Friday, November 29, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy belated Thanksgiving! What a privilege we have in this country to take a day away from the normal routine of life to just be thankful - pure and simple. It is just a little small thing, only one day out of the year, but we are blessed to have it set apart. Ideally we would all approach each and every day with a heart overflowing with thanksgiving. But let's be honest, that isn't always the case. So, at least we have one day where we set aside our gripes, complaints and wish-lists to just focus on the things we do have: family, faith, and - oh yea - food.
This Thanksgiving was extra special. The day was bursting with people and blessings to praise God for. Not least of which was the long awaited addition of my brother from Virginia and his family. It has been over 6 years since they have been able to spend Thanksgiving with us. The house was full - just the way we like it! Andrew brought his wife and 2 kids and Danny, who lives right here in town, had his wife and 8 kids plus the oldest brought along his girlfriend. Add in my parents and Pippy and the kitchen was packed full with good food and good company. The celebration was perfect.
Before we all even made it to the table for our 3 PM dinner, the day had already hit extra-special status. That morning my Dad and I headed out bright and early for the annual Erie Turkey Trot. This was our first foray into the event and my first ever 5K.
A brief 6 weeks ago my Dad decided he wanted to run this race with me. He knew that was quite an undertaking for him personally. In the last 20 years he's packed on the pounds and he needed to drop some weight before he could tackle any kind of run without putting his body in danger. He made the commitment to change his eating habits and start a training program to prepare. Since that day he has lost over 20 pounds and is excited to continue with his program. He has set more goals for long distance bike rides and future 5K races. The Turkey Trot was a celebration of the life style change he decided to make and the progress he has made thus far. The journey is far from over but he is well on his way. What a wonderful reason to give thanks.
The Turkey Trot was also a celebration for me personally. Six months ago I became fed up with the limitations my health had on my life. I wasn't allowed to vacuum, lift anything whatsoever and certainly not run. I was confined and restrained from living life to the fullest. Finally I decided enough was enough. God did not create this body to be treated like a fragile porcelain doll. He created it for full health: vibrant, thrilling, exciting health.
I determined to break through the limitations that doctors, naturopaths and chiropractors had put on me for years. I determined to stop searching for "a cure" and start living life believing I was cured already. Since that day I haven't looked back.
Instead I started looked forward and running forward. The distances were brief at first. I hadn't run in years - I had been told I simply wasn't allowed to. Now I was disregarding and disobeying the advice of "experts" and listening to the true expert: God. In my heart of hearts I knew He was calling me to take a risk, take on a challenge and run.
It took months, but finally I reached my goal of running a 5K. The Turkey Trot, on Thanksgiving morning, was the perfect place to start my launch into road races. This first race was an act of praise to God for this journey and the strength He has restored to my physical body.
Running has broken all the rules for me. When you're under weight you're told not to do anything that burns too many calories and just sit down and eat, eat, eat. Running isn't part of the program. But when I listened to God I knew that He was empowering me to do big things with this little body and let Him do the work of restoring it to health. Every run has been a surrender of my right to myself and my self-reliance. Each and every run is a calling out to God, renewing my hope in His healing power and thanking Him for the work He is doing in me, both physically and spiritually.
From that day 6 months ago my weight has gone up. My muscle in my leg rarely flares and, amazingly enough, when it does get grumpy the best way to relieve its death grip is to go for a run. The rest of my body has been touched by the healing hand of God over the past 6 months, too. My body isn't cold like it used to be and my hands no longer crack and bleed when the temperature falls below 60 degrees. I have energy that I was desperately missing. And it is all thanks to God's power to heal.
As I ran through the finish line at yesterday's Turkey Trot I was overcome by the amazing work God has done in my life. The glory is His and His alone. When I crossed that finish line I didn't have any family there with signs or my own personal cheering section. There was no one running along beside me (Dad was further back in the crowd running at his own pace). But as I reached the end I realized that alone, without fanfare was the perfect way to celebrate the victory of completion.
Making it to the finish line wasn't about anyone else. It wasn't about getting applause or recognition. It was my own testimony to the power of Christ and His ability to restore. It was fitting that at the end, the line was crossed by myself, running with only my Savior.
Throughout the last 4 years I have been carried along, safe in the arms of Christ. Through the pain and suffering, joys and triumphs, God has been my faithful provider. This Thanksgiving I celebrated the love and sustaining power of my Savior. His love has never failed me. His hand has never left me. And yesterday it carried me over a finish line in celebration of the grace He has shed on my life.
Where will the run of life take me next? Only God knows. One thing is for sure, Christ will be with me through many more races, carrying me over many more finish lines. What a wonderful reason to celebrate Thanksgiving today, yesterday and every day of the year.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The business of healing

