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Posts Tagged ‘Where did you find God today’

Outside my living room window is a thick, lush evergreen bush. It gives me a bit of privacy, protection, and is pleasing to the eye. About arm pit high, I can see out if I am sitting on the couch, but actually–my son tested it when I moved in–people cannot readily see me inside.

Each week, the apartment complex’s landscaping staff come by and clip any leaves that shoot up or out from it. By doing so they ensure the bush keeps it shape, continues to grow thicker, and looks pleasing. Curb appeal.

Gazing at this hedge, I thought of the ways God often hedges me.

Why is life given to a man whose way is hidden, whom God has hedged in? Job 3:23

This green growing bush has taught me the reasons why.

  1. The Lord hedges me in to protect me against the evil intents of men.
  2. He hedges me in to provide shelter and privacy from the outside world and it’s potentially sinful influences.
  3. The bush God plants in front of me keeps Satan from peering headlong into my life.
  4. God’s bush provides curb appeal. By curbing my tendencies to not follow His plan, others see the appealing results of Him working in my life.

God trims and cultivates this hedge of mercy around me to keep it thick, growing and strong. If anything shoots up on it’s own that is not in His plan, He trims it off. By keeping it at a certain level, it provides me limited insight and vision as to what that plan is. I can view a little bit of what lies before me, enough to let me know if there might be any danger.

God hedges us in by His Word, law and Holy Spirit. Not so much as to confine us, but to hem us in and keep us protected from growing wild and shooting off in our own direction.

Thank you, Lord for keeping me bushed!

 

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I talented photographer friend of mine, Debbie Hainey, took this photo:

Gorgeous, right? But also meaningful. Take another look.

Let’s say the sunrise represents the Light of Christ.

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. John 1:4

We are the window blinds. We have a choice. We can turn toward Him or away. Let Him in or block Him out.

Notice the blind turned closest to the sunrise reflects the most while the ones further away reflect less and less? It is the same with us. The more we turn toward Him, the stronger we reflect Him.

 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.  Matthew 5:16

Which blind are you right now? The good new is this: each of us can reflect Christ no matter where we are in our faith-walk. You don’t have to be a perfect Christian. Frankly, there is no such thing this side of Heaven. Even if you think you are only shining a little bit, that can be an effective lure.

When one is used to the dark, it takes a while for his or her eyes to become accustomed to the light. Often, people cannot handle the brightness of the Truth. They need to adjust, just as we adjust the blinds from the full blast of the sun’s rays.

We call these window slats “blinds” for a reason. Perhaps they should be dubbed anti-blinds instead. Just a side-thought. Back to the point.

Even if you feel far away from Him you are reflecting more than you think and can draw others to His Truth a bit at a time. Eventually they will be able to face Him full on, and so will you.

Does His light ever blind you? Is your reaction to turn away or to face Him and absorb it knowing it will expose any darkness inside you? We serve a patient God who lets us adjust to His will. One day, in eternity, we will all reflect Him equally.

But in the meantime, let us strive to turn more toward Him than we are. It will reflect in how we act.

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Yes, I love playing Bunco with friends. We share great recipes, chat, pray, and encourage each other. In case you are not familiar with this parlor game,  groups of four each take turns rolling three dice. In the first round, you can keep rolling as long as there is a “one dot” on one of the dice. Each “one” is one point. If not, you pass them to the person on your left so they can try to roll as many ones as they can.  If you roll three ones, it is a Bunco. If you roll three of anything else but ones, it is a Baby Bunco. Then it is on to round two, in which each person tries to roll as many twos as they can. Then threes, fours, fives and sixes. Whoever rolls three sixes ends the game. Everyone tallies up their scores. The pot (if there is one) is split between the one with the most Buncos and Baby Buncos, and the one with the most points.

Some may consider this gambling. Yes, it is a game of chance, but isn’t life that way? There is a chance I’ll get cancer. There is a chance I’ll be killed by a drunk driver. There is a chance of rain, according to the weatherman. (Though I wouldn’t bet on it!)

In Bunco, you can get discouraged when you can’t seem to roll any of the number for that round, and have to pass the dice again and again without scoring any points. Or you can cheer on those who are having good rolls, and then get excited if you finally do, too. It is all a matter of perspective. There are only so many calculable rolls. The truth is, no one is going to sneak seven or eight dots onto one of the die, or erase the side with one dot on it.

Life is the same as well. You can pout because someone is more fortunate than you, or you can choose to not let “the devil steal your joy.” You can turn inward, or outward.

For me, it is God’s grace that He only gives us so many variables. Our free will dictates the choices we make, but He isn’t going to sneak in an unfair advantage at the last second, or load the dice to trick us. He knows our hearts, our minds, and our tendencies. He knew us before we were born, according to the psalms.

He knows when we will roll three sixes and end the game of life. We don’t. But that doesn’t change the fact that eventually we will. He also knows we will have other Buncos and Baby Buncos (successes) along the way, and a few dry spells when we can’t seem to make the roll no matter how hard we try. He will be there to cheer us on when we bunco and encourage us when we don’t.

