Use It!

What do we already have?

A car?

A house?

Education?

Experience?

Passions like sports, food, teaching and mentoring, or music?

God asks us to use whatever we have to serve him and grow his kingdom here on earth.  So how does this apply to me?

My house is used for a small group Bible study.  It is also used sometimes for meetings about the Women’s Ministry I serve in.

My car has been used to bring neighbors and friends to church activities.  It is also used to pick up women I am mentoring as we go have lunch and talk and grow our faith.

God gave me an education and experience so I could have a great career.  I use those same assets as I serve in church.

God gave me passions for teaching and mentoring and music and he has given me opportunities to serve him in all of those areas.

During the discussion at Moses’ burning bush, God told Moses to go to the elders of what-is-in-your-handIsrael and tell them that God was going to bring them out of the misery in Egypt.  Then the elders were supposed to go with Moses to ask Pharoah to release the Israelites for 3 days to go into the desert to worship God.  Moses replied, “What if they don’t believe me?”

And God said, ” What is in your hand?”

Moses already had the tools, experience and passion he needed to obey God.  He just needed to use them.

Moses had his staff in his hand and, when he threw it on the ground, God turned into a snake.  I would believe God was in the middle of what was going on if I saw that, wouldn’t you?

Just like he did with Moses, God intends to  use what he has already given me for his purposes.

He intends to use what he has already given you to help grow your faith and  to grow his kingdom here on earth.

God is asking us, “What is in your hand?”

Thank you for all of the things you have already given us, Abba Father.

What’s Next?

So many decisions…

its hard to figure out our next steps.

A lot of options.

Why can’t we get a burning bush like God gave Moses?  It was big.  It was dramatic.  Moses couldn’t miss it.  If we got one of those, then we would listen and follow, right?burning-bush

In my life, God gives me what I would call burning potted plants.  They are a lot smaller than a bush but when I’m reading God’s word, praying and listening, God will set fire to the next small plant – lighting the way to my next decision – and then my next.

Here’s how it works – I’m regularly reading God’s word and listening to how he want to me to apply it to my life.  I pray – expecting God to move and answer but keeping my mind open knowing that God can answer in a way that’s much different that what I could be looking for.

I watch.

And he lines up my circumstances, one step at a time.

He will also add confirmations along the way.  Godly people around me will say something that reinforces a recent burning plant.  And it’s not unusual for my pastor on Sunday to say something that confirms my direction.

When God knows I am watching and listening, he can work through all of these things to make my next step clear to me.

I have found that I don’t need a burning bush if I’m paying attention.  My small burning  plants work just fine:)

Thank you for your guidance, Abba Father.

When Bad Things Happen….

to good people.

It’s hard to understand.

We like to ask ‘why’?

I like to ask ‘why’?

And then I read about Joseph’s trials in Genesis and the answer is pretty clear.  A long list of bad things happened to Joseph and God worked to bring good  out of those bad things.  Joseph’s faith and wisdom grew as he trusted God through it all.

I don’t believe that God caused all of these bad things to happen to Joseph or to you and me.   Some of them happened because we live in a world where we all sin.  We pay the consequences for our sins as well as other people’s sins.  And Satan is working relentlessly to entice people to sin.  He is creating a lot of our trials.  I don’t understand why some people get mad at God when bad things happen – they should get mad Satan who is doing the dirty work.

Yes, God is in total control so he could stop them.  But we choose to sin.  Other people choose to sin.  There are consequences for that sin.  When we get to where we’re going (heaven) we will no longer sin and there will be no more consequences.

you-intended-to-harm-meHere on earth – when God is with us like he was with Joseph – he can use these consequences so that something good comes from them.

This truth makes the account of Joseph’s life very important to me.

His brothers sold him into slavery but – wait.

Then he’s put in charge of the top Egyptian official’s house.

The official’s wife lies to get Joseph in trouble and Joseph is thrown in jail.

But – wait.  God was with him and he was put in charge of the prison.  Joseph helped the Butler and Baker get out of prison – good news for the Butler, bad news for the Baker.  The Butler forgot about Joseph for 2 years until Pharoah had a dream and Joseph was called out of prison to interpret it.  Pharoah was so impressed that he made Joseph 2d in command, right under Pharoah.

From that position, Joseph was responsible for saving the lives of a whole nation.  A serious famine was coming and God spoke a warning through Joseph’s interpretation of Pharoah’s dream.

God was with Joseph through all of the bad things that happened to him, making sure that he ended up exactly where he needed to be in order to fulfill his destiny.

Joseph also saved the lives of his brothers who sold him into slavery.  This indicates the level of maturity and faith Joseph had acquired through his trials.  What the brothers had done was evil, but God used it for good purposes.

Joseph’s story is a great one to read when I’m wondering how God will use the recent tragedy in my life.  Joseph could never have predicted the part he was going to play in the huge famine that was coming.  God knew.

And he was with Joseph every step of the way.

Just like he is with me as I go through my trials.

Just like he is with you when you experience trials.

