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Posts Tagged ‘Where did you find God today’

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you as though something strange were happening to you.  I Peter 4:12

piron-guillaume4 – unsplash.com

In a few days I will undergo a surgical procedure that entails burning seven nerve endings in order to relieve the chronic pain I have suffered with the past two years. The nerves will grow back in a few months but if this brings me any relief, it will be indicative to the insurance carrier that I am a candidate for the major surgery three specialists agree I need to permanently resolve the situation.

The idea of them burning things inside my body doesn’t sound very pleasant. Talk about a fiery ordeal! But I know that, even though I will be uncomfortable for a few days, it is for my welfare.

It makes me ponder about the fiery tests God sometimes puts us through for our own good.

Sometimes parents must show their love by allowing their children to suffer. I recall my mom saying, “This will hurt me worse than it hurts you” while tugging on a band-aid or digging out a splinter, or the few times she had to paddle my behind. When I became a mother, I finally understood what she meant.

It’s not that parents like to see their children suffer, and I don’t think God, our Father, does either. However, anyone who has been a parent realizes pain has to happen, at times, for their child’s betterment. Such as slapping their hand to keep them from touching a hot stove, or allowing them to wobble, fall and skin their knee as they learn to balance on a two-wheeler. Or living with the consequences of a bad decision.

Sometimes we have to experience hurt for our own good. God allows that pain in order to squelch a worse one, or to correct something that has gone awry, potentially causing us harm. Despite what our “pain-free” society tries to persuade us, pain can be a good indicator that something is not right. And often, we must endure a bit of suffering in order to experience the blessings of healing.

If we truly believe God can purpose all things for good (Romans 8:28) then we must suffer embarrassment and heartache to come before the throne on our knees to be cleansed of our sins, the way the sting of hydrogen peroxide must bubble up on a cut to disinfect it. Or the twinges of pain as a stitched incision heals. Enduring the uncomfortable feeling for a while is worth it in the end.

I will try to remember to be thankful as they wheel me into the operating room. After all, this procedure is to help me. Praise God it exists.

And the next time God decides what I am going through is worth the pain, let me be thankful that I am in His loving and competent hands. All will be good.


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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courtesy of brianna-santellan unsplash

A friend drove me to do my weekly shopping, but by the time we got there all  the handicapped spots were occupied. (Many of you know I have to use a walker, so even grocery shopping is a chore.) As we pondered whether she should circle around to drop me at the door then go find a place to park, a car began to back out across the way, right near the entrance. I immediately lifted my hands. “Thank you, Lord.” My driver agreed.

 

I recalled someone asking me if I truly thought God did little things like provide parking spots. My reply? “Why not give God the glory?”

Then, in my Bible reading I ran across Psalm 34. It starts out with a phenomenal faith statement: I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. (vs.1)

At all times? Not just when I think He has shown me favor? Would I say “thank you, Lord” if the only parking spot had been 100 yards away and my friend had not been able to take me? Would I have blessed Him when the pain shot down my leg and my foot scraped the ground as I tried to hobble back to my car after a half hour of walking through grocery aisles because all the scooters were being used? Would I thank Him if I’d gotten to the register and discovered some hacker had drained my account when my refrigerator had an echo in it and my cupboards were bare?

Paul put it a different way in his letter to the Philippians. Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (4:4).  Always. In every circumstance. Good or bad.

I don’t think it means we shouldn’t get angry in response to injustice. Yes, we may feel frustration.  Our heart may jolt at a strange sound or coil at a perceived danger. It is in our nature to react. But we shouldn’t let it gnaw the edges of our faith.

A singer in an older Christian contemporary song states that whatever happens in life has already passed through God’s hands.  Very true. He knows long before we can. And He is always there, ready to make it a lesson for us. Ready to send helpers to comfort us, and His Spirit to guide us. Even in bad times, “God is good all the time”, as the chant states.

Today, I found a lesson from God in a parking slot and a psalm.

Dearest Lord, I will try harder to live out Psalm 34:1 and Philippians 4:4. If King David, who had to run for his life and hole up in caves, or Paul who suffered whippings and Roman prisons, could, why can’t I? Forgive me when I do not acknowledge You moving in my life. Amen.

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courtesy of ken-treloar.

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. I Peter 4:10

Recently I had to go for a CT scan and an MRI. Why do they make those tunnels so confining and loud? Even the open ones seem freaky. I’ve had these procedures three times before. I know they are  harmless (except to the eardrums) and I should not get anxious. I know this.

Even so, as I drove to the imaging center with my aroma-therapy drenched washcloth to put over my face and my ear plugs tucked inside a plastic pouch, I asked God to calm me and bring me physical evidence of His presence. I really need to find God in my day!

After the CT scan (no big deal. I got to go in feet first, and then only up to my chest so my head stuck out into the room) I was led to another waiting area and told my MRI would be performed in a half hour. No one else sat in the row of chairs. I was alone.

I sat, and wiggled my knee. OK, I can do this. I refuse to let the heebie-jebbies bubble up. Trust in God, be not anxious scriptures floated through my mind.

A kindly, older black man wandered in and nodded hello. Seeing his warm smile, I asked if he was here for an MRI, too. He explained he was there as a consultant to instruct the staff on some new procedures. This was his second career and he got to travel all over, which he enjoyed now that his kids were off on their own.

We chatted and found several things we had in common. His presence calmed me and the time zipped by. When they called my name, he gave me a wink and thumbs up.

I told him he was a true God-send, and even though my remark took him back a bit, I truly meant it.

God uses flawed and fumbling folk on earth to be His hands and feet. Sometimes we are the ones He encourages to get out there in a ministry, and at other times He graces us with others to minister to us.

That day, I found God in the calming presence of a stranger. Where will you find Him?

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As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart. Proverbs 27:19

I have a turnstile on my bathroom dressing area where I keep my colognes, lotions and hair products. Easier to reach. As I spun it to locate my rose scented ones, I noticed the rose water, which is pink, now looked salmon-colored. How unique!

Then I noticed the reason. A bottle with amber liquid behind it shined through the rose water, appearing to change it’s color. As soon as I picked up the rose water, it returned to a soft carnation hue.

God whispered in my ear. This is you.

On my own, I am who I am. You get what you expect you would from a Christian widow my age, race and income level. I am not going to change from a rose to a bird of paradise or an exotic orchid. It’s not my nature.

But when Christ shines through me, I become unique. Oh, I am the same–yet different. I am transformed from the inside out. So are you.

Accepting Christ into our lives doesn’t change who we are. It doesn’t instantly make us skinnier or taller or have fuller wavy hair. We suddenly can’t sing like an angel when before we couldn’t carry a tune. I wish…

But how we appear to the world can change. Our attitudes of serving others before ourselves, or being kind, or forgiving in nature–all the things the world is not used to observing in human behavior is now reflected in our lives because Jesus shines through our hearts.

There is one major difference, however. I could remove the rose water from the amber cologne sitting next to it so it went back to its original color. We may think we can remove ourselves from Christ, but the truth is this: He never quite goes away.

Once we respond to His knocking on our heart’s door and let Him in, a part of Him always remains. We may shut Him out, but He is never far away.  We may assume we are not acting Christian enough and are not worthy to reflect His light but there is still something shining through. And it is beautiful, eye-catching and unique.

Others are not viewing us through rose-colored glasses. We are still “us.” However, they can clearly see Christ’s influence in our lives.

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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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