Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wednesday, August 31, 2011 - R.S.V.P.

"I am the Alpha and the Omega - the beginning and the end," says the Lord God.  "I am the One Who is, Who always was, and Who is still to come, the Almighty One." 
Revelation 1:8

"All honor to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for it is by His boundless mercy that God has given us the privilege of being born again.  Now we live with a wonderful expectation because Jesus Christ rose again from the dead."  1 Peter 1:3

"Then Jesus said, 'Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

Father, Your invitation to know You now and to celebrate You eternally includes an R.S.V.P. we must answer.  Today, may the people we know who've refused to glance at You discover they can't live without You.  May those of us who've said "yes" lay our worship at Your Feet today. 
     Use the time, talents, and testimonies You've assigned us for Your Glory and to draw others to You. Help us live "unburdened" lives so lost people won't mock You and Your Grace.  Father, we're slow learners but, please, make us wiser today than we were yesterday. Help us place our tiny hands in Your Heavenly ones as You lead us like cherished babies learning to walk. 
You bless us; may we make the wise choice to accept and live in Your blessing. 
You lift our burdens; may we wisely let You keep them. 
You save us from the power of sin; help us run from anything tempting us to want more of the world and less of You. 
In the Name of Jesus, Prince of Peace and Rest for people who need to unload the sin and/or legalism from their weary souls

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tuesday, August 30, 2011 - Two Ends of the Same Rope

"True humility and fear of the LORD lead to riches, honor, and long life." 
Proverbs 22:4
     You know her. She's the friend or acquaintance or co-worker who constantly berates herself, criticizes her looks, over-compliments others, and can't be convinced she's attractive, smart, etc., etc.  Somehow, in all her "humility," she manages to keep the conversation and spot-light on herself. 
     You know him, too. He's the know-it-all who stirs the pot just to get something started. He always has a better idea, a superior plan (which you usually hear about AFTER you've tried something else), a left-handed compliment, or an unsupported prejudice against what wasn't his idea. He loves to point out the mistakes and flaws in others to indirectly point the light to his success.
     In the search to be significant, people generally try one of these two extreme categories. Both practices trigger negative responses and defeat their own purposes, yet we're guilty of reducing ourselves to one of these tactics when we're  desperate for attention or the need to know we make a difference. Both personalities stink of pride instead of sending out the sweet aroma of God's Love to others. Both focus on self instead of the Savior's Grace and, neither leads to the abundant, free life God intended for us. Our false humility (another name for pride) doesn't impress God and depresses others.  And the peacock blue pride we strut actually ignites the hatred of God and brings a fall we won't forget.  
     "Humility doesn't mean you think less of yourself but that you think of yourself less" (Max Lucado, Facing Your Giants)

"The LORD despises pride; be assured that the proud will be punished." Proverbs 16:5

"Pride goes before destruction and haughtiness before a fall." Proverbs 16:18

"All who fear the LORD will hate evil. That is why I (the LORD) hate pride, arrogance, corruption, and perverted speech." Proverbs 8:13

"Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowances for each other's faults because of  your love. Always keep yourselves united in the Holy Spirit, and bind yourselves together with peace." Ephesians 4:2

Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday, August 29, 2011 - Many Crosses, One Purpose

"Then He said to the crowd, 'If any of you wants to be My follower, you must put aside selfish ambition, shoulder your cross daily, and follow Me." Luke 9:23
    What does it mean to shoulder our crosses daily to follow Jesus? Jokingly we refer to the inconveniences and frustrations in our lives as crosses to bear, but Christ spoke of a real cross in Luke 9:23 (see above) after describing what He Himself would suffer, sacrifice and save because "God so loved the world."  Carrying our cross, according to Max Lucado, has everything to do with loving others: "To take up the cross, then, is to take up Christ's burden for the people of the world." (Every Day Deserves A Chance, Max Lucado)
     Let's look at the crosses God has given us to carry. They should be heavy to show we can't do enough to show people God's Love, but after that, each of cross is unique.  What does yours look like?
Does it look like hospitality and an open door so your neighbors who don't have a clue God loves them and wants a personal relationship with them may see and know? 
Does your cross resemble a spiritual greenhouse where you plant and water seeds with your gift of teaching, shepherding and nurturing?  
Is your cross a half-way house where you exercise mercy and encourage prodigals to keep moving back home and into the Father's Arms?  
How about a business office where your gift of administration demonstrates Truth, integrity, leadership, fairness, and service so co-workers see what you believe? 
A hospital for hurting ministers? 
A kitchen filled with comfort food for weary warriors or isolated servants? 
A public school filled with so many needs you wouldn't step foot inside without prayer and the Power of the Holy Spirit?  
A disaster relief team? 
A choir loft, orchestra pit, or praise band where you join others to glorify God and encourage His people? 
A food pantry or clothes closet for the poor and needy? 
An altar where you send prayers heavenward for every need people bring to you because you've been blessed with the gift of faith?

