The Lone Surfer

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭119:116‬ ‭KJV‬‬ – “Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope.”
My husband and I were in San Diego last week. Your thinking, oh, that sounds great – sun, sand, the ocean. Well, let me tell you. It was great. But the ocean was vicious. It was very windy for a good portion of the visit which made the ocean very “angry”. It churned and crashed like it was nobody’s business. 

Yet on one day when the waves were particularly high and the wind was whipping, my husband and I went for a stroll along some cliffs – just to take it all in. As we were staring at the ocean in awe, we saw a little dark figure paddling out further and further. This person had quite the challenge on their hands – battling the waves. It was a surfer who was bound and determined to catch some waves. He paddled. He ducked under waves. He fought against the current. And he watched. He watched diligently. He was looking for just the right opportunity to enjoy the surf for a few moments. And he did. It was marvelous watching him sail across the waves that would have sent terror into my heart. He rode the waves with grace and beauty. 

As we continued on our little hike, we came back to watch him once more. And upon further inspection, we realized this guy wasn’t young. He wasn’t some “crazy young fella”, nope, this was an older man! We were shocked and amazed!

So, what does this have to do with the Bible, you might ask. 

Passion. This older man out surfing the waves of California on a brisk and windy day had passion. He loved surfing – he had to to be out there in those conditions. He didn’t let fear keep him out of the water. He was not ashamed of the hope that he had that he could surf those waves. He knew he could do it if he only tried. He was passionate about surfing. 

Passion is something that drives us. It keeps us going through the toughest of circumstances. It gives us hope and opportunity. Passion is what seperates the casual from the dedicated.

But here is the question – what are you passionate about? 

Is it work? Is it your children? Is it yourself? Is it serving God?

How many of us could truly say that we are passionate about God? I would venture to say that would be a sadly small number. I know in my own life learning about God and serving Him is very, very important. But passionate? I’m not so sure. And that’s not as it should be. 

So, based on this verse, what does that mean? Am I ashamed of my hope? Goodness, I don’t want that to be the case!

Speaking for myself, I need to be more passionate about serving and learning about God. I need to decide that I am going to face adversity and problems in my life with the dedication of this surfer that I talked about here. I need to wait more upon Him. I need to look for opportunities to serve Him. I need to not be afraid to do something that no one else is doing. I need to be passionate.


Breaking through

Deuteronomy‬ ‭31:6‬ ‭KJV‬‬ – “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”‭‭

It has been a while. Sorry. I have had some things on my mind – things that have been a bit troubling and I wasn’t quite sure how to handle them. 

I had some time this last week to think on them and pray about them. And here is what I determined – the devil is trying to keep me from doing what I know that God would have me to do.

We get like that from time to time, don’t we? We are plugging along, doing what we think and feel that God wants us to do, and then we hit some sort of invisible wall that all of the sudden this thing that you have been doing just doesn’t seem doable anymore. You start coming up with excuses and find reasons not to fulfill what you know that God wants you to do. Things begin to happen that make you question your reason, your purpose and your safety in completing what you know that God has laid on your heart to do. 

It happens to everyone – the pastor, the missionary, the teacher, the casual blogger. You have to find a way to break through. 

This last week, my husband was at a conference that I was blessed to be able to attend with him. There were several motivational speakers there that he heard. On the last day, he was asked to be a part of one of the seminars as a helper. Well, I had to see what this “helper” was going to help with – it was breaking a board with one’s hand. Sounds very ninja-like, right? Well, I saw people of all ages, sizes and abilities breaking an untampered board with their bear hand. The whole purpose of the activity was to write what it was that was holding you back from moving forward in your life on this board and then break through it – metaphorically and literally. 

We all need to break through something. Often times, that thing is fear. It is fear of failure, fear of starting, fear of change and sometimes, just plain old, flat out fear. It permeates us from time to time. It holds us back. It keeps us from moving forward. It keeps us from the blessings of God. Fear is one of the great tools of the devil. He uses it to control us, to keep us from serving God in such a way that could change the world. And we let him use that tool. We choose to see fear as something that protects us from the bad we perceive. Truth be told, that “bad” isn’t really “bad” at all. We should, instead, chose to see it as a challenge that forces us to move in a different direction. God put it there for a reason.