Thank you, Abba Father.

What’s the Truth?

It’s hard to tell.

It’s difficult to believe any ‘news’ because I’ve seen so many half-truths and false things being spread around like they are facts.

It used to be that we could trust a picture but now faces are being switched and pictures are constantly being used out of context.  We are often told that a picture was taken at a certain time but it was actually taken at an entirely different event.

Lies, deception, and trickery – our culture is filled with them.lies-and-decption

Sadly, this is not a new thing.  As we read through the Biblical account of Abraham’s family, we see a disturbing legacy of lies and treachery.

So much distrust.

So much cheating.

A lack of integrity which was passed on from generation to generation.

The consequences of their lies caused years of separation, anger and unhappiness. They could have avoided all of this if they had been truthful.

One of the bright spots in this story is – in spite of their weaknesses and sin – God still used them to fulfill his plans.  They weren’t perfect.  They made quite a few very bad decisions and God let them pay the consequences of those decisions.  But he still loved them and had a purpose for them.

Great news for you and me!

Because we’ll never be perfect.  We’ll never ‘have it all together’.  We have flaws.  We have weaknesses.

But God can and does still use us in his big plan to offer redemption to everyone.

God has a purpose for me.  And for you.  He has a plan for our lives, a reason why we’re here.  And its easier to figure out what that purpose is when we’re reading his word, praying and obeying.

Don’t forget that last step. 🙂

Thank you for the purpose you give us for our lives, Abba Father.

Before He Finished

I wonder what’s next.  What’s the next step?  Where do I go from here?

And I sometimes forget that God has a plan.  He has a map.  He knows the way.

I imagine a field stretched out in front of me that represents my life.  In that field, there are many landmines.  The land mines represent bad choices and wrong in my life.field-of-landmines

What if I knew someone who could guide me through my field so I could avoid these landmines?  Would I ask for their help and listen to them?

Definitely.

There is someone like that and he is God.

He knows where all of the landmines are and he wants to show me the way around them.  He doesn’t just want to guide me, he wants to walk through my field – the rest of my life – right next to me, giving me hope and love and joy.

In order to do that, I need to ask, listen, obey and trust.

In order to do that, you need to ask, listen, obey and trust.

God tells us in Genesis 24:15 that he answered the servant of Abraham’s prayer before he finished praying.

Before he finished.

I bet God does this all the time and we just don’t know it.  But has he ever done this for you and you knew it?

Last April, I was praying about whether or not to retire soon.  My company was reorganizing and I had a small window of time to take advantage of a ‘special offer’ and retire early.

Big decision.

I wasn’t sure.

I needed guidance from God.

On the last day before I had to decide, I was praying saying, “I need an answer” and, as I said Amen, the phone rang.

I knew it was my answer.  That conversation confirmed the direction I was leaning – to retire early.

And now I can clearly see God’s hand guiding me around a couple of landmines and onto the next step for his plan for me.

I wish it were always that clear.

I think it can be if we ask and listen, obey and trust.

What do you think?

Thank you for your guidance, Abba Father.

Two People = One

Dating is fun.

Being engaged is exciting.

Weddings are a great big party that celebrates love and committment.

Marriage is tough.

Good…….but tough.

Worth it…..but not easy.

I’ve been married to the same man for almost 36 years.

So I know.  And he knows. 🙂elderly_marriage_white_26161_l

In order to stay married, we have had to work through it all.  And stuff just keeps coming at us.

Every year, as I begin reading through the Bible again, I pause when I read Genesis 3:20, “Adam named his wife Eve.”

This was after they had lived in the Garden of Eden with God for who knows how long.  This was after they had eaten the apple and sinned.

Up to this point, they were both called Adam.  They both completed the person of Adam.

How much would our perspective of marriage change if we sincerely considered ourselves – man and wife – to be one person?  It wouldn’t be, “why does he always do that” or “she drives me crazy when she does that”.

It would be more like “my leg always likes to cramp up” or “my neck is stiff and its driving me crazy”.  There’s no ‘out’ option unless you want to cut off your leg or chop off your head.

When our leg cramps up, we rub it and stretch it.  When our neck is stiff, we massage it and warm it up.  When a physical part of us is having a problem, we work with the issue, figure out how to help it and get help if we need it.

man+woman =one.

VERY different than the ‘throw away’ attitude our culture has of marriage today, isn’t it?

Sometimes married people joke about their ‘better half’.  What if we really believed that?  How would our marriages be different if we acted like we believed that?

Please help us honor you with our marriages, Abba Father.

My Eyes

It’s amazing!

How do my eyes work?how-or-better-who

I don’t know.  I know there’s a retina and fluid and a lens and a lid and….more parts.

But how can I see through them?

How intricate is this whole process that enables me to see light, dark, colors and shapes?

This is total mind-boggling for me.  I know there’s a scientific reason.  But who created the science behind it?

I don’t have to look any farther than my eyes to believe in a Creator God.

