Blessed…be…

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Window flowers in Hungary

The Beatitudes 

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. [Matthew 5:3-12 NIV]


We are blessed in countless ways but the blessings listed above are not what the world considers to be blessings.

It is always a challenge for me to remember God’s definitions when I am in the middle of living in this world. Even if I am not contemplating my own situation I still see others and consider material wealth as a blessings.

Of course, it can be used for good and to bless and all that. It can also be a curse. Those things that the world values that are not of God can easily become the things we seek and strive for and we can lose so much in the process.

Have you ever been caught up in chasing something meaningless? Something that, if you caught it would actually catch you and try to put a stranglehold on your faith? God’s blessings are so different from what the world considers a blessing.

Lord, help me to receive your blessings without always looking for the next one. Let me savor the gifts You have placed in my life — the blessings the world doesn’t value but You use to grow me into the person you need me to be.

On the way,

Liz

A Time to Search

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A chapel in a salt mine in Transylvania

A Time for Everything

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 NIV

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.


Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see,
Everything that I keep missing,
Give your love for humanity.
Give me your arms for the broken-hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach.
Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten.
Give me Your eyes so I can see.

I often think about this song by Brandon Heath  — I only added the chorus above but you can give it a listen here.

Give me Your eyes!

How much would change in our behavior and relationships if we would have God’s eyes for a person or a situation? Are we using God’s perspective as we consider our circumstances? Are we seeking His face so we can reflect Him more accurately?

Each time we seek His face, He shapes our vision to be more like His. My own vision is faulty. It is clouded with my sin, my sinful nature, and the sin of the world. At this time in my life I need reading glasses as well as glasses that can give me better vision at a distance, and, to top it off, I even have astigmatism which means that my eyeball is not a standard shape [per dictionary.com]. So I have three things working against me for 20/20 vision. And yet I have never had restrictions on my drivers’ license in any state in which I have lived. A little wacky vision is acceptable to the state and even within our world and that makes it fairly easy to stray from what is acceptable in God’s eyes if we are distant from Him.

Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
    be merciful to me and answer me.
My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
    Your face, Lord, I will seek. [Psalm 27:7-8 NIV]

Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Look to the Lord and his strength;
    seek his face always. [Psalm 105:3-4 NIV]

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 6:33-34 NIV]

I like to use “Give me Your eyes” as a quick prayer when I am coming into an uncomfortable or unknown situation. Staying tethered to God is essential for improving how I see things around me!

On the way,

Liz

 

 

The Judas Kiss

Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.

 Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.”

Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. Matthew 26:48-50

Have you ever been connected with someone who flattered you with kisses (or something similar) only to have them turn on you later?

If you have ever experienced it you know it is quite unpleasant. When I have been in this type of situation I wonder where was my discernment? Why was I vulnerable to fall for something like that?

Who does that to people?

Plenty do.

But knowing that this happened to Jesus helps. Betrayal happens.

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9

Of course, our betrayal experiences do not compare with those of Jesus but it is good to know that pain we feel – He can relate. And God can use it for a greater good.

The sooner you can forgive a betrayer the better off you will be. But just don’t expect that to be something you can do without Jesus. He is the one who makes forgiveness possible.

On the Road,

Liz

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Unwritten Rules

It isn’t fair to say this rule originated in Bronxville, but I saw it here first.

When everyone is lined up at a traffic light and it turns green, the first person in the cue to turn left does not need to yield to the cross traffic. They turn in front of the car that is going straight as soon as the light is green.

What?

That has not been an understood driving right anywhere else I have ever lived.

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

When I get to a new place, I try to figure out the unwritten rules. There usually are a few. At first I might notice that something is different and I can’t quite put my finger on it. Then, as time goes on and I observe more, I might be able to decipher it. And then I have to decide if I want to be a part of this new place and their rules.

Whether or not we are conscious about this process, I think it is fairly common but most noticeable when you are the newcomer to a situation.

Every town, organization, church, family, and relationship has rules. Some are formally written out but it is always hardest to figure out the unwritten ones. It takes time. And sometimes we get caught up in a system before we are able to discern whether or not it is healthy.

If you are in a situation that seems a little off, spend a little more time observing, pray for discernment, then decide if you should stay or go.

On the Road,

Liz

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Are you coming or going?

I was thinking about the verse I want to rest upon during Lent. There will be a lot of movement in my life in the upcoming months so this one seems appropriate:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

And this one is always good to keep in mind because while we are not “of this world” we certainly are here in this world for a purpose:

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Mark 16:15

But here is where I have settled:

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We are often coming and going and not taking enough time to reflect, rest, and be restored. The focus for 2017 Lenten PrayerPoints will be devotional thoughts that relate to being “On the Road”.  Certainly, a part of traveling means rest and standing still. Sometimes we choose our times of “still” and other times we do not. “Being still” might be an uncomfortable place to be–especially if someone is known as a “doer”.

If you decide to have a verse or chapter or book of the Bible to focus on during this season of Lent, I would love to hear what it is! Write it out, sketch it out, go to canva.com and create some digital art, or do whatever you need to do to connect with the verse and tuck it away in your heart and mind. And then pay attention! Whenever I do this, I see God’s connecting points for me in conversations with others, in sermons, in songs, and in my life. Ruminating on Scripture is always a good idea.

I am praying for all of us as we journey with God and spend time with Him during this season. May He find hearts willing to learn, grow, and change to reflect His love and grace and forgiveness more accurately. As we travel through life we will meet many travelers. We can give more to others when we ourselves are refreshed.

On the Road!

Liz

“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

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!

Fishing: Intention & The Big Picture

(part 5 of 5)

Don generally fishes with a “catch & release” mentality. He enjoys being outdoors and kayaking around in the summer sun with birds chirping and wildlife soaring and scurrying around. On a regular day his time is spent in meetings and meeting deadlines and so this slow pace, with no official expectation, other than to get away from regular duties and enjoy nature, is a great way to relax.

On the contrary, when satan uses his lures and bait, he is fishing for keeps. If he can get us hooked on any number of things that can wreak havoc on our lives he is accomplishing what he has set out to do. And we, sinners that we are, willingly succumb to the temptations that the world has to offer. Even if we get snagged in a serious way, caught and transported across the world in foreign waters and a long way from “home”, God longs to negotiate our release. It requires a recognition of our sinful nature and a heart surrendered to Him.

Why did Jesus ask for fisherman to be fishers of men?

Let’s take another look at God’s Word:

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.

Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. [Matthew 4:18-22 NIV]

Living beside the Sea of Galilee meant their daily sustenance involved a lot of fish so it was essential to know how to fish successfully! Jesus called four people who had similar experiences and two sets of brothers. Interesting. Living and working side by side requires an awful lot of patience and respect and negotiation — even if we aren’t fishing. These four had some common experiences and likely had learned to relate well to one another and were a source of encouragement and support while fishing on the water. All those are important for discipling “on land”.

An awareness of the climate, weather, access points, and location are all things fisherman learn. Fisherman also know their equipment and keep it in good repair. They are always open to learning and have a lot of patience. A good fisherman knows there isn’t any point trying to fish in a hurry. It usually takes a lot of time.

I am so thankful for what God is teaching me. He is so relevant even in areas where I can hardly relate. I am really not a big fan of fishing but I am a big fan of spending time with Don. Who knew I would “catch” all this about fishing just by tagging along?

And where are you? What principles are you “catching” from your environment? And what ideas are others catching from you? I pray we are all sharing Biblical principles in our uniquely gifted ways!