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Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it.” Ezra 10:4

courtesy of twitter@bigtoe.

After surgery, I learned I could only put “big toe” weight on my right leg for a month. That meant my left leg, supported by a walker, had to bear the load. In order to keep me from ending up with one weak, puny leg and one buffed one, I have non-load bearing PT exercises for the right one.

Did I mention this is a huge “adjustment”?

Why only big toe weight? Our big toes are big for a reason. Our bodies use them to balance. Ever watch a ballerina “on toe”? It provides the rest of the foot leverage. Without thinking about it, you put your weight mostly on your big toe when you lift off a chair. Go ahead, try it using any other toe or your heel instead. I’ll wait…

Back now? To continue…

For now, my right side is weak. The surgery on my right pelvis needs to heal. The pins need to knit into the plates and bone. So, I must rely on my left side.  But, without the walker or crutches, I’d be catawampus and fall down a lot.

That has made me think about how much I lean on God for support, especially when I am weak. But even if I feel strong, I should still use Him as support. I need to consistently practice this unique way of walking through this journey we call life. We all do.  It feels unnatural. Most of us don’t want to lean on a crutch. We were taught to stand on our own two feet.

I’m not saying Christians should be wimpy. Actually, it takes strength of character to admit you need assistance.  The winds of change in our culture are blowing hard. We can only stand if we press into God’s Word and prayer for support, and lean on His understanding, as it says in Proverbs 3:5, fulling trusting in His strength to bolster us. In the meantime, we can strengthen our stance by practicing our faith through the life exercises we are given. But as long as we exist in this cultural environment that wants to pull us out of balance, we need our Lord for support.

Christ gives us strength when we yoke to Him. (Philippians 4:13, Matthew 11:28-30).

He is my spiritual walker, and I don’t want to let go, lest I fall.

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Oh, did God ever whack me over the head with His velvet-covered two-by-four today! Through two circumstances, God blared His truth in my ear. “It’s not what you are doing that is wrong, it is how.”

He has been tapping on my brain for several weeks, but I had failed to acknowledge it.

Another missionary gave me a card that says, “real missionary work is done on your knees.”  Nice, I thought. It didn’t really sink in.

Then, in a Bible study I am doing with ladies of my church, we read this in 2 Corinthians: Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. (verse 17a.)

BAM!  For over 18 months I have been trying everything I know how to do to raise financial partners as a missionary. And I have failed. The missionary society continues to fund me, even though I am not pulling my financial weight. That stresses me out. I so want to continue this work.

I could blame it on my being housebound for the most part. I cannot travel to meet and greet, which is the tried and true pattern for missionaries raising funds for their salary. I have only been able to contact folks digitally. But since my missionary work is solely in the realm of the internet though writing and editing for The Life Project, I figured raising support could be accomplished in the same way.

I have been fretting over not making my monthly ends meet instead of meeting with God’s will. If He wants me to continue touching lives over cyberspace then He will provide. I do not need to peddle my missionary work. I just need to be obedient and do the work He has called me to do.

Matthew 6:33 states to seek God’s righteousness first, above all else, and then everything else we need in life will follow. How easy it is to believe that in our brains but not follow through with our hearts.

God knows who my supporters will be. He also knows my physical limitations. My job is to keep the conduit open by delving more into His word and increasing my prayer time. He will open opportunities for me to speak to people and open their hearts to support my work.  By keeping in tune with His will, and trusting in His timing instead of my own, I can better serve Him and others.

I have placed that missionary’s card on my fridge where I can see it every day as a reminder of what my primary job is. If I keep filling my heart, mind, and soul with God, He will fill my fridge, my support list, and my bank account. That is the true profit.

If you feel as if a giant wall has loomed between you and what you think you are doing for God, perhaps He is telling you to sit down and ponder your motives. Really ponder. Are you doing it for your profit, or for His glory? It is so easy to confuse the two because it is in our human nature to do it. Spending more time on your knees can alter your perspective.

 


One way God has stretched me is to become a digital missionary with The Life Project. However, to continue to grow in this ministry, I need to become fully funded by partners who will pray and financially support me. Will you join my 20/20 Vision? I am seeking 20people who will pledge to provide  $20 a month.  You can learn more here.  Comment and I can send you more material to peruse so you know this cause is legitimate, why I am so passionate about it, and be assured your money will go to reach people around the world with the message of Hope in Jesus, one click at a time. Thank you for seriously praying about it.

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“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:26

I watched through the windows of a friend’s house as several sparrows fluttered back and forth from the ground to lawn furniture on her veranda. They were chirping loudly. Then I saw why. Her dogs were crouched down, watching them.

One little bird flew toward the whirring ceiling fan instead of joining the others in their frantic dance. I held my breath, knowing there was no time to bang on the window and divert the little thing from flying headlong into danger. I watched with my teeth tucked into my lower lip, and yeah, I said a prayer.

But the bird was savvy. It knew how to fly above the turbulence caused by the blades and land securely on top — safe from harm of the fan and from the dogs below. Then I noticed a small tangle of grass and twigs. It was building its nest there! Smart critter.

