Thursday, July 21, 2011

Do you have the Giggles or the Niggles?

Recently, during a conversation with my Sister, she told me the Lord had gotten rid of all her "niggles". Rather than confess I didn't know what that meant, I headed straight for my Webster's College Dictionary. The word "niggle" means: 1. to spend too much time and effort on inconsequential details, trifle. 2. to criticize in a peevish (cross) way. As usual, many things began to run though my mind, first being the title of this post. There is a little book out about "not sweating the small stuff". I think we spend a lot of time doing just that, "sweating the small stuff" which in turn makes us critical and just plain cranky! There are plenty of BIG things to get our attention. Jesus, in His Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6:34, tells us that each day will have it's own troubles so don't add to it (my paraphrase). We can quibble daily over many things that would distract us from our walk of gentleness, faithfulness, love, patience, peace, joy, kindness, goodness and self-control. This conversation with my sister was so significant because a couple of days earlier, she was released from an extended stay in the hospital. She had suffered from a very serious, life-threatening infection. There had been many hours of prayer and concern invested during this time. When things like this happen that are basically life changing experiences, it causes you to reassess. I have written often regarding the Joy of the Lord being our Strength. So, in the same way the Lord can turn our Mourning into Dancing, He can turn our Niggles into Giggles! Instead of being so picky and anxious over things of little consequence, we can let them run off us like water off a duck's back. Prioritizing life's issues by importance and crossing off the things that are inconsequential will bring an abundance of freedom and joy. More time will be available to concentrate on the important things like nurturing relationships with those we love and expanding our borders of creativity. I'm trying to think of a better way to end this. But, then, perhaps I would just be "niggling". Until next time, keep "giggling".

Monday, June 13, 2011

Joy Filled Water

Haven’t we been told for years to drink 8-8 ounce glasses of water a day to stay healthy? Have you ever tried that? Every day? Well, it isn’t that easy! I always wondered how they got that equation as a blanket rule. I personally don’t agree that a 107 pound person and a 250 pound person should drink the same amount of water a day. Nevertheless, water is crucial for our health and survival. Too much water or too little water has been known to throw off the balance of our system. There is water, however, of which we can never drink too much. Isaiah 12 is a beautiful messianic hymn of praise for the glorious hope of our salvation! Verse 3: “Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” Jesus told the woman at the well in John Chapter 4 “…whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” It would be nice if we could go through this life with uninterrupted rejoicing. The Fountainhead we drink from neither freezes up, dries up nor becomes blocked. In Romans 12:15, the Word of God exhorts us to: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.” Some people seem to be able to stay right there at that source of joy, drinking continuously, in spite of what the consequences of this life bring about. Others appear to be forever “weeping” over this or that tragedy that has come their way. The word “rejoice” in this scripture is directed toward “learning of the well-being of others.” Weeping, in the same verse, has to do with “grieving or mourning as for a death.” James 5:13 states, “Is any among you sick? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praises.” In my quest to continually be “real”, I have learned that honesty is the best policy. I can’t fake it, formulate it or forge it! If I am sick, weak, depressed, sad, suffering, cast down or perplexed, I am sick, weak, depressed, sad, suffering cast down or perplexed. The word for “pray” in the above scripture means to offer thanksgiving as I call upon the Lord in my day of trouble. If none of us had a “day of trouble” we would never need to call upon the Lord! The reason we can do it with thanksgiving is because deep down, where that water flows, we know the TRUTH. We know God is in control; that he loves us; that all things work for the good of those who love him; that he will never leave us; that his love is great in and through us. It just happens to be our turn for “weeping”. So, we pray and do what Jude, the brother of Jesus said and build ourselves up in the faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Then before we know it, we are fulfilling the second half of that James Scripture and singing praises in the fellowship of Believers, Colossians 3:16 and building them up. Psalm 30: Joy always comes in the morning! As we go through these cycles of Rejoicing and Weeping, we are becoming more and more deeply rooted and grounded in His love and being filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19. Now, back to weeping and rejoicing with ONE ANOTHER. In the Book of John, Chapter 11, we read of the death of Lazarus. There were many mourners, wailing and expressing their pain and sorrow. Verse 35 tells us that Jesus wept. Why did he weep? Verse 33 tells us that when Jesus saw Mary, Lazarus’s sister weeping and the Jews weeping, he “groaned in the spirit and was troubled”. The Jews observed Jesus weeping and thought he was doing so because of his great love for Lazarus. I believe he was weeping for another reason. He knew the TRUTH that Lazarus was going to rise from the dead. I am of the opinion he was so moved by compassion because of Mary’s pain and the pain of the others that he was heartbroken for them and the tears flowed freely. We are told to love each other deeply. It is that kind of love that moves us as Psalm 34:18 expresses, “He is near to the broken hearted…”
My original plan for this post was to talk about our dreams and the fact that God never forgets our dreams even when we do and that our dreams have no expiration date. I have been rejoicing with my oldest daughter because she recently had a once forgotten dream fulfilled to become a Baker. It has been a joy to watch the details fall into place and know there are assuredly more pieces to the puzzle. Then my thoughts went to all the people who have recently lost their entire life’s possessions to tornado’s, floods, hurricanes, tsunamis or earthquakes. How can I say to them, “God never forgets your dreams” when every possible, visible “seed” for the growth of that dream has become non-existent? God is still the same. His Truth never becomes a lie. He will, in fact, “perfect that which concerns them”, Psalm 138. “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus”, Philippians 1:6. There are some, in the midst of these disasters, who are able to rejoice “in the Lord” and proclaim his goodness and grace with thanksgiving. Rejoice with those. There are others who can do no more than weep in pain and agony in the depth of their suffering. Weep with them. Come along side and weep with them as you pray that they take hold of the strength to tap into the Fountainhead of Living Water and drink and drink until they are able to come once again or for the first time to joyfully draw water from the deep, quenching, sweet, clear as crystal, life giving Wells of Salvation!
God, you are faithful whether we are weeping or rejoicing. You are the same Yesterday, Today and Forever (Hebrews 13:8). Thank you for being that Fountain of Living Water. John 7:37 & 38, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.” I am thirsty Lord! Fill my cup!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

