Worship Today

This has become my jam song on “those” days. Turn it up and claim it!

I got somethin’ make the devil gonna run

I got the King of kings and the Lords of hosts
I got angel armies and a Holy Ghost
I got spirits here that are tied by fire
I got a valley of bones that came alive
I got a cross, a hill, and an empty grave
I got a trumpet sound and one sweet name
Shake the gate of hell, the sinners and dogs
I got my Jesus and the devil gotta run

Blame (No) God

b8afc10650e00bc138f0c57d44e164ee“You speak as a foolish woman speaks,” he told her. “Should we accept only good from God and not adversity?” Throughout all this Job did not sin in what he said. (Job 2:10)

God seems to get more blame than credit and praise. It’s as if we want the accolades of accomplishments while we give the responsibility to God when things go wrong. We might even go to the extreme of declaring there is no God, yet He is the first we blame for pain and wrongdoing.

What we project onto God doesn’t change Him. What we understand about Him changes us.

God is God, no matter what. We can’t fit all the pieces together, but our limits don’t need to change our trust. God is okay with the responsibility He has. We’re the ones that struggle with them, as well as struggle with our own.

Struggling is okay. Questions are okay. Confusion is okay. Doubt is okay. But do all those things with God. Otherwise, we’re simply spinning in our own limited perspective with no true reality check.

Steep, Don’t Dip

One of the things I appreciated most when recently speaking north of Toronto was the excellent tea. In most places I travel (and live), when I ask for a cup of hot tea, I get a cup of hot water with a tea bag. I don’t get tea; I get potential tea.

Tea needs to steep. That’s how the flavor floods the water so it is bold and consistent. Dipping a tea bag in water that cools with every passing second doesn’t have the same effect. Steeping requires heat and time.

There is a lot in our lives that needs to be steeped with heat and time, yet we prefer to dip. We cautiously, repeatedly dip and are satisfied with the results because we see some change. We don’t worry about the potential, better results we could get with a different process, because we rationalize contentment with our smaller efforts. We don’t want to endure the heat, and we certainly don’t want to wait across much time.

The topic of the weekend at the conference was joy, and we talked about how we can’t expect to truly experience the fullness of the joy God intends by just dipping into it every now and then. We need to steep in it, so that its flavor truly permeates us.

Isn’t that the case with so much of what God provides and wants for us?

What would happen if we steeped in His love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? His mercy, grace, forgiveness, generosity, wisdom, power, justice, and compassion?

Steep or dip? It’s your choice.

Growing in God Through Life’s Challenges

Today’s guest post is from Dinah Cook, founder of Changing Your World Coaching International and author of the upcoming release Fixing a Broken Glass, testimonies from ordinary women who God has used to do the extraordinary.

whyI have to continually remind myself who God is in my life as I deal with my mother getting older and requiring more attention and care. I have to remember who God is in my life as I deal with a recent job layoff and I question how I will make ends meet. I have to remind myself who God is in my life as I fight to see what is God’s perfect will for my life during this season of transition.

As I face current life challenges, I recognize that I was in error when I found myself questioning God with “why” questions, such as why I had to take a particular path which caused me great frustration and why  events that seemed unfair (from my perspective) were allowed. I realize God allowed me to take this journey to strengthen me, cleanse my heart of things that were not good for His plan for me, to educate me,  and to put more of Him in me so I could have more compassion for others who may face similar challenges. He was teaching me to draw nearer to Him and to trust Him with my life.

God showed me His amazing love and patience when I lacked trust. He loved me when I questioned why I was on this particular path. He showed me great love when I repeatedly vented to Him about the hard things that occurred that I didn’t understand. God listened patiently and gently reminded me to trust Him. He encouraged me to go to His Word, and through it, He reminded me He is for me and not against me.  God has shown me that He is the same almighty God when things are going well and when things are hard. Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NIV) says, “Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

God has taught me that, as a believer, I will experience both the cross and the blessings. Through this journey, God is continually drawing me closer to Him. He has taught me to hold on tightly to His hand, to walk with Him, and to learn to do hard things with Him, not trying to solve every problem on my own. I have learned that I have to trust God with my life. I am not in control; He is. I am slowly getting better at trusting God by reading His Word and watching His hand work out my life’s challenges for my good.

