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solitaireI downloaded a solitaire card game onto my computer. Each day it has a “win-able” hand you can choose to play. But often times, there are multiple choices. Move the card to the wrong stack or the wrong stack to a blank space and you might get stuck. Then a message pops up. “This is a winning hand. Do you want to replay or be shown how to win?” Most times, I choose replay. I want to figure it out for myself. A few times, I have ended up exasperated enough that I let the computer show me how to win.

Describes my life. A few wrong choices and I get stuck. I want a replay button. A “Do-over.”  I might even try to backtrack and correct some of the moves that got me where I am.  However, we live in a linear existence. It is very hard to go back.

That is about the time I give up, fall to my knees and ask the Master Game Designer to show me how.  I whisper what David wrote.  Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Psalm 25:4 And He is faithful to do so.

The wonderful thing? Like my computer game, there is a new hand every morning. I can try to solve it on my own, or turn to Him and let my Lord show me how to proceed. Now, I admit, there are times He tells me to pray about it, then choose the next play myself. He understands humans want to be “hands-on.” He gave us free will. And, truth be told, we learn from our mistakes. However, every game has rules. In playing this game called life, we need to know those rules. The Bible provides that, step by step.

Even more wonderful? Because I claim Jesus as my Savior, I can hit replay. It is called forgiveness and grace. He will replayovercome evil with good (Romans 12:21). His mercy is newly provided every morning. (Lamentations 3:23) He will restore my life. (Psalm 17:20).

All I have to do is ask.  And yet…I can slip back into thinking my life is a game of solitaire. Lord, teach me anew, every morning, that I never walk alone. Show me your ways.

 

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????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????One letter can make all the difference. Today, while playing Word with Friends, I noticed two words with total opposite meanings separated by one small letter – “R”.

Fiend   –  Friend.

What turns a fiend into a friend?  The “R” can stand for:

RESPECT – Show proper respect to everyoneI Peter 2:17a   When we begin to look at people as worthy of our attention instead of ignoring them, or worse shunning them, our attitude shifts 180 degrees.  Even if your political, religious or lifestyle choices are different than mine, you and I have one thing in common: we are human.We are precious in God’s eyes. We are created by a caring God and have a purpose.  We both share the same oxygen for a reason.

And Christ died on the cross for us equally.  I am no better than you and vice versa. Whether we may have made horrid mistakes in our lives or have lived a good, sheltered and honorable one without so much as a speeding ticket, we are both flawed by sin and are in need of a Savior.

RELATIONSHIP –  In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:5  It is hard to view another human being as a non-entity once we take the chance and begin a relationship. People are often friendlier in small towns because everyone knows each other, and are somewhat dependent on each other. In large metropolises, people become more anonymous. Neighbors may barely identify each other in a crowd, much less know each other’s name. People pass each other on the street without eye contact. They covet their private space. If you aren’t known by them, you are invisible. You are a faceless number. But not to our Lord. How many faceless people have passed by you today? How many did you make eye contact with and smile?

REGARD – So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.  2 Corinthians 5:16  If I do not care about you, then I can’t call you a friend. But if I see you for the potential you can be, as Christ sees you, then suddenly your good points outweigh your flaws.  Not that I can change you, that’s God’s job. But I can change my attitude towards you. I can put on the spectacles of  godly love and see you differently than the world sees you.

When asked,  Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40

lay handsAn old hymn sings of what a friend we have in Jesus. He wants us to take the “r” into our world so we can respect, regard and then develop relationships with our fellow human beings for one purpose:  so we can lead others to another “r” – redemption. That way, we will become eternally friends.

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Is flesh – selfish?   Both contain the same letters. Go ahead, check it out. I’ll wait….

I love word puzzles, and sometimes I find His Word in them. Like “selfish” and “is flesh”.

There seems to be a lot of posts on social media today about self-esteem building. You are special, you are beautiful, you a worth something. You are strong inside. You can do it. You go, girl!

It reminds me of the maid in the movie The Help who whispered positive reinforcements over and over to the small girl who was ignored and emotionally nay-sayed by her mother. Great intentions. The child needed to hear those things to offset the negativity that fogged her home.

imagescael7vryBut I worry if we are not swinging the pendulum too far the other way in this me-orientated society?  Just check out the number of selfies as you scroll down the posts on Facebook.

