Facing the Trials

You have probably heard yourself say at some time in your life, “that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.” Or “that was a very difficult season (experience, situation, conversation, etc.)”

We all have hard times in our lives. Sometimes after we get through a particularly trying time, we can get discouraged about the future. Or maybe we see the changes in our world and know that life is getting more difficult for us and many others. We can begin to dread the future, thinking that the hard times that are coming will be too much for us to handle. Whether it’s something tragic or a strong temptation, we know we will face more trials in the future. We know we aren’t done. We haven’t arrived. We are still on the journey that marks the life of a follower of Christ. Continue reading “Facing the Trials”

Striving for Perfection

When was the last time you felt like you were getting it right? When did you last feel like you were on track, accomplishing what you needed to, making the right decisions, making no mistakes?

It’s could be that it’s been a while. And when you aren’t getting it right the critics are unrelenting.  But I’ll bet your worst critic isn’t your spouse or your best friend or your neighbor or even your mother. I suspect that the person who is hardest on you when you mess up….is you.

God isn’t critical of you. He knows you are going to make mistakes. He knows you are not perfect. So why do you expect it of yourself? He extends grace to us in all circumstances. He doesn’t expect us to earn it. He knows we can do nothing of ourselves to be worthy of His grace.

So why do we keep expecting ourselves to be perfect when there is only One who is perfect? We can strive to become more Christ-like but it’s the greatest of arrogance to imagine that we will ever arrive at perfection this side of Heaven.

So maybe the better goal is to give all we have and be content with the outcome. After all, Christ came to complete us and if we did it all by ourselves we wouldn’t need Him. I don’t know about you , but I need Him desperately. Every day. Every moment.

I don’t have to be perfect. I just have to be willing to be changed. And to rest in His grace in the process.

1 John 3:2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

The Pause that Refreshes

The Pause That Refreshes

In 1929 the Coca-Cola Company developed an ad campaign around the slogan “The Pause That Refreshes.” Of course, they were talking about drinking an ice cold Coke. We look for opportunities to take a few moments to stop and recharge. It’s a healthy habit, to allow your body to recover from the physical and mental stresses of life. Continue reading “The Pause that Refreshes”

A Heart of Stone

I saw something disturbing today.  I took my youngest son to the grocery store with me and when we parked in the parking lot there was a vehicle next to ours that had words written on the hood. I couldn’t read the words clearly but as I got out of my van I saw small hangers with children’s clothing inside the window. There was at least one small child in the back seat. As we walked away from the van my son turned to look at more words written on the rear of the vehicle. He turned to me and said, “Mom, did you see that? That says ‘homeless family. hungry, can you help us'”

My first thought was one of compassion. But I must confess, the next thought was to wonder if it was for real or some kind of an angle.  I am a victim of the culture I live in and I have become suspicious of people who would take advantage of those who are too trusting or gullible.  Obviously the adult who was driving was inside the store. As we entered the store I walked around getting our groceries and wondering which person was the one.

By the time we got back out to our van the vehicle was gone.

All day long I’ve thought about that family. What if they really are homeless? What if I could have helped? Did God want me to help? I didn’t even ask Him. I just went about my own business. I have thanked God several times today for all the ways He provides for us. I’ve thanked Him for giving us a home and food to eat. But it all seems shallow some how. Do I just say “Thank You Lord” while people around me are hungry and have no place to sleep?

How will I ever learn to pay attention to what’s going on around me? How will I know when God wants me to act if I don’t ask?

My prayer is that God would do what he told Ezekiel. That He would take my heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh. One that would feel  greater compassion for those in need. And that I would see God’s children through His eyes and not my own.

God’s Promises

God’s provision is not based on our productivity.

God’s love is not based on our loyalty.

God’s protection is not based on our performance.

God’s compassion is not based on our commitment.

God’s mercy is not based on our merits.

God’s peace is not based on our position.

God’s promises are not earned by our behavior. Sometimes He requires our obedience but that’s not the same thing as performance or merit. God sees our potential and not our failures. We cannot be disqualified from receiving God’s promises if our hearts are truly His.  We don’t have to earn His love, compassion or peace by measuring up to some standard.  He loved us first, before we had a single opportunity to prove our loyalty or commitment and His peace can be received anywhere, anytime. There is nothing we can do to make God love us any more than He already does.

Instant Communication

In this high-tech age of cell phones, email, instant messaging and texting it’s easy to stay in constant contact with the people in our lives. Sometimes we even go to extremes and carry on instant conversations with several people at one time.  That can sometimes lead to confusion or misunderstanding. I’m sure if you’ve used texting or instant messaging at all, you’ve experienced a situation where your words or tone have been misunderstood and you had to go back and clear things up. Continue reading “Instant Communication”

From the Dust

I’m sure you’ve hear people say that they have “felt like dirt” or have been “treated like dirt.” We immediately understand the implication. It means they have not been treated as they think they deserve.

But the truth is, that’s exactly what we are. Genesis 2:7 says, “God formed man of dust from the ground.” And Genesis 3:19 says, “For you are dust and to dust you shall return.” That sounds pretty clear to me. Why should we think we deserve to be treated like anything more than the dust that we are? Continue reading “From the Dust”

Who Determines Our Worth?

When was the last time you felt foolish…or embarrassed…or humiliated? Pick one. It probably hasn’t been that long ago. You may have felt shame as well.

All those labels try to attach themselves to us when we’ve done something, or been blamed for something that threatens our self-image.  Our self-esteem: Something the world works very hard to build up and then tear down over and over. Continue reading “Who Determines Our Worth?”

Death and Life

So much of the Proverbs are directed at the power of the tongue. If only we could get it in our heads that words are powerful. God created the universe with words and He tells us throughout the Scriptures that our words also contain power. But people use words so carelessly. We speak things we don’t mean, we say things we regret.

Proverbs 18:21 says “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” And yet we sling words around so carelessly, never considering the consequences.  We can cause so much damage to another person without ever laying a finger on them.  What would it be like if we allowed God to teach us to control our tongues?  What would our families be like?  What would our churches be like?

How different things would be if we could give encouragement instead of put-downs… comforting words instead of sarcasm. If only we could respond with love instead of anger and impatience.  How different life would be.