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

 

 

A Time to Weep

Sun over Torockow
Sunrise 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.


Sometimes there are no words that can be said about a particular circumstance.  There is no solution, no possible change or fix.

It is what it is.

Our response may start off with a deep sadness and tears, but when the magnitude of what this means hits us and there is weeping.

The “here I am, facing the biggest heartache of my life” situation is here to stay and there is nothing anyone can do to prevent it from barreling down. The grief comes in waves,  there is a deep sadness over what is or will be lost, and there are many, many tears.

There is a time to weep.

I am so thankful God and His people throughout the generations know these deep emotions. It helps take the edge off the pain a little to know that when we are feeling so deeply, we are not alone — even if we feel that way.

Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress;
    my eyes grow weak with sorrow,
    my soul and body with grief.
My life is consumed by anguish
    and my years by groaning;
my strength fails because of my affliction,
    and my bones grow weak.[Psalm 39:9-10 NIV]

God knows and sees us in our grief and weeps with us. He created us with the capacity for a range of emotions and we are created in His image. And when we think we are facing the circumstance alone, it is important to remember that God can and will carry us through. It doesn’t mean there won’t be sadness or weeping. It means He is alongside us, leading us, carrying us, tending to us, providing for us, and showing His grace upon grace.

The Psalms are filled with believers in distress. There is just a sampling below. I take great comfort in knowing that I am not alone when my grief is profound. I have His Word to remind me of His love and provision from the beginning of time.

Psalm 4:1  Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer.

Psalm 18:6  In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.

Psalm 20:1  May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.

Psalm 31:9  Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief.

Psalm 55:17  Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice.

Psalm 81:7  In your distress you called and I rescued you, I answered you out of a thundercloud; I tested you at the waters of Meribah. 

Psalm 86:7  When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me.

Psalm 102:2  Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress. Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly.

Psalm 102:5  In my distress I groan aloud and am reduced to skin and bones.

Heartache is never fun to walk through. If you are challenged with fresh or long-standing grief, I pray that you find comfort in God’s promises and His Word. Ask a friend to pray with and for you. And please don’t hesitate to find a healthy pastor to visit with.

On the way,

Liz

Taking Him at His Word

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He is Risen!

He is Risen, indeed!

Alleluia!

When I struggle to accept someone’s word it is because I have been tricked before. When my trust has been violated it makes it very difficult for the next person to get a fair shake. Even though I have trust issues for good reason, I have always been able to take God at His Word. I am thankful for that faith He planted in me through baptism and nurtured through the years.   I love His work in my life even if it is difficult during the process. Looking at the betrayal of Jesus and all the other painful events of Good Friday, I can see what God has done (and is doing) for me. Right now.

Today.

And He has done it for you, too!

On the Road,

Liz

Here are a few promises to hang onto:

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Refreshment!

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Don and I have been able to ride our bicycles three times this week! We have had some gorgeous days recently and I am excited to be able to get out in the fresh air and sunshine. I sleep so much better at night if I ride my bike during the day. I also find I think about things from a new perspective when I ride. I think some of that has to do with being in nature.

We haven’t ridden bikes in New York as much as I thought I would when we moved here. First off, the winter is longer here than it is in southern Indiana. Secondly, where we live there are way more hills so it takes a little more effort to come up with a doable route. And, finally, it is pretty scary just riding on the streets to get to the bike path. There are so many cars and crazy drivers—it isn’t worth the risk to me. We finally put a hitch on our vehicle so we can use our handy dandy bike rack. We put our bikes on and then drive to ride. It definitely takes a bit more effort than I wish because I would ride a lot more if I felt like we could just take off from home. On the up side, we have found interesting places to ride – but some of them take an hour or so to get to.

I am looking forward to more sunshine, warmer days and more time biking. Spending time in God’s creation is good for me on so many levels. For me, it is important to take the time to breath, observe, listen, and stretch —  and it even helps me rest better!

