Aligning

I am one of those people who can hear different perspectives on situations. I can be empathetic and see the why behind the what — and those whys only serve as explanations, not excuses.

Being empathetic can be exhausting, particularly when I am being asked to choose a side and take a stand. If I am asked to align myself with someone or a position, you can bet that I will be taking a close look at it and praying about it. And, sometimes, that takes time.

I can love people. My heart can be broken for people. But to align with them means we need to be on the same page. Unfortunately, a lot of times we aren’t even in the same book, let alone on the same page. I will not try to prove I care about a situation by surrendering my beliefs. I do care, but if I need to take action, it needs to be in line with what I believe.

Aligning my heart and behavior with God is a lifetime pursuit. Sometimes I am simply terrible at it. I mainly need to not rely on my own strength for change but on the Holy Spirit to guide and direct. And I need to pray for the willing spirit to follow God’s lead to those places where I would not have wanted to go on my own. Whatever He has for me to do comes out of His work in my heart. His work has been going on for 50+ years and He clearly is not done yet. I will be a work in progress until I die, and then I will be at peace!

The closer I am aligned to God, the easier it is to see His work around me. Of course, I can choose to not participate but then that tells me that I am not terribly closely aligned with Him. Walking with God changes my heart to be more like His.

If you are in the midst of a relationship challenge, don’t underestimate the power of God to change the hearts of all parties involved. Pray for the one you are at odds with for 30 days. Start out slow and ask God to bless that person. Then, as the days go by, deepen what you pray for and ask God to bless that person in a variety of ways. Find Scriptural prayers to pray for that person, but you don’t have to mention it to them. Let it be a time between you and God.

This is a great way for God to align your heart with His!

Blessed is the man
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
    planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
    and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers. Psalm 1:1-3 ESV

 

 

The Essentials

I have been traveling quite a bit the last few years and I love exploring and learning about the world around me. But that also means I have to pack and unpack a lot. Unfortunately, sometimes I forget the “essentials”.

My essentials change from time to time. That seems weird to say but, depending on my hair situation, I either need mousse or gel. And, recently, I have taken to wearing a hat when I plan to shower a little later in the day. I guess you can say that some of my essentials are seasonal, at least for traveling.

But my core essentials — the things that make me me — continue to make their presence known. These are the elements of me that are difficult for me to suppress. Try as I might, they sort of erupt and are undeniable. It’s almost as if God said, “These are the foundational elements to Liz and watch me as I grow them and use them through the course of her life!”

Writing has always been, and continues to be, an important part of my life. While I still like the physical act of putting pen to paper, these days I do most of my writing on the computer. How I write as well as how consistently I write has changed and adapted with the tools available to me. I even utilize old envelopes and scribble all kinds of ideas on them! That will never change.

Listening to others is a part of my core. I even considered being a counselor at one point. Most often, people just need to know they have been heard. I have a lot to learn from others — and they don’t always share it verbally!

Encouraging others is also important me. I think providing consolation, comfort, and inspiration is sorely lacking in today’s world. The way people can talk to one another, especially when they are not face-to-face, astounds me. I make every effort to love people where the are, give them encouragement for forward progress if that is what they are looking for, and I pray for them. I can’t be the one to do what they need to do but I can pray for them as they take the next step.

Sharing my faith is one of those things that I cannot, nor do I want, to squelch. I certainly consider the receptivity of those around me and am open to where and how the conversation goes. I am called to share my faith. But this faith stuff is entirely God’s business. God’s work in my life is amazing. The details He has covered before I even knew they needed to be addressed, the opportunities He has created out of ugly situations, the gift of Jesus, the comfort and conviction of the Holy Spirit, and the forgiveness of my sins — my ugly and selfish sins. Sharing my faith is about what God has done for me but also what He has done for the sea of humanity. The sharing of my faith isn’t always through words.

What are your essentials — those core elements God has been developing in you over the course of your life?

Come, Lord Jesus!
Liz

Seasons….of Vulnerability

The very young, the elderly, and the infirm are the ones I think of first when I think of vulnerability. They each are dependent for someone else looking out for their needs and protecting them from dangerous situations. Or when people are battling illness–they are susceptible to other infections and their resistance is down. For some, it is the difference between life and death if they are exposed to the wrong germ.

But there are many other ways to be vulnerable and it seems for every vulnerability there is a predator looking for someone in a tender spot, accessible and with lowered defenses:

a lonely child
those struggling with depression
a widow or widower making sense of their new life
parents who have a child with a disability
anyone walking through a season of grieving
a motherless or fatherless child seeing a role model
anyone walking through a season of extended illness
a recent immigrant with limited language skills
those recently released from prison
a single parent looking for parenting help
those recently returning from active duty in our military

Looking back on your life you may be able to clearly see your moments (years?) of vulnerability. Maybe you were vulnerable due to life situations that were out of your control. Maybe you made some choices that left you open to some ugly stuff. Do you see any vulnerable people around you that could use your prayers for protection? An offer of friendship? A cup of coffee and a brainstorming session? Sometimes the vulnerable just need help knowing where to go for resources and sometimes they need a discerning ear to help them navigate through a difficult season. Surely there is someone you know who is struggling and vulnerable who at least needs your prayers!