While reading through the New Testament it is hard to miss the miracles of divine healing. Unless you cut out every story of the blind being restored to health, paralyzed made to walk again, mute given voice and even dead being raised, you will read that Jesus Christ was in the business of healing people.
Every manner and type of affliction was no match for Jesus' power. He cast out demons with the simple word "go" and they fled to the swine in Matthew chapter 8. With the words "be clean" He healed a leper. Jesus simply spoke the words and the healing occurred.
How could it be that straightforward? If it is that easy why aren't we all healed from our sickness, ailments, aches and pains? If Jesus CAN heal us, then why won't He?
In reading through the many stories of the sick and suffering who found relief in Jesus there is a common thread that is key to understanding Jesus' power to heal. Each man or woman who received healing believed they would be healed. They believed that Jesus had the power to make their bodies new again and restore them to health.
Matthew 8:5-13 shows the unwavering faith of those that came to Jesus in search of healing.
"When he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, 'Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.' And he said to him, 'I will come and heal him.'  But the centurion replied, 'Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, "Go," and he goes, and to another, "Come," and he comes, and to my servant,"Do this," and he does it.' When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, 'Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' And to the centurion Jesus said, 'Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.' And the servant was healed at that very moment."
Jesus didn't need a special ritual to be performed. He didn't need to know the man's health history or symptoms. Jesus didn't even need to see the man lying sick and paralyzed! All He needed was the faith of the believer. The centurion believed that Jesus had the power to heal his servant and further, He believed that Jesus was going to use that power. His faith was sure and strong. 
This passage of scripture is a perfect example of the power of faith in Jesus and the pleasure it brings God when we claim that faith with unwavering assurance. Jesus thought so much of this man's faith that the Bible actually says he marveled at it. What a beautiful picture for the believer. Our faith can bring God pleasure. Jesus marvels at the faith of His steadfast followers who put their entire trust and assurance in Him, believing without a shadow of a doubt that He is mighty enough to save their souls and their bodies.
Healing didn't end when the New Testament closed with Revelation 22. Healing is still available to us today through the power of the Holy Spirit who Jesus left in His place. In John 14 Jesus promised that He would leave us with the Holy Spirit as our Helper. God actually sends us the Holy Spirit in Jesus' name. The power that Jesus displayed through His earthly ministry is now available to each and every one of us by the power of the Spirit which can live and dwell inside of us. Our role is to believe in the Spirit's power and invite it into our heart's to reign.
Every person healed by Jesus believed that Jesus had the power to heal them. Their faith was so strong and so sure that they knew the words of Christ could bring restoration to their physical bodies. Do we still believe in that power today? Are we living in the light of Jesus' power available to us in the Holy Spirit?
There is victory in Jesus Christ. He has the healing power to restore our souls to a right relationship with Him and He has the power to restore our bodies to health. His timing is not always our own timing and satan wants us to lose our faith while we wait. He wants to us to stop believing that Jesus can and will heal. Satan wants to break our faith.
But Jesus marvels at His followers when their faith cannot be shaken.
Jesus Christ is still in the business of healing. He can and will use the Holy Spirit to do that work in us. First, we must believe; putting our faith in the power of Jesus Christ who is as alive and mighty today as He was in the days of the centurion believer.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A readying touch

