This is How….

I’ve always done it.

This is how I was taught.

My parents and my family have always done it this way.

Do you hear these things coming out of your mouth?  Thoughts like this pop into my brain but I try not to say them out loud because – everything changes.  God is a God of change.  Things are constantly evolving, changing.

My God is a God of transformation.

He is renewing my brain, opening my heart and growing my perspective and understanding.  I need to change.  I have missed God’s work in my life if I do things the way I’ve always done them.  If I act like I’ve always acted, it means I’m not letting God’s spirit move inside of me.

God told the Israelites through Jeremiah that they needed to change.  They needed to put away their idols and turn back to the One True God.

The people responded that they were going to continue to worship idols ‘ just as we and our ancestors’ did.

God was giving them a chance to turn back from disaster and they chose to continue traditions and habits that were going to destroy them.  They refused to obey.

They refused to change.  And the consequences were devastating.

Please open our ears so we will listen and obey, Abba Father.

Showers of Blessings

The old hymns bring back great memories for me.

I was raised in a conservative Christian home and a very conservative Christian church in the Midwest.  I don’t remember knowing anyone in my little home town who didn’t go to church regularly.

My father was a talented musician who owned and operated a car body repair shop for most of his life.  He had a beautiful, deep baritone voice.  My mother had a nice alto voice and harmonized well.  My youngest brother had a great tenor voice.  Unfortunately, I also sing alto so my family quartet was missing a soprano but there were many good sopranos in our church congregation.  So listening to my family sing the old hymns in church every Sunday morning was a treat – definitely my favorite part of the service.

Those great old hymns reverberated off the walls as my church family sang them with energy and confidence.  And my family contributed a beautiful part of it.

Great memories!

My little town also had ‘Hymn Sings’ at the town ballpark during the summer.  We would fill up the bleachers with people from all different churches while the organizers set up microphones and amplifiers on a stage over the pitcher’s mound.  They hauled in an organ (no drums or guitars here) and handed out song sheets.  People would yell out favorites and we would fill the summer sky with praises to God for 2 hours or more.

I would sing harmony with my mom – no music, just by hearing it.  I realized many years ago that I don’t know the melody of some of the old hymns – just the harmony.  But I know them by memory and I also have the second and third verses of some of them etched in my brain.

As I now read Ezekiel 34, these great memories come rolling through my brain as God says through Ezekiel, “there will be showers of blessing”.

One of the blessings in my life has been a long family legacy of faith and trust in God which creates awesome memories like these.

Thank you for your blessings, Abba Father.

Whatever

I pray…

then I listen…

and, when God points out my next step, I need to do it.

It’s a big mistake to ask God for guidance and then not do what he says.  That choice is going to cost me.  It’s going to cost you.  There will be consequences.  Our perfect Father is not going to miss this ‘teaching moment’.  So, when I ask, I better be willing to do what God says.

The Israelites asked Jeremiah to find out if God wanted them to go to Egypt.  God gave them a clear and loud ‘no!’ but that’s not what they wanted to hear so they went anyway – an extremely bad and costly decision.

A friend of mine told me this week that she has begun telling God ‘whatever’.  Not – ‘whatever, I don’t care’. But – ‘Whatever you want, Lord.  Whatever you have planned, Father.  I’m good with whatever you decide – just let me know if I’m supposed to do something.’

That’s a huge ‘whatever’.

In my life, I have found that it’s the perfect place to be.  When I say ‘whatever’ to God, I’m acknowledging that I am SO not in control.  And I’m trusting in the One who is.  I am also committing that I am willing to ‘whatever’ he wants.

Facedown on the floor, I say ‘whatever’ to the Creator of the Universe.  I say ‘whatever’ to my all-power Father who loves me and wants the best for me.

Surrendered.  Right where he wants me.

Whatever,  Abba.  I trust you.

Don’t Focus On It

Look around – there are so many things happening around us that can be very discouraging.

All around us families are crumbling – very discouraging.

Our politics – extremely discouraging.

An overall lack of respect  – very discouraging.

We can easily lose our motivation for being agents for God in this world.

Agents for good.

Agents who are pushing back the darkness so God’s light can shine through.

Yep – we will become very discouraged by all the craziness around us if we take our eyes off of God and focus on ‘what’s wrong with the world’.

This is not a new problem.

