Roadside Cleanup

Have you ever participated in a roadside clean up only to drive by a week later and see it as trashy as it was before you labored to pick up the trash? It is so frustrating!

Sometimes, that’s just like my life. I make an honest and determined effort to ‘clean up’ an area in my life but those old habits creep right back in and soon things are messy again. A funny thing…when it’s my mess, I have a hard time asking for or receiving help in order to get the mess clean. Somehow I think I should be old enough and experienced enough or “godly” enough to not ever have to ask for assistance. Ever find that true for you?

Thankfully, God has placed wonderful people in my life who “lovingly assist” when needed. Sometimes it is simply a word of encouragement or a listening ear. Other times they roll up their sleeves and take on a task on my behalf. I am so thankful that God has patience for me. As I recall the many instances of His grace and mercy for me it is actually becomes a joy to extend it to others. May you be blessed as you work together with other believers to share God’s grace, forgiveness, and peace!

Heavenly Father, Help me to graciously accept assistance in areas of my need and a have a willingness to extend myself in Your name for others. Give me Your eyes to see the needs of others and Your guidance as to the level of my involvement. In Your Son’s Name, Amen.


Life Garden

Ever been in a situation where you have been betrayed, abused, violated, deceived, taken advantage of or hung out to dry? Has life thrown you some curves or tossed manure your way? Your response to those situations is incredibly important. If you allow seeds of unforgiveness, bitterness, or anger to germinate and be cultivated, pretty soon you will have quite a harvest of life-killing weeds.

The most inspiring stories you read are the ones of people who have overcome extremely difficult circumstances and gone on to forgive, share, love, sacrifice, etc. I would guess the most incredible stories somehow have God involved as He truly is the only One capable of transforming an ugly situation into something that could be a blessing to others and communicate the freedom that is found with life in Him.

What is it that you want to be growing in your life garden? If you are looking for a harvest of love, joy, or peace you need to be nurturing, watering, feeding and practicing those concepts. This isn’t as easy as it sounds and takes daily effort and weeding.  Ask God for His perspective on your circumstances then ask Him to help you see things as He sees them. Allow God to shed His light on your situation.

Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” Luke 18:27 NIV

Manure stinks but it sure helps things grow!!!

Setbacks

“Sin will take you farther than you ever intended to stray, It will keep you longer than you ever intended to stay and cost you more than you ever intended to pay.” Author unknown

Have you ever found yourself in a frustrating place of sin and thought back to when that particular stronghold may have started? Definitely a sobering thought. Recently we had a local school principal arrested for shoplifting at Kohl’s. She was in her early 50’s. There was a lot of newspaper television coverage and she no longer works as a principal. Wow. Who knows when that all started for her.  This sin took her on an ugly journey.

Sin is just like that. We justify and rationalize our behavior and get defensive when it is brought to our attention. But later we find ourselves repeating that same stinkin’ scenario over and over again and trying to get free from the grip of sin. What can we do? Here are some actions that can help:

  • Confess
  • Seek Forgiveness
  • Have an accountability partner
  • Surround yourself with Scripture
  • Pray
  • Change your scenery or routine
  • Forgive yourself

Be open to insight from more seasoned Christians who may have the ability to see you are headed down a dangerous path. Sometimes those rebukes come from someone who has walked a similar road and desires to save you from the pain and consequences they experienced. Sometimes we are so blind to current or future consequences of our sin that we are shocked when a concerned friend brings forth a warning. Be approachable.

As long as we are human we will have setbacks. Will you allow a setback to give you an excuse to go further down a dangerous path or will you allow it to help you see your vulnerabilities and give you the chutzpah to forge through temptation the next time?

Pondering takes Time

Ponder: 1: to weigh in the mind 2: to deliberate about 3: to muse over, to think or consider especially quietly, soberly, and deeply. Webster, 1965.

With all of the communication and noise and business of the day, we actually have to be intentional about pondering anything. It seems like we don’t have any time. But it is important to set aside time to ponder, particularly the things of God. I have included several Bible verses to get you started though you may already have some you are in the midst of pondering. Write them on an index card and keep them close by so if you have a moment to think, they might be available to you. I chose the New International Version but feel free to look at several translations to get a larger sense of the meaning of the passage. This is all a part of the pondering process.