When I play Bunco with my friends, I go for the fun of being with them (and eating good food.) I rejoice when someone is having a great night. And I enjoy catching up on what is happening in their lives. I try not to set my heart on winning so I can genuinely cheer on those who are rolling all the right numbers. It makes the evening, and the game, much more enjoyable.

In life, it is a bit different, however. All who believe that Christ assured victory on the cross are winners in God’s eyes. At the end of the game we all get the prize. So why not relax and enjoy it? It’s your roll, by the way.

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. I Corinthians 9:25

 


By the way, if you haven’t read my clean cozy mysteries, The Bunco Biddies Mysteries, I’d love for you to give them a try. Dumpster Dicing won Best Cozy Mystery 2017 by a Texas Author, and the fourth one, Til Dice Do Us Part is now on pre-order! It releases June 15th.


 

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If you have been reading my blog for a while, you probably know the saga of my 43 year old corn plant. Today it taught me a lesson from God.

In my new apartment, I have the plant sitting in a south-facing window. As I drank my morning coffee, I noticed something unusual. One leaf had bent its way through the slats. It wanted more light. Evidently it wasn’t content like the other leaves to just get a smidgen that filtered through the window covering.

Can you see the lone leaf weaving it’s way through the wooden blinds? It is the brighter green one toward the middle of the plant.

Anyway…as I stared, God whispered into my spiritual ear, “Daughter, are you that tenacious?”

I wanted to answer, “Yes, of course, Lord.”

Instead I paused to reflect. Am I content to only get small doses of God, slatted and deflected by the world I live in, by my environment, and where I have been placed? Or do I stretch and reach out to grasp the full mercy and grace He offers so I can grow even more in His light?

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.” Isaiah 60:1

As I gazed at my old corn plant, I wondered if the other leaves will eventually get the idea? Even more, I wonder if those around me will if they observe me constantly, consistently stretching to be closer to Him who is The Light of the World? To be totally exposed so I can soak in His goodness no matter what is going on around me or what obstacle blocks my path to growing in Him. To let nothing stand in the way of receiving my Savior into my life each day.

I nodded and closed my eyes in prayer. “Yes, Lord. Show me your presence more each day so I can be like that leaf and reach beyond my circumstances to You.”

 


One way God has stretched me is to become a digital missionary with The Life Project. However, to continue to grow in this ministry, I need to become fully funded by partners who will pray and financially support me. I am seeking 40 people who will pledge to provide  between $10-$25 a month.  You can learn more here.  Comment and I can send you more material to peruse so you know this cause is legitimate, why I am so passionate about it, and be assured your money will go to reach people around the world with the message of Hope in Jesus, one click at a time. Thank you for seriously praying about it.

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An author friend, Linda McCutcheon, who ministers to single moms, found a God message recently in her hiking. Here it a re-blog from her site, that she wrote for Power to Change, the digital ministry where I am on staff. Confused? Never mind. Read and absorb her wisdom!

 

Recently I was hiking in the mountains. Somehow a little stone got into my shoe. I knew it was there and quite aggravating, but I never stopped to take it out. The views were so breath taking, I got distracted. Can you believe it, the next day I felt that same stone which I had not taken the time to remove.

Isn’t that just like bitterness? It begins small.  It is irritating and it affects what we are doing. If not dealt with, it begins to gnaw at our life. Each step I took, I knew the stone was there.  When bitterness is harbored in our lives, it stays with us throughout the day. It controls our thought life, marriage, home life, our day to day relationships and our work suffers.

The Apostle Paul saw this in the life of fellow believers.  He understood that bitterness takes hold of our minds and controls our existence.  He wrote,

”For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.” (Acts 8:23)

This is not a new concept.  King Solomon knew from his God-given wisdom that bitterness zaps us of joy. Because of this, we can’t enjoy day to day life.

“Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.” (Proverbs 14:10)

Life is not an easy hike in the forest. We hit bumps and stumps with level and uneven places.  No argument from me.  However, we also have some wonderful breath-taking moments when we can see though despite all the unevenness of our life, there is time for reprieve and healing.  When we can sit back, empty the stone in our shoe, and begin again, our heart will heal, the bitterness will subside and we can move ahead.  Bitterness can easily creep back in so we have to continually be aware of that ‘stone in our shoe’.  Throw it out….ask God to help walk without this stone of bitterness.

”Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” (Ephesians 4:31)

Is there a stone in your shoe?  What is hurting your soul right now? Ask God to release you from it.  Begin to enjoy life and all its breath-taking moments again and let the stone dribble out.  Start to see the quiet things in your life that are important…a touch of a pet, an encouraging word from a co-worker, or maybe a walk in a park to see the handiwork of God. Flip your shoe over and release the bitterness out.  Slowly begin to see the joy in life.

 


What is a digital ministry? My passion. My mission field is my keyboard, which reaches hundreds of thousands over the internet every month through Power to Change. We truly are fulfilling the Great Commission to go into all nations. Want to journey with us? You can volunteer as an online mentor to those searching (don’t panic we will train you and you set your own hours) , or you can pray, or you can support the effort with a donation. 

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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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