I've Lost the Lord!

Have you ever been going about your business and realize your wallet is no longer in your pocket or you've left your purse in a cart in the parking lot of the local grocery store. There aren't many words to describe the nauseating lump that forms in your throat much less the incessant pounding inside your chest making your heart feel as if it would explode at any moment. Those feelings are all mild compared to what happens within you when you turn around and cannot find your child. Emotions arise from within because we think we have lost something of great value. What joy and sweet relief washes over you when you go to that lost and found or drive back to the lot to find that item right where you left it. Your emotions are mingled with warm tears as you discover your child was hiding in the rack of clothing just a few feet away from where you were at the brink of panic. Think about how Mary Magdalene felt that RESURRECTION MORNING when she went to the tomb and the body of her Lord was missing from it's place. She had seen him crucified and knew he had been buried and the stone rolled in front of the tomb. Now that same stone was rolled away and the Lord had been taken and they didn't know where. The disciples still did not understand that Jesus had to rise from the dead. Mary remained at the tomb after the other disciples left and she wept. She spoke to two angels in white inside the tomb answering their question as to why she was crying, "They have taken my Lord and I don't know where they have put him." How heartbroken and confused she must have been, feelings of hopelessness and sadness washing over her. Then she saw Jesus but thought he was the gardener. She said, "Tell me where you have put him and I will go get him." At that point, Jesus spoke her name, "Mary" and miraculously her spiritual eyes were opened. She cried out, "Rabboni!" (One of Value!) This cry of her heart was so much more than this one word could contain. She had found her Lord, the object of her love, her trust, her source of life. She had found the One she had followed through the dusty countryside; the One who had delivered her from demons; the One who was the Way, the Truth and the Life. He was not lost from her, he was found! Everything he had ever spoken to her was real. She ran to tell the others, "I have seen the Lord!" On Easter, we who understand what the early disciples finally came to realize, celebrate the RESURRECTION of our Lord Jesus Christ and exult in the fact that "He is Risen as He said!" And through that RESURRECTION we have been raised to new life and that life is everlasting. Death had no victory over Jesus Christ, Savior, Son of God and death has no victory over Us who Believe, Joint Heirs with Christ, Children of the the Most High God! Happy Easter to you all! He has Risen Indeed!

(This Gospel account was taken from the Book of John, Chapter 20)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

How can we Rejoice?

