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An author friend, Linda McCutcheon, who ministers to single moms, found a God message recently in her hiking. Here it a re-blog from her site, that she wrote for Power to Change, the digital ministry where I am on staff. Confused? Never mind. Read and absorb her wisdom!

 

Recently I was hiking in the mountains. Somehow a little stone got into my shoe. I knew it was there and quite aggravating, but I never stopped to take it out. The views were so breath taking, I got distracted. Can you believe it, the next day I felt that same stone which I had not taken the time to remove.

Isn’t that just like bitterness? It begins small.  It is irritating and it affects what we are doing. If not dealt with, it begins to gnaw at our life. Each step I took, I knew the stone was there.  When bitterness is harbored in our lives, it stays with us throughout the day. It controls our thought life, marriage, home life, our day to day relationships and our work suffers.

The Apostle Paul saw this in the life of fellow believers.  He understood that bitterness takes hold of our minds and controls our existence.  He wrote,

”For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.” (Acts 8:23)

This is not a new concept.  King Solomon knew from his God-given wisdom that bitterness zaps us of joy. Because of this, we can’t enjoy day to day life.

“Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.” (Proverbs 14:10)

Life is not an easy hike in the forest. We hit bumps and stumps with level and uneven places.  No argument from me.  However, we also have some wonderful breath-taking moments when we can see though despite all the unevenness of our life, there is time for reprieve and healing.  When we can sit back, empty the stone in our shoe, and begin again, our heart will heal, the bitterness will subside and we can move ahead.  Bitterness can easily creep back in so we have to continually be aware of that ‘stone in our shoe’.  Throw it out….ask God to help walk without this stone of bitterness.

”Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” (Ephesians 4:31)

Is there a stone in your shoe?  What is hurting your soul right now? Ask God to release you from it.  Begin to enjoy life and all its breath-taking moments again and let the stone dribble out.  Start to see the quiet things in your life that are important…a touch of a pet, an encouraging word from a co-worker, or maybe a walk in a park to see the handiwork of God. Flip your shoe over and release the bitterness out.  Slowly begin to see the joy in life.

 


What is a digital ministry? My passion. My mission field is my keyboard, which reaches hundreds of thousands over the internet every month through Power to Change. We truly are fulfilling the Great Commission to go into all nations. Want to journey with us? You can volunteer as an online mentor to those searching (don’t panic we will train you and you set your own hours) , or you can pray, or you can support the effort with a donation. 

Violet Exposed

But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.  Ephesians 5:13

At a women’s retreat about a year ago I won the door prize of an African violet. It bloomed for a while, then stopped. For months it kept putting out leaves but it never bloomed again. I figured maybe it was out of season. But this spring, though it still thrived, was pushing out new leaves…no blooms.

So I went on line and asked, “Why won’t my African Violet bloom?” The top three articles said the same thing– it needs more light. Oh. Okay.  I opened my blind slats a bit more. Within in a few weeks tiny buds appeared.

I realized, that’s me. I can read the Bible, I can pray, I can attend church. I will thrive and continue to grow, but will I blossom? No. Not unless I expose myself to His light regularly, daily.

Wait, you may say. Doesn’t all of that you said accomplish the purpose? Yes, if I don’t filter it out. If I don’t review my grocery list while I am reading about wheat in the Bible, or if my mind doesn’t wander when I pray, or if I concentrate less on the pew in front of me — the man with a cough, the wiggly child, or the woman whose clothes tag is dangling on the outside of her blouse– and more on worship.

We can be exposed to God and yet not bask in His light. We may think enough filters in, and yet we are not blooming the way we should. His power lies dormant inside of us, waiting to burst forth because something is in the way of the rays. Life-stress, anger, jealousy, an unforgiving attitude.

In order to reflect the Son, we need Him shining in our lives daily, unhindered by the blinds of world. If you are not blooming, maybe it is time you opened the blind slats a bit more. You may find what you really need is more exposure in order to bask more in His warm love and soak in His grace. Figure out what is blocking the light and how to adjust your focus. Soon, people will notice a difference in your face and attitude. You will be blossoming.

One Hour

One hour. 60 minutes. One 24th of a day. We cherish it when it comes to sleep time. We become anxious if we have to wait that long. And often we waste it on things like TV, social media…even worry as we pace the bedroom floor in the moonlight.

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Matthew 6:26

Jesus asked the question. How do we answer? If worrying doesn’t consume your time, substitute another phrase – by being proud,  by being angry, by being revengeful, unforgiving, caught up in a video game, vegged out on Netflix…yep, I am stepping on my toes, too.

