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Archive for the ‘Life Experiences’ Category

Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Proverbs 30:8

I’ve watched way too much TV while laid up with health issues. I admit it. One thing I have noticed, though, is the trend to make foods deceptive.  Cauliflower cooked to resemble mashed potatoes or rice. Pasta from zucchini. Cream soups made healthy to fool the family into eating right because it tastes good. Even prepared diet foods that let you eat chocolate cake and still lose the pounds.

What’s wrong with that? Initially I was sucked in. I can eat the foods that were on my “no-no” list, as long as they are altered. Marie Antoinette was right after all. “Let them eat cake!”

The problem, as I see it, is that habits are not really being changed. People are not eating more healthy but stealth-y.

I see it in churches as well. Get ’em in the door anyway you can and then lay on the Gospel. But not to thick. Let them ease into it. Be tolerant. Let them wallow in sin and accept them. Don’t judge.

Like false mashed potatoes, it looks and tastes good. Agreed, people want to eat what they want to eat and believe what they want to believe.  I admit, there is truth in that evangelistic method. Jesus met people in their messes. We should as well.

But he pulled no punches when it came to doling out the truth. As a wise pastor I know one told me, “We need to love them enough as they are to help them change into who God calls them to be.”

While we have all fallen short of the glory of God and sinned (Romans 3:23) and we should examine the plank in our own eyes before we point out the speck in our neighbor’s (Matthew 7:3-5), if we wash down the message of salvation too much, we lose the reason for needing a Savior in the first place. That, my friends, to me is a DANGER:THIN ICE sign.

Perhaps it is best if we don’t try to fool them into eating mashed potatoes that is something else, and claim it is for their own good. Maybe we should be honest about “mashed potatoes’ nutritional value”  in the first place. Then offer them the Bread of Life.

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Say this sentence: What do you want to change?

How did your mind read it? It could have placed the emphasis on the word you, meaning an action on your part is needed.  It’s up to you. Your choice, your decision.

Or your brain could have latched on to the first word what. Now the emphasis shifts. It assumes change is happening, but asks about the object of that change. That means choice.

Then again, the mind could have zeroed in on the word want, perhaps distinguishing it from “need.” There is a difference, though often times we don’t get that.  It also implies a more passive approach to the question. The power to change it not in your control. It becomes a matter of asking for help.

And he [Jesus] said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3

Why do we often assume we need to be in control? It as if the right of passage into adulthood is paved with “It’s up to me” stones. However, too many time we stub our toes on them. Still, we plod along, nursing the throb. “I can’t assume anyone else will do it, so I must.”

Jesus challenges us to revisit the emphasis of the sentence. To return to a holy dependency on our Father for instruction, guidance, comfort, and yes, for discipline.  Just as we once did as children.

We were never designed to go it alone. Humans were created to be in communion–with each other and with our Creator. Somewhere along the line, we forget that fact. Always have…from Genesis, Chapter 3 to today.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t take responsibility. Far from it. We are all inevitably responsible for our actions, thoughts, and choices. But I, myself, have been learning the humility of dependence upon others, which includes leaning more on God.

Truth is, if I am honest, my word emphasis to the question, “What do you want to change?” has changed over the past year as I struggled with health issues soon after receiving a call into missionary work (funny how those two things happened almost simultaneously). Due to both,  I am mostly dependent on the donations of others for my income.  And I am more dependent on other’s prayers.

In 2016, I would have definitely put the emphasis on me. I, the widow, must go it alone. Make it on my own. It’s up to me.

Today, my response is: “Lord, I want You to change me…daily, making me dependent upon You so I am totally aligned with Your will. I can’t do this by myself.”

More than ever, I need to grab Daddy’s hand to lead me. Does that make me a weaker person? Yes, and no. To acknowledge my weakness makes me stronger. (I Corinthians 4:10) To lean on His understanding and might, instead of my own, bolsters me to go onward in this journey.

Kind of ironic this missionary organization I have been called to be a part of is called Power to Change, right? Well, perhaps not.

How about you? Read the sentence again. What do you want to change? Then talk it over with your Lord.

 


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 am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved..John 10:9

I live in a gated community. In reality, it is little more than a false sense of security. I have lived here four years, and the code has never changed. Every pizza and package delivery knows it. The tenants who move in and out every six months to a year know it.  But even if the manager was more diligent in changing the code, it wouldn’t really matter.

