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A Word, Please

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

Over my first month as an internet missionary, I have felt the weightiness of words. Words can build up hope or slash a person’s dreams. They can offend or bolster one’s beliefs. They can trigger interest or make someone click off and seek elsewhere on the web.

Such power! And that is just “human” words. Written words. What about the Word? How are we using that? Or are we?

At Power To Change’s The Life Project, we are careful to not offend because we want to draw people to Jesus – not push them away. However, we also have the responsibility to bear witness to the Truth. Over 20,000 people from all over the world daily click on our articles and devotionals. Our words reach places we cannot fathom.

Isn’t that the same with each of us in our social media conversations, whether texted, posted or tweeted? The internet is a powerful platform. Folks post for different reasons. Some seek answers. There are those who seek pity while others crave fame, even if it is negative or offensive. A few want to use their words as weapons.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

As Christians, we have been given the Word. We need to not only monitor what comes out of our mouths, but what is typed on our QWERTY boards and appearing on the screens of people we may never have direct contact with.

Review your past few weeks of tweets, posts and texts. What message are you sending? Are you using the internet to build up or tear down? To bolster your own ego or point to Jesus?  Whine about your life, your elected officials, the weather, your coworkers – or count your blessings? Console others or one-up them with your list of woes? Share the Good News or gossip?

Words – powerful things. The Word, is power personified. Which will we tap into the most this week to communicate?

Always a Winner

On November 22, 2016, I blogged about the computer solitaire game I play and how reluctant I am to be shown how to play it, similar to the way I often approach life. I like to figure things out by myself.  Today, God gave me another message as I played…

solitaireI have the option to choose to play a winning hand. The daily challenges which appear on my phone each morning guarantee they can be won. Sometimes that is more of a challenge than other days. There are times I have to trust that I am playing a winnable hand, because as I flip through the unplayable cards it sure doesn’t seem possible. But eventually a pattern opens up, and I begin to see that it is plausible after all.

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14

Once we give our lives to Christ, we are given a winning hand. Because He is beyond time, He knows what has happened, what is happening, and what will happen in our lives. He has it mapped out. All we have to do is play the cards we are dealt. Sure we have choices, but He knows us better than we know ourselves so He already has that figured out, too. We only need to trust in Him as our loving Savior that it is His plan for it all to work out for the best in the end.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

If I can trust some unknown computer programer to give me a winning hand each morning in a game on my phone, how can I not trust my Lord and Savior – who paid the price by his death so I could win the gift of salvation – to guide my day?

Yeah, convicted.

 

Hunkered Down

A God lesson in the midst of a storm…

2:30 a.m. My bedroom fills with a loud, mechanical female voice – “TORNADO WARNING! TAKE SHELTER!”

My eyes fly open and I turn to see my cellphone flashing on my bedstand.  I throw back the covers and force myself to call my two cats, who had been curled up on the end of the bed, in as calm of a voice as I can muster. “Come on, kitties. Follow me.”

One immediately sails off the bed and follows me into the closet. The younger one comes halfway and stops. His iridescent eyes turn to the window as the flash of lightening filters through the curtain. Then an elongated crack of thunder shakes the rafters.  He stares at me, frozen. I beckon, a bit sterner. “Come on, kitty.”

He huddles onto his haunches. “Um, nope.”

The warning siren’s wails crescendo. “Cat. Now!”

“Uh-uh.”

As the wind howls and the rain-hail pellets pound on my rattling window, I scoop him up and rush to the closet, closing the door with my other hand.  I can feel the air pressure changing and the 85 mph wind swooshing outside. He doesn’t care. He hates closed doors. He wants out and begins pushing his 15 lb weight against it as I hold it shut.

I have been like both of my cats were last night, but I admit I am the reluctant and stubborn one more often. Unaware of the danger, I resist following God. I am not concentrating on if He provides shelter, or is blocking my path for my own good, or leading me to something so much better than what is my reality now. I have my own ideas, my own plans, my own route.

When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. John 10:4

Sometimes we don’t understand where the Good Shepherd leads. It may be in a totally different direction, or a seemingly dead end. Maybe even a dark closet with the door closed.  But when He calls, who will we act more like? The compliant and totally trusting cat, or the one who would rather have his way, even though he is afraid and unaware of what is about to happen?

 

The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. Psalm 121:8

I have a cross-shaped plaque hanging on my door jamb. Cut out in the center is the name of Jesus. Each time I use my key in my latch, it reminds me He is with me in my going out and my coming in. Yesterday the wind whistled through the corridor to my apartment. I noticed the plaque had flipped around backward. God, once again, sent me a message.

I wish I could say I know my Bible forward and backward, but I can state I recognize Jesus forward and backward. I don’t just mean by reading His name on the cut-out plaque near my front door. I mean in life.

I have learned over the years, backed by Scripture and experience, that God is already in my future and He is preparing me for it.  But, if I’m honest, I most often see Him backward.

