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Sleeping through the storm

Luke 8:22-25 – “Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth. But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him.”

We just went through a hurricane. Not my idea of a good time, I’ll tell you. As we laid in the closet under the stairs while the front and back of the eye of the storm went over our house, my kids slept. The electricity had gone out which caused the fan to go off which woke me up to the raging wind. It howled and screamed and thrashed against the front of our house. I’m laying in the closet praying, “Please God, keep the roof on my house and my friends and family safe” while my children are sleeping. Sleeping! I was glad though. I was in a state enough without having to deal with them freaking out.

While I was out and about yesterday working, I heard the same thing from many of my clients – they slept through the hurricane! What?! How can that be? They went to bed Sunday night and knew nothing had happened until they woke up Monday morning. 

My grandma always said, “The Good Lord’s gonna gitcha when He wants ya whether you’re hidin’ or not.” Faith. Faith that He is in control and we have nothing to fear. I experienced a great deal of fear last week, especially Friday. Friday was tough for me. I believe the majority of it was the uncertainty. We had no idea where the hurricane would hit and how bad it would be. The Holy Spirit had to keep whispering to me – “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7) He had to say it multiple times because I was having a hard time getting my heart and mind to listen. Faith.  Faith that He is in control.

Now, I’m not certain that all of my clients have that sort of faith in their lives. I’m working on that. But I do know that God used their…faith, or lack of hearing, to remind me that I have nothing to fear, even in a hurricane. It is about letting go and letting God. And that, my friend, is tough. I like to be in control of things going on in my life. I like to know when, where and how things are going to go before I step into it. But faith reminds me that sometimes I won’t know all the details. Faith reminds me that sometimes I need to sleep during the storm. I can’t control it. I can’t affect the outcome of it. I can only prepare and pray. 

Prepare and pray. Maybe that should be my new motto. Isn’t that all God really wants us to do? Second Timothy says He gave us a “sound mind” – the ability to know when to prepare and how to prepare. We know that “power” is from God alone. And we know that “love” should cover everything we do. And when we have that power, love and sound mind, we can sleep through the storm. Isn’t that why Jesus slept in the boat during the storm? He had all those things in abundance. 

So the next time you find yourself in a storm, whether figuratively or literally, have faith. Prepare and pray. Allow God to take the fear the devil attempts to plant in your heart and turn it into power, love and a sound mind. And sleep through the storm.

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Shelter

Jeremiah 16:17 – “For mine eyes are upon all their ways: they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes.”

Well, we made it! We made it to our vacation spot among the hills and mountains out west. And it is BEAUTIFUL!! I’m sitting outside wrapped in a blanket that I know will repulse me in a few hours because it will be so incredibly hot. But for now, the warmth feels good. 

As we were driving here yesterday, we crossed a lot of desert type land. Flat. Dry. Scrub bushy. A Joshua tree here and there. But really, no place to hide. No place to take shelter from the blazing sun. No place to pause for a respite. 

When I saw this verse this morning, the terrain I witnessed yesterday was brought to mind. When we walk with God through this life, He is our shelter. He is our place of refuge. He is our place to hide. He our fountain of Living Water. 

He sees all our actions. He hears all our thoughts. He knows the intent of our heart. We can’t hide from Him whether we choose to follow Him or not. 

We think we can pull one over on God. We think that little scrub bush is going to give us all we need. We think that straggly little tree will provide all the shelter we need from the oppression of this world. The pride in our heart keeps us from accepting what is good and perfect. Our pride keeps us from seeing His blessings and protection. 

So this week, as I look out across God’s amazing landscape while walking through the desert, trust me when I say I will truly appreciate God’s shelter and protection – because without Him, this old world is really, really hot. 

A matter of trust

Psalm 34:7-9 – “The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.”

