Day Dreaming

Have you ever just sat staring at the different cloud formations in the sky?  Beautiful, yet sometimes so complex!

How about when you’re in a plane on an overcast cloudy day.  Suddenly as the plane flies higher and higher, all of a sudden you find yourself breaking through to clear blue sky.  Underneath all you can see are clouds expanding for miles and miles.  It looks suddenly like you’re gliding on top of marshmallows – you’ve suddenly been transported to another world.

his mercyI love to stop and gaze at the clouds.  What tremendous artwork given to us by our God!  And oftentimes, that’s when I will allow my mind to wander…

Such as the other day.  I was looking outside my window – day dreaming, I guess you’d call it.  The sun was out and the sky was a clear blue; but there were a few puffy clouds strategically placed here and there.  Like cotton balls.

Suddenly I found myself thinking of Revelation 1:7 which talks about how when Jesus comes again, He will be coming on the clouds, and everyone will see Him.

I found myself trying to imagine what that would look like.  And, I really couldn’t.  How could He come down on the clouds without falling right through the middle of them.  After all, it’s a cloud.  There’s no meaty substance to clouds, right?

Oh, the human mind sometimes.  Those thoughts were clearly just one of the quadrillion reasons why God is God, and I’m not!

Yet God created our minds – and through complexity that we cannot even come close to comprehending, through our minds He allows us to dream.  He allows us the opportunity to use our imaginations – whether in a silly way, like wondering how Jesus was going to come down from heaven on a cloud without falling through; or contemplating how a small seed thrown on the ground can turn into a beautiful flower.

daydreamSometimes our Lord will grant us times of special visions – times when He has something very specific to show or tell us, such as what I recently videoed and wrote about on my Facebook page The God of All Comfort about taking the time to dance.  We could be feeling at our very lowest when suddenly Father God reveals to us in a very special way that our minds are going in a totally wrong direction.

Isaiah 6:1-3 is the passage the beautiful worship song, I Saw the Lord is based upon.  I think Isaiah’s mind must have been filled to the fullest as God showed him this vision as he was about to begin his ministry:

In the year that King Uzziah died, [in a vision] I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and the skirts of His train filled the [most holy part of the] temple.  Above Him stood the seraphim; each had six wings:  with two covered his face, and with two covered his feet, and with two flew.  And one cried to another and said, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!  [AMP]

What was Isaiah feeling as he stood looking at this amazing vision the Lord gave him?  Can you even begin to imagine it?

In this rough and tumble world that we currently live in, often we don’t take the time to sit back and just allow our minds to wander – we have way too many things to do!  Yet it’s so important to rest, and to focus on what beautiful instead (Philippians 4:8); even if your mind goes in some bizarre directions sometimes.

So sit back and day dream for a bit.  It’s okay!  

 

 

 

 

Shedding Tears For Jesus

I was sitting at my desk praying and wondering what to write for this post, when all of a sudden I found myself glued to some old Bible study notes.  One verse in Isaiah 53, I found myself coming back to time and again.  It was v. 11:

Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.” [ESV – highlights mine]

Let me backtrack a bit.  First off, I’m a note-taker.  If I don’t write down stuff, I just plain forget – usually in one ear and out the other.  So I have stacks of notes from sermons and Bible studies sitting on my bookcase and my floor.  And, to be quite honest, they are in no particular order.  That’s a project for some other day.  My husband mentioned to me recently that I really needed to get those organized, and I kind of freaked out.  I guess my chaos is also my order – if that makes any sense at all.

refuge & strengthAnyway on the day of drafting this post, I was in the middle of having yet another whiny, feel sorry for myself day.  I was letting my mind go all over the place – in places I should never let it go!  It actually was quite pathetic.

So I’m sitting at my desk staring at a sheet of Scriptures I’d written down a few years back, and decided to start reading through them.  I was certain something would pop out.

And, of course, it did.  I couldn’t seem to get past Isaiah 53:11 – particularly the word “anguish.”

