Tag Archives: grace

The Bumper Sticker That Says it All

26 Mar

You know how a person’s tongue will sometimes stick out a little when they’re concentrating really hard on something like threating a needle?  That’s how my life as a Christian was for years.  I was trying to do things God’s way, but I couldn’t seem to do it.  Something was blocking my progress.

Then one day I was driving from Orange, Texas, to Galveston Island on a long stretch of road and I read a bumper sticker that said, “Let Go and Let God.”  Immediately, I recognized that the words were supplying the answer I was looking for.  I didn’t know why right away, though.

Gradually, I understood that the Christian life isn’t about trying to do things God’s way.  It’s about letting go of the steering wheel of our lives and letting God take control.  This is what the Holy Spirit is for.  We get out of the way and let the fruits of the Holy Spirit become manifest in our lives.  This kind of surrender yields fruit, and we always know that it was God and not ourselves that accomplished the love, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

How do you let go and let God?  By taking up your cross daily, denying yourself – which means refusing to live for the purpose of fulfilling your personal agenda – and following the example of humility left by Jesus Christ.  A lot of prayer and meditation on the Word of God is required to get the Spirit to have more control than the flesh.

When I let go and let God, it’s like jumping into a river that has a powerful current and that sweeps me downstream in a joyous rush.  I’m usually most aware of God being in control when I’m doing things I believed to be impossible.

Life at its best is when we allow God in us to push against the boundaries of everyday ruts and pull us onto a new course.  It requires spiritual devotion and is so worth it.

Philippians 1:21

New King James Version (NKJV)

21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

 

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Paraffin Bath Prayers: Get on the List!

21 Mar

Did you ever come to the conclusion, when a life crisis stops you in your tracks, that God is sending you this message?

 

Slow Down!  Quit neglecting

the things of the Spirit!

Me, too.

Quiet time spent reflecting on God and praying has been a rare occurrence compared to the years when I commuted to Houston from the Clear Lake, Texas, or Alvin area.  All that drive time in bumper-to-bumper traffic was my big opportunity to sing, worship, and listen to sermon tapes.  Lately I’ve been missing all that time with God.

And wallah!  God arranged for me to have those times back, though in a different way.  Thank the Good Lord that, with these gas prices today, I don’t have to commute.  Instead, I will be dipping both of my arthritis-riddled hands in hot paraffin wax up to twice a day for 20 minutes per hand.  (Such wonderful pain relief!)

As I sit at my desk with one hand coated in lavender-scented wax, wrapped in a sandwich bag, and inserted into a thermal glove, I shall focus on God!  Okay.  I’ll also play some Words with Friends on my mobile phone.

But mostly this will be a ministry time.  I’m going to keep a running prayer journal and spend that time lifting people up.  I’ll also be writing down answered prayer.

Have you ever heard of Lakewood Church of which Joel Osteen is the pastor?  (It’s the biggest church in America.)  I’m a trained Stephen’s Minister there, which is comparable to a deacon in a Baptist church.  To be honest, I am switching to a smaller church.  But when I go to Lakewood, I am free to wear my badge and help pray, as needed.

In other words, I am a minister; and I’ve been a part of numerous prayer groups through the years.  I’ve seen God amazingly answer prayers, and I’m not shy about believing for miracles.

If you have a prayer need in your life, please consider sending me a specific prayer request.  Or, if you’d rather keep the details private, you can simply give me a person’s first name and I’ll lift them up before the Lord (He knows what’s going on, and that’s the important thing).

My hands may hurt, but I’m truly thankful that God has shown me that He’s blessing me to slow down and engage in a daily prayer ministry.

What on this earth is more powerful than a prayer of faith?  It’s crucial business and worth the suffering that drove me to my knees.

James 5:17-18

New King James Version (NKJV)

17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

How I Sort of Stopped the World’s Clocks

19 Mar

Do you know about the guy in the Bible that God turned back the clock for?  (Related scriptures are below.)  It was very cool and the reality of the “missing time” has been proven by science.  Well, God did a similar trick for me today; it’s like the earth actually stood still.

