Friday, August 7, 2020

How Would You Describe God's Love?

 

Your love is like radiant diamonds bursting inside us we cannot contain

Your love is like radiant diamonds
Bursting inside us we cannot contain
Your love will surely come find us
Like blazing wild fires singing Your name
God of mercy sweet love of mine
I have surrendered to Your design
May this offering stretch across the skies
And these Hallelujahs be multiplied
Multiply by Needtobreathe

I am no poet, but I do love a good use of words to paint a picture.  And I love the imagery in this song. What an amazing way to describe God's love for us! I can't think of a better way to describe it. I mean, the Creator of the stars in the sky and majestic mountains wouldn't have any plain, old, ordinary love. He can't help but love us in a shiny, sparkling way.

When I think about his unfailing grace and mercy, it does make me want to shout Hallelujah, even though it pales in comparison to God's love. I am not worthy of His mercy or grace or even His love, but I'm thankful for all of it. 💖

Your love will surely come find me like blazing wild fires singing Your name

Thursday, August 6, 2020

BIBLE: Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth


BIBLE: Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth


Bible Reading Tools

There are a number of tools available online to help you with reading the Bible, but can I just put in a quick plug for my favorite site, Bible Gateway?

When I link a Bible verse in my blog, I always use Bible Gateway. I find it the easiest to navigate and the many tools are exceptional. They recently revamped their website and it is even easier now to navigate.

Read the Bible

One of the most impactful and important tasks we have as Christians is to read the Bible. This site provides a number of plans that span 40 to 365 days. I would like to see a plan for brand new Christians and I've given Bible Gateway that feedback.

There is also an advanced search that allows you to look up passages. 

Bible Gateway offers 60 versions in English and versions in over 70 languages.
 
Want to listen instead of read? You can! You can search for passages or choose from a number of devotionals and other audio programs.

Study Tools

In addition to just reading the Bible, we need to study it as well. This helps us to understand the message.

Scripture Engagement is an amazing tool that will help you learn how to read the Bible. I highly recommend it!

Explore More

This section provides a rich library of newsletters, devotionals, blogs, and apps.

Bible Gateway Plus

All of the resources I mentioned above are free to use. There are additional resources when you pay for a Bible Gateway Plus membership.

#Biblegatewaypartner

Jeremiah 33:2-3



“This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name: ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’
Jeremiah 33:2-3


“This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name: 3 ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’ Jeremiah 33:2-3


Think about it. The Creator of the Earth asks us to call to Him and He will answer. The Lord of all wants us to reach out to Him and He wants to reach back. He wants to tell us things that our little minds could never imagine on our own. Think about it.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Philemon 6


I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. Philemon 6

I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. 
Philemon 6

When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we have two choices: 
  • we can simply go on with our lives as they are, secure in the knowledge that we will spend eternity in Heaven, or
  • we can grow stronger in our relationship with Jesus and spread the news to others.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Be the Best Man


You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ 29 The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. John 3:28-29

You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. 
John 3:28-29

When my father remarried, I was his best man. I am his only daughter and I think he chose me because he didn't want to choose between my two brothers. It was a fun experience! I'd been a bridesmaid and matron of honor in friends' weddings, but never a best man. I had to learn what the honor entailed, which was, basically, doing anything needed to make sure everything went smoothly for the wedding and reception. The most important responsibility was being a witness as they said their vows. I was honored to share in the joy I saw in my dad's and stepmother's faces as they said their vows.

We can also be the best man (or maid of honor) for Jesus. We can do whatever is needed to help advance the Kingdom. We can show His love to others. We can witness and tell others of the Good News.

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Saturday, August 1, 2020

Pride Goeth Before Destruction


Pride leads to disgrace but with humility comes wisdom.

I always take pride in a job well done, but lately I've wondered if my pride was getting in the way of my relationships with Jesus and with others. So I did some searching. Thankfully, I think I'm OK. 

I ran across a quote by C.S. Lewis that put my mind at ease:
Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. If someone else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest.
So, it appears that he views pride as an arrogant, competitive feeling. I think God wants us to be proud of our talents and the gifts He gives us when that pride spurs us to be the best we can be. It's only when we forget where those talents come from that we run into trouble.

