Feeds:
Posts
Comments

The Valentine Tree

Okay I’ll admit it, I’m a Christmas fiend. I have one big tree, three small trees and two medium size trees that get decorated every year. This year they went up a few weeks late because we were having renovations done.

I went to our local Hobby Lobby the other day and of course they had all their Valentines Day decorations out. I bought a few thinking well it’s a way to keep some of the trees up a little longer.

The next day I started preparing to take down our Jesus Tree. This tree to me is special because it is just dedicated to the true meaning of Christmas. Each ornament is a celebration of who He is and what He came to do. It hit me, isn’t that the ultimate Valentine?

Christ was born as one of His own creations out of love. He lived among us giving us an example on how to live a godly life through love. Everything He did came from an outpouring of love from His heart. Even the correction and so called rebukes. They were to show man that they needed His love in order to live an abundant life. Some caught on, some…well…their pride got in the way.

But the ultimate showing of His love was through a wooden cross. He died and took on Himself the burden of everyone’s sin. I mean everyone’s. That means you. His love was so strong for those He created He died so that we could live. Who more worthy to be recognized at Valentine’s Day than Jesus?

Oh precious one, if you don’t know  Him and the life giving love He has to offer I encourage you to go to the Invitation Tab at the top of the page. Allow Jesus to be your Valentine.

As for the tree. It  may become a new tradition in this house to leave it up who knows but this year it will remain.

Light of the World

Christmas is my favorite holiday. I look forward to the lights especially at night. I was sitting in the living room the other day before the family got up. I was having my time in the Word, and the topic for the day was Christ being the light of the World. As I looked around the room the trees and the candles in the window provided enough light that I could read and journal.

My mind went to the Christmas Eve candlelight service and I was taken aback at the visual our Pastor gives us. I’d like to share it you in a little different way.

Not only is Christ the Light of the World but we as His family are also light bearers. The way we live our life, how we speak, how we work all reflects the light of Christ, and who we are in Him. As I observed our main tree the thought occurred to me. One light on the two-hundred light tree gives off light but not that much. However, when you light up all 200 and the smaller trees and the six candles in the window it lights up the room where everything can be seen and you don’t need a lamp to read.

What about us. What if each of us took seriously our role as a light in this dark world. And it is dark and getting darker by the day. What if we showed the love of Christ to the unlovable, did our jobs without complaining, did our jobs to the fullest, and not try to get away with the minimum? Or love on the ones who are not His children instead of fighting them every step of the way? What would the world around us see? They would see the light of Christ shine through us. They would see a difference they couldn’t deny and maybe desire themselves.

Now to be clear there will be those who will reject the light we have because men love the darkness so their weaknesses and sin are hidden. But what kind of impact can we make?

You may ask what can one light do? Plenty but when added to hundreds of others more than one can imagine.

I challenge you when you look at your Christmas tree, or the lights on the houses you drive by, ask yourself what kind of influence am I? Am I trying to hide my light or will I be like a city on a hill that can’t be hidden. Will I add my light to others to reach the world for Him?

Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.”

Wishing you and your family a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year.

Be Thankful

photo
What are you thankful for?

It’s that time of the month when we start focusing on being thankful. This year has left us with little to be thankful for or has it?

The world is sliding downward it seems quicker and quicker these days. We have had natural disasters, a pandemic, not to mention political wars and everyday stresses. Anxiety is the call of the day. There doesn’t seem to be focused on that is demanding of our thanksgiving.

Even I feel a little guilty over having one item in my thankfulness journal last night. I been so filled with fatigue, anger, frustration, that I could only find one thing to be thankful for and that was just to put something down. I couldn’t focus on anything that was positive. The negative got in the way of thinking on things that were honorable, pure, right, lovely, of good report, excellent and praise worthy.

I could have put things on my list like:

A great day at work

Seeing my youngest dressed up for a homecoming gathering at church

Work getting my schedule right.

My oldest willing to go get her sister so I didn’t have to go out at 11 pm.

These are just a few. A friend of mine challenged me to be accountable a few months back to keep a thankfulness journal. The goal was to write three items at the end day we were thankful for. They could be simple or grandiose. It could be more or less but the goal was three a day. And we would text that list to each other every night.

Because I suffer with anxiety and depression, this was a great exercise for me. Not that it took these away but I found my attitude adjusting. I could find things to praise and thank God for even in the midst of feeling down. It caused my thinking to be more upbeat even though my body and emotions were the complete opposite. There was peace.

