A New Thing: Forgetting & Remembering

This is what the Lord says—he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, who drew out the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise. Isaiah 43:16-21

FORGETTING

As this new year dawns fresh, it’s time to put away the past. We humans too often live in our thoughts. We rehash old hurts and wounds. We plot scenarios and think “If I’d only said this.” We want to redo the past and make it right. But that is not possible. We are time-bound creatures, not yet the immortal souls who live outside the bounds of time with The One who created time itself. This can weigh heavy on the minds of people filled with regrets. But there is also a freedom in having to let go of the past.

Here in Isaiah 43 the Lord tells His people, Israel, and also us, to forget the former things. Put them away. Quit dwelling on them. Do not let them take up precious thought time in your brain which in turn uses up precious energy and creativity God wants you to use to move forward this year in carrying out His will for you.

This morning as I read a Navigators’ devotional by Jerry Bridges called “Holiness Day by Day,” one that I read every day, this thought grabbed me. “I’m dismayed at how little we Christians pray for the success of the Gospel among the nations. If we honestly examine our prayers, we find that we give the greatest priority to our own earthly needs.” I was instantly convicted of how often I allow little hindrances, annoyances, hurts, or disappointments control my thought life, to keep me from praying for the Gospel to go forth with power. When I can’t, or won’t let go, those little things dominate me and I become self-focused rather than God-focused, my selfishness is evident even inn my praying. This morning I realized that if I can’t turn loose of these former things I will not be ready to see and understand and participate in the “New Thing” God is doing all around me to make His kingdom come here on earth – those things He is wanting me to be involved in.

How do we “forget the former things? Especially those things that seem like giants in our lives?

  1. We pray. “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24) When we are able to pray this way we give God access to convict us and change our hearts and our thinking patterns.
  2. We seek keep in step with the Spirit and allow Him to produce His fruit in our minds and souls. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” (Galatians 5:22-26)
  3. We control our thoughts. We make the choice to do our part to work at not allowing Satan to control our thought life. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)

REMEMBERING

“Remember this, keep it in mind, take it to heart, you rebels. Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’ Isaiah 46:9-10

Just 3 short chapters after the Lord through Isaiah commanded the children of Israel to “Forget the former things,” He now tells them to “Remember the former things.” What?! Lord which is it? I’m sure you’ve noticed, as I have, that God is often paradoxical in the way He works, and frequently He says things to us that seem like opposites. Such is the case here.

While we are to forget past hindrances and let the emotions connected with them die, we are also to remember the former things God has done in our lives. What are we to remember? The answered prayer. The trials He brought us through. The miracles He performed in timing and answers and healing. Those “God moments.” The enemy of our souls will make us forget these things so that when we face difficulties we will doubt and worry and fret – all things the scriptures instructs us NOT to do. If we do not consciously keep ourselves aware of the mighty ways God has worked in our lives we will become despondent and lose hope.

So I encourage you this year to keep a journal. Write down God’s miracles and answers and perfect timing in black and white so that you can go back to it in the dark times and see the facts and be encouraged. Write down your doubts and fears and questions and prayer requests so you can go back and later and see how God has moved in your life. You may even find God answered with a “no,” but that now you are glad He did.

This year I challenge you to look for the “New Thing” God is doing in your life. Be patient. Go with the flow, even when it doesn’t seem the way you planned it. I challenge you, and myself, to forget the past as it weighs us down and to remember the past as it speaks of God’s mighty works. Let us join God in the things He is about and let our wishes move to the back burner.

Have a blessed and growing 2021!

What’s Your Word?

How do you usher in a new year? Resolutions? Commitments to work out, or eat right, or save money, or de-clutter, or read your Bible more?

As this very challenging year rolls to a close, let it not go out leaving us in despair. Let us send it on with gratitude for lessons learned, most importantly, for the knowledge of the brevity and great value of life. Then let’s usher in 2021 with the greatest hope and trust in our Father God.

While all those commitments and resolutions may sound like a good thing, I find that I go strong after them for a few weeks and then return to my old habits. A more useful tradition I have developed over the last few years is the habit of finding my watchword for the new year. That started several years ago at the prompting of our pastor.