As long as you are proud, you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people.
When I was starting out in my career, I deeply admired a supervisor I had who was the director of HR. I thought she was the smartest person I'd ever met and was in awe of her ability to maneuver through any situation. I couldn't imagine ever being that wise. Years later, I became the director. I remember sitting in my office late one night, stewing over a sticky problem, when it struck me that I was now that "wise" person that others looked up to. I don't know if they admired me the way I admired my boss so many years earlier, but I was filled with pride when I thought about how far I'd come and how much I'd learned over the years. I thanked God for the many opportunities I'd had that lead me to that spot. Without Him, I couldn't have done it. I hate to admit that, after that realization, it kind of went to my head and I started feeling quite arrogant about my abilities. Those feelings were quickly dashed when I had a huge lapse in judgment and made a decision that ended in a lawsuit. I was too full of myself, which made it quite easy to feel humiliated when I failed. Thankfully, my boss at the time was merciful and only gave me a stern lecture. I guess he knew I'd learned a valuable lesson and wouldn't make that same mistake. 

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Philippians 2:3
I'm thankful, too, for God's mercy. There have been more times than I can count when I've defied God, when I've turned my back on Him. But His love for me is greater than His anger or disappointment. He is always there, ready to provide loving guidance to this willful child of His!















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Friday, July 24, 2020

John 7:38 Living Water


John 7:38


Do you have a thirst for something but can't quite put your finger on it? You won't be able to quench that thirst through self-help books or webinars. A personal relationship with Jesus is the only way to feel completely fulfilled. Turn to the Living Water.


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Monday, July 20, 2020

God Doesn't Disappoint


Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

The other day, I was deeply disappointed by someone I worked with at church. I think I'm a pretty easy-going person when working with others. I admit that I have my ideas about how things should be done, but I try to go with the flow if someone has a different idea - as long as the end result is acceptable. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to compromise with this particular person.

Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed.


Of course, I have prayed about this and I'm realizing that it will all be resolved - in God's time. As long as I keep focused on what's really important - God's will - it will all work out in time. Because God is like that - faithful, honest and infinitely smarter than me. I trust His plans. I trust His timeline.

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Monday, July 6, 2020

What do you see?

In my opinion, the only way we will really change stereotypes and learned hate is to confront our personal biases. I am creating some graphics that might help with that. Let me know what you think about these. Am I hitting or missing the mark? 

Smiling Muslim woman at a store. Caption says What do you see? God sees the founder of a shelter for abused women.

Young black man with dreadlocks. Caption says What do you see? God sees a master computer programmer.

Young man in wheelchair. Caption says "What do you see? God sees a scientist who will cure cancer."

Homeless man sleeping on a bench. Caption says "What do you see? God sees a virtuoso violinist."

Man behind prison bars. Caption says "What do you see? God sees someone who loves to cook at the local soup kitchen."



Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Thursday, June 25, 2020

I Don't Know the Solution, But I Don't Want To Be Part of the Problem

Yes, all lives matter, but right now some need more attention than others - God



Edit: I am having a hard time writing this. I keep starting and stopping, changing, rewriting. I finally settled on a title and I think that's why I can't finish this - I don't know what the answer is. Over the next several days - maybe weeks - I'm going to explore the various facets of racial discrimination and possible solutions. For now, here is my unfinished start to this exploration.

My heart hurts today. To the point where I want to go back to bed, pull the covers over my head, and stay there until all of this craziness stops. Avoidance is my go-to, knee-jerk response to grief. I know that

I'm particularly sensitive right now. Too many things have thrown me off kilter. Weariness of dealing with the pandemic and spending too many hours each week creating my church's online worship videos have worn me down. I am grieved at the brutal, unnecessary death of George Floyd. Add to that the passing of one of my precious dogs, Nicky, this past weekend. It has left me in a fragile state. 

So, maybe I shouldn't be surprised that the response of one of my church friends to this has caused me pain. 

