20/20 Vision: Computer Glasses

I love new things! Always have. When I was a kid, if I saw something new advertised during Saturday morning cartoons I wanted it. It didn’t matter what it was – it was new! I was curious. I love to try new foods, visit new places, and make new friends. I even love moving to a new town – though that one is a double-edged sword since I hate to say good-bye to old friends.

At my recent yearly check-up with the eye doctor, I found something new! It may be old hat to you, but I did not know opticians now offer computer glasses. I was complaining to my optometrist about my struggle doing research that combined book work and computer work for several hours in a day editing this blog, and writing lessons and Bible studies. She responded that I would probably benefit from “computer glasses.” She went on to explain that the lenses were made to accommodate up close and moderate distance vision, but not the needs of seeing at a far off distance.

It was new! It was intriguing! I took the bait and ordered a pair. I must say, they solved my problem. No more neck aches from leaning my head back to see out of a different place in my progressive lens. Blue-light blocking built in so that my eyes don’t get tired or damaged from so much screen time. And clarity, whether I’m reading small print in my book or scanning a screen for Greek word definitions or C.S. Lewis quotes.

On a particular sunny morning as I sat at the kitchen table researching, my work-at-home-because-of-COVID husband strolled through on his coffee break to get some pistachios. He paused, looked at me seriously, and asked, “Are you wearing your computer glasses?” I reached up to touch the glasses I had on and realized I was not.

pexels-karolina-grabowska-4468154“No. I forgot to swap them out for my driving glasses when I came in from the post office,” I replied.

“I thought not, you were leaning your head back at a weird angle to look through the bottom of the lens. I figured if I didn’t say something you’d end up at the chiropractor with pain in your neck again.”

He was right. I was grateful. I’m glad I had someone to notice and offer me correction for something I was totally unaware of.

Sometimes we are like that in spiritual life. We may be doing something that we don’t realize may hurt us. Unless someone with insight notices and points it out before the consequences set in, we may find ourselves in pain or trouble. That is why discipleship/mentoring relationships are so important.

What is discipleship?

A discipler/mentor is one who walks alongside another to train them as followers of Christ by scripture study, prayer, accountability, and modeling the Christian life to them just as 2 Timothy 2:1-2 and Titus 2:3-5 show us.

And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. 2 Tim. 2:1-2

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” Titus 2:3-5

We all need a mentor, one to walk through life with us and point out to us when we don’t have our computer glasses on. When what we are doing does not line up with what is best as we see in God’s Word.

pexels-samantha-garrote-2467396It has been said that the discipling in our life should look like a ladder. At any time in life, whatever rung of the ladder we are on, there should be someone one rung above us reaching down to help us move up. At the same time we should be reaching out to those on a rung below to share our godly wisdom and help them move up to the next rung of understanding and spiritual growth.

Is it time for you to invest in another’s Christian walk?

Would you pray about discipling someone today?

(Check out GFBC’s Flourish Discipleship opportunities!)

 

Delta Means Change

My daughter moved this week to the Mississippi Delta. Her husband is working at Delta State University (DSU). As I saw the green triangle, a symbol for the school, I was thrown back to high school physics and Mrs. Frankie Underwood, my outstanding physics teacher.

Mrs Underwood was a tall, buxom lady who ruled our honors class with an iron fist, yet benevolently. She expected the best of us: study diligently, turn in your work on time, make the best grade you can, pay attention in class – all the basics. If we failed to toe the line we were loudly reprimanded in front of the whole class. In her booming Southern voice she warned us that we were about to become “a lost ball in high weeds.” This was the greatest tragedy and failure in her mind. We, the brightest and best in math at our high school, to be lazy or careless or not try, to be a useful object lost by the wayside – this was failure.

She taught us about force, inertia, and friction. She ground into us the slope formula, I still remember it, m=rise over run. She made us do word problem after word problem, turning the real world into mathematical equations that were useful. We talked through aps,504x498,small,transparent-pad,600x600,f8f8f8and experimented with velocity, acceleration, drag, wind and Delta, Delta V I remember particularly. We should have all become experts under her tutelage. I remember her showing us this simple equilateral triangle used to represent “change” in physics formulas. I still use that symbol in writing notes instead of writing out the word “change.” I’ve long forgotten how to compute formulas using the delta, but I still immediately think of change when I think of this symbol. 

