Tag Archives: encouragement

Free-Falling into Cushy Faith

21 May
Eames Lounge Chair by Charles and Ray Eames

Eames Lounge Chair by Charles and Ray Eames (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you sometimes freak out over concern that a chair won’t hold your weight?  If you do, you’re either a very rare person or you’re struggling with extreme obesity.  The fact is that most of us sit all of our weight in chairs every day without a second thought, and the furniture holds us up just fine.  I believe that this “chair” principle is a perfect example of how life is meant to be lived when our faith in Jesus is genuine.

My situation recently got very scary.  I actually had good reason to believe that I had a limited amount of time left in which I would be physically capable of using my hands to work on a keyboard.  Every job I’ve ever had involved typing either on a typewriter or a stenograph machine or both.  With my elbows also problematic and my hands in bad shape, how many jobs fit my capability?

So between the chronic pain and the descent of a loved one into the proverbial bottom of the barrel, life has been extremely intense and stressful.  My response at some point was to simply jump off of the cliff I was clinging to and into the arms of God.

I’ll tell you right now that it’s safe to leap into faith feet first.  Jesus caught me.  In fact, He was with me through the entire ordeal and never left me.  What was missing was my complete trust that I can rest in the Lord as comfortably as I rest my tucas in my favorite reading chair.

My hands have improved tremendously, and I have two new employers who, together, are prepared to keep me working as a writer full time for good pay.  Wow!  And praise the Lord, right?  My loved one is the subject of prayers every day, and I’m trusting and resting in the Lord regarding the outcome.

7 Ways to Be at Peace When World News is Depressing

1 Apr

You don’t have to listen to the news very long to hear something that may be upsetting and probably too hard core for a young child.  In my area this week we have a toddler who wandered away from his home while mom napped, and he drowned in a nearby pond.  Andrea Yates is in the news regarding her request to visit church on Sundays; she’s the Houston area mom who drowned all five of her children in a bathtub about a decade ago.  And nationwide upset over the death of Trayvon Martin is alarming not only because of the needless loss of a young man’s life but in the way the shooting seems to be creating further racial divide.

Trayvon Martin Protest - Sanford

Some people are so busy today, they literally may be tempted to organize a community awareness campaign about how easy it is for children to drown, protest the weekend release of Andrea Yates, and then organize a fundraiser to provide assistance to parents of murdered children.  There are a million and one daily opportunities to be involved in the world.  So how do you keep from being overwhelmed by both the sadness and the urge to take action?  I will share my secret, but it’s actually advice that I got from the Bible.

God created you; He understands that life can literally knock your feet out from underneath you.  He instructs you and me (all of us) to:

  1. Simply take life one day at a time.  (Matthew 6:34)
  2. Keep your eyes on things above and not things below, which means to dwell on God’s Word, His promises, His instructions, His goodness, heaven, etc.  (Colossians 3:2)
  3. Get in tune with God and listen for His voice because He will tell you what your part in the world is intended to be.  And when you do what God has for you to do, you can be sure that it will be effective.  (Isaiah 30:21)
  4. Be thankful!  A genuinely thankful heart is a happy heart.  (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
  5. Be generous.  You can’t solve world hunger.  But you can buy canned goods for the local food pantry, donate the clothing your family doesn’t need anymore, and help a friend in need.  (Luke 6:38)
  6. Treat others the way you wish you were treated, and that alone could change the world by starting a domino effect of people being good to one another.  (Matthew 7:12)
  7. Delight yourself in God and in the other good things of life, such as family.  (Psalm 37:4)

The Christian life doesn’t mean we walk around with our heads in the clouds, but it does mean that we can dwell in the peace of God no matter what the bad news of the day is.

An image of Psalm 23 (King James' Version), fr...

An image of Psalm 23 (King James' Version), frontispiece to the 1880 omnibus printing of The Sunday at Home. Scanned at 800 dpi. Français : Illustration du Psaume 23 (version autorisée par le roi Jacques), en frontispice de l'édition omnibus du Sunday at home. Version numérisée à 800 dpi. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You Can’t Tell Me This Isn’t Amazing

17 Mar

The conversation I’ve been having almost every morning for a while :

“Good morning, Lord.  Thank You for this day.  May You be glorified in the earth today.  Help me, Lord.  I need You.  Amen.”

(Didn’t listen to hear God said anything, though I would usually read at least one scripture.)

This morning represented a change.  This morning I really prayed and really listened.  And the whole day was very different.  Prayer really changes things!  I mean, I remained poised, loving, and confident throughout the day; but the change was deeper than that.  My insides had unshakeable joy and peace.

