Leviathan

Leviathan_(One_Dream)

Can you draw out Leviathan with a hook, or snare his tongue with a line which you lower? Can you put a reed through his nose, or pierce his jaw with a hook? Will he make many supplications to you? Will he speak softly to you? Will he make a covenant with you? Will you take him as a servant forever? Will you play with him as with a bird, or will you leash him for your maidens? Will your companions make a banquet of him? Will they apportion him among the merchants? Can you fill his skin with harpoons, or his head with fishing spears? Lay your hand on him; Remember the battle—Never do it again! Job 41:1-8 NKJV

There’s a new Jurassic World movie out in the theaters this week. Seeing all the advertisements for it while reading from the book of Job, I’m reminded how often God uses the things of this world to make a point with us about the world beyond. It’s a good thing, too, because we sometimes struggle to make sense of what we can see, smell, hear, and touch in this world, much less understanding anything like the magnificent artist powers at work in the universe beyond our reach.

We can no more corral God, than the people of Job’s time could wrestle with Leviathan.

God was making a point with Job when he used the example of the Leviathan: God is big, God is powerful, and God will not be tamed by men. Nor will He take orders from them, or answer to them. This is good news, because if we could tame God, He would cease to be God as we know God. Right?!

No one wants that!

In a movie about dinosaurs, mankind might find it hard to survive, but we are not in a movie. We are real, living, dependent and frail humans, in need of a real-life Savior who can hide us in the shadow of his wings. We need the Almighty, who has all dominion and power in this world and all worlds.

Job learned a lesson about who God is and how distinct He is from mankind through his suffering and conversations with the Lord. We can learn a lesson from Job’s example, too.

I love that last line from the New King James Version, in Job 41:8, “Lay your hand on him; Remember the battle—Never do it again!” God was making a point about his Supremacy when He wrote that line. I think Job got it. What do you think?

How big and strong is your God? Do you do what he asks, or keep asking Him to follow your lead?

 

 

 

Advertisements

3 things about being Christian

 

If you’ve spent any time here at all, you know I’m unabashedly Christian; have been since my youth.

Disclaimer: I am not perfect, nor even poised most days. Just so you know…

There are many reasons why I love being a person of faith in general, and a Christian, in particular. I thought I would blog about three of them today.

THREE THINGS I LOVE ABOUT BEING CHRISTIAN

1- I love the fact that Jesus first loved me. This is one of the greatest blessings in my faith journey. The fact that Jesus loved me first, means I don’t have to do anything to make him love me. He already loved me, when first he met me. I don’t have to work at being more me to get love from Him, or fake being someone else He might want to love. He’s already thrilled and enthralled by me. I don’t know why or how that’s so, but I think it’s pretty cool. I don’t have to work for my Jesus’ love!

O be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you. 1 Peter 5:6-7

2- As a Christians, I love that love comes to me with no strings attached. I get all of the goodies, all of the time, and I don’t have to do anything to make it happen, other than believe. I never contribute to the strength of my salvation or faith. Not my gig; that is God work. But don’t get me wrong, I do plenty to make sure I’m growing as a disciple. I just never worry about whether I’m loved by Jesus as I do those things. Never! Not on my good days, and not on my bad. For a kid who grew up the way I did, that’s huge.

Sing to God! Sing praises to His name. Exalt the One who rides on the clouds—His name is the Lord—and rejoice before Him. A father of the fatherless, and a defender of the widows, is God in His holy habitation. God settles the lonely in families… Psalm 68:4-6

3- I love that as a Christian, my central focus is love. Loving God. Loving Jesus. Loving the Holy Spirit that lives in me. Loving my family. Loving my friends, and loving those that are yet to become friends. Some days, exemplifying love to/for others seems counter to my nature. That’s when I pray and meditate on all the love that’s come to me over the years I’ve been walking with Jesus, and I begin to melt into gratitude once more. He loves me every day, regardless of how I behave. How can I not want to learn from Him and do the same?!

There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear… We love because He first loved us. 1 John 4:18 & 19

Are you a person of faith? Do you love experiencing the love that comes back to you from your Savior?