So this week, what is holding you back? What do you need to break through? What is it that is hindering your blessings from God? What is keeping you from serving Him like you know He is calling you to do? Together, let’s break through this thing!

Revisit – Good Monday Morning 

This was posted July 27, 2015. It made me chuckle because it is as true today as it was then. Enjoy. 

Psalm 23:4 – “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”
Good Monday morning. 
I just returned home from visiting family this last week. We had a long drive yesterday and I really didn’t get much sleep while traveling. So, this morning I was stumbling around my kitchen trying to remember how to make coffee and put away a few things, when I dropped a can of root beer. It goes to spewing all over their floor. I tried to put my finger over the hole enough to get it to the sink. This worked somewhat but not enough to save me from having to spot mop the floor. 
Good Monday morning. 
What does this have to do with walking through the shadow of death you might ask? Perspective and attitude. Surprisingly, I handled the situation quite well. No harsh words uttered. No bad thoughts passing through my brain. Just “well, I have to clean this up.” Maybe it’s because I’m so tired that I can’t muster up the energy to get mad. Maybe though, God used this moment to remind me that it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is how I choose to respond to it. And I feel like I chose well. “Very good, young patawon!” (I told you I’m not quite all here this morning!)
Good Monday morning. 
Let me encourage you today to let it roll. Let perspective and attitude be what keeps you afloat today. Don’t let Satan drag you down with mishaps and upsets. Show him that God is on your side by choosing to walk through the valley of the shadow of death with no fear. 

Church family

1 Corinthians 12:12-14 – “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.”

When my family and I started going to our church, we were a bit puzzled. Everyone was identified as aunt or uncle so-and-so. How could all these people possibly be related? True, it has been around for 120+ years and dating someone in our church requires a careful analysis of both people’s family tree, but still..all of them related?

We quickly learned that these were terms of endearment. 

My church is far from perfect. We have problems. We have challenges. But above it all, we have love. 

And there is no better place to see love than at a funeral. Now, I know, that seems weird. But hear me out. 

One of our ladies passed away this week. She had fought long and hard against an illness that rarely gives up – cancer. It was sad. And it was a blessing. She had been ill for so long and endured so much. She was ready to see Jesus. 

And as we sat and listened to the pastor give his words of encouragement, the common theme was “amen”. He talked about her faith; her dedication when she was ill; her love for her family and her Jesus. Amen. She isn’t hurting. Amen. She wants her family to share in her joy. Amen. Her family was not only flesh and blood but also the blood of Jesus Christ. 

I have a plaque in my home that was given to us by one of our church family. It says “Friends are the family you choose.” 

And no truer words can be spoken when I think about my church family. 

I love my family dearly, blood of my relatives and blood of my Jesus. They are all precious to me. And yesterday, as we laid to rest one of our own, my heart was sad for the ones left behind but happy for her. It was bittersweet. 

So I would encourage you to go home to your church family this weekend. They would love to see you. They would love to hug you. They would love to tell you how much they have missed you, because they have. Don’t let the devil steal away the family that God has given you. Treasure it and thrive within it. 

Promises, promises

Genesis 9:22-16 – “And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.”

As I was driving and driving and driving last night, a usual sight in the land of perpetual evening showers made its appearance – a rainbow. I love rainbows. I think of leprechauns. I think of science (I know, I’m a weirdo). But mostly, when I see a rainbow, I see a promise. 

God used the rainbow to reassure Noah that He would never again destroy the entire earth with water. Now, He has destroyed parts of the earth but not the entire thing. And there’s something to be said in that. 

God keeps His promises. 

In a world and time when promises are as cheap as anything, God’s promises are….priceless. We need them. We desire them. We must have them to feel secure. Too many things in this world are uncertain and shifty. God’s promises are a bedrock that we can build our life upon. 

The Bible is full of promises. There are books written that will direct you to Scripture that reveal promise after promise. There are promises that He will never leave you. Promises that ensure wisdom. Promises that nothing is too big. So many promises. 

And each and every one is rock solid. You can take it to the bank. If God said it, He WILL do it. 

