Monthly Archives: May 2012

Putting Words in My Mouth

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I love May in the South!!  The warm Southern breeze usually sails in sometime in the early afternoon hours, just in time to cool the day off from the noon heat.  As luck would have it, I had a moment of free time to enjoy this airy sensation while going back to work from a late lunch.  As I paused to fully take in the moment, I overheard a woman talking on her cell phone.  I did not have to try too hard to hear what she was saying, and I would not really work hard to eavesdrop – unless it involved a birthday present for me….lol!  It was clearly evident to me, judging by the volume of her retort to whoever was on the receiving end of her conversation, that she was irritated to the point of exasperation.  In one final, breathless gasp, before disconnecting her call, she bellowed, “I wish you would just stop putting words in my mouth!”  Wow!  This sentence pushed my thoughts in a completely different direction than I’m sure she intended.  What if God could put His words into my mouth?  I could certainly save myself a lot of grief and trouble.  I might be more encouraging and less likely to tear down others.  What would it take for this to happen?

How delightful that God has put his words in my mouth.” ~ Psalm 119:3

How blessed we are that God always provides for us long before we ever think or need to ask Him for help.  He has always had a plan for our lives!  These plans for our success have been in place since before the beginning of time.  Not only did He start compiling His words of truth and guidance in written form, in the very language that we speak every day so that we could understand and relate to them, He also gave us His Spirit to direct our thoughts and actions.

I am free to do anything I want to do.  I can listen to anything that I want to hear as well as watch anything that I want to watch.  Although I have the Holy Spirit inside to guide my actions, words and thoughts, I do not have to listen to Him if I choose not to pay attention to what He says.  God gives all people free reign to make their own choices.  If I choose to watch Barney or Sesame Street all day, it won’t take long before I might be caught singing nursery rhymes or skipping.  If I choose to watch karate or kung-foo action shows, I might easily start kicking and chopping.  We are products of our environment.  It does not take much reasoning to follow this line of thinking and connect it to training for successful living.  If I choose to fill my mind with God’s words then I will be more likely to speak and act in the way He wants.

Over 2000 years ago, David wrote in Psalm 119:11, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against You.   This is the secret to success, written for my eyes many centuries ago!  If I want God to put His words in my mouth then I might want to know His words.  In the same way that I would practice any other hobby or vocation, I must practice being a Christian in order to become the best that I can be.  In my efforts to make every moment count and to really know Christ, I am going to challenge myself (and you!) to “HIDE GOD’S WORD IN MY HEART”!  Feel free to post ways that you are actively trying to do this.  (I write verses on index cards to keep in my car and pull out while waiting in a parking lot or on errands – repetitive reading helps me remember).

I have put My words in your mouth and hidden you safely in My hand.” ~ Isaiah 51:16
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You Can’t Outrun the Long Arm of the Lord

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The phrase “Long Arm of the Law” dredges up Marshall Matt Dillon from the ‘Gunsmoke’, Cowboys and Indians and gun fights in the streets of the Wild West.  Wherever the bad guys were (always dressed in black), you were sure to see Marshall Dillon show up to save the day.  The good guys always win, right?  Hi Ho Silver, awaaaay!  Even the Lone Ranger rode in on a white horse to make sure that good prevailed and bad was punished.  The cries of the poor, needy and down-trodden were heard three states away and drew the masked man to come save the day.  Unfortunately, all of this only took place on a Hollywood set for the entertainment of television viewers.  Real life is not fair.  The good don’t always prevail.  The cries of the poor and needy are not heard….or are they?

Psalm 33:18 “But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love” ~NIV

God never sleeps and never tires of reaching out to help those who cry out to Him.  Just like a parent who rushes when they hear their child crying, He is there to help – if only we call on Him.  When my children where little, they sometimes worried that I might not hear them if they cried in the night.  I reassured them that I could sleep through an earthquake, but should they need me, I was awake and alert.  God is better than that because he doesn’t even rest from searching for those who might need Him.

Psalm 139:1-18

1 You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; 
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways. 
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely. 
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, 
    too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me, 
    your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being; 
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful, 
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God! 
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them, 
    they would outnumber the grains of sand —
    when I awake, I am still with you.

