Saturday, May 13, 2017

If I Wrote Something Scholarly

The Lord brought Elijah to mind today. OK, actually it was Elijah's story that came to mind, and I couldn't remember where it was in the Bible (thanks, North Rome Christian School grad for the help). I'm not a Bible scholar, but here's what I see in Elijah's plight. This is a reflection on 1 Kings 19 (read the chapter via the link below).

"Elijah, what on earth are you doing sitting here feeling sorry for yourself?"
"Lord, kill me now. Life as I know it is over, and I'm better off dead."
"You're worn out, come over here and have some dinner, rest and keep on going". (Elijah rests, and then he walks for 40 days and 40 nights, and stops at a cave on Mt. Horeb, the mountain of God)
God comes to visit Elijah, and speaks to him, and again He asks him "Elijah, what are you doing here?"
"I did what you wanted me to do, and now I'm running for my life."
And God said: "Go back the way you came..." (picture the puzzled look on Elijah's face)

I can relate to Elijah in this passage. OK, right now, I'm not running for my life, but many days I'd prefer to run FROM it. I want to feel sorry for myself. Look at me, I'm all alone. I'm useless. My life is over, I can't do this any more. It's too hard. I expect God to say "There, there, now, you go right ahead and curl up in a ball. You're right, life is hard and you deserve to be miserable." Nope. That's not what happened to Elijah. The guy was exhausted, he just walked for over a month. He thought he'd finally found his way "out", and what happened? God said "GO BACK THE WAY YOU CAME". Whaaaaat? I just got here, those people are crazy, they want me dead. "Go back the way you came."

Are you stuck in a cave, or under a bush somewhere today? Get up. Go back. You are not alone. At this very moment, God is preparing things ahead of you, He's sending help. He knows you are but dust, and that life feels hard, but He's already taken care of what's ahead. Stand up, brush off the dirt, put one foot in front of the other. There's an army out there coming against you, but it has no power over you. Remember to Whom you belong.

Friday, April 21, 2017

A Dog's Life

Lessons from the dog: Hammie crates himself when he does something bad. Last night, I saw him grab the closed crate door and pull it open. I figured he was planning ahead. He knew the dinner table was a temptation, and that he'd rather risk the punishment if he could only get to a couple crumbs on the floor. Sin is like that, isn't it? Sometimes it feels like it would all be worth it, that stepping over the line. The trouble is, it isn't. Solitary confinement for the sake of a morsel of food on the floor? The kibbles bowl was full. The water bowl was full. The "good stuff" was right there in front of him, but that tug was more than he could bear. What he didn't know was that I had a reward for him if he stayed out of the kitchen. I would have slipped him a couple of good scraps from the table (I know, don't tell the vet). There was a bigger reward in "not sinning" than in sinning. That's the truth for all of us. Are you feeling it today? Are you feeling that pull toward something you should not do or have? Run. That's right, run. In the opposite direction. It might feel like a good idea right this minute, but in reality the thing you're after just rolled across the dirty floor. It's covered in dust and dog hair. Ew.

1 Corinthians 10:12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 

13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Branching Out

Things I have learned through DNA, and building family trees:
--your ancestors had to escape disease, war, accidents, and more. Basically, they Indiana Jones-ed life, or you wouldn't be here. Some families had one living survivor, and that survivor had one survivor, and now there is you. You are a miracle. 
 --all those "begats" in the Bible that you skipped over were kinda important. God was showing you His plan is not random, it is laid out for generations and generations. Before your great great grandparents were born, He knew your name. You're that special.
--life is fragile, and that "death date" I just typed in the box? Relative A was cruising through life when it came to an abrupt halt. You only have this moment.
You are a miracle, you're THAT special, and you only have this moment. So, why are you wasting life worrying, or acting like you're not enough? Go be who God made you to be, and quit believing the lie that your life has no purpose. There's a reason you are here. There's a reason you are who you are. You are God's workmanship. Ephesians 2:10 Workmanship (synonyms: creation, design, artwork!)

Thursday, January 26, 2017

A Waiting Season

Sometimes in Winter, it's hard to see the promise of Spring. The gray landscape, the cold wind that makes you want to huddle under a blanket. I look at the garden. Pieces of dead vegetation are tumbled in the mud, and bits of Autumn's harvest cling to the fencing with no hope for tomorrow. It's bleak, and it brings me no joy. I want to walk backward six months to the days when I watched the earth for seedlings, and rejoiced to see the flowers budding out. I want to smell the soil baking under a warm sun. I want, I want, I want...and then I am reminded. I am reminded that although it looks like all is lost, there is a purpose for this season. The seeds that have fallen to the ground need to sit and wait. They need to experience the fury of Winter in order to burst forth in Spring. This is not idle time. Were it not for the frozen ground heaving up and becoming broken, the seeds, could never be planted. They would still lie atop the garden beds when the snow melted away, and they would be eaten by the birds, or rot in the muddy mess. I wonder what the seed thinks as it tumbles down the abyss created by that heaving soil. It probably thinks it is finished. It has no legs to climb it's way back out, no voice to cry for help. Done, I'm done. The days tick by, the seed remains in the cavern. Then, one day, long after the seed has given up all hope, something amazing happens. It burst forth from it's assumed prison, and becomes something beautiful.