God is good even in the midst of trials. I challenge you to start a thankfulness journal of your own. Be accountable with a friend. Start with two or three and see how many things God allows you to see. I think you may see a difference in you life.

“May the peace of God guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus”, as you see the big and small things to be thankful for each day, not just at Thanksgiving.

One Song is Enough

A few years ago I wrote a piece for a Sunday School periodical entitled, One Word is Enough. One word prayers are as effective as hour-long ones. What matters is the position of the heart. I can be so overwhelmed that “Help!” is all I can say. Or so awed by God that “ Wow” is the only thing that comes out.

I think music is another one of those tools that God uses when we have no idea what to pray or how to pray.

Psalms 42:8 says this “The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and His song will be with me in the night, a prayer to the God of my life.” (NASB)

I can’t count how many times a song has become a prayer for me. God has created men and women who, much like David and Korah, write music that expresses the overwhelming feelings of hurt, wonder, anger, and words of questioning why.

Here are some of my go-to songs:

Dance with Me – Paul Wilbur

Wanted- Danny Goke

Exhale – Plumb

The Blessing- Kari Jobe

My Weapon- Natalie Grant

Why God- Austin French

These songs are today’s Psalms. They express the same thoughts and emotions the Psalmists expressed over 3000 years ago. Nothing has changed with scripture especially the Psalms. It’s as relevant today as it was then.

For you today I pray over you “The Blessing” by Kari Jobe based on Numbers 6: 24-26 (NASB)

“The Lord bless you, and

Keep you;

The Lord make His face shine

On you,

And be gracious to you;

The LORD lift up His

Countenance on you,

And give you peace.”

Be Alert! Stand Firm!

Bravery means being alert in all circumstances. The enemy the Devil prowls around like a hangry lion. Yes, a hangry lion. He is stealthy. His mouth drips salavia hoping to find me and use the weakness I have to bring me down by the neck.

One of the Holy Spirit’s jobs is to alert me to situations, people within the enemy’s pride to influence me in the ways of the world. Or emotions which the enemy can smell in a weakened moment.

Since the Holy Spirit can and will alert me if I am willing, I have the ability to stand my ground and the enemy will fail. Unfortunately, a injured animal can be more dangerous. The second round may cause me to be so full of fear it paralyzes me to do anything or to give up because it’s hard and lay down in surrender.

Pin on words
Be Alert! Stand firm!

The enemy is not just the spiritual one, but we can do enough damage to ourselves, through choices, negative self talk, etc. It’s why it’s important that we are in the word everyday and being in touch with our Heavenly Father through prayer.

Through the word we learn what He is capable of. What we are capable of in Christ. We are capable of standing firm and having love in all that we do whether it be a hard situation within the home, work, school or in the community. We have a Heavenly father who cares for us. That He gave us the Holy Spirit to guide, comfort and alert to the tactics of the world both earthly and spiritually.

Today I chose to stand firm and be alert. Will you join me?

“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men be strong. Le all that you do be done in love.”

1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (NASB)

He Hears

“In my distress, I called upon the Lord. And cried to my God for help: He heard my voice out of His temple and my cry for help before came into his ears.” Psalm 18:6

Who better to pray to than the LORD? It’s so hard though. Why? My typical excuse is I need the flesh and blood to talk to.

This verse promises that He hears me when I cry out to  Him. What it doesn’t say is there may be silence in the waiting.

Why silence?

Maybe to teach me more about being dependent on Him. Maybe to challenge my faith and trust.

Sometimes the answer will be no.

Why no?

Some of the same reasons for the possible silence. Paul called out for help in his distress and God said no, “My grace is sufficient. So no’s maybe a way to keep me humble.

How comforting is that? The God of the universe has an awesome plan and He is working it through the hard times. Take heart my friend. Be assured He hears, He knows, He sees and there is a wonderful plan at the end of the darkness that will be more glorious than we can imagine. God doesn’t waste a single incident, or silence or no.

Psalm 18:6 | Quotes to Inspire | Pinterest

Urgent- S.O.S

I’m ready! But then I ask myself why am I ready? Oh, you may be asking what am I ready for? I’ll tell you. I’m ready to go to a heavenly home. Strange one huh?

For me, I am tired of this world. The past ten years have gotten worse. Hate is the order of the day, bickering, disobedience to authority, lack of respect and persecutions. It seems sudden but reality says it has been progressing. For a child of God there is strength in the waiting. But there is purpose for me here.