So, this weekend as we moved my daughter and son-in-law into their new apartment, change was definitely on my mind. With triangles everywhere at DSU, I would have to be blind not to think of change. But also, there were the drastic changes in their life together: an upheaval, leaving a home they’d been in since their honeymoon, a church family that was more like biological family, and all their friendships, old jobs, favorite restaurants, and sentimental places around town.  

Change was heavy on my mind because my adult daughter will tell you she has never liked new things or change. She was the 2-year-old who didn’t want to learn to dunk her head under water at the pool, and was furious with me when I dunked her. She was the 8 -year-old wanting to grow up and sing solos in her children’s choir, but was fearful of the new changes she would face trying. She was the 10-year-old girly girl who was upset when her tomboy-ish 13-year-old sister suddenly wanted to start dressing more girly. She is the 27-year-old who lamented leaving her old home, friends, and church this week even though she knew an exciting new adventure awaited her with the Love of Her Life there in the Mississippi delta.

pexels-alexas-fotos-2277784Our world is also in a state of change – upheaval. The security we felt a year ago to just live life, spend too much money, hang out at the ball park, and hug people we met, that has melted away. The security of life operating by pretty much the same rules we had known since childhood has vanished. A willingness to share our opinions has dissipated as we feel we may be attacked for our ideas. The world is in a state of change. 

Are you, like my daughter, struggling with change?

Is all of this pandemic, political divisiveness, and social unrest just too much?

Are you struggling with an underlying sense of uneasiness, worry, nightmares, depression, or anxiety attacks?

Then ladies, it’s time to do what we always do in every situation, especially in uncertain times, we turn to God’s Word.

So I take you back to the time of the Patriarchs… Jacob was a man who faced many great changes. He changed (faked) his identity with his dad to steal his brother’s blessing. He was forced to leave his childhood home in fear of his life after that, so he moved far away. He fell in love with a beautiful girl and asked her dad permission to marry her, but his father-in-law changed out the bride on him! He went into marriage single and care free, and within a week had TWO wives and a battle of jealousy on his hands. He had 11 sons and decided to head back to his parent’s homeland only to find out his father-in-law had changed out the sheep to keep Jacob and his wives there. Jacob’s life changed with grief at the death of his precious Rebekah. Then he had grown sons who acted with jealousy against their brother and caused Jacob grief again at the loss of a favored son. He faced the changes of environmental factors as famine hit, which triggered more risk and loss. His whole world was rocked when he found out his dead son was really alive! And finally, in his last days he had the huge change of moving to Egypt to live out his days.

What can we learn from Jacob about change?

Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O Lord, who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your relatives, and I will prosper you,’ 10 I am unworthy of all the lovingkindness and of all the faithfulness which You have shown to Your servant; for with my staff only I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two companies. 11 Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, that he will come and attack me and the mothers with the children. 12 For You said, ‘I will surely prosper you and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which is too great to be numbered.’” …

24 Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. 25 When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.” But he said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 He said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked him and said, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And he blessed him there. 30 So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved.” 31 Now the sun rose upon him just as he crossed over Penuel, and he was limping on his thigh. Genesis 32

Jacob learned…

  1. He learned that God speaks to us in our moments of change.
  2. He learned that God blesses us and is faithful to us.
  3. He learned that we have a choice – to choose God as our own Lord or to live with our old sinful, deceptive ways.
  4. He learned to revere God as Holy.
  5. He learned how to trust God through all the change, deception, betrayal, and loss.
  6. He learned that God is a gracious provider and deliverer.
  7. He learned not to fear, but to trust.
  8. He learned to wrestle with God in prayer in the middle of the night, and to not let go of Him.
  9. He learned that God can give you a new name, new habits, and a new identity when He becomes Lord of your life.

Don’t fear change, ladies. Embrace it. Learn from it. Seek God in the middle of it. Stay in His Word, listening for Him to speak to your heart. Pray. Let Him find you there in your fear and wrestling, and He will bless you and give you a new name. And don’t be A Lost Ball in High Weeds! Live with Him in faith and fulfill your potential in His plan! 

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Do not fear! Change is all around in the world Our Creator made!

 

This Will Make a Great Story One Day

Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen. Psalm 77:19

Tough situations in life often leave us with a great story to tell.