This is one of my favorite passages from the Bible!  Where can I possibly go that God can’t find me?  According to these words written by David, there is no where on heaven or earth that He is not already there.  Sometimes I may not want Him to see me because I am ashamed of my actions or I have traveled away from Him, but He will not let me go!  His love for me is so strong that no matter how far I try to run or the dark places that I may try to hide myself in from Him, His eyes are watching.  I am sure you are familiar with the game of Hide and Seek.  Who as a child has not played this favorite game?  I used to have the best hiding places.  One of my favorite things to do was to sneak into the dining room and squeeze myself into one of the side doors in the serving buffet.  I have no idea how I was able to fit into such a small place, but nevertheless I did.  No one could find me in that spot.  I would sit there in silence waiting, but no one would come.  Even in that dark hiding place, I was not alone, for God was there with me.  It is impossible to hide from Him.  In good or bad, He is there.  He rejoices in our happiness and triumphs but he is there to hold us and heal us in our hurts and sorrow.  His presence is not dependent upon our good behavior, thankfully, but is a gift to us because He loves and cares for us.

“Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.” 1 Peter 5:7  ~AMP

Are you lonely, tired or hurt?  Are you excited with good news?  Look to your Heavenly Father, for he waits anxiously for you to call Him.  He is always there!

 

Full Access

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I have a key card or an “access card” that allows me to enter my office building, parking lot and restricted areas.  Without this card I am unable to access these sites.  I become  a person non-grata without my access card.  I can knock as long and and as loud as I want and I will not be able to enter.  I can sit at the gate to the parking lot but never gain access without my access card.  If I forget to bring it with me at any point, I am out of luck.

Aren’t you glad that we have Open Access to our Heavenly Father any time and all the time!  We are privileged to be able to go into His presence for any reason and He encourages us to do so.  We do not need a special key card that we have to carry and present in order to gain His attention.  We have only to believe that His son, Jesus, paid the price required as the penalty for sins by taking our place and dying on the cross.  This gift did not end there or Jesus would have been just like any other person on earth who died and was buried.  Three days after His death, He rose from the grave forever canceling the death penalty required for our sin.  This gave us Open Access as well.

Ephesians 3:12 “In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” ~NIV

In the beginning of the Israelite history, as documented both in the Old and New Testament, only the High Priest would be allowed to speak with God directly in His presence.  The priest could enter into the Holy of Holies inside the Temple in Jerusalem where God resided inside the Ark of the Covenant.  He could do this only once a year.  The Holy of Holies area was separated from the rest of the temple by a veil (curtain) that hung from a very high ceiling. At the exact moment of Jesus’ death on the cross that very veil was ripped in half from the top to the bottom (no human hand could reach that high) thereby exposing God’s presence to all mankind.

Hebrews 10:19-23  “And so, dear brothers and sisters,we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. “

 God gave us this Open Access card to allow us full access to Him.  I want to take every opportunity to use this access and communicate with Him.  Make every moment count in your life for eternity’s sake and get to know the God who made you, who loves you, and whom you will see the minute you awake from death into life and see Him face to face.
Psalms 27:4 “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple.” ~ KJV
Aside

Did you ever play the game ‘telephone’ when you were younger?  That was a favorite of mine.  The game worked best with a large group and the results were usually very comical!  Everyone sat in a circle.  One person started the game by whispering a phrase or story to the person next to them who would repeat what they heard (or what they thought they heard) to the person next to them.  This process would continue until the story got back to the person who originally started the game.  The original story would be revealed as well as the story that had made it’s way around the circle and through many ears and translations.  The two stories never matched and really took on a life of it’s own.  One of the reasons that the story did not remain intact is that people hear what they want to hear.  Perhaps one of the translators was distracted and only heard half of the story and then made up the part they missed.  Perhaps, and this is the reason I tend to place most weight on, people anticipate what the story might be and as their focus is on their own anticipated outcome, they miss the actual information being passed to them.  This game taught many lessons to my group of friends and I:  Don’t believe everything you hear; Gossip can be painful and untrue; Lies spread like wildfire and never end the way you intend…..the lessons that can be drawn from this game are innumerable.