 Ecclesiastes 3:1There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—
      2A time to give birth and a time to die;
            A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
      3A time to kill and a time to heal;
            A time to tear down and a time to build up.
      4A time to weep and a time to laugh;
            A time to mourn and a time to dance...

Ecclesiastes 3:11 11He has made everything beautiful in its time.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Beauty For Ashes

Everybody has something in life that they appreciate. Music, art, photography. For me, I like crooked sheds. Yes, I know, that's not particularly exciting, but neither am I. Up here in rural PA, everywhere you go you have the opportunity to find a new shed. Well, actually, it would be an old shed. They have faded and warped planks, and usually they are bowing outward in a last-ditch effort to stand upright. They probably held animals, or maybe the farmer's supplies. The roof might sag, and the door hangs off it's hinges, and generally there is some species of climbing plant winding it's way up the side.
Why, oh why, do I love these little buildings? Well, they're a work of art. There is beauty in the way they are broken, and every single one of them has a story that I will never know. Kind of like people. I bet you know someone who's "a little off", maybe listing to one side, with a gaping hole in their roof somewhere. They are generally people who you wouldn't give a second glance, or maybe you'd even walk by on the other side of the road. They don't look too appealing, and when they talk you might hear that broken hinge. You're missing out. You're missing an opportunity to see beauty in another form, and to hear a story before the story is gone. You see, God sees art where you see brokenness. God sees beauty where you see decay. He's not looking at their building, He's seeing that that is only temporary and will one day fall away. He is peering through the cracks and seeing their heart. The heart that needs love, the heart that needs Him. Be challenged to hear the story behind their broken hinges today, and to touch the heart that is hidden behind the splintered wood. Carry love somewhere love has never been before.

1 Samuel 16:7
But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

Psalm 139: 1-18                                                                                         You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.
13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand
    when I awake, I am still with you.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Mustard Seed Faith

In the process of making dilly beans this week, I spilled the mustard seed container. Not wanting to waste the spice I needed, I tried to collect them as they rolled across the counter. They're awfully tiny, and hard to pick up with fat fingers. (Maybe they're hard to pick up with skinny fingers, too, but you'd have to ask someone else) You wouldn't expect life lessons during canning, but there was one. There are quite a few mountains we're trying to scale here at home at the moment, and just when we think we've conquered Everest, the rope breaks. I'm sure a few of you have gone tumbling down a rocky slope a few times, too. You would think that to overcome the big mountains, you would have to have "big faith". As in, the amount of faith I have is directly proportionate to the outcome of this situation. That thinking leads to a lot of self-blame. "It must be that I didn't have enough faith, or this wouldn't/would have happened". OK, you can all stop feeling sorry for yourselves now. Take a peek at a mustard seed. It's ridiculously small, yet that's all the faith God says we need to do big things. Luke 17:6 "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you." Mustard seed faith. Teensy tiny, because the outcome really is not about you. You are simply being obedient by putting into play your itty bitty seed of faith, and the big part all gets done by that big God you've been talking to. :)

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Ministering Jesus Is Everything

I walked through the wet grass during work hours this week, and ended up with damp socks.  Now, I know in the grand scheme of things that that is not a huge deal, but it taught me a lesson.  Lesson #1, don't walk through wet grass during work hours.

Lesson #2 will take me a couple more minutes.  It was a great work day, we had some fun things planned for staff meeting, and all of my charting was done (bonus points).  I should have been having a grand time, but I was so distracted by those darn damp socks that I couldn't focus on the positive. All I wanted was to go home and dry my feet.  Kind of silly, right? I mean, it's not a death's door problem, it was just an annoyance, but it was preventing me from joining in the fun.  It made me wonder how many times I have missed that in someone else?  How many times have I forgotten to speak to a person's most immediate need, before pressing on to my own agenda?  

Sometimes I get frustrated, because I want to speak to someone's heart and I feel like they aren't hearing me.  I want so much to reach them for Christ, that I run right past the opportunity to be Jesus to them.  I haven't cared for their most immediate need. If Jesus were walking on earth right now, he would have given me His dry socks.  He would have taken them off His own feet and covered mine, and in doing so, He would have both warmed me physically and made me feel loved.  Isn't that what it's all about?  It's about loving our neighbors and our enemies and, in so doing, leading them to Christ.  Not bashing them over the heads with the gospel and wondering why they don't respond.  

As you go out and walk through your week, as people are sent across your path, sit down. Listen.  Find out what their most basic need might be that day, and meet it.  Be hands, be feet, be salt, be light, be the one who cares for the body so that Jesus can minister to their soul.  

James 2:
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 

15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 

16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?