I thought it would be interesting to start a series from Solomon’s book of Proverbs. What is a proverb? Well according to the NLT Bible, “A proverb is a short, concise sentence that conveys moral… More
It’s not every day you come across a Scotsman playing the bagpipes on one of America’s southern beaches. I feel very fortunate to have captured this while on vacation in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
I call it: Shadows in the Sand
Mountains of faith rise from the valleys of failure. –Mart Dehann
Don’t hate your failures, learn from them.
This looks good on paper, but let’s face it, most of us hate failure. I know I do. I’m pretty tolerant of other people’s failure…it’s mine that I despise.
Failure is embarrassing, and what if people laugh at me…it’s happened before, and will probably happen again.
I guess that’s why it’s good to learn to laugh at ourselves. I’ve found laughter helps to ease the pain…and it lightens the mood of an awkward situation.
I like what’s written in Romans,
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, [failures] for we know that they are good for us–they help us to learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation…”
Now, I don’t believe God expects us to turn cartwheels over our failure, and he certainly understands our disappointment when we fail. It is for this reason–his understanding–that he seeks to encourage us in the midst of failure. God doesn’t kick us when we are down. He is our loving Father who picks us up when we fall, applies ointment to our skinned knees, pats us on the back, and whispers,
“…it’s okay my child…just keep keeping on…We’ve got this…”
Lately, I’ve been feeling God wooing me from my comfort zones, and it’s scaring me to death. I’m afraid I may goof up, look like an idiot, or a babbling fool.
And to that, it seems God is saying…
“You’re right, those things may happen…but so what…”
Looking at failure from that perspective takes away the pressure for perfection. It’s as if God is giving me permission to fail!
And…you know what? It feels good deep in my soul.
“God, I’m scared to death of what you are calling me to do, but I’m going to do it anyway; and if I fall flat on my face…I know it’ll be okay.”
Sometimes it’s just too easy to forget, and the older I get the more this becomes my super-power.
I feel confident my friends over fifty can relate…hmmm…unless, of course, they have forgotten how often they forget.
It’s true, I walk into a room and forget my reason for being there. I stand blank-eyed, trying to remember what I was just thinking about before I entered the room. My reasoning is this, perhaps my last train of thought is what led me to this room, so if I can remember that then maybe that would jog my memory as to why I am standing helplessly looking at the contents scattered within the four walls.
One time I got out of the car, closed the door, and realized I had forgotten my phone. Knowing I would need it later, I asked my daughter…(on the other end of the line) to wait a moment while I retrieved my phone. (true story)
Another time, again with my daughter, I found myself stuck in the snow.
I was in the midst of helping her move just outside of Boston. We finally finished unloading the truck and hauling her stuff up three flights of stairs, and now it was time to go out and grab a bite to eat. Beth jumped into the passenger seat and I got behind the wheel, we were sooo tired but happy the hard stuff was over.
Well, if you’ve visited Boston in the mid of winter, you know, more than likely, snow will be upon the ground, and it was on this particular day. Thinking about a cheeseburger I cranked up the old girl (my truck), put her in drive, and proceeded to exit the parking space; however, the wheels would do nothing but spin in place.
Two hungry women on a mission would not be deterred…so I told Beth to get out and push.
When that didn’t work we dug the snow from around all four tires and tried it again…me at the wheel and Beth pushing as hard as she could.
When that didn’t work we searched for something to slide under the wheels, hoping it would give some sort of traction for the spinning wheels. We finally found a scrap of cardboard and I put it under the left front tire, as we were parallel-parked. We assumed the familiar position, me at the wheel and Beth, outside pushing with all her might…still the wheels did nothing but spin!
Beth, exhausted from pushing, finally stopped and came to sit beside me in the passenger seat. We were now two hangry women.
Frustrated, I smacked my hand against the steering wheel of the truck and noticed the small red light that illuminated the word brake.
