Category Archives: Hope

Pick One – The Right One

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When my kids were teenagers, I encouraged them to stop and think about the consequences of every little decision they made. For instance, if they were standing at the top of the escalator at the mall, what would happen if they decided to stay on the floor where they were instead of going down to the lower level? Could such a small decision potentially change the course of their lives? I had a few of these speculative questions which, as you can imagine, frustrated my children to no end. My purpose wasn’t to annoy them, but rather to reinforce the importance of thinking through in order to make good choices. I don’t know if the lesson stuck with any of them, but I hope so.

The older we get, the tougher the decisions. They come with greater consequences. Our successes or failures can depend on what we choose to do. To say. To think.

I’ve made some pretty bad decisions in my life, many of which have caused unnecessary hardship and heartache for me, and sometimes for others. I’ve also made lots of good decisions that resulted in great favour, achievement, and progress in my personal, spiritual, and professional life. Guess which choices were made when I thought I was smart enough to do it on my own, and which ones included consultations with the Lord?

I’d really like to say that I’ve learned to make completely wise decisions one hundred percent of the time, but I haven’t. I am, however, much better at listening to what God has to say before I leap into something. Better, I said, not perfect. I will always need to clutch His hand and follow His lead. It really is the only way.

He’s right there, you know, ready and waiting to give you a nudge in the right direction. Even when you think you know best, you don’t. But He does. And He will give you what you need to make the right choice. Just ask. Read His Word. Listen to what He says.

A very familiar scripture says: Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105 (NKJV)

I love the same verse in the Passion Translation: Truth’s shining light guides me in my choices and decisions; the revelation of your word makes my pathway clear. Psalm 119:105 (TPT)

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Help

When I was eight or nine years old, I thought I was going to drown. I was at a lake with my family and, being a dauntless kind of kid, I jumped into the water at the end of the dock. No big deal, right?

Wrong.

The water was deeper than I had anticipated and I couldn’t swim, at least not well enough to compensate for the depth I was in. I started thrashing around, went under, came up and thrashed some more. That’s when I decided it might be a good idea to call for help. Except no one was around. No. One. I think my guardian angel must have rolled his eyes when God gave him the nod to get me out of yet another mess of my own making. By some miracle (thanks, God), my legs straightened out and my feet touched sand. I made it to the shore and upchucked a few gallons of lake water. I was safe.

I don’t know what I expected when I cried out for help. I had no conscious thought of calling on God for assistance while I was flailing around in that water, but He heard me and made certain that a foolish and terrified little girl didn’t drown in the lake that day. I admit that I never even thought to give Him credit until years later.

This memory reminded me of how often we find ourselves drowning. Drowning in trouble, in sorrow, in debt, in broken relationships, in loneliness, in anger, in confusion, in fear, in unforgiveness, etc. It’s an awfully long list. We plead with God to help, asking for answers that don’t seem to come, and we grow weary. Hopeless. Desperate, even. We sink, floundering in the deep water.

In those impossible situations, it’s hard to see the answer, especially if it doesn’t look like we think it should. We have ideas in our heads for what we think the perfect solution is, but our Father, who knows us even better than we know ourselves, always provides the best way to overcome the problem. How often do we miss it because we’re looking for our way and not His? We revert to survival mode instead of trust-in-God mode. Believe me when I tell you that it doesn’t work. At least not as well as it would have had God’s direction been followed.

Trying to keep yourself from drowning isn’t fun. I know this. Neither is relying on your own resources. They may keep you afloat for a while, but you’ll sink eventually. Call for help. Listen to what the Father has to say about your circumstances, even if it’s not what you want to hear. Trust Him.

He really does have the best answers. I know this too.

The following became a life scripture for me when I memorized it as a child. I like it in The Passion Translation:

Trust in the Lord completely, and do not rely on your own opinions. With all your heart rely on him to guide you, and he will lead you in every decision you make. Become intimate with him in whatever you do, and he will lead you wherever you go. Proverbs 3:5-6 (TPT)

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This is Now

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It’s that time when we are reminded to reflect on the past year and set goals for the next. This is all with the hope that the new year will be everything that 2020 was not, as if that last tick of the clock at midnight will reset our lives.

