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I cringed at the doctor’s suggestion. A nerve  conduction study. Right. Zap the nerve that has had me limping and losing sleep for months. Make it hurt even more. Good plan…but necessary so they can discover where the pinching originates.  As the day approached, I prayed more consistently and constantly but my mind kept reminding me of the last time I had one and the tearful screams as that needle…oh, my.

Be not far from me for trouble is near…” (Psalm 22:11)  Cast all your care on Him for He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7) 

I kept repeating verses to offset my growing angst. Even pleaded with my biological chauffeur (my son), who has so patiently transported me to and fro over the past few months since I haven’t been able to drive, to come  into room with me. There stood the dreaded torture, I  mean diagnostic, instrument. Silent. Benign…until turned on and the leads adhered to my skin. The doctor came in with a sympathetic smile. “Technology has advanced. The needles and shocks are smaller. We will try to make this as easy on you as possible.” Oh, I wanted with all my heart to believe him.

God, help me in my time of need…buzzt, jerk, zap. Hey, not too bad. On we went from my toes to my hip. Each step of the way the doctor told me what to expect. And then, it was over. I survived.

How often do we worry unnecessarily? Why do we say we have faith and yet hop down treacherous, fictitious  bunny trails? I’ve heard it said that 90% of what we worry about never comes to pass, or isn’t half as bad as we predicted. I’ve also read that there are 365 verses in the Bible that speak to fear and worry, one for each day of the year. For me that means God knows we are “wired” to worry—probably because our innate desire to be in control is constantly tested by an out of control world.

So, I’m not going to beat myself up when anxiousness and “what ifs” knock on my brain. I will faithfully respond with Scripture…again.

A friend on Facebook asked for prayer because she stated she wasn’t sure she could take it. Why do we think we need to do so? Perhaps we need to stop taking it and let it go, giving it to God to handle for us. Reach up with our hands, our lips quivering, and ask Daddy to help. After all, He loved us enough to die for us so He could send His Spirit to be with us always. Of course that means admitting our vulnerability and lack of having it all together.

But if we do, God will guide us through it. Just like the kind, concerned doctor did for me during my tests. Even if it is a bit painful.

Do we have the nerve to do that before we reach our last nerve?

In Your Eyes

...the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. Psalm 118:23

As I was applying my eyeliner today, I thought about it in a spiritual way. Yep, God revealed a truth to me as I put on my make-up. Guys, you may not wear eye makeup, but this can “apply” to you as well. Read on to find out why.

In ancient Egypt, when women and men lined their eyelids with kohl it actually helped them see better.  In fact, scientists say it might have had medicinal purposes. Not only did the dark kohl deflect the harmful glare bouncing off the desert, but it kept the sandy soot from penetrating their eyes, preventing infections like pink eye. So much for the sandman.

For more than a century athletes have smudged black lines under their eyes so they can see the ball coming toward them.  It reduces the glare from the sun and the stadium lights. Of course nowadays these under eye protectors are fancier. They are removeable “eyeblack” patches with team logos on them.

Us ladies figured out a long time ago that etching color around our lids make our eyes pop and appear more attractive. People notice us when our eyes are bright, interesting, and colorful.

So, here is the spiritual application…

God’s love outlines us. It protects us from harm, helps us see things more clearly, and attracts people to us.

  • By outlining our spiritual eyes with Scripture, the Holy Spirit gives us protection from things that might blind us and make us, well…drop the ball.  Being surrounded by the Word also keeps sooty things from penetrating us, causing an infection of worldliness.
  • We can observe things with clarity, and also see things through our Father’s eyes. The glare of prejudice, anger, envy and pride are deflected.
  • It draws people to us.  The love of Christ shines in our eyes and that attracts others who want to know why we have such joy and how can they have it as well. In a gray-filmed, negative world, faith can add meaning and color.

They say you can read a person’s mood by their eyes. Today, what spiritual eye make-up will you don before heading out into the world? Will you line how you view people with God’s joy, forgiveness, love and kindness?

 

 

I have heard serene and beautiful places described as a “little piece of heaven”.  It may be a pristine beach with tumbling waves glistening in the moonlight. A vast mountain vista or a bubbling creek under the canopy of shade trees. But it is ONLY a piece. It cannot replace the inner peace that comes from Heaven.