That was the last time Beth has ever asked me to help her move.
Thank God, enough time has passed so that now we can at least laugh about it.
These funny stories came to mind as I read my morning meditation.
The meditation had taken me to John chapter 14. Here, I found Jesus talking to his friends/disciples saying,
“Remember what I have told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again…I have told you these things before they happen so that you will believe when they do happen.”
Jesus was telling his friends that soon he would die. He loved them and was worried about how they would feel when he was killed. He worried they would feel confused, abandoned and afraid all of his promises had been a lie. So, over and over again in the four gospels, he tells them,
“Remember what I have told you…”
Friends, I believe Jesus, rich in his compassion, is telling us the same thing…
“Remember what I have told you…”
When things go wrong and people hurt us…it’s so easy to forget he is with us. Feelings of hopelessness, loneliness, and utter despair draw us down into those dark places we created as a child to keep us safe.
How easy it is to return to that lonely stomping ground.
Jesus knew this for his disciples and presently, he knows it for us, as well. If we could but be still in those moments and just breathe…we would hear his voice gently telling us…
“Remember what I have told you…”
I can write this with confidence because He has put his Holy Spirit deep within us and his Spirit abides with us even our in our darkest moments. Jesus gave us his Spirit because he loves us so much, and he doesn’t want us to be alone or feel alone. (It’s possible to be with people but feel alone…been there done that.) In this world, our most loved friends and family may leave us, but Jesus never will.
“…know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you…the Father sends the Counselor…and by Counselor I mean the Holy Spirit, he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I myself have told you.”
“Remember what I have told you…” (Jesus)
His Spirit moves within us…be still, breathe, and listen.
Look at the lilies and how they grow.
Jesus once said, “Consider the lilies and how they grow.”
After reading this I began to consider these beautiful flowers.
I pictured them growing alongside the white fence in our backyard. I thought the splash of color they would bring against the white would be breathtaking. Little did I know they would be “breathtaking” in another and more deadly way.
The article I was reading recommended planting the bulbs in 8 to 10 inches of rich and well-drained soil, to plant where they can bask in full sunlight, and to take extra care to protect your lilies from voles, deer, and beetles. Then came the next “breathtaking” sentence…
“Many lilies are highly toxic to cats, causing acute kidney failure if eaten.”
Now, if you were to ask me my favorite animal, I wouldn’t hesitate in saying, cats. I have two that I love dearly, Morris and Luna. Luna’s precious face adorns the heading of this blog. Morris and Luna are not “just” cats…they are my babies, and the thought that I could have something around the house that could take them from me, scares the hell out of me.
I’m a gardener of sorts, in that, I have a few raised beds for veggies, a rose garden, and a few inside plants scattered about my home. After reading the article about lilies, I began to wonder if any of my plants were toxic to not only my cats but to my dogs as well.
The verdict: Guilty
The guilty culprits:
- Inside…Cyclamen Plant
- Outside…Daffodils and Tulips
I don’t worry much the Cyclamen plant because it is placed high and out of reach, however, not so with the Daffodils and Tulips. Both lay naked by my raised bed of corn, cucumbers, and a green bell pepper. Just the other day I pulled bulbs from the bed in order to plant the veggies. I tossed the bulbs on the ground beside the bed, thinking I’ll pick them up later. Of course later never came and the bulbs still lay where lay.
Picking up the bulbs and tossing them in the trash is number one on today’s “gay agenda.” Number 2…thanking Jesus for asking me to “…consider the lilies!”
Below is the link to ASPCA’s alphabetical list of Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants to Dogs and Cats
“And a furious storm of wind [of hurricane proportions] arose, and the waves kept beating into the boat so that it was already becoming filled.” (Mark 4:37)
I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t have wanted to be a rider in the boat above!
First of all, I’m not a very good swimmer. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE the ocean, but I don’t like treading it without some sort of flotation device.