My son is learning to drive and I’m learning to teach him. When we first started, I wanted him to understand that this was as new to me as it was to him. I wanted him to understand that this was a learning curve for the both of us. He is doing really very well. I actually felt comfortable enough last night to unclasp my hands and take a drink of my hot tea. That, my friend, is progress!

You know, this whole thing is teaching me trust. I’m learning to trust my son to get us safely from point A to point B. 

As we go through life, we have many opportunities to learn to trust God. He allows situations and circumstances that require us to trust Him more and more. He wants to encamp around us and provide us with a level of comfort that cannot be surpassed. He wants to deliver us from those same situations and circumstances that bring us closer to Him. 

But we have to “taste” Him. We have to try Him. We have to prove Him. Not because He needs it, but because we need it. We need to know deep down in the very center of our soul that it is in Him alone that we need to trust. We need to know that He is faithful every single time. And the only way to have that confidence is by learning to trust Him. 

So pray for me as I learn to trust my son behind the wheel of my car. And pray for yourself that you will learn to trust Him more today than you did yesterday. 

Giraffes

Psalm 61:2-4 – “From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.”

Every day I try to learn something new. It may be something great and awesome or something trivial and small. But any time that we make a new neurological connection, we grow.

My new thing that I learned on Saturday was that a giraffe only sleeps about 20 min in a 24 hour time period. They are always watching for predators. It reminded my daughter of “Monsters, Inc.” – “I’m watching you Mike Wazowski, always watching.” Remember that? She decided she would never make it as a giraffe.

Anyway, it made me think about how we guard our life. We let our guard down all the time. It’s probably the reason that we face so many challenges. How much better off would we be if we were always watching? It’s way too easy to let the world in for just a few minutes. If that giraffe slept for a few more minutes, it could be the end of his life. Our sleeping or just being off guard could be detrimental to our testimony. I fear, that I don’t take that as seriously as I should most days.

But thankfully, I have Someone who is “always watching” – Jesus. He knows that I will fail and fall asleep, just like the disciples did in the Garden. But He in His love, never fails, never falls asleep. What an amazing comfort and peace to know that His rock is always waiting for me to crawl back in. When the world gets to be too much, His cleft is always open. He is my Strong Tower.

So today princess, make it your goal to run to Him when things are too much. In fact, run to Him before they get too much. Live in the shadow of His Strong Tower and be at peace. And along the way, don’t forget to learn something new.

Stuck in my head

Philippians 4:8 – “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

I have a problem.
I love music. I love all kinds of music, well, not all kinds – I’m not a big fan of rap or techno music. I have a tendency to get songs stuck in my head. Every morning when I wake up, I have a song waiting for me in my head.
Unfortunately, lately, I have not had uplifting songs in my head. And you know why? Because I have let those type of songs be played in my car. My kids like to listen to secular stations after school. And I usually let them. The bad part is that those songs that they play over and over again on every single station get stuck in my head. The songs are not encouraging. They don’t honor God.
What’s a mom to do?

The Bible tells us to think on things that are pure and true and honest and lovely. These songs tiptoeing around in my head are catchy but not pure, honest and lovely.

I think I need a purge. My kids are not going to like it. They need an alternative. And our area just doesn’t have a super good Christian station that plays a wide variety of new Christian music. I guess it’s time to break out the phone and play some music that we already have that we know we enjoy that is catchy and honest.

Music has such a potential in our life. It has the power to bring us to tears or send us to the mountain top dancing. Most people don’t pay two cents worth of attention to the lyrics. But I do. I hear them and am typically appalled when I hear secular music. So why do I let my kids listen to it? That is a really good question. I don’t have a good answer. Maybe it’s because we don’t have cable or satellite and this is my way of allowing them something “normal” in their life. Maybe it’s a break that I need too. Maybe I just want to give them a little control. I don’t really know why we listen to that stuff.

So, let me encourage you today, princess, to really listen to whatever you listen to. Is it true and pure and honest and lovely? Or is it full of stuff that is none of those things? Remember, junk in, junk out.