Bonus – we have promises yet to be fulfilled. How exciting is that?! Presents that you know are coming and you can hardly wait to open them! The best promise of all – He will come again to receive us unto Himself. Oh that gets me excited! Like preacher says – If that don’t light your fire, your wood is wet!

His return. That is a promise I’m excited to see fulfilled. And that amazing partial rainbow that I saw in the sky last night reminded me of that wonderful, blessed hope. I’m only here for a little while, so I better make it count. 

Keep on truckin’

2 Peter 2:5 – “And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly”

Let’s talk about Noah for a bit. 

Noah was 500 years old when he began building the ark and preaching repentance. He was 600 years old when God told him to get on the ark with all the animals. For 100 years Noah preached and explained things to the people. I mean, it’s not like he could hide building a boat of that size nowhere near the water! One hundred years of preaching and pleading and instructing and only 8 people got on the boat. Eight. 

Can you imagine?! Can you wrap your brain around working that hard for that long only to have 8 people believe as you do? 

We get frustrated when the one person at work that we invite to church doesn’t show up when they say they will. We get upset that people are falling away from church services to do other things. We don’t understand how people can drive by our place of worship and see all those cars around the place and not want to stop in and be a part of what we are doing. 

We need to be faithful. We shouldn’t let the poor choices of others dictate our faith. Just because others are making bad choices doesn’t mean that God is any less powerful. It doesn’t mean that He cares for us or them any less. 

It means that we are not robots that He controls. We have a choice and the free will to make that choice. He wants us to serve and worship Him because we want to, not because we have to. 

That’s why just like the people of Noah’s time had a choice, we have a choice. We can let the world drag us down and rain on our parade or we can chose to dance in the rain. We must keep going. 

Noah could have given up. He could have thrown up his hands at year 50 and said, “That’s it! These people won’t listen and I look like a fool!” But he didn’t. He kept on following God and doing exactly what He said to do in spite of how crazy and weird he looked. 

What about you? Are you ready to give up? Are things going south in a hurry and you are holding on for dear life? Well, keep on holding. It may seem that your world is falling apart, but it’s actually falling together. (I heard that in a song the other day.)

I’m not saying anything you don’t already know – but life is tough. Things aren’t fair. People will let you down. 

But life is good when you are following Christ. When He is the reason you wake up in the morning and He is the reason that you keep going – well, life can’t get much better than that, can it? 

Let me encourage you today to keep on truckin’! Keep on keeping on. Dance in the rain and keep doing what He leads you to do. 

Know-so Hope

Romans 5:1-5 – “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”

Several Sundays ago, my pastor said something about a “know-so” hope versus a “hope-so” hope. That stuck with me and I was thinking about it this morning. 

Let me give you this Webster’s 1828 definition of hope: “A desire of some good, accompanied with at least a slight expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable. Hope differs from wish and desire in this, that it implies some expectation of obtaining the good desired, or the possibility of possessing it. Hope therefore always gives pleasure or joy; whereas wish and desire may produce or be accompanied with pain and anxiety.”

Hope is something we all want and desire. It is needed, at times, to keep going. We get bogged down in problems and situations that we oftentimes forget about hope until we hit rock bottom. It takes discipline to keep hope at the forefront of our thoughts. We can’t see the forest for the trees, so to speak. 

But when my pastor mentioned this concept several weeks ago – 2 kinds of hope – I was taken aback. I had never really thought of this. It is true though. There are two kinds of hope. 

A “hope-so” hope is like a bucket with a hole it. You don’t know if you will be able to transport the water to where you want to go before the bucket empties. You are flying by the seat of your pants, no real direction and no certainty that you will get there. 

A “know-so” hope is like the hope mentioned in the verses today – hope from experience. You have been down this road, in some form or another, and you know what will happen. And even if this is a totally new situation, you still know how it will end because you have tested and tried the Leader before and He has never failed you. 

A “hope-so” hope doesn’t give God room to do His thing. A “know-so” hope opens the door wide for God to get in and lead. 

What kind of hope are you practicing today? 🎶”Trust and obey. For there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”🎶 Even though hope is not mentioned in this song, it’s undertones are there. Hope comes from trusting and obeying Jesus.