What about this idea of going home? Aren’t you afraid of dying? No, not really, it’s the method of it that makes me nervous. But dying itself no. My pastor makes this comment often, and I will paraphrase, “If you have an answer to death, then nothing else matters.”

This is an urgent matter. Nothing, absolutely nothing needs to be accomplished for Christ to return and take His children home. It’s why it’s an urgent message I am bringing to you today. Christ is the answer. He died in the cruelest way to die just to pay a debt that we couldn’t. That’s GRACE (God’s riches at Christ’s Expence.”

Let me put it in these terms. There have been times when something has gotten broken. The reactions are varied. Some offer to pay for the broken object. Others, out of fear and shame, hide it or try to. Some could care less about it and crush the item even more. In the first scenario, we tell the customer don’t worry about it’s okay it happens.  The second, I wish they would come to us because we have extended the same towards them. The third I wish I could make them pay for it just because of the attitude, but we wouldn’t. It costs us something, loss in profit, and item that could have been sold, etc. They don’t deserve it but we extend grace.

The question I have for you, are you ready if Christ comes. He can come at any time. It doesn’t matter what you have done, He offers you grace and salvation. If you would like more click on the Invitation tab above. The urgency is Christ may come back today tomorrow or 100 years. But we don’t know. The time is now for salvation. Will you accept the invitation, shrink back in fear and shame which Chris has paid for, or totally reject Him? The choice is yours.

You too be patient, strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the LORD is at hand.”

James 5:8 (NASB)

Waiting on the Lord

Let me tell you a little secret about myself. Ready? I hate waiting, especially when it concerns spiritual growth or purpose, for myself and others.

I feel like a child at Christmas and the expectation of what was to come, boiled over. I couldn’t wait for my parents to get up. The only problem was I had to wait for seven o-clock, have breakfast, read the Christmas story then.. it was present time. It was hard. Really hard. Not much has changed with my own children. I can’t wait for them to get up so we can open the presents. I want to see the smiling faces as the open them up.

I think it takes more strength and courage to wait for the Lord to move and give the next step than to do what He asks. This is especially the case when it comes to the fact I know what He wants me to do, however, other things have to happen first in preparation, that I don’t even know about. I’m in that stage now.

I want the prep work done NOW!. I want my prayers answered NOW! I want the next step NOW! I forget that the preparation to do the job is just as important as the job itself.

In the end, God’s timing is perfect. For our part waiting on the Lord takes courage. How? Because we have to learn to pull back and be content in the waiting. Continually praying for the next step. It takes more courage then I have at times. But then again the courage comes, knowing He is in control of it all.

So here I am, determined to wait on Him, with courage, steadfastness and strength. I will also rejoice when I see the little workings of Him who gave me the purpose in the first place..

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage, Yes, wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14 (NASB)

WayMaker

Deuteronomy 31:6,8 (NASB) states, “Be strong and courageous do not be afraid or tremble, at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. And the Lord is the one who goes ahead of you. He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

2020 will not be a year forgotten any time soon. If I could describe it with one word I couldn’t. There have been deaths, devastation, sickness, anxiety, isolation (in more ways then just COVID-19), fear, doubt, loss of dreams. Yet, Deuteronomy says the Lord will go ahead of you, be with you not fail or forsake you. That’s hard to see when everything around me seems to be going down hill faster and faster with no bottom in site.

This verse reminds me of the song that came out recently “Waymaker: “Even when I don’t feel you working, you never stop working.” (Michael W. Smith) For years I have felt God has given dreams and pulled them out from underneath like a magician who pulls the tablecloth out from under the dishes. Except in this case all the dishes came with it crashing to the ground.

As I’ve gone through years of healing I am realizing that all the hurts, new skills, and growth are just dots connecting to make one beautiful dream, God has already purposed for me.

God makes ways where there weren’t any. He is always walking the path with me. Even now as I have started a new path of healing. He has a purpose.

He is the light in the darkness. He will bring the next right step into the light. Not only for the moment but it will work toward that purpose.

I don’t have to be discouraged or disheartened. I don’t even have to be terrified about the next part of the journey. He is walking with me through this life. Why? Because He is at the end of it. He knows how to get through the maze. He promises it will be beyond all I could think or dream of.