As a college and young adult person I hated negative events that popped up in life: having an unexpected flat tire, running across campus in a sudden downpour and having to sit through class a muddy mess, getting lost in a strange city causing me to run late to an important interview, those type things. My goal as a young adult was to avoid all “bad” and ” difficult” circumstances. I know. I was very naive. You can’t expect to have only sunshine and roses in life.

A particular event my last year of college helped me change this “difficulty avoidance” I embraced. My brand new husband, Randy, and I headed out for a picnic to a local lake because we were a broke, college, married couple, and for cheap entertainment you could eat sandwiches out in nature just as well as you could at home. About 7:00 p.m., after a long summer’s day of swimming, picnicking, and fishing, we were looking for a small adventure to complete our outing. We got the park map and saw a road the led to the earthen dam which had been built to create this lake. It sounded like something worth of a brief exploration, and it was on the road out of the park, so we packed up our gear and headed that way.

We found the turn off and drove down the rutted, dirt/clay road to the dam. It was very anti-climactic! Disappointment. It looked like any other bank of the lake; there was no real view of the dam itself. Within 5 minutes we were back in the car to head out.

muddy-road-694774_1280I neglected to say that it had rained all through the night before this picnic adventure. I did say it was a rutted road and a clay road. I also neglected to say this dam was at the bottom of a long, somewhat steep grade. As my husband started up the first bit of incline in the road our tires spun a bit. He kept trying and spinning for a minute, then realized he probably needed to back up to a flatter place and get a running go at The Hill. Second and third try had the same basic result – either tires would spin or we’d run into one of the deep ruts and get stuck and have to back down The Hill to get out. It was then that fear came creeping in.

It was getting late. The sun was setting. The park closed at sundown. No one knew we were here. And yes, it was The Time Before Cell Phones! We were alone, left to our own devices to get out of this one.

I would like to say we prayed and were at peace and God provided a way out, but that is not the true story. We were getting more and more anxious, didn’t think to pray, and felt we had to figure this one out. More than just providing a way out, God provided a lesson we’ve never forgotten.

We walked up and down The Hill a couple of times examining the possibilities. My hubby thought he might be able to get more traction if he drove very close to the roadside near the trees where there were more leaves, sticks, and rocks. We were hopeful, this fourth try looked promising. We backed down to the flat place, revved the engine, took off along the edge of the road… started spinning and fell into a rut again. Stovalls = 0  The Hill = 4. The anxiety was growing because it was getting darker as the sun fell lower behind the trees.

Being the engineer that he is, Randy realized we had to deal with 2 problems: getting traction and staying out of the many long, deep ruts. So his proposal was we spend the next hour before total darkness dragging fallen branches and sticks and rocks from the woods to fill in the ruts and strew across the lengthy, slick patches of wet clay road. It would take most all the daylight we had left and leave us with only one shot to get up The Hill to safety. Failure would mean spending the night in the car. Alone. No food. No water. No restroom. No one knowing where we were.

I was skeptical and a nervous wreck by this time and fully into my usual line of negative second-guessing. Why did we ever think this was an adventure we should try? But what alternative was there? I couldn’t think of anything else, so we set about patching up the road up the hill. I can’t even tell you how long this took. It seemed like an eternity. But finally we had all the deepest ruts and slickest spots patched up with debris.

My husband thought he would be more daring to floor it and weave and dodge ruts up the The Hill. So he appointed me to be something similar to those air port signal men. (I white-jeep-suv-cruising-down-the-road-912843had to look it up, but they are called aircraft marshallers.) My job was to stand a couple of hundred yards ahead of him at the top of The Hill and use arm motions to direct him left or right to try to keep him away from the deepest ruts and slickest spaces, since we didn’t know if our patching would be completely helpful.

I climbed The Hill. He backed down to the bottom. at the shout of “1-2-3 Now!” he gunned it and took off my way. The plan was to floor the car up The Hill steering left and right like a madman by my directions, zooming toward me, and I was to jump out of the way at the last minute after he passed the last worst place in the road. I know. It sounds reckless. I would kill my young adult kids for trying such a stunt. But as they say, Necessity is the mother of invention! And those inventions aren’t always safe.

