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

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Success!

Well, for the first time ever, we have grown cantaloupes—just had one tonight for dessert, and it was delicious! I’ve tried before, but they never completely ripened before our sunshine and warm weather gave way to fall. I love living on top of a mountain, but it cuts our growing season by two weeks.  So, what made the difference?

Putting paper down. I had a 4×8 foot sheet of the black stuff left from planting our roses, so I put it in the garden and covered it with straw.  As the vines grew, I added newspaper and stretched out the straw. (The straw was really just for pretty!) I guess it worked because we now have fifteen cantaloupes! Yum! Can I find a spiritual application?  Need you ask?    cantaloupe

  1. Find what works

We have cooler temperatures, about an average of five degrees, than the surrounding lower altitudes; so covering their little roots made all the difference. It retained the moisture and the heat. How is your spiritual growth progressing? Are you faithfully spending time alone with God? Perhaps you have always done your devotions in the morning, but now that is not possible.  Have you always read through the Bible every year?  Perhaps it’s time for a change.  Something that has really helped me is to read through the Bible every other year, and then have a different plan for the alternating year.  For 2016, I’m studying the Gospels using commentaries and the Amplified Study Bible. Just seeing different words has really been helpful. The Bible contains everything we need to live a successful Christian life. Sometimes we just need to dig in and find what works!

  1. Know your situation/circumstances

Everyone is different.  We try to make the Christian walk a one-size-fits-all.  God has placed you into your circumstances and given you your set of difficulties and challenges, as well as blessings, to teach you something. The fifty-year-old woman is facing a totally different set of issues than the thirty-year-old new mom. How wonderful that we can all go to the same Source for strength and wisdom, as well as help each other.  That’s why we have this thing called church!  It’s a place where we can help each other along the way. We can read the same passage, hear the same sermon and each come away completely refreshed, challenged, and blessed because God’s Word is all-powerful! This is NOT situational ethics, but it is applying God’s Word to your situation which may be very different from mine.

  1. Be faithful!

I’ve been tempted to plant grass next year in my garden! It’s so much work and, at times, produces little fruit.  But then the Lord sends a bumper crop of cantaloupes!  Isn’t the same thing true in our Christian race?  At times, it seems all uphill with no end in sight! We’re tired, discouraged, lonely, depressed, frustrated, confused, and just plain worn out! Don’t give up!  Ask God for a little “shower of blessing.” He is SO faithful and He has given us countless promises to claim. Just when we think the race is not worth it, He does something extraordinary. Perhaps it’s just a smile from a stranger, but it’s all we need because we know Who sent it!

 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

 Success to the end. King Ahab is not known for many good things, but this statement is always a challenge to me. When a neighboring king was threatening to annihilate Samaria, this was his response:

 Tell him, Let not him that girdeth on his harness boast himself as he that putteth it off.

1 Kings 20:11

And don’t forget those famous, encouraging words from our little, blue friend:

Keep on swimming!

Best Moments of the Day!

page28_picture0_1326119104Why do we need to get alone with God?  One reason is to follow Jesus example. We will never totally comprehend Jesus as God while He was here on earth.  We do know that part of His omnipresence and omniscience was overshadowed while He indwelt His earthly body.  Certainly, He could not be everywhere at the same time; neither did He have all knowledge. When asked about His return, Jesus said, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” (Matthew 24:36) So, even though Jesus is God, He needed to get alone with His Father, God!

Imagine the setting: Mark 6:14-56 contains the following:

  1. John the Baptist is beheaded (14-29)
  2. A time of rest for Jesus and the disciples (30-33)
  3. Teaching and feeding of the 5,000 (34-44)
  4. Jesus send his disciples and then the people away (45)
  5. Jesus prays alone on a mountain (46)
  6. Jesus walks on water (47-53)
  7. Miracle in Gennesaret (54-56)

Seven scenarios, all concerning the activities and miracles of Jesus… except one.

And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray. Mark 6:46

When we consider all that Jesus had done that day, we can see why He needed some time alone with His Father! Notice that He sent the crowd away.  If we really want to be alone with God, we need to turn off the computer and phones, shut down Facebook, find a quiet place, and meet with God.  If Jesus needed to do that, how much more is it necessary for us?