Sorry to disappoint, but it doesn’t work that way.

This is now. It’s what you have.

I’ve concluded that I spend far too much time thinking about what happened in my past and, on the flip side, wasted so many precious minutes fretting about what could happen in my future. Really, how dumb is that? I don’t want to use my brain power on things I can’t do anything about.

The past is done. Over. Finished. You can’t change it. Remember the good stuff and learn from your mistakes. Move on.

The future is yet to come. Set your course to accomplish the things you need to in order to achieve whatever prize it is you’re reaching for and do it.

My point is: THIS. IS. NOW.

Are you missing the blessing, the love, the wonder, the joy of today because you’re mired in the past or caught up in what could happen in the future? Our Father, in all His infinite wisdom, gave us NOW.

Stop what you’re doing. Look around. Smile. Send a text message to someone you haven’t talked to for a while. Pick up the phone and call a friend or a family member. Write something positive in your journal. Thank God for your life, your health, your home – for His care.

No excuses.

Let this be your focus:

Then, by constantly using your faith, the life of Christ will be released deep inside you, and the resting place of his love will become the very source and root of your life. Then you will be empowered to discover what every holy one experiences—the great magnitude of the astonishing love of Christ in all its dimensions. How deeply intimate and far-reaching is his love! How enduring and inclusive it is! Endless love beyond measurement that transcends our understanding—this extravagant love pours into you until you are filled to overflowing with the fullness of God! Ephesians 3:17-19 (TPT)

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Is It Christmas Eve Already?

25 Christmas Traditions and Their Origins - HISTORY

When I was a kid Christmas always seemed to take forever to arrive. Minutes dragged by with sloth-like speed and I’m pretty sure there were years when I’d convinced myself that the celestial timekeeper was slowing down time just to teach me patience. Things gradually picked up, though, and the years starting racing by. Now it’s Christmas Eve again and I’m fairly certain we just had that a couple of months ago. Didn’t we? Or maybe 2020 is finally showing a random act of kindness by getting us through the year as quickly as possible so we can start planning a future without masks and social distancing. It’s a thought.

This week my mind has been filled with memories of Christmases past. Taking part in the annual Christmas Eve program at my grandparents’ church, wearing a brand new prickly, scratchy, ruffly dress (I can still feel that starched crinoline), a multitude of relatives packed into the house, celebrating my Dad’s birthday (he would be 87 years old today if he hadn’t taken an early flight to heaven), and so many other traditions.

It’s different this year. Our nine grandchildren and their parents are having Christmas in their various homes instead of coming over to eat, laugh, and be a family together. We’ve all agreed to abide by the laws of the province. We understand the reasoning, but we don’t have to like it, right?

But, more than the familiar activities we’ve grown to expect year after year, the purpose for all the celebrating hasn’t changed. God was born in human form, to start the ball rolling and make a way for us to be with Him for eternity. That’s rather awesome.

Stop for a moment and think about this:

That night, in a field near Bethlehem, there were shepherds watching over their flocks. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared in radiant splendor before them, lighting up the field with the blazing glory of God, and the shepherds were terrified! But the angel reassured them, saying, “Don’t be afraid. For I have come to bring you good news, the most joyous news the world has ever heard! And it is for everyone everywhere! For today in Bethlehem a rescuer was born for you. He is the Lord Yahweh, the Messiah. You will recognize him by this miracle sign: You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a feeding trough!” Then all at once, a vast number of glorious angels appeared, the very armies of heaven! And they all praised God, singing: “Glory to God in the highest realms of heaven! For there is peace and a good hope given to the sons of men.” Luke 2:8-14 (TPT)

Prayers for a blessed Christmas are coming from our house to yours!

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Pause

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Hit the pause button and sit down with me for a few minutes. This is important.

Too busy, you say? Too bad, I reply. You need to see something.

First, answer this question: When was the last time you experienced God – I mean really felt that God was present with you, hearing you, and showing you how much He loves you? Be honest.

I could venture a guess and say that for most, it’s been a long time. Maybe it’s been weeks or months or years. Maybe never. And that is so incredibly sad, because the Father is all about His sons and daughters experiencing Him. He longs for an intimate relationship with His children.

