Faith Over Fear

I’ve seen the phrase Faith over Fear on social media and it’s something we should all be whispering to ourselves. This is a new set of circumstances for the communities in which we live and as a nation. No one knows for sure how or when this will ultimately unfold. But in the meantime we can be accessing ourselves and what we can do: and one thing we can do is pray. We can also check on those around us and encourage them and if things get bad, we can still pray and think of ways we can help our neighbors. It could be as simple as a phone call or leaving a meal at their door.

This should be a time when the Lord’s children shine with the love of Christ.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. JOSHUA 1:9

 

 

 

 

It’s a Matter of Perspective

Do you know what is frustrating?

Toilet paper not being put on the right way. And you know what is even more amazing is that there are people who aren’t aware that there is a right way to put toilet paper on the roll! How’s that for focused frustration?

But this speaks to the struggle so many of us have in life. We get so focused on little things that we lose sight of the big things, the big picture, and what’s important. I wish I got more frustrated about the homeless person I drive by on the street, or the elderly who have not enough food to eat or the food pantry that needs volunteer help and frankly I wish I was more frustrated about not caring enough to help those who are feeling hopeless in this world – when I know that there is the God who loves them and could be their salvation, hope and their light in life. Yet I’m focused on toilet paper…

I want to be so much more than this! I want a heart that hears the heart of God for those around me! We have only so much time on this earth! Psalm 39:4 says, “Show me, O LORD, my end and the measure of my days. Let me know how fleeting my life is.” What am I focusing on?  Is it the frustrating little things that eat up my energy or is it the people who cross my path each day that need a helping hand or a kind word?

Lord help us to hear your heart more everyday and open our eyes to see, really see, what is going on around us and reach out to those hurting and in need of encouragement.  Help us to honor you in all we do. Amen.  

I am thankful that I serve a merciful God who is aware of my frailty: “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He is mindful that we are dust.” Ps. 103:13-14

Wild Imaginations

“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” 2Cor: 10:5 (I memorized it in KJV in college)

It’s one of my often quoted, memorized verses. Especially when struggling with fear! Sometimes when I worry my mind goes to pretty drastic places. Haven’t heard from a loved one? 😱 More international struggles, earthquakes? Sky is falling? Or how about “I’ve failed at everything”! Or “of what use am I?” “I’m worthless.” Anything!

I tell myself constantly to cast down those imaginations-and remind myself of the God who loves me and who is in control! As I get older, I don’t want to be drowning in fears, but to be able to lift my head in confidence and trust to behold the one Who holds me in His hands!

Remember, He is our Glory and the lifter of our heads! Psalm 3:3

The Lord bless you!

Bring Honor to the Family

I was struck by that phrase in a preview of the new live-action Mulan movie that is coming out in the Spring. Children, in their culture, were taught to bring honor to their family. The phrase struck me to the heart, to the point of tears. Why?

It’s New Year’s Day and of course we all hear and talk about New Year resolutions. I’m not a fan of them in the general rigid way, but I do think about what are some things I can work on in the New Year time frame. Yes, I want to get healthier and stronger after back surgery. Yes, I want to read more books, and yes, I would like to de-clutter my house. Of course, I want to help others more on this journey and be more hospitable, to share the love of Christ, and be kinder.

But when I heard the phrase, “bring honor to the family”, I realized that was my ‘word’ for the New Year: bring honor to my family but not just to my immediate family, but also to the family of God and ultimately to the Lord. I want to honor Him in everything I do. Honoring Him in the best definition of the word: “high respect; great esteem.”

So what does that mean? How can I honor the Lord? I think part of this year’s journey will be to discover the many facets of honoring. Starting out, I know that in order to honor Him, I must spend more time with the Lord to understand what brings honor to Him. I must be deliberate and purposeful about connecting with Him in a fresh, new way, daily. Easier said then done. We all know the basics, to love, be kind, be respectful, helpful, be accessible, to listen and give of our time. None of this is easy in today’s world: we are pulled in so many directions and have access to so many distractions and sometimes it’s so easy for the business of life and distractions (like screen time) to take over and crowd out quiet moments with God and time with others. But we must fight this and live life, bringing the life-giving love of Jesus to others, which is the ultimate way to bring honor to the Father.

