Just For The One

images

 They arrived on the other side of the sea in the country of the Gerasenes. As Jesus got out of the boat, a madman from the cemetery came up to him. He lived there among the tombs and graves. No one could restrain him—he couldn’t be chained, couldn’t be tied down. He had been tied up many times with chains and ropes, but he broke the chains, snapped the ropes. No one was strong enough to tame him. Night and day, he roamed through the graves and the hills, screaming out and slashing himself with sharp stones.

Mark 5: 1 -5

Doesn’t sound like much of a life. Probably a lot less of a life than this man imagined for himself. Much less than his parents imagined for him.  According to the story, much less than God imagined for him.

How do we know this?  Before Jesus and His disciples arrived on the other side of the sea, they had to cross that sea. They encountered a storm.  Jesus stilled the storm and they continued their journey.  They could have turned back, postponed the journey, left it for another day, but they didn’t. They pressed on.

Arriving on the shore, they were met by this man. He isn’t described in a very flattering way. Probably most of us, encountering him, would move away quickly.

Let someone else help him.

I have enough to do without adding this man to my list.

Besides, he probably deserved this. Probably chose to continue in behaviors that led him here. Probably walked away from family and treatment and help and now was only reaping the fruit of those decisions.

Just walk on by.

Not only did Jesus not just walk on by, but as we read on, we discover that as soon as this man was delivered of the legion of demons that tormented him, Jesus and His disciples got back in the boat and sailed back across the sea.

There was no one else and nothing else on their agenda that day besides delivering that man of the demons. The Bible doesn’t tell us of anyone else healed over on that side of the sea on that particular day.

Not all, not the many, not everyone who came to Him.

Just this one man.

This one man we could so easily pass by.

Jesus went out of His way to heal, just this one man.

Which raises this question in my mind – what wouldn’t He do for me?  For just me? What lengths would He go to to touch me, heal me, deliver me?

Since He is no respecter of persons, what He did for this man He will do for me.

And you.

I am so humbled when I think of You going out of Your way to touch my life. If I were the only one, You would have still gone to that cross on my behalf. Even now, there isn’t a storm that can keep You from me. No journey You wouldn’t undertake to set me free.  Thank You Jesus. Thank You for pursuing me when no one else would. When nothing of my life appeared worth the effort, You made that effort anyway. Thank You.  Amen.

 

pic credit: youtube.com

 

 

 

Do Not Worry – No, Really, Do Not Worry

images (1)

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.

Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.

Are you not much more valuable than they?  

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Matthew 6:25-27

I could be a professional worrier. I used to have an odd believe that crept up on me unawares, I believed that if I worried about something enough, it couldn’t happen.  Odd, I know. When my oldest daughter began driving, I worried about her getting in a wreck because of the roads being bad (Montana ice and snow roads) and I worried that she would drink and drive and I worried that someone else would drink and drive and an accident would occur and on and on. Seemed to be no shortage of things I could worry about regarding her driving. There was something addicting and oddly comforting about worrying. Surely those things couldn’t happen because I worried about them enough.

When her car became airborne and hit a power pole several feet up in the air, none of those reasons were the cause. A neighbor chose to check his mail by parking on the wrong side of the road and when my daughter came around the turn, she saw headlights in what she thought was the other lane. She drove to the right of them, right into a power pole.

My worrying had accomplished nothing. Even in my wildest worrying imaginings, I couldn’t have come up with this scenario. I’d like to say I learned my lesson about worrying, about what a waste of time it is, but alas, I didn’t.  My worrying had no power to prevent anything. Worry only stole from me. Worry stole my peace and my ability to enjoy the present moment. Worry gave me nothing in return.

“When God tells us in the Bible not to worry,

it isn’t a suggestion.  It’s a command.

Worry and/or anxiety is specifically mentioned twenty-five times in the New Testament alone as something we should avoid.”  

Joanna Weaver

Apparently God takes this “Do not worry” command seriously and understands our propensity we humans have towards worrying.