Second of all, hurricane force winds can rip a little fishing boat to shreds.
And third of all, I’m sure the air was full of electricity, and I don’t relish the thought of being struck by lightning.
If I were a character in the story above I would fear for my life. I admit I would assume the worst.
Corinne, my wife, and I once stayed in a high-rise in New Hartford Connecticut. On the 17th floor, we had settled in for the night, under covers and enjoying an episode of Law and Order SVU. At approximately 11p.m. a voice from the speaker above filled our room.
“Attention, there may be a fire in the building. Please exit your room, in an orderly fashion and take the stairway down to the first floor, …there is no need to panic.”
Corinne and I proceeded to the closest exit and began our descent with hundreds of other guests. We had a long way to go to reach the bottom. The 17th floor turned into the 16th and the 16th turned into the 15th, and with each passing floor, the fear inside of me increased. My mind filled with pictures of people jumping to their deaths from the World Trade Center. As I continued down the long stairway, I heard the sirens from the firetrucks below. At that moment I made the assumption that this was it…I was going to die. In my mind, I decided that I too would jump rather than burn.
Obviously, I didn’t die that night. When we finally reached the bottom, we discovered it was a false alarm and were directed back to our rooms. Once again in our room, it took me a while to calm down. When I wondered how the episode of Law and Order ended, I knew I was back to normal.
It is so easy for my mind to automatically jump to the worst scenarios.
Maybe you have this problem as well.
The men in the boat from Mark’s story felt the same way and I don’t blame them! The story goes, “…but soon a fierce storm arose. High waves began to break into the boat until it was nearly full of water.” But Jesus was in the boat. The frightened men ran to Jesus and cried, “…don’t you even care that we are going to drown?” Jesus “rebuked the wind and said to the water, “Quiet down!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then Jesus looked at the men, I believe lovingly, and said, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still not have faith in me?”
This morning, for my personal devotion, I read an article called, Facing Unexpected Storms, from one of my many Joyce Meyer books. She made the point that “…not all storms are in the forecast…” Her advice, “Don’t get distracted by the storms of life. Stay focused and do what you need to do whether it is easy or difficult. The more we use our faith, the stronger it will become.”
Her words comforted my heart and reminded me to do what I could and to not fret over what I couldn’t. Whether it’s easy or difficult…only one step at a time.
Remember, Friends,…Jesus is in the boat!
Have you ever had to eat your words?
I’m sure I have, but at the moment, nothing comes to mind. Perhaps, even if I could, I wouldn’t share as “eating your words” is considered quite distasteful.
Often, the words we have to eat are bitter.
I believe the words we say never disappear. They linger and take their abode within the minds of those who hear.
I remember the day, Corinne and I left Josh, our son, at West Point. As a new cadet, he was about to enter basic training, or “BEAST BARRACKS” as it is referred to at West Point. Beast Barracks is a 7-week program designed to transform young men and women into cadets worthy enough to be sanctioned Plebes, the lowest rank on campus.
My heart hurt at the thought of what he was about to face, and as most moms in this world, my imagination soared beyond the realms of reality. Sitting in the auditorium I heard an officer beckon the new cadets to come forward, and I knew this would be the last time I’d see Josh for what would seem an eternity. I looked at him and he looked at me, and I’ll never forget the words he said, “Write and write soon.” Tears ran down my face as I watched him walk away and disappear from sight.
I was able to write him immediately; however, it would be weeks before he would be allowed to write home. When those letters came, I couldn’t wait to open the envelope and devour the words on the page. The words were few because he rarely had a moment to spare during BEAST, so I hung on every word. His words were important to me. Finally, after seven weeks, we were allowed to go and visit him at West Point, and that is a moment, and a hug, I will never forget.
When we love someone, their words matter.
This was true of King David’s relationship with God. In the book of Psalms, he has this say about the words of God,
“They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold. They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb.”