Is there any way to escape the truth that God has gifted each of us to carry a cross and sacrifice so others may know Him? . . . because He loved the world, so should we. 
"And I am sure that God, Who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back again." Philippians 1:6

"So, my brothers and sisters, be strong and steady, always enthusiastic about the Lord's work, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless." 1 Corinthians 15:58

"But my life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus -- the work of telling others the Good News about God's wonderful kindness and love." Acts 20:24

Lord forgive us for getting caught up in our frustrations when You've called us to carry out specific callings to bring others to Your throne.  Help us carry our crosses with Your Love, Your Power, Your Peace, and Your Purpose.  What beautiful, significant lives You've planned for us if we'll simply do what You call us to do with the gift and Power You supply.
In the Name of Jesus Who carried the cross and suffered for each of us to know You
Inspired by Live Loved, by Max Lucado

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday, August 28, 2011 - Foresight

"Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  
How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out!" 
Romans 11:33    

 A couple of Sundays ago I shared with some college students what I wish I had known when I started college as well as some tips for success.  Afterwards, I reminded myself that my own college degree felt obsolete as soon as they handed it to me because the next year began the reign of computer technology in the education world. Think back twenty five years: Did you foresee the Internet for everyone or laptops in the classroom ? Yet, these are staples for a college education today. The methods I used for note-taking and research may be obsolete to these students, but the principles of layering knowledge and masterplanning prove to be timeless.  
     God foresaw and foresees every change around us and in us and His Wisdom applies to every generation.  His knowledge encompasses eternity, from the height and breadth of the universe to each cell in the rarest and most miniscule form of life. When we invite Him, He'll hem up the loose ends of the past to fulfill His purpose in us today so we're in position to be part of tomorrow's plan.  While we watch our foot fall onto His path, He's placing the next stepping stone.  When we seek His direction, His Living Word stands off the page to point the way.
"You hem me in - behind and before; 
You have laid Your Hand upon me. 
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
 too lofty for me to attain." 
Psalm 139:5-6
"The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me; Your love, O LORD, endures forever
 -- do not abandon the works of Your Hands." 
Psalm 138:8
"The LORD remembers us and will bless us: 
He will bless the house of Israel, He will bless the house of Aaron, 
He will bless those who fear the LORD -- small and great alike." 
Psalm 115:12
Father, we would do a lot of things differently if we knew what tomorrow held. Thank You for protecting us from knowledge too great, too daunting, for us to assimilate.  We want the one-stepping-stone-at-a-time plan.  We depend on You to bring Your Word to life in us. Your Wisdom is never out of date, never obsolete. Thank You!
In the Name of Jesus Who is the Master Planner, the Truth, and Who holds all knowledge!

Inspired by Max Lucado

Saturday, August 27, 2011

August 27, 2011 - I'll take two!

     We traveled to Florida on highways cut through orange groves quite a bit when I was a child so I believed Anita Bryant when she appeared on our television with a bright smile and a glass of orange juice saying, "A day without orange juice is like a day without sunshine."  I still call orange juice "bottled sunshine." 
     We buy into what's advertised hoping for a sunny day, a confident day, an inspired day, a high energy day, a few productive moments or an over-the-top-experience, yet we must fight our flesh to fully invest in the One Who can provide seven full days of meaningful relationship, a lifetime of significance, and an eternity of mind-blowing experiences in an exotic, exalted land.  Maybe it's the packaging?
"Then He said, 
'If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me." 
Luke 9:23

     Jesus wouldn't have made it in the advertising field, would He? Advertisers dazzle you with why you deserve what they're selling, the benefits, the popularity, the status. Potential customers must ask questions to learn about the difficulties and costs.  Jesus is Truth and yes, salvation is free, but the abundant life costs us what we're going to lose eventually anyway: our lives, our souls, our wills. Instead of scrambling to buy bottles of sunshine and treasures on earth, we need to learn to access the endless array of gifts and riches God places at the next point of obedience.
"But the LORD has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge." 
Psalm 94:22
"If any of you lacks wisdom, 
he should ask God, Who gives generously to all without finding fault, 
and it will be given to him." 
James 1:5 
Father, the road can seem so long when we think only of carrying a cross and look to the side at all the advertised specials the world offers. Give us wisdom to trust You and to stick to Your Footprints.  Fill our days with Your Presence so we're not tempted to look away from the Best to drink what won't satisfy. Bless You for Your Grace and Love to us, seven days a week, rain or shine.
In the Name of Jesus, The Son of Righteousness
Inspired by Live Loved, by Max Lucado
Photo from Google images