Maybe one antidote to worrying is found in this verse in the question – “are you not much more valuable than they?”

 The more I believe in God’s love for me, the more I can trust in His care for me.  

I am more valuable than the birds in the air and He feeds them. He will feed me.

He watches over them. He will watch over me.

 He created them and designed them to be unique.

 He created me and designed me to be unique.

He hasn’t turned his back on the birds. He won’t turn His back on me.

Heavenly Father, how gracious You are. You know me intimately. You know the minutes, OK the hours, I spend worrying when I could be talking to You. You have proven Your love to me over and over again. Please forgive me for the times I allow worry to preoccupy my mind and my time and my affections. Thank You that my life is in Your hands and You lovingly watch over me and mine.  You are truly  a good God.  Amen.

 

Cast Your Cares

images (1)

Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.

1 Peter 5:7, AMP

Nothing takes God by surprise.  Nothing. Life takes me by surprise often. I make my plans, set my goals and wham – a diagnosis, a new pain, an unexpected expense, a relationship turns sour – and I am surprised.At my age, I should no longer get surprised. Life happens and sometimes, it is more of a kick in the gut than a stroll on the beach.

Even so, none of this surprises God.

Reeling from the news can send me in two different directions. I can flip out and rant and rave and stress out and lose sleep.  Or I can cast my cares on the God who saw the storm coming and has already mapped out a plan.

Ever gone fishing?  There is prep work to be done, getting the right size line and hook on the right size pole for the fish and picking the spot and the time of day and the bait. But once that hook is cast out into the water, the results are out of your hands. Not much to do but wait at this point. I am not a fisher-woman primarily because I hate waiting (and I am not too wild about cleaning fish).

When the bad news comes, there is only so much I can do and then I have to leave the rest in God’s hands.

What might this look like? For me, it means making a conscious decision to control my racing thoughts. Purposing to focus on God’s promises (one is all I need) instead of the evidence surrounding me isn’t always easy.  It requires a discipline that doesn’t come natural for me. Far more natural is for me to give into to worry and stress.

This verse tells us that God watches over me, over you,  in love. He cares for us affectionately. Nothing about our life escapes His notice and while we are trying to figure it all out, He is behind the scenes working it all out for us because of His great love and concern for us.

Worrying says, “No thanks God, I’d rather do this myself”.

Dr. Phil would say, “how’s that working for you?”

Two choices – cast my cares or keep them – I get to choose.

How about you?  Done any casting lately?

If you would like prayer, I would be happy to pray with and for you, let me know. K?

 

 

pic credit:  first-nature.com

 

 

System Of Inequality and Divine Healing?!

images

 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

3 John 2:2

I have been in hot pursuit of divine healing for upwards of twenty years. Healing is promised in the Bible and numerous verses can attest to that fact. I have read them and memorized them and confessed them and put my trust in them and still I am not healed. My pursuit continues.

I read this verse a while back. No doubt familiar to those in search of divine healing  – every book on the subject I have read has included it. But this day, I saw the promise differently.

Instead of seeing it as an iron clad promise of healing, I saw it as an algebraic equation. Weird, right? It struck me as a system of inequalities. On one side of the equation are the variables of prospering and being in good health. On the other side would be the variable of our soul which is our mind, our will and our emotions. Three variables on one side and two on the other.

The question becomes what symbol is between the two sides. Is it an equal sign or not equal, greater than, less than?

My desire to be free of physical pain has so occupied my quest for divine healing that I never even considered the other variables that combine to make my health, holistically speaking.

I simply didn’t care so much about the others; I wanted to live free of physical pain. But God, in His wisdom, knows how much I need all of these variables to be healed if I am going to live the life abundant that has been promised. He is a holistic healer.

I have had to relinquish my ideas about how my healing would manifest and give God permission to heal other areas of my life, even if that means I continue to live with chronic pain while He balances out the equation.

