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Posts Tagged ‘Julie Cosgrove’

…though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand. Psalm 37:24

God upholds us in many ways – sometimes through other people.

Due to an acute attack of sciatica, I’ve been relying on a cane for the past month as I await referrals, test results and treatment. I have also become reliant on others, something that is not easy for me to do.

Last night at Bible study we were told to all stand, hold hands and pray. Then sing.  Holding hands meant not leaning on a cane, but I wanted to be part of the experience.

After a minute or so I began to wobble. My leg gave way and immediately the two women on either side, whose hands I held, gripped tighter and kept me from toppling as they eased me into the chair. I didn’t have to ask, they automatically reacted.

It made me realize how much we believers need each other in times of weakness. It also showed me how ready people are to help, even without us asking.  That’s the love of God flowing through,spreading from one hand to another, muscle to muscle and bone to bone in the Body of Christ.

What made my eyes pool was the fact that, though I was securely seated, the ladies continued to hold my hands through the prayer and song. A warmth surged through me. Even though I sat securely in my chair, I became aware of how much I needed these sweet women, and not just physically.

Convicted, I became aware of how many times I may have missed opportunities to uphold someone else because my day filled with other obligations or I felt too tired to run one more errand. Or the times I have held on in the crisis, but let go too soon, assuming I’d done my part.

Buddy systems are not just for kids. We all need to hold tight to each other for safety in this hostile world. The adage there is safety in numbers is very true. None of us are meant to “go it alone.”

Plain and simple – we need to be in need and we need to be needed.  It’s a two way street. Part of the commandment from our Lord is to love one another. That means getting into each other’s messy lives by helping and being of help. The love of Christ flows from one human to another. To not receive help from others is to block that flow.

Lord, help me to realize I need help, even when I feel strong, and that I need to be open to the times you spur me to help others. May Your Spirit flow through me, and not be blocked by my pride or independent streak. I pray this through my Savior and ultimate Helper, who stretched out His hands on the cross for me. Amen.

To all who have helped me with rides, running errands, lifting me in prayer, texting me, and bringing me meals during this trial, thank you doesn’t even  begin to cover it.  You have been Christ to me. May I, in turn, uphold you.

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My husband and I moved to seven different cities over a ten-year period as he pursued his career. Unlike the old adage states, I found the third time was not the charm. Neither was the fourth, fifth or sixth I didn’t “do” change very well. I would grumble and complain, and become anxious of the unknown. Then, my pets’ behavior taught me some important lessons to remember whenever I face uncertainty.

Each time we moved, we developed a routine. When we heard the rumbling diesel engine of the moving van and the hiss of its brakes, we’d each grab a cat and lock them into the bathroom, along with their litter pan, food and water. We’d then post a sign on the door — Do Not Enter. Cats inside.

At first we’d hear a questioning, “Mew?” Then would come the scratching on the other side of the door. The meows would become a bit more emphatic. A paw would appear under the threshold. Rattle, rattle. But, as soon as they heard the strange voices, the unfamiliar thud pattern of men’s feet, and the sound of shrink wrap winding around our furniture, they’d honker down and become quiet. They knew we kept them safe from whatever went on beyond that door.

Observing them showed me three things. First and foremost, I am not in control. Someone bigger and wiser than me is. Proverbs 3:5 states *Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…* If God closes me in and blocks my path, it is for a reason. Whatever is going on beyond my limited sight is not something I need to become involved in. There is no sense in me rattling the door if it is not yet time for me to have it opened. I need to calm down, and wait.

Secondly, I am being protected from the chaos outside that door. When I don’t know what is going on in my life, I have learned to cling to John 13:7— *Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”* Whatever is being prepared on the other side of this current chaotic time is not within my realm of control. I don’t want to be underfoot. It is better for me to stay put until the confusion dies down. When the time is right, God will open the door into the new situation He is preparing for me.

Thirdly, God will provide for my needs in the meantime, just as we provided food, water and the litter box for our pets. Paul told Timothy in his first letter to instruct the people *to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.*(I Timothy 6:17) Like my pets, I need to trust my Master has my best interests at heart. I am in this closed of place for a reason. He has not forgotten about me and has provided for my immediate needs. Even though I cannot see Him, I trust He has my best interests in mind.

When we got to the new place, it would be initially unsettling for us as well as our pets, but there would soon be familiarity and routine again as well as the excitement of exploring the new surroundings. Some things might be better than before, or not. But one thing remained certain. We’d be there to care for our cats and help them adapt.