Here are the miraculous parts of the day:

  •  I took the kids to the park.  And the Good Lord knows that what I wish for Logan more than anything is some healthy play time with a man, a father figure.  And a man was there with his toddler and had this game where a nerf-like torpedo shoots up into the air, and Logan and 3 boys his age would try to catch it.  Logan played for a long time, and the man was really funny and completely non-creepy, I observed from a polite distance.
  • A person my heart needed to see a change in demonstrated tremendous change and even shared about an answer to prayer in her life today.

  • I found out that another person is going to help us pack up for our move (a person much younger, spryer than me and without osteoarthritis in her hands).  The reason this miracle can probably be counted now is because she doesn’t have a car — my daughter often gives her rides and will pick her up — and the person she’s helping is her boss (my daughter).  

My favorite miracle of grace:

            At the end of the day, I read a favorite devotional and got a huge affirmation from God.  Like a husband who hugs you and says, “You did good, honey.”  The March 16 entry from Streams in the Desert* was God’s arm around me and the words that He whispered in my heart. (*as shown below and as posted on 3/16/12 at this website:  Grace in the Morning.)

Seriously, you can’t tell me that the proof of God poured onto the earth, even in a single heart, isn’t amazing.

 

March 16

Grace in the Morning

“Come up in the morning . . . and present thyself unto me in the top of the mount” (Exod. 34:2).

The morning is the time fixed for my meeting the Lord. The very word morning is as a cluster of rich grapes. Let us crush them, and drink the sacred wine. In the morning! Then God means me to be at my best in strength and hope. I have not to climb in my weakness. In the night I have buried yesterday’s fatigue, and in the morning take a new lease of energy. Blessed is the day whose morning is sanctified! Successful is the day whose first victory was won in prayer! Holy is the day whose dawn finds thee on the top of the mount!

My Father, I am coming. Nothing on the mean plain shall keep me away from the holy heights. At Thy bidding I come, so Thou wilt meet me. Morning on the mount! It will make me strong and glad all the rest of the day so well begun.
–Joseph Parker.

***

Still, still with Thee, when purple morning breaketh,
When the bird waketh, and the shadows flee;
Fairer than morning, lovelier than daylight,
Dawns the sweet consciousness, I am with Thee.
Alone with Thee, amid the mystic shadows,
The solemn hush of nature newly born;
Alone with Thee in breathless adoration,
In the calm dew and freshness of the morn.

As in the dawning o’er the waveless ocean,
The image of the morning-star doth rest,
So in this stillness, Thou beholdest only
Thine image in the waters of my breast.
When sinks the soul, subdued by toil, to slumber,
Its closing eyes look up to Thee in prayer;
Sweet the repose, beneath Thy wings o’er shadowing,
But sweeter still to wake and find Thee there.
–Harriet Beecher Stowe

***

My mother’s habit was every day, immediately after breakfast, to withdraw for an hour to her own room, and to spend that hour in reading the Bible, in meditation and prayer. From that hour, as from a pure fountain, she drew the strength and sweetness which enabled her to fulfill all her duties, and to remain unruffled by the worries and pettinesses which are so often the trial of narrow neighborhoods. As I think of her life, and all it had to bear, I see the absolute triumph of Christian grace in the lovely ideal of a Christian lady. I never saw her temper disturbed; I never heard her speak one word of anger, of calumny, or of idle gossip; I never observed in her any sign of a single sentiment unbecoming to a soul which had drunk of the river of the water of life, and which had fed upon manna in the barren wilderness.
–Farrar

***

Give God the blossom of the day. Do not put Him off with faded leaves.

There Have Been, Like, Five or Seven of These Signs From God

11 Mar

On our way to church tonight, 8-year-old Logan was in the back seat chatting and out of nowhere, I heard him say, “I give my friends, like, five chances and that’s it.  But if I really like them a lot I give them seven chances.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.  “Chances to do what?”

“You know, like, if they make me mad or something.  Maybe five chances or seven,” he said.

I didn’t know if he was paying any attention as I explained to him that Jesus taught us that we are supposed to forgive people 70 times 7, which means forgive them every time they do something wrong.  But forgiving people doesn’t mean we have to be their best friend or anything like that.

Then we pulled up to the McDonald’s drive-thru and dropped the conversation.

Soon after we arrived at what may be our new church but we didn’t know that they haven’t kept up with their website.  So there was no service.  The new service times were indicated on the door, however.  But we were all ready to go to church.  So I drove to Lakewood, where church was about to start.  We sat down to a full house just in time to hear Joel Osteen introduce the guest speaker, Bishop T. D. Jakes.

And what did Bishop Jakes proceed to teach?  That we are supposed to forgive 70 times 7!  (I had no clue that Bishop Jakes just released a book about forgiveness and was slated to preach instead of Pastor Osteen—I mean, I intended to attend a different church!)