We as believers of Christ Jesus must remember that He will allow us to take paths that may seem difficult, but during those hard times, He is also calling us to draw nearer to Him and to trust Him. God doesn’t want you to look back at things which are behind you, and He doesn’t want to you focus on your present circumstances. God wants you to keep your eyes on Him and to move forward with Him. Remember that God is always walking with you during your times of challenge and uncertainty. God’s hand is always open and available for you to grab and hold. Always remind yourself who God is by getting into His Word and speaking His Word out loud daily. Listen to God speak to you with His still small voice. God desires your trust and He desires to have a closer relationship with you.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

 

DinahConnect with Dinah on Facebook.

“To Mother” Day

flowersMother is most commonly used as a noun. It’s a name, an identity, a role. But it’s more…and less. The noun isn’t required as much as the verb is. I’ve seen a lot of women mother, some who could technically claim to be a mother and some who couldn’t. Look around and notice the mothering going on around you. Here’s a glimpse of what I’ve noticed. Thank you to those who mother.

To mother is to mourn the loss of the child you were supposed to adopt while consistently praying for him…and the mom who changed her mind.

To mother is to celebrate the life of your child regardless of how long you got to hold her…or even if you never got to hold her.

To mother is to wait and wait and wait, enduring months and years of scrutiny and paperwork, just for the opportunity to adopt.

To mother is to sleep beside a child…or lie awake beside a child…as you make sure tubes, needles, and other medical equipment does its job.

To mother is to say goodbye too soon, knowing a part of your heart will never return, yet trusting God’s purpose in the beautiful life you shared.

To mother is investing in the life of someone who calls someone else “mom” but longs for someone who loves with compassion and discipline.

To mother is to consistently learn about someone as she grows, not keeping her in a stage where she no longer is.

To mother is to question, listen, and speak only when necessary, trusting God to know when each of those moments and situations are.

To mother is to take care of someone, regardless of the age and expectations of the relationship.

To mother is to share…because none of us can do it all, and God never intended it that way.

To mother is to accept you don’t have all the answers. You’re learning and growing right alongside those you are mothering.

Each of us only has one biological mother, but if we’re limiting ourselves to be mothered by only one woman, we’re missing out. And if we’re only mothering those who can biologically claim we are their mothers, we are missing out, as are the people around us.

Celebrate this Mothers Day by mothering. Transform Mothers Day into Mothering Day. Relationships are worth the effort.

Hanging on for Dear Life

I noticed the wasp as I closed the van door. He was looking at me through my side window. I didn’t want to roll down my window to shoo him away in case he decided to join me in the van. I assumed he’d fly away as soon as I started to drive.

He didn’t.

As I continued to drive across town, I kept an eye on him. He hung on. As the wind rushed by him, he flattened his body against the glass. His body  flapped in the wind while his feet seemed to be superglued to the window. I vascillated between feeling sorry for him and marvelling at his ability to hang on.

When I arrived at my next stop, he’d been on my window for a dozen blocks. I wondered what 35 miles per hour feels like to something so small. He was still hanging on when I stopped. He was dazed but seemed to be alive. I hoped he’d recover.

He wasn’t on my window a few minutes later when I returned to the van. I assumed he regained enough strength to fly away.

When have you hung on for dear life, feeling tossed and beaten from every direction?

I don’t know whether or not the best thing for the wasp to do was to hang onto the window. I would have thought it would have been easier for him to fly away on his own, but once I started driving, his instincts kicked in, and he likely would have been injured or killed by the impact of hitting a car behind me or falling to the pavement because he was too dizzy and disoriented to fly.

