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Posts Tagged ‘Where did you find God today’

You have probably seen them. Little sprigs of green eking through a concrete crack. Seeds were blown in the breeze, landed there, and somehow, despite the odds, grew into plants.

I saw these while stopped at a traffic light before entering the highway. Pretty blossoms decorating a Texas urban domain during the scorching summer heat. Amazing.

I am reminded of the lesson from Jesus’ story of the seeds. Some land on rocky ground, others in fertile soil. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root (Matthew 13:5-6).

However, these bunches of foliage are thriving and spreading and blooming. Perhaps the roots are short and so they exist all right in shallow soil. Maybe this flora used to the Texas sun. I think they are a wild variety of verbena.

Anyway, these plants were a “God whisper” to me that we should never predetermine the potential of the seeds we believers spread by our actions and words. Those we think may never take root may end up blossoming because at that time, the conditions we could not see where just right. The crack in their wall of doubt just wide enough. The questioning in their heart just deep enough.

Our job is to sow…kindness, love, justice, forbearance, mercy, and grace. The seeds of the fruit of the Spirit that have begun to ripen in us. Especially now when so much of people’s worlds are upturned and confused. Let the seeds fall where they may. The rest is up to the Creator, Savior, and Guide – our Triune Lord.

There is a saying on my fridge. “Anyone can count the seeds in an apple but only God can count the apples in a seed.” Remember that the next time you encounter a frustrated stressed person who has had a bit too much of the negative news absorbed into their brains.

Let us cast our seeds of God’s love far and wide. We might just see our land blossom in beauty and majesty again.

 

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I love the nuances of the English language, especially homonyms, which are words that sound similar but are spelled differently.

Today I notices REIN and REIGN.

Reins are used to train a horse. With the bits in its mouth, the rains tug on him, telling him which way his master wants him to turn, stop or run. It is control by force.  When someone is out of control, we say they must be reined in.  I have heard that a g horse that is forcefully reined in too much develops a callus on the corners of its mouth to protect itself from the bit. After a while, it’s body puts up a natural defense against the reins.

A reign is a ruling over someone. In human history, there have been good reigns and bad reigns. The bad ones acted more like reins, trying to force their agenda on the people with harsh consequences for disobedience.

What did the good reigns have? They emphasized the “g”- good, which comes from God. They reigned out of love, not pride. When authorities honor God and emphasize the “g” in reign, the people prosper, humanity is dignified, and justice rules.

There’s only one person who truly reigns – God.  One day, every knee will bow and confess that Jesus is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11), but until then, we must each choose to be reined in by the agenda of the world, or let Christ reign in our hearts.

I don’t know about you, but I want the “g” in my life. It makes all the difference in this world.

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!”  1Chronicles 16:31

 

 

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“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you” (Luke 10:5-6).

We read this passage in Luke today in church. The last phrase became clear to me in a new way. If not, it will return to you. 

In other words, be at peace no matter what happens. You cannot control other’s reactions, only your own. Don’t let their negativity infect you.

Christ teaches us to pray for our enemies, even love them. We are to forgive others because Christ has forgiven us. We are to be the peacemakers, peace distributors, and peace dwellers.

There is a skit on Christian radio. A policeman pulls over a lady and is surprised to discover she is the owner of the car because it has a Christian symbol on the bumper. “The way you have been driving and acting, I thought it was stolen,” he says.

Recent events in the United States have produced hideous violence that is spreading like wildfire. I saw this happening in the 1960s with the Civil Rights movement and in the 1970s protesting the war in Vietnam. What started as peaceful demonstrations voicing opinions turned into angry, destructive mobs. Those proclaiming that lives mattered and love was the answer soon forgot that was their message and became just the opposite in behavior. History repeats. It is sad to see.

I also am seeing a great deal of hate and slander being spread on social media. Much by so-called Christ-followers. This is not the way Christ wants us to act. He was not a rabble-rouser. Christians, let us be the ones who spread peace, not violence. Those who spread love, not hate, and forgiveness, not blame.

We have all sinned. None of us are righteous, except in Christ and through Christ alone. The writer to the Hebrews reiterated this: Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness, no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). Everyone, even those with whom we disagree.

Please join me. Be a pebble that begins the ripple of peace in your community. Stop the hate. Stop the slander on social media and in conversations of those with whom you disagree politically.

Yes, we have a right to express our opinion and preserve our freedoms. Many are in danger of dissolving. That is what the ballot box is for. But honestly, if I am set in my ways and you are set in yours, there is very little we can do to change each others’ minds.  Only the Holy Spirit can do that. Let’s not block Him from flowing in, though, and from us into the world. Anger rarely resolves anything. Instead of badmouthing them, pray for them.

