Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Fill my cup, Lord

Remember the song "Fill my cup,  Lord / I lift it up,  Lord"?  As a coffee lover, I often fill 'er up!  I shuffle from bed right on down to the coffee pot. I don't even have to be very much awake to hit the start button, or to pour the first few cups.  It doesn't take much brain power but I sure need it. And then I feel the wakefulness spreading so the next few cups are just for enjoyment.

It's the same with my heart.  I can get through a day without reading my Bible, buthe it is not recommended.  I've made it easier on myself by installing an app on my phone that reads the Bible to me.  Oh,  I wait until I'm awake, though!  As I get behind the wheel to drive to work,  I switch on the app and listen to God's Word read aloud.  I feel the life coming into my heart!  I also say a prayer and can give my day to God asking Him to use me.

My days go much more smoothly when I ask God to fill my cup and to fill my day.  How about you?  Do you make time for your coffee but neglect the Word?  I'd like to somewhat rewrite a quote I recently saw . . .

"All I need today is a little bit of coffee and a whole lot of Jesus!"  Please, Lord, fill my heart with YOU!"

Wednesday, September 7, 2016


TGIF!!!   Yupp, I said it on Wednesday....

Thank God I'm Forgiven.

And, nope, I didn't necessarily do anything "wrong" but I'm intentionally being grateful for
God's forgiveness.  I absolutely KNOW that I am incapable of deserving Heaven.  When I sit still and think about it, I canNOT understand why God would love me at all.  "The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked..."   Even when I determine to be on my best behavior, I somehow manage to end up right back in the same spot I was in before.  It's like a habit, but much worse.  It's my old nature.

But do not despair, my friends!  I John 1:9 says "IF we confess our sins, HE is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."  If.  The choice is mine.  I can stay in my sin or I can choose to humble myself and choose another way.

Confess -- A friend who has worked with children for many years describes "confess" as "tell on yourself to God."  God already knows what I have said, thought or done.  He even knows the difference between just thoughts and actual intentions.  I just need to stop excusing my actions away and own up to what I know in my heart.

Faithful -- He will always come through and do what He has promised.  He will do it every time.  He will never let me down.  He will never forget.  He will never ignore.  He will never become frustrated and say "Enough."  He is faithful.

Just -- He cannot do anything else.  God is holy.  Holy is "set apart."  He is certainly set far apart from me in any category of comparison.  He must do what is right.  He must keep his promises.  He cannot do any less.  Justice is served when the law is completely upheld.

You see, I just naturally say, think and do things that fall far short of God's holiness.  But He loves me and sent His one and only true Son to pay the price of death and to be a complete substitute for me.  That was not justice.  He took what I deserved.  But then He promised to always....always....ALWAYS receive me as His adopted child and love me as He loves Jesus.  Jesus already paid for everything I ever will do that is a disappointment to God.  And God will not, and cannot, reject me.  To reject me after I have accepted the salvation He provided through Jesus' life, death and resurrection is for Him to say that the sacrifice didn't really matter.

I am so grateful for God's salvation.  I am so grateful that Jesus Christ GAVE His life to save mine.  I really do try my best to live every day in a way that will show Him I fully appreciate the significance of the gift of salvation.  Every single day I

Thank God I'm Forgiven!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

latest great quote....

Anyone who knows me, knows I'm the self-proclaimed "grammar geek" or "word nerd."  Give me well-crafted quote and I'm a very happy girl!

So when a friend shared a special quote with me recently, I was delighted.  Here it is:

Except HE go before me, I cannot go.

It sounds so profound and so concise!  And then I started mulling it over.  You know, meditating on it.  And I started deconstructing it and examining it from all different angles.  Wow.  Just wow.

Except....this word is completely exclusive.  If the following specific thing does not happen, then there is no way to obtain the desired outcome.  There is only one single solitary way I can go.

HE.....God.  My Father.  My Friend.  My Strength.  My Comforter.  My Refuge.  My Commander.  My Shepherd.  My Savior.  The God of the Universe would do something for me.

Go BEFORE me.....He is leading me.  He is actually in front of me.  My mind came up with two specific images.  The first one is set in a deep dark jungle.  There are vines hanging down  The canopy above is so thick and keeping out all sunlight so that I cannot tell if it's day or night.  I'm sure there are scary things lurking in the thick underbrush.  I am represented by a small vulnerable child.  And God is in front of me hacking down the forest.  He is making the way passable.

