“What’s Your Problem?”

ID-100122418We may have heard this phrase or even used it in a harsh, accusing way, but I’m asking it with a heart of concern. What is your problem? You may say, “I don’t have a problem.” Good for you! Or, you may say, “Where do you want me to start?” Then others might smile and say, “Nothing. I’m good,” with a smile that tries to cover a breaking heart but doesn’t quite get to the eyes. You know what I mean.

I’ve recently discovered something: God’s grace. How does that really work? I’m learning that it only works when we do several things:

  1. Speak the truth in our hearts.  He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart (Psalm 15:2).”
  2. Turn our cares completely over to God. “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5: 7).”
  3. Stop trying to salve the hurt with other things. “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me (2 Corinthians 12: 9).”

How do you deal with hurt? So often we turn to other things for our comfort and don’t even realize we’re doing it! Like…

  • Hobbies – We get busy with a craft or exercise at the gym or parties
  • Home – Ladies, we clean fiercely, or cook extravagantly, or spend lots of time redecorating or rearranging furniture
  • Work – We throw ourselves into our work, spending long hours away from home, especially if the problem is at home
  • Internet – We fiercely display all our pent up anger, hurt, disappointment, frustrations, or whatever on a social media page. We vent.

All of these things, except the last one, are not bad things.  They may even take away the pain for a while, but in the end, we’re right where we started: dealing with a situation that we cannot change.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.

 

This poem has long been a favorite of mine, so much so that I put it to music way back in high school! Its simple truths continue to circle back into my life.

When we turn to other sources of relief, we are like a child with a splinter.  We squirm and cry and dramatize, making it more difficult, if not impossible, for the “splinter-remover” to do his or her job! Is that why God had David write Psalm 23? “He MAKETH me to LIE DOWN… He LEADETH beside…”

He knows what is best. We can’t fix it. We can only rest in His grace, allowing it to soothe when nothing else will soothe. Only He can calm the soul. Only God and His grace give peace.  Is it a “once and done” thing? No, my friend. When the problem continues, so does the possibility for angst and the need to once again sit at the Master’s feel and sense His sufficient grace!

Moth in the Window

mothinthwindow-layout_300It was just a moth stuck in the bathroom window this morning! I’m not one of those crazy (I take that back—they’re not crazy!) kind-hearted people who take insects outside instead of squashing them, but this guy was so frantic… and big, I didn’t want to make a mess!

So, I released the screen to let him out only to find that he was between the top and bottom windows. Now, I’m holding the screen out the window and trying to move the windows so he can find his freedom. I just about gave up, but, hooray! he was able to brave it and fly around the wooden frame and out to his world.

Lesson # One: He was so close to freedom but wouldn’t make the leap away from light to clear the window. His instinct told him that if he just headed towards the light, he would be fine, but his instinct manual didn’t include any instruction about glass! When am I afraid to go “Beyond Common Sense” and do something extraordinary for God? What is it that I’m trusting to be the right way, but it’s not? Hmmm?

Lesson # Two: His way was the wrong way. Proverbs 14:12 tells us that “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Yikes! That’s pretty serious! Believing in anything but the Blood of Jesus Christ is the wrong way to heaven. It’s really frightening to think that “good” people will be in hell but look at Nicodemus. He was a really good guy, but if he had kept on his “right” path of good works, he wouldn’t be enjoying God’s presence right now!

Lesson # Three: Patience! I was ready to give up on the poor stupid thing! After all, if he couldn’t figure it out, it wasn’t my fault. How many times do I become impatient, perhaps giving up on someone when a change of heart is right around the corner?

Finding God’s message in the mundane—He has so many lessons for us! What a wonderful heavenly Father we have!

Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness. Psalm 143:10

Who are you?

Tigger_pose_Ah, the Hundred Acre Woods! It’s filled with those loving characters created by A.A. Milne. As I was reading a story from the Winnie-the-Pooh collection it came to mind that we all may be characterized by one of those personalities! So, who are you? I would like to think that I’m Piglet—sweet and lovable, but, if I’m honest, I’m a Tigger. I relate to his bouncy, happy-go-lucky character. But it made me wonder if I’m also as annoying as Tigger can be to his friends! Hmmm! I’ll need to think on that one! Perhaps I need to make some changes!

So, which Bible character are you? That may take more thought and be more beneficial in shaping you into who God wants you to be. Of course, as women, we all want to be the Proverbs thirty-one wife or picture ourselves as an Abigail or Esther, but the truth of the matter is, as my husband was preaching on the woman at the well, I realized that I was very much like her! No, I didn’t have five husbands and never lived with a man, but her whole demeanor and self-righteous attitude really struck an uncomfortable chord with me! Her past did somewhat resonate with my own pre-salvation life, as much as it could for a seventeen-year-old. And while her salvation experience sparked an 180-degree turnaround, mine was more of a five year slow U-turn as I eventually joined a strong Bible-preaching church. Each bi-weekly gathering filled my heart and soul with God’s amazing truths, and I was ready to receive the milk of the Word. It drastically changed my life!

