Monday, September 28, 2020

Brand New Possibilities

Open up my eyes, Lord, to brand new possibilities. Toby Mac

You are opening my eyes
You're opening my eyes, Lord
To brand new possibilities
You are opening my eyes
You're opening my eyes, Lord
To brand new possibilities
Edge of My Seat by tobyMac

I found myself singing the bridge to Edge of My Seat this morning as I was cleaning the horses' stalls. Just kept mindlessly singing the same words, over and over: You-are-o-pen-ing-my-eyes-Lord-you're-o-pen-ing-my-eyes-Lord-to-brand-new-pos-si-bil-i-ties!

Now, I do tend to sing while performing the mindless task of mucking stalls. It's a boring, tedious job and singing helps make it more interesting. Plus, I am absolutely convinced that the horses love to hear those dulcet tones waft from my lips. 😂 But I haven't sung that song for a long time. And, honestly, I probably don't even know the words to the rest of the song.

So, it's a wonder why that refrain became my earworm this morning. When I realized what I was singing, I immediately and excitedly thought "Oh! I wonder if God has something new in store for me!"

Open up my eyes, Lord, to brand new possibilities.

Since I stopped creating the online worship videos for my church, I've kind of been bumbling along, figuring out how I want to spend my days. I've taken on a few things - learning Spanish, learning how to finger play my guitar, learning how to draw (yep, lots of learning going on here!). But not much in terms of serving Jesus.
So, I was really excited at the prospect of a new challenge from God. (I realize that the song has a broader meaning, which you can hear about here; but for me at that moment, it meant something more specific.) 

That excitement over some unknown plan from above was definitely a new feeling for me. In the past, I've been hesitant to ask God to use me. I always imagine He's going to send me to live in a hut in some third world country where I'll have to haul drinking water from a murky pond and eat ants for protein. Honey, I wouldn't even seriously consider glamping for the weekend, so living in a hut is out of the question!

I am so thankful that He knows me so well because He has never asked me to do anything so extreme. Has He pushed me, kicking and screaming, out of my comfort zone? You bet! Has He expected me to eat ants? No way!

I've always gotten a lot of fulfillment out of the things He's asked me to do. And I've definitely grown from those experiences. So, instead of fearing whatever is next, I'm really looking forward to a new challenge! And that change in attitude is exciting as well!

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10

So, I don't know what He has in mind, but I'm running toward Him with open arms and open eyes! Use me, Lord!


Friday, September 25, 2020

Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you. 1 Peter 5:7

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

 
One time, someone who reported to me confided in me that she was unable to move forward with a project I'd assigned because she was so worried about what might go wrong. I knew that the assignment would be a challenge for her, but I'd assured her that I was there to help, if needed. So, I had been frustrated with her lack of progress. My immediate reaction to her confession was "Why didn't you talk to me before now? I can help!" 

I can just hear God saying the same thing to me when I fret over details. "Talk to me, Nancy! I can help!"

Do you remember, as a child, being afraid of the dark? Thinking about things unseen can really rev up a child's imagination! And we never seem to imagine unicorns and puppy dogs are lurking in the dark corners of the room - it's always monsters! But do you also remember how much better you felt when you told your mom or dad about your fears and they assured you that they would keep you safe?

That's exactly how it is when you talk to God about your worries. Knowing that you don't have to face those dark corners by yourself brings such relief and comfort! And it makes God happy, too. He doesn't want you to waste energy on worrying. He is more than capable of taking over those cares!

Don't try to handle everything yourself. God is much more capable of dealing with your worries than you are. 
 

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Anything is Possible - Mark 9:23

Anything is possible when we believe.



A father took his son to see Jesus. He'd heard that this prophet could perform healing miracles and his son needed a big miracle. He was disappointed when Jesus wasn't there when he arrived. He was even more disappointed when a few of Jesus' disciples attempted and failed to exorcize the demon that possessed his son. Had the stories he'd heard about the healings been untrue? Certainly, the religious teachers thought so.

The father awkwardly carried his son, trying to keep up with the crowd that ran to Jesus when he returned. He explained his son's affliction and asked Jesus to heal him, if he could. The man so wanted to believe that Jesus could heal the boy, but the disciples had failed so maybe it was beyond the prophet's capabilities as well.

When Jesus said "anything is possible when you believe", hope made the father's heart somersault in his chest. He did believe. The prophet's calm and confident voice made it easy to believe. But he feared that his faith might not be enough to heal his son. He cried out "I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!"

Jesus destroyed the demon that had held the boy captive and then helped him to his feet. 

Do you ever feel as though your faith isn't strong enough to ask God for the impossible? Jesus said in Matthew 17 that you only need the faith the size of a mustard seed to move mountains. A mustard seed is tiny and so it's a good illustration of how little faith you need.