Esteem shouldn’t stem from the mantras I tell myself in the mirror to pump myself up.  Instead, it should come from the fact I am created and put on this earth for a reason by a God who loves me more than I can ever imagine. He gives my life purpose. He equips me for the tasks He call me to do. His death on the cross paid to make me worthy…not anything I have done or anything I tell myself over and over in the mirror.

Don’t misunderstand. As a victim of severe bullying from 4th-9th grade, I know what low self-esteem is like. I bear the scars on my psyche. They gouge deeply into my personality.  I battle it daily, even now. But healing doesn’t come from me puffing myself up.  It came from me bending to my knees.

The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace. Psalm  29:11

Do I look to myself or to the mountains from where my strength comes. (Psalm 121:1) When I am dipping into the pity-pool, the best way to lift myself out is to praise God, not my own attributes. Doing something to help someone else helps to get the focus off of me, and that is the best remedy for the down-in-the-dumps.  Christ is my strength, my rock and redeemer. Not the mirror.

But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” James 4:6

Do I bolster myself,  or humble myself so He can lift me up? (James 4:10) The mirror emphasizes my flesh- not just skin and bones, but “me.” It is all about self.

Mirroring Christ who humbled himself to obedience,garden of geth even on a cross (Philippians 2:8) reveals an eternal spirit. It is all about Him who is greater in me than anything in the world.

Flesh is – selfish, and temporary.  But selflessness is the essence of spiritual wholeness.

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low-batteryMy tablet gave me a soft beep-beep. A warning came on the screen. Low battery. Time to plug it into the charger. If only our spirits came with such a warning…perhaps they do.

I hate for my phone or my tablet’s battery to get low. What if it dies just when I need it most? So I have made a habit of plugging them in when I get home each night. Usually. I forgot last night, and got the warning signal today. Oops.

Like my tablet, there are signs that indicate when I am running low on faith.  Perhaps I just don’t feel a s forgiving of others today, or as tolerant of their behavior. Personalities rub me wrong, like a towel dried without softener.  Frustration bubbles into my throat and a sense of anxiety nibbles at my psyche. I find my teeth keep clenching.

Faith, like energy, needs to be replenished. It is used all the time, sometimes more days than others if we are honest,  and I think it can run out if it is not continually renewed. Of course we have an initial faith in God, which prompted us to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, and that I am sure it never runs completely dry once we have the Holy Spirit alive in us.

Am I as diligent about plugging into God as I am plugging in my phone?

I know there are times, like my tablet or phone, I have felt as if I was running on empty.  Dragging through my emptyday, zombie-like, and not due to lack of sleep, I felt drained of energy.  At times like these, I can almost hear a small beep-beep sounding in my soul. “Come back to the charger. Return to my Word. Fill up on my promises and love. Renew your strength. Pray.”

God taps my shoulder in many ways. If you have been reading this blog a while, or have read my book, Experiencing the Present of His Presence, you know His message can come to me in something I’ve spotted in nature, in a household item, a verse in Scripture, words to a hymn…His ways to communicate with us are endless.  I have learned those taps are like the beeps on my tablet. Time to plug back in to the Source. I need God’s power to fill me up again and fuel my faith. Through prayer and study of Scripture, I need to reconnect to the Almighty.

You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people. Praise be to God! Psalm 68:35

Prudence dictates I should never let my faith run low, because I don’t know what tomorrow brings. I made need all of the spiritual energy I have inside to make it through that day. But God knows.  As He prompted Joseph in Egypt to store up grain, before the famine hits in the form of an unforeseen tragedy, illness or stressful event, I need to store up my spiritual energy and keep it full, day by day. That comes through reading His Word and prayer.

the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel…   Colossians 1:5

If you are run down, anxious, easily irritated, or short tempered as of late, perhaps the Holy Spirit is prompting you to re-connect to the Word of God. Maybe you need more prayer time to refuel your faith and energize your spiritual life.

After dedicating several hours of God-and-me time to read, reflect and pray in order to to fill you up,  you can stay full if you return to the charger each day. As little as a half hour a day can help to keep that indicator near full.

So go ahead. Plug in.

 

 

 

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titles-mind-the-gap-largeWhen I was in London several years ago, there were signs reminding people to be aware of the gap between the platform and the subway car. “Mind the Gap” paraphernalia was everywhere, so I bought a magnet as a memento. I stuck it on my fridge.