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday, August 26, 2011 - In Abba's Arms

     On a visit to the New Orleans Zoo one day, Tom and I were following the trail from exhibit to exhibit when we saw a group of people surrounding a bench where a zookeeper sat with a boa constrictor draped around her shoulders. We joined the group to listen while maintaining  a comfortable distance from the winding creature. 
     As the zookeeper informed us about  boas, a young mother with an 18 month old toddler sat on the bench next to the zookeeper and the snake.  Those of us observing from our safe positions glanced nervously at each other as eyebrows shot upwards in surprise.  We became even more uneasy as the toddler stuck her thumb in her mouth and turned away from the snake, never seeming to realize it loomed nearby. The mother and zookeeper talked intently about boa constrictors while never looking at the snake or the baby. We watched in horror as the snake wound toward the little girl's head.  We inhaled to scream at the careless mother when the toddler turned her head toward the snake, looked him square in the eyes, popped out her precious thumb and kissed that thing on the nose. In went the thumb again and everyone breathed a sigh of relief when the snake lost interest. 
     The mama had owned a boa before she had the baby and had not fear.  Consequently, neither was little girl. There's a picture of trust for you:  "If mama's not scared, then neither am I.  In her arms, I'm in good hands." We hand down so many fears and such a fragile faith from one generation to the next.  God recognizes our fears as a way to teach us to call out to Him and trust Him.  Fear is natural, but letting fear control us leads down paths we don't want to walk: discouragement, isolation, an inauthentic life, unhealthy relationships, loss of sleep, and on and on. When Adam and Eve were afraid, they hid. When Elijah was afraid, he wanted to die. Understandable choices, but not our only choices: When David was afraid, he called to the Lord and wrote a new song.  When Gideon was afraid to lead in battle, he asked for a sign of God's Presence and received it. When Hezekiah was afraid to die, he prayed and God gave him 15 additional years. When Joshua was afraid, God told him to be strong and courageous and to remember whose battle he was fighting.
   Let's take our thumbs out of our mouths, look what we fear square in the eyes, kiss it on the nose, and bring it down to size. As long as we're in God's arms, it can't do anything but loom.  
"The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; 
He will never leave you nor forsake you. 
Do not be afraid; do  not be discouraged." 
Deuteronomy 31:8
"In righteousness you will be established: 
Tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear. 
Terror will be far removed; it will not come near you." 
Isaiah 54:14
"Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD."
 Psalm 31:24 

"Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."
 Luke 12:32

Father, You hold us close to Your Heart and You'll strengthen and encourage us to handle every situation. Remind us to call to You instead of hiding, running, playing dead or freezing in place.  Teach us to see what we fear from Your point of view.  May we develop healthy respects for all experiences and dangers, but may fear have no foothold in our minds. We can't serve You while we're looking for safety outside Your arms. There's no such place.  Teach us to pray as our first response to danger.
In the Name of Jesus Who prayed, and prayed, and Who looked danger in the face and crucified fear
Inspired by Live Loved, by Max Lucado
clipart from Google images

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011 - Me, Myself and I Aren't Speaking

"Come to Me all you who labor and are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28
    Transitions look so much smoother on paper.  Distances appear closer on a map and  fool you into thinking a group of first or fifth graders can get from point A to point B and still accomplish something worthwhile in 15 minutes. Praise God many of our kids' choir classes last night had good experiences, but for the most part, working out the logistics, dealing with emergencies and trying to calm excited children left little time for learning.  I came home whispering "mercy" more times than I care to mention.   
     Running on four hours sleep didn't help since I'm less than my best when I'm tired in body and weary in soul. As a result, "Me," "Myself" and "I" aren't speaking to each other.  I find that if I listen to myself when I'm in this mode I only sink further into self-blame, blaming others, frustration, tears, and "fight and flight," instead of one or the other.  When I'm weary and burdened, overwhelmed or frustrated, it's best to do what Lucado says: "Stop talking to yourself. Talk to Christ, who invites." 
     "I" says "I can't" while "Me" wants to know what's in it for her and "Myself" only worries about what others think, so nothing worthwhile is accomplished until they all go to Jesus and let Him unite them in His Healing Peace and Hope. No tea parties or girls' night out for these three until they sit together at Jesus' feet in praise and prayer mode, handing Him every little logistical and technical difficulty to smooth. 
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." 
Philippians 4:6-7
"Why are you downcast, O my soul? 
Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him." 
Psalm 43:5
Lord, I fall at Your Feet today, praising You that You call me to bring every petition to You.  Clap Your Hand over my mouth and mind when I'm not speaking in problem-solving ways. Lift my spiritual eyes to see You and open my heart to embrace You. Strengthen our immunity to Satan's favorite tool of discouragement. May we stop listening to ourselves and to his influence as we turn ourselves fully to You in faithful praise and petition. Thank You for loving us enough to call us to You on both our best and worst days and all the days between them.
In the Name of Jesus Who trampled the temptation to quit or become discouraged!
Inspired by Live Loved, by Max Lucado and my own shortcomings
photo from Google images

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - From Fear to Fascination to Friend

On one of our many family visits to see Aunt Ruby in Florida. 