I shared a post on Facebook that contained the best analogy to "black lives matter", a comic by Kris Straub that shows how all houses matter, but the one on fire needs extra attention at the moment. Kris published the comic several years ago and I've used it a few times as a way to address the "but ALL lives matter!" response to "black lives matter". Of course, all lives matter. God loves each of us as if there was only one of us. Each of us matters a great deal to Him. But I believe that He spends a little more time with those of us who need some extra attention.

This church friend, who I've known to be intelligent, thoughtful, and caring, responded with an angry face emoji. I don't know why, but I suspect it's related to his response to an earlier Facebook post of mine about a protest that was planned that night. He stated that he believed the George Floyd incident was a case of police brutality, not racism. 

I was totally frustrated over the police brutality comment. 

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Philippians 1:6


Philippians 1:6 And so I am sure that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it on until it is finished on the Day of Christ Jesus.


I'm baaack! At least for a post or two for now. This is the first time in weeks that I've felt that I had any time to devote to Dances in the Light. 8 weeks ago, I added video producer, videographer, and video editor to my daily activities, when my church turned to online worship in the midst of stay-at-home orders.

I am not a professional. I've never had a course on how to make a video. YouTube has become my friend. So, you can imagine that creating a video from start to finish has been a slow process for me. And producing two videos each week (one worship service and one Children's Church) has taken up most of my free time. They are far from professional, but our church members and other folks who are viewing them are LOVING them, so I feel as though I'm pleasing God.

Although I'm looking forward to the end of all of this, I'm not complaining. It's been a humbling, exciting experience for me. It's one of those "be careful what you ask for" things. I never like to ask God to use me because I'm afraid he'll send me to some third-world country and make me eat bugs or something equally distasteful. But lately I've tried to be braver and I've actually been praying the Prayer of Jabez and asking God for more.

I could almost hear God giggle with glee when I first started stepping out. I'm sure He's thinking "Finally!" And the rest is history.

So, bear with me for a while until this craziness passes. I have continued to make graphics for my church, so I'll try to post those when I have time, but no devotions until I have the time to do them right.

Friday, April 10, 2020

What's Your Favorite Bible Translation?

What's your favorite Bible translation?

What's your favorite translation of the Bible? I have a few and that's changed over the years as I discover new translations. 

The King of Translations

My very first Bible was given to me in 4th grade. It was the King James Version. I'm sorry, but no 9-year-old should be given the KJV. 

Yes, it has beautiful, flowery language and some scripture just needs to be in the KJV to be fully appreciated, such as Psalms; but what 9-year-old can really grasp the meaning behind some of those passages when they don't even understand the words?

That first Bible gathered a lot of dust.

Good News

My second Bible, well, actually the New Testament, was a copy of Good News for Modern Man that my church gave every member. I no longer have that copy, having lost it years ago in one move or another. 

I loved that Bible, even though the budding feminist in me decidedly did not like that the title excluded half of the population. If it hadn't done such a good job of quenching my thirst for a relationship with Jesus, I probably would have been too offended to read it.

But read it, I did! I could understand scriptures that I'd read and heard through the years. It was that simple paperback that really started me on the path to Jesus.

Living for Jesus

My third Bible was well-used for over forty years. I bought the Living Bible for myself when I was in high school. That was the first Bible that I felt comfortable highlighting and journaling. It is tattered and well-loved by now and used only occasionally.

Digital Rules

Of course, now, with the Internet and phone apps, every imaginable translation is at our fingertips. My favorite translation is the New International Version (NIV), but I also use the New Living Translation (NLT), the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) and The Message. Websites like Bible Gateway offer all of these and more.

I love having such easy access to so many translations!

Back To Basics

I was recently given the opportunity to give an honest review of a beautiful Bible. I received a copy of the Bible as compensation. The Artisan Collection Bible is gorgeous and comes in NIV and NRSV.  This Bible would make a wonderful gift, especially for a woman who likes to journal.

And, honestly, as much as I love the ease and accessibility of online Bibles, I do miss marking up my Bible with notes and drawings. 


Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Five Steps to Peace in These Troubling Times

He will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in him, whose thoughts turn often to the Lord! Isaiah 26:3

Right now, we're going through some pretty crazy times. But, honestly, we have troubles and stressors every day of our lives. If you find yourself overwhelmed by what's going on, try these suggestions to relieve your worries.