By the way, “Favorite Song” by TobyMac was stuck in my head this morning. And it is currently fighting for control as I write.

Bloom where you are planted

Mark 4:26-29 – “And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.”

The other day I was walking into work and I noticed something – a flower growing in the gutter of the building. It always makes me smile when I see something like that. A tiny, beautiful little flower growing way up high in a place where flowers really aren’t supposed to grow.

It made me think about what God expects of us. Here we are in this yucky old world where society is ever trying to sweep us away. And we are supposed to be just like this little flower. We are supposed to grow no matter what. Despite the circumstances, despite where we are at, we are supposed to grow. And we are supposed to produce fruit. We are supposed to bring hope to those around us by showing the beauty He has created within us.

I know that no one person purposefully climbed up on a ladder and planted that seed up in the gutter. But I believe that God put that seed up in that gutter for a very specific reason – He wanted me to see it and He wanted me to remember that it is so very important that we grow where we are planted. You may be planted in a fertile field where people are coming to Jesus every day. Or you may be planted in the desert where birds of prey are waiting to pick your bones dry. Either way, we are instructed to grow. If cactus can grow in the desert, then so can you. You just have to get creative. Cactus produce fruit as well. They provide water for animals and flowers to grow other cactus.

The endpoint is this – Christ’s return is coming soon. Harvest time is almost here. How much fruit are you producing? Is it bountiful? Or are you just scraping by? We can’t grow without the Living Water supplying all that we need. We can’t produce without the Master Gardener pruning and encouraging growth. So get with it, sister! Get that soil fertilized and get those weeds pulled. Times a wastin’!

The Sly Old Fox

1Peter 5:8 – “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour”

I was sitting here this morning praying about what God would have me to write about today and this song came to my head. It is an old one; one that I haven’t thought of in years. It goes like this: “The devil is a sly old fox. If I could catch him, I’d put him in a box. Put him in a box and throw away the key, for all the tricks he’s played on me. Glad that I’m a Christian. Glad that I’m a Christian. Glad that I’m a Christian and trusting in the Lord.”

I looked through my concordance trying to find a reference to the devil being a fox, but found none. But I did remember this verse that referenced him as a lion. Lions are mentioned several times in the Bible, yet with different meanings. Sometimes Jesus is referred to as the Lion of Judah. But in this instance, it is the devil being referred to as a lion.

Have you ever seen a lion hunt? I haven’t seen one in person but I have watched it plenty of times on television. They are sly and sneaky. They look around trying to find out which animal is the weakest and most easy to attack. They know they are going to have to work for their food but they want to do as little as possible. So, they pick off the weak ones or the ones falling behind the pack. They sneak around the tall grass and pounce when their prey least expect it. Sometimes they have to run to catch their food. Lions are really fast. Their prey rarely escape.

Knowing all of this gives us a greater perspective of this verse in 1 Peter. The devil pursues us in the same way. He looks for those of us who are weaker, those of us who are falling behind. He doesn’t want to have to work too hard to get another one of us to mess up. But if the need arises, he will chase us down and only an act of God will keep us from from being brought down.

The lesson to learn here is found in the verse – Be ready. Be watching. Don’t give the devil opportunity to catch you or even think about how he can mess you up. This means you have to do whatever is necessary to keep up – go to church, study your Bible, pray, talk with other believers, listen to music that glorifies God – anything and everything that draws you into His protection. Believe me, you don’t want the devil to catch you. It is possible to get free of his grasp but it is hard, very, very hard. Your best option is to not even get in that position.

But don’t try and go at it alone. Follow the Leader. Let Him show you the way. It takes effort and choice. But princess, it is worth it. I know I have said it before, but repetition is the way we learn. And trust me when I say that it is a much for you as it is for me. Life is hard. It would be easy to just give up. But we have been called to cheerfully endure until the end. And if that is what I have to do, then that is what I shall do.