Friday, January 24, 2020
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
Sequestered in an enclave of forest splendor, the last thing my husband, Danny, and I ever wish to do is to remove a tree from our yard. But after an errant lightning bolt strikes a stately pine tree last summer, taking the brutal brunt for all the other trees nearby, we know we have no choice but to have it removed as a matter of practicality and safety.
But the imagined cost of the project causes us to delay.
Until . . .
A wild and vicious winter storm is predicted to hit us in a few days. His pragmatic mind in full gear, Danny calls our trusted tree service; fortunately, the company can come out the very next day! The cost is far more reasonable than we calculated, and these Johnny-on-the-spot experts not only dismantle the looming nemesis of the dead pine, but also eradicate some other limbs threatening our roof.
So, bring on the tornado threatening winds! We are ready!
And yes, obviously, we survive the maelstrom, thanks be to God!
Had that one pine been allowed to stand? It could have spelled disaster. As the owner of the tree service explains to Danny, having a dead tree on our property, without us doing anything to ameliorate the situation, would make us liable, not our insurance company, for any damage its fallen trunk could cause.
Yes, I am so sad that we had to let this noble tree go, the one that laid down its life for its friends. (John 15:13)
The one upon whom a neighboring sweet gum wrapped a trusting root around. A tree we will have to keep a close eye on come spring because of its close proximity to the fallen giant.
And I am reminded of this - the voice of the Lord, booming in the lightning strike, can break the cedars and pines.
But He always knows what He's doing.
We cannot know, as the pine did not, what day will be our last.
Yet, we can ever hold fast to God's power and promise, that as believers in Christ, we will inherit eternal life.
A life that will never end, and a life that will be honored greatly if we are willing to take the fall, as that stalwart pine did, for our brothers and sisters in the faith.
Tuesday, January 21, 2020
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
Did you make any New Year resolutions? Are you managing to honor them several weeks into January?
If failure is already rearing its ugly head, you're not alone.
And failure is why I quit making resolutions many years ago. How disheartening it is when I have grandiose plans for changes and improvements in my life, only to have them crash and burn.
As I ponder why so many resolutions fall by the wayside, I have a revelation. My former desires involved me, myself and I. God was absent from the equation.
Yes, we may want to lose that weight, maintain a healthier lifestyle, keep in better touch with family and friends, but if God isn't the architect of these longings, we don't have a prayer.
Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that in Christ, we are new creations - blessed and loved and set apart - by the God who loved us all so much that He was willing to give His only Son to cleanse us from sin, and reassure us that we are heirs to the eternal life Jesus has promised.
If that knowledge doesn't make us feel new and revived in the New Year, then I don't know what can!
Maybe, friends, that's the only resolution we need.
We are loved.
We are redeemed.
We are made new.
Let us resolve, then, to let God guide and provide in all that comes our way in 2020.
It's the most resolute of resolutions.
And one that will never fail.
Friday, January 17, 2020
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,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
My husband, Danny, downloads the Life 360 app to our phones in 2018 when his son, Giovanni, is making the monumental move to New Mexico for his Air Force assignment in Albuquerque. For those of you who might not be acquainted with this convenience, it allows sharing of location and movement as a loved one travels. We are especially worried at the time because of possible inclement weather that Giovanni and his wife, Hope, could be facing during their arduous trek.
Happy to say, they make it safely, but not without a few nail-biting moments on our part!
While we delete Giovanni from our circle after his successful arrival, Danny and I continue to track one another. This is of particular comfort to my MIL, who toward the waning days of her life, grows extremely anxious when her son leaves the house to shop or go to the gym. It gives her such peace of mind knowing where he is, and when he might be home. She just feels safer and more secure when Danny is in the house, and I certainly could never fault her for that.
Enter Danny's brand new phone! Yes, we want to continue using Life 360 to monitor each other's movements, especially when I embark on the long journey to my mother's house, but the app decides to be balky and inconsistent. Danny has to reload it repeatedly. Luckily, it does work seamlessly during my last trip to Mom's, but the following day? Nada! What's up with that?
We are concluding that the app simply needs a nudge here and there, a reentering of the password, to convince it to work reliably. A pain? Yes, but necessary if we wish to keep the connection going.
What a relief it is to know that when it comes to God, we never need to download an app or reset a password to be connected to Him! He always knows where we are headed and where we will end up. Even in the precarious places, His steady hand is there to guide us and hold us fast.
The Lord is Life 24/7 when we submit to and put our trust in Him
Here's to the journey!
Tuesday, January 14, 2020
"But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."
I find myself checking the clock numerous times per day. I'll venture that you do, too. It may be, for me, in anticipatory mode, making sure I'm departing on time for an appointment, or casually, deciding if it's time to rouse myself out of bed. Is it time for my favorite news program? Will Mom be ringing me up soon? (Yes, we chat every day!)