1. Turn Off The News

When something disrupts our normal lives, we want to soak up as much information as we can. This can lead to an obsession with the media, including broadcast news and social media.

I remember clearly being glued to the television and internet on 9/11. I was at work but there was no "work" being done because we couldn't believe what was happening. As the events unfolded, the broadcasters knew no more than us and yet we couldn't turn away from the meaningless yammering.

Nona Jones, the head of faith-based partnerships at Facebook, posted some wise advice the other day.  A former newscaster, she knows that the media feeds the natural tendency for humans to focus on worst case scenarios, which fuels anxiety and fear. You can read her post here. The crux of her post is this: "If we aren't careful, the news cycle will replace prayer with emotional exhaustion. Which is why we must guard our hearts with a diligence. ... But, please, DO NOT allow your heart to be troubled by an industry that is designed to trouble it for ratings." 

It's natural to want to learn as much as possible in a crisis, but when you find yourself unable to do anything else or when you're learning nothing new, it's time to end your screen time.

2. Change What You Can, Accept What You Can't

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.
We always want to be in control. When there's a problem, we want to fix it. It's just what we do.

But, logically, there are some things we just can't fix. We either don't have the knowledge or the power to change some things. That's hard to accept.

But trying to change something we can't only leads to frustration and anxiety.

So, honestly assess what you can change and put your energy toward making positive change. And then accept what can't be changed. Worrying about it, talking about it, and obsessing about it isn't going to change it, but it sure can steal your peace.

3. Get Moving

When we are anxious, our bodies physically react, causing loss of concentration and fatigue, among other things. To combat those reactions, even just five minutes of aerobic exercise will begin to release endorphins, the "feel good" hormone. 

So, get on your feet and do something physical. Take a walk, dance with your kids, try some yoga. Just get moving!

4. Read Your Bible

I have heard that the Bible tells us to "fear not" 365 times. A whole year's worth of "don't be afraid"! That's a lot of "stop worrying". 

Why do you think that God talks so much about fear? Because He knows that it's our nature to worry and be anxious. And He wants us to know that He's got this. We just need to lean on Him.

I find comfort in reading passages like Matthew 6:25-34:

25 “So my counsel is: Don’t worry about things—food, drink, and clothes. For you already have life and a body—and they are far more important than what to eat and wear. 26 Look at the birds! They don’t worry about what to eat—they don’t need to sow or reap or store up food—for your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than they are. 27 Will all your worries add a single moment to your life?
28 “And why worry about your clothes? Look at the field lilies! They don’t worry about theirs. 29 Yet King Solomon in all his glory was not clothed as beautifully as they. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won’t he more surely care for you, O men of little faith?
31-32 “So don’t worry at all about having enough food and clothing. Why be like the heathen? For they take pride in all these things and are deeply concerned about them. But your heavenly Father already knows perfectly well that you need them, 33 and he will give them to you if you give him first place in your life and live as he wants you to.
34 “So don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time.

5. Pray

You knew I'd go there, didn't you? That truly is the answer to most of life's questions or situations. 
I read some where that fear and anxiety are a "cause to pause". I wish I could cite where I read it because, as I recall, it was a good article. Unfortunately, my internet search did not turn up that article. So, you'll have to rely on my faulty memory and paraphrasing. 
We get scared as a reminder to stop and turn to God for help. So, when you find yourself worrying, stop dead in your tracks and have a conversation with God. Tell Him about your worries and ask for guidance. Ask for peace. Then - and this is an important step - stop talking and start listening. Let God do His thing that He does so well.
One beautiful thing about this is that, unlike your co-workers or friends, He won't get frustrated when you stop to pray every time you feel anxious. I promise. You could say the same prayer fifty times and His response will be the same each time "Don't worry, my child. I've got this."
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Thursday, March 12, 2020

My Place of Safety

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1


Psalm 91

A Mother's Worst Nightmare


When my daughter was diagnosed with uterine cancer, I didn't handle it well. I have always been overprotective of my only living daughter, having lost two other daughters when they were infants, and this was one thing I couldn't protect her from. I felt helpless. Powerless. 