May I say that there is no power strong enough to battle this world, our own flesh, and the devil than the Word of God.  There is no friend, blogger (including me! :)), or commentator who is compassionate, holy, and wise enough to tell us exactly what we need to hear and give us the comfort we so desperately need, because only Jesus knows our hearts. Ron Hamilton has captured the essence of a devotional time with God in his song, My Quiet Time.  I’ve emphasized all the wonderful benefits for you.

Before I start each day,
there is a special place
I love to go alone
and seek my Savior’s face:
I find wisdom in His Word
to instruct me in His will,
And I hear His gentle voice
say, “My child, be still.”

My quiet time alone
gives me power to obey.
My quiet time alone
with God each day.
I talk to Him in prayer;
ev’ry day He meets me there.
My quiet time alone with God.

He’s with me all the time,
wherever I may go;
Each moment of the day,
He’s always there I know.
But I need that special time
when I bow before His throne,
Just to read His Word
and talk with my Lord alone.

Amazing, isn’t it, that we have access to the God of the Universe!  He’s always there, always ready for us to put down the trinkets of this world, to stop working and running around like fiends, and just be still with our God, Savior, Creator, and King—our Heavenly Father. Take the time.  Make it the most important habit in your life. NOTHING will transform your life like spending time ALONE with God. Then, the words of this old, familiar hymn will become real in your life: and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.

O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is.
~ Psalm 63:1

My constant prayer for myself, my family, and our congregation is that the Lord would give us a thirst for His Word—that our souls would be continually refreshed with the water of His Word in this dry and thirsty land! Ah, take a long, cool sip!

 

Dancing in the Sun

IMG_7616Once again, I’ve purchased a solar-powered dancing flower.  I really love these things, and they make great souvenirs.  Every time I see it dancing in the sunlight, I picture it in the window on vacation! (I couldn’t resist capturing my roses in the photo as well.  They may not dance, but they sure are beautiful!!  The gift that keeps on giving!  Thanks, kids!)

The sun has been hit and miss for the past few weeks, and I’ve noticed something else about my flower.  When it’s cloudy, it will still dance like crazy, but if I move it, and the sunlight is waning, it has a hard time starting up again.  It’s as though it has enough power to keep moving if it’s in motion, but not enough to start going again!  I’m sure one of Newton’s Laws of Motion also has something to do with it.

But the lesson for me was this: I will only get so far in my own strength.

When I stray from the Lord, i.e.—start missing church services, lose the habit of personal Bible devotions—it won’t be long before I’m stymied.  I may be able to “put on a good front” by keeping in motion for a while, but when the trial hits my path, I’m done, and I can’t get up… alone!

Who do we think we’re kidding?  What strength do we have of our own when it comes to battling our enemies: the world, our flesh, and the devil? If we don’t stay in the Son, we’ll never be able to “dance in the Son.”  What a joy to see that little flower just going crazy!  It makes me laugh, and it reminds me of how I want to be!!!  It’s as though it’s saying, “Hey!  Look at me!  Isn’t this fun?  I’m all fired up because my tank is full.  I’ve been in the sun!”

Fanny Crosby put it this way:

I am Thine, O Lord, I have heard Thy voice,
And it told Thy love to me;
But I long to rise in the arms of faith
And be closer drawn to Thee.

Refrain:
Draw me nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To the cross where Thou hast died;
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To Thy precious, bleeding side.

Consecrate me now to Thy service, Lord,
By the pow’r of grace divine;
Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope,
And my will be lost in Thine.

Oh, the pure delight of a single hour
That before Thy throne I spend,
When I kneel in prayer, and with Thee, my God
I commune as friend with friend!

There are depths of love that I cannot know
Till I cross the narrow sea;
There are heights of joy that I may not reach
Till I rest in peace with Thee.

Jesus put it this way:

 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you…  James 4:8

His Grace – My Weakness

IMG_6932I love these dancing solar flowers!  A friend and colleague had several in his classroom, and I threatened to steal one.  (I really don’t think I would have, but the temptation was there!)  So, one day he gave me one!  It now sits on the table by my living room window, dancing merrily and bringing me great joy!

It is now 6:30 pm as I write.  The sky is covered with thick clouds promising rain before the hour has passed. Every once and awhile, the flowers will quiver slightly.  It’s really quite comical.  They just don’t have enough energy to do much else, and on a Wednesday night at 6:30, after teaching an after-school Bible Club and heading into Master Club at 7:00, it reminds me of myself – not much energy!