Say WHAT?

I started praying for today yesterday; and I continued with prayer and meditation on the scriptures this morning.  As a result of prayer – because this is no coincidence (I’ve experienced this exact thing before) – I was more productive than I’ve been in ages:

  • Wrote 10 assignments
  • Went for a long walk
  • Spent quality time with the kids
  • Prepared for and completed a radio broadcast Bible study with the kids
  • Did a lot of work on my blogs
  • Played Word With Friends with lots of friends
  • Got a real inspiration for an invention that’s very clever (I hope it’s not like the other things I “invented” and then found out they already existed…lol)
  • Did laundry
  • Made an online friend (Hello, Bird!)
  • Worked on getting prints of Logan’s birthday party so that I can give prints to his friends (40 downloaded so far)
  • Exhibited complete patience with the kids without any edgy moments

Another factor about the day that made it all the more amazing is that I experienced excess pain – I actually cried from the pain.  What’s going on is that, besides my chronic tendonitis in both elbows, more and more finger joints are being plagued with osteoarthritis, which is quite painful.  (I’m very allergic to glucosamine, which fights the effects of this disease.)

So, yeah, it’s really as though God stopped the world’s clocks and let me accomplish a great deal on a very satisfyingly productive day.

The only thing is, I hope this clock miracle doesn’t mess up my schedule even more, what with “spring forward” still confusing my sleep schedule.  (lol)

I totally recommend praying passionately.  Just watch and see what happens.

 

2 Kings 20:8-11

New King James Version (NKJV)

And Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “What is the sign that the Lord will heal me, and that I shall go up to the house of the Lord the third day?”

Then Isaiah said, “This is the sign to you from the Lord, that the Lord will do the thing which He has spoken: shall the shadow go forward ten degrees or go backward ten degrees?”

10 And Hezekiah answered, “It is an easy thing for the shadow to go down ten degrees; no, but let the shadow go backward ten degrees.”

11 So Isaiah the prophet cried out to the Lord, and He brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down on the sundial of Ahaz.

 

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.

Today is a Test and I’m Cramming For It–Amen

16 Mar

Have you ever had to cram for a really tough test?  You knew that the only way to pass was to find a way to study effectively and learn lots of facts or grasp complex principles.  Well, I’m currently preparing for the test called “today” in which I have more work to accomplish than usual and curious toddlers to watch in a house that’s being packed up.  And I need to do more packing.  But I know exactly how to pass the test.

Like all Christians, prayer and meditation on the Bible are needed to pass the test.  We need them both every day.  But when we know we can’t make it without the help of God, such as when someone’s extremely ill, we’re more prone to remember that prayer is an essential.

Anytime I hear someone say something like, “Why would God let this bad thing happen to me?” I can’t help but wonder if God allowed a difficult situation just so that person and their family would discover the joy of trusting in Him.  Sometimes, harsh times are the only things that turn our eyes toward heaven.

Jesus was from heaven and yet spent a great deal of time in prayer and in focus upon His heavenly Father.  He demonstrated for us that prayer precedes effective ministry.  He was always sneaking away from crowds in order to pray, and this often meant giving up his night’s sleep.

Is there some sacrifice of an earthly pleasure you need to give up in order to pray more?  For me, it’s as simple as giving up watching the morning news so that I can pray instead.

No matter how busy you are, the most important part of your day and mine is the time spent in prayer to and communion with God.  It’s the biggest difference that can be made in whether you live dependent upon the grace and strength of God or simply operate under your own steam.  Anyone who has experienced life both ways knows what I’m talking about.  Can I get a witness?

The Miracle of the Boxes

15 Mar

Do you have little categories of worry that are part of your identity, in a way?  For me, it has been a fear that I wouldn’t have the boxes I need for a move.  One of my former employers was amazing about supplying, free of charge, the best quality boxes for moving.  They were boxes left over after the files that had been stored in them were destroyed.

