Archive for the ‘Christian’ Category

Get Your Attention

“Then he opened their minds so they could understand the scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it stands written that the Christ would suffer and would rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And look, I am sending you what my Father promised. But stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

Then Jesus led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands, he blessed them. Now during the blessing he departed and was taken up into heaven. So they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple courts blessing God.” Luke 24: 44-52

Something in this passage got my attention as I prepared my church’s bulletins. It wasn’t until Christ died, rose, and returned that his followers finally were so gobsmacked that they drop their conception of what the Messiah would be and began to see Jesus for what He is … and listen. Really listen. His actions opened their minds, finally.

Are we any different? How often do I pray for God to instigate things the way I think they should happen instead of opening my heart, mind, and soul to His will–trusting He will come through in the best way possible, no matter how weird or hard it seems? I can recall times that He has literally taken away my breath. All I can do is drop to my knees and gaze up at His glory. Then, I am humbled by His Majesty and become attentive…

Then I am willing to let go of the reins and let God lead me.

See what happens next–He takes his followers as far as Bethany. Not up into heaven with Him. Nope, they had a mission to fulfill here on earth. But He promised to send a Helper–the Holy Spirit, to guide them through the tough times ahead.

Jesus still does the same today. He teaches us, then takes us so far and tells us, “Here is your assignment. I will equip you in time, at just the right time, so hang in and wait for my signal. And by the way, you are not alone in this. I know this world is a tough one. I will be with you in Spirit. Rely on me. I will guide you every step of the way.”

What will it take to get your attention so you drop your agenda and take up the cross instead? The road will probably not be an easy one, but if you open yourself to His will, you will walk side by side with God and be blessed (content in His presence) despite the circumstances that face you.

So they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy… Lord help us to do the same. Stay when You say stay, go when You say go and be open to learn from You every step of the way.

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Note: I wrote this in September of 2012…it is still true today. God, in His merciful grace, has never failed me. I have a great freelance, virtual job, and even though my circumstances have fluctuated over the past 10 years, His providing for my every need never has.

I’ll admit there are days I just do not feel His presence. Usually, those are the days I am stressed over something- probably the one thing I keep laying at His feet and then snatch back. Finances. Freelance work and being your own boss are wonderful. Yet, most of the time I feel like Indiana Jones in the scene where he is searching for the Holy Grail and steps out in faith over an abyss. God does provide the ledge I cannot see with my eyes, but at times I still look down and my knees become wobbly. That is the time I should get down upon them before trying to take another step. I don’t always do that.

Years ago I was given a book that was similar to the old Where’s Waldo series, except you had to look for Jesus in each scene. Sometimes He was easier to spot. Sometimes, not so much. I’d call over a friend or family member and say, “Can you help me find Jesus?”

Ah! Slap on the forehead time. Friends and family can often help us find Jesus working in our lives when our eyes are just too filled with tears or clouded by our own circumstances. They have a wider perspective. And God can use that to draw us back to Him.

Then there are times, He reveals Himself in a way that makes me suck in my breath. Like the Bible verse of the day which popped up on my cell phone app today after I stressed over finances … again-

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. I will counsel you with my eyes upon you. Psalm 32:8

Yes, Sir. On I go over the abyss. Let me keep my eyes on You and trust.

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The Bible makes several references to people hardening their hearts against believing in God’s ability to influence their lives. According to the Book of Exodus, Pharoah hardened his heart against the Israelite slaves. Eventually, after he ignored the five warnings, God left him to the consequences of his actions. Jesus asked his disciples if their hearts were hardened to His teachings. The psalms plead that we should not harden our hearts to God’s voice.

But did you know that hardening your heart, or as some folks say, having a cold heart, is more than just being stubborn or unwilling to listen? Negativity can actually affect us physically. In the HEALTHY HEART BOOK,  BY MORAG THOW, KERI GRAHAM & CHOI LEE, they state that science is learning how our attitudes can either thwart or enhance our bodies’ ability to heal.

“In years gone by, medicine focused on physical health only, but now scientists know that emotions, thoughts, and feelings affect how well the body functions. A positive mental attitude is now accepted as important in recovering from any health problem and living a healthy life… Therefore, for the health of your heart and for your general health, try to stop negative feelings from becoming overwhelming and regularly make time for the things that help you to relax.”*

They explain that feelings of anger, sadness, or frustration are normal, but if we do not deal with them and move on, our physical hearts can suffer.