For those of you not familiar with Isaiah 53, it is a prophecy of the coming of Jesus – the Messiah that the Jews had been waiting for.  It speaks of Jesus starting out as a kid, and then goes into the suffering that He would have to endure.  Why?  Because of the Father’s love for us.

I found myself thinking about Jesus’ life as a man while He lived on earth.  Isaiah 53 says that He was ordinary in appearance (v. 2), so there certainly weren’t groupies following Him around because of His looks.  It also said that His life would consist of rejection, suffering and grief unlike what we can even imagine.

Personally I don’t handle rejection well.  I’m sure a lot of you don’t either.  But that was Jesus’ life while on earth once He began teaching.  Yes, He had His group of disciples and other followers, but for the most part people didn’t like Him.  They didn’t trust Him.  After all – who did He think He was to say that He was God’s Son – wasn’t He Joseph’s boy, a carpenter (John 6:42)?  He couldn’t be God in the flesh!

Yes, it must have been really hard at times…

Shed tears for Jesus lately_But Jesus kept going.  He kept on the path that God chose for Him because of His love and His obedience.  Then came the day when He was arrested, tortured beyond belief, and hung on a cross to die (Mark 10:34).  Do you have love like that for anybody?

As I continued to reflect on what I was reading, I began to feel my mind shift from a pity party back to what was really important:  That I am a child of the King of Kings, and that nothing can change that – ever!

So I sat, and remembered in gladness and joy.  And I came before my Father asking for a refreshing of my spirit, as well as forgiveness for the horrible attitude I’d been having.

We all have days when we need the refreshment of Jesus’ love to wash over us, don’t we?  How long has it been since you stopped and really shed tears for Jesus?

 

 

 

 

Keep On Keepin’ On

Some days I just feel tired – how about you?

The thing is, a lot of times I’m not even really sure why I feel tired.  It’s not like I just ran a marathon (like some of you I know).  Sometimes I feel tired even when I’ve gone to bed at a decent hour the night before, getting my recommended 8 hours of sleep!

So what’s the deal?

I think it’s just this thing we call life.

But in saying these things, I love that when we feel discombobulated with our lives, we can always find similar instances in the Bible of people who have felt just like us.  We find encouragement to keep on keepin’ on so we can keep moving forward day-by-day, doing the best we can with what our Lord has given us to do.

never aloneDuring the Apostle Paul’s ministry, the city of Colosse was filled with heretical teaching.  Cults were running rampant – some held to strict Jewish teachings, some were doing the New Age thing, and many people were taught that Jesus was a good man, but humans themselves were also just as wise.

Sound familiar to where you live now?

The Colossian Christians were getting tired.  They were doing their best to persevere against all the “yuk” going on around them, but they were getting worn out.  And one of them – a leader of the church named Epaphras – became really worried and decided to visit Paul in Rome to ask for his help.

Paul definitely became concerned when he heard of all the heresy.  So he wrote a letter to them while he was imprisoned to encourage them in their faith, and keep them from straying away from the truth of God’s word (Colossians 1).

His basic message:  Do not give up!

Because Paul realized how hard it was for them – how it seemed as if every day a new challenge awaited them.  Such was his own personal life.

Paul started his letter to the Colossians telling them how he was so thankful for the news of their faith in Jesus and their love for one another (v. 3).  He told them how they remained in his prayers (v. 9).

Don’t we all love to hear someone we trust tell us those things?

exalt youThen later in Chapter 1, he reminds them that they had been given everything they need to handle the stresses of their daily lives; and that their Father God has qualified them for what they’re having to go through.  No surprises with our God!  Besides that, they needed to remember that the ultimate victory was theirs no matter what, because they had been redeemed through the precious blood of Christ (v. 10-14).

I don’t know about you, but I often need to remind myself of just those same things.

Paul ends Colossians 1 with the reminder that because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, they now have the Holy Spirit living within them – they have a 1-on-1 connection with our Father (v. 27-28).  So do we!  We have direct access to the throne of grace to help us just when we need help the most (Hebrews 4:16).