Safe in God’s Care

eagle-1

He found him in a desert land, and in the howling waste of the wilderness; he encircled him, he cared for him, he kept him as the apple of his eye. Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that flutters over its young, spreading out its wings, catching them, bearing them on its pinions, the Lord alone guided him, no foreign god was with him. Deuteronomy 32:10 ESV

It’s sometimes difficult for us to let go of the things of the world and focus on God.

We are human; we feel, we fear, we fail, and only God can raise us up again once we’ve fallen. He is our Protector and Provider, but sometimes we forget.

We forget all he’s done.

The ways he’s encircled us.

The protection he’s provided.

How he views us and what he does for us.

We forget to remain hopeful among the troubles and the trials, the challenges and the pitfalls.

We forget, and we need to be reminded.

Like an eagle watches over her young, God watches over us.

Who in the bird kingdom dares challenge the eagle? Little birds might hope to scare him off when he gets too close to their nest, but even they depart once he takes them to task. They know what we knows, that he is mightier.

As the eagle is to lesser birds, so is our God to us. He is mightier.

In today’s teaching from the Word, we see the parenting aspect of a great bird. God acting as an agent of nurture and concern, fluffing the nest for his young and spreading his wings to capture them should they fall during those first few scary flights.

Today, as you face the fears, the failures, and the feelings that go along with being human, trust in God to get you through.

Praise Him for his mighty presence among us.

Rely on Him alone to catch you, should you fall.

Know, nothing escapes his protective oversight! Rest in his undying love.

When has God swooped in to protect you in a threatening situation?  When have you most keenly felt His presence and love?

VBS

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy. Psalm 16:11

Vacation Bible School (VBS), is happening at our church in a couple weeks, so I thought it might be fun to recall my experiences with VBS as a child, today, to remind me and share with you the importance of getting involved in this type or program at your local church.

Whether you call your summer children’s program VBS or refer to it by some other name, know this, it is important for the spiritual development of children to offer a program like this in your church or your neighborhood. It doesn’t have to happen at church, and it doesn’t have to be expensive to share the love of Jesus with a child. It just needs to happen. Below, is my story of how I came to know Jesus. I hope you know him, too.

MY VBS. MY CHALLENGE.

Although I attended church with my gramma as a young child, it wasn’t until my mom hosted a neighborhood VBS that I really heard the Lord speaking life into my heart. I think I was eleven or twelve at the time. I wish I had possessed the forethought to write it down when it happened, but at that age and with little experience in religion, how could I know how significant this event would be for the rest of my life? I remember vividly a Child Evangelism Fellowship worker, named Dorothy, telling us the gospel story and using the Wordless Book as her only resource. Well, that and a heart full of love for Jesus—which was more than enough to grab my attention and encourage me to pray a little prayer that Jesus would love me forever, as she prompted the group.

My first challenge to the pact I’d made with God that day on our front porch, had to do with lying. My mom had baked a chocolate cake and frosted it, then set it on the kitchen table to wait for dinner (or maybe it was for some special occasion I don’t remember), as the battle began.

“Don’t touch that cake.” She’d warned us.

Ahhhh, sounding that kind of warning is like setting off a beacon light in the mind of a kid. From that moment on, all I wanted to do was eat that cake. I mean ALL I wanted to do!

I was single-minded in my pursuit of a way to eat some of that cake and get away with it.

I could hear the enemy whispering, as I tried to resist. “Go ahead. She won’t find out. She won’t know it was you. Do it now! Do it quickly. Grab and run. Don’t tell. Sneak away. Eat it in isolation. You shall not surely die!”

That devil, he is a wild one, and so shrewd. He knew the longer he kept it up, the less I would be able to resist what my nature so clearly said was already mine.

Entitlement.

Pride.

Self-centeredness.

Ego.

Sin!

The devil won that skirmish, which meant Jesus lost, but I was a loser too. Mom found out. I finally confessed under the pressure of guilt. It all came rushing out accompanied by hot tears of fear and regret. She understood. She’d lied before, too. She had a problem with food, too.

She found sugar hard to resist, too.

I think my mom felt worse for me than I did. She knew the path I was now on. Never again would there not be a battle raging somewhere within me. Jesus wouldn’t let go, and satan wouldn’t stop. Still, I’m grateful.

Grateful to God for loving me.

Grateful to Jesus for saving me.

Grateful to my mom for forgiving me.

Grateful to the Holy Spirit for continuing to work on me.