With much adrenalin, racing pulse, and sheer terror on my part, we worked our plan. Randy came weaving towards me at 45+ mph up The Hill. My arms flailed left and right directing him just in the nick of time away from this rut or that slick spot. He was getting really close, really quick. As he passed the final deep rut, I jumped left and he barreled on by me. It worked! We did it! He stopped on level ground a few yards away and I ran and jumped in the car.

We squealed! We laughed! We cried! We shouted, “I can’t believe it worked!” a few dozen times. All was well. After catching our breath and allowing the adrenalin to settle a bit, we drove home in the dark talking over the days’ events. One of us commented, “This is gonna make a great story one day.”

For the rest of our lives, when troubles come or sad, scary or horrible things happen, one of us will say, “This is gonna make a great story one day.” Our kids have even picked it up from hearing us say it at family outings that turned tragic in the moment.

So what is the point of my long story?

Our pastor says, “We are always are either in a storm, coming out of a storm, or about to head into a storm.” Trials will come ladies. They can wreck us or we can realize God allowed them as part of our story, and one day we will relish telling even the scary or sad parts of our story – once we have allowed Him to teach us through them and heal our hearts.

David’s song of praise in 2 Samuel 22 provides us with sweet reminders as we face struggles and trying times. (v. 2-37)

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the hornof my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior—from violent people you save me.” (v. 2-3)

“I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and have been saved from my enemies. The waves of death swirled about me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me.” (v. 4-6)

“In my distress I called to the Lord; I called out to my God. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came to his ears.” (v.7) 

“He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. (v. 17-18)

“…The Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. (v. 19-20)

“You, Lord, are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light. With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall. As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the LordAnd who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze.You make your saving help my shield; your help has made me great. You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way.” (v. 29-37)

The path of our life is allowed by God our loving Father. It is not always an easy path. Ruts and mud, and trying circumstances can bring fear and anxiety and almost overwhelm us. But God’s path for us is a broad path. He is with us on it. He helps our ankles not to give way. He delivers us, supports us, strengthens us, keeps us secure, and cares for us. He walks with us through trying times, even when (like me in my story) we don’t think to pray. Have faith in your Father God. Trust Him when times are tough and scary.

And I challenge you to remember, come what may, “This is gonna make a great story one day!”

This Will Make a Great Story... One Day!

Psalm 100

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!

Serve the Lord with gladness!

Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the Lord, he is God!

It is he who made us, and we are his;

we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,

and his courts with praise!

Give thanks to him; bless his name!

For the Lord is good;

his steadfast love endures forever,

and his faithfulness to all generations.

~ Psalm 100 ~

Where are you today mentally and spiritually? Are you weighed down and discouraged? Or are you focused on obediently following God’s Word?

Let’s all take a time-out and try to let the spirit of Psalm 100 inhabit our thoughts and hearts.

Where ever you are and what ever you are doing – make a joyful noise to God!

Serve Him – right now! Find a way. Just do it! And do it with gladness!

Sing! Sing praise songs, worship songs, hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs. It will bring you into Hs presence!

Tell yourself that He is God (And you are NOT!)

Remind yourself that He created you and therefore knows you better than anyone. You belong to Him not to yourself.

Take note that You are one of His people! But you are a sheep –  a rather dumb, wandering animal that focuses on eating and drinking and wandering away when she shouldn’t.

Make a list of all you’re thankful for, even in a bad situation – then Bless His name for His provision!

He is Good.

He will love you unconditionally. Forever. No matter what.

He is faithful to all generations. The world may seem to be falling apart and we may wonder what future generations will be like, but one thing we can count on is that God will be faithful to be there for us and for our kids and grandkids for all eternity.

Be blessed!

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20/20 Vision: Fog

On a vacation to the beautiful mountains of Virginia our family experienced one of our That-will-make-a-great-story-one-day events. It will require another blog post to fully explain that phrase, but suffice it to say, those are unexpected events that seem sad, scary, or horrible at the time, but we come to relish telling the story over and over as the years go by.

This particular That-will-make-a-great-story-one-day event started out, as they all do, with a normal day. From our cozy, rental cabin in Virginia just off the Blue Ridge arch_JDSC3104_523-259x355Parkway the six of us had set off that morning to visit Virginia’s Natural Bridge and surrounding outdoorsy tourist attractions. The day was great fun. The 4 kids were between the ages of 6 and 16, so they were independent and adventurous. We hiked and took photos, read historical markers, and marveled over the rainbow trout in the crystal clear creek that runs under the this non-manmade bridge.

