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

Monday, June 30, 2014

Surely Not There!

           There is a man in church who was asked if he’d be interested in leading our Sunday School class for a single Sunday.  His response….. “Sure if you give me about a year to prepare.  I’m a Moses.  I need someone to speak for me!”  Aren’t we all a lot like that?  Don’t most of us shy away from anything that takes us out of our comfort zone?

            I had a speaking engagement this past week which delights, yet amazes me.  I remember in high school having to give a book report, and wouldn’t you know, I lost my voice the day before I was scheduled and didn’t get it back full strength for several days afterward.  I couldn’t get above a whisper.  I was terrified!   Now, I’ve never been accused of not being able to have a conversation with someone.  In fact, I’m often quick to speak with a stranger, especially since I believe all strangers are just friends we haven’t met yet!  (I think I’ve shared that comment before!)  My point is, chatting is rarely difficult for me; but the idea of getting in front of a group of people and talk about a subject for an extended period of time has always scared me silly!

            Then I went to college. I took Education classes and many of those classes required speaking in front of your peers.  After all, face it!  If you’re going to teach, you’re going to have to talk in front of others, even if they are only first or second graders!  I discovered, as I kept needing to present, that I actually enjoyed it!  Boy was I surprised! 

            That said, the very idea of presenting something in front of a “paying” audience is still intimidating.  But one morning as I finished in prayer, I was just still and waited on God.  All of a sudden I could see me speaking to an audience…and it wasn’t small!  I was terrified….yet…  I heard me say….  “Here I am, Lord.  Send me!”  

            Now I have no idea how any of that might come about, but I can tell you once I posted that I was available for speaking, the same week, I was offered an opportunity.  It was not before a filled auditorium, but rather some very kind ladies who allowed me to share my heart and then blessed mine by sharing theirs.  I tell you all that because I believe we ask God for guidance but are often afraid of His answers.  We are just certain we can’t possibly do what He wants us to do.  We feel inadequate, unable, uneducated, lacking in skills, or totally incapable for following through effectively what suddenly rises before us.   We feel like Moses!  Will I ever present before a large group?  I can’t know that!  But seeing an empty (or full) auditorium is intimidating!

            What does that say about our faith?  I suggest when we are so afraid, we doubt God’s ability to sustain us and see us through whatever he has called us to do.  Rather than “going forth with confidence,” we are saying, “Surely not there!”  

            God doesn’t need to use extraordinary people to further his cause or lead an army.  He chooses to use those least likely (like me!) to think they can!  It kind of goes with that line in the song, “Jesus Loves Me:”   “I am weak, but HE is strong.”  When we are weak, frail, unable to see our way clear, or recognize our strength; it doesn’t matter.  God is strong, mighty, powerful, totally able to see the whole picture and knows what HE is capable of!  All we have to do is have a heart for Him and trust Him to know He knows what he’s doing, even if we can’t see it!

            I challenge you this week to really, really listen in those quiet moments with God.  What is He telling you?  Where do your thoughts run?  What is your heart telling your mind?  I ask you, could you be hearing our Lord speak, asking you to step out of your comfort zone?

Monday, June 23, 2014

A Reflection Of Who We Are

Driving home from town today, I was struck by the very many different houses.  I saw what looked like a red brick historical one, a new one with many different roof angles, an octagonal structure, two story, single story, square, large and spacious, one with many windows, one with only several windows and even one (a mobile home) which had been stripped of its metal siding revealing studs and a layer of insulation.  It was being used as a dump station.  Trash could be seen through the windows.  And finally, the house that was run down and in need of a little TLC (Tender loving care.) 

            Our homes are often a reflection of ourselves.  When the yard and surrounding area is tidy, I picture a family that is also tidy and clean.  On the flip side, a yard that is cluttered with trash makes me wonder what the inside looks like.  Houses also reflect the personality of its occupants.  The color, if bold and saucy, lends me to believe the occupants probably are too.  If the colors are gentle earth tones, I get a feeling of peacefulness. 

 Does this mean all houses directly reflect those who live within?  No, probably not.  Yards that are perfectly manicured, with houses that are painted in complimentary colors and completely beautiful on the outside, can be filled with hate and anger on the inside.  The reverse is true, as well.  Homes that are beat up and run down may house occupants that are entirely loving, happy and carefree.

It’s interesting, I think, to look at a house and wonder about the people inside.  I think it’s sad to see an empty house.  It looks lonely and lost.  It makes me wonder what people think when they see my house.  Do they see happiness and contentment or sad and lonely, or worse, anger?

Our outer personal exterior is much the same.  When a person sees me, what do they see?  Do they see an honest portrayal of who I am?  Do they see a friendly, happy person or one that is grumpy and unkind?  Or are they not seeing me at all as everything I portray, is false?

Is my heart “open” with many windows or locked behind a shell of sadness and despair?  Am I bold and saucy with little regard for another’s feelings—or bold and saucy in the sense of outgoing, playful and lively; or am I kind and gentle?  Am I like the house with many different angled roofs so I project different things to different people? Is my life filled with trash for the all world to see, or do I hide my garbage from the world and expose it to only those closest to me?  Am I run down and tired, like the house which needs a little tender loving care? 