     When I was a child, my great Aunt Ruby loved to tell me stories about her childhood because I loved to hear them. My favorites included my strongwilled grandfather, Aubrey, whom I never met since he died when my dad was three. Aubrey and Ruby built a playhouse in the woods where they would go to escape their mother's strict rules to exercise their independence. Ruby could have written a book about the trouble the two of them found as they hunted and cooked and caught the woods on fire with their escapades.
     She painted another picture of her mother fussing at her on the porch to wear her bonnet all the way to school to avoid getting freckles. Aunt Ruby knew her mother was watching, so she would wear the hated bonnet until she was out of sight then rip it off her head and run in the most unladylike fashion the rest of the way to school. Of course her mother spotted a tell-tale freckle one day and out came the switch. 
    While I loved to relive this part of her life with her, my heart would pound when she began telling the stories that would keep me awake for many nights throughout my childhood. One thriller described how she and my uncle came home one night and she sat on the bed to change shoes not knowing there was a burglar hiding under the bed. "Why, he could have grabbed my ankles!" she exclaimed.  She was fascinated with death and the process of dying and told me about times loved ones passed away and witnesses saw the spirits leave the body to float out an open window. But the ones that both fascinated and frightened me most were the angel sightings, especially the story of a loved one who woke to see an angel standing at the foot of her bed. I remember asking, "What did the angel do?"  Aunt Ruby said, "The angel was watching over her." That one had me breaking out in a cold sweat for fear of waking to find anyone standing at the foot of my bed staring at me, but something also thrilled inside me at the hope of seeing a real angel, wings and all. I would lie awake at night trying to build up the courage to face any angel that might show up, but I wouldn't close my eyes for fear one might appear during the blink. It's amazing I stayed awake during school. 
     The Israelites must have had Aunt Rubys who told such stories because they feared seeing or hearing directly from God, Whom they didn't know and certainly didn't understand. Not Moses. Moses had heard how God delivered him from the genocidal pharaoh and crocodile infested waters. Moses had seen God in the burning bush and in his transforming staff.  Moses heard God declare a certain plague would come and saw God send it.  Moses heard God's Voice time and again. When Moses stood with his shocked people between the sea and the soldiers, he cried out to God and God made a way where there was no way. The more Moses knew of God, the more of God Moses wanted to know and see and with every revelation Moses needed less and less of anything or anyone else. 

"The LORD would speak to Moses face to Face, as a man speaks with his friend.  
Then Moses would return to the camp, 
but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent." 
Exodus 33:11

Moses was like an astronaut in training, learning to live in limited circumstances, with limited contact to others, while specializing in rising to places others wouldn't dare go to see the glory of God in ways no one else would see.
"Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and let Your Glory be over all the earth." 
Psalm 108:5
"The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion." 
Psalm 116:5
"I lift up my eyes to You, to You whose throne is in heaven." Psalm 123:1
Lord, do we fear You in the wrong ways? Thrill us with Your Presence. Show us Your God-ness and Wow us with Your Glory!  Revive us with Your whispers of hope and guard us from fearing too much of You.  Cleanse our hearts of anything that makes us fear You'll  speak directly to us: sin, pride, fear of change.  Help us take the time to escape to and enjoy Your Presence. Lift our eyes to You, God of compassion, and reveal Yourself in ways we can't deny or ignore. 
In the Name of Jesus Who met Moses face to Face on the Mount of Transfiguration at yet another height!
Inspired by Live Loved, by Max Lucado
photo from the Trimble family photos

