Unsettling…

Normal is no more. Years of normal definitely tell me this isn’t it. Sheltering in place – like during a storm, only the weather isn’t the issue. Covering faces and hands. Avoiding hugging, not getting close. Jobs gone in a matter of days.

Unsettling really doesn’t do much justice to the way many are feeling. Anxiousness has a way of pulling us inward. Then we forget, as we scan nearly empty shelves, that others wandering the same aisles are in search of something to make them feel more secure. And a loaf of bread won’t do it.

But here’s what we need to remember – this isn’t where we’re supposed to settle, to call home, to rest in. “For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.” (Hebrews 13:14 NLT)

Yet to come – promised, sure, everlasting. A home where there is no more Covid-19 (nor anything like it).

Doesn’t it come down to this: laid bare, all our soul really longs for is an end to evil, strife, heartache, pain? This is not to be on earth. It is to be someday. Don’t miss it. Do you know this Jesus who promised? Promised to never leave us, forsake us. Promised to prepare a forever home for us – full of joy, endless wonder.

“When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” (John 14:3 NLT)

So do not fear a virus. Fear not knowing there truly is more than this world. Be so very sure that even in the unsettled moments, your eyes automatically look up. Up to the One who is not surprised by any storm – weather or disease or lost job or any of the pains common to our world.

He lived them, walked among them – lovingly healed the blind, touched the leper, spoke calmly to the woman about to be stoned. In an instant, love like that, heals all. That love can heal you too – maybe not here, maybe not right now. But in eternity.

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NLT)

 

 

What Next?

I woke up early (too early) recently and found my mind drifting to insignificant things and becoming irritated easily. Getting up, I sat in the dark – and though it took a while, I figured it out.

Anxiety. Whether it’s corona virus or our children or our finances or whatever, we’re all just a little on edge right now. And what my heart knows and has to send up to my head is this: God knows and He’s in control.

Oh that sounds so trite, so Christian-ese – to the world. But to me, a Jesus follower, Truth has a way of saying: ‘those little things you were fretting over, those things that could hurt a relationship, those things that have no eternal value – let them go’. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34 NIV)

Since sin invaded human hearts there have been plagues, devastation, destruction. Covid-19 isn’t a new thing, it’s one of many of the devolving aspects of this fallen world. Remember Jesus saying, ‘In this world you will have trouble’? He wasn’t kidding. This world is, has been, will be on a downward spiral til He returns. Why?

Because that’s the effect of broken relationship with God. But there is good news, make that great news. This isn’t how it’s supposed to be and someday He will make all things new.

“And the One sitting on the throne said, ‘Look, I am making everything new!’ And then He said to me, ‘Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:5 NLT)

So what’s next? When it comes to all the woes of this world we don’t know. But what is next for us is to keep doing next things. Things like Bible study and prayer. Things like training up our children to know God. Things like showing up for work and doing a great job. Things like loving our family well. Things like reaching out to the lost to show them hope.

As the Bible instructs, take life one day at a time. Live in such a way that God is pleased and others see Jesus in us. Seek the Holy Spirit to show us our next step and our next and do today what we can but trust in God for what we can’t. “This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24 ESV)

Let’s do all our next things – one day at a time – until they add up to a lifetime well-lived.

 

 

 

This is the Life…

It’s different – being older. When my favorite three year old comes over and we come up with ideas of what to do next we both go full speed saying: “Let’s do it!”

I think at three there is only one speed – full throttle. But at grammy age I’m looking for slow motion. Wanting to see the most of the times I’m living right now. A knowing that it passes in a flash and that time isn’t a given.

So I run after one year old wonder and three year old adventure – and climb lighthouses with loved ones who haven’t started aching (yet). This is the life. The one given to us by the One who knew us before time – and who promises time truly is endless with Him. “Those who obey the LORD are daily in his care, and what he has given them will be theirs forever.” (Psalm 37:18 CEV)

The camera on my phone doesn’t do justice to the joy – glory – wonder of what I’m trying to capture.

