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Posts Tagged ‘Julie Cosgrove’

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe. Proverbs 18:10

courtesy of ENR news report-

courtesy of ENR news report

All of Dallas, Texas, and the millions in the surrounding Metroplex towns and cities, have watched it for over two weeks. It was to be imploded. But when the dust cleared, the core shaft still stood, though it looked a tad bit like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The engineers scratched their corporate heads. Time for the old fashioned wrecking ball. 56 hundred tons of metal, the weight of your average Soccer Mom’s SUV, dangling from a crane and banging over and over against the sides of this building.

One day, two days, three days…after another week, the structure still stood, though it now resembled a stack of Swiss cheese and crackers. People have been taking bets. When will it tumble? It is the most heard conversation at the watercooler. It is as if some invisible force keeps it from crumbling.

An older Contemporary Christian song by Kutless talks of God as being our strong tower and a fortress when we are weak. I see this tower as a symbol of our faith in the One Source that is our inner strength.

It makes me think of those Christians in hostile countries who are being so horrendously persecuted. Yet they will not renounce Jesus as Lord. Nothing will topple their tower of faith. Not torture, the burning of their possessions, the kidnapping, and the selling of their children in Muslim sex trades, or even death threats.

As I sit in my comfy apartment with central air and heat, clicking away on my keyboard and listening to my local Christian station, 88.3 The Journey, streaming from my Google nest, I feel a tad guilty. Is my faith that strong? If under attack, would I stand tall for Jesus? I’d like to positively respond in a split-second, “Of course!” But if put to the test…?

I recall the speech by one of the missionaries who minister to these persecuted and endangered underworld Christians. He told us not to feel guilty. God puts each of us where He can use us and gives us the wherewithal to do His will. These faithful brothers and sisters can stand strong, bolstered by the invisible force of our faithful prayers.

That stubborn rubble of metal and concrete that keeps showing up on the local news’ tweets reminds me that with Christ inside me, I can lean on His strength and still stand tall no matter what in life rams and batters at my sides.

The “Leaning Tower of Dallas” may have tumbled by the time this is published. But in a way, I hope it hasn’t. Maybe they will give up trying to get it to fall and erect a fence around it as an example of resilience. Doubtful. The developers will eventually win this battle.

But, for me, it will always be a reminder of the faith that is mine if I, in my weakness, keep my Savior and Redeemer as the core of my faith. May I never crumble no matter what in life whacks into me. Instead, may I cling to the invisible Force who clung to a cross in order to be my strength (Philippians 4:13).

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I poured out a cheesy snack into a bowl. You know? The kind that turn your fingers and tongue orange?

What amazed me was how differently they were shaped. Yet, if one took an individual piece and held it in their hand, anyone else, at least in the U.S., would immediately know what it was. They may even snatch it and pop it in their mouths.

All unique and distinct. However, each came from the same bag, the identical batch of dough. From the same recipe, the same processing plant.

As we start into the Lenten season when we traditionally reexamine our faith-walk, the passage from Ecclesiastes is read in our church service. “Remember, o’ man, that you are dust and to dust, you shall return” (3:20).  Are we truly so very different, or much the same?

Image by Elias Sch. from Pixabay A recent TV program stated that 98.5% of our DNA profiles are identical. Astounding, right?

It is that tiny 1.5% that makes up the things we tend to notice as far as looks, personalities, and propensity for diseases. That itsy-bitsy percentage determines our hair color, skin color, eye color, metabolism, capacity to absorb math, and ability to be creative in the arts…or not. And scientists are learning more and more about the things that 1.5% can actually determine.

Why is it we concentrate on all the minute things that make us different? God made us the same and loves us the same. He died for each and every one of us, though many do not realize that fact. They don’t understand the bag they come from, the bowl they belong in.

Maybe if we, who have God’s love flickering inside of us, would concentrate on seeing the similarities, then we could help those who do not know Jesus see the difference He can make in their lives.

As I crunch down on those equally delicious, individually shaped, cheesy squiggles…I wonder.

 

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How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Psalm 119:103

I only have to cook for one – me. So more often than not, I really don’t cook. I add ingredients to spice up the flavor of store-bought things like frozen vegetables, eggs, pimento cheese, milk, etc. I put a few drops of extract in my water or coffee. And when I do follow a recipe, I tend to add a bit of this and a tad of that on my own. I keep a turnstile of spices and extracts near the stove so I can easily spin it to decide what to sprinkle, dribble or shake to make it taste fresher and more original. Maybe a bit unexpected.