Natural Bridge Virginia truly is a national wonder. This solid rock bridge fashioned by Our Creator and the forces of nature He set in place is so big, thick, and strong that the traffic of US Highway 11 crosses this bridge, though an uninformed traveler might not realize it. The 215 foot high limestone bridge was once owned by Thomas Jefferson, and you can even see one place where George Washington carved his initials on the wall of the canyon.

We went from the Park to a wax museum of historical people, and then drove to the James River for a picnic. After a late afternoon meal and lots of playing and hiking we headed back to our home-away-from-home. We passed through several small communities with only a flashing light and a couple of stores and were climbing back into the Blue Ridge Mountains by a different road than we had come. Since it was dusk, we planned to cross the mountains here and travel a 4-lane highway north along the other side of the mountains back to the turn off was for our cabin.

fuel-2741_640Less than a mile up the foothills, I looked down at our gas gauge. It was just short of the big red E – Empty! (This is not uncommon for me, so the whole family was giving me a hard time.) I quickly found a scenic pull off where I could turn around. The kids were a little nervous we wouldn’t make it back to get gas, but dad assured them he’d seen a gas station at the last little community we’d been through and that he was pretty sure we could coast to it if we ran out of gas.

Sure enough, we made it safely to the gas station – without having to coast in. We filled up and everyone breathed a sigh of relief, weary from a fun-filled day and the moment of fear and just ready to be “home.” I was still driving. What else could go wrong? I’d already nearly run us out of gas.

The sun had fully set by now, so I turned on the headlights as we headed back up the mountain. At nearly the same place where I had discovered we were low on fuel, trouble hit again. It was as if we had run into a gray wall. In just those few short minutes it had gray-concrete-road-between-trees-covered-with-fog-3808853
taken us to go get gas, a cloud had descended over the mountain. The fog was the thickest I had ever seen. We pulled off at a scenic overlook again, this time to get out the car handbook and figure out how to turn on the fog lights. After a little digging the fog lights were working and we thought we’d be on our way.

The fog lights did little to help our situation. We were completely engulfed by heavy fog to the point that I struggled to see the painted lines to stay in my lane and on the road. We were ascending the mountain, so the fog seemed to get thicker. The kids were giving us the whimpering “Mommy? Daddy?” voices, while we adults were debating the risk of keeping on driving versus the risk of trying to turn around when we couldn’t see. I slowed to under 15mph and still struggled. It got so blindingly gray that I slowed down even more and my husband, in the passenger seat, opened his door and watched the white line on the edge of the pavement as I drove to make sure I didn’t run off the road.

The short trip over the mountains, turned into over an hour of anxious driving before we crossed the peak and got far enough down the other side that we drove out of the fog bank just as suddenly as we had entered it. Relief filled the car as the danger faded behind us.

How often do we experience the spiritual version of this? We suddenly hit a spiritual fog bank that obscures our vision. Even right now in the US as we navigate through the unknown fog of COVID-19, rioting, racial tension, and political bickering I feel as if I’m in a spiritual fog. There have been several times these last few weeks that I have felt I needed help finding the white line and staying on the road. What are we to do walking blindly through this fog?

  1. street-238458_1280Stay in our lane. Keeping our eyes on the lines to stay in our lane spiritually means to be in God’s Word daily – as often as possible. The Psalms, all the wisdom books, Paul’s letters with comments on how to live and how to treat others, and the stories of the Old Testament that teach us about God and about people are crucial to read and know to stay in our lane. Once we’ve read them, then it is our job to live out the truths scripture teaches.
  2. Have someone in the passenger seat helping you. The old “Jesus is my co-pilot” phrase is really not a bad one. Some people say no, that we should let God be at the wheel. But all through scripture I see God giving people a job to do and then allowing them to do it. He’s always there directing and strengthening, but I don’t see Him driving so much. So make sure you are praying and in tune with the Holy Spirit and His direction as you navigate the dense fogs of life.
  3. Don’t let the fear and confusion blind you. Our emotions can ruin us if we trust them and follow them. We must trust our Heavenly Father over our feelings. Philippians 4:8 tells us, “ 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.” When our mind thinks on those kinds of thoughts, the emotions of fear, anxiety, anger, jealousy, confusion, pessimism, envy, and such fade away. Proper thinking frees us to see clearly through God’s eyes in those sudden times of turmoil.
  4. Trust the Light of the World to guide your through. God will be that guiding light in every situation. Are we focused enough to listen for His still, small voice that whispers, “Don’t type that post,” “Don’t say what you want to,” “Don’t take offense at that even though they meant to try to offend you,” “Forgive.” “Trust.” “Love.” At times the voice will be so quiet it will be like my lights in that fog bank, it will seem not to help much at the moment. We will find ourselves longing for a quick fix or retribution. That’s when we choose to follow the Light of the World even at what seems to be our own expense. He will get us through to the other side of that scary mountain. Trust Him.

