All the Ways

Sing to the Lord a new song;
    sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, praise his name;
    proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
    his marvelous deeds among all peoples.

For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
    he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are idols,
    but the Lord made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him;
    strength and glory are in his sanctuary.

Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
    bring an offering and come into his courts.
Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness;
    tremble before him, all the earth.
10 Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns.”
    The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved;
    he will judge the peoples with equity.

11 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
    let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
12 Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
    let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
13 Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes,
    he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
    and the peoples in his faithfulness. [Psalm 96:1-13, NIV]

There are so many ways to worship and praise our loving God! What are some of your favorite ways?

I must admit, sometimes I get distracted from this important work. There are times I let fearing and fretting and stressing take my energy and my perspective. Sometimes my ‘declarations” have been inaudible whispers. And other times they are loud and confident.

I am thankful that God knows and loves me in the midst of me. I need to think more about all the ways I can praise and get busy ascribing, singing, declaring, proclaiming, worshipping, and rejoicing!

God’s blessings on your week ahead!
Liz

Hearing

I have a tendency to ignore a lot of auditory input unless it is what I have chosen.  I just tune it out and, if I can’t tune it out, I leave the room. There are things I don’t like hearing because they pull me in to listen and, sometimes, it isn’t good stuff to listen to for whatever reason. Also. sometimes listening is hard work.

Let’s take the coronavirus news as an example. At first, I was hearing so much that I had to stop and listen a bit. In the initial days of the coronavirus, when there was so much conflicting information, I had to weigh some things against my mind and heart. I heard a few illogical things. Things that, when I heard them, I thought — that makes no sense.

But then, it was front and center all day long. If the news was on, I tuned it out. The conflicting reports. The ever changing recommendations. And the variety of responses from the public. Hearing from all of the available sources on the coronavirus: from the CDC to the medical field to the state officials to other nations to business owners to struggling families is a lot to hear.  The perspectives are never ending. And there are not enough hours in the day to hear it all. It isn’t that I don’t have compassion or care about what this means, but I cannot solve this problem.  I can support those close to me who are struggling. I can pray for the vaccine makers to find what they need to find. I can pray for people to love one another, share their resources with those in need, and help in the ways they are called. I can do those things, too. I can listen to my friends as they process and grieve what this means for them. I can do what God is calling me to do.

In the end, here is what I do to limit my exposure to the coronavirus — I wash my hands more. I wear a mask when I am out in public. I don’t hang out in big gatherings.  I had to find a sustainable path for myself.  Mind you, I may get it Covid-19. It seems to be lurking everywhere — all across the world. And whether I live or die, it’s ok. I have peace. I have the blessed assurance of Heaven.

Scripture does not address the coronavirus but it does address the fear the coronavirus brings. Yes, there have been heartbreaking deaths — people dying alone with their families unable to be near them but who desperately want to be there. There have been a lot of hard things from livelihoods being completely disrupted to serious financial challenges. Of course, this situation has made my life uncomfortable and stressful in a few ways, but I am thankful that I have God’s peace. God’s promise is not that we will have an easy life. This is Earth, after all, not Heaven.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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. Philippians 4:6-7 NIV

I am so glad that verse is tucked into my heart. I even know it set to music, which is a bonus. Music always helps me memorize!

When there are sounds all around me, disrupting my day, I need to investigate them. I’ll talk more about Listening next time.

God’s blessings on your week!
Liz

Back to Basics

I was just getting into a decent rhythm but it has been shaken up a bit with this incredible health crisis. How about you? However, I am extraordinarily appreciative of the downtime but I still feel a bit scattered.

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?
Psalm 27:1

I find it very hard to focus on things at the moment. Our two youngest are staying with us which helps provide entertainment and distraction. They are funny people. But I need to come up with a temporary routine as we shelter-in-place in Indiana.