God lesson: In Matthew 6, Jesus talks about how the Father cares for the birds of the air, and how much more He will care for us.

We can fret on the ground about things that are beyond our control, hopping around like chirping sparrows. We can sense the danger and feel helpless to do anything about it. It can overwhelm us with worry so much that our judgment is clouded. We may even just freeze, close our eyes, and pray we’ll come out unscathed as our knees crumble and our teeth chatter.

Or we can soar above the turbulence in life and nest safely in our Father’s love. We can ask Him to give us the way to lift ourselves above it all as we follow His voice and trust that He will either lead us out of the peril or armor us with the smarts to get through it by His mercy.

In I Samuel 17, David slung a stone and whacked Goliath smack dab in the one place that would fell him. He used his expertise in scaring off wild animals from his flocks, a talent God had developed in him for such a time as this. Just as God taught that little bird to judge the wind currents so he then could navigate the whooshes of the ceiling fan.

God is preparing you and me for His purpose. He knows what is going to happen and has our best interests at heart. He will provide the equipment we need to face any challenge or show us a route to safety.

So, before you think your life is going to hit the fan, seek the Father to give you both the strength in your wings and the knowledge you need to lift you above it all. He is faithful to do so — if you look to Him and not your situation.

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“I have set the Lord continually before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” Psalm 16:8

I watched, a smile etching over my lips. A little girl in front of me stood with her daddy as she waited her turn on the merry-go-round at a local fair. The other kids’ squeals fascinated her as they straddled the up and down steeds. The loud calliope music added to the excitement along with their squeals of laughter. The mirrors and colors swirled by. Her eyes kept widening, stirred by the sounds and motions.

At last the ride slowed to a halt. Kids climbed off and it was her turn to get on. He lifted her onto the pink one. Then, oh so carefully, a shaky little hand groped for her father’s strong one—just to make sure, before he stepped back. The whole time, her daddy stood by her, resting his hand on the plastic horse’s rump, his eyes focused on his daughter as her face changed from worry to wonder.

Then next time, she scrambled to get on, all smiles. Even so, her father resumed his stance. Even though she now enjoyed the ride, he never was more than an arm’s reach from her.

Her dad obviously knew about merry-go-rounds. He understood the joy and the risks, and was prepared for his daughter’s reactions.  He stood by ready to steady her or comfort her. Or to share her laughter. And above all else, to ensure her safety.

For me, that’s God. He is always right there, watching, guiding, protecting me. Whether I am anxious or anticipating something with joy, He never steps away. He lets me experience things, but always under His watchful eye. As life moves up and down, slows and then goes faster, He stays the same. Always within reach. Always ready for me to grab hold and squeeze tight.

Because that is what a loving father does for his daughter.

My heart is stirred…but never shaken.

 


One way God has stretched me is to become a digital missionary with The Life Project. However, to continue to grow in this ministry, I need to become fully funded by partners who will pray and financially support me. Will you join my 20/20 Vision? I am seeking 20people who will pledge to provide  $20 a month.  You can learn more here.  Comment and I can send you more material to peruse so you know this cause is legitimate, why I am so passionate about it, and be assured your money will go to reach people around the world with the message of Hope in Jesus, one click at a time. Thank you for seriously praying about it.

Read Full Post »

“Am I not present everywhere, whether seen or unseen?” Jeremiah 23:23

I had to have surgery, which meant undergoing anesthesia. For a natural control freak like me, not knowing what is happening is a huge leap in trust. Especially when I went under with an IV in my left hand and woke up with one in my right.  It freaked me out because I didn’t recall even getting drowsy after they positioned me on the operating table, and then woke up in a different room realizing time had passed without me being aware of it.

Not to mention trusting the anesthesiologist and the surgical team to do what they said they would in my interest, all the while monitoring my vital signs. I had visions of them laughing at my cellulite. But of course, they are way too professional, right? Even so, being unconscious and naked under a flimsy no-size-fits-anyone surgical garb is a bit daunting. Did I mention I have a strong sense of modesty?

Where did I find God in all of this? Not to say I go through my day unconscious, but I do walk through my life with very limited insight.  There is a lot happening that I am not aware of in both the physical and spiritual realms. Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6:12 that our battles are not always of this reality. There are dominions and principalities in constant spiritual warfare. And we go about our day totally clueless of all the ways we are being guarded and monitored.

Amy Grant recorded a song, “Angels Watching Over Me”, back in the 1990s. She sang about how so many things are orchestrated to protect her that she never sees. All was for her benefit and had a purpose, even though she remained unaware of it.

Perhaps you hit every single red light on the way into work, so you’d not be in the blind spot of the weaving-through-traffic driver three blocks up. Maybe while you waited in line at the grocery store as the coupon queen made sure she had one for each purchase, the dry cleaners you were headed to next was being robbed. We never know—which may be a good thing, in a way.

If I can trust the surgical team to do best by me even when I am not aware of what they are doing, then how much more should I trust my loving Lord?  Quite frankly, as controlling in nature as I tend to be, I’m glad to not always be aware of what is happening outside of my vision. But I hope I do not neglect to thank God anyway.