Ultimately, the answer to the question, “Who are you?” needs to be Jesus Christ. As His followers, we will spend our days on this earth trying to be more like Him. It’s an amazing process and truly takes a lifetime to accomplish! We will not reach perfection until we see Him face to face, but every day, as we read His Word and talk to Him in prayer, that two-way communication has its way of molding us into His image if we are willing to allow it to shape us. Our sweet Savior is so patient with us! His love is beyond our human understanding in its greatness—it’s “unconditionalness!” But then, He sees us through an eternal lens, whereas we are only given a pair of finite glasses!

John said it the best:

He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:30

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord,

are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

2 Corinthians 3:18

For the Birds (and me too!)

As I sit here watching two male Rose Breasted Grosbeaks having breakfast at my feeder, I see a wonderful lesson for believers, actually several! 🙂

It’s a droopy rainy day, and they’re both hunkered down under the little overhang on the feeder.

  • We come to God’s Word to be nourished and find shelter there from the annoying drip, drip of daily life, as well as from the storm!

As they eat, I see a pattern: pick up a sunflower seed and then look around as they chew, their heads jerking to the left and right, scanning the area for an enemy.

  • Am I on the lookout for my enemy?
  • Do I even know who my enemy is?
  • Do I understand his strategy, agenda, and incredible perseverance to destroy me?

I have never seen a hawk at my feeder, and yet the Grosbeaks are on the alert. Am I that alert about my enemies?

  1. The world – it comes in all shapes and sizes custom-made to attract each of us! Enjoying the pleasures of this world are not wrong until they push out our devotion to God.
  2. My flesh – it is SO strongly bent the wrong way. If I were a Grosbeak, I’d be happily delving into my delightful breakfast, chatting, laughing, singing and never once thinking about any danger! We live in our flesh.  We know our flesh better than anyone else (well, except maybe enemy #3!) Does your flesh cause you to stumble away from the peace and joy of serving Jesus?
  3. The Devil – Old Scratch! What a wonderful name for him! He makes the itch in our lives—makes us uncomfortable in so many ways! He sows thoughts of unbelief. Remember… “Yea, hath God said?” You’d think he’d get a new slogan, but he doesn’t BECAUSE THE OLD ONE WORKS EVERY TIME! He sows doubts about God and His Word. He stirs up strife in the family of God. I could go on and on, but instead just remember this:

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. 1 John 4:4

Do I need to be aware of my enemies? Yes, but unlike the Rose Breasted Grosbeaks, I understand that I am safely sheltered in the arms of my Eternal, Omnipotent, Ever-loving Father! My enemies are powerless against my Father!

 

Daisy went Crazy!

Inkedsolar_gadget_c012b_lrg_LI.jpgDo you love to clean? I love a clean house, but cleaning always seems to be at the bottom of my “To Do” list! This morning I noticed that my little solar flower seemed a little slow. When I took a closer look, I noticed that the solar panel was pretty dusty, and I’m sure you can guess: When I cleaned it off, Daisy went crazy!

We have an energy pack inside us as born-again believers—it’s the Holy Spirit. He was placed there the moment we received Jesus Christ as our Savior, and He is full of power! It’s like a new phone or computer. Wow! Once the battery is fully charged, it shocks us at how long it stays fired up, especially if we’ve been limping along with a dead battery. (I’m speaking from experience!)

You know, I didn’t dump a ton of dirt on my solar Daisy, it just collected dust from everyday living. And you probably already see the lesson!

Unlike my solar Daisy, I need DAILY cleansing if I’m going to make a difference in this world! How quickly the grime of this world gets us down! It’s a battle out there and we need to be completely charged and ready!

Another thing I’ve noticed is that Daisy dances crazily in direct sunlight. Application: go straight to the Word! I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again! 🙂 Devotionals are great, radio and podcasts are great, books about the Christian life are great, but none of these can affect our lives like words straight from the Bible! It’s powerful stuff, and yes, we sometimes need help from others to understand and apply it to our lives, especially as new believers. But if you’ve been saved for any amount of time and still aren’t flying solo, you may want to check the reasoning behind that.

It didn’t take long to clean up Daisy, just a swipe of the finger, and it doesn’t take that long to get reenergized from the Word either. Here’s a handy checklist to promote success:

  • Pray and ASK the Lord to speak to your heart. Asking gets us focused on the Word and our need.
  • Confess – sin is the dust, and a clean vessel will receive the power faster and better!
  • Use a journal. I must say, I’ve joined the 21st century—I use my phone like crazy! I read my Bible on it, highlight verse, and make notes. And the nice thing about it is that I have it with me (most times!) and can pass on the blessings!