The more we fall in love with Jesus, the more we want to listen for his still small voice. They become a balm for our soul.
On the flip side…guess what?
Our words are just as important to God. He loves us so much, that our words matter, and he waits patiently to hear them.
Talk to God today…He loves your voice.
Okay, I remember a time when I had to eat my nasty words…I even wrote a blog about it. Almost two years ago on election night, I colored the world of Facebook with a wide array of colorful expletives. As a result, there were consequences to bear. I was unfriended by friends and family. Those family members, to this day, ignore my Christmas cards, and of course, I get none from them. Words matter.
May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock, and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)
So, do you like cheese?
Awkward is my middle name…
I suck at flirting.
What do we do when things get complicated?
Well…here’s some of the things I find myself doing…
- First of all I get a sick feeling in the pit of my tummy
- Second I began rehearsing all the “what ifs”
- Third my mind grasps the most horrendous “what ifs” and runs wild like a cheetah on the Serengeti.
- Fourth, I become so mentally worn out I sink into depression
- Fifth, I begin to form a “plan”
- Sixth I try to implement the “plan”
- Seventh, I become exhausted
- Eighth, I pray.
Talk about putting the cart in front of the horse! Of which I’m the master…so, here, hold my beer while I take a bow!
Why the hell can’t I remember to pray first? Does it make me a horrible Christian? On the contrary…it makes me human.
It’s just good ole “human nature” to desire to fix something when it breaks, and we shouldn’t berate ourselves for following our God-given, intrinsic instinct. If we do, then that, my friend, is the real tragedy. God doesn’t hold it against us…
Simply put, God knows how it feels to be human!
God, himself, put on flesh, and walked this earth for 33 years, and his friends called him, Jesus. During these 33 years he was tempted in all ways, and personally experienced every weakness that can ever befall us. Remember, He understands. His arms are open, and he bids us come… “give me your cares for I care for you.”
Now, I’m not so naive as to believe that prayer is some magic wand that fixes everything…
However, this is what prayer will do…
[Jesus] understands our weaknesses, for he faced all the same temptations we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it. (Hebrews 4:15-16)
Through prayer we receive God’s understanding, His Mercy, and His Grace. Armed with these we can face any circumstance that life throws our way.
So, when things get complicated remember….
- He will not hold our weakness against us…because He has once felt the same way
- His arms are always open wide
- He bids us come
- He wants us to share our problems with Him
- He loves us more than life itself…for He gave his life for us
- His Mercy and Grace never ends…it is new every morning
Oh what a Savior we have!
“…Let us cling to him and never stop trusting him…” (Hebrews 4:14)
This High Priest of ours [Jesus] understands our weaknesses, for he faced all the same temptations we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it.
Would it be too premature if I said, “I’m enjoying Heaven on this Earth?”
Well, lets take a look-see…
So, first of all, my description of Heaven is anywhere I can commune with Jesus.
Yes, I know that one day this body will die, and my spirit will ascend into Heaven, and I realize Heaven to be a tangible…touchable place.
After all, Jesus said this about Heaven,
“In my Father’s house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you, because I am going there to prepare a place for you…so that where I am you may be also.”
So, yes…physically I am far…FAR away from the physical Heaven. Even the Pharisees, of long ago, questioned Jesus about the whereabouts of Heaven, and He said,
“The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”
Jesus proclaims that His kingdom abides within us!
There may be thousands, upon thousands of galaxies that separate me from Heaven, the place, but guess what? Nothing, absolutely nothing, separates me from Jesus or His Love! Even the Apostle Paul agrees with me on this one, for he writes in Romans,
“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
So, who freaking cares how many galaxies exist between me and Heaven! It doesn’t matter because God has already set up His Kingdom within my heart! Jesus lives within me, and He wants to live in you too!
Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”
Don’t wait to celebrate Heaven, dear friends!
Open the door and let’s get the party started!
Jesus Wants Us To Be Happy Christians!