Resetting My Ring

Beware, oh you younger women who’ve only been married a mere decade or two!

Each year, say, on your anniversary, make it a habit to give your engagement ring a good looking over. I know of at least one woman whose diamond escaped its setting. Not long ago, I discovered a broken prong. In fact, I’ve had to add a bit of metal to my ring twice.

Once, I had gold added to strengthen a worn and thinning band. Another time I had to replace the weak setting that threatened to release its precious rock.

Each time, as an added bonus, my ring has been thoroughly polished and returned to me with new luster, as the light showed through with unimpeded brilliance.

And, each time, as I slipped that ring back on my finger, I recalled the joy of the first time I regarded it on my left hand.

What about your faith? Has it lost some of its luster? Has anything gone weak, or chipped, or broken? Sometimes our faith needs a good looking over. Perhaps it’s time to:

Add to our faith, strengthening it through worship, devotion, more time in the Bible, and more fellowship with those who love the Lord and are willing to share what God has done in their lives.  

Polish up our spiritual habits. What has slowly accumulated to dull your walk or cloud your joy? Are there places you might need to clean up your act, to make your faith clearer and more effective? Anything need to be given up?

Remember Jesus. Take time to recollect the gifts and blessings of your past and present life with God. Enjoy his presence!

In all these things, the first step is to go to the Lord in prayer and ask for his help.

I took time to make sure my ring was holding strong and shining its brightest. How very much more important is my faith, and yours!

I hope you will assess your walk this week and LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE!

Photo credit: _drz_ via Unsplash.com

Bump and Spill OR What’s in Your Cup?*

Picture this: You just indulged in a Starbucks purchase. Now you’re in a crowded marketplace, working through a list of errands as you sip energy from your cardboard cup. Everyone seems to be in such a hurry! Before long, another shopper, probably distracted by a cell phone, bumps into you. Your coffee goes everywhere. Ahhh! What happens next?

Why did you spill that coffee? Yes, you were mercilessly jostled. But, you were also holding a cup of coffee. If you’d had tea in the cup, you would have spilled tea. If water, then water. 

My point? Whatever is in your cup is what spills out when you’re bumped.

Life is full of bumps and jostlings. In fact, it plows into us with unexpected force far more often than we’d like. And when it does, whatever is inside us spills out. We might be able to “fake it” until we’re rattled, but eventually we will all be rattled.

So, we have to ask ourselves, “What’s in our cup?”

  • Joy?
  • Gratefulness?
  • Peace?
  • Humility?
  • Anger?
  • Bitterness?
  • Harsh words?
  • Selfishness?

Right now, do you like what’s in your cup? We can choose what’s there. We can create habits with practice and prayer. I hope you’ll join me in taking a look inside and work with me toward filling our cups with gratitude, forgiveness, joy, words of affirmation, kindness, gentleness, and love for others. Then, next time life brings bumps, we’ll like what spills out!

*based on a talk given by Connie Koinis

photo by Thom Holmes via Unsplash

 

What a Mighty God We Serve!

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I used to have quite a collection of cassette tapes. (Remember those?) They made the days of running countless errands (before Amazon!) more entertaining for me and for my kids. I can still hear the perky kids’ tunes in my memory. One of the verses playing in my head this morning is an African folk song possibly recorded first by Hezekiah Walker. It goes like this:

  • What a mighty God we serve!
  • What a mighty God we serve!
  • Angels bow before him.
  • Heaven and earth adore him.
  • What a mighty God we serve!

It’s a good reminder, don’t you think? Sometimes the day ahead of us looks too big, too challenging, and we shrink back a bit as it begins. We need not, because we are facing it with a mighty God!

You know by now that I love the works of Hannah Whitall Smith. In The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, she lists a dozen Bible based reminders of how mighty our God is, how very much he cares about us, and how his might and care affect our daily lives:

  • Not a sparrow falls to the ground outside of his care.
  • The very hairs of our head are numbered.
  • We’re commanded to cease all worry, because our Father cares for us.
  • We’re not to avenge ourselves, because our Father will defend us.
  • We have no reason to fear, for God is on our side.
  • No one can be against us, because he is for us.
  • We lack nothing, because he is our Shepherd.
  • He shuts the mouths of lions, quenches flames, delivers us and rescues us.
  • Kings and rulers come and go according to his will.
  • He rules the wind and waves.
  • He thwarts the plans of nations.
  • He does whatever pleases him in the heavens and on the earth.

I hope you are facing only pleasant things today. But if, like most of us, you will meet challenges before the evening comes, be encouraged. Let your heart cry out before every difficulty, “What a mighty God we serve!”

(And if you’d like to be reminded of that fact by a choir of children’s voices, check out Cedarmont Kids here.)

