May 29, 2017

Summer Days

My husband and I are empty nesters and our calendar doesn’t revolve around a school year calendar as it did when our daughters were young. Yet every summer I feel it anyway. Summer is different. People go on vacation or come to town to visit you. Routines of others change and it changes you. Everyone scatters and nothing is quite the same until school starts and normal routines resume.

But there is one thing we need to pay careful attention to and that is our time with the Lord. Don’t take a vacation from quiet time with Him. It may change and look different through summer months due to changes in schedules and travels. But find something that will keep you in the Bible and praying and talking to the Lord and not getting to the end of summer having let it all totally slide. 

It is easy to let it slide, which is why it is important to make choices that will keep a quiet time in our summer plans. If it is shorter, this is better than skipping altogether. The important issue is to maintain a level of consistency permitting us to remain spiritually healthy during a season that makes it easy to forget to nurture our spiritual growth.

Part of what makes summer special is that it is a break from the regular routine. We should have the opportunity to take vacations and be on a different schedule in the summer. Whether we have a house full of company or are vacationing at the water’s edge or in a mountain cabin, our most important need remains to be our close walk with the Lord. We cannot afford to take a vacation from our relationship with Him. Let’s invite Him to go with us this summer wherever our travels take us.

With my whole heart I have sought You;
Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.  ~ Psalm 119:10-11

Photos above were taken on the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. After I attended the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference in Asheville last week, my husband and I spent some time in this beautiful part of the country.

May 25, 2017

Answers Aren't Everything

You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.  ~ Isaiah 26:3

Too numerous to count are the times I have wanted to know precisely how God is working and when I will have answers.

Too numerous to count are the times those answers did not come on my timetable, but as I have walked longer with the Lord, I have learned more about the process of waiting. Learning about waiting is not a fun or pleasant experience. Instead, it tends to be agonizing and reveals the impatience in our hearts. Waiting is waiting, and waiting is hard.

Yet, it can be an invaluable teaching and testing tool—one God will use in our lives to grow us in our faith.

When I don’t know what God is doing, what am I doing? I am praying. I am seeking wisdom and guidance through scripture and watching for direction and movement from God. I am learning to trust. I am practicing my faith and I am filled with hope.

What does God do for me while I am waiting? He gives me peace. Suddenly, the questions and the wait become endurable because He answers my faith and trust and hope with a full indwelling of peace in my heart.

This peace God promises us is a wonderful gift with amazing benefits.
This peace strengthens our resolve for the wait.

This peace strengthens us as we continue to seek Him for wisdom, answers and direction.

Because of this, I am blessed to have a new understanding that answers aren’t everything, but peace is.

May 22, 2017

The Heart That Draws Near

Psalm 46:10
Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!

Worship. God makes it easy. Sometimes, we make it hard. Sometimes, we make it too complicated. But it doesn't have to be. I have not yet heard a definition that I think is fully correct or fully adequate. Some things can't be described. I think worship of our Lord is one of those. Prayer would be another one that is hard to explain and define. Both are so personal. Both are essential to our walk with the Lord. Both are a privilege we should never take for granted.

Sometimes worship is made hard by distractions. God makes it easy with a simple invitation to be still and know Him, to seek Him with all our heart. Busyness gets in the way and too much activity in our lives can pull us away.

He still beckons us to be still and know Him. Out of His love for us He pursues us to draw near, and He will always be there waiting. There will always be the distractions, the busyness, the countless activities, the continual pulling us away from what our heart most needs.  The heart that draws near...will worship.

I want the quiet stillness that draws me near to You,
I want the calm serenity that lets me enter in.
With a heart of worship I come to You,
I accept Your invitation to be still and know You.

Jeremiah 29:13
And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

May 17, 2017

The Fabric of My Faith

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. ~ Hebrews 11:6

Faith is woven throughout the everyday fabric of my life, in the big and small circumstances, in the hard and perplexing uncertainties, and in the quiet moments when God is calling my name, drawing me near and asking me to follow wherever He leads. I will choose faith because this is what God desires.

God wants us to have Faith.
He wants us to Trust.
He requires that we Wait.
He wants us to Believe.
He requires us to Wait patiently on Him.

All of this works with our obedience in following God, and our obedience in following Him in what He has called us to do - which is His purpose in us.

We will accomplish more through our faith than through anything else, such as works, abilities, talents, and degrees. Our faith is the outward demonstration of a heart that completely trusts God and believes He will do for us what we cannot do in our own strength.

David could not kill Goliath in his own strength. That was God’s power in the slingshot and in the stone that hit Goliath. It was David’s faith and God’s power.

Joshua and his army could not make the Jericho wall fall down with shouting and trumpets, but they demonstrated faith and obedience - and God in His power brought down the city wall.

It takes faith to navigate our lives as each day comes with challenges that force us to choose to live by faith and trust in God, or the alternative, trust ourselves and the world around us.

Some days rise up like giants before us. Do we believe that God will defeat the giants for us? It takes faith to believe He will and I want to make every effort to live out that kind of faith. I want to live a faith that pleases God.

May 14, 2017

Stop and Pray

When I hear troubling news, I cannot believe how quickly my heart fills with fear, followed by a sensation of dread washing over me like a drowning wave. My body and my emotions seem to naturally want to overreact and carry me away, until I remember to pray.

I have learned that when I start to worry, that is when I immediately need to stop and pray. I think about how important prayer is even though much about prayer is a mystery to me. Yet even in the mystery of prayer there are some things I know.

Prayer is our privilege and prayer is power.
Prayer is confidence in our Lord and in our walk with our Lord.
Prayer is comfort and peace, and resting in who He is.
Prayer is His invitation to us not to be anxious –
Prayer is faith that God is in control.

Prayer has grown my faith-
Built my trust,
Kept me in awe of a Sovereign God.
He is God and the answers are in His hands.
The timing and the methods are His.

Hebrews 4:16
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Romans 8:26-27
Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

Philippians 4:6-7  
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.

James 5:16
The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.