While we should be who we really are with people (as long as it’s not unkind!), God knows not only who we truly are, but He also knows our motives.  He knows what drives us to work hard, or be honest, courageous or strong.  He knows our weaknesses.  And like the house without occupants, he knows when we are lonely or sad.  It matters not what we try to hide from others, God still knows. 

I challenge you this week, to consider what you project to other people.  Does your exterior behavior reflect your interior---your heart?  Or are you hiding much of what you don’t want the world to see?  Are you filled with pain and anger, or joy and love?  If what you see isn’t what you want others to see, should you consider making changes?

Monday, June 16, 2014

God’s Got This

            This past week friends of mine had to endure distressing circumstances which threatened to overcome the family with fear and grief.  In another family, God called a loved one home.  Still another family deals with abusive behavior and another, myriad medical problems.  There are friends facing marital issues, and problems with children.  There are those who are having financial issues and wonder where their next meal is coming from.

            Does it ever strike you that our world is turned upside down?  I read today that the United States exists only as a fragile friend with Israel.  Another school had a shooting where a student and the assailant died.  Where does it stop?  There is so much pain in the world; it can be really hard to maintain a positive attitude.

            We find ourselves feeling like drops of water being hurled over a cliff with such intensity and in such magnitude that we get lost in the torrent.  With each movement the quickening pace causes the power and force to make us feel like we are headed into oblivion.  But God…. (I love that thought….  But God!).  But God knows where every single drop of water is headed.  A time comes when those little drops of water reach a resting place; where the water is calm and quiet. And, like the water, a time comes when my heart can let go and “let God” because I know God’s got this!   It is here I can smile.  

I can smile because despite the thrashing Satan tries to give me, there is reason for wonderment and delight.  Our thirteenth grand baby was born this week and during this next week grand baby number fourteen should make his arrival.  There is joy!  Not only can delight be found in the birth of new little ones, but in the world around us, even if we must look for it!  

            My spirit can soar because I have friends I hold close to my heart.  I can rejoice because the sun rose this morning which allows me another day to serve the God I love.  I can be glad that I can be productive and use the gifts God’s given me, even if it’s no more than a smile and sharing an encouraging word.  I can celebrate the life of Christ and His resurrection.  I am uplifted with good Gospel music and be excited about life even when Satan attacks everything that seems worthwhile in my life.  There is reason for joy.

            I am resigned to live the best I can in whatever situation I am in.  That said, sometimes when the worries, fears, sorrows, grief and ugliness of this world assail me, I know I must turn my eyes to the cross and place my knees on the ground and just know in my heart that, “God’s got this!”  

            It is my prayer this week, you too can look at life in the wonderment and joy of Christ’s creation.  We all face challenges.  Remember, if God can keep track of all those tiny droplets of water pitching over the cliff, then he certainly can follow you and all that goes on in your life.  Trust Him. Believe in His love for you.  Then you, too, can smile, and know, “God’s got this!”

Monday, June 9, 2014


            A friend of mine, many states away, is having financial issues and runs the real risk of losing the apartment she lives in.  Faced with the uncertainties, other options seem available, although unreasonable!  One is to live on the streets; not a good option.  Another is to move in with family, most are too far away or don’t have the required space and another is to move in with a neighbor, albeit of male gender.  Again, not really a possibility given they aren’t married and it would not be a good testimony since everyone would assume they were “living together” as husband and wife and not just friends.

            This is just one instance where people judge on what they see, not what they know.  Another might be the way a parent disciplines a child.  Spanking a child has become nearly illegal and confused with abuse in some arenas.  It is considered a brutal and dangerous form of discipline.  Yet, we can witness our younger generation becoming more and more volatile and aggressive and I suggest this comes from the lack of discipline rather than enforcing it, even if it means a spanking!  But as parents we are faced with the reality that if spanking is necessary and carried out in public, someone could actually report us to the authorities and then the “powers that be” would have the right to investigate and create all kinds of issues most of us would much rather not deal with!
            Another situation is described by a friend who went on a journey of good will and entered an establishment bearing gifts of cookies to the occupants.   Had a person with an ax to grind, a chip on their shoulder or just a plain nasty attitude witnessed the entry or exit of this person carrying out this act of kindness without knowing all the details, the action could have easily been misconstrued.

            What of our faith?  I wonder if there are times when we display behaviors, attitudes, or conversation that isn’t Christ like at all.  How do others view us?  Are we being misunderstood or are we displaying who we really are?  Are we saying one thing, but living another?  Are we projecting hypocrisy?  

            Non-believers can view our faith as a meltdown if they can’t see courage in place of despair, triumph over defeat, or belief in place of doubt.  We all certainly experience all these emotions but what we project to others defines us; specifically what we believe.  As we deal with our personal feelings of negativity, do we give them to the Lord and ask that He “re-define” them?  Do we expect to give our best with whomever we encounter or even when no one sees?  Are we being honest with ourselves and others?  Are we walking in the Light so others can see we don’t want to be misunderstood?

            I challenge you this week to consider your lifestyle, your behaviors and conversations.  Are you projecting the Christ or something different?  Could people misunderstand where you stand on issues facing our world because you aren’t quite firm on how you feel about the matter? Or do you choose to be “politically correct” and not comment for fear of creating tension, even when you know where God stands on the subject?  Not standing up for what you believe; is not standing up for anything.  It is a stand which could easily be misunderstood.