My friend, Laurel, has spent the last few years dealing with breast cancer and her husband's terminal illness. When I told her about Maria's diagnosis, she told me that Psalm 91 has given her comfort. She reads it every day and uses it as a prayer. She urged me to give it a try.

When Emotions Take Over

If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make hte Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. Psalm 91:9-0
Intellectually, I knew that I should turn my worries over to God. I knew that He was in control. But, emotionally, I was a mess. 

I had been able to turn it all over to God in the past, such as when my youngest daughter passed away. I knew I would go crazy if I tried to handle it all myself and so I willingly "let go and let God".

This time was different. Maybe because I'm older and have seen too many people suffer from the effects of cancer and, sometimes worse, the lasting effects of the chemotherapy and radiation. Maria was too young to have her long-term health jeopardized by the harsh treatments needed to conquer cancer.

Still, I figured if this chapter brought comfort to Laurel, with all she was going through, it wouldn't hurt for me to try reading it.

He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God and I trust him. Psalm 91:2

An Exercise in Reading

At first, it was purely an impassive exercise. I was just reading the words and praying without feeling. 

But, after some time, I realized that the words were starting to have meaning behind them. I really did trust God and believed that he was protecting me and, more importantly, Maria.

I began to worry less about the outcome. I knew that my precious daughter was protected by the Almighty and, no matter what the future held, it was going to be OK.

Channeling John Wesley

My transformation reminded me of John Wesley's journey through a loss of faith. Although my feelings weren't as extreme as his, I smiled when I realized that I was following in Wesley's footsteps in "fake it 'til you make it" style. 
He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. Psalm 91:4

Don't Worry About Anything

And maybe that's all we can do sometimes. Let's face it. We'd all like to always have it together and fully trust in the Lord when we feel ambushed by life, but sometimes that's just not reality. 

Not that we necessarily blame God for our misfortune, but there are times when our knee-jerk reaction is to become anxious and worried instead of leaning on Him for strength and guidance.

But Don't Beat Yourself Up If You Do

It's human nature to worry. I don't know why God made us that way, but we have to consciously make a choice to turn to God instead of our worry stones in times of stress. So, don't add to your anxiety and stress by finding fault. 

Instead, do what you know God wants you to do, even if you don't feel it in your heart. 

Last Thoughts

I am praying for you and your struggle. I know you can let go of the worry and give it all to our loving Father. Just take it one step at a time. 💖















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Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God and I trust him.


He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings.

If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home.

Psalm 91:14-16

Friday, March 6, 2020

Living Water

Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.

I have a love/hate relationship with the way Jesus described the New Covenant. The symbolism is so poetic. The words paint pictures in my mind. But, I am a pretty literal person. I never liked poetry because it's hard for me to understand the underlying meaning. My writing is straightforward, without flourishes, and I guess that's how I see life. So, while I love the beautiful images that His words bring to mind, I am like the clueless woman at the well when it comes to understanding the underlying meaning. 

Woman At The Well

In John 4, Jesus tells a woman who is getting water from a well that he is the source of water that will end thirst. The woman is all "sign me up! I'm tired of trudging to this well everyday." 

That would definitely be my immediate reaction as well. And Jesus would, no doubt, shake his head in frustration at my denseness.

Understanding The Meaning

What do you do to ensure that you're hearing what Jesus is really saying? I rely on lots of prayer and guidance from people who are experts on theology. I participate in Bible studies at church and individual studies online.

As I learn more about the history and culture of Biblical times, I understand more about those puzzling stories.

What is your strategy? I'd love to hear how you get to the true meaning of those metaphors.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

John 3:5

No one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.

Where does the term "born again Christian" come from? In John 3, Jesus tells Nicodemus that a person must be born again to see Heaven. Naturally, Jesus didn't mean literally being born again. He meant that they must be spiritually awoken and renewed.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Daylight Saving Time Images

Spring Forward This Sunday

In this day and age of clocks and phones that automatically set to the correct time, we still need to remind church-goers to set their clocks during time changes. Here are some images that you can use to prod them.

Spring Forward. Daylight Saving Time begins this Sunday.

Don't forget that Daylight Saving Time starts Saturday night. Set your clocks one hour ahead.