 

 

More Power to You

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My husband drives a 15 year old BMW 2-door. Every once in a while he and a favorite neighbor will end up at the same stop sign. They grin at each other, revving their engines as they take off (and then quickly slow back down, of course.) They both like showing off the power under their hoods.

Last week I wrote about getting out of first gear. Welcome back to car analogies. Today I want to flood you with verses about the power under your spiritual hood.

This verse was taped to the wall next to my very first dorm room. It was just what a somewhat timid freshman needed to know: 2 Timothy 1:7: For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

God has given us all the power we need. Let me encourage you with five more passages. In each case, if you click on the reference, you’ll be taken to Bible Gateway, where you can read the whole chapter.

Philippians 4: 12b-13: I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Ephesians 6:10-11:  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.

Ephesians 3:20-21: Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

2 Corinthians 12:9: But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Ephesians 1:18-19: I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

And that is my prayer for you today. May you know just how much power is underneath your hood!

Stuck in First Gear

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Ready to chuckle (and feel smart)?

A traveler (let’s call him Joe) labored all night to make it to his destination. Upon his arrival the next morning, Joe complained that the rental car was abominably slow. Empathizing with his guest, Joe’s host went out to take a look at the car, hopped in, and took it for a short spin at normal speeds. After a bit of discussion, the mystery was solved. Joe, who had never before driven a stick shift, had no idea that the car came with several gear options. He had left it stuck in first gear for the entire trip. (True story, names changed to protect the embarrassed.)

You and I would never make such a mistake, right? Probably not, but the question I’m asking myself today is this, “Am I ever spiritually stuck in first gear?”

  • God offers rest and strength. Yet sometimes I fumble through my day fogged in by physical and emotional exhaustion. More often than not, this is because my pride has kept me from saying no to some great-looking opportunity that sends my life into overload. (Or, maybe saying yes was the right choice, but I’ve decided to tackle the chore by relying only on my own inadequate strength.)
  • God offers hope and peace and joy. Yet just last night I allowed myself to be downcast, wallowing in self-pity, because it looks like I will have to give up “my way” on some future plans. “Let not your heart be troubled” is a convicting phrase. It tells me that my heart is only troubled when I let it be so.
  • God promises to supply all of my needs. I need never waste time worrying that I will come up short, but sometimes I do a bit of worthless hand-wringing.
  • God offers forgiveness and new life. What a shame that I still fall into the trap of beating myself up over past errors!
  • God does miracles. Going to him should always be my first response in every crises, no matter how big or small. Sometimes, though, he is relegated to “the last resort,” when I finally come back to my senses and remember once again that I am not in control.
  • I read somewhere that “Unanswered prayer is an oxymoron.” (Ah, yes, it’s a chapter title in this book by Nick Harrison. Do I always keep prayer running throughout my day, trusting that the yes, no, and wait answers will always be what is best? Nope. Sometimes, I am stuck in first gear. But our Lord wants to give us all these things: rest, strength, hope, peace, joy, forgiveness, new life and miraculous supply. We have not because we ask not, so let’s start asking!

We’ve each been given a spiritual sports car. It’s time to take it out of first gear. I hope you’ll write and tell me how you’ll do that this week.

 

Broken Again

heart-401499_640My heart is breaking again, filled with fresh grief at the news of yet another friend who is facing grave illness. “Facing” really isn’t the right word. More like engulfed in it: constant pain, limited mobility, countless medical tests and consultations. As she stoically described her condition, I struggled to hold back my tears until after I hung up the phone. Then, thankful once again for a husband who will let me cry in his arms, I sobbed until I could barely breathe. The rest of the evening was a bit of a blur, except for the whispering of these thoughts within my soul:

  • I still believe that God is good and that he is in charge.
  • There is no good in the thought that often comes when faced with another person’s sadness, “What if that were my fate as well?” We are each given the strength we need to walk the path chosen for us. We aren’t equipped to walk another’s path. Such an illness is not my path. If it ever is, God will sustain me through it then, as he no doubt is providing for my friend right now. After all, he loves her even more than I do.

But, something has been added to my path, for now have another friend who is hurting. She needs me. For that I can count on the Lord’s supply: comfort in my grief for her, direction as to my part in helping out, and time to do that which He shows me. He is not giving me the grace to be ill, for I am healthy. He is giving me the grace to walk alongside a sick friend, which in and of itself can be very hard indeed.

Bearing one another’s burdens takes on many different meanings, according to the circumstances at hand. Always, though, the call to carry comes with the promise of our Lord’s provision. Ultimately, he is the one bearing those burdens with us. One of the ways he provides is by allowing us to share what we have learned with one another. Have you ever been called upon to help a friend in deep need, or perhaps been the one in need yourself? What did you learn that you can share with me?