So, I think we need to develop a holy CPR for our hearts-

C – confess. Knowing we have done wrong and not admitting it can cause stress. The longer we choose not to deal with it, the more it will eat at our conscience, eventually to the point that we either blame God for making us feel this way or we shut off our emotions to keep from feeling this way. Regular confession to God and to others humbles us. But it also opens our hearts to accept forgiveness and start fresh.

P – pray. There is an old saying that a life tied with prayer will not unravel. Handing our stress over to God reminds us that He is there and He cares. He is infinite, all-knowing, and all we can know is “now.” It helps us to get a better perspective on things. But it is also important to then listen for the Holy Spirit’s prompts because prayer should be a conversation.

R – read. Reading God’s Word regularly helps align our hearts, thoughts, and actions to His will. When you read through the psalms, will often see how a beginning negativity ends up in praise. You become aware in the stories and testimonies of how God worked in the lives of others and this opens your mind and heart to the assurance that He will do the same for you. Passages that never hit you before pierce you to your soul as if they were written just for you.

Doctors have discovered that people of faith live healthier lives and heal faster. Keep your heart, and your mind, and your soul healthy. Practice spiritual CPR often.

If you are angry or confused or upset, take that to God. Don’t shove it down. Ask God to turn your thoughts around to focus on Him, not the situation that is causing your blood pressure to rise and your head to toss and turn. Count your blessings. Go serve someone else so you get your mind off your problems and don’t brood.

We all need to jumpstart our attitudes now and then. Holy CPR is the key to health. Who knew?

Well, perhaps God. He made us after all.


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Wound Down

I hear my chime clock slowly sounding out the Westminster melody as if each chime is arduous. Time to rewind it. It also is behind a bit in time, so I will need to readjust it. I do this every week, well, like clockwork, and have for decades. I know it can only function so long without me winding it again with the key, so I keep that key handy next to it.

Are we any different? Well, yes and no. A wind-up clock rarely runs too fast. I have discovered I can.

After a four-day hospital vigil by the bedside of a relative, I realized how run down I have become. I have been “wound up” too much and using up too much energy on my own too quickly and so my stamina became depleted. I need to be rewound.

I have the key right next to me at all times which can regain my ability to function – it is God’s Word and prayer. God’s Word is the key, and prayer causes the key to turn around and around so that I have the ability to get in gear again.

Jesus said to the crowds, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew. 11:28-30).

While on earth, Jesus often went away to pray to the Father. He knew when his human body and mind needed to be strengthened in order to function. And Jesus knew Who held the key.

Why do we think we can handle it all if Our Lord in human form could not without God’s help?

Today, I am taking a rest. I am praying, reading His Word, and blogging about it. Already I feel His strength surging in my soul, mind, and body. His Holy Spirit is ministering to me. Soon, I will be ready to get back out there and do what He has called me to do.

If you feel run down and not functioning well, perhaps this key will help you as well. Here are some verses that may help: https://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=weakness&version=ESV

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Fill Me Up

Note: I wrote most of this in 2016 when my cousin posted this meme on Facebook …it is still true today. I have revamped the blog a bit.

How true. God will never leave us empty.

You forgot to fill the tank on the way home last night. You remember now that you are headed out the door for work. Ugh.

You’re running on fumes. But you have to keep going. There has bound to be a filling station just up the road. You watch for the signs. The gauge teeters on the E.  Your eye shifts to the tachometer to see how many miles you have gone. Your brain calculates how many more you possibly could go before the engine dies. You hiss a prayer and tap the steering wheel. Come on, come on. I need you now. Where are you, gas station?

If only you had taken the time to stop and fill up before you headed out. But you were running late. It started to rain. You didn’t want to get fume smells on your hands.  You were too rushed to notice the gauge. Whatever the excuse, the fact remains… you didn’t.

Please, God, please. find me a gas station. I need to refuel.  You begin to promise you won’t do this again, but you know you will.  Then you see it. The sign. And guess what? It advertises the cost to be twenty cents cheaper a gallon. Ha!

In our spiritual life, does it work any differently? Many of us run on fumes as a habit, then when a crisis hits, we ask God for a few gallons just to keep us going for now. Usually, He obliges. But why do we not store up enough ahead of time in our tanks? Oh, time is the issue, right?