My first word was “life.” My mom had died May of that year and I had spent the next 7 months grieving. My health was not good, I was having frequent anxiety attacks. I was scheduled for a hysterectomy. It felt as if I was living in death not life.

The word came to me out of a quiet time with the Father, as usually happens each year now. I new it was time to start living again, not grieving away my hours and not being satisfied with bad health. “Life” became a crucial watchword in my life that led to a turning point. In fact, in the renewal of that year and the creative push of the Creator in my life, this blog was born. That year was a fertile year and a re-awakening. I did embrace life, and found how to truly live again.

Since that first word I’ve had several others, grace, surrender, and now strengthen and steadfast. As the Covid social distancing wore on into October and my yearly Bible reading plan was walking me through the last half of the New Testament, I came across these verses, my verses for the year:

Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. Hebrews 12:12-13 ESV

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV

They each pierced my heart. I have weak knees, physically. I sometimes feel they hold me back from the work the Lord has for me. So He’s telling me this is my year to strengthen them. I’m also at a stretching time in ministry. The second verse was a word of correction and encouragement from the Father Himself for me to keep working steadfastly. He has a purpose. It’s not in vain.

My words are dear to me. I challenge you to get to a quiet place for an extended period of time over this holiday season. Dig into the Word. Pray, pouring out you heart to the Father, but also listening in the quiet for Him to reveal your word and His purposes for you for the coming year. Pray and seek until you get your word and your verse. They will be dear to you. You will be surprised at how often the Father brings them up around you as you go through the year. You will also be surprised at what you see Him doing in and through you in relation to the words and verses He gave you.

He is a good, good Father and He has a plan for you for 2021! Let’s not go into this year with fear, nor with escape as our motivating factor. Let us go into 2021 open-eyed and alert, ready for whatever the Father brings our way. Trusting and knowing He is with us. Learning and growing in our relationship with Him. May 2021 be your best year yet in spite of any obstacles life may throw in your path. You can rest in the fact that while they surprise you, Your Father saw them coming, they did not surprise Him!

20/20 Vision: Do You See What I See?

A charming Christmas carol and personal favorite of mine begins with that very question:

Do you see what I see?

Said the night wind to the little lamb,
Do you see what I see?
Way up in the sky little lamb,
Do you see what I see?
A star, a star,
Dancing in the night,
With a tail as big as a kite
With a tail as big as a kite.

Often our most precious gifts begin with a look. We look up at the sunrise first thing in the morning waiting to unwrap the gift of a new day that God has given us. We look over at a classmate in high school and sparks fly – the beginnings of a lifelong love. Kids look under the tree with eager eyes full of expectation. We look down at that tiny baby just seconds old, and our lives are changed forever by the best gift that we ever got. We look inward and see our sin and pain and need, and that is the beginning of a lifelong journey with Jesus – the best gift ever given.

Are we looking? Are we taking time to look around, to see those who are hurting? Those in need? Are we seeing the desperation of souls that are empty and lonely because they don’t know Jesus? Are we taking time to look?

Are we listening, too? This time of year the songs proclaim God’s glory and perfect gift. The bells and harps, guitars and orchestras, and the voices – lone and clear are full choir and rich and harmonic. What joy to listen! God uses these sounds to soften our hearts and prick our spirits. Are we listening for God to speak to us? He may be whispering, “Listen to the lonely. Listen to the wounded. Listen to the angry and betrayed. Be my heart to them.”

Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy,
Do you hear what I hear?
Ringing through the sky shepherd boy,
Do you hear what I hear?
A song, a song,
High above the trees,
With a voice as big as the sea
With a voice as big as the sea.

Are we seeking to know what the shepherds in Bethlehem knew? The Christ child, the King, Immanuel had been born. A tiny babe who deserves all our gifts of worship and praise. Do we seek Hi through His Word? Are we wise women seeking to know Him and understand His ways and His purposes in our life? Let us bring Him our gift – our only gift worth giving the Baby King, our heart.

Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king,
Do you know what I know?
In your palace warm mighty king,
Do you know what I know?
A child, a child,
Shivers in the cold,
Let us bring him silver and gold,
Let us bring him silver and gold.

Listen! Proclaim! Celebrate! The Christ child is the goodness and the light and the hope that our world seeks! Make Him Known! Declare His Greatness! Share the Good News! Enjoy this season to the fullest! Enjoy Our Savior to the fullest! He came to give us life – life abundant! (John 10:10)

Said the king to the people everywhere,
Listen to what I say!
Pray for peace people everywhere.
Listen to what I say!
The child, the child,
Sleeping in the night,
He will bring us goodness and light
He will bring us goodness and light!

This Christmas season may you look and see. Listen and hear. Seek Him and know Him. Proclaim and celebrate the goodness and light He alone can bring!

Humbly Grateful or Grumbly Hateful?

A little song I used to sing with my kids went something like this…

“Are you humbly grateful or grumbly hateful, What’s your attitude? Do you grumble and groan, or let it be known You’re grateful for all God’s done for you?”

A very good question for us to consider today, especially after the year of Coronavirus! We could each spout out a list of grumbles and groans I’m sure. But 1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us that is not God’s will.

In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. 1 These. 5:18

No matter the situation – no matter how small or large, easy or difficult, sad or happy, stressful or peaceful your situation – there are always things we can discover and acknowledge to God with thanksgiving. ALWAYS!

Can we say with the apostle Paul…

“I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” Philippians 4:11-13

Have we, like Paul, learned to be thankful and content? Contentedness really is a by-product of being thankful.

We’ve lived through a challenging year, ladies. It has been difficult at times to have a grateful heart. But then at other times, like when I hear of a tragedy someone else is facing, I’m so very thankful for my own simple life problems and all. You too?

Have you had trouble being thankful for the hard things though?

Have you spent more time praying & thanking God or griping and running your mouth about these things? COVID, masks, government mandates, those who don’t wear masks, those who do, the election, …?

We need to develop the discipline to choose to see through thankful eyes and look for God’s provision and His purposes in ALL things. I don’t mean we’ll never have negative feelings or opinions. I mean we control our tongues, rest our hearts in Jesus, and look to our omnipotent Heavenly Father to handle all the things we want to be grumbly hateful about.

Thanksgiving in our lives makes us consciously aware of significant things that we may otherwise overlook. Thanksgiving focuses our attention in the right direction – from worry to praise, from fear to faith.

Are you able to give thanks …

  1. When life is chaotic.
  2. When catastrophe strikes. illness, loss, destruction, rebellion, disappointment
  3. When you feel rejected or unloved.
  4. When your prayers are still unanswered or are answered in a way that you do not like.
  5. When we don’t know how we will survive because of financial issues or job loss
  6. When we feel forgotten, overlooked, or abandoned.
  7. When we live in the shadows, not the limelight. 
  8. When we are not asked to serve in a capacity we really want to.
  9. When we face the death of someone we love
  10. When we face death ourselves.
  11. When we are in a season of depression or despair
  12. When we feel lonely

When times are challenging and and we find it difficult to find something to be thankful for, here are a few things to consider.

Jer. 29:11-14 states “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord.”

So what are some things we can be thankful for in a really bad situation?

Salvation of course! For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall never perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

1. God’s strength, protection, & help. Psalm 28:7

2. That God hears our prayers. John11:41

3. That we received the Word of God and accepted Christ and that His word is alive and active in us “performing its work in believers.” 1 These. 2:13

4. God’s direction through our trying times when we don’t know the right course to take. We must try NOT to live by our own understanding – by our own wits or worldly advice – but trust Him to get us through on a straight path. Proverbs 3:5-6

5. He has given us everything we need for life and godliness. 2 Peter 1:3

6. God’s peace that He will put in our hearts when we come to Him in prayer and thanksgiving! Philippians 4:6-7

7. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. Psalm 34:18

8. God will be there to comfort us in all our troubles. 2 Corinthians 1:4

9. He will strengthen us for service to Him. 1 Timothy 1:12

10. We have God’s provision! If He provides for the birds and adorns the flowers so beautifully, how much more will He provide for our every need. Matthew 6:25-33

11.  We Have Christ – the Hope of glory! Colossians 1:17

Today, choose to find something to be thankful for!