They say hindsight is 20/20. I agree. It is always easier to see God’s movement in my life from the rearview mirror. The evening after, or a few days later it thunks my brain. Ah – okay. That was You, Lord. That serendipity was orchestrated by You alone to encourage me, correct my path, or confirm I am in Your will and am headed in the right direction. It always leave me with a tingly warmth that spreads from my heart into my tear ducts.

Sometimes it takes months or years before I see it.  But eventually, I do. Often, it makes me drop to my knees.

I hope, as I journey through this life, I can now see Him more forwardly and trust more in His guidance. Here comes the test of that…

Being accepted into the mission field is a leap of faith. I have always resisted the idea of being a missionary, but He had other plans. 

No, I am not off to Cambodia or Africa. My mission field is in cyberspace and I am traveling via my keyboard. But the work is just as valid. Souls are being won and hearts are being touched. I am humbled to be asked by Campus Crusades for Christ Canada through The Life Project to come onboard as a writer and editor. It has been a long discerning and vetting process. But as with any missionary, I must raise my own salary.

ButI go forward in faith believing that the time, income and words will be there. And looking back, I know He has prepared me for this effort over the past seven years. To Him be the honor and glory.

Already, God is bringing forth partners in prayer and funding, mostly from friends and a few family members. I know He will continue to do that and people only He could bring forward will join me.  Some I may not even know yet. Scary, but cool to consider.

If you want to know more, here is a quick video: https://vimeo.com/147793848.  If, after discussing it with our Lord, you feel called to support me in prayer or funding, comment and I’ll get in touch. Thanks.

Looking back on my life, I see Him in it, and so I boldly go forward…

Feeling Ragged?

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags…Isaiah 64:6a

the-ragmanAn eighty year-old friend of mine told me of a cruel joke her older siblings would play  on her when she was a little girl in order to prove their dominance. They told her they were going to give her to the “rag man”.

She explained a man came through the streets with a horse-drawn carriage collecting old rags and other broken down items people no longer wanted. He was the  precursor to the junkman. Her brothers and sisters were in essence telling her she was junk and unwanted.

Growing up in the 1960’s, it was common to see bumper stickers proclaiming that “God doesn’t make junk.”  That’s true. But we no longer live is the Garden of Eden. Sin has invaded our world and seeped into our lives. Hate to say it folks, but when our humanistic society tells us that we are all essentially good inside, it is lying. We are not. One of the first things babies learn to do is manipulate others, think of “me” first, and tell falsehoods.

We are junk, but that doesn’t mean we are not wanted. God wants nothing more than to restore us back to priceless. He has bought us from the rag man through His own death for our sake and washed our filthy rags to become garments of pure white. He make us sinless…over and over again. Jesus paid the price to buy us back on the cross when God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2Corinthians 5:21  

What does that mean?

Perhaps you once played with a commercially made Raggedy Ann or Andy — the cloth

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courtesy of peskybombolino

dolls with a red heart painted on their chests. Originally homemade rag dolls were sewn from leftover clothes, odd buttons and whatever stuffing was around the house. But the cool thing? Each was unique. Each took time and imagination to create. Each came from junk and were transformed into a gift of beauty by the labor of love.

 

God can take whatever has become ragged and junky in our lives due to sin and make it into something good and of worth. We will never be thrown into the pit or garbage pile once we agree to become His child. His love for us makes Him pursue us so eventually, even if we fight it, we will yield to His restoration process.

No one likes change. It can be scary. But God loves us enough to accept us as we are yet, in spite of our raggedness, still wants to change us into His likeness– stitch by stitch, just like the rag doll.

So climb onto the rag man’s cart. God is not finished with you yet. Deliver yourself into the hands of the Master and watch your beauty being restored from the inside out. It may take a while, perhaps a lifetime. But God is a patient, slow to anger, and compassionate. (Psalm 103:8-9)

I’m another rags to riches story in the making. How about you?

 

 

How dare he?

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-road-to-success-concept-image29144642

A local Christian radio personality relayed how she was driving down the road when a cop flashed his lights and motioned her to pull over.  She admitted her blood pressure rose and her teeth clenched because she wasn’t speeding. How dare he?!

Then he told her that around the blind curve was a huge obstacle in the road and the road was very poorly lit. At highway speeds, she’d have careened into it. Other policemen were removing it now. Would she mind waiting about ten  minutes.

After she sputtered and nodded, the officer jumped in his car, and with lights flashing, swirled around to block the road for the oncoming vehicles behind her. She publicly thanked the policeman on the radio and apologized for her initial reaction.

It made me wonder how often God blocks my path and I MP900444553[1]grouse about it. How often does He detour me from danger and I complain because things are not happening “my way”? How often were those irritating moments that delayed me –like the cat hacking a furball in my shoe just before I went to slip it on, or a button snapping that I have to quickly repair, or the moving van blocking my exit from my apartment complex for a few minutes– actually work to my advantage without me knowing it?

 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Lord, forgive me. Let me publicly say thank you to You for putting obstacles in my path and delays in my day. Thank you for the story on the radio today that stepped on my spiritual toes a bit. Next time, I will try to be more patient and praise You in all circumstances. Through Your Son and by Your Spirit I pray, Amen.

 

 

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