Monday, October 31, 2011

Domino effect!

I have always been fascinated by people who can make amazing things out of dominoes. Each domino is placed with such precise thought, it cannot just be placed anywhere, it needs to be placed in the right spot, with the right amount of spacing between the next domino.

Have you ever seen someone turn an entire room into a domino sensation?

It is amazing how with just the touch of the first domino it affects the rest of the tiles. They Climb up hills, cross over domino made bridges, go down slopes, create a smiling face or a spinning pinwheel. The domino effect keeps going until the very last domino is turned over.

In life, not all domino effects are as exciting as this.

The dominoes in our lives are usually termed as trials and tribulations. It seems like one comes right after another, much like a domino effect. It seems like one problem bumps into another and then another. But like the clever game of domino building, with each bump, strength and endurance is revealed. But only if the foundation is laid properly.

James speaks of such domino endurance...

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." -JAMES 1:2-4

In the art of making a great domino creation, you cannot take shortcuts. In fact, you must be patient and diligent. The same is true in the domino effect of life, there is no shortcut, there is no such thing as "instant" endurance. The pain brought on by disappointments, failures and unexpected loss is the long road to maturity. There is no other road to take. One domino will affect the next. One pain leads to strength, another leads to perseverance, while another leads to faithfulness. The second trial is as life molding as the first. God will mold us, teach us and heal us in each bump along the way.

It is fair to say that with each domino (life trials and tribulations) we must learn to endure them rather than escape them! However, our foundation must be Jesus Christ, or else our domino effect could have a negative outcome.

What kind of dominoes are you facing today?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

THANKFUL THURSDAY...faithful servant!

A few years ago, God brought across my path two very special ladies. Iris and Lynn. Even though we have never met in person, our hearts and passions were almost instantly connected. The kindred spirit that I first felt with these ladies happened right here...on THANKFUL THURSDAY. It has been my privilege to work side by side with these two inspiring women not only here on TT but also over at LACED WITH GRACE.

When I think about Iris and Lynn, I think of one word...faithful.

 Both of these ladies have been faithful in praying over all of the participants on Thankful Thursday as well as the readers of their personal blog sites. Not only that, they have been faithful to bring to you their passion and joy and love of Christ thru their devotional writings every week.

Being faithful is an incredible characteristic to have.

These two ladies are only just a few of the awesome, passionate and faithful women that make up this great ministry that Thankful Thursday has become.

 I have heard it said that our government is looking for a few good men...but honestly, God is not only looking for some good men (and women) but He is looking for some men and women that are faithful! In today's world, trustworthiness, dependability and commitment are hard traits to come by. Yet, God longs for His children to be faithful to the call on their lives.

2 CHRONICLES 16:9 "For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him."

God is eager to bless those who are sold out to following His plan for their lives. Sometimes God takes us thru different seasons. Our faithful writer and host Lynn is entering a new season as God is opening up doors of opportunity for her in her ministry over at Spiritually Unequal Marriage.

Her trustworthiness, dependability and commitment will continue on, just in a new venue. With that said, and today being Lynn's last time to host THANKFUL THURSDAY, I would like to say a BIG thank you to Lynn for answering the call, and for being willing to be not just A faithful servant but HIS faithful servant.

Thank you Lynn for your many words of encouragement and we look for great more things to come from your ministry! ((hugs))

Please visit Lynn who is hosting TT today and let her know how much you appreciate her faithful heart and her uplifting words! CLICK HERE!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Taking a dip in dirty water!

This is the time of year that people are closing up their swimming pools. If they haven't already done so, they are in the process. Fall and Winter is definitely not a time to take a dip in the pool, well not here in the south. During the summer months, swimming pools are very inviting with their crystal clear waters. There is nothing like a dip in the pool on a hot summer day. But even on the hottest of days, if a pool has been neglected, there is no way I am enticed to jump in for a swim.
I remember one summer, we went out of the country for a missions trip. We cleaned the pool before we left, but because nobody tended to it while we were gone for over 2 weeks, it looked alittle different when we came back to it. Twigs and leaves were the remains of a thunderstorm that swept thru while we were gone. The dust and dirt that blew in from the high winds left the waters dark and murky. There was NO WAY any of us were going to set foot in that water until it got cleaned.

We have this same kind of thinking spiritually sometimes.

If there are dark, murky waters, we want to stay clear and not step foot into it. But often times, God asks us to go places that may seem dark and do some things that may seem dreary. He may even ask us to step our foot in places that we may seem uncomfortable with or that we may think there is NO WAY we would go there or do that.