The same gate that lets a car in also lets a car out. In this warren of residencies, one usually only has to wait a few minutes before another car appears, wishing to exit. No code needed. Slip right on through as they drive out. To avoid lawsuits, I imagine, the gates open and close very slowly, and if they detect a car in the path, they will stop and reopen. This allows at least two or three cars to zip through at a time.

What we need is a guard 24/7 to monitor who passes in and out. But that would be too pricey.

Why am I telling you all this? We each put up barriers and boundaries to keep us safe in our personal space. Rules, internal alarms, habits. However, there is also a gate. A gate you assume will stay closed during the times you want to stay safe, but in reality, can allow lots of things to seep in. That whisper that tells you this one time will be okay. You won’t really be breaking the rules. You are being bold, adventurous, trying something new. That new idea which makes you think perhaps your boundaries have been too rigid and unfair. An interpretation of Scripture that opens your eyes to a more broad understanding, adding a new lane along the road to salvation.

Jesus told His first-century listeners that He was the gate for the sheep. The people who heard His words understood the analogy. Shepherds would lead their sheep from pastures into a communal enclosed area at night. This was in order to watch over them and protect them from predators and poachers. The shepherds then laid down in the gap and guarded the entrance. Nothing came in or out without their permission.

The Holy Spirit is our mind’s gate. The gate code is the Word of God. Whenever something rattles our thoughts, we should ask, does it jibe with what I know to be Truth? Even so, if we rely solely on our own understanding, it can be a false security. Many people use the gate code, and not always for good purposes.

We need the Gatekeeper, 24/7. Don’tworry, He already paid the price.

 


Besides writing this  blog, I  have a digital ministry. The internet is a vast mission field. At Campus Crusades of Canada’s The Life Project, 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.

But as with any missionary organization, we are funded solely through the donations of ministry partners. Find out more about my work as a writer and editor at  http://www.juliebcosgrove.com/missionary_support.html

 

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“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. Isaiah 55:8
In school I was taught the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. In the school of faith, I have learned God doesn’t always take the shortest route. More often than not He meanders.
A sprinkler began to leak at my apartment complex. The parking lot is sloped on purpose so the runoff will head for the creek beyond the trees. Easiest way for the water to flow? Diagonal straight line. Or so I’d think.
But it doesn’t. It makes weird twists and turns through the asphalt and concrete, being thwarted and changing directions by things I cannot see, or do not notice. It flows one way, then another, then another. Slowly…eventually, it will get to where it is supposed to be headed.
I stared at the trailing stream of water and saw my life. Very few times have things turned out as I planned. A circumstance suddenly altered my path. Something I couldn’t see. It led me a new direction for a while. At times I felt off track, and yet, from a bird’s eye view,  I was headed  the way I was supposed to go after all.
Once again I found a tangible way to remember to have faith. God is directing my path, when I let Him. Some obstacles are my doing, many are for His purpose. His ways are not mine. But eventually, I will get to where I need to go. There are lessons to learn along the way as I meander through His merciful and grace-filled landscape called life.
Lord, keep me flowing in the way You have designed. You are the source-spring of Living Water that flows through me and directs me in the way I need to go. Amen.

The internet is the new mission field. At Campus Crusades of Canada’s The Life Project, our free articles and devotionals glean a readership of 500,000 plus a month.  But as with any missionary organization, we are funded solely through the donations of ministry partners. Find out more about my work as a writer and editor at  http://www.juliebcosgrove.com/missionary_support.html


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Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.

 

Houseplant lovers know that different ones require different care. There are low-light plants and then there are those that won’t thrive unless the sun is gleaming on them most of the day. Some prefer diffused light near a south or north window or their leaves will burn while others relish the afternoon western sunbeams.

Those exposed to the sun the most often need to be watered the most. You can tell when they are parched. Their leaves droop dramatically. Others you have to stick your finger into the soil to determine their need for water.

Some cacti and succulents will absorb and retain water.  They relish the water they get and store it up so they always have enough, even in drought times. But they need the bright sun all the same.

Low light plants thrive with a  slightly moist soil. They need steady applications of filtered sun and smaller amounts of water regularly to keep the roots dampened. In fact, too much of either will thwart their growth.

Many plants need more water when they are young or newly transplanted into a different soil or pot. Once their roots are well established and can retain what has been given they do just fine with less.

What sort of plant are you, spiritually speaking? Are you always in need of God’s light shining on you or you will not thrive well? Do you constantly need His Word, worship, praise music, quiet time, prayers of others and other spiritual stimuli to keep you going?