This past week my life was in the hands of competent individuals. Every day my life rests in the eternal hands who gave those people their abilities. And I’m grateful my surgeon believes it as well.

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For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Romans 1:20

 

It happened…like it always does, I suppose. Murphy’s Law in motion. With a deep smile, I tuned in to TV program I’d been wanting to watch for weeks and in a split second–nothing.

No lights, no electricity, no sound.

I became enveloped in darkness. No street lamp shown through my living room window. I pulled back the curtains to see the whole neighborhood shrouded in black. For almost four hours…on a crystal clear moonless night.

I rarely think about how much I am dependent upon electricity. Most of the time I don’t give it a second thought. I enter the room and flick on the wall switch. I ask my Google mini to play the radio station and boot up my computer to check my emails. I adjust the room thermostat and nuke my food while getting cold water from the fridge. I recharge my phone and my tablet as I sleep. Electrical power is an essential part of my life.

But that night, nothing worked. No power came through the wires. I felt blind and helpless. I sat on the couch for several minutes trying to get my brain to kick in and solve the situation.  After a half hour, I realized the lights were not coming back on anytime soon. There must be a major outage. All I could do was wait. My phone only had 20% power, even on battery saver.  I had no entertainment options. No computer, music or lights. I reminded me of the time I rode out a hurricane. What did I do then? Ah.

I used the flashlight on my phone to dig out the battery-operated lantern, and then located a shoebox of candles in my closet. I lit a few (ignoring the prohibition of their use in my apartment complex, but I doubted the manager would swoop in at eight at night and evict me.) Recalling that if they are placed high up they let off a larger glow, I set them on top of bookcases and countertops. Much better. A soft yellow glow penetrated my apartment.

I prayed a while and mentally went through my prayer list of folks. Still no lights returned, though a few times the power tried to gin back up only to go back down again within a few seconds.  My phone was almost dead so I couldn’t pull up my Bible app. I went to the bookcase, found my old study Bible, blew off the dust, and began to read as my cat curled in my lap. Memories of an elementary school teacher explaining how Abe Lincoln studied to be a lawyer by firelight etched my mind.  I think it was in reference to there being no excuse for us not doing our homework. Funny how things like that surface.

Then Romans 1:20 jumped off the page.  It’s words whacked me in the heart.

How often do I take God’s power for granted? I deeply rely on it. Whenever I need Him, I flick on my prayers and He comes. I plug into His strength when I feel mine diminishing. I seek His warmth when the world feels too cold and harsh. I lean on His love as a widow who, being housebound, often goes for days without any human touch. Without my Lord, I am powerless. I need daily recharging, just like my phone. I rely on His light.

 

Have you ever thought about what it would be like to not have God’s power in your life? Do you expect it to be there whenever you need it, like turning on a  lamp?

Rest assured, unlike the electric company, the power of our loving Lord never goes out. We can always tap into it, and we should…throughout our day and our night.

 

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courtesy of brianna-santellan unsplash

A friend drove me to do my weekly shopping, but by the time we got there all  the handicapped spots were occupied. (Many of you know I have to use a walker, so even grocery shopping is a chore.) As we pondered whether she should circle around to drop me at the door then go find a place to park, a car began to back out across the way, right near the entrance. I immediately lifted my hands. “Thank you, Lord.” My driver agreed.

 

I recalled someone asking me if I truly thought God did little things like provide parking spots. My reply? “Why not give God the glory?”

Then, in my Bible reading I ran across Psalm 34. It starts out with a phenomenal faith statement: I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. (vs.1)

At all times? Not just when I think He has shown me favor? Would I say “thank you, Lord” if the only parking spot had been 100 yards away and my friend had not been able to take me? Would I have blessed Him when the pain shot down my leg and my foot scraped the ground as I tried to hobble back to my car after a half hour of walking through grocery aisles because all the scooters were being used? Would I thank Him if I’d gotten to the register and discovered some hacker had drained my account when my refrigerator had an echo in it and my cupboards were bare?

Paul put it a different way in his letter to the Philippians. Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (4:4).  Always. In every circumstance. Good or bad.

I don’t think it means we shouldn’t get angry in response to injustice. Yes, we may feel frustration.  Our heart may jolt at a strange sound or coil at a perceived danger. It is in our nature to react. But we shouldn’t let it gnaw the edges of our faith.

A singer in an older Christian contemporary song states that whatever happens in life has already passed through God’s hands.  Very true. He knows long before we can. And He is always there, ready to make it a lesson for us. Ready to send helpers to comfort us, and His Spirit to guide us. Even in bad times, “God is good all the time”, as the chant states.

Today, I found a lesson from God in a parking slot and a psalm.

Dearest Lord, I will try harder to live out Psalm 34:1 and Philippians 4:4. If King David, who had to run for his life and hole up in caves, or Paul who suffered whippings and Roman prisons, could, why can’t I? Forgive me when I do not acknowledge You moving in my life. Amen.

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