I also imagined myself as the excited little child flitting to and fro trying to see and experience a little bit of everything.  And God is lovingly letting me investigate everything.  Well, everything that is safe.  If I start to move toward something dangerous, He steps in front of me and does not allow me to go forward.

I cannot go.....I am unequipped.  I need Him to make the way clear.  I need Him to prevent me from harming myself.  I am not strong enough . . . or tough enough . . . to fight through the battles that I will face along the path ahead.  I am not discerning enough to find my way through the tangles.  

If, and ONLY if, God goes before me to lead me and to protect me I cannot find my way or get where He needs me to go.

"I have decided to follow Jesus
I have decided to follow Jesus
I have decided to FOLLOW Jesus 
No turning back.  No turning back."

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

And we're back.........!!!

I've been hearing alot of the same thing over and over again lately.  I've heard it from my father-in-law.  I've heard it from a friend.  I've heard it from a visitor in our church.  Most importantly, I've heard it in my heart from my Father.  I've heard that it's time to start this blog back up!

During the time I took off from writing here, God has done some amazing things in our lives.  We gained a son-in-law. We lost two dear ladies in our church.  We were blessed with two grandsons!  We bought a house and moved.  I changed jobs.  We have made some significant dietary and health changes.

Some things have remained the same.  Pink is still my favorite color.  I still prefer my coffee quite strong.  A certain little black dog still snuggles at my feet.  I am still fascinated by geysers.  And I still use the same brown Bible I've been using since I was 13 years old.

I have learned some pretty powerful lessons during this time as well.  There is a song that says "I'm drinking from my saucer, 'cause my cup has overflowed."  The lessons and the blessin's have been used by my Father to guide my steps down the path He has chosen for me.

I am still seeking His favor in all I do.  Seeking definitely has the idea of actively searching as opposed to randomly glancing.  It takes deliberate work and does not come naturally.  But I am willing to put the effort in to find favor from my God.

Welcome back for another leg of the journey!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Wrapping it up

Philippians 4:9-23


Verse 9 really goes with the thought of verse 8 and caps off the list of things we re to be thinking of.  Paul, through the Holy Spirit, knows hat we need to have examples of what to do.  So he gave us verse 8 that tells us what things to think about.  And if we follow that advice "the peace of God will be on us.

Verse 10 Paul is telling this church that he appreciates their care of him as a missionary.  They have been taking care of him and praying for him.  They had another gift for him because they had been very careful and saved another gift of money for him.  It was a new idea, this being a missionary! They believed in what he was doing and wanted so badly to help him.  But they didn't have FedEx or UPS so the gift they had saved up for him took a long time to coordinate getting to him.

He is careful to point out that he is thanking them, not because he has been lacking in anything, but because he gets it all of the time!  He has learned . . . LEARNED. . . in whatsoever state he is in to be content.  There have actually been times in my life where God was teaching me to be content somewhere I did not want to in an actual state I didn't like!  When we were newlyweds and lived in Pensacola, Florida my husband worked full time and went to school full time.  I sat at home not knowing anyone in town, not having a car to go anywhere, and not knowing even one of my neighbors.  I was so lonely.  I learned to be content through that.   Later, when we moved to West Virginia and lived my in-law's for a few months I was so out of place.  I didn't feel like I belonged there and it was never God's plan to have two women under one roof like that.  I wanted to go "home."  But I also learned to love my husband in a different way and depend on him in many ways I had never imagined were possible in our fairy tale.

Verse 12 tells us that Paul knew how to be happy when he was having a feast or having a famine.  He could be comfortable in a crowd of wealthy people just the same as he could be comfortable with a beggar on the street.  We need to be able to relate to ALL people and to feel comfortable talking about the Lord to anyone we meet.  And we must do it through Christ Who strengthens us.  I cannot do alot of the things that are "expected" of me very well.  But when I ask Christ to be my strength and when I follow His lead I can accomplish ANYthing!

The next few verses Paul is describing to them that he was the very first "missionary" and what that new idea meant for them.  And this little church was the only church that sent him "support."

Verse 17 tells us to be clear of one thing . . . Paul is not writing about money because he wants any more, but because he wants to teach them the right way to operate so they can receive God's wonderful blessings.  God is keeping a record in Heaven of things we do for His honor and glory.  When we help a missionary who lives far away in a place we do not understand, we are actually helping God spread the message.  And God makes a little "deposit" into our account of things not wasted in Heaven.