Once again I awoke this morning with the muscle in my left leg flared.
The saga continues.
Let me be honest, my initial reaction is ALWAYS frustration. Every single time I see that muscle flared I want to beat it down into submission. I'm human and that muscle causes me intense pain when it won't cooperate. But this morning my frustration was momentary - a blip on the screen. God started revealing himself to me through the flaring of my muscle. He spoke loud and clear to me in the midst of my suffering. My frustration couldn't help but flee. I was in the presence of the Almighty. Let the muscle clench with a death grip! Let the pain radiate throughout my whole body! God was all around me. His presence was undeniable.
As I lay there in my bed I closed my eyes and simply listened, yearning to hear what He had to say. He was thrilled to have my attention. I could feel His pleasure.
And then He touched my leg and told me, are you ready?
Somehow I knew what this meant. Miraculous healing was not what He was referring to. I would love miraculous healing, He knows this. I have cried out to Him, begging to feel his healing touch. But He hasn't healed me just yet. He is going to but it is not yet time. He is still building my story, perfecting my testimony.
This morning He asked if I'm ready for the trials ahead. There will be difficulty and struggle that is going to threaten to derail me and throw me off God's path. Satan is going to try to use opposition to stand in the way of living out the will and plan God has for me. God warned me this morning that this is going to hurt. Am I prepared to endure?
A smile broke out across my face. God in heaven cares enough for me to prepare me for what is ahead. He can't spare me because He wants the best for me and getting there is treacherous. Just like climbing a great mountain, to get the best view you must traverse the most challenging of terrains. You can't make it to the top of Everest unless you are willing to endure the ferocious winds and blistering cold that will threaten to halt your climb. The reward is at the top of the mountain. Push through the struggle of getting there and you will enjoy the most spectacular view of God's great creation.
God touched me with His love this morning and gave me the encouragement and the warning of a dutiful father… This is going to hurt but it will be worth it in the end.
Are you ready?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A suffering witness

Why do the innocent suffer?
It is the age old question of Christianity and certainly the question poised in the book of Job. Chapter after chapter, words cry out the question of why? Job pours out his misery in response to friends that want to point to sin as a cause of his plight. He is innocent and blameless yet they scorn him and condemn his cries of grief. They simply cannot face the truth: sometimes the innocent suffer.
This is a question that plagues Christians and stands in the way of non-believers from coming to Christ. How can a loving God allow hardship, disease, sickness and sadness to befall good people who love Him? How does that make any sense at all?
This brief post could never answer this question of the ages. To truly get our answer we must wait till heaven where all the mysteries of this world will become clear and brought into focus. What I have learned from Job is not a definitive answer that will close the book on all the doubts you might have surrounding innocent suffering but it has helped me to see that there is a divine purpose and plan in the midst of the Christian's suffering.
In Job 16:8, Job is responding to the condemnation of his friends when he says, "You have bound me - and it has become a witness." The suffering and cruelty that he endured was front and center to his friends. They witnessed the devastation that he endured. They saw him lose his children, his land and his health. Then they witnessed his response.
Job didn't hide his frustrations. He wailed openly to God and begged for the grave. But he never denounced God's existence. Instead he actually pronounced that God was the one in control, allowing this to happen. God allowed satan to wreak havoc on Job's life. God pointed to Job as someone upright and blameless and satan wanted to ruin that witness. Satan wanted to destroy the life Job had in order that Job might destroy his witness for Christ by cursing God and turning from him.
But Job did no such thing. Even in the midst of his cries he did not curse God to his face, as satan said he would.
On earth Job might never see what his witness was meant to accomplish. That is just another mystery withheld from the sufferer until they reach heaven. But there is one thing that is certain: God uses the suffering of the upright as a witness to the lost. He allows suffering. All we need to do is look at Jesus hanging on the cross to see how suffering has been used by God to bring him glory. By Jesus dying on the cross and rising again salvation was brought to fallen sinners. If Jesus had never suffered, this forgiveness wouldn't be available as the free gift to all who believe.
If you are suffering today hold onto the hope of Job and the truth of Jesus. There is a purpose for your suffering. There is a witness to be displayed in the midst of your pain. The greatest trials you face can be the loudest message you send to a world in desperate need of the saving grace of Jesus Christ. God is not allowing your suffering as a punishment or reprimand. If you have repented of your sins then they have been removed from you as far away as the east is from the west. That is final. The price has been paid. The debt is wiped away, clean and spotless.
The question is, will you let Him use your greatest suffering as your loudest witness?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Media Detox