I do love how the world is coming together to share resources — from penguins walking around zoos so people can see the animals to illustrators giving video lessons to read alouds through the libraries. Churches who have not moved to the digital age are stepping out there and learning new things for their members. People are giving what they can in new ways! Let’s embrace and share those good things!

As for me, I am not full of fear but I am full of unknowns. I am waiting it out — all of it! Times are interesting, that is for sure.

Step away from the news. Hunker down in your homes. Cook new things. Try your hand at creating. Check in with the people you love!

And pray without ceasing…..

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.

Fear

Fear can make us do some crazy things. And sometimes we pass our fearfulness onto others.

A long time ago, I had a friend who was a mom of five kids. When she was a young girl, some mean boy threw a cat on her and the cat (who was afraid itself) scratched her terribly. From that day on, she feared cats. And her five kids also feared cats because they had heard the story and they knew their mom was afraid of cats. Of course, what happened to her was scary and painful and very impressionable because she was young. But she never processed this fear, even as she was older. And she passed it on to her kids.

Scripture talks a lot about fear. God knows we fight it on a regular basis. Sometimes fear can be “catchy” and shared with others, unsuspectingly. But fears can also be paralyzing. Working through fears is important. I spent a lot of time “fearing” that Don, my husband, would die young – his father did and my father did. I could still function throughout the day but when I got to thinking, I did stress and worry about it. For nothing. It was a story I told myself based on what might seem logical (family history) and wrapped up in a lot of emotion.

What are you afraid of?

If we have a debilitating fear, it is a good thing to visit with a healthy counselor and explore it. But the first thing we need is a bit of awareness. Self reflection can help shed some light on what fears we have, if any, and maybe a little bit about the why behind it. Writing some things down might also help break the “spell” of a fear. I have also talked to a trusted friend and ask for their thoughts. In addition to these things, I pray for God to calm my spirit and my heart. He knows what leads me to a place of fearfulness but focusing on His truths and provisions help me to not get stuck there.

17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love because he first loved us. [1 John 4:17-19 NIV]

Blessings to you as you explore “fears”.

Liz

PrayerPrompt: SERVING OTHERS

PrayerPoints ~ Friday, March 4th

Proverbs12_25_w

Today’s PrayerPoint ~ Psalm 66

“Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me.”       Psalm 66:16

When I am in the middle of a tough time it helps for me to remember what God has done for me and for others. Sometimes, just reflecting back on the many incidents in Scripture is enough to encourage me but, other times, it is refreshing to hear someone talk about God’s transformative work in their heart and life. The Christian walk isn’t always easy, which is why it is good to share our struggles as well as our victories.

“Come and see what God has done, how awesome his works in man’s behalf.”        Psalm 66:5

Sometimes it is good to make a list of what God has done for you. Have you ever taken time to write down those things you are thankful for? If you have, take out and review the list. If you haven’t, today is a great day to start! Regularly pondering what we are thankful for leads to a heart of gratitude. The more grateful we are, the more it is evident in our words and deeds and it helps us to be more pleasant to be around and that positivity is infectious!

 

 

PrayerPoints ~ Wednesday, March 2nd

Proverbs12_25_w

Today’s PrayerPoint ~ Psalm 46

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear; even 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.”    Psalm 46: 1-3

The imagery in the verses above…wow! it sounds like utter devastation! And, unfortunately, we have some days, weeks, months, and years like that. When you are in trouble, lean into His strength!

There is no telling what you are in the middle of at this very moment in your life but I have a great imagination. You probably do, too. I think it is both a blessing and a curse. If you are anything like me, when you hear some “bad news” you can imagine the worst case scenario in about 3 seconds flat.  But, the potential positive to that “quick thinking” is being able to empathize with others and pray for them as they walk through a challenging time even if I haven’t experienced the same situation myself. When I hear about people who are struggling with something, I immediately think about the needs, the emotions, the fears, or the “what is next?” kinds of things and I cover them in prayer. And the times I have absolutely no idea about their situation but I know there is a need? I honestly leave it up to God to fill in the blanks. At one time or another, everyone struggles with:

  • faith
  • finances
  • fears
  • relationships
  • jobs
  • education/training
  • health

So it is a safe bet that I can pray over each of those categories for anyone and God, who knows it all anyway, hears my pleas.

