February 29, 2016

Not A Cookie Cutter

A long time ago, probably early or mid-80’s, I was listening to a Sandi Patty CD. Or maybe it was a cassette tape? Yes. It was a cassette. It was a long time ago… 

Between songs she spoke about the days she was going through voice training and her instructor asked her if she wanted to sing like Barbara Streisand or Karen Carpenter or someone else whose name I can’t remember. Sandi Patty said she wanted to have her own voice. She didn’t want to merely imitate someone else. She understood she had her own God-given individual and unique style.

That always stuck with me. Not because I have a singing voice, not at all. But every aspect of life can take you down that road of trying to be like someone else instead of being yourself.

Did you ever try to be a better mother by modeling someone else’s style even when it didn’t fit you?

Ditto on being a better wife, homemaker, better cook…being a better fill in the blank__________.

For me the blank would be being a better writer.  I have to resist thinking I should try to be more like other more popular writers and stay true to the vision God has given me for my writing.

We have to resist the temptation all the time to beat ourselves up because we don’t have the flair or talent this person or that person has.

What it comes down to is being our own person. After we have measured ourselves against what others are doing and how they are doing it, we must realize that it is time to be ourselves and be good with that.

It is time to appreciate how we have been made and what our strengths are. It is time to understand that our uniqueness comes from God and it isn’t going to look like anyone else’s uniqueness.

I am not the product of a cookie cutter. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am a masterpiece, a workmanship created for good works. 

Psalm 139:13-14
For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
 


Ephesians 2:10 
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

February 23, 2016

Invisible

I woke up today and I felt small. Why? It was because I fell into the trap of comparing myself to others. 

I doubt that I am the only one that does that. You might also be feeling small, insignificant, and maybe even invisible sometimes. I have felt all of those at one time or another.

But I reminded myself that my Bible that tells me different. I have read how God worked in the lives of insignificant and invisible people in a mighty way. I could easily think of five men who God moved from a place of insignificance to a position of great ranking.

David was invisible and God handpicked him while a young shepherd and anointed him to be the king of Israel.

Joseph was invisible while falsely imprisoned – until his appointed time when God promoted him to second in command to Pharoah in Egypt and was used by God to save the people from famine.

Moses was invisible, feeling defeated and done on the back side of the desert until God burned a holy bush and called him to let His people go.

Nehemiah was invisible during his captivity as a cup bearer for King Artaxerxes and God enabled him to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

Gideon was invisible as he hid threshing wheat in a winepress when the Angel of the Lord appeared and called him a mighty warrior and God gave him a victory in battle with only three hundred men.

Recalling the accounts of each of these men assured me that God sees me. He sees you. We are not invisible to Him. But if you feel that way today I would suggest you read about David, Joseph, Moses, Nehemiah and Gideon. Let their stories tell you what they told me today. We are not invisible.



David: 1 Samuel 16:1-13, Joseph: Psalm 105:16-22, also see Genesis 41:39-41, Moses: Exodus 3:1-10, Nehemiah: 2:4-6, Gideon: Judges 6:11-12

February 21, 2016

Crooked Paths


Psalm 37:24
Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds him with His hand.
 
Like myself, have you beat yourself up lately because in all your best efforts you still didn’t get it right and instead, messed things up and made things worse? Are you still lecturing yourself on the ten ways you could have handled that situation more smoothly?

In our own human frailty we often make mistakes. We don’t always get it right. But the good news is that our heavenly Father will lovingly smooth them out or correct them. Through His mercy and kindness He redeems our mistakes and our failings and then He turns them into a place of growing and learning.

We are often frustrated, but in God’s sovereignty, we will find that He uses all the twists and turns we experience to build our faith and teach us life lessons that will help us farther down the road. With our valuable lessons learned, we can help others as they navigate their own journey through life. This is an important value of a lesson learned, passing it on to others.

God doesn’t expect perfection from us, but He does want our yielded heart, and He wants our faith and trust placed solely in Him. He will ultimately lead us where we are supposed to go, even when the journey often takes us down some crooked paths along the way.


Why do I stumble and fall? Why does He pick me back up?
Why do I falter and can’t find my way? Why is He patient with me?

Why do I follow the fork in the road when He wants me to go straight ahead?
Why do I stop when I hear Him say yes? Why is He patient with me?

Why do I ask what I already know? Why do I question His ways?
Yet, He’s always kind and merciful and He’s always so patient with me.