What about you? Are you in need of healing?  I would love to pray for you and join my faith with yours for your healing.

If you have a testimony of how God has healed you, I would love to share it here with others who need encouragement.  

pic credit: pinterest.com

Hurricane Ike Band

imagesCAMET0M0


He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.

Psalm 107:29

In September of 2008, my son and I flew to Houston for a weekend. My daughter flew down from Montana and we all stayed at my sister’s house.  We made these reservations long before we knew Hurricane Ike was headed right towards Houston.  Having grown up in Houston and being very familiar with hurricanes, we began the work of preparing for possible disaster.

We bought food and water and put things up that were outside and boarded up what windows we could, rounded up flashlights and batteries and the radio.  All that was left to do was pray and wait.  Hurricane Ike hit Houston in the middle of the night.  The winds were howling, rain was pouring and all power went out and the city was dark.  When we got up the next morning, we surveyed the damage and realized we were housebound for several days along with the rest of the city as workers worked to get roads open and power on.

My sister has two guitars, a piano and a keyboard that didn’t require electricity and we started playing songs.  We spent a long time singing and playing instruments and laughing at our not so good songs and marveling at our great ones. We called ourselves the Hurricane Ike Band!  It was a wonderful, memorable time together waiting out the storm.

You may not be going through an actual hurricane.  I certainly hope not, but what storm howls at your door and causes you sleepless nights? What answer are you waiting on?  Are you in need of divine healing that hasn’t come? Waiting stinks, but it doesn’t have to.  We could have huddled over the radio listening to all kinds of bad reports and wrung our hands and made ourselves sick with worry, but we chose instead to create music.  Peace in a storm is possible.  Remember when Jesus was sleeping on the boat when the storm hit the lake and the disciples freaked out?  Jesus woke up, calmed the storm and the disciples were left scratching their heads.  Who is this Jesus?

Jesus is the calmer of the storm, the peace in the midst of bad reports, the Comforter who holds us through difficult times.  Whatever the storm of your life is, He is greater and He is for you not against you.  Isn’t that something to sing about!

Jesus, calmer of my storms, thank You.  You are always present, always here for me no matter what the circumstances of my life may be and I am so grateful.  Thank You for keeping me safe through the storm and giving me new songs to sing.  Help me, I pray, to remember that when the storm comes I can count on You. Amen.

 

pic credit: texascoastgeology.com

A Special Secret

images (1)

I have learned the secret of contentment in every situation  

Philippians 4: 12

Paul didn’t have a particularly easy life. It may not have gone the way he planned. Maybe he thought following Christ would make his life easier. I mean, don’t we think that at times?  Paul was in jail as he wrote this letter, facing probable death if he wasn’t released. He could have twiddled his thumbs, he could have slept the day away, complained, grumbled, started riots or felt sorry for himself or gotten angry at God and indignant about the things he was going through because after all, he was doing this stuff for Christ.

But he didn’t. He wrote letters to the people he wasn’t able to hang out with, people that for all he knew, he would never see again. He had no way of knowing that those letters would be read today, cherished today as a large part of the New Testament.

We all go through times where our life isn’t what we thought it would be. Oh, we may never be imprisoned for our faith, but let’s be honest, somewhere between Once Upon A Time and they lived happily ever after, things can go horrible awry.

So what do we do when we find ourselves stuck in place that wasn’t our choice, didn’t fit the trajectory we had for a life?  We have choices of what to do while waiting for the way out.

Paul tells us he discovered a secret. A secret that got him through shipwrecks, beatings, and imprisonments. A secret he wasn’t born knowing; it had to be learned in the ups and downs of life, but one that sustained him through the good and bad. He learned the secret of contentment.  Contentment may be defined as being more than ok on the inside in spite of what is taking place on the inside. Having peace and rest in me regardless of the turmoil outside of me. Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?