Yes, we all need down time, but during that time can we spare an hour of talking, reading and listening time with our Lord?

Tonight, Jesus will face his fate with blood sweat and tears. He will kneel face down in the dirt among the scraggly olive trees and cry out to His Father. And His disciples? Snoozing. He’d asked them to stay awake and pray for one hour.

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter (Matthew 24:6).

They didn’t, and when the soldiers came, they fled. They didn’t have the strength to stand and stay because they hadn’t been bolstered by God-time.

Are we any different?

Will you carve out an hour today, or tomorrow on Good Friday, to reflect (and thankfully praise God) over what Jesus did for you?

 

But grow

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.  2 Peter 3:18

This is hardly a new observation, but it is something I observed anew…perhaps because God wanted me to be reminded of this simple truth.

I bought a planter to grow “cat grass” because it was less expensive than purchasing the planted ones already growing in the pet store. My always-indoor beasties need grass every now and then to aid their digestion, but no access to it other than what I bring to them. To keep them from chomping on my house plants, I give them their own.

The kit arrived, containing a planter, four small mulch discs, and a packet of grass seeds – rye, barley, wheat, and oats. The instructions said to place a disc into one of the planting squares and add water. Wait ten minutes. Then make a well in each square, plant the seeds, and cover them with the damp soil. Place it in a diffused sunny place and keep the room temperature at 68 degrees or above. In 3-4 days, my cats would have grass. Easy enough.

Still I was skeptical. How long had those dry seeds been in the packet? No expiration date on them. They could be years old and I wouldn’t  know. Sure enough, by the end of day two, tiny shoots of grasses began to emerge from the mulch. It worked!

You see where this is going. Jesus told parables about seeds. We’ve read them, heard many a sermon on them. So, what did God remind me?

First, that seeds can lay dormant for a long time, but with the right elements (water, nutrient soil, and sun) they can suddenly sprout. Same thing goes for people. You may think you have had no influence, but given time and the right circumstances, what was lying dormant can begin to push through.

Second, follow instructions and leave the rest up to God. Put aside skepticism. I didn’t know if I could trust this manufacturer to produce a product that would do as it claimed. But I do know my God keeps His promises. If He says it will happen, it will.

Third, in order for me to grow, I need three things – the Son shining gently in my heart, the Word to be a nutrient for my mind, and the Living Water soaking my soul with faith and trust. Eventually what God has planted in me will begin to grow so I can be of service to others in need.

Speaking of instructions…The Lord told me to write this. So I am obeying. Maybe because you needed reminding as well? Seeds planted.

 

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on”  (Exodus 14:15)

I am soon moving to a new apartment, so I figured it is a good time to weed out what I have and decide if I need it or if someone else can use it. As I sort, I’ve noticed a few yucky things have been hidden from my view. Dust between books in the bookshelf, dust bunnies clinging to the baseboards behind large furniture, and tufts of lint lurking behind the fridge and washer/dryer units. And I thought I kept a clean house!

And of course, there will be the desire for new things in the new place to replace some of the old. New dish towels in the kitchen or drapes in the living room. Perhaps a throw pillow or two to match the new decor.

And, I shouldn’t assume the furniture will fit the exact same way as it did in my old place. I need to be open to a lamp ending up in the bedroom instead of the living room, or an end table that always sat next to a chair being across the room by the sofa.

God brought to mind that perhaps He moves us out of our comfort zone so we can find the areas we have yet to clean in our souls. Stuff we have hidden from ourselves, and perhaps from Him…or so we think. Until we move, it won’t be revealed.

And He may want us to take on a few new things as well. Things not needed before. Or perhaps what we have will end up in a different place in our lives, similar to an end table or a lamp changing rooms in a new locale. We need to be flexible knowing things may not be the same as they were before. Some of our gifts may not fit where we thought they would.

Moving into a new ministry or situation is also a time to reevaluate our talents. Is there something we should give up and let someone else to do instead? Perhaps a leadership role has grown a bit stale, and another person needs to be stretched into it so they can grow and bring in new ideas. Maybe putting out the hymnals or setting up the potluck dishes, which we have done for ten years, is just what a new person in the congregation needs to do to make them feel they are contributing.

Moving is scary, unknown and, to be honest, a hassle. However, it is necessary now and then so we can get a different perspective and take inventory of our lives. And the best thing is that God goes before us, and with us, in the process. He knows where everything will fit.

Soon the new place we end up will begin to be a tad more comfortable and familiar. We will wonder why we stressed about it in the first place.