February 18, 2016

The Lord Reigns


I have been thinking about how we (Christians/Christ followers/believers) live our lives and although sometimes it is unintentional there are other times it is very intentional - we live like we are in control.

We are not in control. We are not Lord of our own lives. That is the exact opposite of faith and trust. It is the complete opposite of yielding and following. It is the total opposite of making God the foundation of our lives. Yet every ounce of our being cries out to be in charge of our lives…and fix everything.

When God is the foundation and center of our lives, He isn’t just part of our lives, He is our life in every fiber of our existence, and He is our all in all.

Another aspect of this is that as we grow in our walk with the Lord we should eventually arrive at the place where it comes natural to pray about everything first and not wait until we have exhausted all of our resources.  

If we are doing everything in our effort first - then we are still placing ourselves in the position of Lord of our own lives.

Sometime we even pray in such a way that sounds like we are telling God how He should fix things for us. So many times I find myself falling into that pattern and have to stop myself and surrender my will to His and acknowledge His sovereignty in my life and over my circumstances.

We also need to move past the temptation to view God’s position as Lord of our lives as a weakness of our own. We need to stop seeing it as giving up much of ourselves. The opposite is true. We will gain much when we put God first because His power in us will work and flow more freely when we give Him access to every corner of our heart. What others may perceive as weak is actually very wise on our part.

When we give God authority over our lives we will see the person He uniquely designed emerge as the workmanship He created us to be. But first we must allow Him the rightful position of reigning as Lord of our lives.

Psalm 93:1-2
The Lord reigns, He is clothed with majesty;
The Lord is clothed, He has girded Himself with strength.
Surely the world is established, so that it cannot be moved.
Your throne is established from of old;
You are from everlasting.

February 17, 2016

Blue Skies And Cloudy Days


Blue skies and abundant sunshine -that is my kind of day. When the skies are cloudy and gray, I must remind myself…the sun is still shining right where it was yesterday when skies were blue.

Of course the sun is still there on the other side of those gray clouds. God perfectly placed it there a mere ninety three million miles from earth just where it needs to be to sustain life on this planet.  The sun has not moved.

So is God, still shining, still working, still doing what He does.

Don’t forget that on your cloudy days, He is still there!

Of course we prefer blue skies and sunshine. Of course we love a more visible evidence of His presence and working in our lives.

Here is the truth, for our faith to stretch and grow we must believe He is still there even though there are days when the clouds may appear to block our view.

This is so important to understand. God is still with us on the days when the skies are not blue. There is not a cloud that can dim the brightness of the sun, or cloud or storm that can lessen the power of our God. 

“For the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 

What is the cloud or storm in your life? Health issues, financial matters, marital problems, family problems, trust issues, fear? 

We are incapable of moving those clouds one inch for the sun to come shining through again.

But we can move the clouds of fog in our mind that make us feel like He has moved away from us. We must choose to push them away with the truth of God’s Word that He goes with us and never leaves us, whether it is blue skies or a cloudy day. 

February 14, 2016

At The Edge Of The Earth


I rarely fly by myself but recently I did. The number on my boarding pass was B13 which meant I still had a good chance of getting a window seat which I really wanted. If I had to sit next to strangers, I want the window.

I secured my window seat and in the other seats were two very big men. I was scrunched up against the window but thankful I wasn’t between them. The one to my left was reading Killing Lincoln by Bill O’Reilly, and the man on his left was reading a newspaper. I was reading Audacious by Beth Moore.

And raising and lowering the window blind. The afternoon sun was bright, but open it made me feel less claustrophobic. Until I noticed everyone was lowering theirs because it was just so bright. So to be courteous down came mine.

I peeked every so often though and raised it very briefly. First we flew over mountains. A few covered in snow. Then it was flat.

The murmur of soft voices filled the cabin and the readers turned the overhead lights up. Seats were tilted back for those who just wanted to sleep.

I think everyone must have dozed as the cabin grew darker, darker because that bright sun had dropped over the horizon. It wasn’t bright anymore and I could raise the window blind.

I grabbed my phone quick. It was beautiful as we approached Dallas with the evening sun setting right outside my window. I started snapping pictures and then I just put my phone down to watch. In flight it really happened fast and it was my delight to see.

What I saw was an amazing sight.

I saw God’s glory at the edge of the earth from my window seat.

Looking out the window at earth and sun and sky, I wondered to myself, how could this amazing creation all just be a swirling accident as some would have you believe, but I know the answer. 

The answer is…
It’s not.
 

 Hebrews 11:1-3
1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.