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Happy 4th of July!

Celebrate!

Swim.

Laugh.

Grill out.

Watch some fireworks.

Make homemade ice cream.

Sing The Star Spangled Banner.

Enjoy time with friends or family.

Be kind and generous with a stranger.

Show Christ’s love and share His Good News with anyone you come in contact with.

And allow yourself to exchange your fear and anger for the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control the Holy Spirit gives.

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Happy Birthday America!

My country, ’tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims’ pride,
From ev’ry mountainside
Let freedom ring!

My native country, thee,
Land of the noble free,
Thy name I love;
I love thy rocks and rills,
Thy woods and templed hills;
My heart with rapture thrills,
Like that above.

Let music swell the breeze,
And ring from all the trees
Sweet freedom’s song;
Let mortal tongues awake;
Let all that breathe partake;
Let rocks their silence break,
The sound prolong.

Our fathers’ God to Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright,
With freedom’s holy light,
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God our King!

This July 4th, let’s cherish the liberty we possess in the USA that is so rarely seen around the world. Let’s take delight in the beauty of our country. And most importantly, let us us not forget the author of this liberty that we so cherish here in America – Our Creator God!  Let us turn our hearts toward Him. Let us cease our debating and griping, attacking and accusing, and lay those things down for kind words, loving actions, magnanimous thoughts, and humble prayers of repentance and intercession that seek God. Let us take to heart these words of the apostle Paul:

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant,being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man,he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:3-8

Father’s Day Thoughts…

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Creator God embraced equality between the sexes long before we humans did. The secular world somehow feels that to lift up one group of people (women), another must be brought down (men). That is not Father God’s view of the world. “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27) Both sexes are made in the image of God. Both have value. Both are cherished by God. Both are needed in His plan.

Because of the fight for equal pay and opportunities for women that has been going on here in the U.S. for years, the environment has changed in America; the status of women has been elevated and opportunities abound for the “fairer sex.” I am thrilled to honor female friends who have become leaders in business, in science, in medicine, in politics, and in our community. While as a woman I am delighted to see women celebrated for their achievements, as with all things, this coin has 2 sides.

There is an attitude of disdain for men in our society. The secular world today often frowns upon men as greedy, power-hungry patriarchs. Prejudging of men is common, as we’ve seen in the sweeping statements of groups that paint all men with a black brush, making stereotypical assumptions about males that would infuriate the populace if the same type statements were made about women. We see it bleed over into our entertainment and even into children’s literature, where the bumbling, inept dad is the butt of the joke and is constantly needing to be rescued by the mom or the children.

As Christian women we must uphold and respect and honor men as our equals in God’s plan. We are called upon to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” – family-557108_1280“others” means men as well as women. We don’t overlook the sin of either sex, but we also don’t condemn them as a whole group. Each person is accountable for his (or her) own sin and will bear the punishment.

As a woman who lost her father at age 11, I want to challenge you to value you dads and honor them while you still have them with you. Honor you children’s daddy, even if that may be a real challenge for you. It will be worth it. Philippians 2:3-5 tells us to “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.”

~ I challenge you, sisters in Christ, to look upon the men in your life today with the eyes of Christ, not the eyes of the world. See the best in them. Seek out the good. Forgive those gaffs and minor failings. Allow them to be human. Look upon them the way you would look upon another woman, as imperfect sinners, fellow strugglers on this journey of life.