Epaphraditus was a helper to Paul. Many believe he was the one who actually wrote this letter on behalf of Paul as a scribe.  He traveled to Paul and brought things from this church.  Remember they had no post office in those days!  Paul doesn't tell us what he brought or how much it was worth or what percent of each person's wealth he was receiving.  He wanted them to know that whatever it was, it was a sweet smell to God's nose that they gave to him.  You know how a sweet smell can just change the feeling of a room or an occasion?  Our prayers and gifts to God smell sweet to Him.  What I do for Christ is noticed in Heaven with a wonderful smell better than any candle or potpourri on earth!

Then Paul wraps up this letter with some personal messages.  He tells them of Christians in the household of Caeasar, the king who persecuted him so much!  He sends greetings and messages back and forth . . . it is a very personal and "private" part of this letter, yet God includes it for us.  It is heartwarming and shows us a level of personal relationships that is important throughout the Bible.  Our relationships with God and with each other are so very important to Him!

And then he closes.  I wish for you the same thing he wised for these people . . . that the matchless grace of Jesus Christ our Lord be with all of them.  This is my wish for you as well.  I pray that you learn to have the real joy Christ has made available for you.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Keep On The Sunny Side!

Philippians -- the Book of Joy

Philippians 4:8  "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report: if there be an virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."

I have been anxiously awaiting getting to this verse in our study!  This is one of my favorite verses in Philippians and perhaps the whole Bible.  It might look like just another list of do's and don't's but it is RICH!

Paul has been talking about how to have this secure mind.  He besought his yokefellow to "help" others. Then he made a very clear point of telling them to rejoice...always.  His instructions not to fret about things came with the redirection to pray.  He described not just any prayer but a prayer of supplication (really begging God and mentioning it over and over) and being thankful.  We are to be thankful for whatever comes about, whatever answer we receive.  He does instruct us to "let our requests be made known unto God" which has the idea of asking Him for exactly what it is we want.

God has preserved every word in the Bible.  He inspired the writers and He guided the translators. Every word matters and is used for a specific purpose.  So let's look at this list carefully and glean everything we can from it.  His final instruction about how to have a secure mind is a progressive list. It starts with a broad term and gets progressively more specific.  We MUST govern our thoughts and this is a formula, if you will, for us to follow.  Start at the top and if your thoughts meet the first qualification, move to the next one.  If you have a thought that can pass every part of this list or test then you may think on it.  When you find a description that your thoughts cannot "pass" you will understand how to change your thoughts and maintain your secure mind.

Whatsoever things are . . .

True -- the first thing we should check is whether a thing is truthful or not.  The most direct way to discern if your thoughts meet this checkpoint is to weed out the parts you know for a fact from the parts you assume, or "guess", or just heard.  You cannot say "Well, Suzie Q said..." or "then I heard...."  The very first step is to stop and figure out exactly what you know for a fact.  Things are either truth or not truth and details you don't know for sure have to go into the not truth category for now.

Honest -- look a little closer and determine if there is any part of your thought or issue that is honest.  This is where you strip away opinions.  Do not let your opinion of someone lead your thoughts. You cannot assume or connect the dots here.  You can see that we are whittling alot away from most of our thoughts just in these first two steps.

Just -- Justice is "according to the law."  God's law is the highest so use that as your measuring mark at this step.  Let's say the situation you are fretting over involves something like "she didn't speak to me." Consider "was she required by any verse in the Bible to do so?  There are many things that we should do or that we would like others to do, but ask yourself if any rules have been broken.

Pure -- Is the situation without prejudgment?  Are you looking at things with a certain bent?  Are you demanding your own personal expectations be met or some personal "script" of what you think others should say and do be followed?  Another way to hold the lens of purity in our thoughts is to discern "would Christ approve of this thought?"  Sometimes we let our minds wander and we don't realize how crooked and naughty we are being.

Lovely -- Does your thought look pretty?  Or is this a dark thought that you would be ashamed to have Jesus repeat out loud?  Are you looking for the loveliness in others or just waiting to point out their sins.  Is is something that everyone would want to look at or is it ugly?

