Live, Really Live!

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Dear friend, listen well to my words;

    tune your ears to my voice.

Keep my message in plain view at all times.

    Concentrate! Learn it by heart!

Those who discover these words live, really live;

    body and soul, they’re bursting with health.

Proverbs 4:20-22

I wonder is that true, that most people just exist?

Do I live, really live or just exist?

Do I just go through the motions day after day?

Could I use these words to describe my life – rut, mundane, daily grind, humdrum, routine?

Does any of this sound familiar to you?

Book shelves abound with self-help books. No shortage of people willing to tell us how to live the life we have dreamed of; knowledge does indeed abound. I have read a number of them. I have them dogged-eared and highlighted and sitting on my book shelf. But truth be told, once they are put back on the shelf and life goes on, I am still me, still just going through motions more times than I would like.

Many may consider the Bible to be just another book, full of wise words, but once read, placed back on the shelf, forgotten and gathering dust. This verse from Proverbs, written by the wisest man, Solomon tells us that though that the Bible offers something the self-help books can’t. Words that bring life and health to all areas of my life – and yours.

Self-help books give us snippets of wisdom but they all require self-effort. How many of you know that self-effort is a recipe at times for disaster?

God’s word, however enters our heart with God’s power to perform what He sent it for, which is healing and bringing health to our body and our soul (our mind, our will and our emotions). All that we have to do is take the medicine He offers, apply it to our lives daily (maybe even minute by minute) and let the love and the power of God bring wholeness to our lives through those words.

God’s word applied daily may not change our circumstances, though it might. More likely though, His word will change our thoughts and our heart so that regardless of the circumstances in which we find ourselves, we can have peace and joy and a body and soul bursting with health.  That’s good news, isn’t it?

 

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pic credit: fengshuidana.com
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Oh, No There Will Be Losers!

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The LORD will make you the head, not the tail.

If you pay attention to the commands of the LORD your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them,

you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.

Deuteronomy 28:13

 

The other day at work, kids were playing basketball, using street rules. There was no referee to call fouls and keep the game running smoothly and so it didn’t run smoothly. A co-worker suggested that they just play for fun and that way they wouldn’t have winners and losers. One older boy immediately responded, “Oh, no, there will be losers!” It’s so simple, even a kid can get it! In the game of life, like the game of basketball, there will be winners and there will be losers.

It isn’t God’s desire that we be losers. He mapped out very clearly in His word the differences between winning and losing. Winning doesn’t mean a higher point at the end of the game or a raise in pay or even the accolades of others. Winning in this chapter of Deuteronomy means being blessed, blessed by God. His blessings include prosperity (sufficiency for our journey), health, provision, protection, favor, and increase in the things we put our hand to in His name. Losing means falling short of inheriting those blessings.

We can be a Christian and still lose out on those blessings. Often times, we lose because we simply don’t know that these are God’s will for us. Some people have taught that living a life of lack and want is somehow more spiritual than prospering. Please know that when I say prospering, I am not simply talking about money, although that is part of it. But imagine for a moment, your life with no lack.

Imagine having peace and joy and knowing that you are blessed by God in the things that You do. That wherever you go you are surrounded with favor simply because you are His. Knowing that what you put your hand to will prosper because He has so blessed you. Knowing that your children and your grandchildren are blessed and abound in prosperity. Would that change your day, your week, your life?

Some people will lose because they don’t believe that they deserve all that God has for them. They are right, of course, they don’t, neither do I. That’s why Jesus taking our sins is so remarkable. I don’t deserve these blessings from God, but I am heir to them because of Jesus covering me in His righteousness.

There is an “if” in this promise. This promise is conditioned upon our paying attention to the commands of God, to taking God at His word and trusting in that word even if the evidence around us tells us differently. One day the evidence will fall in line with the word of God and we will see that we are indeed winners!

Precious Jesus, what a wonder You are. Without Your sacrifice, I would be forever excluded from the blessings of our God. Thank You for allowing me to share in Your inheritance and for taking my sins so that I can have what I need for success in this journey I am on. Show me where I am failing to keep Your commands and forgive me and lead me to victory, I ask in Your mighty name. Amen.

 

 

picture credit: theprevailingethos.com

 

Exceedingly Afflicted -But Not For Long!

I am exceedingly afflicted;

Revive me, O Lord, according to Thy word.

Psalm 119:107

When this pain came on some four years ago and I realized that doctors couldn’t help me and tomorrow it wouldn’t just magically go away, I sank into a pit of despair.  I felt my life spiraling downward and inward until I couldn’t see anything but me and this pain.  I couldn’t see any way out and I couldn’t even talk about the pain. I simply couldn’t frame it in words.