This kind of affirmation of God is something that I experience on a regular basis, but it’s always especially remarkable when I move in a direction of fresh obedience, which is what going to church tonight was (fresh obedience).

As we left the service and we were walking the long distance toward the car, I asked Logan if he noticed that the preacher spoke about the same thing we talked about on the way to church.  He did, and he repeated some of the things Bishop Jakes had said, such as that we need to let go of our anger before the sun goes down.

Then Logan asked if it’s okay to stay angry at one person about one thing.  I explained that any unforgiveness that we hold in our hearts stops up our relationship with God, like a toilet that won’t flush.  We have to forgive or our hearts get clogged up.  Then we got to the car, and the conversation ended.

But I can still feel the joy of having received God’s affirmation.  Haven’t mentioned it, but I even got to minister tonight!  As we walked toward the church, a woman was leaning on a railing holding an asthma puffer, looking like she was having a very tough time breathing.  I told her I’m a Stephen’s Minister at Lakewood (which I am) and asked to pray with her.  She allowed me to and then proceeded to continue walking on into church  (I held the door as she entered).

I still don’t know what’s going on with Logan and his friends who are making him angry, though.  I’ll ask him more about it tomorrow.

And I wonder if Logan remembers that on several occasions we’ve talked about the Bible between ourselves and then the preacher uses the same scriptures and teaches the same lessons.  It’s really uncanny how many non-coincidences there are with God!

Francis of Assissi, Tim Tebow, and Me?

9 Mar

‘We need a modern day Francis of Assissi!’ is all I could think about when I learned what an amazing witness for Christ he was.  This world-changer born around 1181 was a scoundrel turned servant of Christ.  He not only gave up great wealth in devotion to Jesus, he had a mysteriously powerful way with animals.  He exuded love and faith.  I could go on and on.

Enter a modern day witness named Tim Tebow.  I was slow in learning about him – just discovered the great witness for Jesus that he is during the NFL football playoffs in 2011.  He’s been impacting the world for a while.  He is a missionary, NFL quarterback, and he sponsors disadvantaged kids as guests to every football game.

You’ve probably heard of Tim Tebow.  After all, “Tebowing” is about as famous as “planking.”

I’m not going to put Tim Tebow on a huge pedestal because he’s only human, but I’m so very excited about the impact he is making on our world as a witness for Jesus.  He’s humble and has a sense of humor.

What I really think is that I, too, am supposed to make a significant impact on the world by behaving like Jesus.  Tebow stands out because he’s doing it right.  Although I’m striving to overcome my failures, in my corner of the world I lack the passion for life that would motivate me to eat right and exercise.  (Though I have decided to buy a bicycle and take up the hobby with the kids – and I’m extremely excited about that.)

Raising children is one of the greatest callings in life, I believe.  Am I really doing all that I can to train up the children in the way they should go, under the nurture and admonition of the Lord?  No, okay?  I admit that I’m not.  But Tebow encourages me to believe that I can make the needed change, with the help of God’s grace that’s already available to me every day.  The beauty that is Francis of Assissi can be the beauty that is me – because Jesus is the source.

I believe that God is helping me to be for him what I long to be.

What Happens When You Say “Yes” to God

5 Mar

Do you have a favorite source for daily encouragement?  I do.  It’s the devotional book My Utmost For His Highest, which shares the wisdom of Oswald Chambers on the topic of giving your absolute all to God.  I’m personally convinced that doing exactly that is the secret to a successful life.  How much do I believe it?  The license plates on my car read:  “Ys 2 God,” which stands for “Say Yes to God.”  This is what the Utmost devotional is all about.

This is what my personalized license plates look like.

 

So in today’s reading from Chambers’ book I find a reminder that what surrendering to God basically amounts to is living for the purpose He has for your life.  If you choose your own way, if it’s not what God wanted, you’ve stepped off the path of his blessing and empowerment for daily living.

That’s the amazing payoff to doing life God’s way.  You are not only free from the stupid things of the world that do nothing but weigh you down, you also have the grace of God, which is the will to do what He wants and the power to do it.

Since I’m surrendered to God, when I find myself with a strong desire for something that comes out of my heart but not as a result of focusing on the world, I know that God intends for me to have whatever I’m longing for.  No, really!  It’s pretty amazing to walk with an ear for God.  Without fail, when I suddenly “long for” something or another, I soon thereafter find it on an incredible sale or it’s given to me as a gift.

This all means that my desires expressed on this website, I believe, are inspired by Almighty God.  He’s spurring me on to rise up and take hold of that which He has already given to me (I just need to bring it into the physical world from the spiritual).  At some point I’m going to do something very right or an amazing door will be opened to me.  I don’t have to sweat it.  Simply obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit (not the promptings of the flesh!), and it will happen.

That’s what happens when you say yes to God.