Life is all about change. When you trust an unchanging God - you have the ability to embrace change and trust Him in the midst of it. Join me as the Lord leads me through a new phase of my journey.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thankful Thursday - The Apple of His Eye

I don't know about you - but I am truly overwhelmed when I think about how Almighty God loves me in a personal way.  It is mind boggling!  I was reading in Zechariah 2 this week and in verse 8, it says, "for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye."  

To be the apple of ones' eye is to be their most cherished possession - their greatest love.  God thinks of me like that?  Really?  YES, really! 

There are numerous applications here.  There is certainly great comfort in knowing that I am so beloved by my Father.  It is incredible to know that I am loved so personally that when someone injures me in some way, God is injured also.  

He takes it very personally.  

He has my back.

It is also a warning to me.  All of His children are precious to Him - the apple of His eye.  So - when I am careless with my words or tempted to judge another, I am injuring one of His treasures.  I am ashamed to admit it - but I wound with my thoughts and my words much too often.

So - what does it mean in my life to be "the apple of His eye"?  It means that I can rest in His love and then freely give love to others.  It means than even when the world knocks me down, I know that God Himself is my biggest fan.  It means that when I feel low or question my value - that question has really already been answered by the One Whose opinion counts the most.

So - today - even with my faults and struggles, I am thankful that I am the apple of the Lord's eye - His precious treasure - His valued child. 

When it is all said and done . . . 

that will be more than enough.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Monday Musings - Leaving Everything

I love reading a very familiar story and seeing it in just a little different light.  This week, I was reading Luke 5. 

One day the people were crowding closely round Jesus to hear God’s message, as he stood on the shore of Lake Gennesaret. Jesus noticed two boats drawn up on the beach, for the fishermen had left them there while they were cleaning their nets. He went aboard one of the boats, which belonged to Simon, and asked him to push out a little from the shore. Then he sat down and continued his teaching of the crowds from the boat.  When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Push out now into deep water and let down your nets for a catch.”   Simon replied, “Master! We’ve worked all night and never caught a thing, but if you say so, I’ll let the nets down.”  And when they had done this, they caught an enormous shoal of fish—so big that the nets began to tear. So they signalled to their friends in the other boats to come and help them. They came and filled both the boats to sinking point. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell on his knees before Jesus and said, “Keep away from me, Lord, for I’m only a sinful man!”
For he and his companions (including Zebedee’s sons, James and John, Simon’s partners) were staggered at the haul of fish that they had made. Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid, Simon. From now on your catch will be men.”
 So they brought the boats ashore, left everything and followed him. 

It must have been a long night of fishing without a thing to show for it.  Then, as they are cleaning their nets, Jesus asks if he can borrow their boat.  I'm sure they heard some of his teaching as they were cleaning the nets.  Perhaps they were curious - or perhaps they were hanging on every word.  Then, Jesus tells them to go out to the deep water.  As professional fishermen, they might have been a little annoyed at this suggestion.  After all, they had been fishing all night!   But, there was something about Jesus that made them give it a try.  Their reward was seeing an amazing miracle - the biggest haul of fish they had ever had.  Peter is immediately humbled as he realizes that this Jesus is more than he could have imagined.  I can only guess what kind of draw Jesus had as God embodied in man.  But even with that said, the next line is what amazes me.  After witnessing this miracle and having their greatest business success to date . . . they leave everything and follow Jesus.

So - I began to think about what that means to me.  

What does it mean in my life to drop my nets?   

A year ago, that meant leaving behind my family and friends and moving to Chicago.  It meant leaving the comfort of my church and finding the ministry that the Lord had for me in this new place.  But it is now a year later and I must ask myself again - what nets do I need to drop?  I do believe there are some next steps I need to take in some friendships where I have spent the past year building relationship and trust.  I think that other changes and challenges will come my way - and I must be willing to let go of the familiar and step into the unknown.

Am I willing to leave my "earthly" successes behind to pursue Jesus?

Am I drawn to Jesus more than to anything or anyone else?

Do I long to be a fisher of men?

Can I ask you those same questions?  What does it mean in your life to drop your nets?  Are you willing to leave your "earthly" successes behind to pursue Jesus?  Are you drawn to Jesus more than to anything or anyone else?  Do you long to be a fisher of men?