I think this is what New Year Resolutions are all about: choosing to be deliberate about the important things in life. This year I’m choosing honor.

“I will praise you with all my heart, Lord my God, and will honor your name forever.” Psalm 86:12 (CSB)

Honor the Lord for the glory of his name. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.” Psalm 29:2 (NLT)

“And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.” Revelation 5:13 (KJV)

The Deep Magic of Christmas

My daughter made a comment, during a Hallmark Christmas movie, that they seem to be more religious-inspirational this year. That struck me because I happened to be thinking about Christmas and how sad it is, for the most part, that everyone is trying to erase what the Holiday (“Holy Day”) is about. Whether you love or hate Hallmark Christmas Movies, they do celebrate love, traditions, compassion, family, community and more.

Christmas is a great time of celebration, but if it’s just about presents, and cookies, food and eggnog, and two hour start-to-finish relationship building, then when it’s over, and even for some during, it can leave a feeling of emptiness until the next big party day.

Celebrate however you like, trimming a tree – live or artificial, ginger bread houses, festivals and pageants, big and small family dinners, cookies and candy exchanges, fellowship and parties… but take time to celebrate the “Hidden Magic” of Christmas. I use that term loosely- taking it from C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia where the evil White Queen thought she had won when Aslan traded his life for Edmond’s and she killed Aslan. She did not know the deeper magic of Aslan’s perfect sacrifice from which he rose again and saved Narnia.

There’s deeper magic for us, too. The Christ child who grows up and becomes the sacrifice for all mankind so that we can live with hope everyday and life everlasting. He’s the One who shows the world what it means to really be accepted, to be loved, to show kindness and compassion, and mercy to those like us and unlike us.  He gives us the gift of Himself. If we keep that deep hidden ‘magic’ within our hearts, we will always have joy in the season, whether we are visiting the mountaintops of our journey or living in the valleys of this life. 

The true deeper magic: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

Valerie ⭐️

Pace Yourself

Pace Yourself

I want to get back “in the race” now- but it may take six months to year. The reason why: nerve damage and back surgery which has kept me pretty close to home and is slow to heal.

I want to be well now. (I always picture my granddaughter’s book, The Pout Pout Fish, when I say that.)

Truthfully, this time of healing is a part of my race, which is a marathon and not a sprint ( I’ve been quoted that numerous times).

I have to remind myself, constantly check myself, and slow down the pace for a while. No “BLT” is the doctor’s orders- no bending, lifting or twisting. Harder to do than say. On the upside, I have more time to write, reflect, pray for others and read. My daughter said, “I think it’s all a matter of perspective mom 🙂 Jesus has physically slowed you down so that you can be still in the presence of God. Who knows how many more times in your life that you’ll have the chance to just “be” with Him like you can be now?” That is the truth! (Oh and she also reminded me that we have two weddings coming up.)

We live very fast pace “ought to do“ lives. And it is now November and the holidays are coming. There’s lots to do: holiday shopping, cooking, decorating, parties, family gatherings, traveling and all on top of the normal business of our lives.

Pace yourself. I’m speaking to myself as well as everyone else. I will be learning to pace myself at a whole new level over the next few months, still keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus -who loves us just as we are and who is at work in our lives every day. The race is day to day, a daily choice to persevere and I pray that we all will take time to focus on the Lord during these busy holiday months.

Hebrews12:1-2 “… And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”

The God Who Hears!

Do you wonder sometimes if God is listening to you?. If our prayers aren’t answered in the time frame we have asked for, or if we ask to hear from Him but only get silence, it’s easy to go down the path of worrying and thinking “does He really hear me?” I believe God is always listening to us, even if we don’t hear Him or can’t figure out what He is up to. More often than not it’s because the Lord’s timing is not ours. I am amazed myself, how many times when I look back at life, I realize that the Lord has answered my prayers but it looks different than what I thought, or I realize that He has been protecting me.