I don’t understand everything about God.  How could I?  I only have a 3.5 pound brain.  My brain is like a grain of sand compared with God’s spaceship of genius.  And that doesn’t even come close to describing God’s intelligence……its just the thing I can think of with the most lights, buttons and bells 🙂

I can only understand God at a very basic level and, after that, I just have to trust him.  I have to trust in him even though I can’t explain him.

I have to have faith.

I am grateful that God is beyond my understanding.  I am grateful that he is all-knowing and all-powerful even though I can’t sufficiently fathom what either of those two words describe.  I am grateful that he is eternal.  I can’t imagine what that means, either, but I know that it’s true of him.

Because he has told me in his Word.

And I trust him.

I am trusting him with my life….

and I am trusting him with my death.

Thank you, Abba Father.

In the Beginning…..

A new page is turned.

New possibilities have opened up.

What’s going to happen?

I don’t know.

For some reason, many of us say that we don’t like change.  But then we generally like new beginnings.  When we make choices that cause our lives to change and we can call it a ‘new beginning’, we’re ok with it?  But we don’t like change?

Yes, we are strange and wonderful creatures.

And I am one of the strange and wonderful creatures who likes change.

Change is good.

I was taught to like change through my over 34 years of working for corporate Jack in the Box.  We were constantly moving and adjusting and changing.  If I didn’t like a change, I didn’t have to wait too long  for it to change again.  As long as my strategic brain could see us improving – hitting goals and moving forward – I liked it.

This has really helped me enjoy our electronic age where things change so quickly and so often.  I’m typing this on my new ‘retirement’ laptop with a touch screen and the whole computer can turn into a pad.  I haven’t figured out much about this computer beyond doing what I’m doing right now.  But I will!

One of the things I love about God is – he doesn’t change.

In the beginning, God.in-the-beginning-genesis

He was here before the beginning and he will be here after the end.

He has promised – it’s a fact.

In our crazy world of unknowns, God wants to be known by you and by me. He gives us his Word.  He gives us his Spirit.  He gives us a spiritual family.

He wants us to know him and he guides us towards himself as we read, listen and obey.

I am extremely interested in discovering the new possibilities God is going to bring my way in 2017.  As I start reading through the Bible again for the 6th year in a row, I am confident that God has new things to teach me and he also wants to remind me of other truths that I know but I’ve forgotten.

I’m so glad you are taking journey with me.  I would love to hear more of your thoughts and experiences as we take this trip through God’s word in 2017 together.

Thank you for new beginnings, Abba Father.

Not a Democracy

We are blessed to be living in a country ruled by a democracy.Jan 28 2016 Not a Democracy

Those of us who have chosen to let God be King of our lives are now living in a Theocracy.

It’s all about what God wants.

His desires.

His plans.

His purposes.

How easily we forget that!

If we want God to be Lord of our life, we have to submit our own plans and desires to him.

We have to make the choice each day to take ourselves off the throne of our lives and put God on it.

Each hour.

Of every day.

Please help us make our lives a true theocracy, dear Father.

 

More Than Enough

We can often feel like we don’t have enough –

enough money to buy enough stuff to make us happy.Jan 27 2016 more than enough

So, let’s ask ourselves.  How much stuff will it take to make us happy?

We’ve all experienced that empty feeling a little while after we finally buy something we’ve wanted for a long time.  Something we thought about so often that our want turned into a need.  Something we really thought would make us happy.

Yes, we were happy.  It was great!  For a while.

And then we started to think about something else that we really wanted.  That we needed.  I will be happy when I get this next thing….

We weave a tangled web of discontent when we focus on our desires.

We are reminded of God’s provision as we read the historical account of the daily miracles God gave to the Israelites when he gave them manna in the morning and quail at night after their exodus from Egypt.

In the middle of the desert.

Quail at night.  Manna every morning.  Enough for each day.

He provided for them thousands of years ago.

And he provides for us today.

Just like the Israelites, we are often discontent with God’s provision.

We don’t trust him to take care of tomorrow so we are a workaholic today.

We don’t think he provides enough.

We can’t wait.

So we run up our credit cards, getting deeper and deeper in debt.

My small group Bible study is completing Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey.Jan 27 financial peace university

I’m reminded that it’s never about how much we make, it’s about how much we spend.  These 2 numbers need to match up.

We’ve taken several other financial studies through the years because we know that how we treat our money is important to God.  So we have a lot of it figured out but we’ve gotten a little sloppy in some areas.  I’m looking forward to improving our plan for telling our money where to go.

Avoiding debt is a huge factor is being able to be content with what God has already given us.  Paul reminds us in his letter to the Philippians that we have to learn to be content. He calls it a secret because so few people learn it.  That’s not easy in the midst of our culture which worships the ‘god of More’.

It comes down to trust.

Do we really trust God to provide for us?

Can we learn to be content with what he provides?

I believe that God provides more than enough when we are focused on him.

He provides for us physically and, even more important, he provides the important things that money can’t buy like love, peace, and joy.

How much joy do you have in your life?

We trust you to provide what is best for us, Abba Father.