The Source of Strength

I have been reading and meditating in Chronicles this morning. I know, not a book of the Bible that one would first think to go to for a devotional time, but it is the book where we find the call to pray, followed by the promise of God to heal our land.

Now, sound familiar?

2 Chronicles 7:14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

A few phrases particularly stuck out ot me – humble themselves. First off, what has put our world in such a panic during this recent Pandemic? – a virus! In all our wisdom, intellect, accomplishments, fortitude and the pride that accompanies such things, here we find ourselves stifled and restricted by a microscopic adversary!

It’s not that we have not achieved some great things. It’s just that collectively we have forgotten to give credit and gratitude for those things where it is due – to our God and Heavenly Father, who spoke the very world into existence and gave us the ability to think, create, learn, and reason. Humility, something we need to remember and consistently walk in.

close up photo of ram

Photo by Trace Hudson on Pexels.com

I symbolized this call of humility with a drawing of a ram’s horn in the margin of my Bible. In it I see strength and skill, but with it a reminder that even the strong need to be humble.

Seek my face – what does that mean? As believers isn’t God always near, that I should not have to seek Him? Why are we to seek His face? This refers to a continual mindset on our part. Being ever conscious of His presence and acknowledging Him. Another verse in Chronicles says this:

1 Chronicles 22:19a Now set your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God.

Setting our mind is an act of the will and an offering of our time. John Piper says this:

“The setting of our mind is the opposite of mental coasting”

I love that! When we mentally coast, our guard is down and our awareness of God is weak and the enemy can fill our minds with all kinds of things: fear, anxiety, depression…

The portion of the 2 Chronicles passage we often never get to, after the part about God forgiving and healing our land, is this:

2 Chronicles 7:15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place.

Wow! His eyes will be opened, His ears attentive! Our posture of humility, in seeking His face stirs our God into action.

2 Chronicles 16:9 For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.

He seeks us out! Not just casually watching over us, but He is in active pursuit. I have the mental picture of a mom who has lost her child – fervently, intensely, seeking with an all-out passion to find, nurture and protect. And to think that my posture of humility and seeking God’s face can elicit such a response from my Father. And, what is God’s purpose as He seeks after us? To give us STRONG support. He will strengthen our hearts!

Doesn’t that just give you encouragement? That’s my prayer today for you and me, to receive strong support today from our God who loves us and sees us and to pass that on to bring those far from God near.

Less mental coasting
-news binging
-living in fear
-isolation

More seeking His face
-Being in the Word
-Utilizing our prayer closets
-distance socializing over social distancing
(reach out, make a phone call, Skype a friend, support a neighbor)

We are His people, and He will heal our land!

Tis the Season

I have a Christmas present all wrapped up in a drawer at home. Now for those whoPolka-Dot gift know me that might not seem unusual (a little crazy maybe, but not unusual) since I LOVE Christmas and often buy gifts all year long. Because I am an experienced mom and grandma I will sometimes wrap the gifts so that inquiring minds who want to know, can’t. This gift however, is different. It is one from last year. The recipient, or intended recipient, for reasons of his own, never got it. So there it sits, unopened, un-enjoyed.

Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts! We are filled with the good things of your house, of your holy temple.  Psalm 65:4

tagsThis verse in Psalms tells us that God fills us with good things. He gives us good gifts, but how often, for reasons of our own, do we leave them, unaccepted, un-enjoyed? Maybe we don’t believe they are really good. Maybe we think we are unworthy and don’t deserve to receive, or maybe we are suspicious that there may be strings attached.

I personally know people who live like this daily. I’m sure I miss out from time to time, too. God could be holding out a good gift and I am hesitant to take it because I don’t know what’s inside. I stare at the gifts, labeled with my name, but am often so unwilling to open them. I allow my reservations to take over, leaving the gifts unclaimed. I know the abundance meant for me from a loving and merciful God. I have received good, good gifts and yet I am sometimes content to live in my own poverty.

As we build a trust relationship with the Creator, we know His heart and His desire for our good. We are blessed when we come near to God and He will fill us with good things… if we only let Him.christmassock

A Good Investment

With tax season upon us we tend to think a lot about sustainable-investmentwhere we are financially and how our money has worked for us in the last year. I’m not really investment savvy. I know that an investment wisely chosen can reap great rewards, but that’s about it. I trust someone else to help me wisely invest. But in the end, the outcome, whether positive or negative, is mine.

God’s economy works the same way. When we invest in the right things we will reap good rewards. The obvious big picture here is the investment in a relationship with Christ which will reap eternal rewards, but what about on a daily basis?