When God asks us to step into the water, He is not worried about the condition of the water as much as He is our obedience.

I am reminded of Naaman. He was sick in body and he had to step into the water to be healed. But not just any water. Back in Damascus, he had clean water. But that water would not suffice. Elisha gave specific instructions to Naaman, and Naaman had a choice to make. To receive healing he would have to step into the dirty river of the Jordan.

I wonder how many of us would have done what Naaman had to do?

Would we turn our nose up to the dirty water or would we be obedient? Stepping into the dirty water was just the first step for Naaman, obedience soon followed when Elisha said for him to immerse in the water not once, not twice but seven times!

II Kings 5:14 "Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child and he was clean."

Don't you know that Naaman's healing had nothing to do with the condition of the water? It had everything to do with the condition of his heart and his obedience. Sometimes in order to receive our healing or answer to our prayer, God may ask us to take a little dip in some dirty water.

Naaman had to dip seven times.. how many times would you be willing to dip for your answer?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A PIECE OF MY HEART...Moving thru the fog!

Yesterday morning, as I drove to work, I drove right thru a very thick fog. The thickness of the white fog made it very difficult to see what was ahead, but because I drive this same road every day, I felt like I could find my way.

The thing about a dense fog is that we can't see things that are familiar to us. I could not see the stop light that I knew was right ahead. I couldn't see the big oak tree that I knew was to the right. Even though I couldn't see these things, I still crept along my way.

Eventually I worked my way thru the white blanket and came up on the stoplight. You see, even though I could not see it, it was still there. It was just covered up by the fog. The stoplight didn't move. Neither did the big Oak tree. It was only my view that was altered.

The same is true in our spiritual life.

Many times difficulties came our way and it may feel like we are just wandering around in a deep, dense fog. Financial burdens, loss of a job, sickness in family, relationship problems, divorce, miscarriage, depression ... the list could go on and on. The stress and pressure that comes with such problems leaves us feeling like we cannot see the stable things in our life, because the fog (the problem) is too intense.

But the truth of the matter is that if we just keep moving, like I did in traffic yesterday, we will find that the familiar things of our faith are still standing strong. God's love is still intact. His hope has not moved. His faithfulness, His grace and His provision are still standing strong. Eventually the fog will lift, and then we will see that all of these things are still present, they haven't moved at all, our vision was just blurred as we traveled thru the fog.

All of us go thru sudden storms in life, even some that leave us feeling like we are in a deep fog, but thru it all God is always near. He never leaves us or forsakes us. We can be assured that He is leading us and directing our path as we keep moving. We have to take our eyes off of the fog and look for Him, even when we can't see Him, we must know that He is still there!

Psalm 121:1-2,8  "I lift up my eyes to the hills -- where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and for evermore." NIV

Monday, October 24, 2011

Loving deeper and wider.

We are to not only love God with all of our heart, soul and strength but we are to also love our neighbor as yourself...

LUKE 10:27 He answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

This is not a new concept to me. I have read this scripture many times. I have even written on this subject before. So what was different about God's Word this time?

I would say what was different was defining whom my neighbor actually is. When I have read "love my neighbor as myself," I often have thought about the little retired couple who lives next door or the young couple who lives across the street. Yes these are my neighbors (literally) but our neighborhood extends so much further than just our street. In fact, Jesus defined "neighbor" as anyone who we live with or come in contact with.

When you allow that to penetrate your mind and your heart, you just may want to repent as I wanted to. Sometimes our "neighbors" or those we live with or come in contact with seem unlovable. They may even do some unloving things or say unloving things to us. But according to Jesus, we are to still love them. Love them to a degree that matches how much we love ourselves.

When I think about my life I see how careful I am in taking measures to make sure I am healthy, happy and secure. Each day I get plenty to eat. Each night I get adequate sleep. If I am sick, I go to the doctor to get medicine. If I am sad, I do something fun and happy to bring joy back to my life. I work hard so that my future can be secure, not just financially but physically and spiritually. I do all that I can do to take care of the needs in my life.

It is so easy to take care of ME! But what about those people that I come in contact with (my neighbors), how easily is it for me to take care of them?

How many times do I see someone sick, but yet I do not pray for them. How many times do I see someone in my family in need, but I do not sacrifice to help them out. How many times do I see someone struggling or even depressed, but yet I do not stop my busy life and offer them hope or just a shoulder to cry on. How many times do I see someone going hungry, both physically and spiritually, but yet I do not offer them food for strength.