This week our country was plagued by a massive storm that ripped through the center of the country leaving in its wake death and destruction. Tornadoes and winds lay waste to buildings and memories. Lives were shattered. Homes destroyed. Whole towns reduced to rubble.
My heart breaks for the lives forever changed by this storm. I cannot even begin to imagine the surreal feeling of losing everything in the blink of an eye. How can the mind comprehend such massive devastation and loss? It is beyond words.
This November storm didn't hit my home with the same force as it did those in Illinois, Kentucky and other central US states. The winds whipped here but there was no tornado. Rains pounded but there was no flooding or hail. Still this storm has made me take pause and reevaluate how I live my life.
For some time my life has been on automatic pilot. I wake up in the morning and turn on the TV, make my breakfast while watching Fox and Friends then proceed with walking Pippy and the rest of the days activities. My devotional time in the morning has become brief and my prayers even briefer. The rest of my day is filled with other electronic sources and distractions that draw me away from getting close to God. Instead I substitute an iPad or iPhone. I'm hooked on iDistraction.
But this week that has changed. With the winds of the storm my home's cable and internet got knocked out of operation. At first I was frustrated. Like many modern day Americans I have grown accustomed to being connected to the outside world via electronic sources. I am a google addict. I check my Facebook daily. I stay up on my e-mails. I read certain news websites, blogs and websites daily. Suffice it to say, I waste an inordinate amount of time "plugged" in.
Until the connection went out. When the TV went black and the internet popped up with "Try again later" I became forced to unplug - thank God.
By turning off the TV and powering down the computer I have found that I have much more time for the important practices of Christian life that I've been neglecting. Prayer time had been replaced with internet surfing time; devotionals had been substituted with TVs lousy offerings. It pains me to think of the time I've wasted on the mindless garbage of this world while I could have been opening up the treasures of God's Word.
With no distractions to steal my attention, these past few days I have had the blessed opportunity to turn to the Bible instead of turning to the tube. My morning news has been replaced with morning scripture readings. Christian books and devotionals have taken the place of evening HGTV and TLC reruns.
There are four major lessons I have learned this week while being on media/electronic detox. These are lessons I desperately needed (and continue to need) to learn. Although the process of recovery from my electronic addiction has begun it is still far from over.
The lessons I have learned can be summed up into baby steps. I need to remind myself of them daily and put them into practice to continue on my media detox even after the internet connection is restored.

4 Steps to Media/Electronic Detox

1.     During breakfast enjoy the morning meal with Bible reading instead of TV watching. No computer, no cell phone, no ipad. Enjoy a meal in the company of God’s word.
2.     Replace a half hour of evening TV watching with reading. The reading can be a book for pure pleasure or more Bible reading. Take the time to engage your mind in the act of engaging the mind by reading instead of always listening to sounds and watching screens.
3.     Tune out the shows, music and media that send messages contrary to Biblical teaching. This will automatically eliminate a vast majority of watching/listening/viewing material.
4.     Read a Psalm before bed. Instead of going to sleep with the sounds and messages of TV shows floating through your mind, close your day with the promises of God. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