Our own financial investments can rise and fall, but what about our investment in the eternal?seeds

My financial invest is a daily thing – buying and selling at opportune times. So is my spiritual investment. We reap what we sow, so I’d better be about sowing well – chucking seeds as my Pastor would say. Positive words, encouraging advice, acts of service, kindness, forgiveness, patience and sharing Jesus all reap the rewards of what is sown. Proverbs 14:14 tells us that the faithless and the good will both reap returns, so I need to ask myself,

“how do I want to invest for a positive, eternal return?”

Throwing Seeds

How are you investing in the eternal?

The Perception of Reality

Some days are just made for blogging. Today is rainy but warmish where I live, and this April morning finds me under a large multi-colored umbrella in my backyard amongst the beautiful blooming flowers and green grass. But my desire for transparency will not allow me to portray myself as the perfect girl, in the perfect life, in the perfect setting, so let me also say that there are old pool noodles and some broken lawn furnishings that need to be thrown away, some peeling paint on the back of the house, and now a little gift from my always-wants-to-be-with-me loyal companion on the last remaining spot of brown in our drought-enduring lawn.

rainon watera.jpg

These latter things can bring me down sometimes, with the reality that our work is never done, our finances never quite reach the back yard, and our grass is never quite green enough. Often I can let the beauty that is all around me become absorbed by the imperfections that mingle alongside. But the real reality is that I control the direction I choose to look. In my own mind and heart lies the ability to perceive the reality around me.

How I choose to view things is much more the controlling force of my reality than the actual things and circumstances that exist around me.

So, today I choose to look the other direction. In that view, the beautiful waterfall and the drops of rain gently rippling on the surface of the pool remind 2016-04-09 12.38.54me of God’s presence in a world full of distractions. The sound of the rain on the umbrella above my head reminds me of the peace only found in listening to the voice of Jesus through the pages of scripture. The enemy is constantly trying to turn my head. He wants me to see the broken areas of my life and the piles of nastiness that exist around me. He wants me to focus on the cracked and crippled actions of others and the hurt that can blur our vision. But when I choose to be directed by the Holy Spirit, then I see the beauty that God creates from ashes. I see the ability to forgive others and turn from bitterness and pain and can be free to take in the view from His perspective.

The true reality is that I can choose how to view my world. I can observe it from a seat that only sees and feels hurt, pain, and brokenness or I can see beyond the immediate and into the beauty; the reality that only God can bring about. So today, when someone cuts you off, or cuts you down, or when you greatly lack in the mirror of comparison, I urge you to choose a different vantage point. From a different perspective you will see how God wants to bring beauty into your world. Pull up a chair next to me, and let’s remind each other.

An Uphill Battle

A friend of mine recently bought a bike. she will be using it to improve her health on a few different levels. I have a bike I love to ride, but since I don’t do it often, the first ride is always the toughest. Because I ride more for pleasure than exercise, I am wise to choose the most level route around my community. I enjoy the strain of the periodic uphill strides but welcome the downhill coasts. There is a peace that comes from being able to relax and enjoy the ride.

I am enjoying this same peace in my heart and life as I lift my feet from the pedals and more and more allow God to move me along. On my bike, when I reach a small incline I am almost unaware of it until the moment I hit the point of decline. At this point I realize how much harder I had been working to get where I was going and the releif was one I didn’t even know I needed. I have spent much of my life this way, constantly straining, laboring uphill unaware of how much less stress comes from allowing God to provide the power.
coasting bike
I’m becoming a master at coasting now and what a view I had
been missing! Previously occupied by worry, control, comparison, inadequacy, etc, I rarely experienced the full beauty of Gods provision around me. Now, more often than not, when I start to pedal I remember my life’s bike is Holy Spirit powered, no need for manual pedal-power.  I don’t recommend the road it took me to get here and there’s still occasional bumps and dips, but as long as I keep my feet in the air and my eyes on my power source, there is peace in the journey and I can sit back and enjoy the ride.

Hong Kong in the Rain

My friend just returned from a wet, cold trip to Hong Kong. Though I have not heard all the details from the trip I know she visited a young missionary family there. In a communication to update her prayer team she mentions that this couple used to live in So Cal where they both enjoyed careers as pharmacists. In the middle of their busy and routine lives, they heard the call of the Lord to serve Him in Hong Kong, where they now live with a permanent residency status.

hong kong high riseIn one of her communications, my friend “introduced” us to this young couple.
Explaining the efficient use of space in their modest 875 sq. ft. home on the 39th floor of a high rise, the 2 congregations they pastor and the way their daily lives are methodically laid out to serve God so completely brought tears to my eyes. To have one’s complete existence so engulfed in a single-minded vison to serve God daily brought both joy and sadness to my heart. I desire to live this way, yet so often I do not.