I know who I want to hang onto as adamantly as the wasp hung onto my window: Jesus.

Hanging on doesn’t mean life if easy. The wind, turns, and pressures of life swirl around us, disorienting us, causing us to wonder where we are, where we’re going, and if we’ll survive. But in the middle of the mayhem, we can know at least one thing: where our feet are.

Everyone who hears my words and obeys them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. It rained hard, the floods came, and the winds blew and hit that house. But it did not fall, because it was built on rock. Everyone who hears my words and does not obey them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. It rained hard, the floods came, and the winds blew and hit that house, and it fell with a big crash. (Matthew 7:24-27)

I want to be on solid ground. I want to be firmly planted in God’s will. When everything around me is falling apart and swirling around me, when I can’t see straight because of the confusion and uncertainty, I want to know my foundation is secure. No one can take away or change the reliability of Jesus.

Whatever is going on in your life right now – whether you’re in a time of celebration or a time of confusion and despair – look at your feet. Where are you standing? Are you trusting a foundation you want to believe is solid but you’re defining it on your own, or have you sought and found Truth and planted your feet and life firmly on the Rock?

Strong winds and storms will come; life on earth is difficult. Know where you stand.

Frozen

One week ago, everything as far as my eyes could see was covered in ice. I heard the winter storm effects covered many states, but I didn’t venture outside my house to investigate. I did, however, enjoy the many photos and stories posted by Facebook friends, including this one by Cathy. (She’s a fabulous photographer!)

It’s a beautiful photo, but it made me think: “I don’t think that clothespin is going to be able to do a good job of pinning anything for awhile.” While it was hanging around on the clothesline, freezing rain and sleet encased it. Now it’s stuck.

Ever feel that way? Unable to move, rendered useless or worthless? Perhaps you’re overwhelmed with “can’ts.” There’s not enough time, money, talent…the list goes on. Sounds like there is plenty of one thing – excuses!

Sure, you might call them “reasons.” I’ve used the same rationale through many seasons of my life, but the truth is, I’m not an inanimate object that gets frozen in ice. I’m not trapped. I have options. I might be too blinded to see some of my options, and I might not like some of my options, but I’m not trapped.

And neither are you. You’re not unable to move. You’re not useless or worthless.

Since we have been made right with God by our faith, we have peace with God. This happened through our Lord Jesus Christ, who through our faith has brought us into that blessing of God’s grace that we now enjoy. And we are happy because of the hope we have of sharing God’s glory. We also have joy with our troubles, because we know that these troubles produce patience. And patience produces character, and character produces hope. And this hope will never disappoint us, because God has poured out his love to fill our hearts. He gave us his love through the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to us. Romans 5:1-5

When we have problems and trials, we can develop endurance. (We can also sit and mope and whine and become self-focused. We can let the ice freeze around us, immobilizing us…and we can even appreciate where we are as “beautiful”!) Endurance develops character. Character develops our hope in salvation. And yet…isn’t it our hope in salvation, our relationship with Jesus, our acceptance and understanding of God’s character, that helps us deal with our problems and trials in the first place?

We often stop where we are because we’re waiting on something. We think we need more faith or we need more strength or we need more courage. We may even ask God for it. And then we wait and wait and wait….when we already have what we need! If you have a relationship with Jesus, you have his strength and courage. You may not always feel like you have it, but it’s there. We may feel completely drained and insufficient and incapable, but it’s not because we actually are. It’s often because we’re not standing on the promise of Romans 1:5.

The Holy Spirit gives us everything we need. The strength and courage we need is already in us, and not only is it in us, but the Holy Spirit fills us! You have access to God’s love, courage, strength, joy, discernment (and the list goes on…) inside you, accessible at all times. So why would you want to be frozen to a clothesline or sit beside the road, bury your head in your hands and quit?

This is what God made us for, and he has given us the Spirit to be a guarantee for this new life. – 2 Corinthians 5:5