My passion is to help people find God moving in their world. One way is being a digital missionary, writing and editing for The Life Project.  Click on it to find out more. Last year we touched over 4 million lives over the internet. This year, our works are being translated into French, Spanish, Hindi and Arabic so we can reach even more souls with the Hope of Christ.  If you want to  find out more, or perhaps become involved in this vital internet ministry through praying, volunteering to be an online mentor or writer, or contributing financially, contact me though the comments. Thanks.

Filtered

Do you use filters? We have become more and more conscious of the contaminants in our environment.

I have a filtered water jug in the fridge. My cats’ drinking fountain has a filter. My coffeemaker has a filter.  My AC unit has a filter. My car’s air system has a filter.

Sometimes, my brain has a filter…it’s called the Holy Spirit.

A lot of world enters into our heads each day. It seems more and more of it is contaminated with the sludge of negativity, hatred,  intolerance and selfishness.  As believers, we are not to ignore it but face it head on so we can help others clean up their act. However, we need to filter a lot of it’s influence out in order to remain pure.

In my first novel, Focused, a middle aged woman is disgusted with her life. Slowly God uses a new pair of glasses to help her “see her life differently.” He begins to help her filter out the negativity and concentrate on the blessings.  I start it off with this quote from Paul:

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—focus on such things.  Philippians 4:8 (emphasis mine).

Filters are a good thing, especially in today’s world. We also need one for our souls. If we truly believe God can use all things in our lives for good, no matter how horrid they appear now, then we must filter out the bad so we can focus on that goodness. We have to see the situation through His purity, not the impurity of humanity’s view.

Into our souls pours our life experiences  experienced though our five senses, like water from a tap.  What we see, hear, touch, smell and taste all pours down the pipe. But after the filtering, out comes God’s purpose to refresh and renew us. We want to stay that way, right?

Today, we can become tempted to cloister in our churches with faith-filled brethren where it is secure and safe, and clean…we hope. Not always the case, is it?

This is not the time to cower but to boldly step out into the smog of unrighteousness. They have been drinking in the world’s sin for too long. They have forgotten what pure, clean water tastes like.

He wants to use us as a filter of influence. Be assured, if that is what He is calling you to become, He will  cleanse you constantly if you yield to His Word and Spirit. It’s called being in the world, but not of it.

Don’t let the muck of the world stick to you. Filter it out by constantly removing the sin in your own life through prayer, meditating on His Word, meeting with other believers, and worship.

Then, like the water in my jug, you will be ready to pour yourself out to a thirsty world dying for the Living Water from the purest, cleanest, deepest Well.

 


My passion is to help people find God moving in their world. One way is being a digital missionary, writing and editing for The Life Project.  Click on it to find out more. Last year we touched over 4 million lives over the internet. This year, our works are being translated into French, Spanish, Hindi and Arabic so we can reach even more souls with the Hope of Christ.  If you want to  find out more, or perhaps become involved in this vital internet ministry through praying, volunteering to be an online mentor or writer, or contributing financially, contact me though the comments. Thanks.

 

Slippery Slope

Have you ever had a spiritual high, only then to slide into the valley at lightening speed?  You  come home from a fabulous spirit-filled retreat and discover the water heater burst and flooded the house, or the entire family contracts the stomach virus, or you get an IRS audit notice in the mail. Why Lord? Couldn’t You have let me feel great for just a while longer?

Jesus understands. The same thing happened to Him:

 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.  Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.  And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness… (Mark 1:9-12)

At once…bam. Why?

Perhaps because our faith is forged in trials.

Perhaps so His human pride wouldn’t swell.

Perhaps because God knows we cannot exist on emotional highs.

If there were not valleys, would we appreciate the mountain tops? Jesus never told us becoming a believer meant an easy road where the potholes would vanish. Far from it.

What comforts me is the last part of Mark 1:13…

and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted[a] by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him. (Emphasis mine).

What have I learned?

First, God prepared Jesus. He gave Him the spiritual high, the encouragement, and the faith to head into the wilderness, knowing it was coming. He gave Him His purpose- You are My Son, with you I am well pleased. 

Second, God never left Him. He sent angels to minister to Him.

Because of His experience on earth as a human, Jesus understands the slippery slope off the mountain into the valley. He gets the fact that life is tough. He knows that evil can chip away  our armor of faith.

But He is God, too. He knows when those “Oops” are going to come for us. He will prepare us for them, and guide us through them. Even in the wilderness, we can find His blessings.

 

 

 

 

 

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