How about you? Are you experiencing hopelessness, purposelessness, joylessness, loneliness, or feeling like God has failed and abandoned you? Take heart dear friend, He has a purpose for you, and He will not abandon the work of His hands.

The Masterpiece

I asked my husband if I could share a devotional with his ministry Caregiver Community based on the prior month’s topic of emotions. He was gracious enough to okay it. I would like to encourage you with it as we start a brand new year.

 

I know emotions. I suffer from depression and anxiety issues. With that comes a tsunami of emotions anger, frustration, sadness, and dread. You name it I have experienced it. It also comes with the physical symptoms, muscle aches, fatigue, loss of breath, hyperventilation, heart racing and pounding, crushing chest pain and uncontrollable crying, and withdrawal.

 

For those of us who are Christians, we tend to put on our good Christian face. We are strong, we have it all together, we are the good Christian. Our faith is strong. Like these cylinders (vases) this is how we want others to see us. We try to come across okay, usable, colorful and beautiful.

IMG_6100

 

But reality feels like this failed thrown cylinder. It’s twisted, crushed, cut into. We feel ugly, of no value, no use, etc. I can fake it at times.  My quiet times can be non-existent at these periods. It’s not that I don’t want to, I can’t. The words on the pages of my Bible are like a blurred word search puzzle. I can’t focus It’s not right; it’s not wrong. It just is. Praise music becomes very important. The guilt that is added because of this is overbearing at times. The weight crushes me even more.

IMG_6114

 

Ephesians 2:10 states “For we are the product of His hand, heaven’s poetry (workmanship)^ etched in lives, created in the Anointed, Jesus to accomplish the good works, God arranged long ago.” (The Voice)

 

Workmanship in the original language means poem, a work of art, a masterpiece. If you talk to an artist, they may tell you that their piece is an act of love, that comes from deep within them. It’s the same with us humans. I am, you are, created with a love that comes from the deepest part of God, His essence. I am, you are created after His image. (Genesis 1:7) This what makes us special than any other species.

 

The world defines a masterpiece in these terms

  1. Artistry – beauty
  2. Suggestive and imaginative
  3. Intellectual value – fundamental truth about life
  4. Permanence – endures through the ages
  5. Universality- appeals to a great number of people
  6. Style- an author’s unique way of expressing his thought.
  7. Spiritual – motivates and inspires.*

 

So how do the hardships of life, depression, sickness and all that comes with this, figure into us as a masterpiece?

 

Greg Laurie made this statement which I think explains it the best.

“masterpiece…it is a word that speaks of something that is perfect. It carries the idea of rhythm, orderliness, and beauty…I don’t necessarily see rhythm, orderliness or beauty… But God says “You are MY work of art. You are my poem. You are my masterwork. God is not like a doting father who’s oblivious to his child’s faults (hardships)** Rather He is your all-knowing, yet all-powerful Father in Heaven who can envision what you will become when its all said and done. He uses the hardships, failures. He doesn’t shy away from collapse, due to anger, frustration, depression or anxiety, He uses it to make the masterpiece full of rhythm, orderliness, and beauty.”

 

A friend once said to me “Those who never see hardship or have been given everything (doting parent) are the most shallow people.” A masterpiece is made from sweat and tears and the seven characteristics the world deems a masterpiece. So How does God see you?

 

You are loved, you are God’s consummate wealth and treasure, YOU ARE HIS MASTERPIECE, His poem.

  1. Beautifully made,
  2. An example of His imagination and artistry,
  3. With intellectual value (the truth of the Word about life),
  4. You are eternally permanent,
  5. Your example is universality (appeals to a great number of people),
  6. God’s unique way of expressing Himself,
  7. One who will motivate and inspire others in service.

 

YOU ARE HIS Masterpiece. He pours the glaze of His love, mercy and grace over you to make you beautiful and usable.IMG_6115

No matter how you feel or what struggle you are going through.

The journey is hard and long, but He is with you always. You’ve got this.

IMG_6116

 

^ my emphasis

* https://quizlet.com/128053053/7-qualities-of-a-masterpiece-flash-cards/

** my emphasis

The Gospel Project

Christ-Centered Bible Studies for Kids, Students and Adults

marthaparish

The pages of my life

MY BOOK IN A BLOG

RAW AND REAL

The Great Adventure

A Journal of Life and Faith in Southeast Asia

Hearts Set Free Blog

Just another WordPress.com site

Eggs In Asia

follow us as we follow Him

%d bloggers like this: