Fall Majesty

Fall Majesty

Psalm 96:6 – “Honor and majesty are before Him. Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.”

Today, I’m reflecting on the beauty and majesty of God’s creation. It is finally a tad chilly here in Tennessee which makes me think that maybe….just maybe we will have a fall season here in Tennessee. Yesterday, when I was going through pictures I took of the fall leaves last year, I realized all the bold and strong colors God put into his creation. As I looked at the striking colors of the leaves in the pictures, the word that came to mind is majesty. The vibrant colors showed God’s majesty. The colors of fall are bold, reflecting His strength, and beautiful, reflecting his majesty. They become a sanctuary for me to feel God’s presence.

As you take time to reflect, look for God’s majesty around you.  You may find it in unexpected places, or you may find it in the simplicity of nature.

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A View from Heaven’s Perspective

A View from Heaven’s Perspective

Heard this song today and was encouraged to see life through God’s perspective.  If you are struggling today, know that He is there for you, and rest in the comfort of His arms. Blessings as you listen!

The Encroaching Vine of Busyness

The Encroaching Vine of Busyness

“Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, I will give you rest.”
Matthew  11:28

“Wow!” I thought. “These trees are really thick on this road.  I can’t even see through the branches!” The side of the road was a mass of green leafy trees, so brilliant in the sun, and I was amazed at how many of them seemed so close together.  As I kept driving, however, I noticed that I couldn’t see any part of the trunks of the trees.  It seemed like leaves were cascading down the
trunk, instead of up to the light of the sun. It was then I realized that the trees were being overtaken by a broad leafy vine.  The vines had completely encased the trunks of the trees, all the branches, and the tree was actually in the process of dying.  “How sad,” I thought to myself.  “All this beautiful, luscious greenery is actually crippling and killing these trees.”

It is the same way with sin in our lives – in particular, the sin of busyness. When we are so busy doing things that seem good, positive, and beneficial, we can lose sight of what those “good” things are doing to our lives.  They are slowly encroaching on our personal time alone with God, and our quality time with those we love.  We keep adding events, and meetings, and ministry opportunities to our lives that fall into the “good thing to do” category, but we are slowly overtaken by our schedule. The busy lifestyle we have chosen slowly starts to crush our spirit and discourage our soul. We feel like all we are doing is “keeping up,” and we become useless in our service for God as a wife, mother, friend, as well as in our church ministry.

God did not mean for life to be this way. He gave us the principle of rest starting in Genesis 2 when he established a day of rest. All throughout the Bible this theme of rest continues.  In Matthew, God entreats us to come to Him and rest.  We need to look at our lives, cut out the vine of busyness at its root, so that it doesn’t overtake us and make us useless servants for God. Find ways to cut out the busyness in your life, so that your relationship with God and others can flourish and grow.

Frayed Edges

The LORD will accomplish that which concerns you.
Psalm 138:8a

Like the frayed edges of a flower after a storm, I stood helplessly staring out the window.  Life was uncertain, confusing and empty. Where was God in all of this?  What was his plan? How could He make sense of this?

We all have experienced these feelings at some point in our life, and we have experienced it for different reasons.  We  want to know – what’s going to happen, how it’s going to happen, and when it’s going to happen!  I would love to say  that if you just have enough faith, or if you just walk closely with God, or if you just pray hard enough …. You will know.  The truth is that sometimes, God is just silent – silent in how He’s answers us, but not silent in how He comforts us.  As we wait, He has given us “great and precious promises” to cling to. The question becomes whether or not we are clinging to them.

As the rain storm stops, the frayed edges of the flower are left with many droplets of water to nourish and feed the flower. The droplets of truth and comfort from God’s Word are the truths we need to cling to in order to nourish  our weary souls.  God is still there, working in your life; although, He may not have answered yet.  Go and find the comfort in His Word that He has for you today!

Waiting for Spring

 

Waiting for Spring

Wait on the Lord, be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord Psalm 27:14

The buds have just opened and Spring is just coming into bloom. The snow on the ground is gone. Waiting for Spring takes patience that I don’t have at all!  I was reminded of my impatience for waiting on God’s timing.  When the burdens of life are like the snow – melting too slowly – I am impatient for God to lift them and let the new life come out.  I don’t want the burdens of life weighing me down.  I want the breezy, newness of life to lift me up!  Why must I wait – because if the spring buds open too early, they often get a late winter freeze.  Waiting for the right timing to open brings out a beautiful flower, much prettier than I ever expected. Waiting for the timing of God until He brings things to pass makes life much more beautiful than I ever expected.

            As you journey through times of waiting for God’s answer, remember that His timing is best.  It is hard to wait, but His strength will get you through.  His answer will be the best, if you just wait for it.

Guest Contributor, Cindy Rooy

 

GOD ANSWERS HIS KNEE-MAIL

By Cindy Rooy

            Two images have never left my memory. The first is seeing my father on his knees beside his bed, head bowed, and praying with emotion in the middle of the night. The second is observing a man – over 90 years old – gladly kneel, but with difficulty, to pray at a community gathering. The time of day and one’s age are no longer an excuse. Are we too proud, lazy, or indifferent to kneel before the Lord?

