Lately over the past year I have taken up jogging. I say lately because we live in Manitoba and I don’t want to die running on ice. In the beginning I was doing it so my dog would lose weight and my vet could stop giving me ‘that’ look. In the beginning we started slow. About 5 mins.
Then we improved till we could go 10. The other day I set me treadmill at jog speed and started to run while watching TV. 25 mins later my show was over and I still had energy. I then realized that my body had adjusted to going on long jogs.
It’s the same in our prayer lives. We start off wanting to please God but we tire out quickly. Aiming for an half an hour prayer can seem a little much in the beginning. What we needed is persistence. A daily routine and time set. Then little by little, without us even realizing it, our souls stretch and our spiritual cardio expands and we find ourselves enjoying more and more time with God. It may seem like a frustration in the beginning, but once you learn to love it you can’t go back.
I’ve been there too
So, I caught a cold this past Monday. I have an old family rule that I live by that says, ‘if you don’t have a fever you aren’t sick enough to stay home.’ I hate this rule; but once something becomes engraved in your mind it’s hard to change. So I plowed through and made it to Saturday where I almost died on the couch. Not literally. Then my mom asks me to bring a meal over to my grandparents. Up I get and off I go to carry the food across the yard, (we live on an acreage). On the way back my dog wants to play. It’s so warm and sunny that we play for about half an hour. Then I see him. My horse with his head over the fence. Guess what? He too has a cold. I walk over and rub his neck and he presses his forehead against mine. I have had my horse for nearly 10 years, I knew he was saying he didn’t feel great. I also felt the sense that we were sharing a moment of understanding. He was sick and so was I, he needed a hug and so did I. We understood each other’s suffering. Then I got to work filling his water, because he was low and giving him extra mineral to combat the virus, and feed to keep his strength up and then more hugs.
I have two points here. One is that no matter how you feel there is always someone who needs something and true love is doing that something no matter what. My mom is really great at this. Complain your way through if you must, but Christ’s spirit of carrying one another’s burdens makes us keep giving. Point two. No matter what you are going through there is always someone somewhere who has been through the same and wants to help. You are NEVER alone. With 7 billion people in the world there is zero chance that you are the only one who is suffering this particular way. Others get it and even if they don’t, Jesus gets it and He has always got your back! He will Always help you through the tough times. Even if that though time is pushing through with a cold.
God arms me with strength. And He makes my path perfect. Psalms 18:32
Downward spiral .vs. upward climb
Have you ever noticed how it is a spiral? Spiral indicates fast, generally out of control and of course spinning.
It sounds like a bad ride at an amusement park, you know, the one your friends dare you to go on and then you feel too sick to do anything else for the next 2 days. 10 years later you have the confidence to laugh about it with someone. Spiral.
And upward CLIMB. With this one I visualize a mountain. I love hiking and exploring. If you let me go with my dog and spend the day someplace hiking and exploring, there is a chance we will be gone that whole day. Generally the moment we feel like…..I am sorry, I feel like, he could go on forever……when I feel like turning around is the moment I hit a steep incline. Usually it is my powerhouse Jack Russell who keeps me moving, he is probably 1/6th of my weight and yet he is the one who pulls me to the top and we stand (and I gasp for air) and he starts to head down the next trail, dragging me behind and I feel this wave of achievement. We made it to the top! Oh Ya! And look! Another hill…… I wonder what the top of that one looks like?
To hit rock bottom takes a simple ‘yes’ or a small give in your normal perspective. It happens fast, it is generally a little sickening and it takes a long time to recover.
To hit the summit takes a lot of hard work, motivation, and sometimes someone else pulling on your lead to keep you going, and you find acheivement in the end.
To climb back up from the bottom is a massive struggle and you can NOT do it without God, but you CAN do it.