Even when we don’t see, hear, or feel God’s response, He is always present. One of my absolute favorite scriptures is Revelation 8:5 that says: “And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. He keeps all our prayers and that is an awesome thought! Trust in Him!

If you’ve been talking to God and your faith is being tested, here are scriptures to remind you that He is the God who hears and He is answering prayers in His time, all the time, and in a way that is accomplishing His purpose in our lives.

1 John 5:15 – And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

1 John 5:14-15 – This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

1 Peter 3:12 – For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

Matthew 21:22
And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

1 John 5:14-15
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

Mark 11:24
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

John 14:14 ESV
If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

John 16:24
Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

James 1:5
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

Matthew 7:7
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

God be with you and have a good week!

God’s Plans, In His Time

This time of year there are always several graduations, weddings and retirement celebrations to attend, and, as always, many other life changing events happening. Sometimes it’s things we didn’t “plan” to experience. Even when it doesn’t seem like it, the Lord is with us every step of the way. Take to heart this great scripture and chapter in Jeremiah.

“For I know the plans I have for you” —- this is the Lord’s declaration—- “plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope”

Jeremiah 29 was a letter written to displaced Jewish captives living in Babylon. While other prophets were claiming a miraculous rescue by God…. Jeremiah did not. “Our sins have alienated us from Him and only His judgement is left”. But God is rich in mercy, even in His judgement. It may take a while but, as author Robert Morgan says, “His purposes are stubborn things and His ultimate plans are undeterred”

Here is what Jeremiah advises the refugees.

1) Make the best of things (vv. 4-6) Settle down, go with life, build houses, plant gardens, bloom where you are planted. You may not be where you want to be but make the most of where you are. As Tolkien says through Gandalf and Frodo in the Lord of the Rings, “I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo. ‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time given to us.”

2) Pray where you are (v. 7) Pray for the country that you are in, pray for peace, pray for your family. Make your request known to God, with thanksgiving, and the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

3) Listen to the right voices. (vv.8-9) Listen to God’s message… not the world’s message, not Satan’s message of false hope that leads to discouragement. Trust me … he has considerable expertise in that field!! Rather listen to the true word of God. Remember, we wrestle not against flesh and blood….

4) Take the long view (v. 10) Think vertically, not horizontally. Look to the heavens for your answers and make your viewpoint eternity. Keep your moorings in His word and your compass on True North.

5) Remain hopeful in God’s plan for you (v.11) Make this a life verse. He has plans for you, He has a future for you, He wants you to have hope in Him. Make it a point to remember that your Hope is in Him.

Jeremiah 29:11 is a powerful verse …. embed it in your daily thoughts. Our Redeemer is Faithful and True!

(Thoughts by Larry May, J R R Tolkien, and Robert Morgan included.)

Jesus, the King of Glory 🌅

Today, Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, begins Holy Week. This day is commemorated in Christianity as the day when Jesus of Nazareth presented Himself to His people, and the world, as their Messiah, Savior and King, by riding into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey.

As Jesus rode a donkey into the town of Jerusalem, scripture tells us that a large crowd gathered and laid palm branches and their cloaks across the road, giving Jesus the royal treatment. The hundreds of people shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

Christ’s procession was a type of victor’s procession. It was a procession indicating the victory to come. Typically a victor’s procession comes after the victory is won. This was the way the Romans hailed their victors in battle, just as we have victory parties after a big football game or other sporting events like the recent Masters in golf. Yet, because God lives in eternity, even though ‘in time’ the victory had not yet occurred, in God’s eyes it was completed before our timeline began! So Christ allowed this procession to occur telling the people that their King and Savior had come. Matthew 21:4

We have so much to be grateful for this week. As we celebrate this Holy Week, may we constantly be reminded of its significance and value for our lives today and for our future! This same Jesus is coming again! Ps.24 asks: who is the King of Glory? We know who! It’s Jesus and we are not only celebrating His death and resurrection this week, we are celebrating that He is coming again!