The devil is a schemer. And we are often too arrogant to think we can fall prey to his antics. Oh, he is clever — using us against ourselves. How can we resist him? By being on our knees and with our nose in The Book. If we are standing on His solid ground then we are in a good position to help someone else get connected with what they need to navigate through this difficult life.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist,with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. [Ephesians 6:10-18]

Habits

Today’s PrayerPoint ~ Habits

Why does cultivating a good habit take so much conscientious effort when you can fall into a bad habit with such ease?
A repeated course of action carves a path in our brains and from there on it is like a rut in the road–so easy for us to fall back onto that path. Sometimes that is good news — for good habits, of course. Those pesky bad habits? Well, they are annoying and sometimes clearly destructive.
What habits have you developed through the years? Have you thought back to “the early days” of that behavior? Do you have one bad habit that seems to pursue you with great intensity? It isn’t true, of course, that it pursues you but if you have one, you know it is hard to shake it off. It seems to attach itself to you — it has a grip on you. The more I describe this the more I am getting creeped out. Initially it is something you invite into your life, you get “used to” it being in your life, it brings you “comfort” and then pretty soon your world revolves around it even when you want it gone.
The more you choose something the less of a choice in choosing it you have in the end. Exactly when does that happen in the course of the development of a habit?
And what encouragement do we give others to shake their bad habits when we don’t find success in ridding ourselves of our own?
Exactly–we don’t!
What is that pesky bad habit you want to be a distant memory? Have you prayed and asked God for His help? Do you have a person or two for accountability? Have you mapped out a deliberate strategy? Ask God to pester you about this until it is something you overcome. The Holy Spirit will surely nudge you with gentle and not-so-gentle reminders. What is holding you back?
I don’t know about you but I am asking God to help me carve new pathways in my brain!

PrayerPoints ~ Just ~ March 30

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. Philippians 4:8  NIV

There are a variety of definitions for the word just but this one by thefreedictionary.com is enough without being too much: honorable and fair in one’s dealings and actions. And the definition for fair (from the same spot) is this: consistent with rules, logic, or ethics.

Alleluia for a God who is just and provides the way for us through Jesus! Nothing even comes close to comparing to the goodness and justice of God. He is always dependable to be just!

And while we might not always be consistent, my prayer is that each of us are being moved by the Holy Spirit in that direction. Let’s consider our actions as we are going about our day. Are we honorable and fair in our dealings? Are we consistent with rules, logic, or ethics? Of course we cannot compare to God in this department as we are laden with sin. But as the Holy Spirit continues to sanctify us, there should be evidence of improvement in these areas. Of course, it does depend on what part of the day one catches me! Maybe the same is true for you.

Growing up with some shady authority figures in my life (not my parents) I didn’t (and still don’t) just trust authority. Seeing a lack of integrity so blatant with several adults in the church spoke volumes to me. And it afforded me the excuse (ha!ha!) to be  fairly rebellious. Truly, someone else’s bad behavior should not be a license for me to behave badly. However, we should consider that our behavior does impact others. God has been busy buffing some of that rebelliousness out of me during the last 40+ years. And He still has a long way to go. I am a work in progress–a work of His heart. And you are too!

As you consider where you have been, can you look back 5, 10, 20, 40 years and see God’s work in your life? I pray so!

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. 1 John 1:8-10 NIV

So so thankful for God’s love and provisions!

Liz

PrayerPoint ~ February 24

PrayerPoints ~ The Hands

Heavenly Father,
You have created my hands to do good works that will glorify Your name. Help me to discern those things You have prepared in advance for me to do. You have seen my hands participate in tasks that are hurtful. Forgive me for those times I have used my hands to harm others or myself. You were there when I dirtied my hands with sin. Thank you for the cleansing and forgiveness that is found in You alone. Help my hands to do many things for You. Let my hands show love in the daily tasks of  cleaning, cooking, driving, digging, sorting, serving, touching, typing, washing, and writing. You know where my hands need Your intervention. Please continue to nudge me with Your Holy Spirit to consider what my hands should be doing each day and soften my heart to heed Your conviction. Thank You for the gift of my hands!   In Jesus’ Name, Amen

PrayerPoints are “in season” during Lent and are written every day leading up to Easter. I have found that if I just pause long enough to listen, usually in the quiet of the early morning hours, God has things He would like me to consider. PrayerPoints are the outcome of my willingness to listen. It is always important and beneficial to be in God’s Word. My prayer is that PrayerPoints are simply a springboard to your deeper walk with God.  Liz Vos