Grateful to Dorothy for being willing to share what she had with others.

Grateful for VBS!!!

VBS made a difference in this woman’s life as a child. Certainly, it makes a difference today. I am, because He is, within me. Sooo blessed!

Thank you, all you wonderful, amazing, selfless, sacrificing VBS workers, you! I am saved because you gave of yourself. My husband is saved. My children are saved. My daughter-in-law is saved. My grandsons are saved. Many of my friends are saved. My church family is saved. My boss is saved. All because one woman gave, and Jesus gave all. How amazing is that?!

I’ll shout it from the rooftops.  Thank you, Jesus!

What is your experience with VBS? Did you go? Do you work it? Are you saved for eternity?

If you don’t know Jesus, but you’d like to, contact me. I’m available to talk at churchoose@gmail.com

 

 

Pondering suffering

…God teaches men through suffering and uses distress to open their eyes. Job 36:15 TEV

No matter what you’re going through today… no matter the hoops you’re being asked to jump through…

The pitfalls.

The hurdles.

The raggedy edge of emotional cliffs.

God is still working. He’s still loving you, more than you can imagine. He’s still ruler and still in charge.

Believe it!

Trust Him!

He’s good, and even though I would prefer to learn through gentle nudging and tender mercies, I know that being tender with me when what I need is a stern presence, yeah, it’s not so helpful.

job

Sometimes I have to learn my lessons, as we say, “the hard way.” And although I hate to admit it, those hard lessons are the ones that have stuck with me over time. The Scriptures are right when they teach us that God uses suffering for good.

I have learned through suffering and distress!

I have also used what I’ve gleaned in the tough times to course correct for the future, for my good. But not for my good alone. Others have benefitted from those course corrections, too. They’ve been helped by the things I’ve learned, too.

God has used distress to open my eyes!

Today, it may be that God is using distress in your life, to open your eyes and shake things up in your life, or to point you to a conclusion you never would have seen had it not been for the pressure bearing down. Know this: It’s for your good that the pressure is being applied. It’s getting you where you need to go, and it’s fortifying you for the future. Every weight lifter, distance runner, or athlete of any kind will tell you it’s when the pressure is on that they’ve been stretched, strengthened, and able to build muscle.

What I’ve found most helpful in the suffering times is praise.

Praise turns things around.

Praise changes my perspective.

Praise gets my mind and heart in the position to receive from God.

Praise enlarges my territory and helps me see that for now suffering may be painful, but tomorrow I’ll be glad of it.

Today I’ve made a decision to be grateful through the hard. To be thankful for God with me, Immanuel. To be used by God to gift another with perspective. To realize that everything God does, he does for my good. He loves me, more than I love myself. I might not allow me to be touched by suffering or grief, had I my druther. God will allow it, because of how it changes me. How it molds me. How it shapes me. How it helps me be closer to Him and more holy.

Is it worth the trade-off in my life: suffering for glory? It is. Is it for you? You have to decide. Truth is, you won’t be able to keep suffering from you for all your life, so why not learn from it and be made like Jesus?

What are you thankful for today? How has gratitude and thankfulness brought you closer to God and made the tough times seem worthwhile?

 

 

psalm-119-97

What is your chief means of relaxation?

Is it golf?
Is it cooking?
Maybe it’s ironing.

Some people love the whoosh, whoosh of a hot iron moving across wrinkled fabric. It gives them a sense of wholeness and harmony knowing that at the end of their project they will have revitalized a piece of clothing that was near and dear to its otherwise crumpled owner’s heart.

Maybe you pray to sooth yourself or relax.
You might eat?
Some folks drink coffee, though that seems counter-intuitive to relaxation, unless it’s decaf.

Have you ever tried meditation?

Meditation is a way of quieting our minds, and ushering us into a better understanding of God’s mind: His decisions. His meaning in our experiences. His purpose in our trials.

The Bible has much to say about reflecting on God’s Word. Below, are just a few verses that speak about this practice of quieting our minds and practicing the much-needed art of sitting still and being consciously mindful of God. They are nutritious food for thought for those who have learned this art of patient reflection. For those who are still learning, they are a good place to start.

As you celebrate some quiet time with God today, read and consider these verses. Then, get quiet and think long on what God is saying to your heart in this rapidly changing, always noisy, hard-to-shut-down, busy world.