Friends, so many people I talk to lately have the same feelings that I have on some days – they just feel plumb worn out.  But it’s on those days when we need to rejuvenate ourselves with the reminder that we’re not alone, and we can and will make it through when our eyes remain focused on the truth of God’s word.

Remember – you are a victor through Jesus!  And we’re in this whirlwind called life together.  Be encouraged that God is there with you right now.  Close your eyes and hear Him telling you that nothing will be too difficult if we trust Him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Give Me Some!

The title of this post sounds like something you’ve heard kids scream on more than one occasion, right?

Unfortunately, I hate to admit that those were the words that popped out of my mouth one night about a week ago when my husband and I were upstairs playing Yoshi’s Woolly World on our Wii U.  Yes, we’re still very much kids at heart.

You need to know that when my husband and I play games of any sort together, we go all out.  We get very competitive – which isn’t always good.

POSTERIf you’re unfamiliar with the game, we both had our individual Yoshi’s, and we were replenishing our supply of eggs.  Eggs are what you use to defeat or stun your enemies.  The problem was, Gary was much quicker on the draw than I was, and he was grabbing all the eggs before I could get any.

So came my scream:  “Give me some!”

As soon as I said that we both stopped and looked at each other, because, indeed, I sounded just like a spoiled little brat.  We ended up laughing.  It really was quite silly, but in the heat of the moment, I was quite peeved at my husband.

Life in general is not always fair, is it?  And, unfortunately, when hard times come, some abandon their faith in God because of them – they just don’t think it’s fair that they’re having to endure such things when others seem to float through life without anything bad ever happening to them.

But the word of God, as usual, talks about just such things.  For instance, look at Daniel 1.

Teenagers Daniel and his 3 friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were captured when the Babylonians invaded Jerusalem in 605 BC.  They then were forced to live in a wicked, morally corrupt society.

They were among those chosen to train for service to the king, so had to learn a new language.  They were further stripped of their Jewish identity by being given new names.  How easy it would’ve been for them to abandon all that they’d been taught about their God!

Yet they stood firm.

While in training they were told to partake of certain food and wine, but decided not to do so.  They believed it would defile their God if they did.  Instead Daniel approached the chief official, and asked permission to abstain from the food and drink they were offered, instead asking for vegetables and water.

may i trust you moreWhen the official balked at their request, Daniel suggested a trial period of 10 days.  And, after that time, Daniel and his 3 friends were healthier and stronger than the others in the training program who had been eating and drinking the royal food!

God rewarded them for their faithfulness and trust in Him.  And, as you keep reading the book of Daniel, you’ll see how God later saved Daniel’s 3 friends from a blistering fiery furnace (Daniel 3), and then saved Daniel from a den of hungry lions (Daniel 6)!

It says in 1 Samuel 2:30 that our God takes delight in us when we trust Him no matter what’s going on.

When life isn’t going as we think it should, we often start whining, don’t we?  Somehow we think we’re smarter than our Lord.  In the past I’ve certainly not always agreed with the paths God has placed me on – that is, until I asked Him to help me understand.

But here’s what we need to wrap our head around:  It really doesn’t matter what we think.  We just need to keep our eyes on the Lord, and trust that whatever we’re going through is because He deems it best for us at that point in time.

 

Kids – What Are We Supposed To Do?

I remember one day years ago when I was sitting with a group of ladies.  Our conversation turned to wayward children.  At the time Jeffrey was still living safe and secure at home so I really couldn’t relate.  After all, we’d raised him the best we could, making sure that he attended church with us regularly.  Plus he’d surrendered his life to Jesus and had gotten baptized when he was a young boy.

But they had raised their children the same way…

One woman in particular was really grieved about her daughter who was in her 20’s, and making bad decision after bad decision.  And, unfortunately, her bad decisions were causing harm to others.

do your bestWe were trying to encourage our friend the best we could, and one of the gals told her to remember Proverbs 22:6:   “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it” (NLT).

