Interruption or Divine Intervention

I woke up this morning – with this thought on my mind.   ‘Call on me in prayer and I will answer you. I will show you great and mysterious things which you still do not know about.’ Jeremiah 33:3 I knew instantly the source of that verse and why it woke me up. Last night, instead of reading before I drifted off to sleep, I was reviewing everything I meant to do – but didn’t – on Thursday. And Friday was a repeat of Thursday. Amazingly, distractions weren’t part of the formula this time, but oh my goodness the interruptions. Today I need a do-over of Friday’s do-over of Thursday only, without the interruptions. I’m blaming Jonah because back in January our Bible Study was on his life interrupted. Well I’m not expecting God to bounce me into the belly of a fish, but He has a few things to tell me as this day begins – distractions, interruptions and, well, whatever. Priorities first.

Here’s my new list for today:IMG_2769

Philippians 2:14-16 Do everything without grumbling or complaining, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without blemish though you live in a crooked and perverse society, in which you shine as lights in the world by holding on to the word of life so that on the day of Christ I will have a reason to boast that I did not run in vain nor labor in vain.

Today is a gift – John 9:4 We must perform the deeds of the one who sent me as long as it is daytime. Night is coming when no one can work.

Every minute that passes is a minute I can’t get back – James 4:14 You do not know about tomorrow. What is your life like? For you are a puff of smoke that appears for a short time and then vanishes.

It’s tough to stay on track but I will be sorry at the end of the day if I was a poor steward of my time. Deuteronomy 5:32  So be very careful to act exactly as God commands you. Don’t veer off to the right or the left. Walk straight down the road God commands.

This morning I already know I will be tempted to go to the left when the track is straight ahead right up the mountain. If you’ve ever watched a mountain climber, you know their task is laborious and achieved one incremental foothold at a time. That’s a little bit like our lives, isn’t it? We have this mountain to climb which from a distance, looks like a walk up the trail, when in fact, with every step we have to re-center, assess, strategize, and step again. Don’t try this alone.

Mark 11:22-23 Jesus said to them, “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, if someone says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.

I’m going to escape to my list now and get started. I can cross one thing off my list already – Quiet Time with the Master and what next? Where will my foothold rest?

Colossians 3:23  Whatever you are doing, work at it with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not for people.

Shake by Mercy Me – Let’s get out there!

Interruption or Divine Intervention from Jonah Bible study by Priscilla Shirer

Unwrapping your gift

OK everybody up! Rise and shine! Good Morning!

A few years ago, I used to pick my granddaughter up at day care.  It was especially fun on Thursdays because the kids would all be excited about the next day – Fun Friday. Funny isn’t it, how even kids at age three know that Fridays are different! Friday is like the gateway to the weekend. What do you love most about the weekend? Catching a few extra minutes (or maybe hours) of sleep?  Getting together with family?  Spending a day with a friend? Running errands to take care of things that have been weighing you down all week? Downshifting on Sunday to mellow out a little, worship God in the company of friends through uplifting music and be spiritually fed through solid Bible teaching?

I love every day of the week. Some are more fun than others – like the day before a holiday or a day like today!  Did you know that every day of the week is good because it’s an opportunity to make a difference? We all have a mission field, that place where just by being in it we can make a difference.  I read a lot because I write book reviews! In fact, stand in front of me wearing a t-shirt with words on it, and I’ll read you. I’ve discovered there are many different ways to say the same thing but each writer has a way of expressing the message so their readers identify with and participate in their mission. The mission field of an author or publicist is vast compared to mine. But this one thing is true for me and it’s true for you, we all have a mission. Some of us just take a crooked path while finding it. In fact, we gain a lot of experience from all the ups and downs, twists and turns while wandering in search of our purpose. The key is learning as we go, and using what we’ve learned to help others and help ourselves too, no matter how small our mission field may seem. Each day is a gift waiting to be unwrapped.