I know a lot of people who have said yes to each one of these questions and I admire them tremendously.  Some of them are caring for orphans in China - some adopting children - some ministering in foreign countries where sharing the gospel is dangerous.  Some are teaching school and some are out there in the business world.  Everyone's journey is different.  Everyone's nets of security are different.  Lord Jesus - please give me the heart of a disciple.  Give me a heart to love with abandon.  Make me a fisher of men.  

Dear Jesus - help me drop my nets and follow you 
without reservation.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Thankful Friday :-) - A Sure Foundation

So - I think I'm going to be running at least a day behind in my life from now on!  It has been a super busy week - but one filled with great opportunities and wonderful people.  Hard to beat that!  I was reading in Luke 6 - and when I came across these verses - I found myself being very thankful.  I enjoyed The Message translation. 
The Message (MSG)
Luke 6:47-49
"Why are you so polite with me, always saying 'Yes, sir,' and 'That's right, sir,' but never doing a thing I tell you? These words I speak to you are not mere additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundation words, words to build a life on.
"If you work the words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who dug deep and laid the foundation of his house on bedrock. When the river burst its banks and crashed against the house, nothing could shake it; it was built to last. But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don't work them into your life, you are like a dumb carpenter who built a house but skipped the foundation. When the swollen river came crashing in, it collapsed like a house of cards. It was a total loss." 

It is all about the foundation!  A beautiful house, like a beautiful life - has to be built on a solid foundation or it will not stand up to the storms that come its way. We all know that something can look great on the outside and not have the infrastructure to stand up to adversity on the inside.  We have all seen lives, churches, beautiful buildings and companies that look so good on the outside and yet when something really tough comes their way, they crumble.   I have seen some people go through things that I personally can not even imagine - and yet come out of those times with amazing faith and strength.  How can they do that?  

These verses tell us that our lives must be built on Jesus - our Savior - and on His Word.  They are "foundation words - words to build a life on."  What a serious warning that if we treat God's Word - whether it is words we hear someone speak or words that we study - as life improvements or simply nice ideas - we are building our life on the sand.  It simply won't stand up to the test, trials and struggles that will inevitably come our way.  

When I see how ever changing my life is - how people move in and move away - how plans change - how jobs come and go - how new people enter our lives and others exit - I am so very thankful that I have the solid foundation of Jesus in my life.  He must be Everything to me.  He must be Enough.  He must be central to everything in my life.  

There is an old hymn that says it quite well.  Enjoy these words - let them wash over you and rest in Jesus - our Sure Foundation. 

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.
His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.
When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday Musings - Dry Bones

With all this reading through Ezekiel - I was so looking forward to getting to chapter 37 - because it is one of my all time favorite Bible stories.  Ezekiel is taken by the Lord to a valley full of dry bones (popular travel destination - no doubt!)  Ezekiel observes that there are a lot of bones and that they are very dry (let's say good and dead). Here is what happens.

3 He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?"
    I said, "Master God, only you know that."
 4 He said to me, "Prophesy over these bones: 'Dry bones, listen to the Message of God!'"
 5-6 God, the Master, told the dry bones, "Watch this: I'm bringing the breath of life to you and you'll come to life. I'll attach sinews to you, put meat on your bones, cover you with skin, and breathe life into you. You'll come alive and you'll realize that I am God!"
 7-8 I prophesied just as I'd been commanded. As I prophesied, there was a sound and, oh, rustling! The bones moved and came together, bone to bone. I kept watching. Sinews formed, then muscles on the bones, then skin stretched over them. But they had no breath in them.
 9 He said to me, "Prophesy to the breath. Prophesy, son of man. Tell the breath, 'God, the Master, says, Come from the four winds. Come, breath. Breathe on these slain bodies. Breathe life!'"
 10 So I prophesied, just as he commanded me. The breath entered them and they came alive! They stood up on their feet, a huge army.

In the NASB - it says - Oh dry bones - hear the word of the Lord! and when the bones come together it says that they rattled.  I mean, rustling is a perfectly good word, but rattling really tells me what that must have sounded like.   Can you even imagine witnessing this amazing sight?  Dead bones - all over the ground - completely coming to life.  It is God's Word - His Spirit that brings them to life.