I lost interest in a number of things that would benefit me, going to church, reading the Bible, praying. I would go to church, on occasion, out of force of habit and even, at times, respond to the altar call and go forward for prayer but when asked what I need prayer for all I could say was pain and break down crying. I don’t know which hurt worse – my body or my heart.

A woman I met blogging, suggested that I read through Psalms. Having no better idea, I did that.  At first, it was difficult, the words didn’t touch me at all, but after a while, I began to notice that the feelings I couldn’t put in words were beautifully written.  The pain, the sense of betrayal, the loss, the bewilderment all there.  Someone understood what I couldn’t share.  Someone had captured the feelings I couldn’t express and had laid them out for all to read. I also read of the hope and the peace and the joy that touched the writers’ lives at times and I could feel it touch mine.

And I was revived.

Not overnight, not even in a matter of days.

But I began spiraling upward and outward and began to see the expanse of light just beyond the darkness and I felt hope.

Hope. It’s such a sweet, sweet thing to feel hope when once there was none.

Sometimes, I think miracles are different than we expect them to be. I would have settled for physical healing but God knows there was a deeper work that needs to be done in my life.  There is pain that needs to be dug up, rooted out, looked at and let loose. Only God knows the revival that needs to take place in my life and reading through Psalms showed me that.  I am grateful.

I am truly grateful. Your word has revived me and I know it will continue to revive me. Thank You for the writers of the Psalms who so humbly wrote of their pain and their hope. I am humbled by Your revival in my life, that You would look upon me and see my hurt and touch my hurt in a way that can only be of You. Let Your word richly dwell in me, I pray, and bring about in my life all Your good purposes. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

 

Ridiculousness

Maybe you’ve seen it.  Ridiculousness. Maybe not. I wouldn’t have it if I didn’t have a 14 year old that loves the show.  It’s a more grown-up version of AFV and it makes us laugh. Good, deep, belly laughs. Utter ridiculousness and utterly hilarious.  Good medicine.

According to Proverbs 17: 22 says “A cheerful heart is good medicine…”

Doctors have found that laughter helps blood flow, may raise the level of infection-fighting antibodies in the body and boost the levels of immune cells, may lower blood sugar levels and aids with relaxation and sleep according to R. Morgan Griffin on WebMD.

“Laughter is poison to fear.”   according to George R.R. Martin

According to Diane, laughter warms the heart, chases away the blues, builds camaraderie with laughing partners and seems to help the burdens of the day roll away. A small part of why I like working with kids is that laughter springs up so quickly from within them and spills out to others. What joy there is in a child’s laughter.

It must fill our Father’s heart with joy when He sees and hears our laughter.  I think He intended for us to laugh, ever watch monkeys and puppies and kittens and baby goats play?  How could we not laugh watching them? If laughter is poison to fear then we should laugh more.  Let fear die and laughter live on.

Ridiculousness helps me laugh and I am grateful for that.  Do you have a favorite show that causes you to laugh?

You Father created laughter to spring up from the bottom of our hearts to overflow into a world that is full of fear and pain and confusion. Thank You for the gift of laughter and the medicine it brings to my soul and my body. Thank You for the children You have put in my life, mine and those of others I take care of, for the laughter they bring into my world, for teaching me about laughter through them. Help me to remember when pain is mounting that relief may only be a laugh away. I love You. Thank You for the joy You have brought into my life. In the name of Your joyful Son, I pray. Amen.

pic credit: en.mtvme.net

Glimpses of Heaven

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 “This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven”…

Matthew 6: 9-10

Years ago, when I was part of an intercessory prayer team, a mother asked us to pray for her daughter.  Her little girl was 4 and couldn’t walk.  She had numerous other issues and I forget what the diagnosis was but the prognosis was that she didn’t have long to live.  We prayed and then shared what we believed God had given us for this little girl.  Everyone shared that they saw her healed here on earth.  I didn’t share that because that wasn’t what I saw.  I saw a little girl about four years old skipping down a street paved with gold.  Every once in a while, she would turn her head back and smile at someone who was behind her.  Her smile and her face radiated joy and peace and happiness.  She was beautiful and full of life.  I didn’t share it because that wasn’t what the mother wanted to hear just then and I sincerely hoped I was wrong.  Unfortunately, the day came when she said goodbye to her precious daughter and released her to God and heaven.   Some time later, I shared that vision with her and it brought her a great deal of comfort.

