Afraid or Concerned?

I am not afraid of the coronavirus but I am very concerned about how people are behaving. But then I have to remind myself they are living in fear and that is what makes people behave irrationally.

What can I do?

Right now, there are many things I cannot do. But I am going to focus on the things I can do to help calm the rising tide of fear.

I can pray.

I can listen to others.

I can share with others.

I can encourage others.

I can do what I can to keep myself healthy.

I can wash my hands with soap and water.

I can use this opportunity to share why I am at peace.

I can thank God for this opportunity to regroup and reprioritize.

I can love on my friends and family.

Thank you, Jesus!

Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
    God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
    he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the Lord has done,
    the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
    to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”

11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

I am trusting

“But I am trusting you, O LORD, saying ‘You are my God!’ My future is in your hands” (Psalm 31:14-15).

“Difficult situations will happen. Situations we may or may not have control over, but how we respond is always within our control.” [p.44 Chickening In]

I was recently invited to join a book launch team for the soon-to-be released book titled Chickening IN by JJ Gutierrez.

God has such a sense of humor!!!

By the way, I am enjoying the book. It is challenging me in good ways. I would much prefer a hard copy because that is me. I do enough with technology that I am looking for a break from it when I do other reading.

The book is about choosing to Chicken IN and face your fears instead of Chickening OUT. I love the title! I am several chapters in and I keep thinking about my own personal challenges but also about fear in general.

At the moment, most of the world is panicking over the coronavirus. Hand sanitizer and jugs of water are hard to find. There seems to be a lot of fear surrounding it — even more fear than the flu which has impacted many more people in the USA than the coronavirus so far.

I guess we will see how it unfolds.

I don’t want to be ill but if the coronavirus is my demise, I am not worried. I do not fear death — honestly, it’s the dying I worry a little about. I don’t particularly like pain. But death is a natural part of life. And I can not control every thing I come in contact with.

All I can do is wash my hands with soap and water and do what I can do to be healthy. If you are feeling fearful, remind yourself that God is in control. We are all dealing with any number of things that can cause fear. Knowing that God is always working out the details gives me immeasurable peace.

“But I am trusting you, O LORD, saying ‘You are my God!’ My future is in your hands” (Psalm 31:14-15).

Amen!

Blessed

I was pondering Psalm 32 today. Below is the New International Version. If you have the time, just look at one section at a time and think it over and let it soak in.

As usual, my mind is all over the place when I read something as vivid as this Psalm. The metaphors and similes are amazing — David, the author, felt the same things I feel today.

But it is important that feelings aren’t the top dog here. Feelings can be important. And they are real but they aren’t always really accurate. I might not feel blessed, but I am. And there may be days that I don’t feel loved, but I am.

I do think an important key is in the third section: Keeping silent slowly destroys us from the inside out. But confession is so good for us and restores our relationship with God.

Confession is always a good thing, but particularly as we contemplate during this season of Lent.

Psalm 32

Blessed is the one
    whose transgressions are forgiven,
    whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one
    whose sin the Lord does not count against them
    and in whose spirit is no deceit.

When I kept silent,
    my bones wasted away
    through my groaning all day long.
For day and night
    your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
    as in the heat of summer.

Then I acknowledged my sin to you
    and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
    my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave
    the guilt of my sin.

Therefore let all the faithful pray to you
    while you may be found;
surely the rising of the mighty waters
    will not reach them.
You are my hiding place;
    you will protect me from trouble
    and surround me with songs of deliverance.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Do not be like the horse or the mule,
    which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
    or they will not come to you.

 Many are the woes of the wicked,
    but the Lord’s unfailing love
    surrounds the one who trusts in him.

Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous;
    sing, all you who are upright in heart!

Muzzles

Scripture is so real! I love how I can relate to it–even when the imagery makes me laugh…and His Spirit convicts me.

1 I said, “I will watch my ways
and keep my tongue from sin;
I will put a muzzle on my mouth
as long as the wicked are in my presence.” Psalm 39

Oh the many days I should have done that.

I also think it is amazing when I am in the midst of the conviction process that numerous, often seemingly unrelated things actually point out my sin. It is almost as if I am being boxed in until I really come to see it and confess and turn away from it. God may use Scripture, but He is not limited to getting our attention that way. I find it comforting and I am so thankful for the Holy Spirit’s guidance and God’s care for me.

Lord, there are so many times that I sin with my words without even thinking beyond the moment. Help me to consider my words before they are spoken. Give me Your wisdom in conversation and Your insight into my various relationships. Help all I say and do be reflective of You and to Your glory. In Your Son’s Name, Amen.

Shades of Death

There are seasons in life where we find ourselves in the shades of death; where trouble or discouragement or illness have surrounded us and we have not felt joy. We are simply sitting in darkness or under the cover cold, dark, and moody clouds of circumstance that drain our ability to smile and laugh.

Honestly, that feels like a typical February for me. I hate not seeing or feeling the sun. Day after day it is gloomy but when there is a moment — even just a sunny hour or the thrill of a sunny day. My goodness. It is so exciting!

Sometimes my soul gets trapped under the weight of discouragement, doubt, and distortions of reality. It needs to be in the presence of the Son — to feel the warmth and encouragement and to feel the Life only Jesus can bring to us.

After sitting in darkness, it takes time to readjust. The light can be bright. Sometimes even overwhelming for eyes that have not been exposed to it recently. Go slowly. Practice absorbing the light.

Heavenly Father, Bring Your light to me. Let it shine in the dark places and bring life to where there seems to be only shades of death. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

“The People That in Darkness Sat”

The people that in darkness sat
A glorious light have seen;
The light has shined on them who long
In shades of death have been.

To hail Thee, Sun of Righteousness,
The gathering nations come;
They joy as when the reapers bear
Their harvest treasures home.

For Thou their burden dost remove
And break the tyrant’s rod
As in the day when Midian fell
Before the sword of God.

To us a Child of hope is born,
To us a Son is given,
And on His shoulder ever rests
All power in earth and heaven.

His name shall be the Prince of Peace,
The Everlasting Lord,
The Wonderful, the Counselor.
The God by all adored.

His righteous government and power
Shall over all extend;
On judgment and on justice based,
His reign shall have no end.

Lord Jesus, reign in us, we pray,
And make us Thine alone,
Who with the Father ever art
And Holy Spirit, one.

by John Morison, 1749-1798

Clarity

On a Clear Day You Can See Forever is a movie I have not seen, but I know the phrase and, interestingly, it has crossed my mind during my travels.

It rings true.

But sometimes things aren’t so clear. And this isn’t just about vision. Sometimes there are times in life where things are unclear — and the only thing we are able to do is pray and do the next right thing.

To every dull and clouded sense
The clearness of Your light dispense.

All of my senses can be dull and clouded. This affects what I hear, taste, smell, and touch. Recent research suggests there are actually seven physical senses, check this out.

Most often, I am not able to see much further than the day I am in. And, truly, who of us can? Life changes so quickly sometimes. We need to hold our plans loosely. While we can plan and prepare, there are no guarantees. But seeking God’s perspective always helps me bring clarity to a situation.

Have you been at a crossroad and looking for clarity? You might be tempted to do nothing, but that is a decision in itself. Do the next right thing, find a friend or counselor to process with, and ask God to make your path clear.

Thank you, Lord for Your Love and Light in my life. Bring clarity to my days, but, most importantly, grow my trust in You. Amen.

I know I used this hymn before but I loved that line so I just had to revisit it! There is a lot to think over with this hymn!

From God the Father, Virgin-born

From God the Father, virgin-born
To us the only Son came down;
By death the font to consecrate,
The faithful to regenerate.

Beginning from His home on high,
In human flesh He came to die;
Creation by His death restored,
And shed new joys of life abroad.

Glide on, O glorious Sun, and bring
The gift of healing on Your wing;
To every dull and clouded sense
The clearness of Your light dispense.

Abide with us, O Lord, we pray;
The gloom of darkness chase away;
Your work of healing, Lord, begin,
And take away the stain of sin.

Lord, once You came to earth’s domain
And, we believe, shall come again;
Be with us on the battlefield,
From ev’ry harm Your people shield.

To You, O Lord, all glory be
For this Your blest epiphany;
To God, whom all His hosts adore,
And Holy Spirit evermore.

Translated by John Mason Neale, 1818-66

All that is not holy

“In your hearts enthrone him; there let him subdue all that is not holy, all that is not true…”

All that is not holy….my goodness. My heart can produce some unholy stuff. Sometimes I wonder where this funk is coming from and it surprises even me. The thoughts I think, the words I say…..Lord, please subdue those things that should not see the light of day.

I have found when I am particularly depleted either physically, emotionally, or spiritually, I am a candidate for needing all kinds unholy stuff subdued. There is a direct correlation. The further I am wandering away or not being fed from The Source, the easier it is for me to digress into some unholy ugliness.

The solution? Stay closely tethered to my Maker!

Lord, keep me close to you and subdue all that is unholy and untrue. Amen

At the Name of Jesus

At the name of Jesus ev’ry knee shall bow,
ev’ry tongue confess him King of glory now.
‘Tis the Father’s pleasure we should call him Lord,
who from the beginning was the mighty Word.

At his voice creation sprang at once to sight,
all the angel faces, all the hosts of light,
thrones and dominations, stars upon their way,
all the heav’nly orders in their great array.

Humbled for a season to receive a name
from the lips of sinners unto whom he came,
faithfully he bore it spotless to the last,
brought it back victorious, when from death he passed.

In your hearts enthrone him; there let him subdue
all that is not holy, all that is not true;
crown him as your Captain in temptation’s hour:
let his will enfold you in its light and pow’r.

Brothers, this Lord Jesus shall return again,
with his Father’s glory, with his angel train;
for all wreaths of empire meet upon his brow,
and our hearts confess him King of glory now.

Author: Caroline Marie Noel 1817-1877