My mission field at home and at work is my opportunity to make a difference. It’s yours as well. We don’t know the impact one small act of kindness will make. Philippians 2:1-4 says: If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

Each day is unknown territory. Some days melt into each other with lines that are just a blur; others change the entire landscape. I think of life as a kaleidoscope that needs one thing above all to be effective. Light! So today is Sunday and tomorrow it will be Monday.  Do I dread Monday? No.  Because  I am looking toward the Light because that’s where I receive energy, contentment, and an unlimited supply of joy. No matter where I work, no matter what the circumstance, whatever job God gives me, I am responsible to Him to work at it with all my heart and be faithful. 1 Thessalonians 5:24 tells me if God calls me to do something he will be alongside me helping me do it.

My devotions for today brought me to this passage from the Message translation: Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 After looking at the way things are on this earth, here’s what I’ve decided is the best way to live: Take care of yourself, have a good time, and make the most of whatever job you have for as long as God gives you life. And that’s about it. That’s the human lot. Yes, we should make the most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what’s given and delighting in the work. It’s God’s gift!

I’m unwrapping my gift right now.  Are you doing that too?  Let’s get out there and use our gifts!

You Can’t Unbreak a Heart

How many times have you read this quote by Deanna Wadsworth? “Four things you can’t recover: The stone after the throw, The word after it’s said, The occasion after it’s missed, The time after it’s gone.” Can I add one more? The fifth thing you can’t recover is a heart after it’s broken. You can’t unbreak a heart.

Have you ever experienced a sadness so deep that it feels like you have a hole in your heart; one so huge nothing can fill it? Maybe it was a heated disagreement with a friend, a series of destructive arguments with your spouse, or maybe your trust was violated. These are not scratch and dent level experiences where an application of forgiveness and a splattering of kindness makes the patch almost invisible. A broken heart has been wounded hollow; shattered, empty, sucked dry.  You can’t unbreak a heart. In Psalm 34:18 we are promised “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Did you catch that? The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. Nothing touches the human spirit like the filling station of God. The wounds are still there and scars may never fade completely, but as we learn in Psalm 147:3 “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”peace

Where do broken hearts come from? There is one easy answer: human nature. Human nature that’s a homogenized version of good, bad, pride, humility, ego, character, truth, deception, honor, disgrace, love, hate, dignity, disrespect. It’s complicated, we are complicated, the world is complicated. James knew this when he wrote an entire book on how to get along with ourselves and people who are just like us – human to the core. James 1:19-20 “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” That’s a good place to start – be dear brothers and sister – act as if you desire to produce the behavior God desires.

Recently I read the story of Hosea. Wow! If you struggle with forgiveness, read what God required of Hosea. From our human perspective we don’t want to be wrong and we are angry when someone wrongs us. That’s the story of Hosea, wronged yet he forgave.  He had to be brokenhearted, hollowed out, and in need of healing, spiritual filling. The final verse in the book sums it up beautifully Hosea 14:9 “Who is wise? Let them realize these things. Who is discerning? Let them understand. The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.”

Broken hearts can’t be unbroken, but they can be mended, stitched back together, and filled up. Will they ever be the same? After surgery, are we ever exactly the same as we were? No, but we live on, altered but alive. This could be our prayer to live the behavior God desires in us. Psalm 143:10 “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.”

Ready friends? 1 Corinthians 16:13 “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” Let’s get out there!

Republished by request.

Do you ever feel all prayed out and you’re still waiting for God to say yes?

A couple years ago one of my lifelong friends was describing her mom. “She was a prayer warrior,” Becki said. As many times as I’d heard those two words used together, it wasn’t until then that I wondered what that meant exactly. Prayer warrior.

A warrior is a soldier, experienced in warfare, who shows aggressiveness, great vigor and courage.

I knew Becki’s mom, loved her, in fact, but she, being small and gentle hearted was anything but warrior. Well she raised a houseful of children, so she had that courage part nailed. Digging further into the definition, I finally understood what being a prayer warrior is all about. A warrior is a person who specializes in combat within the context of a recognized warrior class. The role of a prayer warrior is found in Ephesians 6:12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil.” The warrior class of a prayer warrior is the spiritual forces of evil.