Jesus Himself tells us to pray that God’s will would come to pass here on earth as it is in heaven.  Here and now, on earth.  I hear so many people talk of the future healing that will take place in heaven and it sounds, well, heavenly.  But Jesus, not Joe Blow, not some anchorman, not some politician, but Jesus said to pray this way.  Why, unless the beauty of heaven is to be released here on earth?  Now.  Not just later.

I’ve read about heaven but I can’t imagine it.  What I saw on that little girl’s face though convinces me that in heaven, legs that couldn’t walk here on earth will walk and skip pain free.  People whose lives were full of issues will be issue-free. Faces that showed pain here on earth would radiate peace and joy and happiness.  I’m sure there’s way more, but that right there is awesome.

And Jesus said, we are to pray for those things to come here on earth as they are in heaven.

How I long to have legs that will walk and skip with no pain and I believe it is Your will that that takes place here and now on earth as it will one day in heaven.  So I thank You. More than that though I long to see joy and peace and happiness all over the faces of those that call You Friend and Savior.  In Your mercy and Your grace You have provided for our healing here and a future that we can only imagine later and forever.  Thank You for reminding me of this little girl and her healing.  When her mother is feeling sad, would You remind her that her little girl is safe in the arms of love and living fully without issues and pain.  In Your name, I pray. Amen.

pic credit: forcatholiceducators.com

I Have A Dream

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When I was a child, I dreamed of being a National Geographic photographer when I grew up, or a missionary, or a famous scientist or a writer living on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  I wanted to “work for God” but not in the nursery or making quilts and there were no other women in my life working for God in any other capacity to be my role models.  There were no go to people in life I could discuss this with and so I never could figure out where and how I could “work for God”.

When I was asked to leave home at sixteen, I stopped dreaming.

Life became about survival and getting by and working and finding the next party.  And then recovering from the last party.  Dreams didn’t come.  I quit thinking about one day and what I might be when I grow up and how I could work for God.  People say dreams die hard, but I don’t agree, this dream crashed and burned and was over with- in an instant.

It began to stir in me, somewhat years later, when I attended Bible school.  I was surrounded with people who had dreams – big dreams.  Dreams of working for God, of making a difference in people’s lives, of being a part of bringing about the kingdom of God.  And they could put feet to these dreams.  They knew they were going to start a church or go to this mission field or launch this ministry.  Me, I knew nothing.  Try as I might, I couldn’t conjure up a dream.  But I was aware that there was an emptiness inside me, a dream size emptiness; I just couldn’t find the dream to fill it.

Until now.  Now my dream is just this – I want to see people walking in all that God purchased for them by sending Jesus to the cross.  I want to see people living victorious and joyful lives and not just trudging through.  I want to see people healed – physically, mentally, emotionally and able to enjoy every day of the days they have been given on earth.  And I want to see all my family, friends, neighbors, kids I work with, and co-workers when I get to heaven.  The party to end all parties!

This blog is a small step towards that dream.   What about you, do you have a dream you’d like to share?  I’d love to hear about it.

Jesus, You are the resurrection.  The One who resurrects dreams, the One who gives dreams and helps us to bring them to pass.  Raise up the dreams You have placed in Your people, stir them up and help us to put feet to them.  However You define working for You, help me to do with joy.  In Your name, I pray, Amen.

Focus

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I used to take tons of photographs in the days before digital cameras.  This meant finishing out the roll of film, taking it somewhere to be developed and waiting the allotted time and going back to get them.  I would grab the package and eagerly open it to see my pictures for the first time.  Some were disappointing and others were great.  One thing I would notice though from time to time is that people’s heads were cut off in my pictures.  I was so busy looking at their faces that I failed to look and see how their faces fit in the camera.  I ruined a number of pictures that way.  Digital cameras help me see my mistakes so much faster and I like that.  But still I make mistakes and forget that the camera sees what I forget to look at.  With cameras, what I focus on is what will develop and that’s not necessarily the same as what I want to have developed.

Focus means to direct one’s attention to something.  We focus on things throughout our day.  Things we purpose to focus on and things that just intrude into our field of vision.  Regardless of whether these things are there by default or design, our focus can determine what will develop in our lives.

What are you focusing on?   Pain, prescriptions, symptoms,  bills stacking up, the doctor’s report?  Or are you focusing on the promises and character of God?

I can’t always control what comes into my field of vision, but I can purpose to focus on what I want to see developed in my life.  For me, that is the character of God, the promises of God, including healing, the peace of God, the joy of God.  Those can’t develop in my life if I don’t focus on them.

Father, when my focus needs adjusting, would you nudge me?  Would you whisper in my ear, get my attention off of the things that take my eyes off You and Your goodness?  Please develop in me what You planned and purposed for me from before the foundations of the world as I train my eyes on You.  Amen.