Pets are wise. They adjust. They know being with their master is the most important thing. All else may not be permanent, but their master’s love is.

My mother had a plaque in her home which read, “Faith is not hope without proof but trust without reservations.” My felines are living proof of the truth of that statement. They have learned to trust me. The more I care for them, provide for them, and show them I love them, the deeper that trust grows.

The same is true of my walk with my Lord. No matter how many times He moves me into uncertain circumstances, I know I am being cared for in the meantime and eventually it will all work out.

 

for other examples of why doors close, consider my Bible study, Between the Window and the Door.

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Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

Over my first month as an internet missionary, I have felt the weightiness of words. Words can build up hope or slash a person’s dreams. They can offend or bolster one’s beliefs. They can trigger interest or make someone click off and seek elsewhere on the web.

Such power! And that is just “human” words. Written words. What about the Word? How are we using that? Or are we?

At Power To Change’s The Life Project, we are careful to not offend because we want to draw people to Jesus – not push them away. However, we also have the responsibility to bear witness to the Truth. Over 20,000 people from all over the world daily click on our articles and devotionals. Our words reach places we cannot fathom.

Isn’t that the same with each of us in our social media conversations, whether texted, posted or tweeted? The internet is a powerful platform. Folks post for different reasons. Some seek answers. There are those who seek pity while others crave fame, even if it is negative or offensive. A few want to use their words as weapons.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

As Christians, we have been given the Word. We need to not only monitor what comes out of our mouths, but what is typed on our QWERTY boards and appearing on the screens of people we may never have direct contact with.

Review your past few weeks of tweets, posts and texts. What message are you sending? Are you using the internet to build up or tear down? To bolster your own ego or point to Jesus?  Whine about your life, your elected officials, the weather, your coworkers – or count your blessings? Console others or one-up them with your list of woes? Share the Good News or gossip?

Words – powerful things. The Word, is power personified. Which will we tap into the most this week to communicate?

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On November 22, 2016, I blogged about the computer solitaire game I play and how reluctant I am to be shown how to play it, similar to the way I often approach life. I like to figure things out by myself.  Today, God gave me another message as I played…

solitaireI have the option to choose to play a winning hand. The daily challenges which appear on my phone each morning guarantee they can be won. Sometimes that is more of a challenge than other days. There are times I have to trust that I am playing a winnable hand, because as I flip through the unplayable cards it sure doesn’t seem possible. But eventually a pattern opens up, and I begin to see that it is plausible after all.

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14

Once we give our lives to Christ, we are given a winning hand. Because He is beyond time, He knows what has happened, what is happening, and what will happen in our lives. He has it mapped out. All we have to do is play the cards we are dealt. Sure we have choices, but He knows us better than we know ourselves so He already has that figured out, too. We only need to trust in Him as our loving Savior that it is His plan for it all to work out for the best in the end.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

If I can trust some unknown computer programer to give me a winning hand each morning in a game on my phone, how can I not trust my Lord and Savior – who paid the price by his death so I could win the gift of salvation – to guide my day?

Yeah, convicted.

 

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All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags…Isaiah 64:6a

the-ragmanAn eighty year-old friend of mine told me of a cruel joke her older siblings would play  on her when she was a little girl in order to prove their dominance. They told her they were going to give her to the “rag man”.

She explained a man came through the streets with a horse-drawn carriage collecting old rags and other broken down items people no longer wanted. He was the  precursor to the junkman. Her brothers and sisters were in essence telling her she was junk and unwanted.

Growing up in the 1960’s, it was common to see bumper stickers proclaiming that “God doesn’t make junk.”  That’s true. But we no longer live is the Garden of Eden. Sin has invaded our world and seeped into our lives. Hate to say it folks, but when our humanistic society tells us that we are all essentially good inside, it is lying. We are not. One of the first things babies learn to do is manipulate others, think of “me” first, and tell falsehoods.

We are junk, but that doesn’t mean we are not wanted. God wants nothing more than to restore us back to priceless. He has bought us from the rag man through His own death for our sake and washed our filthy rags to become garments of pure white. He make us sinless…over and over again. Jesus paid the price to buy us back on the cross when God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2Corinthians 5:21  

What does that mean?

Perhaps you once played with a commercially made Raggedy Ann or Andy — the cloth

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courtesy of peskybombolino

dolls with a red heart painted on their chests. Originally homemade rag dolls were sewn from leftover clothes, odd buttons and whatever stuffing was around the house. But the cool thing? Each was unique. Each took time and imagination to create. Each came from junk and were transformed into a gift of beauty by the labor of love.