I was thinking about this game today as I heard about a young lady whose feelings were crushed as a result of a conversation that she didn’t hear.  She saw people whispering and immediately imagined that they could only be talking about her.  This propelled her to criticize herself as she pinpointed the root of the imagined conversation.  ‘Her outfit must be out of style, although she had recently purchased it and thought it looked alright when she got dressed this morning.’  ‘She must look ugly today.  She was definitely having a bad hair day so that must be the topic.’  ‘Her work production was down and she is probably about to be called into her bosses’ office for discipline.”  On an on these thoughts ran through her mind until she had worked herself into a migraine and overwhelming sadness.  In reality, her co-workers were talking about a picnic they were planning for the following weekend.  The conversation had absolutely nothing to do with her and yet, she had made herself sick as a result of her runaway imagination.  Has this ever happened to you?  I can raise my hand to admit that I am guilty of presuming myself the topic of secret conversations.  Why do we do this to ourselves?  How silly!  We have enough trouble to deal with that we know about without creating trouble where there is none.  If we would only keep our eyes on Him, we could avoid so much hurt and suffering!

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!  Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.”  Isaiah 26:3-4 (New Living Translation)

I love this verse!  I am making a concerted effort to keep my focus on Jesus, where my thoughts and focus should be rather than down in the weeds of imagination.  Please join me in this effort.  Leave comments of encouragement or suggestions to help myself and others as we endeavor to keep our eyes on Jesus!

Telephone

Opportunity

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How many opportunities come your way that you miss out on either because you don’t recognize them until it’s too late or because you are too scared to seize the moment?  I was thinking about this very question today.  There have been many times that I have prayed, and prayed for God to show me what He wanted me to do only to hear silence – or so I thought.  Maybe there were answers that I missed because I wasn’t “in tune” with the quiet voice of God.  (I Kings 19:12, “After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” (NIV))  I was waiting for the earthquake and fire to announce my direction and guidance.  I would have settled for a personal suggestion in an audible voice.  I did not receive any of these revelations or occurences, and so I wallowed in indecision and uncertainty.

I have recently been made aware that the more time I spend in quiet reflection and devotion with God, the clearer His answers become.  There is no mysterious secret to hearing His voice because He speaks to you in the quiet of your heart.  All of the good plans He has for you become like neon signs to your soul as you become close to Him.

Tune in to His voice today!  

Safety in the Storm

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I am not a fan of thunderstorms!  I do enjoy a nice, quiet and gentle rain – especially if I get to lay in bed and read a good book while I hear the rain in the background.  Once you add the sound effects of thunder and lightning though, I lose my sense of relaxation.  In fact, I tense up and jump as the thunder snaps.  We had the pleasure of encountering one of these storms the other evening as we were driving.  The sky was alive with electrically charged and vivid displays of white heat as lighting sizzled across the black sky.  This was followed immediately by the loudest sonic booms that I believe I have ever heard.  The highway shook underneath us from the power of this storm (maybe that’s exaggerating a bit, but it very well could have been shaking).  A few minutes later, the rain fall became more forceful until it turned into hail.  This was a severe thunderstorm, in the words of the emergency message that sounded a few minutes later over the radio (thank you, National Weather Alert System!).  As I watched nature’s drama taking place outside the windshield while gripping the seat with white knuckles, my husband said, “relax”.  Huh?  Are you kidding me?  Who could relax in all of this cosmic chaos?  “Relax.  You are in the safest place,” he said again.  Whoa!  I surely did not feel relaxed and I may be slow on the uptake, but what was safe about this situation?   I know that my wide-eyed look of horror must have conveyed this question to him, because he continued, “you are surrounded by rubber tires which grounds you and prevents the lighting’s electricity from harming you.”  That sounded familiar.  I do remember hearing that from childhood and oddly enough, I started to calm down.  My husband has that ability.  He is truly my rock!

I have another Rock!  He is my anchor in a troubled storm.  He gives me peace when chaos is all around me.  “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety.”  Psalm 4:8 (NIV)

Mark 4:35-40 tells the story of a violent storm:     

35 And the same day, when the evening was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. 36 And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. 37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. 38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?