Jesus Christ fulfilled over 300 prophecies from His birth to ascension. Trust Him that all His promises for us now and the future will happen, too!

A summary of the Passion Week is as follows:

Sunday: Jesus enters Jerusalem and cleanses the temple. Mat 21:1-17; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-48; John 12:12-50.

Monday: Jesus curses the fig tree and gives many discourses in the Temple, emphasizing His authority, Mat 21:18-25:46; Mark 11:12-13:37; Luke 20:1-21:38.

Tuesday: Preparation of the Sacrifice and Judas conspires with the Pharisees, Mat 26:1-16; Mark 14:1-11; Luke 22:1-6.

Wednesday: Jesus celebrates Passover in the Upper Room and is betrayed, Mat 26:17-56; Mark 14:12-52; Luke 22:7-53; John 13:1-18:11.

Thursday: Six Trials leading to Crucifixion and burial in the Tomb for three days like Jonah being in the whale for three days, Mat 12:40, Mat 26:57-27:66; Mark 14:53-15:47; Luke 22:54-23:55; John 18:12-19:42.

Friday: In the Tomb

Saturday: In the Tomb

Sunday: Christ’s Resurrection, Mat 28:1-20; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-49; John 20:1-25

During this Holy Week, may God fill our hearts and minds as we ponder Jesus Christ our King. Let us choose to focus on worshipping our Savior and Lord, thanking Him for the gift of His sacrifice, celebrating the power of His Resurrection, and the new life found in Him alone.

He is Risen!

For Such A Time As This

I have always looked at the story of Esther as some day there will be a “for such a time as this”. When thinking about it lately, I realized that every moment of everyday is a “such a time as this” for us. Every time we make a choice to make a difference for someone in the world, we are following the steps of Esther. 

When you bring a meal to someone, or call a sick person, or someone who can’t get out much, you do not know the kind of hope you are giving to him or her, or what kind of light you are spreading. Do you pray for missionaries? Or support them? You are making a difference in the world. Some folks get to do ‘a one significant thing’ in life, but most of us live life in the valley in the ordinary world and sometimes the harder walk is living everyday for ‘such a time as this’.

Are you wondering why difficult or trying circumstances are happening around you? At some point, you may be the one who has the answer for ‘such a time’ that may make a difference in the lives around you. You may never know the affect of your kind word or action this side of Heaven. But in the meantime, just don’t forget who you are, one of God’s own. You don’t have to shout it from the rooftops or rub it in anyone’s face: NO ONE knew Esther was one of God’s chosen people, but she handled herself well in the life she was given. Be wise, don’t compromise where you know you shouldn’t and be ready to give an answer when the time comes.

We don’t know what the future may hold but we do know today and we do know that God encourages us to live ‘in the day’, and we can make a difference in each day. One day at a time. So live everyday in the same spirit as Esther did.

Here is the story of Esther in a nutshell: Esther was a Jewish girl, an orphan and was one of the Jews that were taken into captivity by the Babylonians/Persians. An older cousin, Mordecai, raised her.. To make a long story short, the king held a beauty contest to find his next wife and Mordecai entered Esther in it and she along with several other women in the kingdom were chosen to be groomed for a year before they would be brought before the king, one at a time. The king chose Esther to became Queen. You should read how wise she was in what she did and asked for and how she prepared. Fascination. Anyway the second in command hated Mordecai because he didn’t bow down when Haman was riding by on his chariot and so he decided he would talk the king into slaughtering all the Jews. (Talk about going overboard!!)

When Mordecai found out He said the famous words to Esther: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” 15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I, and my attendants, will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” And she was wise in how she approached the King and eventually got a decree where her people could fight back! AWESOME Story!!!