God spices up my life. In fact, without my faith, I think it would be pretty bland. If I didn’t believe He had a purpose for my life, I might be more tempted to pull the covers up over my eyes and stay in bed. But like the aroma of coffee and bacon whiffing from a kitchen in the morning, He entices me.

Six years ago I started this blog, Where Did You Find God Today? When I did, I felt it was an act of obedience, but I still challenged God. I said, “Okay. If you want me to do this, you need to be really obvious about showing me the ways you are in my life so I can tell others and encourage them.”

He has been faithful to do so. Sometimes He’s enhanced my life with sugar, sometimes salt, a few times with hot sauce (I can barely swallow it down). There have been times life has tasted bitter and it made me shudder. But He always comes through and makes my day unexpected, fresh, and original.

For me, I am thankful my life gets spiced up a bit now and then. It makes me realize the Master Creator is at work.

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8

I wonder what He is cooking up next.

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I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,  may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. Ephesians 3:16-18

Today in Bible study, my priest referred to unbelievers as cut flowers. They look like they are alive, but they have been cut off from the roots, so they can no longer grow. They are, in essence, dead and soon will show it. Christ brings life, but those cut off from God by sin will die, just as Adam and Eve did.

My mind wandered to the ivy cuttings I’ve had immersed in a vase of water in my windowsill for months. That water has kept them alive. I noticed a few days ago they were finally producing roots.

Jesus said He is the Living Water (John 7:38). Because of original sin, we have all been cut off from the root of Life, i.e. God.  In order to grow, we must produce new roots, and the best way to do that is to immerse ourselves in the presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the water who provides the Truth and the Life.

So all those “cut flowers” out there need exposure to the love of Christ. We need to help them see they want to be saturated with the Living Water through baptism in the Holy Spirit so they, too, can begin to grow roots and thrive.

I realized that, like my ivy, I need to have more patience with those believers who are not yet leading fruitful lives. We all grow at our own pace, and I need to do what I can to help make sure they stay doused in the Living Water. I, too, need to grow, so I also must stay in the Living Water…daily immersed in His Word, His Truth, and His love. We all do.

Don’t ever let the devil yank you out! But if he does, my friend, trust me. There will be people praying you back into the Living Water where you can grow again. If you ever asked Jesus into your heart, you are rooted in Christ.

 

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Image by Paul Brennan from Pixabay

Automatic car washes freak me out, especially the ones that make me steer onto a conveyer belt, put the car in neutral, and take my hands off the wheel. In other words, I must agree to lose total control. That is what makes me shiver. I like to be in control.

But washing my car by myself is less than effective. I’m very short and getting on in years. Stooping, stretching, bending? Ouch. I need assistance in getting the car clean. So I agree to enter this surreal world of metal, rubber, soap, and water.

Then it gets worse. Soon a rainbow of foam covers the windshield, leaving me blind to what is happening. I have no bearings. I know there is a car on the belt in front of me and one behind me (usually a minivan or SUV and I drive a subcompact). As we jerk along the belt, I pray we are all moving in sync and none of our cars get shoved into the other. I simply do not trust the mechanics of these automated things.

Finally, at long last, the foam slides down the windshield. For a split-second, I see the license plate ahead of me. Then, swoosh. The rubber tentacles roll down to envelop the car. Peering desperately through the flops of rubber, I, at last, see the “rainwater” rinse sprays. Ah- ha. There is still an arm’s length between me and the rear bumper of the one in front. The drying torrents gear up. The water droplets separate and dance on the glass. I can see the exit and, thankfully, the car ahead has made it through.

Right now, that is how my life feels. I know God has a plan, I just can’t see it. And that is where the trust factor comes in. I keep moving along at a snail’s pace, feeling out of control, in neutral. I guess I am moving toward the plan because I sense things are happening around me even if I cannot see them at the moment. But I still fight the urge to take the wheel, slam on the brakes, or put my “car” in drive and move things along at my preferred pace. Yes, to do so would not end well in my life any more than it would in the car wash. I know that. Even so…

Faith sometimes means stepping onto the conveyer belt and shoving our lives into neutral. After all, the results will be great in the end, and we admit we need assistance in getting the task done well, which is why we’ve agreed to hop on in the first place.