I’m not going to give you a methodology to cultivate a closer walk with Jesus, if that’s what you’re looking for. I’m also not going to spout doctrine or theology. I’m simply going to tell you that Jesus loves you, really loves you, with a love that cannot be described, explained, dissected, or analyzed. Because He IS love. As a matter of fact, He invented love.

And He is right there loving you whether you like it or not.

Before you start protesting, you need to know that you are good enough. You’re important to Him. He is not disappointed in you. The Father’s love for you is infinite. Jesus is your righteousness and you are complete in Him. Complete! You can’t get any more complete than complete, right? There is no separation between you and the Father. Jesus made that possible. He is in you and you are in Him. As one.

Perhaps you believe that you don’t understand enough about God or the Bible to really experience Him. Perhaps someone convinced you that you weren’t spiritually mature. Let me assure you that even though you may not fully grasp the concept of the love, grace, or goodness of your Father doesn’t mean you can’t experience it.

Just pause.

Close your eyes (unless you’re driving) and think about the Father’s love for you. He made you in His likeness – how awesome! – and that’s who He sees when He looks at you. He just loves you. And you can’t do anything to earn it or diminish it. Ever.

That is truly pause-worthy.

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. (Romans 8:38-39 NKJV)

 

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Shifting Gears

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I have to repent.

For years, I have stubbornly refused to use this blog as a forum to document my personal journey as a follower of Jesus Christ. Oh, I’ve posted smatterings, but I wanted to be careful to keep it generic enough to stay out of trouble, so to speak. I didn’t want the controversy or the potential criticism.

I don’t care anymore.

So, I repent. I am so sorry that I caved to the social correctness of the days we live in, despite the gentle coaxing of my Father to write what He wanted me to write. I tried to reason with Him, because He’s all over being reasoned with, right? Uh – no. I used the excuse that I had nothing of life-changing relevance to share. After all, who would listen to me anyway? Yeah, that didn’t go over so well with God either.

I’m shifting gears.

I’ve told the Lord that I want to write the words He’s given me, sharing the insights He’s revealed.

That’s scary.

Scary, because it means I am exposing myself in ways that I’m not entirely comfortable with. But then whoever said being a Christian was supposed to be comfortable?

Here’s the thing: life is short. Especially when you’re on the back end of middle age. I don’t have time to piddle around and make lame excuses anymore. I’m going to write what my Father tells me to write, in the way He wants it written. And I think He is smiling and heaving a great sigh of relief because I will finally use the gifts He has given me for the purpose He meant them to be used in the first place.

But this is hard. So hard. My brain is shouting at me, saying I’m crazy to even consider this. Well, Brain, get with the program.

We’re shifting gears.

Stay tuned.

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The Numbers Business

Have you ever noticed how occupied with numbers we are?

For example: This is my 554th blog post. As of this moment, there are 302 followers. And  probably another time as many on Facebook and Twitter. Today, January 9th, is my birthday. I am 59 years old. I have 1 husband, 4 + 2 children, and 8 grandchildren.  The computer in my car told me this morning that I can drive another 603 kilometers before the gas tank is empty. My cell phone battery is at 69%. In 4 hours, choir rehearsal begins. I have written 4,762 words since Monday.

Get the picture?

We base much of our day to day living on numbers. Time. Distance. Measurements. And what does this have to do with anything, you ask? Well, I’m glad you did. Ask, that is.

God is in the numbers business. He knows exactly how many hairs are on your head (Luke 12:7). He makes promises based on numbers (Matthew 13:3-23). He talks about numbers in church growth (Acts 16:5). And numbers are everywhere through the book of Revelation. Throughout the entire Bible, in fact.

So what?

This tells me that our God is concerned with order. He is interested in doing things properly and precisely.

I once had a manager whose favourite saying was, “if  you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. He drove me nuts every time he said it . . . until I understood what he meant. I had to pay attention to details. I had to plan ahead. I had to set goals and establish actions to reach them. I had to enlist the help of those working with me in order to accomplish what needed to be done. I had to mark the milestones along the way so that I could see the progress, define the improvement, and celebrate the success.

It’s no different in our faith walk.

1. Pay attention to the details. Watch for signs. God is speaking to us all the time. We need to learn to listen and to recognize His voice when He is telling us something.