As soon as you can, get out and enjoy nature! Whether it is a walk in a park, rock climbing, bird watching, boating, star gazing, catching a sunrise or watching the sunset it can help you remember God’s strength and creativity!

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

PrayerPoints ~ Wednesday, March 23rd

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Today’s PrayerPoint ~ Psalm 39

“Show me, Lord, my life’s end
    and the number of my days;
    let me know how fleeting my life is.
You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
    the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath,
    even those who seem secure.” Psalm 39:4-5 

Life is fleeting.

My life is fleeting.

What am I doing with my time? Is what I am doing valuable? Lasting? Important? Are there better choices I can make with…

…my time?

…my conversations?

…my money?

…my focus?

While it is always important to be mindful of what I am doing,  Holy Week is a natural time for reflection and contemplation of my sin, Jesus’ suffering and death for my fleeting life, and God’s many provisions for His people.

“Everyone is but a breath.”

 

PrayerPoints ~ Tuesday, March 22nd

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Today’s PrayerPoint ~ Psalm 107

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Psalm 107:1

Give thanks…

Let them give thanks…

Let them give thanks….

Let them give thanks…

Let them give thanks…

There seems to be a bit of a theme here in Psalm 107. Do you see it? There is quite a listing of the things that God had done for His people throughout this Psalm but I think it is most important to remember the very first verse — we give thanks to the Lord because He is good…

…even if our circumstances seem to stink at the moment.

Blessings on your day as you ponder the goodness of God!

 

 

 

PrayerPoints ~ Monday, March 21st

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Today’s PrayerPoint ~ Psalm 131

“My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.

But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, both now and forevermore.”  Psalm 131

Do you have a stilled and quieted soul?

With everything that is going on in the world at this moment (even though there is nothing new under the sun) this is impossible without God. I find that I am in a better position to have a stilled and quieted soul when my heart and mind is guarded.

 “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

Spending time in God’s Word and in prayer as well as being connected to a healthy Christian congregation are ways to keep God’s peace and path in my presence. This Holy Week, there are multiple opportunities to walk along with Jesus and consider His pain and suffering and God’s provision for us through Jesus’ sacrifice.

May your private time in God’s Word and your connection with a fellow believers this week strengthen your faith!

 

PrayerPoints ~ Sunday, March 20th

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Today’s PrayerPoint ~ Psalm 16

“Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge. I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing. ” Psalm 16:1-2

There are always difficulties. Since the Fall of Man, there have been wars and disease and sin.

Theirs…Yours… and Mine.

And God continues to offer His grace and mercy and forgiveness and love. Along with those good things, He reminds us:

“Finally brothers,

whatever is true,

whatever is honorable, whatever is just,

whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,

whatever is commendable,

if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise,

think about these things.”   Philippians 4:8

Now, more than ever, I wonder where things are headed in our world. There is so much corruption, pain, illness, and death that I need to reorient my thinking multiple times a day. As Scripture says,

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

Life is hard. God is good. And God’s goodness is not dependent on my circumstances.

PrayerPoints ~ Saturday, March 19th

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Today’s PrayerPoint ~ Psalm 115

“Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.” Psalm 115:1

I will admit there are some times when I want the glory. It isn’t really that I want GLORY but just some “little g” glory, particularly when I have worked hard, sacrificed, and set aside my own interests. But seeking that recognition can be a slippery slope.

I do think the world really encourages a sense of entitlement and it doesn’t take much for me to slide right into that mentality myself. While it is always nice to be appreciated, when it becomes my expectation I think I am working myself up to deserve some glory and, before you know it, I will be a bit frustrated that I don’t receive some GLORY!

Does that ever happen to you?

It might sound crazy to you, but sometimes I have to remind myself that the glory is not for me. It isn’t mine to take and it isn’t mine to seek. Any good I do is God’s doing…

To His Name Be the GLORY!