I feel my hunger pains, but not theirs. I feel my pain, but not theirs. I see my distress, but not theirs. Many times it is difficult to love others because we simply do not love ourselves. We love ourselves enough to take care of the basic needs that we have. But we simply do not love ourselves like God loves us.

If we are to really comprehend this passage about loving others like we love ourselves than we must understand what legitimate self-love is. Nobody is to be excluded from our love, not even ourselves. If we value God's creation and His gifts, we must value ourselves as one of His gifts. If God, by grace, finds us worthy to love, then we should also love ourselves.

With the same measure, if God loves us so much to save us, forgives us and bless us, we not only need to accept His love and forgiveness but we must extend it to ALL those we come into contact with.Our neighbors. If God sees value in us, we must acknowledge the value in others. Who they are, what they have done, what they have said holds no condition to whether or not we should love them.

"We love because He first loved us." -1 John 4:19

I need to love deeper. and wider. and I need to love ALL of those whom I live with or come in contact with. My neighbors, may I have a heart like His heart for all of them.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

CAUTION: danger ahead!

One of the most difficult things for me to accept is that in order to love myself, I just may need to set boundaries.

Saying "No" to requests and stress takes alot of courage for some of us. Not all stress and requests made to us are for us to take upon our shoulders and bear.

Loving ourselves may have a "selfish" ring to it, but quite to the contrary, loving ourselves is anything but selfish when applying God's Word. In order to love others, we MUST love ourselves. Not once, not twice, but eight times God's Word says "Love your neighbor as you love yourself." (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 19:19; Matthew 22:39; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27; Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8)

So it is safe to say that how we love others is contingent on how well we love ourselves.

Often times I find myself running ragged and allowing people, their attitudes and their demands to completely stress me out. Sometimes to the point of stress induced headaches and a loss of joy in my life. What I need in my life is a few yield signs. Signs that will help me to slow down, say no where no needs to be said and when people cross over a boundary line, I need to put in place a few road blocks.

Jesus understood the need to set limits.

He did not allow others to dictate His purpose or His agenda. In fact, when Jesus mother and brothers attempted to divert Him from His ministry. (Matthew 12:46-50)  He resisted.

Even the crowd tried to throw Him off the cliff when He claimed to be the Messiah. (Luke 4:28-30)
But he escaped them.

When Peter told Jesus He would not have to suffer. (Matthew 16:21-22) He rebuked him.

3 things that we can learn from Jesus when it comes to setting boundaries...

1. Jesus knew His purpose 2. He knew when to walk away 3. and He understood God's plan.

Boundaries will help us to achieve these things in our lives. The hardest boundaries to set in motion are those with people closest to us. Those we work with, our friends, and even our family. Jesus had to set limits with those closest to Him, so why do we think we won't have to do that also?

LUKE 14:35 (ESV) You must decide if you can leave everything you have to follow me. If not, you cannot be my follower! "Salt is a good thing. But if the salt loses its salty taste, then you can't make it salty again. It is worth nothing. You can't even use it for soil or for plant food. People throw it away.

Boundaries keep us safe. Not only on the highway but on the road of life also. But we must be willing to adhere to the signs.

Friday, October 14, 2011

LWG...Keep swimming, just keep swimming!

Today I have shared a devotion over at LACED WITH GRACE, entitled "Keep swimming, just keep swimming"...

"There are so many things in this world that I just do not understand. For instance, I do not understand how electricity flows thru the wall and makes a light turn on. I also do not understand how I can place a seed in the ground and after a short time, a beautiful flower blossoms. Some things are just hard to understand, but yet, some amazing things come out of it..."

To read the entire post, CLICK HERE!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

THANKFUL THURSDAY...there's no place like home!

One of my all time favorite musicals to see is "Wizard of Oz". A couple of years ago, it was performed at our local Orpheam studio, for days, for weeks I went around the house singing all of the songs and clicking my heels and saying "There's no place like home, there's no place like home!"

Even though Dorothy, the tin man, the scarecrow and the lion (and Toto too) are all made up characters, the thought behind "There's no place like home" rings true sometimes. I have found that to be true this past week.

I have been away from my home for the past 7 days, even though I am away on a happy note, I still miss it. Last week on TT, I wrote about the waiting and anticipation of the birth of our first grandchild. Later that day (last Thursday) we arrived in Tulsa, 6 hours from our home, to await the birth of our sweet Anabell. She finally made her appearance at 3:06 am on Friday, weighing in at 7#8oz 20 inches long.