I think the problem is that, once we have that little bit of faith, we are keenly aware of those doubts that creep into our minds. It makes us feel that we don't have enough faith - we aren't worthy to ask God for anything.

If you still feel your faith is lacking, then ask God to help you with your unbelief. Ask Him to help you grow as a Christian.
 

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear. Psalm 46:1-2

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear.

When I was 20, I discovered a lump on my neck. I ignored it, as most young people probably would, for a handful of reasons - I was in college and too busy to worry about it, I was young and invincible, and I was too experienced to know about worst case scenarios. When I went home for Christmas, my mom insisted I get it checked out. After much eye-rolling and whining, I finally went to the family doctor.

That started a month of tests and doctor appointments and nervousness. I couldn't ignore the possibilities any more and I was scared. But when I met the surgeon, I was instantly reassured. I didn't know him before I entered his office, but not more than five minutes later I was confident that everything would be OK. I trusted him immediately, even though I knew little about him.

In looking back (and knowing more now than I did then), I am amazed that I felt so comfortable and trusting of the surgeon. I was putting my life into his hands, but I wasn't worried.

There have been times in my life that I should have trusted God that completely, but I haven't. Looking back on those times, I wonder why it was so easy to trust the surgeon and, in contrast so hard to trust God. I know that God has my best at heart, just as the surgeon did, but I have questioned and doubted God.

Psalm 46:1-2 is so matter-of-fact - God is always with us to help and comfort us so there's no reason to fear. It sounds so simple. And, honestly, we can trust Him because He has proven that He is faithful. He does what He says and He says what He does. Nothing that God does should surprise us. 

 

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

2 Corinthians 13:14

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:14

 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:14

This benediction always makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. The pastor at a church I went to in college always used it as his benediction. It seemed to me to be the perfect framework for the coming week. With the grace, love and fellowship of the Trinity, I just knew that the week would be outstanding.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Understand What Really Matters - Phlippians 1:10

 

For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. Philippians 1:10

For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live
pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. Philippians 1:10

There definitely have been pros and cons to this pandemic. Much to pray about and much to be thankful for.

I am thankful that I am retired and don't have to try to rely on technology to do a job. I definitely pray for those who have been working from home all of these months. When I was working, I looked forward to the occasional at-home work day so I could really get a lot done with out interruptions, but I can't imagine the challenges of endless at-home work days. The isolation would definitely get to me. And the need for creativity in doing routine tasks would be tiring.

I am thankful that I have the companionship of a loving husband, two dogs and three horses on a piece of land that gives me the space to ramble a bit and still be safely away from others. I pray for those who are suddenly restricted to close quarters and circumstances that may exacerbate an already difficult relationship with a family member or significant other.

I am thankful that I have the drive and means to start new projects to "keep me sane" when my contact with friends and family is limited. Currently, I am learning how to draw and how to speak Spanish. I pray for those struggling with life's challenges as each day seems to be a little harder than the last.

All of this free time has also erased every excuse I have for not spending time with Jesus. It helps me to remember what really matters. When I don't make Him my focus, my top priority, I feel out of kilter. 

If we strive to live "pure and blameless lives", everything else falls into place. When we strive to follow God's laws and His guidance, we have the wisdom and support to manage the challenges that life hurls at us.

What are you doing to focus on a pure and blameless life? How have you been using your time during this pandemic to grow in Christ?




Saturday, September 19, 2020

Are You An Encourager?

Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord's people. Philemon 1:7

Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, 
because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord's people. 
Philemon 1:7

Are You An Encourager?

The world needs more encouragers these days. It doesn't take much to offer a pat on the back, but it reignites the fire and lifts the spirit of someone who's struggling.

As Gary Chapman states in his book, The Five Love Languages,  "Many noble pursuits await the encouragement of a friend." Imagine what wonderful things might occur when you offer someone a bit of encouragement!

Encouragement Doesn't Always Mean Agreement

My mom was a great encourager. When I was a child, she didn't always agree with my crazy ideas, but, as long as it wasn't harmful, she always offered encouragement and support. I'm sure there were times she struggled to keep from telling me my idea wouldn't work, but I don't remember a single time she discouraged me. 

As a side note, there was one time she regretted deferring judgment. We were visiting family friends who had kittens that were ready to find new homes. I begged to adopt one of the kittens. Instead of saying no, she told me to ask my dad. Now, mind you, my dad grew up on a farm and felt that animals shouldn't be pets. It's a miracle we ever had pets as children (and we had quite a few!). So I'm sure Mom figured she was just passing the buck and that he would put a quick end to my pleading. Both she and I were quite surprised when he agreed to let me take the kitten! 

Encouragement Gives Confidence

My mom's continuous support helped to give me confidence to try new things. I'm a pretty cautious person, usually over-thinking things, so her support helped to move me along. 

