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Archive for the ‘Life Experiences’ Category

Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Psalm 25:4

I spoke with my insurance agent about renewing my policy. As she clicked away on the keyboard at her end I heard her frustrated sigh. “Sorry, this computer keeps wanting to take me where I don’t want to go.”

I’ve been there. Click and a screen appears that I didn’t expect, or a pop that tells me a new password is required (and I have to rack my brain to recall it), or requesting the answer to a security question. Or my favorite, READ ERROR 404. Argh.

After a few more huffs into my receiver, she acted surprised. “Oh, here we are. It got me to the screen I needed. I didn’t think about going this route.”

courtesy of Facebook posting – no artist noted.

It made me think though how often these digital incidences raise my blood pressure…

Then God whispered into my heart,”How often do you react the same way when I detour your plans?”

Lately, God has been yanking me out of several comfort zones, and I haven’t wanted to go!

But the truth is, rerouting is a part of life. Abram was called to leave his homeland. The Hebrews had to relocate to Egypt during a famine , as did Joseph with Mary and the baby Jesus. Jesus rerouted his followers through Samaria, a land where no good Jew would venture back then. God rerouted Paul in his ministry when he wanted to go to Asia.

Today, believers are often rerouted as well. We are constantly in the battle to die to self and live for others. To go against the grain of self-centered secularism and show hospitality,

sacrificial love and forgiveness.

Where has God rerouted you, perhaps dragged you against your will? How did it turn out? Probably pretty well, despite the doubts, hardships, and stumbles. Sometimes He  has to takes us where we never thought we’d go so He can teach us, comfort us, correct us, or grow us.

At times our faith walk can be a drag…in a good way.

 

 

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

 

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And it will be said: “Build up, build up, prepare the road! Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people” (Isaiah 57:14).

Have you ever watched a bulldozer dig a path? Flat ground and grassy plains can hide rocks just below the surface. Toe jammers. Ones that you can’t see and may make you stumble.

Life is filled with toe jammers at times.  The path seems smooth, but wait. Ouch. Stubbed it again. Didn’t see that coming. Your eyes were on the horizon, on where you thought you should be headed.

Here is a thought. God put them there. Not to be cruel. Not to laugh as you hop and caress your throbbing big toe. Perhaps the half-hidden obstacles are there due to a natural course of time, just as stones can become eroded and buried in the soil. However, if we acknowledge that God is the Creator and knows where our stumbling stones lie, perhaps it will cause us to turn to Him for guidance more often.

My steps have held to your paths; my feet have not stumbled (Psalm 17:5).

Jesus called Simon Peter, but first He removed a few obstacles. When Peter and his brothers cast their nets and caught the net-full of fish (Luke 5:1-11), Biblical experts say that made them enough money to feed and clothe their families for three years–the amount of time they’d be traveling with Jesus.  One more bump in the road. Peter’s mother in law was ill. Jesus healed her (Luke 4:38-39).

One more stumbling block- Peter’s zeal often made him impulsive. God didn’t instantly change Peter’s personality, good or bad. He let Peter thump his toe a few times. Throughout his time with Jesus, Peter found himself in situations that our Lord used to mold him into eventually becoming the leader God knew he could be. Several times he stumbled, and it hurt. But in the end, God purposed it.

Two lessons from Simon Peter:

Thank Him for the toe jammers. They are there for a purpose.  Just as they were for Peter.

But also know that if bigger obstacles are in the path He has set for you, He will remove them. Just as He did for Peter so he could follow Jesus.


The internet is a vast mission field. At Campus Crusades of Canada’s  Power to Change, I edit and write for two websites that draw people closer to God:  Issues I Face  and The Life.   Our free articles and devotionals glean a readership of 500,000 plus a month. Some are believers, others don’t know what to believe. All are seeking. We help them know Jesus, one mouse click at a time.
But as with any missionary organization, we are funded solely through the donations of ministry partners. And at this moment, an anonymous beneficiary will match any and all donations up to one hundred thousand dollars. 
Find out more about my work as a writer and editor at  http://www.juliebcosgrove.com/missionary_support.html 

 

 

 

 

 

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I found God moving in my life this week – literally – as He answered two prayers: finances and living conditions.

My doctor says I should not climb stairs again. Hard to do when you are planted in a second floor apartment. The only first floor one available in my complex is $72 more a month! OUCH! The new manager wouldn’t negotiate, so it’s moving time in a few months. (I have to give 60 day notice — she wouldn’t budge on that either.)

After a teary weekend praying and looking online, I found three I could afford. A friend drove me around to each.  Nada. Either no first floor unit or a long waiting list.

We pulled over and prayed, then turned the corner and saw another complex. It looked nice.  Never saw it online, and I’d virtually looked at 62 listings of available apartments in my city over the weekend. Even so, we both felt a strong urge to go check it out.

Sure enough, a unit on the first floor had  become available that day, scheduled to be ready for occupancy on the very day I am released from my old lease in 60 days! Thank you, Jesus!

Ready for this? There is a handicap ramp and parking space right at the front doorway. I will be needing that for quite sometime yet.

It get’s better. It is $84 less than I am paying now.  That’s a utility or cable bill difference.  When you are on fixed income, that is HUGE! Prayer number 2…answered.

Yep, I cried again as we drove away, this time in gratitude. God is so amazingly awesome, I cannot begin to describe His wondrous power.  But this is just a hint of what He has planned for those who trust and believe in Him.

Sure, I will basically be sequestered in my second story apartment a while longer. Gives me lots of time to slowly pack! (If you live in Fort Worth and want to help for an hour or so in early March…)

Whatever you are going through, whatever obstacles loom in front of you casting a shadow of gloom, our Lord knows about them and has a plan to explode them into tiny pieces you can kick aside. Or He will offer you a way around them.  No, not a way — the best way. Just keep on praying. His timing is always perfect.

God definitely “moves” in mysterious ways. If you are not planted where you are supposed to be, He will make arrangements to move you — just as He has for me.

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