“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Ephesians 4:1-5 NIV

“I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” Luke 10:19 NIV

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9-11 NIV

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.’ Romans 12:2 NIV

“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:5-9 NIV

Ponder. Savor. Mull it over. Let God imprint it on your heart. How might God be speaking to you today through His Word?

One of my favorite things about God is when I am reading a Bible passage I have read a bunch of times and a word or phrase strikes me… it’s as if God bolded it to get my attention.  That doesn’t always happen, but there are times it does. And if I am in a hurry or I am tackling Scripture like a job, I can easily breeze by those words or phrases He just might want me to ponder.

Is there a particular verse you have pondered and would recommend to others? Please consider adding it as a comment to this post. There is so much wisdom in Scripture it is often hard to find a starting point. Sharing Scripture is a way to cement it in your mind as well as encourage a fellow traveler on the journey!

Stop Signs

Have you ever breezed through a stop sign before? I have, unintentionally. I have even considered it intentionally late at night when I am tired, want to get home, and no one else is at the intersection.

Have there been times when you know there are places or relationships  God would not want you to enter and you did so, anyway? Sometimes you hear the “I knew I shouldn’t have done that” in your mind.

Next time you see some signs as you are traveling down the road in your vehicle, think about how those very same signs can be useful as signs for faith–construction zone, danger zone, bridge out, DO NOT ENTER.

Are there areas in your life where you are ignoring some signs you ought to be paying attention to?

I think God has always been pretty generous giving me clues and indications about certain situations I should steer clear of. Sometimes, though, I can be rebellious and forge my way ahead anyway. Typically there are some not-so-pleasant consequences but once in a while I come away unscathed.  It’s risky business.

Maybe I should heed the signs that He has placed for my protection and thank Him for loving me and forgiving me even when I deliberately ignore them.

Lord, teach me to seek Your wisdom and counsel and follow it as well!


Copy Cat

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5: 1-2

The term “copy cat” isn’t typically a compliment, but I know things would run much more smoothly in my home if I would walk in the way of love and imitate God instead of reacting to the circumstances and attitudes around me.

When I think about walking in Jesus’ love, of course I want to be an imitator of Jesus for the people I love in my life. But I can’t give what I don’t have so I must first allow Jesus’ love, sacrifice, and forgiveness extend to me. Sometimes that takes a while to sink in as deep as it needs to.

God always gives me an opportunity to practice what He wants me to learn. The more I “copy” Him, the more natural His type of actions will become. I want to copy the way God loves, cares, encourages, blesses, sees, sacrifices, etc. So I must read and study His examples of that behavior. Digging into Scripture is a great way to really see God’s love in action.

If you have children in your life, tell them you want them to be a ‘copy cat’. See how they respond to that statement. If they are in school or have any siblings, I bet they already have a negative impression of that term.  Ask them if there is ever a good time to copy someone. Who could they copy and be doing the right thing? Make a list of things you can do to copy God’s love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, etc.  Be a Copy Cat!!!

Cicus loves to sit on our copier/printer!!!

 

 

Rubik’s Cube®

The Rubik’s Cube is a 3-D mechanical puzzle invented in 1974 by Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture Ernő Rubik. We were pretty excited at our house when it first came out because we are 100% Hungarian.  It wasn’t until recently that I wondered if there were some correlations between this cube and my life.

  • While getting one side to be all one color is impressive, it isn’t considered “solving the puzzle”.
  • Life Correlation: Just because I look put together in one area doesn’t mean I have all of life figured out. Check out all the sides.
  • One wrong turn can lead to several and that can lead to a mess.
  • Life Correlation: One wrong turn is rarely ever just one wrong turn. It is often the start of a series of bad moves.
  • Trying to put the puzzle back to its original shape takes time, patience, and practice.
  • Life Correlation: Trying to pick up the pieces in my life and put it back to its ‘original shape’ is impossible. I am so thankful for God’s mercy, grace, and forgiveness!
  • No matter how messed up it looks right now, there is someone who can put my confused Rubik’s Cube®  back into a complete and perfect, original shape.
  • Life Correlation: No matter how messed up my life looks right now, God can take all of the wrongs I have done and the wrongs done to me and transform them for ministry moments in this broken and hurting world.

My prayer is that you allow God to work His healing and wholeness into every area of your life. As your healing progresses, do not be surprised if He asks you to share your story (His-story) to bless another fellow traveler on the path.