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Joshua 1:8 ESV

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14 ESV

…brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8 ESV

My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. Proverbs 4:20-22 ESV

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3 ESV

What does meditation buy for you, in the way of peace, serenity, and a better understanding of God?  How often do you meditate and pray?

Jealousy-800x533

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. John 6:44

How do people get drawn to the Lord? Have you ever wondered?

Is it a work of wonder only God can accomplish, or…
Is it something we partner with him to achieve?

The Holy Spirit dwelling in us, it seems to me we would be a part of the equation. Have you ever wondered?

Ezekiel 36:24-25 says that God will gather his people and bring them into their own land. Verse 25 says, “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean; from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.”

It’s evident from Scripture that redemption is the work of God.

He saves.
He cleanses.
He births.
He renews.
He redeems.

But we do have a part to play? I believe we do.

We testify.
We obey.
We mimic.
We surrender.
We teach, instruct, rebuke, and testify by example.

When we are serving rightly, I think others notice. When we are lax in our service, others notice. What that means for me is that we need to be on task as often as possible.

As often as possible!

We also need to remember that saving isn’t our gig.

Rejoicing in our own salvation—that’s where we shine—and that’s where we make walking with Jesus a living testimony for others to see and want for themselves.

As I think about how people come into the kingdom of God and my part in it—yours, too–I’m reminded of what the Apostle Paul wrote about jealousy.

“So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather, through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous.” Romans 11:11

It appear that more than one fellow has been drawn into the kingdom through jealousy. I suspect that number is many, many more than one.

Let’s make them jealous of our joy today. Let’s brag on Jesus all day long!

Was jealousy any part of your decision to follow Christ? When have you observed the faith, blessings, or intimacy with Jesus that another believer had and wanted it for yourself?

 

Contentment

Contentment: a state of happiness and satisfaction.

Resignation: the acceptance of something one believes undesirable but inevitable.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a minimalist. I jumped on the have-less band wagon in earnest a couple of years ago, but in my heart, I think I was always a “do more with less” kinda gal.

I like the beauty of bare bones living.

I’m content with such as I have regarding material things. What I’m not content with is a faith that is resigned to operating on less than it needs to thrive.

Joy comes in finding a connection with Jesus that makes the soul to soar and the spirit to sing!

What I’ve realized while pursuing a simpler life is that contentment and resignation are not the same. Contentment spawns a freedom and joy within me that is not afraid to attempt new adventures with God or occasionally shake things up. Resignation, on the other hand, is a spiteful thing. It surrenders to the lie that “this” is my lot in life, and it believes things will never change for me…never improve.

Resignation is angry, ugly, and forever playing the blame game. It’s devoid of hope for the future, and creates a false religion for itself that holds grudges against God. It refuses to live palms-up and grateful for the rich, real, and ridiculously reckless love it might otherwise enjoy with Jesus.

What has struck me lately is that every morning when I wake, I have the opportunity to be content where God has planted me, engaged and looking for new and better ways to live large where I am, while reaching out to others with a redemption message that can literally change their lives. My other options is to live scared and resigned to where I am, what I have, and nothing more.

Which lifestyle do you think I chose today? Which one will you choose?

 

 

 

Gratitude and Hot Coffee

“Don’t cry over spilt milk.”  –Every mother who ever dealt with a bawling baby

I don’t know about you, but I like to be appreciated. A pat on the back for a job well done every once in a while, yeah, it feels good. I’ve never been able to understand how people could expect others to go on tirelessly giving of themselves with nothing to show for it. I don’t think God thinks ingratitude is right.

There are hundreds of places in Scripture where we are taught to praise God for the things he provides in our lives: food, homes, families, safety, abundance, wisdom, mercy, jobs, cars, educations, vacations, promotions, motorcycles…the list could go on and on.

We are thankful, Lord, so thankful for Your blessings!

If God thinks gratitude and praise are worthwhile expenditures of our time, shouldn’t we think it, too? We should, but we get bogged down in all those other things that happen in this world and forget to praise.

Example: Today, I traveled through the drive-in at a local burger joint on my way to work, when the gal working the window handed me my medium-sized HOT coffee with the lid not completely buttoned down. I grabbed the cup, and hot liquid ran over my palm, across my wrist, down my arm and all over my vest and the inside of the car door.