            I felt God’s nudging to make prayer an active part of my morning. That meant pulling away from my memory foam bed and pillow, and literally getting on my knees. I was willing to demonstrate a submissive spirit, but after four surgeries, any pressure on what used to be my right kneecap brought tears. Not liking the idea of getting up earlier, and wanting confirmation from God that He wanted me to do this, I asked Him to be my alarm clock. Not only did He give me divine wake-up calls precisely at the requested time, He wouldn’t let me fall back to sleep. After a week of kneeling in early-morning prayer, God took away all of my knee pain.

            When we submit to Him, God rewards us. And He answers our knee-mail. Kneeling represents submission and humbling oneself, and that puts our thoughts and attitudes in the right perspective as we come before God with our praise, confession, gratitude, and requests.

            How often do we humble ourselves before the Lord? Do we consciously note that He is holy and we are not? The Lord told Isaiah, “This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit” (Isaiah 66:2). Peter and James quote Solomon’s proverb, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” They add that we are to humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand (1Peter 5:5-6), and submit ourselves to God (James 4:6-7).  

            The Bible gives a detailed account that a leper, synagogue ruler, Canaanite woman, and father of a demon-possessed son had knelt before Jesus with their request. A punishable decree did not stop Daniel from getting down on his knees 3 times a day to pray. Paul informed his readers that he knelt before the Father in his prayers. It didn’t matter where, for Paul, along with the disciples and their families, prayed while kneeling on a beach. Even Jesus knelt in prayer to His Father in heaven. There is a spiritual correlation between humility, submissiveness, and kneeling in prayer. David advises us to, “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker” (Psalm 95:6).

            Jesus humbled Himself to be obedient to death on a cross, and God exalted Him so that at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord (Philippians 2:8-11). We can do that now, and put into practice what we learn from the Bible. Let’s humble ourselves in submission to God, kneel in prayer, and notice a difference in our attitude, prayers, and God’s response.

I Be Like You

 “Therefore, be imitators of God as beloved children…” Ephesians 5:1

She came in to my room, all excited to show me her “surprise.”  As she burst in, she said, “I be like you, mommy!  I be like you!”  To my amusement she had concealer on her eyelids, lipstick every which way, and nail polish on her fingernails! (Well, sort of on her nails)  I couldn’t help but laugh, but not too hard so as not to disappoint her. J  It took a half-hour to get off the makeup and nail polish, and another half-hour to put the nail polish back on correctly – But it made my day!  The look of pure joy on her face as she presented to me what she thought was being like mommy.

            This was a poignant reminder to me of how God wants us to be imitators of Him.  As we go throughout our daily routine, we should try to keep this in mind. Asking ourselves the question, “Is what I’m saying or doing, imitating the God I love?”  If only it were as easy as putting on some makeup! It takes a daily dose of the Word of God in our lives to help us keep focused on imitating Him. If you can picture the pure enjoyment that comes from watching a child imitating someone he/she loves, you can imagine the joy God must feel when He sees us working to imitate Him!

Happy New Year

 

Resolutions Worth Keeping

Happy New Year! These three words conjure up all kinds of images in my mind:  Everything from favorite movies that featured a New Year’s celebration as a backdrop to memories of friends and family over for a party. For some people, it brings haunting, lonely memories of times gone by with a loved one who is no longer with them.  For others, it conjures up mixed feelings of hope for accomplishing the goals they have set, and trepidation for fear of failing to meet those goals.  But whatever the case, facing the New Year can be a time for reflection as we look to a time of new beginnings.  We often start these new beginnings with resolutions of some sort: to be better, more diligent, or in better shape. However, I am not a big fan of these resolutions.  In fact, I always hated New Year’s resolutions, because I never kept any of them! So, it seemed very unrealistic to me to even try to make any.

 However, I think resolutions can serve a purpose in our lives. Resolutions are an everyday of the year kind of thing … not just a New Year’s Day event.  Even the Bible talks to us about having resolutions to live by. Listed below are passages that give us some resolutions that can encourage us in our lives. As you ponder these, think about making a different kind of resolution this year:  Not the kind that may or may not help you lose weight, write more letters, or get out of debt.  Instead, make your resolutions the kind that will help you live godly each day of this year. Here are just a few of the verses I found:

In I Corinthians 6:15, it tells us to “ …stand firm in the faith…”

*How do we practically do this resolution? The next few verses are some of the ways I have found that Scripture gives us to stand firm.

 In Daniel 1:8, it tells us that Daniel “purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself…” 

            *For Daniel, this was a choice not to eat the king’s meat which had been offered to idols.  For you and me, this choice will be different.  In what ways can we purpose in our heart that we will not defile ourselves because we are the “temple of the Holy Spirit?” (I Corinthians 6:19)

 Psalm 17:3 says, “I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.”