It behooves us then to know this secret and fortunately for us, he shares that secret with us:

 “for I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power”  

Philippians 4: 13

The best part about this is I don’t have to do this myself; I don’t have to conjure up contentment. I don’t have to fake it til I make it. I just turn my eyes to Jesus, the One who lives in me, the One who gives me strength and power to carry on contentedly, knowing that the ultimate outcome of this present situation is in His hands, in His timing and will ultimately be for my good and His glory.

pic credit: lockerdome.com

A New Start

 

images

If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land;

Isaiah 1: 19

When the Israelites first came out of the wilderness, before they entered the Promised Land, they encamped at Gilgal.  It was a stopping off place for the Israelites. They were no longer in the wilderness where they had been for the last forty years, but they weren’t in possession of the promised land either.

The forty years leading up to this time in Gilgal had probably been marked by frustration ( when God when?) and unanswered questions (why God why?) and may have left them wondering if they would ever get out of the wilderness. Ever feel that way? You thought you were headed somewhere but it has taken so long to get there that you have given up hope?

These Israelites  were born in and grew up in the wilderness. They didn’t learn about faith from their fathers, they didn’t learn about fighting or even hunting. Basically, their skills for survival were limited. Their skills for taking possession of enemy owned land, even less.

But God brought them to Gilgal where He rolled away the reproach of Israel, all the shame and dishonor that came from being slaves rolled off leaving them better prepared to start afresh in a new life, one they could barely imagine.

It is easy to think when we go through a wilderness time, that our live will never be good again. That we will never get out of this, never have another chance and nothing about our life will amount to anything. That this time spent in the wilderness is such a waste. But that is not the message of Gilgal.

As God cleaned up the people and began preparing them to start a new life, I picture him looking over their resumes for transferable skills that would be useful in the promise land.

First, He would see that they know how to grumble and complain.

Second, He would see that they know how to set up and take down tents.

Third, He would see that they know how to gather manna.

Not terribly useful skills for their new adventure, but then He saw it:   they know how to wander; they had walked in the wilderness for forty years.

And so, He came up with a battle plan to take their first city – Jericho.

All these Israelites had to do was walk around the city with their mouth shut until God said to let loose the battle cry! These men knew how to walk and God saw a way to use that to lead them to victory.

God would do the rest.

They did what they could do, God did what only He could do and they took possession of their first city in the new land! They were willing and obedient and God used them to take possession of Jericho.

If you are in the wilderness, don’t lose hope. God isn’t angry with you nor has He abandoned you or forgotten you. He can take what seems like waste and use it to lead you to the victory you may have given up hope of every seeing.

It’s a new year and this could be your year to take hold of what God has planned for you! Hang in there!

 

 

pic credit: relentless.taketheinterview.com

Shoulders

When confusion’s my companion
And despair holds me for ransom
I will feel no fear
I know that You are near

When I’m caught deep in the valley
With chaos for my company
I’ll find my comfort here
‘Cause I know that You are near

My help comes from You
You’re right here, pulling me through
You carry my weakness, my sickness, my brokenness all on Your shoulders

Your shoulders
My help comes from You
You are my rest, my rescue
I don’t have to see to believe that You’re lifting me up on Your shoulders
Your shoulders

This song by for King and Country has been stuck in my head for days now. Usually when that happens God is trying to tell me something. I have a list right now, it’s not short, of things that concern me. Things that if I didn’t give them over to God every few moments, would consume me. They wake me up at night, they are my first thought in the morning and they dog me throughout the day. I try hard to not let this show on my face, come out in my words, but it’s there and I see it and hear it. Probably no different than any one else going through a difficult patch. One line in this song that stands out to me is this:

