Friday, March 22, 2013

Dance Like . . .Oh, Who Are We Kidding?

"Those who know You, LORD, will trust You;
You do not abandon anyone who comes to You."
Psalm 9:10 (GNT)

How many of us can really dance like nobody's watching when there are, in fact, other seeing beings around? Let's face it, no matter how confident we feel when we're alone, most of us become inhibited in the presence of people. Which makes me wonder, how relaxed will we be in heaven? Think of the effort we put forth down here on this globe, just to be "socially acceptable."  
How often in one day do we:
    *bite our tongues instead of speaking what we'd really like to say?
    *work to please employers, to keep our jobs, and to have what's expected? 
    *fret over the "theys" who tell us how to dress, think, and vote?  
    *strain to keep the boat steady? 
    *word what we say carefully to avoid discomfort?
    *pretend all is well when we're anything but well?
    *fib to skirt confrontation?
    *justify to allay guilt?
    *refrain from action to deflect rejection?
    *trim down and stuff in our unique qualities for the sake of fitting in with others?
    *keep our guards up, our secrets covered, our pride swallowed?

All this work to be socially acceptable exhausts the soul, and it's unnatural for believers  since we have One Who accepts us, maskless and without the frosting.  We, friends, have a Safe Place to be freely real and uniquely expressive. 
"to the praise of the glory of His grace, 
by which He made us accepted in the Beloved."  
Ephesians 1:6
We don't offend God by telling Him what He already knows.  We can't thank or praise Him in a "wrong" way. We don't wear on His nerves with our quirks and flaws. He won't fire us, expel us, eject us, shun us, avoid us, leave or forsake us.  We are "in" with Him and complete in Him.  

"And in Him, you have been made complete."
 Colossians 2:10

Trusting God, we bloom in His acceptance, dropping all pretense, formalities and self-consciousness.  In the freedom He gives, we can "make a joyful noise" of love and praise that pleases Him.  

"Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, 
and make a joyful noise unto Him with psalms." 
Psalm 95:2 (KJV)

Practicing trust, we diminish our efforts to please anyone other than Him, and we learn to dance, sing, live and love in the acceptance of the only One Who matters after all.  

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Toddler Maturity

"Surely God is my salvation;
I will trust and not be afraid.
The LORD, the LORD Himself, 
is my strength and my defense,
He has become my salvation.
With joy you will draw water 
from the wells of salvation."
Isaiah 12:2-3

When I kept Addy a few weeks ago, we walked to a nearby field on pretty days to play with balls and bubbles.  One day, as we made the trek, we heard a dog barking behind a nearby fence. We were commenting on the sound puppy dogs make when the dog suddenly snarled viciously at us through the fence. Addy's eyes widened as she turned to bury her head in me and hold up her arms to be held. My protective instincts had kicked in so I met her half-way, leaning down to pick her up and get her away from there, fence or no fence. It was so beautifully  choreographed - her reaching up for protection and me reaching down to protect.  We made it to the field, enjoyed our time together, and forgot about the snarling dog.  

Addy, ready to make the trek
 to the field where we played.
Addy knew where to turn and she did. She took her eyes off the danger and buried her little body into the safety of mine. She didn't have far to go since we were already holding hands.

Robin, learn from your toddler granddaughter!  

1) Stick with God and He'll take you to some great places where you can enjoy His company and attention.
2) Hold His hand so you're walking as closely in step with Him as possible, and learn to trust Him.
3) Hold His hand so when danger crashes in on the scene, you can turn your eyes into His Presence and away from the danger.
4) Understand He is always alert and reaching down to carry you through the danger. 
5) Move on with God, sing and play, and don't let snarling dogs ruin the day.