39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? 41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

Jesus is our example of how we should live our lives – in every aspect of our daily activities.  I believe that many lessons can be learned from this story but the most obvious truth is plainly spoken by Jesus.  “Why are you so fearful?  Why don’t you have faith?”  Even in His sleep, He was not afraid when everything around Him was swirling with unsettledness and danger.  This is the model by which He shows us how to live.  We are not to be afraid of anything for He holds us in the palm of His hands.  Nothing can harm us for He is our great Defender and Deliverer!  What are you afraid of today?  Give your fears to the Master of the wind and the Maker of the rain.  He will keep you in perfect peace when you are focused on Him!

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You.”

 Isaiah 26:3 (NIV)

Out of Stock

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Picture Credit: http://www.cloutlet.com

I’ve been shopping for black pumps.  If you’re a female, you will know what I’m talking about, otherwise you may need a visual…..my husband had no idea what I was talking about when I asked him to help me look for pumps.  This gave me my chuckle (belly laugh) for the day!!!  After explaining that a pump was a close toed (this opened a completely new dialogue) shoe with a heel, we then proceeded to scour the shoe department in search for the perfect black dress pump.  Ladies, you know that of all dress shoes the black pump is the most versatile and standard staple that a girl can have in her closet.  This being the case, we located a multitude of pumps to choose from and the next phase of shoe shopping began.  Out came boxes…and boxes….and yes, more boxes until finally, the “one” arrived.  I knew instantly that this shoe would be the “one”.  It was classic and comfortable but just about a half size too small.  Wouldn’t you know it – the size I needed (and really wanted) was not available, it was out of stock.  All that time spent searching and trying on only to have my good mood shattered.  I started looking at all of the other choices, hoping that there might be one that would work.  Just about that time, the sales person came out with two boxes.  There were two additional styles that were not out on display yet and one of these boxes had the perfect fit.  This shoe far surpassed my first choice.

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus,” Philipians 4:19 (NIV)

The blessings God wishes to shower on us are never out of stock.  Just like the boxes of shoes that were not on display, His storehouse is always full and overflowing with the gifts that he has waiting to give us when we ask.  “Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him,” Matthew 6:8 (NIV).  Just as in my shoe shopping experience, the perfect answers to our prayers are just waiting for us.  We need to ask though in order to receive.  You do not have because you do not ask God.”  James 4:2 (NIV)  I could have spent the entire afternoon looking for black pumps in that shoe department and would have never found the hidden shoes.  I needed the wisdom of the sales person who knew what was in stock but out of sight.  If I had not asked for help I would never have been able to receive the shoes that I am so happy to now own.

Don’t hesitate to ask God for what you need.  His love for you is eternal and His desire to see you happy is immense.  Feel free to leave a comment sharing how God has provided for you from his storehouse of blessings.

Laundry Day

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I have two teenage boys.  Combine that with white clothes, and…..yup, you get the picture.  Dirty clothes, all the time!  I am convinced that even if the t-shirts or socks stay clean and white, the wearer feels it necessary to soil the item, just on principle.  Sometimes, I can’t even identify the crud and muck that is attached to their clothes.   I’m pretty sure that I don’t want to know what food has been ground in and how long it has been attached to the clothes that I am examining.  I am most certain that I don’t want to inhale the aroma that I refer to as “the stink” as it permeates the house.  A mother’s love truly knows no limits, although my limits frequently come close to being breached.  This morning was no exception.  I had laundry baskets lined up and ready to start sorting this morning.  Before I could even get to my older son’s pile, the overwhelming stench of ripe mildew almost drew tears from my eyes.  Yuck!

I know that I have told my son that wet swimming trunks and clothes need to be hung to dry before placing with other clothes.  He studied the process of mold creation in science.  This is not a new concept to my child.  It is amazing to see the disconnect between cleanliness and my son.  I will most certainly deal with him later, but for the moment I bit my tongue and dug into the dirt.  A little pre-wash, some laundry soap, a generous dousing of Clorox and 45 minutes later……white clothes!  Almost as good as new but a slight dinge still remained.  Sometimes I have been able to get close to the original white, but the creative stains that have found their way into my laundry are just too strong to completely disappear.