Spead love and peace and let it return to you. Pray for those who need Jesus in their lives. Yield to those in authority because God has placed them there for a reason (Romans 13:1-7). As Paul warned, You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat (Romans 14:10).

We all will answer to One person in the end. What we give, we will receive once again. The boomerang effect. Whatever we send will be returned to the sender.

 

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Sometimes it just jumps out at me from the Bible. Today, I found a message from our Lord in Psalm 47:

For God is King of all the earth; sing praise with all your skill. (verse 7)

We praise God by doing what He has designed us to do. All of creation does. Trees praise Him by leafing out each spring and providing shade in the summer, then becoming colorful in the fall, and losing their leaves as the sap drops in winter. Birds praise Him by singing. The sun and moon praise Him by rising and setting.

We praise Him with the skill He has designed in us. We each have one. A gift that He slowly develops in us the way a piano teacher trains a child prodigy to play his best.

Maybe it is patiently raising active children. Maybe it’s writing, like me. Maybe it is extending hospitality to others, or giving grace to the invisible in our society. Perhaps you are a super organizer, a motivator, or an empathizer. You are good with your hands, skilled with mechanical things, or can see inside people and help them see themselves.

Each time we use our individual skills, we glorify the Creator who provides them. True, we can try to claim the glory, but that will eventually lead to our downfall. Even then, God will be glorified when we are redeemed from self-centered sin and brought to repentance.

Never think you have nothing to contribute. Someone somewhere needs your skills. God made you for a purpose. Yield to Him and let Him bring out the best in you. Then praise Him with your life.

 

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HOW MANY CROSSES DO YOU SEE?

Yep, I said crosses, plural. Sure, there is the pottery one hanging on my patio wall. But do you see others? Look carefully.

Each window pane has a cross. If you look at the balconies, the rails form two crosses when viewed with the door jambs.  The roof of the carport to the left lines up with the edge of the building, making a cross-shaped image. Can you find anymore now that you have had a few clues?

The point is, we often are too focused on the obvious to see the serendipities God brings into our day.  Little things, which prove He is there and cares, go unseen.  It may take focus, imagination, or seeing things in a new way to spot these.

That is sort of what this blog is all about…detecting God-moments and messages in our lives.

The more you open your mind and eyes to seek Him, the more evidence you will find of His presence. Look out your window. How many things remind you of His presence? His all-powerful, all-knowing, perfect nature? His grace and mercy? Does that not make you smile and lift your spirits?

If we concentrated more on seeking God in our lives instead of finding fault in ourselves and others, wouldn’t it change not only our outlook but that of those we encounter?

My mother, who was a teacher, said that when we’re taught in school to find “what is wrong with this picture”  or to decide “which answer is not correct” it trains our minds to see things in a negative way. She never put questions that required a negative response as the correct one on her tests.

Retrain the brain. For one week, whenever a negative thought tries to surface, seek a positive reminder of God’s love instead. Then thank Him.

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.  Hebrews 12:1b-2a.

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So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.  Colossians 2:6-7

Three years ago I posted the saga of my now 45-year-old corn plant. Back then, at about 3 1/2 feet tall, it had pretty much stagnated in growth. Today it has grown to 5 feet high.

Why am I telling you this?  First, in my new space, it has a more constant, diffused light. Southern exposure provides it a soft, strong source of continuous sunrays. And it has taken off.

I recently did something else to it. My son and I transplanted it into a much larger pot. It had become root-bound. Poor thing. One bag of enriched soil later, it was safely settled into its new surroundings and place back by in the southern exposure window it loves. NOw it has stretched its leaves to a full, luscious green canopy.

So, why am I telling you this??? Are we not the same? We all love our comfort zones, but we don’t grow well in familiarity. Life is about change. If change doesn’t occur, how will we grow? How will we expand our thoughts, stretch our imaginations, and flourish in our faith?

Sometimes I think God puts us in new situations for our own good. We have become root-bound, wound up in our own little world. We need to have fresh fertile soil and new boundaries to reach out.

One thing I know from experience is that God always makes good out of difficult situations. I see a lot of good coming out of this pandemic. People have reevaluated what is important. Many have turned back to God for answers, support, and comfort. Neighbors who barely knew each other are pitching in to help each other, even if it is at six feet distances. Folks are more “other conscious” and friendly. There is a bond that grows from shared experiences that strengthens cities, communities, and people. It is like the mortar joining bricks in a wall.

Maybe we’ve just been transplanted into a larger situation right now. It may feel uncomfortable to unwind from our tightly-balled comforts, but as we extend out, we will grow…stronger, better, and more beautiful as long as we dig our roots into the One who gave us life, and by His merciful grace extends it into eternity for those who believe.

And the more we bask in continuous soft and nourishing Light of The Word, we will grow in the right direction.  Standing tall in our faith, rooted in Christ.

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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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