How to bust through a plateau

Have you ever started a fitness program and made great progress at the on-set? The weight falls off. The muscles start to build. It almost feels effortless.
And then you hit a wall.
The scale doesn't budge. You can't lift heavier weights. You aren't increasing your repetitions. You aren't able to gain speed or distance on your runs. You've hit the dreaded plateau - the arch nemesis of every fitness junkie. The plateau brings your progress to a screeching halt. The exercises and habits that once yielded positive results don't produce anything anymore. You are like a hamster on a wheel: running and running and getting no where.
So how do you overcome this obstacle? Are you simply stuck with no hope?
Take heart, there is a way out of the plateau.
In all of my research on how to bust through a plateau I have narrowed down all the articles and opinions to my top 4 favorite pieces of advice. What I found so encouraging about these 4 simple steps is that they aren't just related to your physical fitness. They are perfect plateau busters for the spiritually stagnant as well. Just like physical plateaus, spiritual plateaus are the arch nemesis of the Christ follower. They threaten to pull our attention away from God and leave us dull and useless in furthering His Kingdom. When we hit a plateau our prayer life grows silent, our thirst for God's word diminishes and our heart is simply not yearning for God the way it used to. Have you ever experienced this type of plateau? You don't need to fall deep into sin, denounce God or switch religions to plateau. That is a different matter entirely. A spiritual plateau is like a stagnant swamp that has no flow of water in or out, creating a stench that only worsens over time.
To grow in our faith we must push through our plateaus, not give in to them. To grow out fitness capabilities we must bust through our plateaus, not just do the same old-same old.
The following are 4 tid-bits of information to try out the next time you hit a plateau. I hope they will encourage you and help you claim the victory over your next plateau:
1.) Identify your weakness. If it is in fitness maybe your weakness is your balance or your anaerobic capabilities. Identify the problem area and target that. If your squat looks great - great form, heavy weight, reasonable repetitions - then don't focus on improving your squat. But if your lateral lunge leaves you fatigued and practically falling over then put your effort into improving your lateral lunge. In your spiritual life maybe your weakness is carving out time for prayer. You are faithful in your devotional time but your prayer life is hit or miss. Be honest with yourself and identify this as your problem area. Then seek to fix it by setting a time and place that you will meet God in prayer.
2.) Baby steps. You won't go from lifting 30 pounds weights to 60 pound weights over night or over the course of week. But you will never get from 30 to 60 pound weights if you don't start lifting 35 pound weights. Start small. Start with reasonable increases and set reasonable goals. In your spiritual life, when you start to carve out that special time for prayer don't expect that you will go into a state of meditation for an hour if you haven't even been spending two minutes in prayer with any kind of regularity. Set an amount of time that you can stick to. Start with 10 minutes and really tune in to God. As you grow in your faith your time in prayer will grow too, just take that first baby step.
3.) Do more. Your dead-lift is your favorite exercise but you always stop at 12 repetitions. Why not do 15? Add a little bit more onto your current regimen. Don't stop just because you've always stopped there before. If your body can take it, push it a little bit further. In your spiritual life, don't stop just because the timer went off or the daily devotional has come to a close. If you always read your morning devotional why not add a time of journaling afterwards? Give God more of your time and you will encounter more of His heart.
4.) Do something different. Your body will get used to the same exercises if you never switch up your routine. A dumbbell bicep curl is great for a period of time but sooner or later your muscles won't be challenged unless you change the way they are being stressed. Move over to the cable machine, pick up a barbell, try using a kettle bell. Pick up something new and challenge your body in a different way. Your muscles won't know what hit them and that plateau will become history. If you are spiritually stagnant you can try something new, too. Instead of reading the same scripture over and over, try turning to a chapter of the Bible that you've never studied before. Seek out different authors, pick up a new book on an area of faith that interests you such as grace or miracles. Try changing the time or place that you do your daily devotional. If you have always read the Bible before bed try reading it in the morning instead. Switch it up, try something new.

These simple pieces of advice aren't complicated but they can have a profound impact on our physical and spiritual well being when we are honest enough with ourselves to know that we are face-to-face with a plateau.

Monday, November 11, 2013


You have two options when you live out your faith. You can keep it to yourself and speak in hushed tones. Or you can be bold.
Dear reader, be bold.
Don't keep your faith close to your chest. Don't hide it under your jacket, keeping it out of sight and out of mind. Don't let the world's noise drown out the gospel's message. Don't let the distractions that threaten the furthering of truth get in the way of proclaiming the good news.
Speak life to a world in desperate need. Speak boldly. Speak frequently. Speak lovingly. Speak with compassion and with conviction.
When you walk the straight and narrow with God there will be times when the world will want you to be quiet. The message you have is not one they want to hear. But God is calling you to share it anyways. He is calling you to bold faith. He is commanding you to put your light on a stand and let it shine before men. Don't cover it up. Don't allow wind to blow it out. Hold your light up high.
No matter what station in life you find yourself in today there is one thing that I can guarantee God desires of you: boldness. Boldly walk forward in faith. Boldly proclaim the love of Jesus. Boldly hold fast to the promises of God.
Don't be wishy-washy. Don't paint your faith in soft, muted colors or cool pastels. Grab the brush that paints a vivid picture. Break out the brightest of colors. The furthering of the salvation of Jesus Christ is worthy of bold action. In fact, there is nothing more worthy. He is the most precious of gifts and His salvation is the greatest truth we can share. There is no greater message to spread. So do it boldly.
As you go forward with your day, encountering friends, family and total strangers, do so with the boldness of Christ. Call on His name and ask Him to bolster your spirits, making you a vessel of His love. He is faithful and He will deliver. He will fill you with abundant boldness. He will turn your life into a vivid picture of His power and might.
God wants to use you as His hands and feet. He can only do this if we are willing to be bold for Him. Are you ready to go on this great adventure with God, proclaiming His name in every circumstance and surrounding? Are you ready to become a living, breathing vessel for Christ that speaks His name boldly and triumphantly? He wants your testimony, your voice and He wants your boldness.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A question worth asking