20/20 Vision: Cataracts

For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. Psalm 36:9

A few years back a sudden eye emergency landed me at the retina specialist’s office. Everything turned out well after a few visits over the following 6 moths, however, he made a comment as I was about to leave on my last visit that shocked me. He told me, an early 50-something that I had cataracts forming. What?! Was I getting old? I still felt young! Wasn’t cataracts a condition for my grandmother, not me? I immediately came home and read up on cataracts. Isn’t that what we all do in the 21st centry? Find out too much health info on the internet and scare ourselves silly?

As it turns out, cataracts are a quite common result of living. As we age the lenses in our eyes become thicker, less pliable, and cloudy. That cloudy lens is the cataract. It doesn’t come on overnight like catching a cold and waking up with a sore throat. Instead, the lens clouds slowly, imperceptibly over time as we age, not causing any problems at first until we begin to notice our night vision going, or we experience dim, blurry vision at any time of day.

Isn’t it the same way with our spiritual vision? We are going along fine and dandy walking with the Lord through life. As we mature we begin to see spiritual truths more and more clearly most times. But occasionally our spiritual vision may become cloudy. We slowly drift along not even knowing until one day an emergency situation causes us to suddenly realize we don’t have God’s perspective on things anymore.

It’s sad. We’re shocked.

Maybe you’ve seen this in others. Godly people, serving the Lord faithfully. Then they start doing something not really wrong, but different. Maybe they miss church more or hang out with a different crowd or develop habits you internally know aren’t good for them, but you are hesitant to speak up to them about. They drift on, getting further and further down the stream away from the people of God, until one day a couple of years later you run into them in the grocery store or somewhere and say “Hey! Where have you been? I’ve missed you!” only to find they have moved on to another lifestyle totally away from from the heart of God. Their lens has gotten cloudy and they have lost their way.

It’s sad. We’re surprised.

Or perhaps you’ve seen this in yourself. You wake up one morning and say, “Where am I, and how did I get here?” You find yourself in a spiritual morass, stuck in the muck of sin and rebellion, when just a couple of years ago you were on fire for the Lord, maybe even leading a Bible study group. How did this happen?! Your lens grew cloudy. Spiritual blindness set in.

How do we handle spiritual cataracts?

First, just like with physical cataracts, we want to stop them before they start if we can. How do we do that? My eye doctor pushed me to wear dark lenses whenever I am out in the sun. It seems there is a connection between sun damage to the eye and the development of cataracts. So everywhere I go I wear sunglasses now. What do we know to do spiritually that will keep our sight healthy? Read God’s Word, study God’s Word, memorize God’s Word. Obey God’s Word. Pray and listen for His still, small voice. Share in community with the family of God. Be discipled – have someone who holds you accountable. It is much too easy to be a blind, wandering sheep when we are not in contact with others to help offer words of direction and correction.

Second. If you wake up with the “Where am I, and how did I get here?” feeling, drop to your knees and cry out in repentance. Repentance is doing a 180 degree turn around to get back on the right path. What is the right path? Ask God’s forgiveness and for Him to get you back on track and restore your soul. And follow through with just what we said in point one.

Third. Don’t depend on yourself and trying to be perfect. Go to the expert – your Creator. The Life in Christ is not lived in our own strength. We are empowered by the Holy Spirit to live a God-focused life that can see clearly and avoid or be healed from cataracts. How are we empowered? By just what we said in point one. The Life in Christ is very simple: Stay in The Word. Prayer. Obedience. Community. The Holy Spirit will equip us and empower us. Scripture will instruct us, convict us, correct us, and train us in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16)

We may stumble in sin and be temporarily blinded, but Jesus is capable of making the blind see! Our spiritual eyes may have developed cataracts that have clouded our vision, but our Master Surgeon can restore us to full sight. Come to Him and allow Him to treat your blindness.