So… get crazy! Stay clean with the Word and go out there and shine. Sadly, in this dark world, you really don’t need to do much to shine and make a difference!

  For the word of God is quick (alive!), and powerful , and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

Bible Expert?

12733-Bible_Devotional_Coffee.800w.tnHow well do you know your Bible? Does it make a difference in your daily reading, if you know who Benjamin is or what the Thummin and Urim are? Do you care to know?

I’m reading through the Bible again this year with the help of a Bible app on my phone. It’s a wonderful tool.  Sometimes I just let the guy with the British accent read it. Other times, I need to read it a bit more slowly to get God’s message for me!

I often tell my piano students that theory is like knowing that “cat” is a noun.  It may not help you read better, but it makes more sense.  To know that “C-E-G” makes a C chord may not help you to play better, but it makes more sense; and in the end, I really believe that it will help you to play better.

So, will I understand the Bible better if I know who Benjamin is, or what the Thummin and Urim are? Will it make a difference if I know that Galatia is an area and not a city? Will it help my understanding of the Bible to understand Jewish traditions? For example, Paul probably found Lydia and the Philippian believers meeting at the river side because Jewish law required ten men to form a congregation! Now I see a small group.  I understand the faithfulness of those women to gather even though they had little male leadership.  It comforts me, as a woman, to know that even if our congregation has a lot of women, it’s okay! We can still accomplish God’s plan.(even if men aren’t available or willing to lead, God still works with women.)

Do you study the Bible?  Are you taking time to understand it better? Will that understanding help you to apply it more effectively to your life? I think so. 

We have so many Bible helps at our fingertips.  We have pastors that are faithfully preaching and teaching us the Bible. Are you taking advantage of all those opportunities? 

When our children were in Christian school, everyone had to take Physics.  Our daughter really struggled with it, and, night after night, her father would sit at the kitchen table helping her with her homework. It frustrated me because her piano practicing often was put on hold because of Physics. Which subject do you think she uses more today as she plays the piano every Sunday for church? Struggling with Physics taught her diligence and perseverance, but the example I’d like to share is this: What subject is taking your time away from studying the Bible? Are you an expert cook, clothing designer,  bargain shopper, sports enthusiast, chauffeur for the kids, TV show fanatic, party attender? Does time for your favorite or necessary interest overshadow the greater need?

As my husband often says, “What will matter the most one hundred years from now?”  That statement has a way of putting everything into perspective!

O LORD, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep… Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God… They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing. Psalm 92:5,13,14

Do I Love My Mother?

Lovely-Happy-Mother-Day-2016-Wallpapers-PicturesThis is really a challenge to mothers. I’m listening to Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery, and the main character just confessed to a friend that she doesn’t like her mother, never did. The following is an excerpt from the book:

 

“Why,”—she [Valency] had a desperate desire that Barney should know the worst about her–“I didn’t even love my mother. Isn’t it awful that I don’t love my mother?”

“Rather awful–for her,” said Barney drily.

The statement made me stop and think. Why was it awful for her mother?

Children come into this world with no bias, no presuppositions, no prejudices. They will become what God plans for their lives, and we have the opportunity to mold them. As believers, we desperately want our children to love God and desire to keep His commandments, so we take them to Sunday School and church.  We read the Bible to them, and most importantly, we live godly lives before them.

My husband and I have three grown and married children. All of them have this mindset, and yet they worry that their children will not embrace their beliefs. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I tell them that THEIR HEART’S LOVE AND PASSION FOR THE LORD is making all the difference.  Are my grandchildren perfect? Of course. J No, they are all little sinners, but to hear them talk about God already at a young age, and see their faithfulness to church warms my heart and gives me hope. It’s a reflection of what is happening in the home!

Will a child hate a sweet, godly, submissive, gentle, kind, caring mother? Most likely, no. Even in the trials of teen years, the stage will have been set for a loving relationship: communication is normal, reasoning is biblical, decisions are made together with the parents. There is little room for hatred.

In the book, Blue Castle, the reader can clearly understand Valancy’s dislike. Moms, can we be honest enough to look in the mirror and see what our children are seeing? Better yet, can we be honest enough to look in the mirror of the Bible and see what God sees?

Wanda!  This is not very encouraging for Mother’s Day! Oh, my friend, but it is! You can’t do this apart from the Holy Spirit’s help, coupled with a desire to change! I know a mother’s heart. What is most pressing on a mother’s heart? Hopefully, it is to please her Lord and Savior, but the close second is to raise her children right! Will you be willing to change to become a better mom? It isn’t easy! It hurts! It can be a lonely place until we get serious about the issues that are making it difficult for our children to like us.  They will always love us, but do they like us? Oh, the blessings will abound when we are willing to become more Christ-like!

Little by little, inch by inch.

By the yard it’s hard, by the inch it’s a cinch.

Never stare up the stairs, just step up the steps.

Little by little, inch by inch.

~ Ron Hamilton

 

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18