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

August 23, 2011 - No Worries, Mate

"Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." 
1 Peter 5:7
     The 1986 movie Crocodile Dundee brought Australia front and center to Americans who'd never given much thought to the land down under, since it's so far away. The movie triggered a craze for all things Australian and changed travel destinations for many adventurous people. I can't prove it but the movie's success probably played a big role in the 1988 start and subsequent success of Tom's all-time favorite restaurant, Outback Steakhouse. 
     My favorite Australian phrase is "No worries, mate" which, according to the Aussie slang dictionaries I read, is a phrase of assurance. According to the article "How a Two-Word Aussie Catchphrase Can Change Your Life Forever" in David Damron's personal development blog, it's an Australian way of life from which we Americans could learn some balance since it's not all about the beer. According to Damron, Aussies take proactive steps to live the "no worries" lifestyle.
1) Stay debt free (Does Dave Ramsey have a summer home in Australia??)  Many Aussies stay free of debt except for their home mortgages and Austrailians even pay these off at a much faster rate than we do in the States.
2) Don't overreact. 
3) Take life in stride. Life happens, let it happen
4) Love your life. 
     While there's no direct spiritual teaching in these ideas, they do follow Christ's principles. He tells us in His Word to cast our worries on Him and to "Fear Not!'
"For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear,
but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, 'Abba, Father.'" 
Romans 8:15
And isn't fear the root cause of worry? No fear, no worries. If our Abba says, there's nothing to fear, then there's no reason to overreact. If we're taking care of business and have our appetites under control, then we have fewer worries. If someone seems to be manipulating and scheming, we can be still, remember Who's God, cast the anxious thoughts His way and let it go. 
"Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him; 
do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes." 
Psalm 37:7
 If I fall but repent, Abba says, "No worries, child." If I've offended someone and sincerely ask for forgiveness, trying to make restitution and peace, but the other party refuses to forgive, "No worries, child. That's not your problem anymore." We need to actively fling away from us the worry leeches that want to attach themselves to us. For today, pursue  "no worries, mate."

Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday, August 22, 2011 - Shiny New Opportunities

"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory 
that far outweighs them all." 
2 Corinthians 4:17
     The last week has been a marathon of new beginnings. School began and P.E. students can see their reflections in polished wooden gym floors.  Lost and Found boxes are empty. New classes, choirs and ministries began at church and on top of all these changes, our family's making a fresh start in a new home where I finally found the kitchen trash can.
     Newness brings its own brand of distress and discomfort. We like to know exactly where to go, where to sit, what to bring and where the trash can is. We want to feel prepared, but new situations often offer more questions than answers.  

    As we began enlisting people to work in preschool and children's choirs at church, I rejoiced with exceeding great joy to find two of our preschool classes already staffed, experienced and excited.  However, the four-year old class had no leaders, so I asked Beverly to take it, promising to find help for her. I found one volunteer and needed at least one more, two would be better. After several failed attempts, the new activities started falling like dominoes and, still, no one could be found to help with four-year-olds.  It was beyond me. I couldn't fill this need. Trying to buck up and find my faith, (still in a box in the garage?) I took it to the Lord: "Lord, PLEASE send help for that choir - which, by the way, starts next week - Wednesday, August 17 - 6:00 - p.m. I trust You with this, You know who You want to serve in there. This will be Beverly's first time to teach children's choir, please make it a good experience for her. Again, we start next Wednesday, August 17. Amen." 

     Thursday, Friday and Saturday passed with no answer so that by Sunday I had to anchor myself into my seat to keep from rushing through the church like a crazy person threatening to do something drastic if no one volunteered. I prayed again, "Lord, I trust You. You love these kids and You love Beverly. Please send her help for THIS Wednesday, which is now only three days away."

     Monday and Tuesday came and went. Wednesday dawned and it appeared Beverly and Aaron would face the four year olds alone. I prayed and fought off the urge to stress out or melt down and went to the church to prepare for the evening. At 5:00, one hour before Beverly needed help, I found Tom in his office meeting with the Ankney family as they sought places for their 13-year- old twin girls, Avery and Alexis, to serve in the music ministry. God sent twins to meet two needs: their need to serve and Beverly's need for help.  Beverly was thrilled with all three of her co-leaders and had a wonderful first preschool choir experience as the girls fell in love with the four-year-olds.

"He rescues and He saves; 
He performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. 
He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions." 
Daniel 6:27

     You and I will face daily lions that threaten to kick the legs out from under our faith and devour us. Those are the very things God loves to overcome for us. He asks us to trust in Him alone and when we do He works in had-to-be-God ways to bless everyone involved.  
    Today begins a new week, offering us the opportunity to trust God knows what He's doing.  What could happen if we called on Him for fresh Strength, Grace and Wisdom for this new day?   