In the past few weeks, some of the requests I’ve prayed for earnestly over many months have not been answered in the way I asked. I have pleaded with God to say yes, but in his sovereign way he has chosen to say no, or not yet. I’ve argued like a child to her father, but God just tells me it’s too complicated for me to understand. In my human, conflicted reasoning, I see a situation and wonder how God cannot be seeing it in the same way. “It’s so obvious, God! How can you not see this?” Then I am reminded that it is my human condition with finite capacity that prevents me from seeing through God’s eyes. Romans 8:7 “The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.” I don’t feel hostile toward God, but in my humanness I question his eternal vision. I don’t have to look up the definition to understand the meaning of hostile.

Have you heard of the Warrior Dash? It’s a fundraiser event for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, but the description of the event sounds like how we feel about laboring through prayer for months and being overwhelmed by obstacles and barricades. The Warrior Dash is the world’s largest obstacle race, held on the most rugged terrain across the globe. Participants earn their Warrior helmet by tackling a fierce 3-4 mile course and 12 extreme obstacles. OK – wow! That pretty much describes the journey of a prayer warrior doesn’t it? It’s just a wild guess, but I’m going to say participants in the Warrior Dash have periods when they ask, “Why am I doing this? What was I thinking? I want to give up right now!” There’s an answer to that right here in Isaiah 57:10 “You wearied yourself by traveling such a long distance, but you would not say, ‘It is hopeless.’ You found renewed strength, and you did not faint.”

God doesn’t owe me an explanation and he offers no reason for why he’s chosen to answer my prayer requests in ways I didn’t imagine. God just asks me to trust him and not lose faith. He was in charge of the past and is in control of the future. Ecclesiastes 3:11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

Listen, God asks us to trust him in the dark for what he promised us in the light. That means when we are going through the tough times and can’t understand what God is doing, we have to trust his heart. His promises are just as secure in our darkest moments as in our brightest days. God wrote Luke 18:1 to assure us that he wants us to continue to pray – for as long as it takes.  “Then Jesus told them a parable to show them they should always pray and not lose heart.” God will either change our circumstances or change our heart.

I don’t know why I wrote all this today, but I guess it was to encourage you to keep on praying, wounded warrior. The battle is not over. I listened to a podcast yesterday and was drawn to this verse. Maybe that’s why I couldn’t wait to share with you today. “Titus 1:9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.”

Ready team? Let’s get out there!

I will pray for you, and you pray for me – Michael W. Smith

The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict – Book Review

The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict by The Arbinger Institute June 2015 – Conflict in high places, conflict in low places. There is no escape from intolerance within that becomes battles without. The world needs to practice what is conveyed in this book. Fostering peace is a heart level strategy. When a friend gave me a copy of this book she told me it was life changing. share_04I wondered what was in it that impressed her with such cogency. Through the pages of this book, I came to understand why she said with unwavering conviction that this book had undeniable truths that could make a difference in whether relationships were built or destroyed because of how conflicts were handled. Written in almost the style of a novel, this volume is packed with realism and authentic wisdom. Early in the book I caught this quote, “The secret to war is to have a heart at peace.”  Read the full review of the book here.

Can we abandon the complicated for the creatively quiet?

It’s complicated!  Nothing is linear. There are no straight paths from here to there. For every turn in the road there is another one ahead going in the opposite direction. If there is a hill to climb, somewhere there is also a valley.  Have you ever tried to explain a situation and realized it defies explanation so you settle for “It’s complicated.” 

One of my friends asked the question “When you’re a young mom with kids around all the time what do you do to find ‘me’ time?” That’s complicated. It’s been a long time since my days were a menagerie of kid’s activities from sun-up to sundown, but I still remember the secret room.  Artist paint and brushesWe had a room attached to the side of our aging house that was originally built to cover the well pit. Our freezer was tucked into one corner and the remaining room was shelves constructed out of scrap wood that held jars of home canned food, the result of an acre of garden. In that room there was just enough space to fit an old ragged armchair and lamp.  It was the poster child of ugliness but it was my corner of quietness.  My husband looked at it skeptically, but you know? This is one thing guys don’t understand.  I think when God used one of Adam’s ribs to create woman, Adam didn’t grasp the reality that it was a rib, not part of his brain and women think differently than men.  Genesis 2:23 “The Man said, “Finally! Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh! Name her Woman for she was made from Man.” There is no mention of brain in that passage.