Since I don’t work at that company anymore, I was so worried when I moved about a year ago.  How could I get some good quality boxes just like that without paying $30 to $60?

Lo and behold, I went to an office for an appointment not knowing the location had been moved.  And guess what was piled up in a cage-type of moving truck?  About 50 brand new boxes just like I got from my former employers!   And the moving guys told me to help myself to all that I wanted.

I thought that box miracle was astounding and showed the love of God just for me.

Well, I move next week and God has done a whole new kind of box miracle.  I expressed to one of my daughters that I was worried about where to get boxes, and she said, “Just get them at HEB.  That’s what all of us do.  And, frankly, we’ve never understood why you always freak out about boxes.”

Another daughter has just moved back from California and I asked if I could have some of her boxes.  And she told me the same thing.  Yes, I could have her few boxes; but just go to HEB.

Well, I did just that.  I also went to Walmart, and between the two stores I got all the boxes I think I may possibly need for the move.  It was free and it was easy.  The kids slept through it all, since their aunt and cousin spent the night.  All I had to do was stay up really late and go out and about until 1:00 am.  But I found that God gave me opportunities to be a blessing to tired people who have to work these tough hours.

And what am I going to put in all of these boxes?  A lot less than I did for my last move, good Lord willing.  I’ve been downsizing for years now because I don’t want to someday leave behind a mountain of clutter for my family to have to deal with.  Yes, I have traces of pack rat syndrome in my blood.

The hard part of this move is, of course, ahead of me, though I will hire movers.  And all three of my daughters will help tremendously.  But I’ve already received a new freedom inside because the Lord has shown me on a new level that there is never anything for me to worry about.  He has everything covered.  And I believe that the more clutter I let go of, the more room there will be in my life for beauty and freedom of simplicity.

Such a refreshing in my Spirit God has given me on this late night of preparing to move.  Who would have thought that box collecting could be an occasion to be filled with the joy of the Lord?

I Got Squeezed and Guess What Came Out

13 Mar

Last night I barely slept, a normal result of overdoing it physically, which I did the day before.  So today was tough because I’ve always been a person who needs those minimum hours of sleep.

This evening I made a “quick” run to the store without having said a prayer for hours.  The person in front of me at Kroger wasn’t buying anything except stamps and yet it took about 7 minutes for him to get finished up.  The pressure of my yucky day and of wanting to hurry out of there so I could get home and catch up on work that I got behind on had a squeezing effect, and what came out of me was, sadly, not pretty.

I used all of that impatient body language that sends a clear grocery store line message, “I’m not happy with how slow this line is moving!”  For a punctuation effect, I did finally pray, saying aloud softly but with tension, “God, help me.”  (Yes, I realize that I looked like a crazy woman.  At least I was polite when it was my turn!)

No one has influenced my spiritual growth more than Joyce Meyer (but don’t let my bad behavior be a reflection on her).  She taught me that when you’re impatient with people, you’re failing to demonstrate the love of Christ.  (She learned this the hard way, too.)  So I didn’t allow the fruits of the Spirit to flow out of me in my brief encounter with society today.

I was thinking about this as I drove off toward home with my “YS 2 God” license plates.  And you wonder why Christianity has a bad name?  Well, it’s not all my fault – just partly.

Although I sometimes seem like a hopeless case, I’m not going to give up on my goal of allowing God to shape my character so that I’m a better reflection of Him.  After all, it’s not like I’m trying to get to the good character buried inside of me.  Instead, it’s getting me out of the way so that Christ can shine through that makes the dream happen.

By the way, it’s comforting to know that God’s not disappointed that ugly stuff comes out of me sometimes when I’m squeezed.  He doesn’t love me any less; Jesus already knew it before He died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins.  And He died for me anyway.  (The ultimate squeeze.)