At this juncture, I may, or may not have said a word that I’m not wont to use in public places.

Coffee-spill_B

In my defense, the coffee was hot!

In a moment of time—and I mean a split second of time–I decided to let go of that hot cup. Then I said the word (or didn’t say it–you decide what you’d have done and go from there), before dropping the cup on the pavement below. Did I mention it was hot?!!

The response of the young woman working the window this morning was to apologize, then ask the guy in back of her, “Can you finish up with this order?” He didn’t. Wouldn’t. Wasn’t willing, but that’s his story and I won’t tell it further. What I will say is that other than the word I said (or didn’t say, you decide), I said nothing.

I was burned.

I was angry.

I had already said (or not said), a word I don’t usually say, and I didn’t want to go further down that verbal rabbit hole. I remained silent, but I don’t think that helped the girl. She apologized again, while I cleaned up what I could of the mess that had been made when hot, hot, HOT coffee slid down my side.

After she apologized yet again, the girl poured me another hot cup of coffee. I didn’t think she was going to replace the first one for a moment, and her buddy was not helping, but finally she did. I don’t know how long it took for this injury and accident to transpire, but it seemed like a long, long time when I was going through it.

As I drove away from the burger joint, still angry, still burning (literally burning), all sorts of retribution went through my head:

I should stop and go in there and give her a piece of my mind, I thought.

I should go on-line when I get to work and get the phone number for the place and call and talk to the manager, and report her.

I should suggest they stop hiring school girls to do adult work.

I should make sure there is a paper trail for this, for when I must have a doctor bill paid.

Disclaimer: I was not mortally wounded in this attack of the coffee hotties, I was just miffed and frustrated that it happened to me and now my vest was covered with coffee stains and my wrist and hand were burning!

All of those things I thought to do…yeah, I didn’t do any of them. Instead, I made a conscious decision to extend grace. I thanked God that the burn was not worse. I thanked Him profusely for the fact that HOT coffee did not land in my lap, but only on my hand/arm. I prayed that I hadn’t ruined that girl’s day with my sour silence and that word that I may or may not have hissed when the black brew came spewing at me.

I bring in this topic of spilt coffee in a praise post to make the point that if we make our minds up to it, we can always, always, ALWAYS find something to be thankful for; always! And when we are thankful that things didn’t go worse for us, that we didn’t get hurt worse than we did, that we’re still alive and vital, and happily pursuing lives that are filled—hear me, FILLED–with blessings and purpose, then I think we ought to turn that thankfulness into recognition and praise.

I wasn’t thankful that some young gal spilled coffee all over me this morning, and I didn’t thank her for it, but maybe I should have. Maybe she saved me from a fatal car crash down the road by delaying me with a minor burn. Maybe she learned a valuable lesson, so that no one else will get burned by her again. Maybe that someone else who would have been burned was a baby, an infant, newly present in this world. I’m so thankful a baby didn’t get burned with hot coffee this morning.

I might have failed at gratitude and recognition in the moment when hot coffee was spilled on me this morning, but only moments later God reminded me that although something difficult and hurtful had happened to me today, I had the choice to remain thankful.

He teaches me so much, every day I walk with Him.

Today, if you happen upon someone who’s done a good job, or made life easier for you or someone you love, or has not spilled hot coffee on you, would you tell them how thankful you are for their service? Isn’t that love? Isn’t that gratitude? Isn’t that us following in Jesus’ footsteps? And if someone has spilled hot coffee on you, be grateful it wasn’t worse. It could always be worse. Trust me, I know.

We need to be grateful and be alert to those moments when we can be thankful. They are everywhere, for those who have eyes to see.

I will tell of the Lord’s unfailing love; I praise him for all he has done for us. He has richly blessed the people of Israel because of his mercy and constant love. Isaiah 63:7

Praise the Lord who has given his people peace, as he promised he would. 1 Kings 8:56

Praise the Lord, all people on earth, praise his glory and might. (1 Chronicles 16:28)

God is wise and powerful! Praise him forever and ever. (Daniel 2:20)

Sing to the LORD! Praise the LORD! He rescues the oppressed from the power of evil people. (Jeremiah 20:13)

Let us praise God for his glorious grace, for the free gift he gave us in his dear Son! (Ephesians 1:5)