So - what does this have to do with us?  I know I have plenty of flesh on my bones!  The truth of this passage is that even what appears to be dead - I mean DEAD to the point of decaying with only bones left - is not beyond God's ability to bring to life.  This is one of my favorite pictures of just how Mighty my God is - bringing what is dead, back to life.

If you are reading this, obviously, you are not dead :-)  But, physical life is not all we are after.  You can be walking and breathing and still truly be a pile of dead bones laying on the ground.  If you haven't decided to believe in Jesus and in His mighty power to save and give you eternal life - then you are a pile of dead bones (no offense - it is just the truth!)  If you have Jesus as your Savior - you can certainly go through times when you feel like a pile of dry bones. 

Maybe you have thought about believing in Jesus and giving your life to Him - but you are a little hesitant to give up your dry bones.

Maybe it is just a time of spiritual dryness - you just don't feel anything.

Maybe it is just a particular area of your life where you are just dry bone disobedient.

Maybe you are just struggling or hurting in an area of your life and that feels like dry bones.

Perhaps you are experiencing the dry bones of discouragement, fear or frustration.

The good news is - even dry, decaying, dead bones are not beyond the Lord's touch.  He is is the business of bringing dead bones to life. 

Are you laying lifeless in a valley right now?  
Do you know others who are?  

One of the funny things about our dry, dead bones is that we grow to be pretty comfortable with them. Perhaps you have given up hope that new life could be breathed into your dry bones.  

Do not lose hope.

What is that I hear?  Rattling? 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thankful Thursday - Psalm 145

My bible reading this morning included Psalm 145 and couldn't think of a better way to honor the Lord with thanksgiving this morning.  Here it is - take a moment to read through it and then look at all the things that we have to be thankful for!

1 I will extol You, my God, O King,
And I will bless Your name forever and ever.
2 Every day I will bless You,
And I will praise Your name forever and ever.
3 Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised,
And His greatness is unsearchable.
4 One generation shall praise Your works to another,
And shall declare Your mighty acts.
5 On the glorious splendor of Your majesty
And on Your wonderful works, I will meditate.
6 Men shall speak of the power of Your awesome acts,
And I will tell of Your greatness.
7 They shall eagerly utter the memory of Your abundant goodness
And will shout joyfully of Your righteousness.
 8 The LORD is gracious and merciful;
Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness.
9 The LORD is good to all,
And His mercies are over all His works.
10 All Your works shall give thanks to You, O LORD,
And Your godly ones shall bless You.
11 They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom and talk of Your power;
12 To make known to the sons of men Your mighty acts
And the glory of the majesty of]Your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
And Your dominion endures throughout all generations.
 14 The LORD sustains all who fall
And raises up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to You,
And You give them their food in due time.
16 You open Your hand
And satisfy the desire of every living thing.
 17 The LORD is righteous in all His ways
And kind in all His deeds.
18 The LORD is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth.
19 He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him;
He will also hear their cry and will save them.
20 The LORD keeps all who love Him,
But all the wicked He will destroy.
21 My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD,
And all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever.

So - here is my list of all the things in this passage that I have to be thankful for:
God's Greatness
God's Mighty Acts
The Splendor of His Majesty
His Wonderful Works and Awesome Acts
His Abundant Goodness
His Righteousness
His Gracious, Merciful Lovingkindness
His Power
He Sustains Me
He Nourishes Me
He Restores Me
He Satisfies Me
He is Righteous, Kind and He is Near
He Fulfills My Desires
He Saves Me
He Keeps Me

Verse 21 says, "My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord."  When you look over that list, it is not hard to imagine why!  I am not a "pollyanna", although I am optimistic.  I do see the needs, hurts and injustices around me.  I feel the pain of those who are lost and searching.  It would be easy to lose hope . . . but then I am reminded of God's character, His power and His desire to be my Father.  I have experienced Him being every one of the things listed in this Psalm.  He has performed mighty acts on my behalf.  I have been a witness to His greatness and the splendor of His majesty.  I have experienced His abundant goodness and been touched by His Righteousness.  He has been gracious, merciful and lovingly kind to me.  He sustains me, nourishes me, satisfies me and oh, how He has restored me.  I have known Him to be Righteous, Kind and so very Near.  He fulfills all my desires.  He has saved me and He promises to keep me for eternity.  