~ I challenge you to speak life into the men and boys in your life today. Congratulate them on small steps in the right direction. Greet them with tones of love and tenderness. Let your tongue and the “To Do” list rest for a day. Accept them just as Christ accepts us, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

~ I challenge you not buy into the agenda of the wounded who speak ill of men out of pain. Not to listen to media that group all men into the mold of antagonists of women and misogynists. God has redeemed many men and women, and men deserve the grace of God and grace-filled treatment from us just as much as women do.

Let us use this day to lift up and honor the men in our lives – especially the fathers! Let us love and cherish them. Let us build up and not tear down. Let us love them with the love of The Father – unconditionally.

 

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Mirror, Mirror

Glass is useful for windows and vases and TV screens and such. Glass allows light to pass through and it keeps other things out. Often glass even gives a vague reflection of whatever is around it, but nothing clear enough to be truly helpful. For a clear, detailed reflection, a mirror is needed. Although made of glass, mirrors have an added dimension.

photo-of-woman-sitting-by-the-pool-4450347In early times, only blurry images were seen, images reflected in water or a polished stone. During the time the Israelites journeyed through the wilderness polished bronze was used for mirrors. We are told in Exodus 38:8, “They made the bronze basin and its bronze stand from the mirrors of the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting.” Since about 1600, mirrors have been made through a process called “silvering.” This process coats a piece of glass with with a highly reflective material, nowadays usually silver or aluminum. This process has been refined to produce the distinct, useful, present-day mirror which allows us to see clear images of ourselves.

We believe we see a perfect reflection of ourselves in our bathroom mirror each morning, but scripture tells us otherwise.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 1 Corinthians 13:12 NASB

What we think is clear, and a perfect representation of self here on earth, is really a dim reflection of how we will see when we are face to face with Jesus in Heaven. We really have no idea just how distorted we view things due to sin and worldliness. I think we will be surprised to learn the truth in Heaven. We view ourselves incorrectly. We view the world incorrectly. We view other people incorrectly.

If our fleshly vision is so skewed, how can we see ourselves clearly down here on earth?

Well, we need to hear from someone not human…

Someone far greater than we are who can point out the reality we miss…

Maybe if they wrote something down for us to go by that tells us the truth about ourselves…

Ta-da! An answer! James 1:22-25 tells us

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. 

selective-focus-photography-of-woman-in-front-of-mirror-1476291To see ourself clearly it’s a two-step process. We need to first listen to the Word – read it, hear it, take it in. Second, we need to continue in it, to DO it. Do the Word – even when it doesn’t make sense. Do the Word – even when it is uncomfortable. Do the Word – even when it is inconvenient. Do the Word – even when it stretches our faith. Do the Word – even when it makes us appear to be the oddball. Just Do It – as the slogan goes.

Hearing and doing the Word is how we come to see this human life with clarity. Through God’s Word we will get a clear, correct view of ourselves, the world, and other people. Then we can live our lives in the truth, perceive the world with a true understanding, and and interact with people understanding their true motives, needs, hurts, and potential. We “will be blessed in what [we] do” James says. That will allow us to be a blessing to the world and be a blessing to the individual people we meet. We will more and more become God’s instrument in our world to bring about His Kingdom here on earth.

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

We will become mirrors to the world of God’s glory, reflecting Him to all we meet. We will reflect truth, love, grace, and mercy to the world around us. We’ll reflect clear images back to people in our lives – people who desperately need to see with truth and clarity. God’s glory does not reflect harsh, judgmental images; nor mushy, condoning images; but images that speak truth, acceptance, forgiveness, and reality from God’s eternal perspective.

woman-leaning-on-glass-window-1101726Are we like glass? Do we have a bit of reflectivity, but people can see right through us? Do others see in us a dark, murky, indistinct, tainted “truth?” Or are we like a mirror, backed with substance. A substance refined and pure that gives a clear image to the one staring into it? Are we backed with God Himself, His Word, and His principles that give us substance? When someone looks at us, our words, and actions, do those things reflect back to people the picture as God their Creator sees them? Or are we thin and breakable and less reflective of God’s views of humanity, instead reflecting a half-worldly view to those we meet? Let’s not bet one more human-based piece of glass reflecting back a dim image to those around us. Let us be the hand mirror of the Lord, reflecting His beauty, glory, and truth to the world.