Jesus vision is what we need. “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2 NIV) Easter is a few short weeks away. You and I see the cross and the pain and the separation – as if it’s an end. Jesus saw joy. Knowing that though this was a bitter way to prove His love, it was the only way. This was the life, on earth, that He lived for us.

 

And so I want to live this life well. I want to live it in a way that shouts ‘I love Jesus’. I want the joy set before me, eternity, to be the expression on my face daily. I want the glory of what is to come to be what my little guys remember about me. “When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:4 NIV)

In wonder let’s wander these days. Speaking with our lives life to those who watch us. For we are always being watched – by those close to us, those at work, in line at the store, and by our Father.

Let’s live knowing, indeed, it is ‘well with our soul’.

 

 

Quiet…

Deep in thought lately, needing time before putting it into words. Ever have times like that? Times where you just have to – need to – be a little quiet?

I’m kind of loud sometimes. Life is loud lots of times. But God speaks in the quiet. I love this: “The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.” (Isaiah 32:17 NIV) No righteousness of our own – a righteousness lived out for us, sacrificed for us, once – for all and forever.

And confidence? Forever? Yes, I’ll take that free gift too. Thanking Jesus for the knowledge that if we will trust in the quiet of Him, then in the midst of the loud storms and crazy life turns, we will be confident.

But what can we be confident of? “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:25-26 NIV)

Yes, He is good. Our hope is in Him and we can be confident that eternity is ours. That this day, this life isn’t all there is. 

We’re waiting for the return of God’s Son – to bring about all that the Bible tells us from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21. From “In the beginning God” to “The grace of the Lord Jesus”.

Grace – a word our world is far from. No overlooking any wrongs, no room for differing opinions, no room for genuine love or forgiveness. 

And yet the sure promises of the Lord, penned by the Holy Spirit, remind us of the grace that is true and is ours. “The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17 NIV)

So the quiet we need comes from Grace and Righteousness, that of Jesus – a quiet that isn’t about noise level but about a life that is restful, serene because it is lived trusting God and lived pleasing Him. Yes, in quietness I will still my soul. (Psalm 131:2 NIV)

 

 

 

Forever…

Some moments we just wish wouldn’t end. Moments like when a three year old puts his arm around your neck and says: “Grammy I stay with you forever!”

In the midst of laughter and fun come heart-felt words spoken by the innocence of childhood. Forever – just how long is that? Life here on earth is brief. When we’re three it seems like it’s long, but when we’re grammy age we look back and wonder how it can be so very short.

“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (James 4:14 NIV)

Deep in our souls, Christ followers or not, we know this earth life isn’t all there is. But many forfeit eternity – refusing to believe there is any God other than self. So many seizing as much fulfillment here (no matter the cost), because soul deep also is the knowledge that what can be seen – this earthly pursuit – doesn’t last.

“So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2Corinthians 4:18 CSB)

What I want my grandchildren to know is this: this isn’t all there is, and where eternity is spent is a decision. The most important choice one will ever make.

Someday either we will all wear out our earthly bodies or be here when Jesus returns. To live life saying there is no God is the most hopeless life there is. Looking forward only to a weary body that will take a final breath is truly depressing. Ignoring it all and just putting one day after another behind you is foolish.

Time to make a choice – find eternal life or forfeit it. Joy, not happiness, but joy is found in knowing God. For in knowing Him there is peace that there is forever – one without sorrow, pain, or death. And it’s where the one who told you at three he would be with you forever, really will be.

“And this is the way to have eternal life – to know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one You sent to earth.” (John 17:3 NLT)

 

 

 

Just Ask…

When I was young I was teased a lot about being quiet. I came to truly dislike the ‘cat got your tongue’ phrase. I was a listener.

I prefer the intimacy of relationships. There would be friends and family alike who would be surprised I was ever teased about being at a loss for words. Now, on the other end of the age spectrum, the power of words, spoken and written, never ceases to amaze me. I still blow it with mine at times.