Are of Good Report -- Do you want to hear the bad things about people?  Do you ever dwell on the failures of others.  There is an old quartet song "Keep On The Sunny Side" and it makes me think of choosing to look for the positive side of everything.  We all know people who are like Eoyore and "live in the gloomy place."  We all remember Tigger, too, right?  When my daughter was little and I woke her up for the day I would ask her if she wanted to be Tigger or Eoyore.  She learned to choose Tigger much more often because it is the good choice.

So, how is your little thought doing?  Is it passing the test?  Is it ok to keep your mind going in this direction?  Many times our thoughts will fail the first or second test.  And if we are honest in our hearts, the things that cause us to worry and fret almost never make it through this whole list of tests.  So, now what?  If you have examined your thought from every angle listed above then what?

Here comes another IF / THEN section!  IF there be . . .

Any Virtue -- Look at your situation or thought and determine if there what is the good part of it.  Virtues are the good character traits we have.  It's definitely not about your feelings anymore.  It's about deciding if there are things that will build you up and make you stronger.  It's about godly character.  At this point, focus yourself on the uprightness.  Choose to think about how this person or situation follows the pattern of Christ.

Any PRAISE -- Simple.  The thought or situation should not be anything that drags your heart down.  Disappointing this do not have praise as a part of them.  The words of others toward you may be meant as hurtful but you can find a way to turn them around and see the good side of it. Think about the part that deserves to be applauded.

It's all a choice.  Having a secure mind is a choice.  You either choose to worry and fret or you choose to rest in the Lord.  Use this list as a filtration system to sift through your thoughts and get the imaginary ghosts out.  When you get your thoughts broken down to the real issue you will have much more peace.  Things won't disturb you and gnaw at you anymore.  But we must CHOOSE to use this formula each and every time.

People ask me "How are you?" as a greeting all day long.  I usually answer them "Fabulous!"  When I get that quizzical look I just let them know "I choose."  I get caught in the snare of worry and fret and trying to figure out other people.  But I choose to catch myself and pick the sunny side.  "Great peace have they that love Thy law, and NOTHING shall offend them."  You must allow things to get you down.  Remember "The Devil cannot steal your joy . . . you have to hand it to him."  The joy of the Lord is my strength!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Who are YOU pecking on today?

The Secure Mind - - or - - Worry Robs Your Joy

Philippians 4:3-7
"And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.  Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.  Let your moderation be known to all men.  The Lord is at hand.  Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

To "intreat" is to earnestly ask something.  Paul just finished pointing out two women, by name, who were behaving in such a way as to shift the focus away from the work and onto themselves.  Now he opens up his instructions to include some others who need some instruction.  When he was "scolding" these two women he carefully pointed out what they were doing wrong, directed their attention back to being on the Lord, and then moved on.  Sometimes we get stuck on the first step and go from correcting someone for their benefit, to hammering away at them for the sake of feeling better about ourselves.  Paul didn't really even have to name exactly what they were doing. It certainly seems that he felt they were mature enough to know what they were doing that was wrong, and he told them to "get your focus back on the Lord" and then he moved on.  Sometimes when we see another Christian getting off track we tend to step forward in an honest effort to get them back on track but we ourselves become sidelined with "pecking them to death like a duck!"  We want to be sure they understand just how wrong they are and never back off to let them make amends or adjustments to their behavior.  Paul named these two women and told them to get along better in an open letter to their church but then he moved on to address "thee also, my true yokefellow."

Yokefellow are people who are working together side by side.  Paul begged the women to get their focus back where it needed to be, and then said "and the rest of you help these two women who have worked hard with me."  They weren't just some gals that dropped in from nowhere.  And they weren't just being singled out to be ostracized.  He really wanted them to succeed and wanted the rest of their fellow Christians to help them.  When eagles are molting they are very vulnerable because they cannot fly.  Groups of eagles will get together during the molting time and make a circle around the most vulnerable one to protect it.  The work together to ward of anything that might try to attack the weakest one.  Then when that eagle is getting through the process and has more feathers back, they switch places so another more vulnerable one can go to the middle of the circle.  How safe and secure that molting eagle must feel having all those others standing guard around him while he is at his lowest, literally, because he can't even fly.  Not us humans!  No sir-ee, we see somebody down, hurting and vulnerable and we swarm in there on attack to make sure they don't miss one single old feather.  We say we want to be sure they don't miss anything and that we are helping them out.  In fact, we often reach right in and do damage ourselves by "helping" them be thorough.  We attack our weakest, most vulnerable.