It didn’t help.  She stated those were “proverbs” – just wisdom written by King Solomon.  She didn’t believe it was necessarily God-centered truth.

Many of the gals disputed her claim, but quite frankly I don’t recall if I said anything at all, because her words got me thinking:  Isn’t everything written in the Bible God-inspired and true?  After all, if everything written isn’t truth, how can we know what’s true and what isn’t?

Fast-forward to the present.  Yes, I totally believe everything written in the Bible is God-inspired and true.  Why?  Because our God doesn’t play games like that.  He loves His children – remember the sweet song you probably used to sing called Jesus Loves Me?  God knows our hearts intimately and deeply.  He knows how grieved we get as parents so see our children grow-up and all of a sudden start making dumb decisions.

My husband and I are currently going through this with our son, and yes it does hurt – sometimes a lot.  Yet we must hold on tight to our Father’s hand!

Through the years I’ve seen time and again how children raised by godly parents suddenly turn and go in the opposite direction.  And God allows them to make bad decisions for as long as He deems appropriate.  But our Father has a way of getting their attention – many times through hurt and pain.  That’s how they learn.

I think of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-31.  This young man fell so low that he got to the point where he was thinking about eating pig slop before he finally realized he needed to go back to his Father.

My husband and I were talking with a man at church the other day who had lost his wife last year.  He introduced us to a young man who had come alongside him.  It turned out this young man was his deceased wife’s son who had previously wandered away from the Lord.  It took losing his mom for him to realize that he needed to get his life in order.

faith in godGod’s ways are certainly not our own – but we have to remember that everything we go through on this earth is designed to mold us and shape us to not only help others, but also for when we arrive at our Heavenly Home.

Isaiah 55:8-11 reminds us that the words written in the Bible may not always totally make sense to us, but that God has His ways – and His words never return empty.  Let me tell you, my husband and I hold onto those words as far as our son, and we do know that somehow – in someway – Jeffrey will return to what he had been taught.  It’s just a matter of time.

As for the gal who didn’t believe the book of Proverbs was really God-inspired?  I wish I would have thought about sharing 2 Timothy 3:16 which says “all Scripture” is God-breathed and true – which would include the book of Proverbs!

Keep looking up, my friends, and believe.

 

Alone Amidst The Couples

A business friend of my husband recently invited us out to dinner.  I had never met this man before, yet my husband had shared with me that he had lost his wife a few years back, and was having trouble coping with his singleness.  He missed his wife dearly.

Since we weren’t sure where he stood with his faith, I was praying that somehow during the course of the dinner there would be an opportunity to find out what he believed.

A door opened a crack for a few minutes when my husband got up to use the restroom.

I told this man how sorry I was to hear of his wife’s passing, and said I couldn’t imagine how hard it must be – especially after having been married for as long as they had been.

Blessed is heHe seemed appreciative of my words, but as he spoke I saw his eyes sadden with grief and loneliness.  He said it’d been very hard – especially since most of the people they had hung out with are couples.  He basically said he felt like the odd-man-out a lot of times.

The more he spoke, the more I sensed he was not a believer in Jesus.  But no more opportunities came as when my husband returned the conversation turned back to business.

This dinner out has also made me think more about believing friends who have lost their spouses – or those who have gone through a divorce.  Yes they trust the Lord and know He loves them, yet it still hurts greatly; often leaving a deep void in their lives that they have a hard time getting through.  It’s difficult to be around friends they used to hang out with as couples, so many tend to turn away and alienate themselves.  The emotions just run too deep.

A lot of times they feel like outcasts.  And sometimes their feelings of loneliness are so intense that they jump into another relationship much sooner than they should.  They just want to fit in again.

Years ago a single divorced friend of mine was really struggling.  She wanted male companionship so badly that she kept hooking up with smooth-talking guys that any outsider could see was not a good fit.

I made a comment to her one day that she needed to remember that the Lord was actually her real husband (Isaiah 54:5Revelation 19:7-8).  She knew that, but stated it wasn’t the same – she couldn’t physically put her arms around Him or see Him.