When all the lights go out
Crunch, crunch, crunch. Each footfall leaves another indent in the snow, a small trace that you were once there. A tiny blaze is nestled close to your chest as you carry a candle for just a little added light. There are other lights around you, barely visible, just a flicker, like woodland sprites dancing among the trees. The lights make their way softly through the woods and into the town. There, in a single window, is a candle; like the one you carry except for the meaning behind it. Your candle is for light, this candle is for hope. Inside the house you know you will find others like you, Christian worshippers gathering secretly to praise Jesus. You blow out your candle and step inside.
This story you have entered feels like it happened a lifetime ago to someone you will never know; But even today Christian families are having to hide from those who would seek to harm them. I wonder how many are gathering tonight? Slipping through the streets with candles to light their way?
Surprisingly I found many different opinions on the origin of lights on Christmas trees, but the one that I like the best is the one that says that Christians used to come and gather in the woods, to worship in secret because the Government wanted one religion and Christianity was not it. They would put lights deep in the branches of a tree so that the glow would be muted but visible. Even if that is not the origin I wouldn’t be surprised if it did happen. Maybe that is why lights on the Christmas tree feel so warm and homey. I would go so far as to say they make one feel secure.
On this Advent Sunday I want to send out a simple feeling. Gratitude. I am grateful for the Christian people who are faithful to the point of meeting under the cover of a midnight sky, maybe even outside in the cold, so they can keep the candles of Faith burning. Isn’t that the first place Jesus was worshiped? A cold manger stall, the only light probably a candle. Think of that as you feel warmed by your Christmas tree lights and let it fill you with a sense of wonder.
We all have a seed inside our hearts. A part of us that is undiscovered and trying to grow. A potential. A dream left to the wear of time and long since forgotten. Deep down in your heart, however, that dream left a seed. We all have someone we want to be. A chef, a weatherwoman, an accountant, a movie star. But to fulfill a dream takes hard work, good people, and a bull dog drive. Stats say that over 90% of people give up on their dreams instead of seeing them fulfilled. I think that is very sad. A dream is something important to us, and things that are important to us should be things we fight for. Sometimes we dream of being something that other people say we can’t be. An artist who can’t draw, or a musician who doesn’t know how to play. It is possible that maybe that means your true seed is growing into something else. Perhaps a music teacher or an art studio director. Don’t drop your dreams where you stand and move on. Sometimes the true dream is a vine of the original one. Fight for your dreams and water them. See what your seed grows. Like buying a surprise packaged of flower seeds at the plant store. All you can do is scatter them in the dirt and care for them. You know you want a flower, but what that flower looks like is entirely up to the seed. So you care for it and as it grows you love it more and get more excited to see what it will be.
Let your seed grow, and never give up on it.
So. I ended up in emergency today. My dog accidentally bit my nose and it led to 3 stitches and plastic surgery tomorrow morning. If you knew me well you would know that needles send me. I had 8 of them in my nose today, maybe more but 8 was the amount I recall. There are times in our lives when it is horrible. In those moments we can choose to do many things, when we choose to call on Jesus we find sudden help and relief.
When that first needle went into the open wound my heart screamed out,
‘Jesus PLEASE! HELP ME!’
Every needle after I screamed the same inaudible prayer and everytime Jesus’ presence took over the whole situation and made me feel like I would get through this.
You don’t have to kneel and verbally call out for Jesus to hear you. He hears you. Every thought. Every word. Every need. Every want and hope. Jesus hears you.
He might not take the situation away, but He WILL get you through it.
So this Thanksgiving Weekend I say:
“Thank you Jesus for saving my soul! For hearing my prayers! For caring about every throb of my heart and for drawing me through life and closer to you. Thank you God for not just lending us your son, but for GIVING us your son and allowing us to have Him and you and the Holy Spirit. Thank you Holy Spirit for your patience with us and that you are always here. Amen”
HAPPY THANKSGIVING FRIENDS
If you’re not THIS God doesn’t love you
This world is a broken mess. That is clear, and Christian or skeptic we can all see it.
Sadly the hate of the outside world sometimes seeps into our Churches and into our Brethren in Christ.