Paul does point out that these women "which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other fellow labourers" had been doing the right thing before.  He knew it because they had worked with him!  We don't have any information about who Clement was but obviously the church did.  He referred to someone specific that they had worked with and also "other" people they had helped.  We need to address problems, we need to confront sin, but we do not need to throw the baby out with the bath water.  Stop and remember how the person you want to peck to death has served in the past.  Remind them how they have served and been successful in the past.  Rest secure in the process of correction that God has laid out and don't worry about destroying someone who has offended.

Right smack in the middle of this exhortation Paul says, "Rejoice in the Lord!"  God forgives and forgets our sin.  Sometimes we get hung up and don't move on after the molting has finished.  How frustrating to the mighty eagle to be protected by others but then also kept down on the ground unable to soar again.  We need to rejoice when someone confesses something and changes their actions.  We can't use their past sins as a net to keep them grounded, never fully serving God again.  We need to rejoice in the change God can bring about in their hearts and help them catch the wind again.  Rejoice . . . don't recharge for another attack.

In verse 5 the word "moderation" means your gentleness.  I'd have to say that American Christians have a reputation for shooting their wounded while still in battle.  We can turn on each other soooo quickly.  How many of us ever over-scolded a child for something they did.  We made such a big deal out of it they didn't stand a chance at lifting their eyes for days.  Imagine if these folks had not moved on and forgiven Paul but had kept reminding him about his past deeds.  They could have handicapped this great missionary and kept him from accomplishing what God had planned for him!

I don't know exactly what Paul meant when he wrote, "The Lord is at hand" but I try to remind myself that it means to let God be God in situations.  I don't need to lord over someone making  sure they get every last detail confessed and changed.  God is still right at hand and available to help them.  I am to correct others but I don't need to overshadow them and be in God's way.  Let God do HIS work and be secure in the fact that He WILL!

When Paul says, "Be careful for nothing" he doesn't mean be reckless.  He means don't be so micro-focused that we don't fret or get hung up on something. Allow yourself to be secure in the fact that He really is in charge and will do His part of things.

I once heard the story of a little old lady who kept a little tin on top of her stove.  Whenever she cooked or baked for her family she would reach in the little tin and take out the tiniest pinch of something and sprinkle it on the food while muttering to herself.  One day her little granddaughter asked her what she was doing.  The lady replied, "Why, I'm praying to the good Lord that this will all turn out well and nourish everyone who eats it.  I'm praying."  "But what's in the box" pushed the little girl.  "Oh, that's just some love I like to sprinkle on things."  We should be praying for others, be thankful for others, and make request to God for them.

Verse 7 says that when we do this correctly we will no longer worry about those issues.  There is great peace to be found at the feet of Jesus.  There is peace for sinners and peace for the saved as well.  And God's peace is remarkable!  It isn't flimsy or intermittent.  It is straight from God's heart and it will feel like nothing else we've ever known!  I have made some big blunders in my life.  I have had to be singled out and "scolded" or made away of my shortcomings.  Sometimes there have been an awful lot of people around me who knew about what was going on.  It's a very polarizing time as other Christians step away from you and stand around in their little circle looking in.  "But the peace of God!"  It's so wonderful I can't explain it.  I can't even understand it!  It is beyond understanding by ANYone!  And that exact peace will keep my heart (emotions) and my mind safe through Christ Jesus.  Even if everyone around me is facing inward, pecking at me, I can have peace because of Christ.  I can be forgiven . . . actually I already am!  I can be free from all fear of being vulnerable.  And I can also be assured that I will correct others correctly if I am in Christ Jesus.

I know a man who made a life changing, even life shattering, choice.  What he did was very wrong. But when he was down and his life was falling apart around him, not too many people circled the wagons around him.  A lot of people "flew off" leaving him exposed to further attacks by Satan. Others bit and pecked and made sure every single detail was made public and that he was shamed until he was almost helpless.  For a time he was paralyzed by shame and fear.  But when some Christians who knew better, got around him and supported him and watched out for him, he was able to properly make amends and turn around his life to live a great testimony to the Lord. Pecking the downed eagle did not make him better.  It wounded him more deeply.  When we are secure in our handling of others we can help bring them joy!  God has already forgiven their sin and because He can do it, so should we (with His help).

Who are you pecking on today?