*What a hard resolution this is! There are many ways we can purpose to keep our mouths from slander, gossip, anger, complaining.  The book of Ephesians gives us many ways in which we can avoid transgressing with our mouth.  The best way is to give thanks and have a thankful heart. (Ephesians 5:20)

 The last verse I want to share is one that gives me hope that the resolutions I make will come about in my life.

 In Ephesians 6:14, it says to “stand firm with the belt of truth buckled around your waist…”

*I love this one, because telling yourself the truth about God and his work in your life is the key to standing firm in your faith. Truth wins out in the end.  It trumps fear, doubt, and discouragement.

 So, as you head into this New Year, may you find some resolutions in the Bible that will be meaningful in your life and may you be encouraged in your walk with the Christ.

 

 

Feed and Follow

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Luke 9:23

Discouraged by the lack of a catch of fish, the men threw their nets on the other side of the boat.  Still, nothing.  Ready to call it quits, they began hauling the nets into the boat. Then a man shouted from the shore: “Put your nets on the other side!” Peter was not about to try again.  They had already done that numerous times and did not catch anything! John recognized the man as Jesus, and excitedly urged the men to try one more time. And when the disciples did what he said, they caught more fish than they could handle.

In the book of John, chapter 21, we see where Jesus finds the disciples after his death and resurrection.  He finds that they have returned to their lives as fishermen. He must have been sad that they had such little faith.  They did not believe what he had been telling them for three years! He didn’t reprimand them, though. Instead he took one more opportunity to teach them.  He gave them two commands:  Feed and Follow. I often wondered why Jesus asked him to feed His sheep first.  It seemed out of order. Don’t you need to follow Christ first before you can do any ministry? The reminder to minister to his followers, his sheep, was actually a way of probing the depths of Peter’s love for him. Peter is professing his love for Jesus, but when he says, “You know I love you,” he just uses the word for brotherly love. However, Jesus is looking for more.  Jesus was getting to Peter’s heart.  He knew that Peter could not serve him at all until he was willing to give up his own selfish desires and follow Jesus whole-heartedly.  It isn’t until the third time He asks Peter that Peter finally answers, “You know that I love you.” – using the word for self-sacrificing love. In order to do the work of the ministry, Peter would have to sacrifice self for the sake of the sheep. It is then that Jesus tells him to “follow me.” – The same way he told Peter at the very start of His ministry. He needed Peter to sacrifice self in order to be ready to follow Him. 

We need to evaluate our own hearts and see if our love for Christ is a self-sacrificing love. It is only then that we can follow Christ with our whole heart, undivided in purpose and plan.  It is then that we are ready to “feed His sheep.” 

Questions to ponder:  Is your heart divided over following God in your life, or are you undivided and unwavering in following after God?

Who are the sheep which God has placed in your life for you to minister to? Children? Husband? Neighbors? Extended Family?

Guiding Along or Pushing Along

 

Three years.  That didn’t seem like very long.  Three years until he is in college.  Three years until he leaves home for the first time.  Three years until my boy continues the journey from dependence to independence.  Is it possible that my baby has grown into this young man I see throwing a football with his Dad in the front yard?  As I pondered these thoughts, I prayed for my boy.  I prayed for his spiritual, emotional, mental and physical development.    I prayed for his safety. I prayed for wisdom in parenting him.

I’m sure many mothers have these moments of realization when, all of a sudden, their children seem grown up.  Time is all too short. They are filled with pride at the young man or woman before them, and sadness because they know their “baby” has grown up. We can lament the fact, worry about them, cling to them, or we can have joy over their development in life.

  I think that Mary, the mother of Jesus, felt this loss in relationship with Jesus when she came to see him and He did not choose to stop everything and come out to her, or allow her to come in closer to him.  In Matthew 12:46-50 we read that she and Jesus’ brothers were on the outskirts of the crowd, seeking to come closer to Him. They were rebuffed by the words he spoke next: “Who is my mother and who are my brothers?”  Looking at His disciples, he said, “These are my mother and brothers.”  We often focus on the hurt she must have felt at hearing those words. Instead, maybe we should focus on the fact that she was demanding to be up front with Jesus because of her position in His life.  I think this is a poignant picture of how we, as mothers, feel we have the right to demand our children behave in a prescribed way.  However, they are growing independent.  They are moving on in life, being exactly what God intended them to be: responsible, thoughtful, young adults becoming involved in the life He has provided for them. (I know that they do not act like this all the time, but for the most part.)  We should not demand priority in their lives, we should not demand anything. We need to take on the role of supporter, avoiding the hovering we did when our children were toddlers. God is moving them, let Him do His work.

I say this with vim and vigor … to myself! I constantly have to remind myself to let God do His work in their hearts.  Am I guiding them, still?  Yes. I am still responsible to guide and protect, but with no strings attached. Someone once told me that as mothers we need to micro-guide instead of micro-manage our children.  It looks more like a little nudge here, a little push there, instead of a demand here and a command there.  As we learn to let go of demanding, guilt-driven parenting, we can free our children to be and do what God has laid on their hearts.

As you pray for your children today, reflect on who God made them to be, and enjoy them for it!  Purpose in your heart to parent without guilt-driven comments, and micro-guide instead of micro-manage.

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