Tonight, God spoke that message into my heart. Mind the gap.

There is a great chasm between earth and heaven, between the temporal and the eternal, between sin and grace. this moment and the unknown. It was bridged by Jesus’s death on the cross because we humans were unable to cross it on our own.  Our doubts, worries and sins keep us separated from the Holy.

The gap didn’t disappear.  It is still there. God in His wisdom and crack-576083_1280knowledge of all things eternal stands outside of our wisdom and knowledge of only this moment and  our memory-colored past. He sees it all, past present and future, beyond the shackles of time. He knows. That is why Jesus stated, “I am the Way.”

When life gets to me and the unknown begins to make my stomach clench, I need to mind the gap. I must remember that the One who loves me, more than conceivably possible, stands on the other side. He is holding out His nail-scarred hand, ready to grasp mine and help me across into tomorrow the way a Victorian gentleman would help a lady traverse a puddle. I must trust He will guide me safely and not let go.

Whatever happens, He is already there.  My role is to hold out my hand for Him to grasp, and then wait for the moment when His strength guides me and keeps me from tripping over the gap in trust I’ve caused by worry.

Like Indiana Jones in the Quest for the Holy Grail movie, I must have the faith to take that first step across the traverse, trusting in God to keep me from falling. That means realizing my limitations and His power.

Mind the Gap.

He is God,

I am not.

He knows all,

I only know this breath I take.

He holds tomorrow,

even though I worry about what tomorrow holds.

 

A magnet on my fridge, used by God to whisper a message into my heart.  Mind the gap. Remember who I am and that I’m here to guide you.

Tonight, I will sleep a bit sounder.

 

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candle-1428234_1280Have you ever noticed that a candle doesn’t burn long if the heat of the lighted wick does not begin to melt it?  The wick ignites the flame, but it will quickly snuff if the wax around the wick doesn’t start to liquefy. The closer the wax is to the flame’s heat, the quicker it melts.

As kids, my sister  and I used to love to swipe our pinkie fingers through the liquid wax and watch it almost instantly turn opaque again on our fingers. Wax, when taken from  the flame, solidifies again in an instant.

So, where am I going with this?  John 8:12 – When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

I have often heard about solidifying my faith, but I suggest we keep our faith liquid. We need to remain close to the fire of the Holy Spirit and the Light of Christ. We need to melt into a clearness that is pure and fluid.

Alone, we become opaque. We hide our true selves from others and mold to our surroundings.  But as the Light of Christ pours into our hearts and souls, we melt in His loving presence in order to become molded by Him. We are free to be transparent. After all He is God. He sees everything anyway and still loves us enough to give His life so we can be in communion with Him once again. Through His light, people can clearly see our witness.

Now, occasionally a bit of soot may drop into the hot liquid wax from the wick.  But, in it’s melted state, it is easy to see the soot particles and then scoop them out. Much easier than if there was no flame and the soot became embedded into the solid, cloudy wax. We could dig down deep into the wax and find the soot ourselves, but how much better to let the flame melt the wax so it is easier to see and remove.

Any sootiness we have can be eradicated as well as long as the flame of Christ burns in us.  He fuels our faith, right?  Our sins may be revealed in His fire, but He makes it easier to remove them. Truth be told, we will be less scarred and gouged in the process than if we try ourselves.

No matter what is happening right now in your life, melt into God’s love. Let His fire purify and liquefy you. You will most likely find purpose in your struggles, even if it only used to draw people near to the flame as they marvel at your ability to smile through it all. Or perhaps, a bit of soot will be revealed and removed so you can more clearly reflect His love.

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Road1

 

Jesus commanded us to Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20a)

Two things are required in order to “go” and spread the gospel.

Grace and Obedience.

The first is God’s gift, and the second is our response to that gift. Grace is the giving of something we could never earn. Through God’s grace, by the death of Jesus for our sins, we are made “worthy” to be his disciples. We obediently step out, believing God will bless our efforts in His perfect plan and timing.

The focus then shifts from our abilities to His capability.

So, go, my friend. It’s all right.  Whether it is next door or halfway around the world, the Holy Spirit goes with you.  Jesus promised that.

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:20b)

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