However, I have learned long ago (and am STILL learning) that Paul was right:

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

I’ve seen over and over again that His strength comes in when mine goes out!  By the time the kids get here and I start teaching, I am energized, but it’s not my energy!  However, I don’t believe that I’ve learned the “most gladly” part yet.  I so want His power to rest upon my life, but I’m not sure I like the infirmities thing!

 *     *     *     *     *

Well, it’s now 9:47 pm and I’m finally in my jammies, ready to relax, AND He did it again!  The strength was there, the joy was there, the thrill of serving filled my heart, and as I counseled with a family after everyone else had gone, I wasn’t tired – I was energized as the Lord helped me to know what to say.

My tank is pretty empty, I’m spent spiritually, but just like my little pot of flowers, I’ll be there tomorrow, sitting by the window with my Bible open and my notebook ready, pen in hand.  My little spiritual battery will be soaking up the Rays from the Son through His Word as my little flowers recharge as well for another day of brightening my life!

Don’t forget your deodorant!

If you’re like me, putting deodorant on is just another step in the process of preparing for the day!  You don’t really think about it – you just do it!

Well, some mornings, my schedule is off and I get running before I’m really ready for the day!  This usually happens on those rare but wonderful days when I know I don’t need to leave the house!  That’s when I forgot the deodorant!

As I rushed around the house, furiously cleaning because my time was short, I noticed something and it wasn’t pleasant!!!  Whew!  Is that me?  YES, it was!!!

Because we use the stuff every day, we may fool ourselves into thinking that we won’t stink any more if we don’t use it.  WRONG!

Do you realize that the same is true about devotions: reading the Word of God?  You may have a great habit going, and you read your Bible every day.  It DOES have an affect on your life, but you may not even realize it because it’s so much a part of your life.  However, if you skipped a day or two, believe me, you would know AND your family and coworkers would know as well.  It may take a “stinky” day before you stop and realize what has happened!

The opposite is true as well.  Perhaps you DON’T have that habit – I hate to tell you, but it shows AND if you start reading and praying and just spending time in the presence of our Lord -it WILL show!

Psalm 19:7-10 gives us a summary list of all that God’s Word does for us.  Take a look:

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul:

the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.

The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart:

the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.

The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever:

the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.

More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold:

       sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

Moreover by them is thy servant warned:

       and in keeping of them there is great reward.

Who can understand his errors?

      cleanse thou me from secret faults.

Duh!

This blog is just the opposite of most of my blogs: the spiritual will be applied to the physical!  After having Nathan home for a visit, I’ve once again put on the pounds!  He tells me not to do it, but I make all his favorite dishes!  Is that one of the five love languages? 🙂

ID-100212593

So, this morning I hit the mat and exercised.  I’m really on the cutting edge: I use an aerobic video that I’ve been using for the past twenty years!  As I was exercising, I realized that if I really want to lose the weight and be in shape, I can’t just be hit or miss about exercising and controlling my eating habits!

Duh!  I know that in my devotional life, why don’t I see it in my physical life?  Actually, I DO see it every time I look in the mirror!

I’m not sure why I struggle so with this. Devotions are like clockwork, but changing my eating lifestyle (I have learned that it’s not dieting!) is so hard!!! I LOVE to eat and bake and cook, but that’s what causes the unwanted extra weight!  So, I’m a winner spiritually and a loser physically!  😦   I WANT BOTH!

So, how are you doing?  Are you spiritually out of shape?  Have you tired of the battle and laid down your arms?  Has the habit of church attendance or devotions or prayer gone our the window?  Are you making excuses or have you just given up?

Here’s an AMAZING fact: no matter how long you have been away from the Lord or how far you’ve drifted, it only takes a single act of repentance (turning around and going the other way!), and our precious Heavenly Father is right there waiting for us, just like the father of the prodigal son!“But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.”  (Luke 15:20) However, the longer you wait, the more regret you will need to face!

I know I have an overactive imagination, but at times I look at people that have strayed and I watch them drift further and further away; and it’s as though Satan continues to wrap more and more chains about them, weighing them down with defeat until it seems impossible for them to be set free!  Oh, what joy to know that  “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Cor. 10:13)

Our Savior breaks the chains and sets us free!  There is no greater joy!  We all stumble and lose our way, but God even uses those defeats and turns them into something good – lessons that we would never had learned otherwise.

So… perhaps I’ll never be a skinny Minnie so that I can keep learning lessons to share with you!! 🙂 Enjoy the Lord’s day tomorrow!

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