In the Bible, Ezra tells us about the joy of the Jews as they resettled in Jerusalem after returning from their exile in Babylonia.  They rebuilt the foundation of the temple and then held large celebrations.sept-24-2016-dont-look

These parties attracted the attention of their enemies who offered to ‘help’ them build the rest of the temple.  The Jews were smart enough not to accept their ‘kind’ offer so their enemies decided to find ways to discourage the Jews from finishing the temple.

They tried to scare the Jews so they would be afraid to continue their building.

They tried to make it very difficult for the Jews to continue to build.

They even got the officials on their side, trying to stop the Jews from finishing the temple.sept-23-2016-dont-look-b

But nothing stopped the Jews.

Because they kept their eyes on God.

He gave them courage to continue.

He gave them the strength they needed to continue.

And God even  worked it out so that the pagan Persian Officials paid for the rest of the temple’s construction as well as the first sacrifices that were made in it.

There was no need for the Jews to be discouraged.

God was in charge then –  just like he is in charge today.

He is working out his plan today…

and every day.

Thank you, Abba Father.

 

 

Persistent Knocking

Our conversations with God are often filled with requests.  And, throughout the Bible, God tells us over and over to come to him with all kinds of requests.  He tells us to lay our cares at his feet and leave them.

One of my favorite parables is the story of the Persistent widow.  She knocked and knocked and continued to knock on the door of the unjust judge until he finally took care of her issue and gave her justice so he could get rid of her.  As Jesus told this story, he then tells us ‘how much more’ our heavenly Father loves us so we should have no doubt he will take care of our concerns when we ‘knock on his door’.

I have used this ‘persistent widow’ method in the middle of several stressful situations in my life.  These were times where I needed to make a decision and I needed an answer from him so I knocked on God’s door until he answered.  This meant that I prayed about this issue every time it entered my head – easily 50 to 80 times in a day.

I found that many of these times, God changed my perspective as I prayed and listened.  He has actually changed my perspective in the middle of these stressful times more often than he gave me a direct answer.  By the end of some of these days, my understanding of what was going on was drastically different at the end of the day from when I started that morning.  That’s so ‘like’ him, don’t you think?

So now I don’t usually pray for a specific answer- I pray for understanding of what is  going on and directions for how to move forward.

In Chapter 9, Daniel reminds us in his penitent prayer that we don’t make requests of God because we are righteous.  We don’t make requests because we have done a lot of good things so now its God’s turn to pay us back.

We don’t make requests because we’re ‘good enough’.

We’ll never be good enough on our own.

We can make our requests of God because he is merciful.  We can make requests because he is full of grace.

We can make requests because he loved us first and sent his Son to die for us.  Jesus makes us good enough.

Thank you, Abba Father.

The Writing on the Wall

A human hand appears in the middle of King Belshazzar’s great banquet and it writes a message on the wall.

This would definitely get my attention.sept-21-2016-writing-a

And this is where we get the saying, ‘ I can read the writing on the wall’.  Many of us don’t know that this comes from the Bible.

King Belshazzar could not read the handwriting on the wall so he consulted with Daniel who was well-known for being able to interpret things when no one else could.

Daniel read the writing on the wall and told the king that God was bringing his reign to an end because the king had not acknowledged God as sovereign over all the kingdoms on earth.

That very night, the message on the wall was fulfilled and Belshazzar was killed.

One part of the message on the wall was ‘Tekel’ which means you have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.

The bad news for all of us is – our scales don’t look any better.  Our rebellion.  Our need for control.  Our self-centeredness.  Our busyness which causes us to ignore God – not have enough time for him.

The writing on our wall would have the same message…..

except for the fact that God loved us so much that he gave us an ‘out’.

He sent his perfect son, Jesus, to save us from the eternal separation from God which we have earned.  The entire Bible is a love story about how God created us in his image and desires to have a close, personal relationship with us.

God offers a gift of grace to each one of us which we first have to accept in order to get the scales moved in our favor.

Through Christ’s sacrifice, we can become precious children of God who are never ‘found wanting’ because Jesus did it all for us….

for all time.

It is finished.

Thank you, Jesus.

 

Psalm 89A, 2016

I will sing of the LORD’s great love forever.

I will tell everyone about your faithfulness to me.sept-18-2016-psalm-89a

I am confident that your love for us has no end.  You say in your Word that we, as believers, are your chosen ones.  We are a part of your church which is the Bride of Christ.

We join with all creation to praise you, LORD!