"Surely You have granted him unending blessings

    and made him glad with the joy of Your presence."
Psalm 21:6

Father, forgive us for our fascination with danger, sin, borders, edges, cliffs, snakes and snarling dogs. Give us the faith of a toddler who is smart enough to recognize danger and turn to safety. May we see and hear the menace and run to You.  Train us to keep our eyes on You rather than facing threats on our own. Help us stay in step with You daily so we learn to trust Your heart and know You're more than ready, beyond able, and lovingly willing to grab us up into Your mighty and safe arms - whether we're in danger or just for the joy of our relationship!
In the Name of Jesus Who said, "Abide in Me" 
"I am the Vine, you are the branches.  When you're joined with me and i with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant.  Separated, you can't produce a thing.  Anyone who separates from Me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with Me and My words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon.  This is how my Father shows who He is--when you produce grapes, when you mature as My disciples." John 15:5-8 (The Message)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Let's Be with That A Minute

     My sweet friend, Rhonda, and I once attended a community seminar on healthy eating for the digestive system.  The zealous woman in charge (bless her heart) was passionate about her subject.  Anytime she made a statement she wanted us to absorb, she would suddenly stop, gaze above our heads and say with a tinge of awe at her own sagacity, "Let's be with that a minute."  Silence. Crickets chirp. Just as suddenly, she resumed her animated speech on fiber and regularity.  
     We still say "Let's be with that a minute," when topics become awkward or uncomfortable, or when we're not sure how to respond to what other people (bless their hearts) say that makes no sense to us.  
     God, passionate about His Son, basically said, "Let's be with that a minute" to Peter, James and John after they witnessed Jesus' transfiguration on top of a mountain.  Peter, stunned by seeing Jesus in His glory and talking with Elijah and Moses (didn't they die?) began babbling about building three tabernacles.  God stilled Peter's mouth and hands by enveloping the group in a bright cloud: "This is my Son, Whom I have chosen; listen to Him." (Luke 9:35)  Then, according to Luke, they took more than a minute to process this revelation: "The next day, when they came down from the mountain, . . ." (Luke 9:37).
     Reading the print on Bible page doesn't let the Word sink in deep where we need it.  Repeating prayers doesn't do it either.  However, God's Word transforms our hearts and transfigures our lives when we take time to open ourselves and fully absorb His revelation and His voice.  Jesus and the three disciples were praying when heaven opened; they were prepared and in the right posture.  They stayed put to process God's Words and the hope of resurrection they saw in Elijah and Moses briefly appearing on earth.  Peter later wrote:
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.  This inheritance is kept in heaven for you."  1 Peter 1:3-4

Ah, Peter, you got it! Let's be with that a minute.

"Father, our culture teaches us to rush and do and we burn out quickly.  Guide our prayers to prepare our hearts and minds for  Your revelations.  Still and shush us to listen to Your Voice and to process what You're teaching us.Sometimes, we run down the mountain with a little knowledge and do more harm than good.  Transform and renew our minds, hearts and mouths.  May we swim upstream and refuse to be swept away by the rush of bits and pieces of Truth. 
In the Name of Jesus, Who prayed and Who fully pleases His Father. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Unlimited Expertise

"So do not worry about tomorrow; it will have enough worries of its own.
There is no need to add to the troubles each day brings."
Matthew 6:34