Every morning at 5:00 am you could find me in that little room unraveling the complicated and getting centered for the day.  In that room is where I made my plans, wrote lists, read scripture, read books, and poured out my heart to the Lord.  I learned, just as you have learned, that life is a contact sport and sometimes it can beat us up.  That tiny hollow in side of our house was a place to be silent before the uproar of the day began.  Psalm 46:10 says “Be still, and know that I am God.”  We rarely have silence, our ears and eyes are constantly bombarded with noise or images.  Quiet solitude is an anomaly.

Do you remember when devices started showing up that allow customers to sign their names electronically? By now we’ve all experienced that phenomenon.  It’s no longer a surprise to be told to sign on the blank screen in front of us.  Merchants and banks who have this new and improved device can even cascade advertisements running across the blank screen while customers sign for their purchase. I’m all for advertising.  I think the genius who thought of putting framed advertising on the backs of washroom doors was pretty clever.  I don’t care if the signature pads present the next big thing offered by the merchant whose product I’m signing for.  I care that we are overloaded, overstimulated, over-capacity on the complication factor. I care about finding a way to break away for silence and clear thought.

Life is complicated and becomes even more complicated when we crave time to just be. Not be more, not want more, just be. We need quiet time as much as we need water.  When my heart is desperate for quiet, I often turn to Psalms.  We think of David lounging around out in an open field with nothing bothering him but a few nuzzling lambs.  That’s the wrong concept, because we know David’s life from the grueling work of a shepherd to the victim of Saul’s vengeance, was anything but carefree and easy. David’s life was complicated. But somehow, David turned his complicated life into creative sonnets. David had the right idea: “I hang on to these words for dear life! These words hold me up in bad times; yes, your promises rejuvenate me.” Psalm 119:49 

From the Message translation, I hope these few verses bring peace to your overloaded, overstimulated, over-capacity, complicated heart today, Psalm 119:9-16 “How can a young person live a clean life? By carefully reading the map of your Word. I’m single-minded in pursuit of you; don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted. I’ve banked your promises in the vault of my heart so I won’t sin myself bankrupt. Be blessed, God; train me in your ways of wise living.  I ponder every morsel of wisdom from you; I attentively watch how you’ve done it. I love everything you’ve told me of life, I won’t forget a word of it.”  

Forever King – Kari Jobe

What do you find in the secret, in the quiet place? Is it God?

Do you ever wake up to your heart singing a song? This morning even before I opened my eyes I heard “In the secret, in the quiet place. In the stillness you are there. In the secret, in the quiet hour I wait only for you, so I can know you more …” I was faintly aware of a bird chirping at intervals from some hidden place outside my window, a backdrop to the concert surrounding my consciousness. In the secret, in the quiet place – that is where we find God. That is where we find healing and comfort. That is where we find strength and where we find hope.

I’m reading a book right now titled The Anatomy of Peace. It isn’t a Christian, biblically based book but it’s transformational for people who want to live in peace and make behavioral choices that heal their brokenness. As I read, this verse kept coming back to me. Psalm 37:37 “Consider the blameless, observe the upright; a future awaits those who seek peace.”

My heart is broken for a young couple who had a tragic motorcycle accident. God spared their lives but it will be a year and maybe longer before they are able to resume their normal lives. Many prayers are offered for them moment to moment. I pray for them and think of Psalm 119:50 “My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.”

I have a friend who has suddenly been immersed in the role of caregiver for aging parents. When my mom was living through the final stages of cancer my sister was in a similar role and I stepped in only twice a month to give her some relief. When we are forced into a lifestyle we would never choose and wonder what this means for our future, remember Proverbs 24:14 “Know that wisdom is like honey for you: If you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” Pray for wisdom, God promises he will honor that. James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

Nothing catches God by surprise. Psalm 139:16 assures us of that. Whatever you are going through today in this moment has already passed through the hands of omniscient God. He knew the moments of your life before you were born.  “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

I’ve often wondered about this questions in Psalm 42:2. 2 “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” Does it mean when will I meet God face to face? Or was it written to encourage us to seek God and spend time with him in prayer and reading his letter written to us and printed in the form of a book, the Bible?

In the secret, in the quiet place – that is where we find God.

Chris Tomlin – In the Secret, in the quiet place. In the stillness You, God are there.