He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Psalm 40:3a

Monday, September 18, 2017

Today Is Here And Now

I was struck with the phrase, “today is here and now,” recently. While that sounds a little simplistic and obvious, I can't help but think of the recent events that have changed lives forever. There have been fires ravaging the Western states of Montana, Wyoming, California, Oregon and Washington.  

A deadly heat wave is occurring in Italy, France, Switzerland and other countries, while deadly monsoons are wreaking havoc across India, Pakistan and more. Hurricane Harvey, down in Texas created catastrophic destruction with enormous flooding, followed by Hurricane Irma in Florida, while Hurricanes Lee and Maria hover on the outskirts. 

As I watched the storms days before they hit land, I couldn't help but feel uneasy.  It was probably justified, given their strength, even though our particular family wasn't directly affected.  Since the storms, there has been comments on both sides of the board.  Some share horror stories of losing everything they had, including loved ones.  Others recite miracles, because not only was their home spared, but lives, as well.

As my anxiety from the storms rose, as they neared land, I was reminded that regardless of my emotions, there was not a single thing I could do about it!  I had to leave the results in a Power much higher and greater than mine.  That might sound trite to the family who lost everything, yet, that's truth.

Granted those in the direct path of the storms were encouraged to evacuate and if they didn't heed the warning, placed themselves and their families at risk. That's not to say, even fleeing would guarantee safety, because not one of us is promised a single breath past our last one.

Still, the point is, we have to live for today--- like it could be our last one.   This is now...this is the moment we must focus on, put our trust in an all knowing God, and move forward.  Worrying about tomorrow and over things we have no control, is futile and will always fail us.

We can hold onto our memories and even have dreams and goals to work toward.  But we do not own those moments.  When we rely on our memories, regardless how cherished, to move forward, we will find we are destroying the progress of today.  This is our moment---our gift, if you will.  This is now, our current center, and the place we must choose to move from, ---forward – if we plan on living life to the fullest, and in the way God intended.

When we can believe in God's grace, knowing he wants only the best for us....especially when life's trials seem more than we can deal with, we will experience peace beyond understanding---even when we are experiencing trials or grieving.

So I encourage you to reach way down within you.  Dig out the remains of your faith, and be thankful for wherever you are and whatever blessings you can can see--- and perhaps, even in your sadness, those blessings that seem to be alluding you.  God is all around, and often more so when we are at our worst.  He wants us to call out to him in our distress. 

Will our broken world see an immediate fix? Likely no; but with a positive attitude and new found faith, we can change our moments, so "now" is manageable, regardless the situation.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Nothing New Under The Sun

         I saw a post some time ago that listed things that were wrong in this person’s world…. She was ill, came from a broken family, splintered marriage, was lied to, searched by police, lost her home, dealt with depression and bipolar disease and on and on and on!

            It struck me that this person seemed to be smothering in a serious case of self-pity.  I’ve seen others in this same place and I’ll admit when a person is facing so much adversity in their world, surely they must believe no one else can possibly understand their feelings.  What’s interesting, however, is that each of us have been dealt a life of adversity, albeit on different levels.  It’s largely how we handle our misfortunes that really makes a difference.

            Hurricane Harvey hammered Texas this last week and those folks are reeling from their losses.  Surely they have reason to be immersed in self-pity.  What an awful situation, that will take weeks or even months or years to work through.  Some even lost family members.  Restoration will be horribly slow, painful, costly and depressing!

            When reading Ecclesiastes, it’s interesting to note that ultimately the writer realizes there is “nothing new under the sun.”  All of our situations are of this world and therefore, viewed from our perspective in this realm.  When going through hard times, it’s excessively difficult to see beyond the situation we are in.

            Scripture encourages us to look beyond the complexities of our life in this world.  We are supposed to focus on the world that will come.  When we can look beyond this world, we are turning our eyes on God, rather than on ourselves.  Our “situations” while unpleasant, can be used to draw us closer to Christ, teach us lessons we can’t learn any other way, or become a tool to make our faith stronger.

            Along with diligent prayer and communion with the Father, there are things we can do to “better our situation.” Sometimes it requires removing those things in our lives we know are bad for us, while working hard for what we want most in life.  We need to be thankful for what we have and attempt to enjoy where we are currently.  It’s important to learn something new every day and embrace the challenges life hands us with a positive attitude; and lastly, we need to remember to like ourselves first, because when we don’t like (or love) ourselves, then no one else can either!

            There is a long list of other things we can implement in our lives that will promote positive outcomes, but sometimes it’s hard to see when we are “down,” not unlike the writer of Ecclesiastes.  Life is challenging and sometimes downright hard.  But God’s grace is good.  When we can step back from the problems, make wise choices based on what we’ve gleaned from God’s Word, other Believers and God, Himself, during our prayer time, we have put in place the scenario of healing and productivity. 

            I encourage you to re-evaluate anything you are going through today.  Know there is likely someone else whose situation is much worse than yours or mine.  Negativity feeds on itself, and darkens perspective.  Look for what God is teaching, and remember He knows all….  And there is nothing new under the sun!  

Monday, August 28, 2017

Creation or Creator?

             The eclipse this past week was amazing!  Some families drove thousands of miles to be certain they would be in the exact line of coverage, so they could “experience” it.  Others  from around the world came to the United States to see the event!  People marveled as they watched the sun being covered by the moon.  There are tales of people celebrating like it was New Year’s or proposing marriage, dancing or other such behaviors.  They were captivated like it was the “end all, be all.”  Then there was darkness…… and then it was over.

            I agree, the eclipse was a once in a lifetime event (unless you count the one that is supposed to happen again in seven years!) that was a wondrous example of God’s great creation!  And that’s the point.  It was an event completely in God’s plan, just like the storm in the desert or a beautiful double rainbow.  Yet, as a society we have elevated this “eclipse event” to something beyond a “natural phenomenon.”  It became a source of excitement that surpassed anything else of importance on that particular day. 

            Is it possible during this “event” we took our eyes off Christ, the Creator, and focused totally on his creation?  Did we place a higher worth on the eclipse than we did God, even if for a moment?  Some would call this idolatry.  And while that may seem extreme, whenever we place anything or anyone before The Lord, that’s exactly what it is!

            It’s easy for Believers to recognize the “end times.”  They are all around us, even to the “natural disasters” that seem to be plaguing the world.  Just this week – even as I write this – there is a horrific disaster occurring in Texas, as Hurricane Harvey pounds the area with wind and rain.  Can we look at that “event” as another natural phenomenon….yet as a sign of the last days? 

            A hurricane, is after all, truly a natural event….yet, because of the devastation and death it creates we don’t look at that as anything wonderful---rather, and rightly so, it’s horrible!  We don’t for a moment, look at that as anything worth getting excited about, rushing to “watch” or even driving hours to be a part.  We instead, again, rightly so, recoil, with horror.  Yet, this too, is part of God’s creation.

            I suggest these ‘acts of nature’ should be viewed as something spectacular and powerful that demonstrates God’s awesome power, even though one is received with joy and wonder, while the other is cause for grief and sadness.  When we consider it is God who grants mercy and love to each of us, we can reflect on the ‘occurrence’ with awe in the Creator rather than the creation.

            I encourage you to reflect on how you view these amazing acts of nature.  Are they greater than the Creator?  Is there more joy and excitement found in studying these unusual phenomenon, than there is studying about our Lord and Savior?  It’s easy to get caught up in all the hype.  It’s harder to admit, we perhaps have gone a little overboard, and ask forgiveness for tilting our worship, even when done without deliberate intention.  ……yet…..  repentance is the right thing to do.