We have so much, yet use so little here in the states, I thought. Our cares are
many, our distractions often encumbering and our focus divided so many ways we scarce know where to turn. Time for God? It often escapes us. Oh, we may slip it in as we check off our list for church attendance (2 out of 4 weeks). Daily serving Him? It can be an elusive dream. But this young couple seems to manage being completely enveloped in this kind of service of God in their daily life! They do it! The very thought of that overwhelms my heart and ignites my desire to do the same.

I don’t have a “life Verse” as is so popular these days, but one verse that I have come back to over and over again, when I struggle to find meaning in my work or daily activities is this:

Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.

Did you catch it?

Whatever you do.

Whatever.

There are many things to be done in my day. Tasks to Hong Kong rain
check off the list, some put there by others, but sometimes, that human master is me and
my own expectations, task lists, and distractions. The daily focus of this young missionary couple is singular in intent; to make disciples. Daily trips to the market, afternoon teas and rearing children are all encompassed in this one mission.

So it may not be that I am distracted, as much as I need to see where God is working in and around me. When I make a trip to the market, when I lead a study group or enjoying time with family I need to do it as working for the Lord. I need to have in my mind constantly, the singular focus of making disciples; coffee house disciples, pint-sized grandchild disciples, and everyone in between. It can be done.   It. Can. Be. Done!rail side cafe

So today and for days to come, I will begin my day asking for God to renew the singular focus He has for me; to make disciples. I may not be a missionary in Hong Kong leading 2 congregations and multiple BSF’s,  but I am a missionary in my community with my own “whatever you do’s” and there are so many around me who need to know Jesus. I’ll start here!

A Model of Love

I love my dad. He’s gone now, for many years. I miss him. Valentine’s day would have been his 90th birthday had he lived as long as his parents before him. He wasn’t much of a story teller but he was friendly and social, so he did talk some.
He loved me!
I saw it more and more the older I got and the more I understood his love language.
I’m not a story teller either but because there was so much about my dad boys and gpaand his life, and our life together that I wanted to know, that he never told, I thought it would be nice if my kids had stories about me, and me and them, and their family, to remember or to pass on.This was originally why I attempted a blog.  So, on this, his birthday, I will share this story.
I know it from my mom that my dad was a high school drop out. From a little town in Iowa, he apparently felt school to be a bit less important, less interesting, than an afternoon at the pool hall. One of six kids, second to the last in birth order, perhaps he didn’t think he would be noticed if not at school.
pool hall
Don’t know how he met my mom but I have pictures of them as early as high school. I know that both sets of my grandparents knew each other but since my granny (on my mom’s side) was a bit of a wild one (another blog) I doubt they hung out at church socials together.old house
Dad was at least raised, if not born in a small 2 story house in a little town called Eagle Grove. Three bedrooms on the second floor and a bathroom. Living room, dining room, and kitchen on the main floor and a sizable basement with plumbing below. As he tells it he got in a fair amount of trouble as a youngster, but never spoke of anything other than the pool hall to me. His parents, in love until they died scan0004in their 90’s, provided love, stability and good role models for my dad and his siblings.
Pool hall or not, enough of their love, hard work, and Jesus paid off because my
dad became an amazing man; kind-hearted and good, and he, like his father before him, loved his wife until the day he died. They say the best thing you can do for your kids is to love their mother. And the example my dad set for us was rarely in word but always in deed. As I watched, I learned. My children are like him in many ways.
Our Heavenly Father sets a good example for us – in fact, the best example. He loves us so!  He forgives us when we mess up, shows us kindness and mercy, and loves us with an unfailing love! It’s up to us really, what we do with that. We can see it, learn from it, make it a part of our life, and pass it on to others, or we can ignore the wisdom of the Word and the example we see in Jesus Christ and just go on hanging out at the pool hall.

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!

1 John 3:1

Doggie Bobo

Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. 2 Cor. 7:1

In my quiet time this morning I came across a passage that reminds us that we need to perfect holiness, and when we do by keep ourselves away from the indulgence of sin, God’s promises grow within as His sons and daughters. It goes on to tell us that we do these things out of reverence for God. I stopped to think about this word reverence (also translated “fear”). It is kind of a word we don’t use much anymore and then, when we do, we throw it around so casually that it loses the true depth of its meaning.

Recently, at the wedding of Bible
our friend, my grandson had the honor of carrying the rings down the aisle. He did so, not attached to a pillow as many do, but gently tied on to a Bible that had belonged to the bride’s mother, now passed away. So, on many levels this Bible was to be respected, revered, and held in awe. As I tried to explain to my grandson the magnitude of the meaning of this symbol, both for it being the very Word of God and also for the value it held sentimentally, I struggled to give him an example of something so precious that He could identify with. He loves Jesus on a level deeper than most 5 year olds, so reminding him that this was a book about Him was easy, but to really grasp its importance, I needed to compare it to something he values greatly; Doggie Bobo.