Do you ever feel like you are the only person that is "like you"? Does that even make any sense?
Sometimes I feel like no one else thinks the way I think or sees the world the way I see it. Everyone else seems to see everything in purple and I see it in yellow. The difference is that stark. We might as well be in totally different universes. 
This difference in glasses leads to a deep divide separating me from the rest of humanity - or at least that is how it feels! Everyone else can relate to each other but I simply cannot. My views, opinions and beliefs cause me to live in an entirely different manner then the people I see around me. 
Let me explain it this way: everyone is attending a party and I never even got an invitation. 
This feeling takes me back to grade school when one girl would have a birthday bash and wouldn't invite all the kids in the class. Instead she would pick and choose her favorites to give out the coveted invitation to. As it would often turn out, over half the class would get invited but a select few would be left off the guest list. The birthday girl would not even mention said party to those not-so-fortunate girls and boys who wouldn't be given the chance to attend. The party would be kept at hush tones. The kids not invited deemed as "losers" by the rest of the party goers. 
This is the feeling of being an outsider, looking in on the comings and goings of a world you don't belong in. At times this feeling has really bugged me. It has made me question myself. What's wrong with me that people don't seem to "like" me? Have you ever been burdened with this question? Has the lack of a birthday invite ever left you down in the dumps, rethinking your personality and character? Do you ever wonder why you seem to be a lone island floating in the ocean while everyone else is on the same land mass, so far away from you that it is just a speck on your map? 
Beloved, you aren't alone. I, too, have these feelings. I, too, have questioned who I am and wondered if I should change to find acceptance in this world. But recently my questioning has come to an abrupt halt. I no longer ask myself why the world doesn't "like" me. Instead, I have discovered that being in opposition to the world is a sign that I am in agreement with God. 
Look at this verse found in Galatians 1:10: "Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ."
How foolish I have ever been to question why I do not have the world's favor and adoration. If I am a servant of Christ, wholly devoted to Him, then I should expect to stand in stark opposition to the world because, quite frankly, I am not in this for their approval. If I am seeking their approval then I am not a servant of Christ. It is as simple as that. I am either living for the world, following its beliefs, morals (or lack thereof), standards and expectations or I am standing against those things and standing for God's rule book and His commands. When you stand on one side of the fence then it is a given: you are standing apart from the other side.
The question of why the world doesn't like me has been replaced in my mind. Now instead of looking to the world for approval I am looking to God and asking Him, am I living according to your Word? Am I doing all I could be doing for your kingdom? Am I tending to my relationship with you and carving out time for you? Am I relying solely on the Lord for encouragement and direction? 
Are my eyes fixed on Jesus Christ? 
Or am I letting my gaze wander to the world around me?
When we fix our eyes solely on Jesus the world fades away. We no longer seek the approval of man. In fact, we expect to be rejected by the world - and that is more than okay. The world's rejection is just another indication of our oneness with Christ. 
When we are His servants we will not be winning the approval of this world. Our approval will be in heaven. And our God who is waiting there for us, preparing a place for us, will see to it that we are taken care of no matter what the world may throw our way or what rejection we might come up against. Our Father in Heaven will be smiling down on us with the widest grin you can imagine and that, dear reader, is greater then any party invitation this world can give. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Twists and turns