2. Plan ahead. Where do you want to be next week, next month, next year? Pray and ask God to help you set goals based on where He wants to take you. Then write them down. And identify the changes you need to make or actions you need to take in order to make those goals reality.

3. People. Who are the people around you who can help you to achieve your goals? Don’t misunderstand; I’m not talking about using people for your own gain. I’m taking about looking for mentors, the wise ones, those who have talents and abilities you don’t. Encouragers, motivators, cheerleaders. Get what I mean? And you need the support of family or friends or your pastor or somebody who believes in you. And if you don’t have someone like that in your life, as the Lord to bring that person across your path.

4. Take action. As my sister-in-law said recently: “Taking the next step of faith: we may not see that much ground before us but there is a long road of God’s faithfulness behind us . . . He calls us to remember”. Be brave. Be daring. Measure your progress. Take note of the numbers.

5. Celebrate! And then move on to the next goal.

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NKJV)

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Done With Average

You’ve seen this curve before, right? That’s because the world around you is based on averages – education, industry, science, economy, everything. You name it, there are averages. This obsession with average has created a society that says it’s cool to go along with the crowd. To be just good enough to get by. To blend in. After all, if you’re average, you’re okay.

What a lie.

Being average was never God’s plan for us.

Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.” John 14:12 (NKJV)

Does that sound like average to you? I don’t think so. Jesus did some pretty awesome things during His time on earth, yet this scripture says that if we believe in Him, we will do the same things He did – and even greater.

I thought about this and decided to be done with average. No more mediocre, second-rate, or uninspired. Average does not reflect the person God created me to be.

When you read through the Bible, you see how much God has promised to those who serve Him – joy, peace, strength, power, blessings, abundance, forgiveness, confidence, wisdom, success. That’s a supernatural life. And definitely not average!

So, there’s a choice to make.

Will you continue along, frustrated and dissatisfied with where you’re at? Will you write your dreams off because you’re too afraid to pursue them? Or will you take a bold step of faith and leave average behind?

Get into the Word and read all of God’s promises you can find. Take them personally. Act on them. Ask God to reveal those things you need to do in order to walk away from average and become what He’s wanted you to be all along. Stay in really, really close touch with the Father. Talk to Him often. Listen to what He has to say.

You’re on your way to being done with average.

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Yours is the Kingdom

Yours is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever is Yours
Heaven and earth bow down in the wonder of Your Name
Heaven is open, death is broken
And the glory forever is Yours
Nothing can overcome the power of Your Name

King above kings, all the universe will sing
Everlasting God, You are wonderful
You are wonderful

And the shout of the earth will be Your praise
God forever, and the light unto all
Will be Your wonderful Name
For the glory Lord is Yours
God forever, all the glory Lord is Yours

– Joel Houston

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Dealing With A Difficult Person

There is a person I’ve known quite well for a long time and she can be difficult to deal with. Really difficult. I have to admit that occasionally I’d rather run in the other direction than have to be with her. Come on, be honest. All of you know people like that.

This woman and I are at about the same stage in our lives and we have a lot in common. We’ve both been married a long time, we have grandchildren, and we’ve done many of the same kinds of things along the way. You’d think this would be a recipe for a great friendship. You’d think. But the clashes between us are frequent and often have lasting effects. Of the negative kind. And that’s not good. Not for either of us.

She likes to have her own way. This irks me because guess what? So do I. And since we work together a lot, this causes friction. She’s also quite bossy. Wait, let me correct that. She’s very bossy. I’ve been known to exhibit the same tendencies, so you can use your imagination here.

I thought about making a list of this woman’s shortcomings, but it would be long and unflattering, so I won’t.

Because this woman is me.

Dealing with me is a work in progress.

I talk to God about this on a daily basis. He knows all about the difficult person I can tend to be and I am always gratefully amazed at how much He loves me anyway. He’s way more patient with me than I would be, that’s for sure. He is always ready to teach me to be a better person, especially when I am willing to let Him have the floor instead of trying to do it my own way. When I give Him the reins, I find it so much easier to get along with me.

And I’m so glad that His love never fails, it never runs out, and He never gives up on me.

Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6 (NKJV)

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