"O LORD, be gracious to us; we long for You. 
Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress." 
Isaiah 33:2
Lord, thank You for answered prayers. Thank You for knowing who and what we need and for sending them in "had-to-be-God" ways. Loving God, You handle details with care and precision. Help us trust You never to change and to hand over all the threatening lions in our lives. Bless You, Lord, for caring!
In the Name of Jesus, Giver of New Life
Clipart from Google Images

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday, August 21, 2011 - It all lines up

"You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, 
because he trusts in You."
Isaiah 26:3
"Love the Lord Your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." Matthew 22:37
"The LORD gives strength to His people; 
the LORD blesses His people with peace." 
Psalm 29:11
"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. 
With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." 
Ephesians 6:18
     About two years ago I started having what I thought were unrelated pains here and there:  right foot, shoulder, neck, lower back, and the list kept growing.  A trip to Italy was on the horizon and I didn't want pain to take anything away from my experience, so, as a last resort and with some apprehension, I went to an Atlas chiropractic doctor who specializes in the fragile neck area where the nervous system flows through the narrow channel between head and torso. 
    My doctor immediately located the problems which were obvious to her practiced eye, and she began the process of "straightening me out" as she adjusted and readjusted. She taught me to avoid pain-causing habits such as sitting properly at the computer. She pretty much got into every area of my life, from my head to to my toes, recommending neck supports and shoe brands. In about two months, through treatments, exercises and suggestions about what to do and what not to do, she had me in great shape for the trip.
     When we're out of line spiritually, we can only find relief by lining up with the Head of the Body of Christ. We pray for Him to lead, submitting to Him as the Cornerstone of our lives and He aligns our hearts with His. We focus on Him and He directs our paths, protecting us as we walk in His Way. He shows us simple ways to serve Him and keep our priorities straight. He orders our lives: "Love Me first with all your hearts and everything else will line up in the Peace and Strength of the only I can give."
KIng of Goodness and Grace, we hold out our hands and hearts today for Your cleansing and we submit to Your adjustments and readjustments. Help us love You in Your love language and help us receive all the Love You want to pour out on us today.
In the Name of Jesus, the One Who never once stepped out of line
Inspired by Live Loved, by Max Lucado

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Saturday, August 20, 2011 - Feeling Boxed In

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. 
Each day has enough trouble of its own." 
Matthew 6:34
Thank You, God, for boxes on moving day.
     Moving in the heat of an Arkansas August is an experience I wouldn't wish on too many people. Keeping a house cool and fly-less is a mission impossible with the doors opening constantly. On top of the heat, the rental house and the new house seem to be conspiring against us. We've tried to empty the house we rented, but I think people are dropping off boxes and items in the storage room when we're not looking. Yesterday I ran by there after buying groceries to fill the car with what we thought would be the "last of it" only to realize it will take at least one more trip. Meanwhile, the new house is a Lernaean Hydra of boxes: when we empty one, two more appear, filled with miscellaneous items nobody knows where to put. And the phone calls and paper work after a move are enough to make Tom lose the rest of his hair. However, since we're eager to settle in, we keep at it one carload, one box, one room, one phone call, one errand at a time, trying to remember to be thankful for the "stuff" God allows us to have, use, and share.  
     Today we face the choice of opening the box sitting in our way and dealing with its contents, or staring at the garage full of boxes and sitting down in discouragement. We can work or worry, praise or pout, conquer a "box" or quit. Jesus taught us to handle life one day at a time because each day brings new boxes troubles, of its own. 
"Wealth and honor come from You; You are the ruler of all things. 
In Your Hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. 
Now, our God, we give You thanks, and praise Your glorious Name."
1 Chronicles 29:12
"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, 
since as members of one body you were called to peace. 
And be thankful." 
Colossians 3:15
"I call to the LORD, Who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies." 
2 Samuel 22:4
Father, strengthen us to keep our eyes on the day in front of us. We call on You to provide everything we'll need to deal with its contents. Show us how to distribute what You've given us. Direct our thoughts and attitudes about what You allow into our lives today. May we let Your Peace rule our hearts when we want to throw down our swords and give up on fighting tireless enemies. "You are the Source of our strength; You are the Strength of my life! I lift my hands in total praise to You!" 
In the Name of Jesus Who taught how to deal with the guaranteed troubles (and boxes) we would face each day.
Inspired by Live Loved by Max Lucado
photo from Google images

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday, August 19, 2011 - No Comparison

"To whom then will you compare God? What image will you compare Him to?" 
Isaiah 40:18
     Smart phones can do amazing things these days. With the right application, a smart phone can do your comparison shopping for you. As you shop, simply hold the camera on the phone up to the product's bar code to find out where you can get the same product for a better price. Nice! Saves time and money.
     Whether we're intentional about it or not, we're constantly searching for immediate satisfaction that doesn't cost us what we're not willing to give. However, if we're sincere about finding True Satisfaction, our smart heart will always point us back to our Incomparable God. Sadly, most of us fail to run the test before wasting part of our lives on  temporary fixes and worthless, powerless gods. When it comes to lifetime guarantees, long-term satisfaction, and the free gift of salvation by grace and salvation, there is no comparison to our Great God. Warning: He strictly enforces His "no return" policy. 

