If – Then

For every action there is a reaction.  What law is that?

Let’s Google it – its Newton’s Third Law of Physics.  I’m impressed!  I wasn’t sure anything I studied about physics actually stuck.

I know I’m taking this law out of context but only physicists (like my son-in-law) will know that.  I’m relating it to things we would like to happen.  And how these things won’t happen until we take action.

Like cleaning my house – this will only happen if someone (wish it wasn’t me) gets going and cleans it.

Like living a healthy life style – it won’t happen without eating right and exercising.

I have to actually do something or several somethings in order to have these things happen.

So, it makes sense that, if I want to know God’s truth, I have to read it.  I have to study it.

If I want to hear God’s voice, I need to learn more about him so I can understand him when he’s trying to talk to me.  I need to spend time with him so I’m more sensitive to his whispers and prodding.

If I want to live my life aligned with God, I need to understand why he created me – what is his plan and purpose for me?

My primary purpose is very clear.  Love God and love others.  If you are a believer, your main purpose is the same as mine.

The rest of details are revealed when I’m living out my primary purpose.   And, I have found, that his detailed plan and purpose changes and evolves as I go through the different phases of my life.  I have to constantly pay attention.

As I seek him, I grow in understanding his truth, I hear his voice more clearly and I can see his different plans and purposes unfold as I watch closely.

King David knew all about finding God.  He told his son, Solomon, in 1 Chronicles 28, “If you seek him, he will be found by you.”

David was preparing Solomon to take over his kingdom.  David knew he didn’t have much time left here on earth so he was literally giving Solomon the key to the kingdom.

And that key was to seek God.

It’s still a key for us today.

It’s the key to success.

It’s the key to happiness.

It’s the key to fulfilling our purpose here on earth before we go home to spend eternity with our Heavenly Father.

Thank you for the key, Abba.

 

The Wrong Thing

A selfish choice.

A bad decision.

I make them…

You make them….

and sometimes we just don’t want to admit it.

It was foolish.  We just weren’t thinking.

Or – we were thinking – but it was all about what we wanted.

Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt.

If we work hard enough at it, we can rationalize anything.

Make excuses.

Avoid owning up to what we did what we said.

We can also become very good at blaming others for the consequences of choices we made.  One of my favorite scenes in the movie, The Shack, is when he asks God (who is a woman in this part) why she punishes us and she says that she doesn’t have to punish us.  The consequences of our sins are punishment enough.

Amen!

As I’m reading about David’s life in 2 Samuel, I realize that one of the qualities David possessed was the ability to quickly admit it when he did something wrong.  Sure – there were times that people like Nathan had to point it out to him.  But then David immediately owned up to it and took responsibility for the consequences.

Even when the consequence was the death of his young son……….

He didn’t blame anyone else.  He admitted his sin and repented.

David is a good role model for us when it comes to dealing with our sin and its consequences.  God wants us to admit it and own it and repent.  When we ask, he will help us grow in wisdom and grow our faith as we deal with the trials and sorrows that our bad decisions cause in our lives.

God walks with us through the muck and the mess we cause – guiding us, loving us, giving us strength and hope.

When we let him, God will help us – like he helped David –  develop into men and women after God’s own heart.

Thank you, Abba Father.

Who is King?

I don’t have a king….

or do I?

Something or somebody rules my life.

Something or somebody rules your life.

When we’re young, our parents rule our lives.  They tell us where to go.  They tell us what to do.

As we become adults, we gradually make more and more of those decisions for ourselves.  By making these choices, we decide who or what is king of our lives.

Is it money?

Is it our career?

Is it sports?

Hobbies?

Our spouse?  Our family?

For some people, their problems and dramas are ruling their lives – determining their future.

What or who is my king?

What’s your answer to that?

We read several places in Judges “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit”.  This phrase always showed up right after the Israelites made a huge mistake.

And it was a mess.  They actually had a king – it was themselves.  Everybody was doing whatever they wanted.  Kind of like our culture today.

They had no direction.  They had no guidance.  And they were tired of all the  negative consequences of their messes so they asked for an earthly king.  We know the rest of the story – the earthly kings weren’t the answer.

The answer was Jesus – our divine, eternal King.

He is still our answer today.

When we make messes of our lives – he is the answer.  When we get tired of the nasty consequences of our sin and bad decisions – he is the answer.  When we need guidance and forgiveness and strength – he is the answer.

When we make Jesus the king of our lives, we have found the right answer.

Thank you, dear Jesus.

 

Get Lost!

Wow!

Keeping my focus is a very tough thing to do.

So many priorities.  So many different ways to spend my time.  I have always been a significantly goal-oriented and focused person but it’s not easy.

There are just so many distractions in our current culture!

Do you feel that way?

So hard to focus!

And I think there are more distractions now than ever before……until I’m reading through the Old Testament and I realize how inconsistent the Israelites were.  When they had a good, faithful leader, they were on target with God.  When the faithful leader died, they went right back to their old distractions – worshiping all kinds of pagan gods – just like everyone around them.

So many choices.