You never need to feel aloneTrue words.  I personally can’t imagine coming home and no longer having my husband there.  Yes, losing our children was harder than hard, but at least Gary and I had each other to hold onto and cry with.  But when you come home to an empty quiet house that you’d shared with your loving spouse for years, the silence must be deafening.

We can’t understand God’s timing as to why and when He decides certain people will breathe their last breath, yet as I mentioned in my Healing Moment video “God’s Perfect Timing”, our Father has everything worked out precisely to His specifications.  He is the One who holds everything together (Colossians 1:17), and His reasoning is beyond our comprehension.

In closing, for those of you who find yourself single – for whatever the reason – please know that my heart goes out to you.  I once heard a sermon which said that being single is an exceptionally high calling as it goes against our normal culture.  Yes, it does.

For those of you who know Jesus as your Lord, my prayer is that you will be able to feel His arms enfolding and comforting you on your sad days.

And for those of you such as my husband’s friend, I pray that you will hear the still, small voice of Father God as He calls out to you in love (Revelation 3:20).  You don’t have to go through life all alone – ever.

My Father Is Always With Me

I think I always believed in God, but even after my husband and I got married, I thought God was just “up there somewhere.”  I figured He was watching what was going on down here on earth, and figured He had some way that I didn’t understand to keep track of everyone and the things they did right, and wrong.

He had to have some sort of line drawn in His mind that you just did not cross as far as bad deeds go.  When people crossed that line He’d send them to hell instead of heaven.

For me, I believed I was okay and going to heaven.  Yes, I certainly had done a lot of bad things in my life, but I was still basically a good person.  After all, I hadn’t murdered anyone!

Father God will never leave you aloneWhen we were in our 30’s, we started thinking about having children.  It was then that my husband decided we needed to attend church together.  Eventually we found a wonderful church not far from where we lived.

It was there that I started learning that eveything I had believed about God was wrong.

I began learning that Father God desired a personal relationship with us – His human creations.

I totally admit I fought long and hard against this new information.  How could I have been wrong for so many years?  Stubbornness, unfortunately, is a virtue I’m quite strong in.

Yet Father God kept pursuing me.  He kept knocking on the door of my heart (Revelation 3:20), until the day I finally surrendered to Jesus Christ.  Unfortunately that was also the day that we lost our 2 year-old son.

However since that sad day, the love for my Father God has grown and grown.  I desire more and more of His knowledge and wisdom.  I love studying the Bible – to hear and learn of His power and immense love for us all.

But I’ve learned that Father God desires more from us than just “head knowledge.”  He desires a close, living relationship with us – He desires to converse with us.  He wants us to always know He’s right by our side, directing our steps.

god is faithfulThat’s one reason why He sent His son Jesus to die on the cross.  Jesus, who walked the earth with humans such as ourselves.  He was tempted, hurt and neglected while on earth, just like we are often.  Father God sent Jesus so that we can know that whatever we go through, He understands.

In John 14, Jesus is with His disciples, reaffirming the importance of trusting and believing all that He had taught them during the time He was with them (v. 1-4).  He reminds them that it’s not enough to simply believe in God like I did growing up – instead you must believe in Jesus Himself in order to be heavenbound when you die (v. 6, 19-20).

And here’s a part I really love – but had a hard time understanding for many years.  Jesus says for those who trust and believe in Him, Father God sends the Holy Spirit to live with us always (v 16-17); who guides and directs us as we go about our daily lives (v. 26).

But how often do we really take the time to sit and listen to Him?  He’s with us all the time, and sees absolutely everything we do every day.  When we start to wander off, He’s right there telling us to get back to where we need to be.

Through the years I’ve learned that it certainly isn’t enough to just read and know the Bible.  I need to be opening my ears and mind to the Spirit’s voice on a daily basis – moment to moment!

And I rejoice that never, ever, EVER am I all alone.  My Father God is always with me.