It makes me think of an old anime I own. There was a small village living in the waste land of a once fertile country. Little by little the ‘toxic jungle’ spread until the inhabitants had to wear filtering masks when going out doors. Little particles of the jungle seeped into the houses too though, slowly destroying all until there was nothing left. If we took the spore of our world’s ‘toxic jungle’ and eliminated it completely our air would be breathable again. That spore I would like to say is hate, because hate is pretty easy to spot, but hate itself is just an extreme version of the true problem. Judgement. We throw down judgements like it is our job and justify by screaming out, “but the Bible says.” Um, right, the Bible also says many, many times that is not for people to judge that that is God’s job. Next excuse. “We can’t condone that because we are Christians.” Okay, but condoning the sin and loving or even accepting the sinner, these are two very different things.
I have heard too many Church people quote the Bible to make themselves feel more Holy. The problem is that we usually quote it with a, ‘if you don’t do this exactly the way God says He won’t love you’ insinuation. God loves you. That’s it. He loves just you, all of you, and any version of you to come. Does He want His people to be better. Of course! We’re people, there is always room for improvement. But just because you slip, or struggle, or don’t invite the Jones’ out for tea after Church; none of this, and I mean none of it, will EVER make God stop loving you.
If you are dirty, join the club, we are all dirty. If you struggle with drugs, alcohol, porn, infidelity. If you have committed murder, stolen, cheated, or lied, God still loves you. Nothing you are and nothing you have done can change that. Does it hurt God when we do wrong? Absolutley. Does He drop us like a bad connection after? NO! And don’t ever let anyone make you feel like He does. Nothing you don’t do and nothing you do do will change God’s love for you. We can let the need to accuse and judge others seep in from the outside world. By that I mean in from the world of the devil. The one who is against Jesus, that is the outside world. Little by little we destroy our Churches because we don’t want the sinners in to add mud to our name. We destroy ourselves by failing the second greatest command. Love your neighbor. Love can shown by simply going, “it’s okay, I won’t judge.”
I feel passionate about this because of the testimonies I have heard. ‘I have never met a Christian who didn’t judge me.’
I don’t witness very often. I let people know I am a Christian and just let God guide things from there so this is not a look at all the people I talk to thing because I don’t. It is just something that has come up…often. I have also heard pastors who use their pulpit as a shield while they judge and not from a Bible stand point. Please let the Holy Spirit guide your response to sermons and don’t get depressed. If God is telling you to change He will help you do so.
God knows how much you love Him. You don’t have to prove it. Do things to make God happy, but don’t feel He misses the fact that you care, in the simple human way we all do our best to love God like He loves us. Talk about impossible dreams.
So to sum up.
Don’t judge, that is God’s job. Love, that is your job.
God will always love you. No matter what anyone ever says. God says that He loves you. Just read the Bible and you can see for yourself.
Today I die
I sit in my cell with the bare cold hungrily eating into my flesh, my wounds almost numb from the night before. Suddenly I look up into the face of my executioner. He clamps irons on my wrists and I am pushed, pulled, and dragged up the winding stair case onto the street above. A cross is driven onto my back by the ruthless pull of gravity and I am told to walk, so I walk. A soldier follows in place of my shadow and strikes me with his whip whenever I slow down, so I don’t slow down, I move as quickly as my beaten body will allow until I reach the top of the hill where I am finally permitted to lie down upon my burden. I close my eyes and tense my throat as vomit threatens to choke me from the agony of the spikes being driven into my hands and feet. Tears burn my eyes and soak my neck as I am lifted up. Everything turns blurry from the pain, people were laughing, I think, I couldn’t really hear past the high pitched ringing raging through my ears.
Breath comes in gasps as the hours pass by. Hours? Or was it days? It felt like days. My shadow comes along and begins breaking legs. Mine are next and suddenly the troubled breathing turns into no breathing at all. Tell me someone can hear me. I know I am screaming so where are the ones to save me? Then it ends. I awaken to see a judge. Sad eyes touch mine and He shakes his head. Two dark figures grasp my arms and drag me away, forever. ‘Wait!’ I cry. ‘Have mercy! Please!’
But there is silence as the judge turns His face away and I am led off to my eternal sentence.