Why? Because where we live and move and have our being is time-bound.  Our world is ever changing– minute to minute, second to second. Weather can affect that serenity. Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and blizzards ravage the earth. Human progress can affect it as well. Bulldozers can topple mountains and oil tankers spill black gunk into the water, coating everything. And even if the serene views remain intact, our human emotions can discolor it. When we are angry or depressed we often block out birdsong and sunshine filtering through the leaves. No wonder cartoonists depict a dark cloud over the head of their characters. If there is one thing that is definitely not constant, it’s our mood.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

This peace that passes all understanding, as Paul describes it, is not affected by change. It is constant, eternal, and unmoving. It doesn’t come and go, or ebb and flow.  It is there like a solid foundation that is unshakeable even in times of turmoil. You can cling to it and know it’s not going to crumble.  This peace only comes from anchoring our hearts, minds and souls into the living waters of our faith in God. It transcends whatever is happening in our ever-changing world, because His peace is not of this world. It is Heaven-sent.   In John 16:33, Jesus said, “…in me you can have peace.”

Two words that sound the same but are so different.

The first one, pIEce – where the IE stands for I Enjoy – is fleeting. It can be gone in a moment.

The other is pEAce  – where the EA stands for Eternal Access. For the believer, it is always there, no matter what.

Which will you choose to bask in?

Dust Cover

I am laid low in the dust; preserve my life according to your word. Psalm 119:25

 

I battle it. You probably do as well. Dust. That fine film of gunk that covers your furniture and knick-knacks. Daily it accumulates. At first you may not notice it but as it builds, eventually you see it — especially when the sun shines on it.  I found a God-message in this household chore. Do you see it as well?

We live in a dusty world. Nothing remains clean for long. It flitters down on everything, coating it in filth. You can use every product in the world– dusters, polishes, sprays, rags. They wipe away the dust, but they do not eliminate it. It keeps coming back.

The only way to keep something from getting dusty is to cover it. If you lift your knick knack off a bookshelf, you will see what I mean. There will be very little dust where it sat. The wood underneath remained fairly clean. Did the dust only settle on the area where the wood shelf was exposed? No, it settled on the knick knack, too.

Where the Holy Spirit covers and protects us, we are kept clean. But in those areas of our lives we have not let Him cover us, then the dust of the world fitlers over us. We can try to keep wiping it off but it will come back, coating our souls in worldliness. The only way to eliminate it is to regularly cloak it with grace and mercy, found in prayer time and in reading the Word.

I must daily confess the areas of my life I have yet to ask God to cover. I can keep trying to handle it on my own, and appear clean on the outside, but I know I am fighting a losing battle. It is only when I give those areas over and ask for protection that I can keep the dust of this world from finely coating me. And, God being the loving Father, will shine His light on those areas, revealing the filth so I can see it better. It may be a negative attitude, a judgemental heart, an unresolved anger, a misconceived thought, a worldly view.

As long as I am in this world, there will be dust. I am surrounded by it. But I can also be covered by the Lord, shielded from it’s effects. Christ died to cover my sins. But I know that is not a one-time thing because I continually exist on this planet. Each day, when I turn to Him, He keeps me clean. He takes on the dustiness for me. He wipes it away and keeps it from settling on me.

When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’  When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Luke 11:24-25

 

Slit It

It seems a good many microwave meals have directions like this:

Why make a slit? I’m no scientist, but I know when heat is applied to frozen things, pressure builds. If there is no slit, you’ll probably hear a loud pop and find your dinner splattered all over the inside of the microwave.

The God lesson? Our habits can freeze us. We become hardened and unable to receive God’s lessons. So He adds a bit of heat to our lives. They’re called trials.

Even the Apostle Paul felt it. He wrote in his second letter to the church in Corinth: We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. (1:8)

However, when the pressure begins to build, I often see Our Lord’s loving hand making a slight slit in the situation. A small reprieve. Perhaps it is a wonderfully painted sunset, or a little bird that lands on my fence. Maybe it is a hug from someone or a text telling me a friend felt lead to pray for me that day.