Now - that is something to be thankful for!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday Musings - Home

Home - such an interesting word.  It is a noun describing a place or is it more of a feeling. 

We have all said at one time or another - 

This just feels like home.  
She just makes me feel at home. 

So, what is it?  At this time, I am living in my 10th house, in my 5th state in 29 years.  You can imagine that the definition of home has changed over the years.  In fact, I often refer to a hotel room or some place else I am staying as "home."  So here is what I have learned about home.

*Home is wherever Alan and I are together.  Sometimes it is a place and other times it is a feeling.  I can feel at home walking down the street with Alan.

*Home is where my children are.  There is nothing like having the 4 of us - and now the 6 of us together.  That is home.

*Home is where my parents are.   There is something so sweet about going home to my Mom and Dad.  I feel safe and loved - cared for and peaceful.  It is just a really nice place to be!

*Home is where I can relax and be myself.  That may be at my own house, the house of a friend or even some random place surrounded by people I love.

As you can see - home is rather a broad term.  

After thinking about it a bit - I decided that really and truly - Jesus is my HOME.  I think this truth allows me to move around, be in new situations and start over again and again because my true home is in the person of Jesus.

We are told that we are aliens and strangers here on this earth.  Our true home is in heaven.  When it comes right down to it, Jesus is the only true home that I have and that will never change.  When it is all said and done - I will meet my Savior face to face and He will say to me . . .

Welcome Home

Monday, September 5, 2011

Monday Musings - It's All God

You know how when things are going along pretty well - we can forget that everything is about God.  Colossians 1:17 says ~

He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

I'm in the book of Ezekiel right now and I was really struck by chapter 17, verse 24.  

All the trees of the field will know that I am the Lord; I bring down the high tree and exalt the low tree, dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish.  I am the Lord; I have spoken and I will perform it.

Just in case I had forgotten that God is Sovereign - just in case I had forgotten that He can do anything that He wants to do -- this was a good reminder.  It is all God.  God's standards - what He values - the way He works - it really is beyond our comprehension.  His ways don't have to follow the laws of nature or the laws of economics or anyone's social agenda.  He is above it ALL.  His ways may not make sense to the human way of thinking - in fact - they probably won't.  


Probably my favorite image in that verse is "make the dry tree flourish."  What we see as hopeless or dismal, really beyond help or seemingly impossible - God does not see that way.  Here is the amazing news in this passage:

God can completely change the course of anything.  

He can make what appears to be dead - come ALIVE.

I'm thinking of 3 young adults that I know that are far, far away from the Lord right now.  THIS IS NOT TOO HARD FOR GOD.  They may appear to be spiritually dead or at the very least, spiritually anemic - but My God can bring back what is dry and make it flourish.  I'm thinking of a friend with a seemingly impossible task of funding an orphanage each month - THIS IS NOT TOO HARD FOR GOD.  When funds appear to by dry - they will flourish  I'm thinking of several women I know with broken hearts.  THIS IS NOT TOO HARD FOR GOD. Those dry and brittle hearts will heal and flourish. 

Where are you feeling hopeless?  Where is there no life where you long for there to be life?  Are you frustrated or discouraged?  You have a God who is in the business of bringing that which is dead, back to life.  You can trust Him to take the dry tree and make it flourish.  Be encouraged.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Thankful Thursday - Colorado

When I am here in the mountains - it is so easy to see the Lord all around me.  Today, I am thankful for this time to reflect, read, pray and just enjoy God's creation.  It is also a good reminder that He is just as present in the city as He is in the mountains - so wherever you find yourself today - pause, praise, pray and ponder.  Here is some of the beauty I have been surrounded by this trip.

4 mile creek hike

This reminds me of an old western - can't you just see the Indians lined upon the ridge!?!

There are two waterfalls on this hike.  Stunning.

We saw this incredible rainbow close to our house on the way home.

Quincy loves the mountains!

I got to stop by and see my friend from Chicago, Marifran, at her Colorado place.
Alan doing what he loves most - fly fishing!

The 4 mile hike is a crazy, pretty difficult hike.  We hiked all 4 miles back in hail and then pouring down rain!  Boy - the car never looked so good!  Life is always an adventure! 

Remember - pause, praise, pray and ponder!