It has been a long 7 days, which 4 of them have been going back and forth to the hospital. Tulsa is a wonderful place, but it just isn't home for me. Home can be alot of things to alot of people. Maybe you live in a house, or an apartment or a mobile home. The place isn't really what makes it home, it is your heart, your passion and your that makes it a home! And my heart and passion is back home where my husband is, where our ministry is, where our life is.

I am just visiting here. Anybody can recognize that I am not from "around here", because I don't know where anything is. I have to get directions to just go to the store. I am not familiar with my surroundings or even the people. I can stand in the middle of the local Wal-mart and be a complete stranger to everyone. It isn't like that at my local Wal-mart, I am bound to run into lots of familiar faces there.

As I was thinking about this, I realized that the reason I feel like a stranger here in Tulsa is because it is not familiar ground. This is not my home. But neither is Arkansas where my drivers license says I reside. My home is not here, this is just temporary. If its true that "there is no place like home," then I know that nothing is going to compare to our heavenly home.

"I heard a loud voice shout from the throne: God's home is now with his people. He will live with them, and they will be his own. Yes, God will make His home among his people." (Revelation 21:3)

But before we can be familiar with the vastness and greatness of our new home over there, we must be familiar with the One Who holds the deed to our mansion while here.
"I promise you that you cannot get into God's kingdom, unless you accept it the way a child does." -Mark 10:15
Are you ready to see your home? There is no other place like it in this world! But we have to be familiar with it or we might miss out on the greatest home we could ever have!

Today Lynn is hosting THANKFUL THURSDAY. I am thankful for the place that God has prepared for me, one day I will see it face to face and it will be more beautiful than I ever imagined it to be. Share your grateful heart with us by linking up. And if I don't meet you face to face here (in Tulsa, or Arkansas or wherever you live)...I will meet you over there. In the promised land. :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

THANKFUL THURSDAY...good things come to those who wait

I can't think of too many people who like to wait for things. If this wasn't so, then we wouldn't have so many fast food restaurants, drive up pharmacies and nowadays you can even drive up to get your flu shot!

The worst kind of waiting isn't the 6 minute delay in the drive thru window waiting on your french fries, if any of you have had to wait for an excited expectation like a wedding, or a child to be born or a loved one to return from war, then you know what kind of intense waiting I am talking about.

We are in one of those intense waiting periods right now in our family. I have experienced this excited moment of "hurry up" waiting before when we stood in the airport awaiting the arrival of our airman son to come home from the Air Force after being in South Korea for a year! As a mother, I cannot tell you how every minute, every second that passed by of waiting was so incredibly intense. I thought his plane would never land.

Again, here I find myself in that waiting stage, waiting upon the arrival of our first grandchild. My son called last week and anticipated the precious delivery to arrive by the weekend. That was almost a week ago. The waiting is almost unbearable. But just like that plane eventually landed, I know our precious cargo will be safely delivered in just a short time.

Personally I do not like to wait. Waiting makes me feel like I don't have control, I like things to be on my timeline, but that isn't always possible. But one thing that I have learned about waiting is that in due time, all good things come to those who wait.

At times, God makes me wait for things. And at times it is very unbearable because I don't always understand His timing. But in the end, after the wait is over, I can always see that the waiting was worth it.

 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13)

I love the fact that even though we may be waiting for something, that we can trust in Him enough for our circumstance. Even though our circumstances may change, He never does. And for that I am truly thankful. And thankful that in my times of waiting, He has given me joy, hope and peace!

Today is THANKFUL THURSDAY and Lynn is hosting this month. Share your grateful heart with us by linking up HERE!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Taking the trash out!

It amazes me how much trash just 3 of us have in this house. It seems like just as one bag is carried out to the trash bin, another bag is almost full. The thing about trash is that nobody ever wants to take it out. In fact, it is the least admired chore in our house. Many times we try to cram that extra piece of paper in the trash bag before taking it out.

Sometimes we have to take out the trash even before the bag is full because it becomes smelly and gross. Nobody has to remind us to do it, all we have to do is walk in the house and by the odor we know it is time to dispose of the trash.

Can you imagine what it would be like if we just ignored that smell and just let the trash overflow? If we never took it out, we would have a nasty mess on our hands. The same is true in our spiritual life...

"Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you."  James 1:21

James reminds us that the trash that we allow in our lives almost always leaves a stench and the only way to clean it up is to remove it. Often times though, we don't recognize the smell until the trash is overflowing in our lives. Much like the trash can, we just keep piling more and more trash in, trying to cram as much as possible in before taking it out (or removing it).