You were running late. You were too tired to read the Bible last night. You thought I’ll read that passage tomorrow. Then the alarm went off and you hit the snooze button. So you put it off. I’ll pray on Sunday in the pew before the service begins.

I get it. I have done that myself. And regretted it.

God’s Word fills us. We need it daily. We should never go out into the world without a full tank of His promises, love, mercy, and grace in our hearts and minds. But we do. Our lives get hectic. We dash down the road. We keep telling ourselves, I’ll read my Bible when I find the time … soon. And before we know it, we are near empty. That is when Satan can mess with us.

Over the past ten years since I began this blog, God has been faithful to find ways to show me He is there, and He cares. Even when I am rushed and running on empty — there it is. A sign.

And that sign beckons me to not be satisfied with just a few gallons to get me by until I have time but to make the time for prayer and Bible study so I can be filled up.

Are you on fumes? Look for His sign to draw near, make a turn off your busy path, and stop for a while to refuel.

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Grace upon Grace

For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. John 1:16

Like many Christians, each year I pray for the word God wants me to grow into for the upcoming year. Last year it was perseverance … and boy did I need lessons in that! This December the word “GRACE” kept floating to the surface of my brain.

Grace is undeserved favor. God extends us grace, even though we do not deserve it. You cannot earn “grace”. But you can choose whether or not to receive it. It is freely offered, but sometimes that is hard to accept. What’s the catch? Surely God wants something in return. You can’t get something for nothing. God sighs, “My child, through Me you can.” … but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

I have tried more and more over the past several years to accept the grace He so freely offers, knowing I can never be worthy and being okay with that. I thought, am I not making progress here, Lord?

I heard that unmistakable though-voice whisper… I want you to go deeper, Julie. So I have been meditating on that.

Then the ah-ah–more like an oh-oh–moment hit me.


Through faith, I can receive God’s grace, but do I pass it on? How often do I extend grace to others instead of grumbling beneath my breath when they are rude or not courteous? How often do I pray for the person who lashes out at me unfairly instead of getting hurt or huffy? How forgiving am I? Do I take that part of the Lord’s prayer to heart — forgive us our trespasses AS we forgive those who trespass against us?

courtesy of https://www.pinterest.com/pin/giving-grace-to-others-can-be-difficult-at-times-and-often-we-dont-extend-that-same-grace-to-ourselves-work-to-give-yourself--65443000810927533/

How can I give something I refuse to receive myself? Before I can extend grace, I must not only receive it so I can pass it on, I need to put it into practice on myself.

My late husband was always critical of me, and now that he is gone, I find I have taken up the role myself. I have a tendency to be way too hard on myself. I push myself to the limit, get angry and even badmouth myself if I do something like drop a glass, or stumble over a corner of a rug. Or catch my sleeve on the door latch, or… well, you get the idea. I need to extend grace to me. Only then will my heart be open to extending it more to others.

If God can give me grace through His sacrifice on the cross, and if I am to be more Christ-like in order to draw others to His mercy, then I must let that grace gush out of me to myself and then to others. Because only through grace, can mercy and love freely and honestly flow. Lord, let me be a sieve that drips grace onto my own arms as I pour it over others’ heads.

When I choose grace, I can see others, and myself, through God’s eyes. The cataracts of criticism will fall away. The ways of God will be more clearly seen. My heart will be softened and my soul receptive.

Lord, give me the grace, through You alone, to extend that grace to myself and then to others, knowing none of us are deserving of it, but can give it if we humble ourselves to Your will and toss away our human prejudices, jealousies, and tendencies to judge. Amen.

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In September, after a long nine-month trek through doctors’ offices and imaging facilities, I finally found a surgeon that would “try to fix” the broken hardware in my pelvis so I could walk again without dragging my right foot with excruciating nerve pain. Trouble was, the first opening in his schedule was Nov 30th. More waiting…

Two weeks later, the ball of my right foot went numb. Okay, probably the nerve, right? But it persisted and a lump developed. I saw a podiatrist and he immediately booked me for surgery. He told me I would not be able to put any weight on that foot for two weeks. I have to admit I lost it when I got home. All my faith and strength swirled through my head and out my eyes in tears. Why??? Haven’t I been through enough during this trial?

