Friday, May 30, 2014

When The Future Is Scary

"I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence!" Psalm 139:7,(NLT)

God has graced you with many blessings but the ability to see the future from His window is not one of them.

 He describes in His Word the future consequences attached to today's decisions, but much of the not-yet life waits in the shadows of His sovereignty, and that can be scary.

  You tend to feel more confident if you know what's coming. You like to be prepared because it makes you feel more in control, but perhaps you are facing something that has never cast a shadow in your path before. Maybe  there is a health diagnosis, an empty place a loved one once filled, or even a new responsibility that feels way too big.  How will you make it through? Will you make it through?

  Take courage, Daughter of God. Everything is not riding on you. Actually you are the one doing the riding. Jesus said, "Without me, you can do nothing."  (John 15:5) The strength you need to face the unknown is powered  with supernatural fuel. The future is frightening when you look at it with your natural eyes.

But wait, take another look.

Wipe the fog of fear off your lenses.

Can you see now?

There are two instead of one up ahead.

The first has your own silhouette. The other looks like the Son of God. The path still looks dark, but each step is cushioned by the red carpet of His presence. He never sends you into the darkness to tough it out on your own. He always travels with you--sometimes you hear Him speaking, sometimes He is silent, but He is never absent.

Do you think you need more than that? Is His presence shy of what you hope for?

It is enough!

His presence is like an icon that contains more than you realize. "Click" on it, and you'll find amazing comfort, surprising joy, indescribable peace, and many more gifts lovingly hidden on the trail waiting  for you to discover.

Step out, Princess Bride. Take the Lord's hand and walk into the uncertainty. No, you still have no control, but with Him as your constant companion, you don't need it!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Let Them Taste and See

"Taste and see that The Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him." Psalm 34:8

I love trying new foods! They testify to how vastly creative God is and how generous He is to give our tastebuds so many adventures to experience. Every culture has something unique to them in the way of food, and I love flying to a new place from a seat at a restaurant instead of an airplane.

Sometimes tasting something new can be scarey, can't it? You don't know if you will like it, or if the texture will be agreeable, or whether the whole thing will make you sick. We tend to consider all the things that could go wrong and as a result, we often pass up a chance to broaden our food base.

  There is a food you and I enjoy everyday that much of the world knows nothing about. It's the sweeter-than-honey, bone-deep delicious, soul-satisfying love of God. It's strange and exotic to most people. They have never experienced it, and when they hear someone describe it, they suspect it's too good to be true.

  Sometimes, to get a person to try an exotic food, they need to hear that it tastes like something familiar to them. (I was reluctant to try frog legs till my Asian friend said it tastes like chicken.) This is where you come in. Your kindness to a misfit, your forgiveness to an offender, or your patience toward one needing extra time to get it right can be just the sample they need to encourage them to taste and see that the Lord is good.

 The heart is the  hungriest part of any person. Will you allow God to use you to be the bread crumbs that lead them to the cross and throne of Christ? Can someone say the love of God tastes like (your name) doing or being what their heart is hungry to feed on? You don't have to manufacture this love. You can't! You are simply a distributor of what God has placed in you. (Romans 5:5; 1John 4:19). He is your supplier.

You get the joy of serving up His love using your own unique recipe. How does God usually shine through you? Is it through your gift of giving? Is hospitality your thing? Maybe you are great at  providing a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on. Whatever it is, nobody does it quite like you. Serve it up and don't be shy!

Warning: your lovees may be suspicious at first. Likely, every dish  of kindness they ever tasted has been laced with selfish ulterior motives and has left a bad taste. Give them time. Keep loving them in the way God has gifted you. The aroma of Christ in you will be hard to resist, but in time that aroma may may break down their defenses and draw them to His table of mercy.

Talk About It: Did anyone lead you to Christ by loving you first? If so, who and how?

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Friday, May 16, 2014

Wanted: Gray Hairs And Wrinkles

"The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old." Proverbs 20:29

"Though good advice lies deep within the heart, a person with understanding will draw it out. " Proverbs 20:5

When I have a problem and need to find answers, I've learned the value of consulting older believers.

Our culture does not place much value on aged folks.  They aren't sexy or charismatic. Their weaker bodies are assumed to house weak minds and dusty, irrelavent memories. Even those who respect the elderly can seem to do so with an undercurrent of patronizing condescension at times. They defer to older people out of manners, and that's ok, but I wish people would see silver hair as a tiara to treasure and wrinkled skin as a garment of honor.

Like a badge on a policeman indicates he or she received training for her duties, gray hair says, "Ask me, I've been there."

 Wrinkles should not be a turn-off, but a magnet that pulls you close enough to to  find confident answers that trump educated guesses any day.

As a good lasagna becomes better after a night in the fridge, so the older woman has been seasoned by life, and her aroma is sweet like the Jesus Who brought her this far. She has not always been as peaceful and God-assured as she is now. Those virtues were forged in the kiln of time. She's ripe for the asking. So, please, ask her!

  Many, however, do not ask. They reinvent the wheel and waste valuable time duplicating mistakes rather than learning from hers.

  Of course wisdom does not always accompany old age. You must consider an individual's worldview and whether she has stayed on God's easel. She doesn't have to be perfect for you to recognize God's workmanship.

All I am saying is this: you and I would do well to drink deeply of the wellspring of wisdom hiding under heads of gray and covered by crinkles and lines. The Word of God provides a map for every life, but an older sister in the faith can be a precious guide for how to walk out those instructions in the hard places, the gray areas, and the jagged terrain of real life.

Talk About It: Who are the older people in your life who can provide godly guidance for you?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

When You Feel Overwhelmed

"Two are better than one...if either of them falls down, the other can help him up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to lift him up." (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)

Overwhelmed. Have you been there?

Did you know the Bible uses the same word for overwhelmed as for drowning? 

What are you drowning in today?

Got too many things to do? Wishing you could clone yourself to get it all done?

Maybe your list is just fine, but grief, discouragement,  conflict, fear, or just plain not knowing what to do have grabbed you by the ankles and threatened to yank you to the ocean floor.

 You have too much to lose if you just give up, so what other options do you have?

Cry for help!

You were never meant to go it alone. Enlist the help of dependable people to divide the list, share the heartache, offer advice, or just stand with you. Friendship is God's lifesaver against drowning in discouragement. Grab it! Call a friend. See a counselor. Reach out till you find someone.

Of course you need to call on The Lord for help. If He doesn't pull you out of the water, He'll jump in with you!   Trade yokes and swap burdens with Him. His are easier and lighter, and He tends to throw in a bonus of peace in the exchange. He loves you so much, Dear Friend.

 Don't assume you are crying out to Him just because you're crying. Direct your prayers to Him intentionally. Don't stop till He sends comfort.

It's possible to drown in your own head. You need to get to higher ground where a different perspective can fill you with life-giving encouragement.  If you are overwhelmed, you don't have to stay that way. Cry for help and listen for it. Help is on the way. God is faithful to dispatch a friend or He'll come Himself by His Spirit.

Talk About It: Don't drown in discouragement, tell us how we can pray for you.