In the New Testament, Jesus tells us to focus our eyes on him.

Fix our eyes.

Don’t let them wander.

I regularly have to turn away from the distractions in my life in order to clear my focus and get centered on Jesus.  It’s the only way I can avoid getting lost in all of the noise and confusion that defines our culture.

Fixing my eyes means making God a priority in my life.  He needs to come before work, before hobbies, before family, before money, before TV and all the ‘screens’ in my life.  If he’s not up front in my life, I get distracted….

unfocused….

confused….

and I wander.

Please help me keep my eyes fixed on you, dear Jesus.

What’s New?

Growing….

changing…

I am not going to be done learning until my heart stops beating.  There’s a time to stop being flexible and stop being open to new things and that time is when I’m dead.  I have learned a lot in these last 50-some years 🙂 and I have a lot to learn in these next 30 years or whenever my eyes shut for the last time on this earth.

I am challenged to be quicker on the learning end than Gideon was as I read his story in Judges.  The Lord told Gideon directly that he was going to bring him victory.  But Gideon didn’t get it – Gideon replied that he was the least of his family.  So what?  God was going to do this, not Gideon.

Gideon prepared an offering to God and the Angel of God came down to burn it for him.  Are you getting this yet, Gideon?

Then God told Gideon to cut down the pole in town that was dedicated to the pagan gods and build an altar with the wood.  Gideon obeyed but he did it at night because he was afraid.

Really?  God is talking to him and sending angels with fire and still Gideon is sneaking around at night?

The townspeople wanted to kill Gideon for cutting down the pole but a leader in town stopped them.  Who did that, Gideon?

Then God called Gideon to lead the Israelites into battle but Gideon still had to test God by laying out a fleece.  Twice!

When are you going to understand that this is God you’re dealing with, Gideon?

It appears like Gideon is starting to learn and trust God when he lets God limit his army to 300 men.  But then he takes a step back when he’s afraid and has to sneak into the Midianite camp to hear what’s going on before he will attack it.

From what we read, that looks like the final step of learning to trust God for Gideon because we don’t read of him testing God again or being afraid.  Gideon leads the Israelites into several successful battles without testing God first.

He learned to trust.

He got it.

So I have to ask myself – how well am I doing in learning to trust?  Do I get it?

How well are you doing?

Please help us to trust you, Abba Father.

Lost in the Weeds

Going in the same direction.

Moving forward together.

Shared goals.

Unity.

And it feels good when I’ve got it, doesn’t it?

But unity isn’t an easy thing to achieve.

There is compromise – it doesn’t have to be all my way.  I need to take a look from other people’s perspective – there are other valid opinions.

Prioritizing – is it worth creating an issue?  Wisdom = losing a lot of battles in order to win the war.

And – if this is a battle that needs to happen – much planning and selflessness needs to be included in figuring out how to bring up the issue.  Emotions stay out of it because they cause me to over-react and say things that aren’t helpful.  Just because something is true doesn’t mean that I can say it anytime I want to.  The timing of discussions on difficult issues can determine success or failure.

I can get lost in the weeds.  Details that don’t really matter can derail me when I’m trying to discuss difficult issues, causing any forward movement to stop.  Sometimes I get so lost that I actually move backwards.  Very disappointing!  I know you’ve been there, too.

So unity is not easy to achieve but it’s very much worth the effort.  We read about the joy the Israelites experienced in Joshua 22 when they avoided some serious conflict between groups merely by talking with each other.  One group thought the other group was rebelling while the 2nd group thought the first group was going to try to make an issue of where they were living in the future.  During their discussion, they realized that they worshipped the same God and they were on the same page.

Unity.

We could use more of it, right?  Where do we get more unity?

God.

As my relationship with God grows, he is able to give me the wisdom and perspective I need to bring more unity into my life – more unity with my husband and family and more unity with my church family.

When we are all looking to God for direction and insight, God provides unity.  It’s his desire for us to live peacefully together and live a life full of joy.

In him, we are unified.

And we find joy.

Thank you, Abba Father.

 

Sold Out!

What would you sell your life for?

It’s a great question because sometimes we dedicate our lives to things that just aren’t worth it.

We can sell our lives to making money and spending it.  But everything we buy gets old, breaks and requires more money to fix it up or replace it.

Our ‘stuff’ will always disappoint us.

We can sell our lives to work and accomplishments.  We may love it but, someday, that all goes away.  We get fired, laid off or we just get old.  I recently retired which meant giving up a nice paycheck and a lot of rewards and recognition.  I loved working and now I love being retired.  I’m glad I worked long and hard for over 34 years at something I loved to do.  Now I’m very happy to reclaim all of those hours in my week and move on to the next phase of my life.

We can sell our lives to relationships with our spouse, our children, our family and friends.  They are very important but they will also dissappoint us at times.  It’s a fact.  And they all will eventually pass away some very sad day.

In Joshua 8, Achan sold his life for a robe and some gold and silver.  It was too good to pass up.  So he didn’t, probably believing he would never get caught.  Not smart. He couldn’t hide from God.  After getting caught, he admitted his disobedience but that didn’t change the consequences. He lost his life for that ‘stuff’, ending up under a pile of rocks.