Maybe the next time I get my car washed I will grimace less and trust more. Same with my life.

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this… Psalm 37:5

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He shall come down like rain upon the mown field, like showers that water the earth.  Psalm 72:6

Dad would always rush to mow the grass when he heard a rainstorm was headed our way. He said that the newly-cut grass would better absorb the water. It would grow more lush and thick. The mowing scattered the bugs that like to gnaw on the blades of grass, too. (It’s also easier to clean the lawnmower blades, but that’s not the point.) So he prepared the lawn for the blessing on the horizon.

I recall opening my bedroom window and smelling the freshly cut grass mixed with the rain in the air as it began dampening the soil. Now if Glade could capture that aroma in an air freshening spray…

So, when we read Psalm 72 in church, that verse made me smile as warmth spread over my heart. The psalmist also knew that aroma. He understood the importance of rain on a freshly mowed field.

I think God mows us down a bit in order to prepare us for the blessings on the horizon, too. He trims us so we can better receive His mercy and grace. We become more aware of His presence as He cuts a bit into our lives. And it scatters the negativity gnawing at our hearts. We grow better in His ways when we are trimmed back and are then more apt to soak in His blessings when they pour down upon us.

So during the next dry spell in your life,  when you are not sure where God is in it all, listen for the sound of the heavenly lawnmower getting ready to prepare you for the blessings to follow. We all need a good trim now and then.  Can you smell the sweetness of His mercy?

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I listen to the weather forecast so I will know what to wear in the morning. I hang up the outfit I have chosen on the back of the door before I go to bed…after I make sure it has no stains, loose threads, or dangling buttons.  Yep, I like to be prepared.

Much of the time the weatherman’s predictions are close to what happens, though sometimes things do not turn out as forecasted.  Sunny days become rainy ones. Warm temperatures plummet into teeth-chattering temperatures and vice versa. Especially here in Texas. The old saying is, “If you don’t like the weather, wait an hour.”

But today, thanks to modern technology, the blue norther storms that used to barrel down on us and drop the temperatures 30 degrees in an hour are now foretold days in advance. Tornado watches alert us of threatening weather on the horizon.

If only that was true with life. It seems those storms come in a flash, without much warning.  It’s hard to prepare ourselves for the unexpected things that hit us. In this broken world there is going to be trouble. Disease will ravage a body, a house will be burglarized, a person killed by a crazed gunman or drive-by shooting. The person who vowed to love us forever might find another.

But wait, they were foretold. By Jesus.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

Things will happen. But take heart.

As Jesus said, He has come to overcome the world. One day His eternal reign will be reestablished, and peace will be restored on earth. We will once again dwell in an Eden. Until then, as He promised before He ascended into Heaven, He will be with us in Spirit.

Paul understood that and so he knew how to dress for life’s uncertainties.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  Ephesians 6:10.

Don the helmet of salvation, the belt of truth, the shield of faith, and the breastplate of righteousness. Lace-up our shoes of peace that comes from knowing the Good News – God is with us. Then we will be ready.

So, the next time you wonder what to wear, turn to the list in Ephesians 6 and be prepared, no matter what the forecast says.

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“…put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” I Timothy 6:17b

I knew it was there. I recalled downloading it in the past. It was exactly the picture I needed. But, even though I was confident it was somewhere in my folders, I had to search for it.

Sometimes I think it is the same with the things that God provides. At times, what I need appears in an instant. Bam. Thank you, Lord.

In a few incidences, God’s provision has been there even before I knew to ask for it. But more often than not, I have to search for it. A blessing may be hidden in a circumstance I didn’t expect. Maybe I was looking for something else, then realized, oh, wow. Ok. This works. A few times I have wondered, “What in the world God is thinking?”

But I have confidence that God has provided what I need in my life because He knows my needs. He has already given it to me and it is there somewhere. And so, in faith, I keep seeking, knocking, searching. Like the woman searching high and low for the lost coin in Luke 15, I won’t stop until I discover where it lies.

Why? Two reasons. First I’ve found it in the past. My experiences tell me God has provided. Secondly, Scripture tells me He will always do so because He loves me, and the Holy Spirit whispers that I can trust in that fact. So, even when things appear hopeless, the love that kept my Lord hanging on the cross reminds me that the situation is anything but hopeless.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” Matthew 7:7.