Did you notice what it says in the top of the picture? Ovens may vary. Isn’t it the same with us? I’ve heard it said God will never give us more than we can handle. These holy hiccups in the midst of all that is going on are precious signs that He is releasing some of the pressure in my life at just the right time. His hand is not always heavy on the potter’s wheel as He molds me into what He knows I can become.

Paul realized that as well. Two verses later he sates: “He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us as you help us by your prayers. …” (1:10-11a)

Lord, thank you for those slits in my life.

Just Add Water

Have you ever had celery go limp in the fridge? My mother told me years ago to place the stalks in water. If you have been reading this blog a while, you know I find God-messages in everyday life. Today is no exception.

Life can be like a stalk of celery. Cut off from the soil which nurtured us and allowed us to grow into who we are, circumstances can isolate us and can leave us a bit limp after a while. We don’t feel as useful. We aren’t as crisp and our posture bows with the pressures in our day, so we no longer stand upright.

Solution? Just add water- the Living Water.

That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers. Psalm 1:3

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, Psalm 23:2

“…but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14
We all need water to survive. Plants can even root in water. (See the true Corn Plant Saga posted a week ago).  Our bodies cannot go without water for more than three days or we will die. What makes us think our souls can go without spending time with God for several days?
Today, a few stalks of celery reminded me how much I depend on spending time in God’s Word and in prayerful listening for His Spirit to  respond in order to keep me upright, fresh and ready to be used.

 

 

I admit it. I have always hated Romans 12:1 – Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.  (NASB)

courtesy answerfitness.com

Why do I hate this verse? Because most of my life I have hated my body. I have the metabolism of a sloth. I’m short and stocky, and have struggled with my weight since childhood. When I look in the mirror standing in the buff, all I see is buff –  Big, Ugly, Fat, Frumpy. I wobble between hating myself and being angry with God because He made me with this propensity to be overweight. Health issues prevent me from exercising, but even when I could, it didn’t seem to make any difference. The inches kept piling on, no matter what I ate or didn’t eat. Nor how many hours I sweated working out or not. I’ve had test after test and no doctor can figure out why.

I’ve blubbered to God so many times. Why is it so easy for me to put on pounds and so hard to take them off?  Why does it seem that no diet works? I’ve tried them all. Pounds melt off others while mine stay on. (and no – I don’t want to hear about your miracle diet and how well it works.)

How can I present Him my body when it is un-presentable to me? How can it be holy and pleasing when it is so unpleasing to look at in the mirror? Presents are supposed to be pretty so people ooh and aah over them, right? How can I be acceptable to God in my “present” state?

The other verse I hate? The one they want all women with poor body images to memorize – Psalm 139:14:  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Yes, the human body is wonderfully made in its mechanics, ability to heal itself, etc. But my body isn’t marvelous to behold. Sorry. Can’t go there. I have pictures to prove it.

The funny thing is I don’t mind presenting other ugliness in my life to my Lord. I have no qualms about confessing a nasty attitude about someone else. I often offer a problematic thought to Him to rebuke or reform and let Him expose my misconceptions that are blocking His blessings. So why is so hard for me to present my body? It’s not as if God doesn’t know what I look like.

Today, in a Bible study by Priscilla Shiver, I saw the verse with new eyes. Present means surrendering control — like kneeling before the king with arms stretched out and handing it to him. Here. Take it for your use.

This struggle is beyond my capabilities. Obviously- since I have battled and never won in sixty-plus years. However, I can choose to acknowledge this conflict cannot be totally mine anymore. It’s not up to me to win it, but to surrender it.

If I daily present my body to God, He will transform it–if He so desires. I’m not saying I will wake up a size 8 in a few weeks or even in a year. Whether that happens or not, I must trust that He will transform my attitude about it.  His Spirit will provide the power and tools I need. All I am required to do is present it, each and every day.

Whatever you are battling in your life–whether it is your weight, an addiction, an attitude like anger or unforgiveness, a grudge–daily present it to the Lord. First thing before your feet hit the floor.

I’d say we can do this together, but I know we can’t. Only God can, with His Spirit renewing our minds, souls…and perhaps bodies.

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