"Do you not know?  
     Have you not heard? 
          The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  
               He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom."   Isaiah 40:28
"You are worthy, our Lord and God, 
to receive glory and honor and power, 
for You created all things, and by Your will they were created and have their being." Revelation 4:11
" . . . Praise be to the Name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are His." 
Daniel 2:20

Holy God - foolish, shopping humans. Forgive us for constantly searching for what You offer freely.
In the Name of Jesus, our free Gift of Eternal Relationship

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thursday, August 18, 2011 - Addy's Room

"And if I go and prepare a place for you, 
I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." 
John 14:3
     Addy is three months old and in spite of the fact that she probably won't get to visit us here in Benton more than two or three times a year, we have an "Addy room" in our new home.  It has a daybed for which I'll buy a quilt since grandmothers and comforting quilts go together like peanut butter and jelly. On one wall stands a bookshelf filled with all my kids' childhood favorites. We'll put the little wooden table and benches in there that our much-loved pastor, Larry Hill, built for Julie when she was three or four. And, if I can find someone to repair it, I'll put in the rocking chair Paw-Paw Bill built for me when I was three. The closet is a treasure chest of toys: the sturdy Fisher Price doll house, the school bus, a garage, as well as an assortment of stuffed animals. We're getting ready for Addy to play, even if she can't sit up quite yet. However, I look forward to the day she looks forward to coming to Coco and Pop's house and runs to "her" room to see what's new.
     Jesus, with more ideas than HGTV, is preparing a room in His Father's mansion for each of us, even though we may still have a while to go before we get to enjoy them. He has no budget of money and His ideas as the Creator of the universe are limitless, so I wonder how each room will look and what treasures they'll hold. How comforting to know He'll be waiting inside to embrace us and see how we like what He's prepared. 
     Father, thank You for the comfort Your promises give us. Whether we come to You or You come to us, we'll dwell together in the heavenly home You've prepared. Lord, open our hearts to invite people to join us there through You. Teach us to be hospitable with Your Love and thank You for the tender love in which You wrap us.
In the Name of Jesus Who will return to escort us, His Bride, home
"At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other." Matthew 24:30-31
Inspired by Live Loved, by Max Lucado

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday, August 12, 2011 - It's The Little Things That Say "I Love You"

"For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their prayer, 
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." 
1 Peter 3:12
     It's taken me a long time to learn just how attentive God is to our prayers and to the desires of our hearts. When I'm praying and I'm uncertain of my own motives or if I'm asking for too much, I've found the best thing I can do is to sincerely pray, "Lord, if You want us to have this, do this, buy this, commit to this, YOU see that it happens in a way we can't question as Your doing."  His answers provide the pavement for our faith journey in the Noland family.
    As we started looking for "the house," Nick asked for two features: a nice sized bedroom and enough flat concrete area to put up a basketball goal. We prayed, "Lord, if You want these things for Nick then please direct us to the right house." The house God sent us has two bedrooms fitting Nick's hopes and his problem has been choosing between them. As to basketball, the house sits on a flat cul-de-sac containing not one but two goals. Amazing God, blessing us down to the basketball goals!
     One day, the three of us were talking with the owner, Dennis, in the driveway when Tom pointed to the nearest goal and said, "Looks like you've got kids living close by." Dennis agreed and pointed out houses with 11 to 13 year olds living in them before saying, "but the goal is mine, well, yours now if you want it."  Nick heard it himself. No one had mentioned Nick's desire to Dennis. We felt the cul-de-sac with two goals and neighbor kids were the answer to our request, but God had more in store because His is a thorough thoughtfulness to our deepest desires. And, by the way, Dennis's guitar was displayed in the corner and Natalie, Dennis's wife, is French Canadian and speaks French. Amazing God of details, shining His Light for us!
     In the not-so-distant past we've cried to God for help and healing in our family and in our church families and  He's  come to our rescue financially, physically, and spiritually. He's worked out details in miraculous ways we couldn't predict, leaving no paper trail to trace. He's brought prodigals home and broken open His Light of revival from flickers of hope. And, as thrilled and grateful as we are for these big, big blessings, nothing says He's attentive to our personal heart whispers like the blessing of a basketball goal and teammates standing by to play.
"Go and tell Hezekiah, 'This is what the LORD, the God of our father David, says: 
'I have heard  your prayer and seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life.'" 
Isaiah 38:5
"I love the LORD, for He heard my voice; He heard my cry for mercy." 
Psalm 116:1
"Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, 
and He saved them from their distress." 
Psalm 107:19
Praises to You, Lord, for Your thorough thoughtfulness! We love and thank You, loving Abba, for every blessing, great and small. May our hearts always trust Your Love. Guide us to pour this same love on each other, doing our best to give what means the most. 
In the Name of Jesus, Who gave on the cross exactly what our hearts needed and Who, by His resurrection, healed our souls!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thursday, August 11, 2011 - Disco Dust