This process got me thinking.  I am that dirty shirt.  Maybe I don’t carry the stains on the outside where they are visible to the human eye, but without a doubt, I am a filthy rag.  “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”  Isaiah 64:6 (NIV).  Obviously, I am speaking metaphorically, but there is never a day that I have not piled dirt into my life.  Sometimes the dirt may take the form of  impatience with other drivers (this is a definite occurrence on a daily basis), other times I may lose my temper (this one, too).  Regardless of the enormity or smallness of my uncleanliness, dirt is dirt.  In order to become clean, I need to be washed.  Just as my laundry cannot wash itself, neither can I clean myself.  I am not capable.  Only One who is perfectly clean can perform this action.  Psalm 51:7 says, wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”  (NIV) Even the strongest, industrial strength Clorox cannot make something whiter than snow.

When I believed in the death and resurrection of  Jesus as the penalty for my sins, He washed me perfectly clean.  This is a promise I can claim for all eternity!  I am His and He is mine.  How beautiful and precious is this gift of clean clothes!  I am so thankful that I am washed by His blood and the stains, stink and dirt is forever gone and completely forgotten!

“I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me,Jeremiah 33:8 (NIV).

“I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for My own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”  Isaiah 43:25 (NIV)

Replacement Vehicle

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“But you walked away from your first love – why?  What’s going on with you anyway?…”  Revelations 2:4  (The Message)

 

Routine 30,000 mile vehicle checkup!  This is the calendar greeting that awakened me from my sleep this morning.  I set my calendar notifications to alert me an hour before my actual appointment time as I simply cannot remember things the way I used  to remember them.  (I blame this on child birth, along with gray hair and weight gain.).  Unfortunately, there is no snooze capability on my calendar setting, so up I jumped.

 

When I arrived at the dealership to check my vehicle in for it’s scheduled service, I was told that they were off schedule (at 9am, no less) and that they would not be finished until around 4pm.  Rrgghh!  I really wasn’t trying to work on patience today, but I guess God had a different plan.  Actually, He did better than a lesson in patience.  He allowed the last replacement or “loaner” vehicle on the lot to be available for my use.  I anticipated a not so good car or over-used mini van but was pleasantly surprised to be assigned a new 2012 model.  This car drove like a dream!  It had all the bells and whistles, state of the art everything.  I left the lot with a huge, goofy smile on my face.  In my mind, I looked like Christie Brinkley driving the car next to Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Vacation.  I’m sure I looked more like Wilma Flinstone on a bad hair day but nevertheless, I was wearing a 1000 mega watt smile.  As I was cruising (yes, I said it) down the freeway, I started thinking abut the marketing genius who decided to place new cars of the same make into driver’s hands as they obtained service on their slightly older models.  What better way to entice people to want this newer and better car than to have them drive one when they are completely unprepared for this type of subliminal assault.  Before I was 2 miles down the road, I was convinced that I needed this new car.  My old car didn’t have the radio media screen.  It didn’t have the super quiet air conditioner that this new model did, and it sure didn’t have the keyless ignition.  I had been driving the Model-T version of cars (no wonder I looked like Wilma!), while other people who drove this new car where so much more sophisticated.  It’s amazing how quickly we can become dissatisfied with something that, only minutes before, we loved!

I had left my first love, so to speak.

 

It didn’t take me even a nano second to connect the dots to what I believe God wanted me to take away from this experience:  He is my first love.  How many times do I turn away from Him?  Although I can’t be pulled out of His hand and I am forever sealed into His family, I can still walk away from His side.  He gave me that choice hoping that I would desire to walk next to Him and not turn away.  I thought of the Old Testament story of the golden calf.  Exodus 32:1 tells how the Israelites were so fickle that when Moses had not returned from his trip up Mt. Sinai, they begged Aaron to make them a graven image in gold of a cow so that they could worship it.  I have always thought this to be absurd that anyone with a semblance of intelligence would want to worship a golden cow that they had made with their own hands…..but, yet, here I was  loving this car and allowing it to take my focus off of the One whose hands hold all of creation.  “Things” become idols in our hearts when we desire them more than anything.  It’s easy to let those things that we enjoy become things over which we obsess.

 

What are some things you know have become an obsession in your life?  Once you can identify these areas, whether things or people, then you can re-prioritize and place God back where He belongs – on the throne of your heart!

 

“You shall have no other gods before Me,”Exodus 20:3  (NIV)

Picture Credit: http://www.43things.com