This is what it would be like if Jesus had not taken that cross for us. If instead we had gone through our own crucifixion. Pain, death, hopelessness, and no promise of rescue.
If we had been sacrificed instead it would never have been enough to pay back all the wrongs we have done. In the end death would lead to death and nothing could change that.
Thank God that He sent Jesus to save us. Thank Jesus that He was willing to come.
Thank the Holy Spirit for residing in us.
Without love, God’s love, we would truly have nothing.
As the true story reads.
God so loved the world that He sent His one and only Son. Continue with me. That whosoever believes in Him… should not?…. Might not? Will not perish, but have eternal life. -John 3:16
Thank Jesus today for dying for you.
Looking to God can be a struggle because the world always says ‘yes’; God sometimes says ‘no’.
To face God and accept that your answer may be ‘no’ is painful and very scary. We want a ‘yes’ answer, and we want it quickly; meet World, because he answers with what you want quickly. Why? Because World doesn’t care. He doesn’t care about you or what happens next, he doesn’t even care if you have a story or a future, if you want a quick fix, find World, because that is how he operates.
If you want perfection, look to God.
My mom always says ‘wait for perfect,’ meaning the perfect that God is preparing. My answer? I want the perfect when it comes, but I want the temporary to fill the gaps of waiting.
Stupid? Yep. Bad logic? I know. Not realistic? Absolutely.
And in a few moments of post conversation reflection I see my flaw, or error in judgement I guess would be a better term.
Wait for perfect and accept that your ‘no’ is leading you to that perfect… whatever… whatever it is you seek, wait for it to be perfect. It is easy to say this, I know, but living it means pain at times and struggle at others. If you trip don’t worry about it, confess it and trust God to set back on your path, but keep seeking God and His answers because, painful or not, they are your best option. World is what they call a ‘toxic relationship’, God, the one who cares enough to want best instead of good enough, the one who goes with you and fights for you, (often fighting against World for you, ) He is the fairy tale relationship. He is the Prince, or in this case the King, riding in to give you the life that you need. Oops. That isn’t how the story goes is it? Doesn’t the King give the life you ‘want’? No. This King gives the life you need, but the end of the story is a dream come true when follow the King.
God please guide us to you in your power. Please help us through the pain life sometimes brings and please show us your road for our lives. In Jesus name..amen.
Credit to owner for cover image
Who am I?
How often do we ask this?
We stop and look at our lives, or look at ourselves in the mirror and ask, who am I?
They say discovering yourself is a journey that never ends, perhaps that is why we constantly ask ourselves who we are.
But perhaps we are asking the wrong question. Instead of asking ‘who am I?’ We should be asking, ( wait for it) ‘who is Jesus?’
I know you all saw that coming, but that does not change the necessity of the question. Examining yourself is a good thing. Sometimes God draws us to self examination to show us that He is ready to change where we are. Other times we may realize we want to become better people, and that makes God happy too. Don’t over think it though. The Holy Spirit will guide you, but if your mind is whirring the noise might block out the Holy Spirit’s voice. First think about who Jesus is and how Jesus acts.
Jesus is the son of God. We are told we are also God’s children.
Jesus went straight to God when He had a problem, a joy, a heartache, and simply to spend time with Him. Do you run to God with everything or try to fix it yourself first?
Jesus is healer, provider, hard worker, patient beyond belief and so many more things that it would take three pages to list them all. Note that Jesus not only was a healer like no one else, but He also was a carpenter. So if you are a lawyer or a retail clerk you may still very well be doing God’s will. Jesus is the perfect…if not a little more perfect than we humans can pull off….example of a life well lived and if you are striving to be Him you have the right kind of Goal. So to recap.
Strive to be like Jesus
Don’t doubt your value or the value of what you are doing
Listen for and to the Holy Spirit
Please touch the people who are wondering who they are and where they belong with your wisdom and guidance. Please show them your power and perfect plan. Or at least as much of your plan as you can show them at this time. Thank you for all you do and for the perfect blue print of Jesus who shows us how to live. Amen