Nevertheless, when I happen to glance at the clock, and the time 9:11 is displayed, my heart inevitably skips a beat. My mood is instantaneously altered as I am plunged back to that horrendous date in our country's history. Yes, I'm old enough to recall the horrific assassinations of President Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy, all so infinitely heartbreaking. But this date, this time, this place, this tragedy, I now witness and live through with my own children.
I had hoped they would never have to suffer through such a tremendous loss as this . . .
Their anxiety, their questions, their fears in the aftermath of 9/11 break my heart. How can I possibly answer them reassuringly when I, myself, am confused, angry and profoundly grieved by these vicious attacks upon the greatest nation the world has ever seen?
Time has passed since that fateful day, but does time heal all wounds? I would say, "No." Time's passage can alleviate some of the pressure and pain of that moment experienced years ago, but it doesn't relieve the angst of remembrance. Yet thankfully, the memories evoke prayers for the families who still suffer the fallout from these brutal and senseless attacks.
Jesus' judgment is coming. We don't know the day nor the hour. But for those 3,000+ lives lost on that fateful day, their journey is ended. Were they prepared? Did they know of God's ultimate salvation?
These are questions which can never be answered, as their voices, their love for life, were extinguished in those brief, violent moments. Moments never to be forgotten by those of us who stand as witnesses.
None of us know, or can know, the day or the hour of Christ's return.
But may we all live each minute of every day, expectant and ready, when Jesus comes to call.
You can help the families of 9/11 victims, as well as those of soldiers and first responders killed in the line of duty, by donating to Tunnels 2 Towers.
Friday, January 10, 2020
Romans 12:1 (MSG)
So, here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life - your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around-life - and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.
Daily routines. Few of us would argue that these aren't a necessary part of life, but many would confess that said routines can become stale and boring in their constant repetition.
Making coffee, showering, dressing, making the bed, breakfast, prayer time, email correspondence, blog reading, Bible reading, gym . . . And that's just my morning!
Then it's errands, checking more email and the news, feeding the birds, filling the water purifier, bathroom sprucing, dusting that room, sweeping another, laundry when needed, dishwasher loaded/unloaded.
And the beat goes on!
Now, your daily routines may look totally different from mine, as we are all unique in our needs, wants and obligations. But I'm willing to go out on a limb in saying that all our must-dos have one adjective in common: Mundane.
Even if we pray and read God's Word in a detached, scheduled framework, it can take all the inspiration and meaning out of what should be a joyful, rejuvenating practice. God forbid that these should ever devolve into ho-hum to-dos!
So, how do we elevate our daily physical chores and spiritual encounters to a God-blessed level?
We place them before Him as an offering.
Giving thanks that we are healthy and able to accomplish what needs doing. Grateful for hot, running water in which to take a shower, wash dishes, do laundry. Thankful for a comfortable home, food in the fridge, a car to allow mobility, finances to afford a gym membership, the freedoms afforded by our amazing country to pursue our religious practices without retribution, and the technological advances that allow us to reach out and communicate with others whom we've never personally met, yet feel so close to because of blog-bonding.
And in it all, treasure each breath we take, each move we make, as a blessing from our Father in heaven.
Let us serve Him with joy, even in the most ordinary of tasks, knowing that it is the best thing we could ever do for Him.
Because there are always, always miracles, awaiting discovery, in the mundane.
Tuesday, January 7, 2020
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and He will make your paths straight.
Here we are, like it or not, at the beginning of a new year. One filled with hope and promise, and one that cannot predict the outcome of our day to day lives. We find ourselves, as day unfolds upon day, subject to uncertainties, yet praying and eager for the best for ourselves and for those whom we love.
For several years now, I've chosen a word to guide my year. My word for 2019 was "lean," as in "lean not on my own understanding."
And I have to admit, I cannot even begin to count the times I've leaned upon the Lord, and His understanding and knowledge, not mine, as I've traversed this hectic, challenging year filled with loss and grief, gain and joy. Even if I haven't felt that God is with me, I know my feelings count for naught. It is the knowing in my heart of hearts that assures me that in those moments I lean into Him, I'll find the support for which I've prayed.
So, as I revisit these verses from Proverbs that I treasured last year, it's not one word, but two, that stand out in my choice for the New Year: Trust and Submit.
And I realize, in a God-given moment of clarity, that these two meld perfectly together.
When I submit my will to God's, I can trust that His answers and provisions will be firm and true, unwavering and faithful. Our Lord always keeps His promises.
Even when, in our frail human nature, we don't keep ours.
But in this brand new year, my desire is to become more like Jesus. That means I can no longer place myself, my wants, my needs, at the center of the universe.
That center belongs to God alone.
Therefore, in tandem, I submit to the Lord, and trust that His answers will be more than enough for me.
Submit and trust.
What more could God ask of us?
May we all, in 2020, walk in tandem with Jesus.
Friday, January 3, 2020
Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when he said to me, "Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children."
The holidays behind us
Does priceless joy remain?
Do we, will we, remember?
A new year, here and now
Will we persevere
Or sway until we bow?
Promise is our guidance
Faithfulness, our balm
God is walking with us
Every fear, He'll calm.
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