No booming voice from heaven. No suddenly meaningful Scripture verse or lyric in a Christian song on the radio. But I felt a renewed nearness to God as if He rubbed my shoulder and whispered, I am here.

Now I know why. For eleven years I have blogged about where I found God today. I found God working out my situation in a rare vascular, and praise Him, benign tumor that threatened to cut off circulation to my toes. Let me explain…

When it came time to have the big surgery on Nov 30th, I was prepared. I knew how to offload my weight, get around with a walker, And navigate through my apartment. And, when the surgeon said all went well and I could put partial weight on my right foot, I had an amazing template … the healing scar on the ball of that foot. Still being tender, I immediately knew if I put too much weight on it.

Had it been my left foot, it would that have made my life difficult because I have had to bear most of my weight on it.

I have heard it said that hindsight is 20/20. In my case, it is. Now, I can humbly thank my Lord and ask forgiveness for not trusting Him more with my life’s circumstances.

Christmas is the time for gift-giving. God gave me an amazing gift even though it was wrapped in something different than I would have imagined … an unexpected surgery. A serendipity.

My gift to you is the moral of my testimony, as written long ago in Proverbs:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6


May it be your testimony as well in the year to come. Whatever life presents, you have the presence of God if you believe. He is there, and He cares. That is why He came to earth to be born in a stable.

Emanuel, God with Us.

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When you are stressed, do you hear anyone tell you to, “Just relax”? Of course.

Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels.com

In English class, you probably learned that the prefix “re” means to repeat. If not, you are relearning that concept now. However, like most rules in English, it sometimes doesn’t apply. Repeat, rescind, remember…these common words all start with “re” but when do we ever peat, or scind, or member? I always thought that “relax” was one of those exceptions.

But lax, according to the online dictionary is “from the late Middle English (in the sense ‘loose’).” It is when muscles slack and thus are not tense or strained. It also means to slack off, as in to lax the rules.

So when we relax, we go back to a state of “lax”, right? Which kinda implies that is supposed to be our normal state. The way we were designed to be most of the time. In fact, when David wrote in Psalm 46:10 that God tells us to “be still and know that I am God” he is saying to relax. God’s got this. He will be exalted. We don’t need to tense our muscles and get ready to fight or flight. We are to slack off. Let go of the wheel. Let Him drive.

In our modern world of constant communication and availability, how often do we learn that stress is not the norm? In fact, people are admired for how they use stress to motivate them. How they can multi-task effectively and not need much sleep. As if the busier we are the more productive and important we become.

Not always the case, and not for very long, right? Soon fatigue fog sets in and we make mistakes, run out of steam, and have to chug down another energy drink in order to perform to high standards.

Perhaps it is time we realized (does that mean to “alize” again?) that we need to relax. God created us to need rest. To return (yes, turn again) to a state of laxness. In fact, He commanded it.

 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” (Exodus 20:8-10).

To make it holy is to set it aside from the ordinary. To sanctify it and give it priority. We all need to relax on a regular basis. When was the last time you took a day off…not just from your job but from all the other things you “had” to do? When did you carve out time to be still and know God? To worship with others, like your family and /or friends.

To turn off the phone, the computer, and the TV? Take a nap? Spend time with family? Take a quiet walk in nature.

Time to get lax again… it is long overdue.

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Give Me This Day?

I have a habit of saying The Lord’s Prayer each morning to start off my prayer time. Memorized as a child, I have said it tens of thousands of times over my life. But, living alone and couped up in my apartment for over a year now due to health concerns, I began to wonder why I kept reciting it in the plural. Our Father…give us this day…lead us not into temptation…

I realize that at the time Jesus told his followers to pray in this manner the concept of being an individual was a foreign one. The community was interconnected. Worship was always corporate. Shame was a huge deterent to temptation, because what you did effected others.

Today, people tend to think in the singluar in our Western world. Some call this the “me” generation. My needs, my wants, my life, my decision, my body. My, oh, my.

So I started to recite the prayer in the singular. My Father….forgive me…lead me….