When one of my great plans failed, Mom was there to diminish the disappointment and to build me back up. Soon, I'd be on to the next great plan. All of those failures - just as the successes - make me what I am today. I can't imagine where I'd be or what my life would be like if I hadn't had such a cheerleader in my mother.

One More Thought

If being an encourager isn't your normal M.O., give it a try today. Open your eyes to opportunities to "refresh the heart" of people you encounter. It can be a small gesture, but pay attention to the reaction that gesture makes and come back and let me know 💗

Everyone has inside them a piece of good news. The good news is you don't know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Happy National Cheeseburger Day!

 

Celebrate National Cheeseburger Day. What toppings do you put on your cheeseburger?

National Cheeseburger Day is observed on September 18th. I love cheeseburgers. Doesn't everyone? They don't have to be big, but they need to be juicy and get extra points if they're grilled over an open fire. And I absolutely love mayo on my burgers. Unless it's topped with swiss cheese and mushrooms. That is perfection! 

If you use this graphic, let me know how your followers responded.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Practice Real Love


Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; 
let us show the truth by our actions.
1 John 3:18

As Christians, we speak of love, so why are we criticized for being judgmental and hateful?

It's possible that our actions don't match our words. To understand what love looks like, we can look to 1 Corinthians 13. The Message version lists the following:

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

We also had an excellent role model: Jesus. Although the phrase is a bit outdated and worn, "What Would Jesus Do?" is a question I ask myself when I'm not sure how to act. It never fails me as I remember Bible stories that illustrate loving acts. 

You have experienced God's mercy and grace. You know how it feels to be forgiven and loved for the person you are. Use those experiences and feelings to help guide you in treating others with love. 

 

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

God Will Be With You - Joshua 1:9

 

This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

This is my command—be strong and courageous! 
Do not be afraid or discouraged. 
For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Joshua 1:9


The past six months have been more than I think any of us could have imagined. The pandemic has turned everyone's world upside down.

For some, it's been more than they can bear. It seems as though they are suffering a death of a thousand cuts. What might have been a mere irritant in "normal" times is now sending some people over the edge. 

Others, though, are confident in the knowledge that, no matter what they face, they can manage because God is there right alongside them. These are the type of people who talk about "opportunities" rather than "problems". They view these times as a chance to show their faith in God. 

They know that actions speak louder than words and they use these times as a testament to their faith.

Or even when their faith isn't so steadfast, these are the kinds of people who turn to God and ask for faith.

Where ever you are on this journey, take comfort in the knowledge that God doesn't want you to do it alone. He will carry you when it's just too much and He'll be your cheerleader when you are ready for an "opportunity".

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Happy Grandparents Day!

 

What a bargain grandchildren are! I give them my loose change, and they give me a million dollars’ worth of pleasure.” — Gene Perret

I will probably never be a grandmother, but I have wonderful memories of my grandparents. Take a minute today to honor your grandparents.

A grandparent is a little bit parent, a little bit teacher, and a little bit best friend.

A grandparent has silver in their hair and gold in their heart.




Thursday, September 3, 2020

Luke 11:9

 

And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. Luke 11:9

And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. Luke 11:9

Don't become discouraged by unanswered prayers. Show your faith by continuing to ask. Remember that God's timeline is not always the same as ours and we need to trust that He knows best. He also knows best how to answer your prayer, which may not be what we're expecting. Just keep in mind that Jesus promised that our prayers are heard and will be answered.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

More of Him. Less of Me. Matthew 6:1

 

Be careful that you do not do your righteous works in front of people, so that they will notice. If you do, you have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 6:1

Be careful that you do not do your righteous works in front of people, so that they will notice.
If you do, you have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 6:1

When you do something good for someone, you want to tell others, don't you? I know I do! That good deed made me feel good about myself and I want to bask in that feeling by sharing it with others. I don't consider that bragging or making myself appear to be "holier than thou". It's just a "hey I did this and it melted my heart when I saw the difference it made". That kind of sharing is not what this passage is about.

Jesus was talking about the motive behind the good work. If you are making sure others know about the wonderful thing you just did because you want to appear better in their eyes, you have the wrong motivation. And, if you do that good work just to make yourself look better, well, that's the wrong motive, too. 

Jesus wants us to do good works so we become more like Him. Every good thing Jesus has done has been out of love. He wants us to act out of love, too. Love for God and love for others. When love for others outweighs love for ourselves, we make God truly happy.

I think it's good to have warm and fuzzy feelings when we show God's love to others. Those feelings make it easier to stay motivated. And talking about those feelings keeps them alive. It's the motivation behind those feelings that is the important thing. We should do good works to show God's love, not elevate ourselves. 

More of Him. Less of me.