This is why it is so important to do what James also says in verse 21..."humbly accept the Word planted in you, which saves you." Knowing God's Word and applying it in our lives is like the air freshener that we spray sometimes around the trash can. Once the garbage is out, a new, fresh aroma can be smelt.

And what a fragrance His Spirit leaves!

Take a moment to reflect on your life today and ask God to reveal any trash that may be needing to be taken out. Ask Him to help clean it up before it overflows and becomes a unbearable stink.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A PIECE OF MY HEART...a brand new day

Can you imagine what it would be like if each morning was brand new?

No worries of yesterday. No past due bills. No extended illness. Things of yesterday, both good and bad, were gone. Instead of smelling the brewing of a the pre-set coffee maker, we smell nothing but freshness and newness much like a brand new car smell.

Can you imagine opening your eyes and not having to think about the carpool, finding money to pay for the kids braces, or remembering the mistakes of your past? Sounds like a marvelous day, but probably not reality for most of us. Most of us awake in the morning with the same burdens and regrets and disappointments as we went to bed with. But it doesn't have to be like that.

God's Word says that "This is the day that the Lord has made and I will rejoice and be glad in it" (Psalm 118:24) Each day is new. With God we can leave our mistakes, our sorrows and our burdens in the past and live today with joy, love and grace. Each morning instead of waking up to the smell of coffee, we can wake up to the smell of His Spirit.

Psalm 90:14-16 (NLT)
Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives. Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery! Replace the evil years with good. Let us, your servants, see you work again; let our children see your glory.

One of the reasons it is difficult to see each day as a new day is because many of us wake up meditating upon the things of yesterday. Our worries. Our problems. Our past. Instead of committing to God those things that we have no control over, and asking Him to forgive us of our sins, we wallow in them and drag them with us from Monday to Tuesday to get it. And before long, the days, the weeks and maybe even years now have become a drudgery instead of a joyful encounter.

There is much satisfaction in starting our day out giving Him praise and seeking what He has for us. Satisfaction is not found in the world, even though that is where most of us look for satisfaction. Worldly satisfaction is temporary, but being satisfied with what God has for you today is so rewarding, fulfilling and like a fresh breath of air.

With each sunrise, our hope is in knowing that each of our tomorrows is secure in Him and it is up to us whether or not we accept the free gift of each day that He gives us.

Got worries from yesterday? Today is a brand new day!

Monday, October 3, 2011

The truth, the whole help me God!

Have you ever noticed the swearing in of someones testimony in the courtroom...
"Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth ... so help you God?"

I was wondering if the judicial system still honored God in that statement, so I asked my good friend who is a court reporter and she said "Yes, they still do." I was glad to hear that God still remains when it comes to seeking truth.

There is something about speaking the truth that I noticed, in the courtroom anyway, is that swearing (or pledging) to speak the truth is not enough. Raising your hand and pledging to God that what you are about to say is what is considered to be truth.

Face it, in today's world, the truth is sometimes difficult to spot. All we have to do is turn on the television and wonder about truth. During a political campaign, how can we know if the candidates are speaking the truth? How do we know if their promises will come true? Or how about the advertisements that come on do we know that a certain detergent will get our whites the whitest?

Their word is simply just not enough. Our word isn't enough. It takes more than our word to express truth. We must see proof. We must have evidence. We must have some kind of experience with the person or the product that is in question. If we could just see with our own eyes, than we might be able to see the absolute truth.

Absolute truth from man is not always easy to attain. First, you have people who stretch the truth on purpose, for their own gain or to cover something up. Then secondly, you have people who mistakenly shade the truth, possibly because they did not investigate enough or they themselves were not given the whole truth of the matter. Either way you look at it, the absolute truth is difficult to find. In man  that is. The absolute truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth can only be found in God.

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His Glory...full of Grace and Truth." JOHN 1:14

Today, very few people believe in absolute truth. I believe that is because the darkness has filtered in and tried to disguise by deceit and masking lies as the truth. People today seem to fall for anything. The enemy is one of the best salesmen around...he can sell people on just about anything. But the Bible warns us that in the last days we will be easily fooled.

But there is only one absolute truth that can never be excused or distorted into something false and that is exactly what John is speaking about in the above mentioned passage. In order for us to know truth...we must know God. In order to know the truth about God ...we must know His Word. In order to believe His Word ... we must have faith. In order to have faith ... we must have a relationship with Christ.

If you ever find yourself in a situation that truth seems distorted, just remember what Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life." (John 14:6) Put your trust in Him and His Word, for it is the absolute truth!