 

God can take whatever has become ragged and junky in our lives due to sin and make it into something good and of worth. We will never be thrown into the pit or garbage pile once we agree to become His child. His love for us makes Him pursue us so eventually, even if we fight it, we will yield to His restoration process.

No one likes change. It can be scary. But God loves us enough to accept us as we are yet, in spite of our raggedness, still wants to change us into His likeness– stitch by stitch, just like the rag doll.

So climb onto the rag man’s cart. God is not finished with you yet. Deliver yourself into the hands of the Master and watch your beauty being restored from the inside out. It may take a while, perhaps a lifetime. But God is a patient, slow to anger, and compassionate. (Psalm 103:8-9)

I’m another rags to riches story in the making. How about you?

 

 

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I shake my head and wonder how is this going to turn out? I don’t see how it can…

Lately I have been watching old reruns of the late Bob Ross with his reddish-brown afro as he painted his wet canvas masterpieces. You may recall his Joy of Painting shows on public stations as he donned his brushes and made happy little trees and mountains in the 1980’s and 1990’s. He blotched on color with a regular painter’s brush and as the Van Dyke brown, Titanium white and Phtalo blue splotches appeared on the liquid white or black gesso coated canvas, many like me wondered what on earth he was doing.  I found myself thinking, I don’t see how this will turn into a tree or a mountain. But it did.

watercolor-1968058_640Lately my life has been a grouping of blotches. Things are muddled, not really in focus.  Reading a Bible lesson a few days ago, one verse suddenly appeared in bold and a larger font in my mind. “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” (John 13:7)

I sputtered the sip of hot tea. Tingles zipped over my chest and up into my neck. Tears welled in my eyes. It was one of those God-zapped-me-with-His-love moments.

Often times I think we are not meant to see how the canvas of our circumstances will turn out. Instead, we have to trust the Master painter. Let the brushstrokes form the image He has in mind and watch the process, trusting He is the expert and knows what He is doing. Eventually a picture will emerge as a testimony of His handiwork. paintbrush-315638_640

As things take shape, then we will begin to understand. Oh, now I see how…

Lord, may my life be your blank canvas so all can witness Your work in my life and marvel at the masterpiece you are creating in Your timing and for Your purpose. Prevent me from the desire to snatch the brush from Your expert hands and finish it the way I think it should be in my amateurish mind.

 

 

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wool-1142177_640You want to pull it, but you know you shouldn’t. That dangling thread on the seam of your clothes is bugging you. Does that describe your life?

I looked down and saw it. Arghh. Now would everyone see it? Would it snag on things through the day?  A broken strand of thread dangled out of the seam. And I was running late.

Do I pull it? Is it worth the risk unraveling the whole hem?

Tape it? Most likely it wouldn’t hold very long.

Snip it? A temporary fix, but that wouldn’t solve the issue of the broken thread unraveling again. I knew the integrity of the stitch had been compromised. But it might give me time to deal with it later…when I get the chance.

Things in our lives can feel as if they are starting to unravel. What we have carefully hemmed together is starting to tear. What do we do about it?  Do we yank at the problem to get rid of it quickly and take the chance of it all falling apart? If we tug, it might reveal more and more that has become untied.

Do we tape it and hide the issue from others, hoping it will stay beneath the surface. Then go one about our business as if it is fixed?

Or do we snip at it each time it appears, never really investing the time to dealing with it properly?

Do we rush to discard that piece of clothing, put on something else, and toss it in the to-be-meded pile?

Or do we actually stop, take time to tie it, stitch it back, and secure it so it doesn’t happen anymore?

I once heard that a day knotted with prayer at both ends won’t unravel. Paul says it this way:

The lines of purpose in your lives never grow slack, tightly tied as they are to your future in heaven, kept taut by hope. I Colossians 1:5 (MSG)

When something snags in our lives, we need to deal with that equilibrist-1831016_640dangling thread lest it unravel us. Hope, bolstered by prayer, is the best way to re-anchor our faith.  We need to allow our Lord to be the needle which can guide the wayward thread and knot it so it doesn’t affect the rest of the hem that is our life.

That may mean stopping what we are doing in order to handle it. It may involve a few pricks of our conscience as His needle deals with the transgression, anger or guilt. Perhaps it will cause us to halt in our tracks and not go further until we are sure it is dealt with properly.

But unless it is resolved correctly, that dangling thread tickling our conscience will bother us over and over until we are forced to deal with it. And by that time, the things hemming our lives might be starting to unravel enough that it shows.

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