I don’t want to end up like that.

So I choose the path of obedience and faithfulness to God.

I choose to be ‘sold out’ to God.

And I’m 100% confident that it’s the right choice.

What is your choice?

I love you, Abba Father.

Control Freaks – Chill!

Her home was demolished.

Everything she knew was gone.

Her city was burned down by foreigners.

All of her friends and neighbors were killed, only her family was saved.

Things didn’t look good for Rahab.

She and her family were still a live but every one and everything else from her life was gone.  Crushed.  Burned.  Now she had to live in the enemy’s camp.  What good could possibly come from this situation?

Well, we know the rest of the story.  Rahab’s name would later show up in the lineage of Jesus!  She was Jesus’ great, great, too many greats to count, grandmother.

God had unbelievable plans for Rahab when he saved her from being destroyed as Jericho burned.  She didn’t know it.  I’m sure there were times as she started up a new life in the camp of her former enemies when she wondered why she was still alive.   Everyone else except her family was dead.  Everything that she had known before was gone.

Rahab had no way of knowing that God was going to bless all of creation through her lineage.

Just like I have no way of knowing what God is doing as I struggle through the twists and turns of life, trying to figure out how to transition from phase to phase.  Looking back, the pieces often make sense.  But it can be very hard to navigate through the maze of today.

I just don’t know.

But God does.  So I focus on him, trusting him to show me the way one day at a time.  Its often one step at a time.  Trying to control the world causes frustration and stress.  Trying to control even my little space in the world is impossible.

This last year of my life really proved this to me.  I ended up in so many places I never thought I would be – never wanted to be.  God is working good things out of the evil that is done.  I am already seeing some of the good things but there will be many more that I will never see.

Like Rahab.

So I will trust you, Abba Father.

 

Watch Closely Now

I love it.

God is not limited by cultural rules.  He created justice, he is just and he acts justly.

Whenever we see God’s actions and directions not lining up with current culture, we need to take note of it.  We know that God is right and our culture is wrong in every one of these instances.  Sometimes it takes our culture thousands of years to catch up to what is right.

The historical account of Zelophehad’s daughters in Numbers 27 is one of my favorites.  We’ll call the Z’s daughters from now on  🙂

At that time in history, women were considered to be the property of men and most men had more than 1 wife.  When Z died without having any sons, Z’s five daughters asked to inherit his property.

What!?

That just wasn’t done.

Women didn’t inherit property.  They WERE property.

When Moses took this case to God, God directed him to give the property to the daughters as an inheritance.  He stipulated that they had to marry within their tribal clad so that the land stayed with in the family.  If you think about it, that makes a lot of sense since the land was physically divided by clans.  This kept everything organized as God had designed.

I bet there were many long and heated discussions by the male leaders of the families as they gathered around the campfire at night!  This story is only 4 paragraphs in the Bible but I’ll bet the arguments against doing this could fill up several scrolls if they had all been written down.

I’m sure the same concern came up that was discussed with King Xerxes later in the book of Esther.  If these women received this request now, they are just going to ask for more and more.  A dangerous trend was starting!  But we read that they made the right decision and obeyed.

It took thousands of years but – yes, women inherit and own property now.  As recently as the 1950’s women were generally considered not capable of inheriting and running large properties and businesses.  But way back in ancient times, God knew he had created women equal to men.  Different, but equal.  He set a spiritual leadership hierarchy in place that has everything to do with order and process and nothing to do with intelligence and aptitude.

And our culture has finally caught up to God’s truth….. in most cases.

Please help us live by your truth, Abba Father.

Everybody is Doing it……

But that doesn’t make it right.

Peer pressure can be a very strong influence in our lives and it can push us in a direction we don’t want to go.  It can give us ‘permission’ to do things that aren’t good for us, causing negative consequences to happen in our lives.

“Do not follow the crowd”.do-not-follow-the-crowd

God told the Israelites this thousands of years ago in Exodus 23.  And we have the same issue today.  When we see a lot of other people doing something, we can start to wander and think its ok.  All of these people can’t be wrong, can they?

Yes, they can be.

Yes, they are.

If I want to live a life of truth and integrity, I need to build my house on the Rock which is God.  He is the creator of truth.  He designed justice.  He knows everything.  The crowd has no effect on his right and wrong.

When I am in line with God, I am in line with how he created me to be.  I’m in line with ‘why’ I was created.  I was going to say that I’m in line with the universe but that sounds like the beginning of a song from the 60’s. 🙂

If I’m not building my house on the solid ground of God’s truth, it’s going to get washed away by the next storm.  A lot of the mess we see in our culture is the result of people’s houses getting washed away in the storms of their lives.  And there’s always another storm coming our way.

What is your life built on?

God’s truth?

Or the wavering, changing, untruth that defines our culture?

This is an important question for each of us to answer for ourselves.  It has eternal implications.

Thank you for your truth, Abba Father.