I don’t have to see to believe that You’re lifting me up on Your shoulders

I don’t see the answers; I seldom do. But I know they are out there. Maybe a moment away, maybe days away or maybe months away, but they are there. Waiting is hard work for me. Sounds like an oxymoron doesn’t it – waiting and working? But for me they go together hand in hand. I have to work at keeping my thoughts in control, I have to work at choosing peace, I have to work at letting go and not having answers. It wears me out! But I have tried throwing tantrums and they don’t work. I have tried taking matters into my own hands and that doesn’t work so well. I tried denial for a very long time and while it did work for a while, it didn’t work all that well. So now that I have looked this situation square in the face and seen it for what it is, now that I have let go of the things I can’t change and thrown my temper fits, I have nothing left but to wait and trust that God is lifting me up on His shoulders ever though I can’t see it. He is pulling me through even though I can’t see that either. I do know this – the day will come when I will look back on this episode of my life and say with certainty – He was there all along!

download

Who’s Job Is It?

images (5)

 It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin.

You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live.

You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience.

We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat.

It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us.

Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us.

He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us!

Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.

 Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus.

Saving is all his idea, and all his work.

All we do is trust him enough to let him do it.

It’s God’s gift from start to finish!

We don’t play the major role.

If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing!

No, we neither make nor save ourselves.

God does both the making and saving.

He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.

Ephesians 2: 4-7  Message Bible

Left to my own devices, I could be a stagnant mess, a worrier, a control freak, a hyper-vigilant fix-it-all person. One look in the mirror, one honest look tells me that I couldn’t fix myself much less anyone or anything else around me. It’s good to know I don’t have to play the major role in fixing my life or anyone else’s for that matter. Jesus took that role; He saw me when I was a terrible mess and reached out a hand and I have been clinging to that hand ever since. Well, mostly ever since. Ok, actually only when I find myself stumbling and know I can’t get up on my own. In spite of what I know about my failings and His grace, I still let go of His hand way more than I should, thinking I’ve got this when in actuality, I don’t. I never did. I never will. I need His grace every minute of every hour of every day and I am so grateful that His grace is available to me and that He showers it upon me and there is still plenty left over to shower upon you in spite of the fact that we don’t deserve it? Isn’t that awesome?

pic credit: tabernaclefortoday.org

Gardening… Again?

images (1)

“The seed cast on good earth is the person who hears and takes in the News,

and then produces a harvest beyond his wildest dreams.”  *

Matthew 13:23

 Gardening season is upon us here in the Pacific Northwest. Neighbors are out working up their soil and planting seedlings. And so am I. I don’t have a green thumb but I try almost every year. I think I will learn from my mistakes; this year I will do better. I have discovered that I am really good at starting things and pretty bad at seeing things through to completion. I imagine the harvest; the juicy ripe tomatoes, the cucumbers turned pickles, the fresh strawberries. Problem is that between the planting of the seed and the harvesting of the seed, there is a season that I call work. There’s pruning, weeding, watering, fertilizing, pest control, etc…  and in the heat of the summer, egads, I would rather be at the river.

God’s word is likened to a seed. A seed that needs to be planted, weeded, and watered to grow and produce the harvest in our lives that make our lives meaningful. Whatever laws we may be able to skirt around, we can’t skirt around the law of seed-time and harvest time. The problem comes when we fail to realize that between those two times, there is a season that is easy to overlook. The season of weeding and pruning and watering. I can’t read the Bible once and put it back on the shelf like I can other books and simply move on to the next book and have the seeds that were planted while reading it come to harvest. I water these seeds by the daily reading of the Bible.

I can purpose  now to water the seed of God’s word in my life daily but daily I have to make the decision all over again to do just that.

A decision that is simple to make but simple also to not make.

I know because I have been guilty of not making that decision numerous times. Then I wonder why peace and joy seem so difficult to find. If I want the harvest that comes from the seed of God’s word, I have to tend to it. It’s that simple. That means I may have to turn off my phone or computer or tv for a little bit. I may have to say no to some things in order to say yes to this thing.

images (4)

 I think it comes down to this: what kind of harvest do I really want in my life?

 

* this from Jesus

pic credit 1: biblefunforkids.org

pic credit 2: familylifewinners.com