"for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust."
Psalm 103:14
     Nick quipped last night, "What do you do in a dilemma? You make di-lemma-nade!" I like it and I'm going to keep it as a favorite saying among others I've collected  from wise people through the years.
     When I was 24 and still wet behind the ears about marriage, ministry and later, motherhood, God provided friends with invaluable help and timely advice. Eugenia's favorite saying to soothe was (and still is), "This too will pass, Robin. Just give it time."  Energetic Jane lives according to the school of gumption and would say to herself and to me when either of us faced a tough situation, "You just have to do what you have to do," then she would do what she had to do and, inspired, I would stiffen my spine to do what I needed to do, too. June, gentle June would say, "Balance, Robin, it's all about balance."  All three came to mind today when I read Mr. Max's devotional. 
     The verse at the top of this blog should comfort us. We're as frail as dust, as fragile as clay pots and God knows it but still expects us to "do what we have to do."  People say, "Life's too short to have to deal with..." (difficult people, housework, things I don't enjoy, and so forth) but, as believers we have to be careful with this saying. If we mean "Life's all about getting the most and suffering the least" then God says, "Whoa, there!" Paul wrote, "Our light affliction, which is but for a moment is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (2 Cor. 4:17).  God says, "I'm telling you "this too will will pass (more quickly than you can imagine);" "You've got to do what you've got to do (with My Strength and Wisdom), and "Don't let temporary troubles throw you off balance now because in time I'm going to topple the scales in your favor with the eternal weight of glory."  
     Dance the two-step, dusty friend! Cha-cha-cha, children of God and boogie through those bad days, because God's going to play a glorious new song in no time.
"yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior" 
Habakkuk 3:18
"Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD and delight in His salvation."
Psalm 35:9
"I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. 
For He has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels." 
Isaiah 61:10

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wednesday, August 10, 2011 - You've Got Connections

     We took the final walk-through of the house we're buying here in Benton and said good-bye to the previous owners yesterday. The realtor commented on how wonderfully everything has worked out for both families, how smoothly everything has gone, how the owners were glad we're the family who'll live in the home they've loved, and how so many details (drop in interest rate, earlier closing date) have worked in our favor. 
     "That's God working," I told her.  She glanced at Tom and said, "Yes, I guess in his line of work he has connections." 
     I laughed and said, "But it's a connection everyone can have."  
     When we first fell for "the house" we had no downpayment and couldn't see a way to gather one. So, we prayed, "God, if You want us to have this house, please, provide what we need to get it and we'll use it for Your Glory.  If it's not what You want for us, please, close this door and take away our desire for it."  At one point we had to face facts: we didn't have the money or the time to gather it. So, we laid the house on the altar knowing other buyers were knocking on its door daily. We let go of something we thought we'd never get back or match. 
     That's when God began to work in His mysterious ways: a check from the insurance company for the last house; an escrow account check from the mortgaging bank; a reimbursement check from the hospital. These unexpected answers to our prayer spurred us to tighten our belts and work with God.  Tom became a Craigslist regular, selling what won't fit into the new house. He's also researched every aspect of this experience and has saved us "mucho dinero." Tomorrow, writing the check at closing won't hurt because God has supplied us with more than we needed.   
   God answers prayers and works things out in ways we never could. He wanted us to have the house all along, but He wanted us to relax our hold and let it go so He could give it to us as His gift. Because He's in it, we have no fear. Because He gave it, it's a good gift. Yes, we have "connections," just like you. Kind of makes you want to pray about something, doesn't it?
Lord, may we never go after anything that's not in Your Will. May we always allow You to steer us in Your paths and direction. Forgive us for questioning You when we don't get what we want when we think we need it. Forgive us for pouting as if You delight in keeping the best of life from us. Help us do our part in the prayer department by connecting with You in Your Character and Will. Transform every desire into one that honors and glorifies Your Name then do what You do best: work miracles so we know You're in it.
In the Name of Jesus Who taught us to ask God for anything
"In all your ways acknowledge Him, 
and He will make your paths straight." 
Proverbs 3:6
 "And I will do whatever you ask in My Name, 
so that the Son may bring glory to the Father." 
John 14:13

"I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of Him." 
1 Samuell 1:27
 "I sought the LORD, and He answered me; 
He delivered me from all my fears." 
Psalm 34:4
Inspired by Live Loved, by Max Lucado
Photo of "the house"