 

Weariness

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

Sigh… Breathe… Do the next thing with little energy… Nap…

As this Coronavirus pandemic drags on, we have found ourselves going from disbelief, to fear of the unknown, to resignation and a we-can-get-through-this mentality. This was followed by a drop in the numbers of cases and hope of the U.S. economy reopening soon. Now that numbers are up and down daily, and we realize this virus will not disappear quickly, many find themselves in a low spot. You may be weary, frustrated, or even sinking into depression. This disease has taken its toll whether you have caught the actual virus or are suffering from emotional, mental, societal, or economic factors.

Ladies, this is when we are called to remember our faith, and to look to our Savior and not to the waves rolling around us. Lamentations 5:5, 9-10 seems to reflect the situation well,

Those who pursue us are at our heels; we are weary and find no rest…. But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. I hear many whispering, “Terror on every side! Denounce him! Let’s denounce him!” All my friends are waiting for me to slip, saying, “Perhaps he will be deceived; then we will prevail over him and take our revenge on him.”

Weary.  Many whispering “Terror on every side!” Denounce her – publicly declare she is wrong, evil! She blames my political party. They disagree with me about wearing masks. Soak in the sunshine and dance through the waves.My opinion is right why can’t they see it. Everyone taking a side and criticizing their fellowman. If we live in this mindset of constant arguing and fear of disease, checking hospitalization and death statistics and depending on human wisdom, we will find ourselves in a state of weariness at the least and deep dark depression at the worst. So what is a woman of God to do?

We do what we have been trained and discipled to do throughout our Christian life, we turn to God’s Word and prayer, and seek our comfort in the God of the Word not in human wisdom, miracle cures, or any anesthesia this world can offer (Amazon ordering included!)

Our Father is a loving father who cares deeply about us and comforts us in our weariness. In Matthew 11:28 He says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Then in Jeremiah 31:25 he tells us “I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” He is here for us. Right now. In this time of uncertainty. All we need to do is come to Him. 

I have made it a habit, almost a ritual during this time of COVID-19, of going out on my deck first thing each morning with my coffee, my dog, and my Bible, journal, and pen. He meets me there each day. The sun warms me slowly, the breeze blows, the birds sing all reminding me of His miraculous world and His tender love and care – the setting prepares my heart. Then I pour out my fears and doubts in prayer. I sing to Him and journal my questions. And I dig into His Word – that’s where He meets me. It’s almost as if He’s a fleshly, patient Daddy sitting there waiting for me to spill out all my concerns before He responds.  But respond, He does. His written Word speaks specifically to my weary heart. I hear Him soothing me and reminding me of truths I tend to forget in the dark times.

We are not alone in our weariness. Jesus in His flesh and blood form here on earth grew weary Himself. The writer of Hebrews remind us to “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (12:3) Can you even imagine the weariness our Savior must have felt on this earth as the only righteous person, knowing that His was a lonely mission even though He was surrounded by followers. He was on a mission to battle the forces of evil and bear the punishment of all sins for all time. A sinless man, carrying the weight of the sin of the world. Trying to imagine the weary task is impossible for our small minds, we can only glimpse the man of sorrow sweating drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane and crying out to the Father to remove the weary cup.

Isaiah says in chapter 40, “He [God] gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” My strength will not come through any outward help, nor through inward trying. My strength for the weariness is found only in stumbling and falling into the arms of my Creator and allowing Him to imbue me with strength through His Word in my quiet moments of prayer with Him. When I put my hope in Him, then will I receive strength to soar above the weariness, to run with tired, sore knees, and to keep walking without fainting dead in my tracks.

In Galatians 6:9 the Apostle Paul tells us, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Ladies, can we join together right now and take this verse to heart? Will you choose this very moment to put one foot in front of the other and do the next righteous thing the Lord has before you? That may be folding laundry, spending time with the Father, painting a room, loving on our children, calling a friend with a word of encouragement, or taking a walk in God’s wide, wide world. Whatever is before you, let us not grow weary. Let us keep pursuing righteousness, faith, hope, love, and all the fruit of the Spirit, so that our lives do not stagnate and degenerate into weariness of soul, but instead flourish as we walk forth confidently in faith in our adoring Father.

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Those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” Mark 4:20