I’m always awed by the authority of God-inspired words, those spoken by Jesus, written by those emboldened by the Holy Spirit. Powerful – life giving – life transforming – the final authority on all things. “For the Word of God is living and active.” (Hebrews 4:12a NIV)

A powerful use of words – often overlooked – is prayer. I’m completing a twelve week study of just what prayer is. About half-way through as I struggled with an issue, I could feel God saying to my heart: ‘Just ask – what do you want?’ No way was God saying He was going to instantly answer or even answer the way I think He should. But the message was: just spill your heart, get it out. No flowery words, no trying to guess what would be best to pray – just looking to my Father and simply saying: ‘This is my heart’s desire.’

So simple, but my prayers have never been the same since. The peace of the simplicity and knowing that He hears every prayer has been amazing. “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:13 NIV)

He knows our heart, He knows our needs, He knows what is best. We are children, His children, He just wants us to come to Him. No pretenses, no promises, no hidden agenda. He knows it all anyway. How sweet the time spent just being child-like and telling God our hearts.

It’s time to stop trying to tell Him how He should work things out. Stop trying to find words that might make it happen our way. Time now to just ask – just trust – just pray. “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16 BSB)

 

 

Walls…

Chalk made train tracks, tricycle raceways, and roads for tiny trucks – my creative abilities have increased. While building tunnels for little boys is an adventure – I’ve recently put up some protective walls that need to be torn down.

This Christian walk is new and challenging every day. Just when I think I’m in that sweet spot, I find myself at odds with decisions I’ve made. When was it ok in my heart and mind to avoid controversy or confrontation because that makes life easier for me. Just when was it that the One I follow ever did that?

Learning lately that there is no encounter that can’t be turned into glory for God. If I will just trust in the victory of the risen Jesus, He will surely bring great things out of all today’s moments. “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1Corinthians 15:57 NIV)

We discount the power of the Holy Spirit in us and so that power is diminished. We believe miracles are only in Bible stories and so in our lives we miss them. We forget that victory isn’t in the future, Jesus has already triumphed – meaning we always win (even if in our clouded view it may not appear that way).

“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1John 4:4 NIV)

So then it’s not okay to shrink back from speaking truth into a loved one’s life – it’s not okay to avoid the ‘Jesus’ conversation with the unbeliever – it’s not okay to leave any circumstance to chance because prayer is always a sure thing.

The key is praying about everything all the time. Sounds so unrealistic. But it boils down to realizing it’s life. Life for us, for those we love, for those we see hurting. A life-line.

Breath is not a guarantee but for a God who holds all life in His hands and grants that next inhale. He calls us to seek Him only – for those who call on His Name will never be abandoned. Let’s tear down walls of protection and invite the One who has all our todays and tomorrows to be our Courage, our Defender, our Life for those we so badly need to reach for Him.

 

Words…

In all creation only Adam and Eve were given this gift: words. From the beginning God put language into His image bearers.

Imagine this task: “So the LORD God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one.” (Genesis 2:19 NLT) Perfection had not yet been lost to sin and Adam studied the creatures and named them appropriately. So sharp was his mind, he didn’t forget by the time he got to the Zebra’s what he had called the Ants.

And daily Adam (and Eve) walked and talked with God Himself and words were life and life was in the Word.

We throw words around carelessly these days. From angry outbursts to thoughtless tweets, we forget: “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.” (Matthew 12:36 NIV) Want to really have a reason to think about the words we use? Read Matthew 12:33-37.

To those gifted with speech much is required.

Thing is, God knows every word we’re gonna say even before we say it. He knows our thoughts, our intentions. All is laid bare before Him. The only one we fool is ourselves and sometimes our hearers.