"LORD Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in You." 
Psalm 84:12

     The day came last week when I had to face the "boogey man" computer program I've dreaded for a year.  When I first started working for the judge, someone came and showed me how to access and use several programs to do my job.  I promptly forgot what I didn't understand (most of it) and have used only what I've needed on a daily basis.  But, the time has come to dig deeper, to master my fear and to dominate this frightful program.  It didn't start well: nothing worked and I felt like I was in a land where no one spoke my language.  
     When I called the helpline, (I'm not proud when it comes to technology) a nice young man led me through steps which gave him remote access to my computer. A strange combination of relief and anxiety overcame me as I watched the cursor on my screen come alive to glide across the screen and click on boxes which dropped twenty mysterious options. It magically deleted excess information and updated what was left  - all within a matter of minutes and without my help.  When the job was complete, the young man exited my computer and placed the reigns (mouse) back in my hands.  
     Do we see God's work in our lives this way? As some sort of helpline we call to take over, clean out and update when we're nervous, frightened, confused, uncertain?  Do we take the reigns back when the way seems clear or until the next glitch occurs?
     If so, we're missing out on all our Mighty God wants to do in and through us, with or without the glitches.   He's more than a temporary helpline who takes over to clean up our messes or get us through the scary parts of life.  He's the 24/7 All-Knowing Friend, Brother, Savior, Consolation, Guide, Teacher, Tutor, Father, Boss, Shepherd, Strength, Wisdom, Physician, Psychologist - Whoever we need Him to be every minute of today so that tomorrow we're already on track.  He offers us love, joy, peace, rest, relief, forgiveness, understanding, opportunity, reprimand, guidance, patience - whatever we need for the moment - so we're in the right place at the right time to be blessed. 
     I like knowing the nice young man or one of his co-workers is on the other end of the line when I need computer help, but that's where his expertise and input end in my life.  God's expertise knows no end. Any day I fail to invite Him to take the reigns is a day I don't live up to what He could and would do through me. 

Father, take today and make it what You want it to be. Clean out the excesses of materialism and self-absorption. Update stale faith.  Open the hearts within our hearts to deeper lessons, life and love.  May today be a day we live and move in You. Do all that You desire and make us who You created us to be in Jesus Christ. 
In the Name of Your Son, "God With Us" - Who sent the Holy Spirit to work in us.


Friday, March 15, 2013

Thank You for All of It

"The Lord your God is with you;
    his power gives you victory.
The Lord will take delight in you,
    and in his love he will give you new life.
He will sing and be joyful over you."  Zephaniah 3:17

 “Ask, and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you." Matthew 7:7

Thank You, God for sitting right here with me at this desk through each day.  Thank You for the small victories experienced in this room - a working copier, reliable computer, delightful co-workers, joyful conversations with people I've never seen, and the opportunities to grow. Thank You for divorces dropped, spouses reconciled, children cared for, issues resolved, bad habits broken, addictions addressed, wisdom dispensed, marriages performed, laws enforced, and cases closed.  

Thank You for helplines when technologies fail us. Thank You for resources people have worked hard to perfect and to make our jobs more doable.  Thank you for breaks to revive and lunch hours to nourish.  You sing over us all day each day - help us sing our love song back to You for every gift - great or small, direct or indirect, sweet or spicy, easy or challenging.
In the Name of Jesus Who promised we would find treasure when we seek it. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Birds in Bare Trees

  Trust in the Lord and do good;

    dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:3-4

  On my way in to work today I chose to mainstream and ended up in traffic. You'd think a town the size of Benton wouldn't suffer from car congestion but certain routes around the schools fill up fast. 
   While sitting in line to turn left at the stop sign, I enjoyed a view of our beautiful Presbyterian church building. Its charming, compact architecture invites passersby in to pray and meditate.  In the side yard closest to our parade of impatience, two bare trees boasted one bird each. One held a fat scarlet-bellied  cardinal and the other tree held an even fatter mockingbird.  I switched off my CD and rolled down the window to hear their songs. They took turns showing off their repertoires and precisely at 8:00 a.m. the Methodist church bells joined them to fill in the background. 
     Dear friends, people need to hear believers singing from bare trees. God's good in the winter, even when we don't understand our lack or our loss.  He knows how it ends, when it ends, and most importantly why it must be the way it is for now. Whatever tree God places us on and on whatever limb we cling, may we sing out with joy simply because He's swaying on the bare limb in the bare tree with us, and He is enough. 

Why should I feel discouraged?
Why should the shadows come?
Why should my heart feel lonely,
and long for heaven and home?

When Jesus is my portion,
a constant Friend is He,
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

I sing because I'm happy -
I sing because I'm free.
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.
Habakkuk 3:17-18

 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" Matthew 6:26