Election Day Perspective

This Election Day seems full of tension and concern (if not downright fear and anger). As we go vote today, we need to be reminded of blessings, put things into perspective, and encourage our hearts.

We are blessed to have a Creator God who loves us and made a way for us to find atonement for our sins.

We are blessed that God’s love is so great that He would sacrifice His
Son Jesus ion our place.

We are blessed to have the hope of eternal life with Christ in Heaven.

We are blessed that God is in control, and no matter the outcome of the election, He is still in control. Don’t believe the false narrative that if your person doesn’t win all is lost. That is a fear tactic of the enemy of our souls.

We are blessed to be alive and breathing today. God has a purpose for us today.

We are blessed to live in a free country where voting and discourse on government is not banned.

We are blessed to live in a rich country where the bottom 20%, the poorest of our poor in America, are richer than the average person in most European nations.

We are blessed in America with the freedom to speak and worship as we choose and not have our daily actions dictated to us.

We are blessed to have families and friends who love us.

We are blessed with heat on a cold day, water we don’t have to walk miles to draw from a well, and basic necessities to live.

We are blessed to have friends and live in common city with other believers where we can draw together to pray and encourage each other.

We are blessed here in Alabama today that we are not living in fragile wooden shanties with a Cat 4 hurricane pressing down upon us as Nicaragua is. (Pray for the people of Nicaragua and Honduras today!)

I could go on…

But instead, I ask you to go on. Make a written list of some of your blessings today. Instead of fear and dread of the future – count your blessings. Instead of arguing and hating – list you blessings and allow it to spur you to love all those around you. Instead of writing, posting, or speaking maliciously today, write down your blessings. Write words of hope, love, and encouragement. Speak life into the world around you. Speak God’s Word. Speak peace. Live like Christ. Forgive. Love others. Pray for God’s will to be done.

“Our Father, who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.

Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For Yours is the kingdoms and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”

For if you forgive other people for their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive other people, then your Father will not forgive your offenses.

Matthew 6:9-15

Time to Stand!

When my second child was getting to that sweet stage of just-about-to-take-her-first-step, we were so excited! Our eldest had taken that first step alone on his first birthday. Now our second was right on track to do the same. She was already pulling up, and would even stand up in the middle of the room on her own. She walked round and round the coffee table holding on. She walked into Sunday School holding our hands every Sunday. We just knew she would do the same thing her big brother had done.

The evening of her 1st birthday, once all the guests were gone, my husband and I sat down in the living room floor about 8 feet away from each other. Far enough, but not too far. I had Little One in my lap. I stood her up on her feet, turned loose, and proclaimed, “Walk to Daddy.” She stood there a minute, turned her head to grin at me and promptly sat down.

Daddy was going to fix it. “Give her to me,” he said, “I know she’ll come to you.” So we reversed roles. This time Daddy got the grin and the girl plopping down at his knees. It was kinda comical. We decided she was tired from all the fun and we would let her try tomorrow.

Tomorrow came, and you guessed it, same story. It became a daily routine, and a little game for Miss La-La. It didn’t just go on for a week. No. Nor a month. No. And she heightened her game. It got to where she knew what was about to happen, and if we tried to stand her down on the ground she would pull her little legs up to her tummy so her feet would not touch the floor. As weeks turned months we inquired of our pediatrician whether we should be worried or not, and he proclaimed her to be “Fine. She’ll do it when she’s ready.”

At 15 months old, she was the odd-ball in the church nursery. One particular Sunday, the nursery workers were giving me grief about it as usual and I laughed it off as we hurried out the door to go visit my sister, Phyllis. Arriving an hour later in my sis’s home, we hugged, ate lunch and started the social “catching up” we Southerners do when we haven’t gotten together in awhile.

My sister is the heart of the family – loving, accepting, gregarious, and never without a huge welcoming smile. Everyone is drawn to her, including my Little Miss La-La, who laughed and spoke gibberish to her from the moment my sister hugged her. There were about a dozen of us seated around Phyl’s living room on couches, the floor, and kitchen chairs we dragged in. La-La was happily playing at my knees when there was that natural lull in the conversation. Phyllis smiled, held out her hands, and out of the blue said, “Lauren, come see me!” And you know what? She did! La-La stood up and took off across the room. Her first step was about 10 steps, and not the wobbly, baby kind. She just walked. We were all shocked, and my sister was thrilled that Lauren chose to walk to her first.

By the time we got back to the nursery that night, La-La was running. Yes running! And all the nursery workers were amazed that within a span of 6 hours the non-walker had become a runner. It’s a favorite humorous story our family loves to retell at all our get-togethers.

So why do I tell you this story?

Many times I’ve read Ephesians 6:10-18 and have been told to “put on the armor of God.” I always pray that, and want to do that, but in a crisis situation I would end up flattened – feeling totally laid bare and not sure where my armor even was nor how to use it. As I read this passage in Ephesians recently my mind caught on the words of verse 13.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then…

Put on the armor… so I’ll be able to stand my ground…

After I have done everything else, to stand…

Stand firm then.

Hmmm… Stand firm then.

Suddenly those images of my 15-month-old came flashing into my mind. She did everything to be able to stand and walk. But she wasn’t walking. After she had done everything to learn to stand and walk, then she had to do it. Stand firm then. Walk then. It was her choice. And she chose not to. She didn’t stand and walk for a few months.

How often are we like my baby girl? How often do we do everything at church? We go to worship, sing in the choir, go to Ladies Bible study, help with ministry projects in the community, serve and encourage and seem to be mature Christians old enough to “stand” when the tough times come. Yet when they come, we buckle our little legs and collapse in a heap. After we have done everything to mature in the Lord and to learn to “stand” in Christ, we still allow ourselves the option of not doing it. We simply don’t stand firm. We choose not to, just like my little one chose not to stand and walk even though she could have.

Ladies, it’s time for us to no longer be babes. It’s time to grow up in the Lord and decide to stand firm under our own will. We have trained. We are ready. Will we choose to stand or will we cry out like dependent children for someone to hold our hand? It’s time to Stand!

Digestion

I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. Psalm 119:15

Charles Spurgeon, in his devotional book Morning by Morning asks, “Why is it that some Christians, although they hear many sermons, make but slow advances in the divine life?” A great question to ponder today.

We have all, most likely, found times in our lives when we were doing all the Christian disciplines, yet growing in Christ seemed to evade us. We felt stagnant maybe, or perhaps legalistic. We read the word faithfully, but it fell on our hearts with a cold distant feeling. We prayed, yet without fervency of spirit we had known before. We attended services with believers, but went away unchanged. We probably asked why, and evaluated our lives for any sin and prayed to be delivered from that drought of the soul.

Spurgeon makes a very interesting observation as to why this may be that we can “go through the motions” yet not advance in our Christian walk. It all has to do with digestion.

In the physical world, digestion is crucial. Food can go in the mouth, but if an illness causes the body not to be able to digest the food the body goes without nourishment. I saw this happen with an elderly family member whose body was declining. Her chart was first labeled her with “failure to thrive.” Food was no longer enticing to her. And eventually, because her body was no longer processing the food it received, her system began slowly failing.

In the spiritual world just as in the physical, digestion occurs when the nourishment taken in is processed and broken down in order to benefit the health of the person. Our stomach digests food slowly over hours. Similarly, our spiritual food cannot be used effectually if it is gobbled down in a quick ten minute reading of scripture before work or listening to a 30 minute podcast from our favorite Bible teacher on the commute home. Those are simply ways to take the spiritual food into the mouth. This food needs to be mentally digested too. Do we ever go on to chew up this food and begin to digest it in a way that it nourishes our soul?

It takes active meditating on the things of God to get the real soul-nourishment from them. Time needs to be spent dwelling on it to digest it. Don’t just read the Word of God, meditate on it. Don’t just listen to the podcast, contemplate its impact on your life. Spend time as my granddad used to say “ruminating on it” to get its full flavor and meaning and benefit.