Yet for those who ask Jesus to take over their heart there is hope. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1 NIV) The Word of Life, Jesus Christ, makes a way for those careless words to be wiped away. A way for hearts to put away foolish talk. Always a Way…

When Jesus is our life then His Holy Spirit is in us – so in us then is the Word. And the Word is life everlasting. We’re works in progress and words are part of the work. God’s will is that our words are lifted up to Him in prayer. That our words are used to encourage and to build up others. That our words are few.

“When there are many words, sin is unavoidable, but the one who controls his lips is wise.” (Proverbs 10:19 HCSB) The Word is calling us to use our words carefully.

 

 

 

When I Grow Up…

There’s a couple little guys that come over weekly to play. One is old enough to talk and tells me I’m his best ‘fwiend’ and throws his arms around my legs telling me he loves playing here. The other one says it all with his eyes and outstretched arms.

I’m a small part of their growing up years. Praying that what they find at grammy’s house and in her heart is Jesus. Songs for Him, books about Him, prayers regularly – and a grammy who wants to someday grow up and be more like Jesus.

I’m working on it – I’ll be a work in progress for a while longer I think. “Then we will no longer be infants…Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Christ Himself, who is the head.” (Ephesians 4:14a-15 BSB)

Nothing wrong with dreams and hopes about our earthly lives. But what happens when things don’t turn out the way we planned? What happens when what was supposed to make us happy leaves us empty?

This is what those little boys need to understand. Earthly pursuits are just that – earthly, and come to an end and never satisfy. But heavenly pursuits? Oh, my little ones, those are the ones that are earth shakers, eternity makers. “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.” (Luke 12:31 NLT)

How do I know? Because I’ve pursued worldly offerings. And while there are sweet memories, there are bitter regrets. But in all my pursuing of God, I’ve never been let down, left out, abandoned, dismissed, rejected, felt less than.

The more we treasure God the less appeal earthly treasures have. Stormie Omartian said: “The truth is, we reflect what we behold.” Are we beholding (seeing, pondering, searching) out the Bible and constantly praying to God – if so we will reflect Him. But if little eyes see us desiring fame or fortune, power or possessions – then all they will see in us is emptiness.

From infant to grown up this is what God has to say: Be like newborn babies who are thirsty for the pure spiritual milk that will help you grow and be saved. You have already found out how good the Lord really is.” (1Peter 2:2-3 CEV)

This is Love…

Our world has some messed up ideas of love. And, truth be told, in our best moments our love is still pretty selfish. Turns out that all the Disney fairytales aren’t love. All the Hollywood steamy scenes aren’t love. All the happily ever afters aren’t earthly. 

In John 15 Jesus gives the definition of perfect love without even telling us that’s what He’s doing. “As the Father has loved me,” (John 15:9a NIV) Gotta stop right there and think about how the Father has loved the Son. Without conditions, completely, nothing held back, perfectly.

He then says: “so have I loved you.” (John 15:9b NIV) That would be you and me He’s speaking to. He has loved us with a perfect love. He gives all of it to us, asking nothing in return.

Can you and I love like that? Probably not – at least not consistently. We are fickle. The least little transgression and there we are holding back. Offended, folded arms. Hurt, walking away.

“Now remain in My love.” (John 15:9c NIV) Let His love be enough. Don’t seek any other fulfillment. Stay with Him. When all that love we’re looking for comes because we stay close to Perfect Love, maybe we won’t so easily withhold our love, or only offer it when someone ‘deserves’ it.

When our husbands, our children, our friends are set free from being our source of love – I bet they’ll find us a whole lot easier to love. Lovely is the person so wrapped up in God’s love, that she loves others along the way without expectations.

This is work for me. You? But it’s not really optional.My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12 NIV) It’s a command. Just before that verse (verses 10 and 11) He made it clear that obeying His commands keeps us in His love and fills us with joy – complete joy. Isn’t that what we want?

So how can we be sure God’s love for us is perfect, that He makes our joy complete? “This is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the payment for our sins.” (1 John 4:10 GWT)

 

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