It’s hard to watch someone struggle through a difficult season. There are times we can only pray and wait. We can’t jump in to fix or solve the problem, but we must hand it over to God, trusting in His work. Sharing God’s Word can bring refreshment to weary bones. God’s Word is always in season, but certainly a source of strength during an anxious and fearful time in life.

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

A special thank you to my friend, Kristin, who has taken these great verses and put them in such a nice setting!

Enough Trouble

Why is it I distract myself with the all of the potential upcoming trouble when each day has enough trouble of its own?

Each day has enough trouble of its own. [Matthew 6:34]

No kidding! Nothing like stating the obvious. This verse always makes me laugh because it is so true.

Maybe I do it because I feel like I am at least doing something instead of just waiting for the next disaster to visit my doorstep. But being fearful about what is coming up next in my life is not a great habit. If I am distracted from today, experiencing sleepless nights, and have a pit of dread in my belly I might, just might, be flirting with fear. And here is what God reminds me:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. [Matthew 6:25-34 NIV]

If I want to be doing something, God has clued me in on what He recommends as the first course of action. It’s a recommendation from the One who created me and knows my past and my future. I know He has my best interest in mind and will work out the details. I just need to trust Him.

Lord, as I seek Your kingdom and righteousness, calm my heart. Grant me Your peace that passes all human understanding. Remind me of Your promises and provision and protection. We have a lot of history together and I know you are with me today and I trust You will be with me tomorrow! In Jesus’ Name!

What Are You Waiting For?

Are you living with dread for the coming days?

The next doctor’s appointment. The next review from your boss. The next episode in your family. The next rejection from a job. The next piece of disappointing news. The next roadblock.

Or are you living with anticipation for what God is doing?

God’s next provision, transformation, redemption. God’s perfect timing. God’s healing. God’s promise to work all things for the good of those who love him.

If we knew everything that was awaiting us, I don’t think it would be good. We think we want to know but I don’t know that we would be all that happy about knowing the future. Sometimes knowing something is going to happen is mesmerizing, debilitating, and paralyzing even if it is a good thing. While impending doom motivates some people to prepare it grips others with such fear they cannot think through to plod ahead and do the next thing. God knows having too much information too early on most items is distracting to the present.

Be careful that you are not so focused on what you are waiting for that you don’t breathe in and celebrate your today. The provision, the gifts, the beauty, and the aromas are sometimes here for just a moment.

Who holds your year in His hands? Who has the ability to work all things out for good? Who has led you where you are today?

Today. It is what we know and what we have. Don’t spend all your days wrapped up in tomorrows that may never be.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. [Romans 8:28 NIV]

The Grave is not the End!

Is it just me? Lately there seems to be so much tragedy. There is the big stuff with the weather but then there are the things that happen on a smaller scale: fatal car accidents,  suicides, a deadly cancer returning, a fall down the steps that leaves someone in a coma.

How do we cope with these kinds of things?

My fear of facing the death of the ones I love ebbs and flows. My dad died when I was six so death has been a part of my earliest memories. Sometimes I fear the earthly separation that death brings. I find it challenging to balance the intense love I have for people with the knowledge that one day, I will probably  be living without them.

As I considered the pain and failing body my mom was dealing with as well as knowing her faith, I felt selfish wanting to keep her here when she could be whole and with Jesus. It was important for me to release her from this earth and keep Heaven on my mind at the same time.

What early experiences have you had with death that have shaped your approach today? Is there fear? Is there pain? Is there hurt? Is there anticipation? I always have to remind myself of God’s perspective on death. We will all meet our Maker one day. Pray for those you know who are struggling with disease and decay. Offer to assist them in some way. Pray for their peaceful release. And pray for their families too.