B and Doggie Ba

We are not sure how he got his name, but Doggie Bobo is often referred to on the same level as the family’s real dog. Doggie Bobo comforts Bentley when he doesn’t feel well, sleeps with him, and has a place of high value in my grandson’s heart. He would never hear of allowing someone to treat him poorly, throw him around or otherwise disrespect him! To the degree of a 5 year old’s understanding, he would want reverence for his little stuffed companion.

doggie boboaOn a deeper, more mature level, we need to have respect for, and revere God, but in like manner. We would never want anyone to mistreat Him, throw His name around or otherwise disrespect Him. And that includes us. So Paul, here in 2 Corinthians, is reminding us that there are certain ways we are to act, both to show our respect, and out of our respect for God; out of our deep reverence and awe for who He is and for what He has done for us.

 

There is nothing that takes my breath away more than standing at the base of a beautiful waterfall. Looking up at the enormity of the scene, the massiveness of the rush of water, and the beauty that surrounds it; I stand in awe, amazed. I can do nothing else but give reverence to the creator of such a masterpiece. On a daily basis, I can show this reverence by striving to perfect holiness with a love for God and others, like one might have for say, a Doggie Bobo.

 

The Boomerang

I must have more memories of my childhood than of my boys childhood. At least that’s how they make me feel when I can’t remember something they can. My memories of my childhood are sporadic and often with few details but there are lots of them. Maybe for the boys, I was just too busy and harried to remember the same details they can remember. Perhaps I was just thankful to make it through another day.

childhood memories

The ones I remember the most are the ones that were especially tender to me, the ones we have photos of, or the ones we just talk about a lot. You know, the ones we don’t have pictures of because they involve something that may have made us look like bad parents. One such story is the day Patrick got hit in the face with a boomerang.  To me its just another “raising boys” story, but it practically traumatizes him to this day when he thinks about it.

 

boomerang3

 

As I remember it it goes like this.  Patrick was little, maybe 5 years old, playing in the front yard. We were living in a not-so-great area so the front yard was only to be played in if I was out there with them, or watching from the window while folding laundry, or the like. The little boy from across the street came over to play. As I remember him, he was younger than Patrick but then again, he is a permanent 3 years old in my mind. Anyway, he had a new boomerang and was going to show Patrick how to throw and catch it. Boomerangs always come back, right? That’s where the joy lies.

boomerang4

I cannot remember if it was the first time or the fifth time the boomerang got thrown but the little boy threw the toy up in the air expecting fully for it to come back directly to his little hand and instead it hit my son right on the forehead! It must have hurt since pain can still be read on Patrick’s face every time we relive the story. (and we do re-live it!) We didn’t take a a picture (that’s where that not wanting to look like a bad mom comes in…) and we didn’t go for stitches either, so for now we’ll just say it hurt… a lot!

boomerang6

God’s love is like that. Well, sometimes his tough love does smack us in the face, but what I meant was that when we give it away with the right heart, by serving and sharing with others, like an aptly thrown boomerang, it comes back to us, landing just as we would expect; right where we need it the most.

 

Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full – pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.     Luke 6:38

Garbage in…?

Phil 4:8
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.
 
Many years ago in Sunday School (we won’t say how many..) we used to sing a song that went, “oh be careful little eyes what you see…” . It went on to proclaim that our ears and our mouth should follow suit. The popular picture of covering one’s eyes, ears, and mouth went along with this line of thinking depicting a protection for our minds. Such images are not as popular today as it is more acceptable to take the attitude of anything goes.
garbage in garbage out

For years I have told my kids, “Garbage in, garbage out” regarding what they allow their eyes to see and their minds to be exposed to. We know that when we allow ourselves to be bombarded with things contrary to the Spirit that we can become numb to their impact or confused at their sinfulness. A movie, a TV series, media and even the news often depict a world where it is acceptable that each person determines his or her own standard for right and wrong. But the Bible warns us that garbage in will not lead to spiritual health. We must dig in and indulge on things that are good and true.


In my health journey I’ve become more aware that what I put into my body healthy fooddirectly impacts my results. Good, healthy, whole, fresh foods allow my body to work properly. This produces energy and strength. I feel good and my mind is clearer. I didn’t feel as good before but I didn’t know it because I had grown used to how I felt, oblivious that there was something better.

So it is with our spiritual diet. If we allow the world to dictate right and wrong, and we participate in its offerings, pretty soon the lines will be blurred and anything (any garbage) can and will occupy our mind-space. 

Since we constantly take things in, we need to be more deliberate about just what our eyes see, our ears hear, and our minds are exposed to.

Hear-No-Evil-See-No-Evil-Speak-No-Evil

…if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about SUCH things.