The road I have taken probably looks nonsensical to you. It might look erratic and confused. I've taken so many turns, went in circles and ended up back at the beginning again. I made false starts and ran into dead ends. I traveled down roads with NO OUTLET signs and lost the well worn path a time or two. My journey has not been conventional. It has not followed a well worked out plan. Points A, B, and C haven't been logically plotted out and certainly not reached in any standard, explainable order.
But I don't expect you to look at the course of my life and understand it. In fact, I expect you to look at it as pure foolishness. I would too if I were you.
The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 1:18, "The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God."
My path looks crazy, possibly even brainless, to those that are looking at it through human eyes. If all you are using to examine my life is your own understanding then you will certainly find me silly, border line idiotic. 
...You moved to Florida for a few months then decided that you weren't meant to be there and came back home?
 ....You started a job and left it within weeks? 
....You were engaged and then that got called off, too? 
What do you stick to? What sense does any of your life make? You jump around like a Mexican jumping bean, seemingly with no purpose or direction. 
I understand your thoughts. I can't blame you for having them. But I must respectfully disagree with your assessment of me.
Yes, my path has been sporadic, filled with sudden twists and turns. It's been up and down, back and forth enough to leave a girl winded and whip-blashed. Yet, I would never call this journey nonsensical.  And I wouldn't dream of calling it irrational or stupid. Instead I would call it divine. 
I haven't planned my road. I haven't known what was coming next. But God has. He has plotted out each point on my map and knows the very best way to get me there. If I evaluate this journey through my limited human scope then yes, this path looks a little nutty. Why so many starts and stops? How do all of the turns end up getting us to a desirable final destination?
God isn't limited to human eyesight. His vision is Holy; it is heavenly and He sees what you and I can't. 
When my journey looks like it isn't going anywhere, when it looks like a dog chasing its tail, I have the peace and promises of God to hold onto. He has my future in the palm of his hands. The world won't get it. To them it will look foolish. But I am not to look at this journey through the eyes of the world. I am to look through God's eyeglasses. 
So call me crazy. Or call me weird. That's okay by me. Because I'm not living by the standards of this world. I'm not aligning myself to stay in lock step with the rest of the world. I am allowing God to plot my points and pave the way.
 So call it utter foolishness. Call it irrational and looney. Call it crazy. But I'm going to call it the power of God. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Treatment for your scars

It seems that you can't make it through childhood without acquiring some scars along the way. One of mine is on my ring finger - an ever present reminder of the day I fell on the iceskating rink and got my finger run over by a boy flying by on hockey skates. The pain was intense. I can still remember how badly that cut stung and the bright red blood that flowed freely from the unsightly gash.
Scars stick with us and serve as ever present tributes to the obstacles we have overcome and the pain we have endured. Scars can be a blessing. They can bolster our spirits when we come under difficulty. By looking back on our scars we can be reminded that we have overcome before and we will overcome again. We can remember that pain doesn't last forever, it fades away and dissipates. 
But what about the scars that we never tend to? Have you ever received a cut or a strain and done nothing to care for it? Instead of keeping the cut clean and treating it with ointment to protect it from infection, you leave it uncovered, just tempting bacteria to fester. And fester it does. The scar never heals properly. Instead it creates a problem for weeks, months and maybe even years to come. 
Our scars won't heal properly without proper care. 
The same goes for our emotional scars. 
Just like we all have scars from our physical falls and mishaps, we all have emotional scars. Just like our physical scars need bandaging and treated, so do our emotional scars. 
There is no over-the-counter treatment that will provide an overnight remedy to our emotional scars. But there is a Savior who came to give us healing and wholeness, treating our wounds and scars with delicate care. 
Isaiah 53:5 says, "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed."
There is healing for your emotional scars. But you must allow Jesus to tend to them. Don't neglect them a moment longer. Ask Jesus to come in and take care of your scars. He can make them heal perfectly, removing all the burden and hurt that can be left behind. He will remove the pain and the lasting sorrow that an uncared for wound can leave in its wake. Jesus is the only one with this power. He alone can heal you wholly and fully, turning the nastiest of gashes into the most beautiful of reminders of just how great a Savior we serve. 
When I look down at my ring finger I am reminded of the pain I felt the day that poor finger was run over by an iceskate. I remember how sharp the stinging was as the blood rushed down my hand. But even in the midst of the memory I am smiling because today it is just a faded scar. Now I can look back and know that throbbing pain does go away. That acute pain I once felt has given way to an encouraging reminder: suffering will pass. 
Our emotional scars can be turned into encouraging reminders, too. Jesus will take our deepest of cuts and turn them into beauty. He will make us lights that shine for Him, pointing the lost towards a God who saves, redeems and heals. The emotional scars that never healed properly when we tried to take care of them on our own stamina with our own remedies will be made right because Jesus will be the one doing the mending and restoring. Our lives and our wounds will become a testimony of His greatness and His power. 
God wants to use your wounds and your scars. He wants to take the emotional baggage, hurt, frustration and sorrow that you carry and turn it into a story of His joy, peace and freedom. You can never heal yourself. By Jesus' death on the cross and resurrection three days later He paid the price to heal your wounds. Now He wants to be your physician. He wants to step into your brokenness and treat your emotional hurts. All He asks is that you let Him.