No one and nothing compares with you.  You are more awesome than all who surround you.  You rule over the sea and the waves.  The heavens and earth are yours and everything in them.

You created the north and the south.sept-18-2016-psalm-89a-b

You are powerful and strong.

You define justice and righteousness as well as love and faithfulness.

We are blessed when we walk in your light and truth, LORD.

We rejoice all day long because we know you.  You are our strength and our protector.

We will sing of your great love forever, Abba Father!

How Great!

How Great is our God!sept-16-2016-how-great-a

We can’t understand him!  His existence will never end.

Raindrops fall at his command – purified as they pour out of the clouds.   His thunder rolls out of the heavens and he scatters his lightening – sending it down to the depths of the sea.

His lightening hits its mark.  His thunder announces the approaching storm so that all creatures know its coming.

His majestic voice roars with the thunder – resounding out over the earth.  His voice is marvelous – beyond our understanding.

He sends the snow and the mighty downpour of rain to stop people from their labor so they can see and know his mighty work.sept-16-2016-how-great-b

‘The breath of God produces ice and the broad waters become frozen.’ (Job 37: 10 ).

He loads the clouds with moisture and his lightening flashes through them as they swirl over the face of the earth according to his commands.  His clouds can punish people.  They can also water his earth and show his love.

How Great is Our God!

We love you, Abba Father.

 

It Has Been Decided

As many of you know, our son, David, was a Phoenix Police Officer who was killed in the line of duty on May 19, 2016.  These last 4 months have been the most difficult and painful time of my life.

One of the ways God has comforted me is through this truth – ” A person’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.” Job 14:5.dave-and-grandma-at-northwestern

God has already decided which day will be the last day of your life here on earth and mine.

Knowing this helped me let go of my mother when she passed away 11 years ago.  We had a very close relationship and she was my role-model for how a Christian woman lives her life faithful to God – all the way to her last breath here on earth.  I realized, if God wanted her in heaven with him, then that’s what I wanted for her.

Ten years ago I found myself in ICU with twelve blood clots in my lungs – a life-threatening situation.  God told me clearly that I wasn’t going to die from that and I didn’t – even though 5 doctors told me the blood clots should have killed me.davey-and-grandma-rolls

It just wasn’t my day.

I know that God has reasons for picking May 19 as Davey’s final day here on earth. I may never understand those reasons but I trust God.   And, since God wants him in heaven, that’s what I want for him.

Knowing that this date was determined before Davey was born helps me avoid needless regrets…like –

  • I wish he hadn’t gone on that call.davey-and-mom
    • It wouldn’t have mattered.  This was his day.
  • I wish he hadn’t gone to work that day.
    • It would have happened no matter what he was doing.
  • I wish he hadn’t been a police officer.
    • He was born to be a police officer and he died honorably, serving his community and doing what he loved to do.  He wouldn’t have wanted to live or die any other way.

It was decided.  There is no ‘wishing’ something else had happened.  God decreed the number of Davey’s days here on earth and then he took Davey home.

Now, standing a foundation of God’s love and strength and grace, the rest of us are left on the earth to figure out how to move forward.  We need to figure out why we’re still here – what is God’s purpose for keeping us here?  And then we need to do it….until the day arrives that is already decided for us.

Meanwhile, through the tears, we focus on loving God and loving each other.

A bigger chunk of my heart is now in heaven with you, Abba Father.

He Is Roaming the Earth

Why is there so much evil in the world?

sept-8-2016-he-is-roaming-the-earthWhy are our families being torn apart?

Why are addictions the plague of our century?

Why are innocent children being abused and killed?

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Satan takes the credit for all of this in the first chapter of Job.

He tells God that he just got back from “roaming the earth, going back and forth on it.” (vs 7 )

And Satan leaves a wide path of destruction wherever he goes.

That’s what we’re seeing – the work of Satan.

Satan smiles whenever we lie.

He smiles when we do anything that wrecks a relationship or a marriage.

He smiles when we are impatient.  (Oww!  These all relate to me but this one hits the bullseye).

He smiles when we are self-centered and focus on #1 (ourselves).

Satan smiles when he can do anything to distract us from our relationship with God.  He’ll even bring good things into our lives if they will lure us away from God.

Satan is roaming……

today…..

everyday…..

going back and forth……

back and forth.

We need a full set of your spiritual armor each day, Abba Father.