Or, are you a low-light plant? A little of God’s mercy and grace goes a long way, however you do need it regularly…in small doses. Too much is a bit overwhelming. Sitting in the corner or off to the side of the window is fine with you.

Perhaps you are a cacti. Not to say you are prickly… but you thrive best with the brightness of God shining constantly in your life and still have the ability to store up His Word for times of need. You can take a lot of heat, too.

The point is, God created you and He knows your needs. One plant is not better than the other. An ivy should never think it needs to be a cactus nor an orchid think it should be an air plant. All make the world (or the home) a better place. All absorb carbon monoxide and produce oxygen. All add green lushness, vitality, and  a peaceful beauty to a room.

We thrive best in different environments. My plants rely on my knowing their needs in order for them to thrive and grow. How much more so does our loving God, the Master Gardener, knows what it takes to keep each of us alive in Him?

I found a message from God today while tending to my plants. Where will you find Him?

 


The internet is the new mission field. At Campus Crusades of Canada’s The Life Project, our free articles and devotionals glean a readership of 500,000 plus a month.  But as with any missionary organization, we are funded solely through the donations of ministry partners. Find out more about my work as a writer and editor at  http://www.juliebcosgrove.com/missionary_support.html

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The LORD says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” Psalm 32:8 (NLT)

Today a memory floated to the forefront of my mind. We’d moved to another metropolis.  After a while my mother came to visit. The second day, as I drove her around, she gazed out her passenger window and sucked in a shaky sigh. “I’m sure glad you know where you’ re going because I haven’t a clue.”

I bit my tongue, but in my mind I thought, “What a silly thing to say. Of course you don’t. You have never been here before.”

But now, years later, I understand her angst. She had grown up and lived (and later died) in one city all her life. She knew the streets, the neighborhoods, and the detours. It was her comfort zone.  Riding around with me in a new town, she was way far out of it.

Why did this surface in my brain today? Because right now I relate to my mom. I have whispered in prayer the very same thing to God. I have no idea where I am headed. Nothing seems familiar on this road…except the other person riding with me.

But instead of saying, “Silly woman. Of course you don’t. You have never been this way before,” God gently reminds me, “Yes, but I do. Trust me one more time. I’m right here with you every step of the way.”

I can feel Him pat my shoulder and almost see Him wink. “And by the way, I’m driving so sit back and relax.”

I suck in a shaky sigh….

 

 


The internet is the new mission field. At Campus Crusades of Canada’s The Life Project, our free articles and devotionals glean a readership of 500,000 plus a month.  But as with any missionary organization, we are funded solely through the donations of ministry partners. Find out more about my work as a writer and editor at  http://www.juliebcosgrove.com/missionary_support.html

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“Oh, that I might have my request, that God would grant what I hope for…” Job 6:8

I used to walk in the door at the end of my workday and find my cat sitting on his haunches, waiting.  Not because he missed me. No delusions here.  I know he waited for me to open the can of food since he has no thumbs. Now that I am working at home, he doesn’t get it. He thinks he can beg whenever he wants and as his dutiful servant I will pop another lid off a can.

“Meow?”

“Not yet.”

Purrs louder. “Mew?”

“Nope. You have to wait.”

“MEOW!”

“I said, “No.'”

We have this battle often throughout the day until it is finally time to feed him.  Each and every day. Yep, gets on my nerves…

Then I thought…

Is this how I treat you, Lord?

Do I come to You, yank on Your luminate robe and whimper, “Daddy, please. Can I have it now?”

Do  I respect Your no, not yet and you-have-to-wait answers? Or do I tug some more?

Just because I know You are around, is that any reason to keep bugging you, or can I simply bask in Your presence knowing You will provide when it is the right time?  I know You want me to lay my requests at Your feet, Lord, but not to daily whine to You about them, unwilling to listen to  and obey Your response.

Forgive me, precious Lord when I act as impatient as my cat and only want from You rather than desire  to serve You. Remind me You are the Master, and You know what is best for me. Your timing is always perfect. Calm me down and bring me the peace of trusting in You for all things. In Jesus’ name and through Your Spirit, Amen.

 

The internet is the new mission field. At Campus Crusades’ The Life Project, we have a readership of 500,000 a month.  But as with any missionary organization, we are funded solely through the donations of ministry partners. Find out more at  http://www.juliebcosgrove.com/missionary_support.html

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