others given two months were still doing well two years later.
   I appreciate doctors and happen to have a wonderful personal physician who is a believer. I value the wisdom God has given doctors; I respect what they do and how they try within their abilities to help.  I am also of the mindset if I am going to follow man’s instructions to take a prescription three times a day – I should also be praying three times a day to the Great Physician for healing; who knows – perhaps the situation we face is the perfect set up for a miracle.
   The question is how to pray, a broad and varied territory. Praying in great faith has not always been easy, when my faith and belief lacks confidence I pray as the father did in Mark 9:24 “I do believe, help my unbelief”. We are all given a measure of faith, it grows by exercising it. Pray how we know and watch it grow.  Find scriptures to pray that apply to the situation at hand.
   Sometimes my prayers are simply those of tears – but the Lord understands them. Romans 8:26 “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words”.
   With changing prognosis and passing time it broadened my spectrum of prayers, no longer simply for healing but strength equal to the day, for the plans of the Lord to be fulfilled, peace in the midst of the storm, wisdom in decisions, the ability to show grace, to have an understanding heart for what the loved one is going through, to not become bitter or impatient. When at a loss on how to pray there is a powerful but simple prayer Jesus teaches in Matthew 6:10 “‘[Father let] Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven”.
   What do you do when the loved one say’s they’re ready to go home – ready to be with Jesus?
   Next month…

What To Do

Sherry fb picWhen there is an unfavorable diagnosis it’s surreal, after all I believe God still heals today; in April we celebrated the sacrifices Jesus made, Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. My Bible says that by Jesus’ stripe we were healed. He did it once before but why not, yet, this time? I have experienced personal healing, witnessed others healed, prayed for individuals who received healing, including cancer; so what’s different? It is certainly an age old question but of this one thing I am sure, God’s word is true, he hears our prayers, and does heal.

   God desires to heal as he desires to save. Psalm 103:2-3 “Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits:  Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases…” We know not everyone is saved but it doesn’t change the fact He desires no one be lost; not everyone is healed but it doesn’t change the fact that He desires to heal. There are some things that may remain a mystery in this life.

    So what to do? That is an enormous question! I can only attempt to offer thoughts that are not all inclusive and based on where I am and have been when a step-daughter and parents passed; facing each one brings different challenges – as it does now with potentially a spouse.

   Trust and hope, a great place to start, even in the dark night hold on to them; even if the outcome is not what we may prefer God promises to always be with us, the thing I have found is I have to let Him into the situation and not hold him at bay or blame him.  One scripture tells us to comfort others as we have been comforted, another says He sent the Holy Spirit to give comfort; if we were never going to need comfort I doubt He would have told us these things. Sometimes his comforting presence is tangible, other times he sends people to us to give comfort, to be strong when we are not. I find being vulnerable in some situations not easy, in part from being in a leadership role or when others need encouragement; I think, but not that they do, they expect me to be stronger and grounded in faith, yet at times I find my eyes moist with a tear escaping; but God can’t help or send me help if I put up a facade that all is well. Hebrews 10:25 is taking on a personal meaning “not forsaking our own assembling together [with other believers], as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another”. I am grateful for my brothers and sisters in the faith, we need each other.  When we face difficulties – it does not always mean it is not well with our soul.

   Pray? Yes!

   Pray how?

   …continuing next month

Looking Beyond

meerkat-onlineI had a dream last night in which I was telling a neighbors daughter, who was helping her mom clear the abandoned garden, that I liked dead veggies. After a while of laboring she asked if I really liked dead veggies, she was thinking it would reduce her work if able to give me the seemingly worthless vegetables.

   Some toss aside a cabbage or head of lettuce when they see wilted leaves, yet when the outer layers are removed exposing the inner leaves there is good to be found, there is still value in what outwardly seemed worthless.

   Isn’t that what the Lord does with us? He looks beyond the outside appearance to what is inside. Consider the sons of Jesse, one would be anointed king. Samuel kept looking at the outside, but God looking inside rejected each until the one son, who was not even considered by his family, or even called in from the field, was brought before him, that was the one God chose. Inside the boy was a man of strength and courage who killed a lion and a bear, who would one day kill a giant who dared to defy the God of Israel; a shepherd boy who would be a man after God’s own heart.

   When we see others are we looking at the outward person measuring them to our expected norms, acceptable appearance, mannerisms, and contribution to society? What about the person on the street corner holding a sign asking for money? Do we see a panhandler, a lazy person, an irresponsible deadbeat, or perhaps an unkempt drug addict? Do we take the time to stop and hear their story or just brush them off, or look away not even acknowledging their presence?

   A few years back I was in Sacramento for meetings rushing from the parking garage to my location several blocks away. There was a man who looked like he had not bathed or washed his clothes in some time and appeared to be sleeping on the sidewalk next to the building. I gave a weak smile, a little nod and faint hello never slowing my pace, but his words “thank you for acknowledging me”, nearly stopped me in my tracks, they struck a nerve; is that not what we all at the core want, to be recognized? Our existence acknowledged in some small way; a kind word or look that says we matter. I think of the lepers, tax collectors, harlots, and other non-acceptable people in society, that Jesus had no qualms speaking with or even touching. He took the time to look beyond the exterior that caused others to pass by on the other side of the road, and underneath He found there was something of value; He found you and me.

   Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10, He ends it saying “Go and do likewise”.

   Let’s peal some leaves and look beyond for the good…

What’s On My Mind

Bengal Cat in the SunYou ask Me “What is on Your mind?” There is lots on My mind, everything in the universe and beyond; each one of my children, and all of creation. For you, however, it’s to say I love you, glad you have come to spend this time with me. Today is going to be a special day, I have plans for you in it, plans your eyes, spiritual eyes that is, need to be open to see. So many times what I have for my children is missed as they only see with natural eyes and not their spiritual ones.