The Apostle Paul told us in Philippians chapter 4 verse 4, to "Rejoice in the Lord always". He even said it twice, "Again, I say rejoice!" Rejoicing had become something of great value to Paul. I believe he had a depth of understanding that we sometimes struggle to grasp. I have asked myself as of late, why I haven't cried more over the disaster in Japan. Then, I turn around and read a blog post from a family that just lost a young 13 year old boy in an accident and my heart is broken in intercession. As for Paul, he was beaten, imprisoned, shipwrecked, viper bitten and let's not forget that infamous "thorn in the flesh" he asked to be delivered of but never was. This is the same man who is telling us to "rejoice" always. Rejoicing can be nothing more that a heart attitude developed out of relationship and a firm trust that the object of that relationship, Jesus Christ, is true to His Word. If he said it, we can believe it. We rejoice because we believe that He has, in fact, ushered in the way of eternal life for us and that after we leave this fleshly tent of a body behind, we will put on a new, spiritual body and live forever where there are no "earthquakes" or "wars and rumors of wars". There will be nothing but perfection; Eternal existence without the presence of sin or it's consequences. Therefore, we can be confident of the Holy Spirit's desire and ability to lead our spirits as he will. We can give ourselves permission to abide in a place of spiritual reality and accept that we can rejoice and live life to the fullest and at the same time intercede and minister as He leads. We are not cold and unfeeling because we do not respond to every tragedy with the fervency we believe it deserves. We do not rejoice in the sufferings of others, but we do rejoice in the knowledge that this life is not the end. It is only the beginning to prepare us for the most amazing adventure we are unable comprehend with our finite minds, but only glimpse during those times of incredible connection when "the Spirit bears witness with our spirits that we are (in fact) the children of God." Romans 8:16. We are children eternally, bought with the precious Blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ. In that is the rejoicing. So let us REJOICE: Celebrate, joy, triumph, delight, be overjoyed, jump for joy, exult, make merry, revel, for this is not the end but only the beginning. Romans 12:12, "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer."
Lord, we commit our will and our way to you in the power and strength only you can give. Amen!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Not a Property Owner

I had such a great time at church last Sunday! Everything was great. The singing, the message, the fellowship. Amongst it all, one thing grabbed my soul and spirit in that special way you can all relate to. It was when Ed gave a snippet of what could develop into an incredible message of peace and freedom. He said, "I am a steward, not a property owner". Wow! That hit me with a ton of elation. I am sure it was a Spiritual Revelation. I began to think of all the things in life that I take ownership in that don't belong to me at all. My husband, my children, my car, my home, my pets, my clothing, my shoes, my food, my money, my talents, my abilities; none of these belong to me. You notice it is hard to get away from the word "my"? We are so used to grabbing and holding things. Along with that comes all the weight of responsibility to fix, heal, maintain, understand to the fullest, keep the peace, pick up the pieces, referee, mend, have the right answers, be successful, never fail. The list goes on and on. Yes, all those possessions are in your arena of life and you do have a responsibility toward them. However, there is a huge difference between Stewardship and Ownership. I Timothy 6:7 "For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out." God, our Father is the true owner of everything! We, ourselves, are bought and paid for by the precious Blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ! Out of God's goodness and grace, he has given us everything we need to exist in this place. He is the Owner and we are the Stewards, the caretakers, the managers. On a train, ship or plane, a steward is responsible for the comfort of the passengers. In the U.S. Navy, a steward or Petty Officer is responsible for the Officer's quarters and the mess or kitchen. "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and they that dwell therein." Psalm 24:1 He is so gracious that he makes us feel like things belong to us. We have the freedom to do as we choose with all these. Bottom line, it is all God's. An example of this and I have experienced it personally, is renting a home. The home is so beautiful. You love it. On top of that, the owners tell you that you can do what you like to make the home really yours. Choose paint colors, wallpaper, carpet, etc. They only ask that you maintain it properly and let them know immediately of anything that breaks so they can make sure it is fixed properly. So, there you are, all comfy in your custom home and you get a phone call. The owner informs you that he/she has decided to sell the house. You really come to know it is not "your" home when realtors and potential buyers come trekking through each room giving their opinions on what they would change or do differently. Well, if you haven't noticed, most of life is like that. You change over the years. Your spouse changes. Your children leave home. Your clothes wear out or just plain don't fit anymore. Your car gets wrecked or stops running. You get laid off your job and have to get a new one. Yikes! Turmoil strikes. The truth of the matter is: Everything belongs to the Lord, even YOU and he can do as he pleases with you and that which concerns you. Yes, his gifts are great and we can have many blessings in this place. He also told us we would have troubles but not to worry because he has overcome the world and we can be overcomers as well. Isaiah 32:17 "And the effect of righteousness will be peace and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever." The key is righteousness, His Righteousness which allows us to be in right standing with God and to be Justified (just as if we'd never sinned). Those are the things of continuous peace in our lives. Jesus said "My peace I leave you." The things of the Kingdom of God are: Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Spirit. Those things are constants. The things in the world will change. They are not constant. Since our Father God is the owner of all the things we have been given to enjoy, we take special care to do our best. It is up to the Owner what ultimately happens. Isaiah says, as we walk in righteousness, we will walk in peace and quietness. We will trust the Lord not only in what seems to be positive circumstances, but in those things we deem as negative and have trouble understanding the reasons. We walk in the knowledge that we are laying up treasures in Heaven as we live our life in harmony with him. Let us take hold of the grace and sufficiency to walk in that restful place of inner trust as we carefully handle all the many gifts he has given us for life as we await that trumpet call and are ushered into a new dwelling place for the rest of Eternity. Have a victorious 2011!