It felt as odd and uncomfortable as putting my right shoe on my left foot. And I realized why. God did not design us to be solitary beings. We were created to belong. Believers form the Body of Christ, and though I live alone, I am never alone. What I do does effect others whether I realize it or not. My prayers effect others. Saying the Lord’s Prayer is an intercessory gesture. I am praying not only for myself but for other believers as well–that they realize God is their Father in Heaven, that they be given their daily needs, have a forgiving heart, and not be led into temptation but be delivered from the snares of the evil one. I am prayignng for people I may never meet, but God has, and He knows their needs.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16

Christ, who is always present even when we don’t “feel” Him nearby, unites us. I have felt the Spirit prompt me to pray for others, haven’t you? I am confident He prompts others to pray for me when my spirit and attitude deflate and I become more vulnerable to the whispered lies of the devil.

No matter who you are, where you are, know this: you are never alone. John Donne was right. No man is an island, despite what Simon and Garfunkel sang. God is with you, and He cares. He cares enough to connect you with other believers whether you realize it or not. He is, truly, OUR Father in Heaven. May His kingdom come and His will be done, here on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.

Photo by Steven Putong on Pexels.com

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Be not silent, O God of my praise! Psalm 109:1

I could not hear it. Since I am housebound and cannot walk witout pain, every Sunday for the past ten months I have tuned into the live stream of my church’s worship service. I bring up the social media link on my phone and then cast it to my TV. Today I had the picture but no sound.

First world problem…modern technology is great…when it works.

Was it my phone? I fiddled with the settings. Nope. I disconnected the stream and tried the connection through my desktop computer. Um, that didn’t work either. My heart sank. My weekly link with the Body of Christ in my little church was broken. I couldn’t hear the hymns, the prayers, or the Bible readings. It was an eerie feeling to see lips move but not be able to understand. I have a renewed empathy for the hard of hearing.

I must admit there are times I feel that way with God. I know He is present, He always is… But I cannot hear Him speaking into my life. Though I call out, my situation remains the same. It is as if my prayers hit the ceiling and then disintegrate into a puff of dust. Have you experienced that?

David in the Bible did. Read Psalm 109. He most likely crouched in a cave, hiding from Saul’s soldiers who sought to kill him so he wouldn’t take the throne. God had anointed him, yet the time for him to reign had yet to happen. Instead of fanfare and celebration of the royal robe wrapping in his shoulders, he now only heard the drips of stalactites and shivered in the coldness of the dark stone. Though he had to remain silent, he begged God not to be so.

I get that.

The Psalm continues with him asking God to smite his enemies. I get that as well. I want action. I want God to swoop down like a superman daddy and fix everything. I want the constant pain to end and be able-bodied again. Wouldn’t I serve you better that way, LORD?

But then, at the end of the psalm, David turns his attitude around.

With my mouth I will give great thanks to the Lord;
     I will praise him in the midst of the throng.

For he stands at the right hand of the needy one,
     to save him from those who condemn his soul to death.

Jesus, in the silent night of Gethsemane, knelt in the silent night as his disciples slept, ignorant of his angst. He wanted his Father to take away the fate that awaited him—dying on the cross so His death would defeat sin and again bridge the gap between humans and their Creator. (see Luke 22:41-43).

But like his ancestor David, Jesus relinquishes his will to God’s. And so must I. It is the best thing to do.

Okay, I realize I am not facing enemies trying to slaughter me or have the eternal fate of humanity resting on my actions. But my health has isolated me. At times the silence is loud. I am tired of reaching out to friends and family who rarely reach back out to me. After all these months, they are living their lives but because I cannot be a part of it, I am not on their radar screen.

Yet in my heart, I know that God never disconnects from me. I might not hear His footsteps across my path but I have the examples of David and Jesus to rely upon. And Paul, and thousands of others who have suffered and yet not lost hope.

I will not be silent in my faith. I will praise the LORD in the midst of my “cave” and the dark silence of the garden even though my friends and family go on with their lives and do not notice my suffering. I know He is listening even though I cannot hear Him. I know in my heart I do not travel this road in solitude, even though it often feels that way.

God is there, and He cares.

So, I bow to His mercy… again and again. And I pray for others who feel alone in silence. Be it in a nursing home, or locked in their bedroom, or seated in a crowded school cafeteria, or cubicled in a noisy workplace. May they feel the hand of God rest on their shoulder. For He is there, standing at the right hand of those who need Him, seeing them, seeking to comfort them through their pain. Even if they cannot hear Him at the moment.

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