Whatever you are seeking has already been downloaded into your folder of life. It may appear in the form of a hymn stanza, a Scripture verse, a friend’s timely phone call, or a myriad of other ways.

Don’t give up. It’s there. Seek, and you will find.

 

 

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We both burst out laughing. We couldn’t help it. My writing critique partner and I were going over an article I wrote in which I stated we are all untied in Christ. Typo.

I meant the word united, of course. My dyslexic fingers reversed the letters i and t.

Hmmm. Then we both looked at each other and grinned. “Blog topic!” I cried out.

She nodded. She knows me too well.

And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:14

What keeps things untied instead of united? It’s a matter of the strength and tightness of the strings, isn’t it?  One draws together, the other pulls apart.

When a person ties their shoes, they pull the strings, which in turn, draw the two flaps of the shoe to become interlinked together. The shoe becomes tight. It won’t come off as easily. It is sturdy and secure.

Unite the strings and the two flaps separate. Now the foot can easily slide out. Anyone who has watched a toddler wobble with untied shoelaces knows it is a trip hazard.

We, believers, are no different. To be strong and secure in Christ’s love we must be bound together. Christianity is meant to be a community thing, not just a “me and Jesus” fest. That is why we are His Body. We are made to interact, support, and work with each other as the parts of the shoe do when strung together. As the author of Hebrews warned, let’s not give up meeting together as some have been the habit of doing (10:25).  Satan’s battle plan has always been to divide and then conquer.

When we are united in Christ, we are drawn together by His love into a solid unit. Christ’s love is the “tie” that binds us.  He interweaves us together so we can become stronger in our faith, in our commitment, and in our service to others. It is hard to slip out of His grasp when we are tightly bound together.

But, once we begin to wriggle loose, we slip away from the other members of the Body. We are separated a bit so it is easier to slide out of the binds that previously bound us. The longer we remain apart, the further away we tend to get from not only our faith but the fellowship with other Christians. Oh, we may still go to church and smile and pretend everything is hunky-dory. But the close-knit feeling is missing. After a while, we may fool ourselves into believing church attendance is less important than a few more hours of sleep.

Slowly, other things in our lives loosen. Our habits, maybe our tongues? Our morals?

It’s all a matter of where we place the i and t –the “it” in our lives.  United shows that U ‘n I  are together.  Let the “t” (temptation) separate U and I and we are no longer as closely bound together.

What is the “t” that threatens to separate you from Christ and perhaps other believers who make up the Church (Body of Christ)?  Pride, unforgiveness, hurt, doubt, anger?

When one of us is not in church to worship and fellowship, the whole Body suffers. We need each other like the two halves of leather on a shoe.

Let’s U ‘n I make every effort to draw together often so we can be strong ties to our Lord through His love and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Our faith, attitudes, and service will be better for it.

People will notice the unity that binds us in Christ’s love. We may also find our lives seem less unraveled as well.

 

 

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I was out of paper sacks, so I loaded my recyclables into a plastic trash bag and headed for the community recycling dumpster.  I had full intentions of opening the sack and dumping its contents into the receptacle. The bag was simply a means to carry the items to their destination.

As I walked along the drive, a man pulled over and rolled down his window. “Don’t dump it in there! They’ll fine us and we will lose the privilege of having a recycling dumpster here.”

He didn’t know my intentions, nor the contents of the trash bag. He assumed…and I was offended. How dare he presume to know my intentions! When I explained, he became red-faced and apologized. Even so, all the way back to my apartment I felt the heat in my cheeks. If he had taken the time to really look, he’d seen that the opaque sack was filled with plastic water bottles, flattened cardboard boxes and shredded paper.

The Holy Spirit convicted me. “You are judging by appearances,” Paul warned his readers in 2 Corinthians 10:7.  How often do I do that? To be honest, too often.

God sees the good intentions on the inside, in our hearts, minds, and souls. All we see is the opaque outside unless we take time to really peer into a person.  Our bodies are simply a means for carrying what are the most important things, the things God can recycle for His use.  Our thoughts, feelings, conscience, desires. He can take all of it and reuse it, remake it, reclaim it.

“God doesn’t make junk”, the bumper stickers proclaimed back in the day. Truth.

From now on, may I trash any preconceptions I have about other people and their intentions. Lord, help me do so.

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