We are a microwave society and want to have everything now. But the deeper truths of scripture that will grow us more and more into the image of Christ come only through a deep contemplation and consideration of the meaning of scripture, in order to apply it to our lives. Find a quiet place away from the bustle – which isn’t quite as hard during this coronavirus pandemic – and focus on God’s Word. Meditate on it. Pray over it. Journal what God is speaking into your heart. Allow His Word to do its job of feeding you and growing you into His likeness.


I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. Psalm 119:99

Flying From the Nest

The nest is empty. But the nest of the heart still holds the fledgling offspring as if they were newly hatched. A mother’s heart doesn’t turn loose just because a warm body is no longer in the bedroom each night.

Whether just down the road in their own place, hours away at college, married and establishing their own family, or halfway around the globe; they are still her little nestlings. Her heart thrills and mourns with every joy and tragedy she hears they experience. She grieves and prays over their heartaches and losses. She exults over their accomplishments and adventures as if those achievements were her own.

When the babies take flight our heart realizes that the pains and joys of childhood do not hold a candle to the grown up pains and joys that cause the heart to ache with overwhelming despair or rapturous delight.

Today Mama Bird, if you find yourself fretting over a little birdie who is eternally tied to your heart yet physically out of reach, try to remember our Father in Heaven and His care for our little birds.

~ I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. Psalm 37:25

~ May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children. Psalm 90:16

~ But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children. Psalm 103:17

~ Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Matthew 6:26

~ Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands. Their children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Psalm 112:1-2

~ May the Lord cause you to flourish, both you and your children. Psalm 115:14

~ Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Psalm 127:3-4

~ Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. Yes, this will be the blessing for the man who fears the Lord. Psalm 128:1-4

~ And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:21

He meant for them to fly from the very beginning! And it is good. Trust Him!

Snapping at Flies

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise. Ephesians 5:15

Our cute little black Grand-dog brings much humor to our lives. One of the funniest things to watch him do is chasing flies. Yes, you read it right. He hates flies, and chases them gnashing his teeth trying to catch them. If he does catch them, he actually eats them. Gross! I know.

One day as I was watching him, I began to wonder if Satan doesn’t sit back and laugh at us some days watching us snap at the flies he sends buzzing around us. You know what I mean? Flies like: a comment on Facebook that we just can’t let go and keep checking to see if the OP (original poster) has responded to our comment, a relationship based on jealousy that constantly buzzes around our heads as we say to ourselves, “She just did that to 1-up me,” or even the flies at church of little slights or offenses or feeling “Uninvited” as a recent book title proclaimed.

Satan knows how to bug us. Pun intended. He knows how to get us distracted with silly, meaningless situations that grab our whole focus and leave us unobservant of the things The Father would have us notice. Things like: the pain that Facebook poster is dealing with that makes her post harsh, critical things, the friend’s need for unconditional love that God wants us to give to them while letting Him (not others) fill us, or the loneliness and emptiness of those around us wanting to feel accepted and significant just like we long to be.

Let us not go around acting like silly dogs, ladies. It’s not near as cute when we do it as when my little dog does it – not cute at all. Satan knows how to bait us. He wants to get us so distracted with useless flies, that we miss the important things worthy of our focus and attention and energy, like nurturing and discipling our families, caring for the lonely and broken, and steeping our minds in His Word.

I know I’m not the only one who has ”read my Bible” with dozens of those flies buzzing around my mind and gone away totally unaware of having heard from the Father. Sometimes I can’t even tell you later in the day what I read about because my mind was so distracted.

And I’d bet I’m not the only one who has gotten a case of the mulligrubs, feeling so sorry for myself that I don’t have the mental energy to reach out and take a meal to a hurting person, or call someone who is down, or even bother to speak kindly to the people in my household. I become so self-focused because of those flies that I am not living out even the basic commands of the Word of God. I waste my energy on a useless chasing after things that don’t matter.

It’s time we focus on God’s purpose for our day. Let’s give up the petty distractions of the enemy for a rich life of obedience to God that will yield joy in our souls and something much more worthy of our time and effort than those silly flies.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 1 Peter 5:8-9