Sunday, August 18, 2019

In Need of Chiseling

After reading a portion of a long story* about Jacob, I wrote these words in my journal:
“Thank You, Father, for a rich time in Your Word! I needed to be reminded of Your great grace that is so evident in the life of Jacob.                                          
He was a liar, a deceiver, a schemer...; but instead of obliterating him, You chiseled** away on him year after year in order to remove those sins (and others!) and to reveal the Jacob You saw in him before he was born, the Jacob You intended him to be.

Dear Reader, God will do the same for you and me if we want Him to. So let's let Him. In fact, let's ASK Him to change us.



*Genesis, chapter 25 and following

**A term used by Beth Moore in The Quest, p.128

Sunday, August 11, 2019

The Story of Our Lives

I love reading the stories in the Bible, don’t you? I’ve noticed that every story has happy and not-so-happy moments.
Through it all, God was using each person to accomplish His will and to provide examples for you and me. 
For instance, we can learn much from the story of Joseph. (Chapters 37-50 of Genesis tell of his life from age 17 to his death at the age of 110.)
He came from what we would call today a dysfunctional family. His own brothers hated him so much they wanted to kill him. Instead, they sold him to slave traders who transported him to another country (Egypt), perhaps hundreds of miles away from all that was familiar to young Joseph. There, Joseph excelled and received recognitions and promotions. However, he was also falsely accused, which led to imprisonment and continued betrayals.
Was God with Joseph during all these highs and lows? Was He using Joseph all the while? Absolutely!
Looking back on his experiences, Joseph said, “God intended it [the evil done to me] for good.” 
Indeed, God did bring great good out of all of Joseph’s experiences, even the not-so-happy ones.
Likewise, every experience you and I have is an opportunity for God to use us. He may use us publicly or privately, in big ways or little ways, in expected ways or unexpected ways... The choice is up to Him.
Are we willing, even excited, for Him to use us as He pleases and in any place He chooses? To write the story of our life however He chooses? I pray that we are.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Grateful

A birthday bouquet from a friend.
Each expression of love I received on my birthday made me feel extra happy. Phone calls. Text messages. Emails. Facebook messages. Cards. Gifts. Visits. Hugs. Kindnesses. 

Although I felt deeply grateful for each person who remembered me on my birthday, I felt even more grateful to God who has given me so many years of life--and precious family and friends with whom to share it. 

Those feelings prompted me to say "Yes!" when I read these words in a book* a friend sent me for my birthday: "Father...thank you for breath. May I use it only to praise you. Thank you for life. May I use it only to exalt you."  

*Julie Ackerman Link, 100 Prayers Inspired by the Psalms, p. 27

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Like a Watered Garden





If you extend your soul to the hungry
And satisfy the afflicted soul,
Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, 
And your darkness shall be as the noonday. 


The LORD will guide you continually, 
And satisfy your soul in drought, 
And strengthen your bones; 
You shall be like a watered garden, 
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
Isaiah 58:10-11, NKJV


A section of my neighbor's beautiful garden.
J. Gaskill Photography

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Storms


Christ does not always immediately 
calm the storms, but He is always willing to calm His child on the basis of His presence. We'll probably never learn to enjoy our storms, but we can learn to enjoy God's presence in the storm!
~Beth Moore

See also Luke 8:22-25.


Sunday, July 7, 2019

Freedom Is Available!

On a recent vacation, my husband and I stopped at the Maine State Prison Showroom, a store we’d visited on a previous trip to Thomaston, Maine. All the items (over 600 different kinds) in the store were crafted by inmates.

Although I would have loved to buy one of the handcrafted mahogany tables featuring intricate designs and polished to smooth perfection, I could only buy a few items that were small enough to fit into my suitcase: an ink pen with a smooth wooden barrel, a small pad of note paper that had a pen and ink drawing of a lighthouse on the left side of each page, etc.

After we'd left the store, I said, “It’s so sad that such talented people made bad choices that landed them in prison.” 

Indeed, even though some of the inmates were becoming increasingly skilled artisans, the men were still serving time in prison.

I thought of them a few days after we’d returned home when I heard an actor on a TV show say, “No matter how comfortable your prison is, it is still a prison.”

That is so true, isn't it?

We try to hide the prisons our sins put us in, don’t we? For example, if we are in bondage to gluttony, we may dress our bulging body in pretty clothes that hide our excess weight. If we are addicted to shopping, we accumulate clothes or jewelry or furnishing that make us the envy of our friends. But no matter how we camouflage our particular prison/cell/captivity, the truth remains: we are still in bondage to/held captive by a harmful (Dare I say sinful?) habit--with no release date in sight.

But there's good news! Albert E. Brumley (1905-1977) expressed it clearly in the song "He Set Me Free!" Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXi_1SD1UN and/or here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajnincfXyZY



Monday, June 10, 2019

Change Your Default?

Although two of the emails I received on the same day came from different people (a photographer and a professional speaker), each contained the same basic advice.  Consider changing your default. 

Those four words lingered in my mind. I was very familiar with the term "default settings," of course, but I looked up the phrase and learned that a default is "a preselected option adopted by a computer program or other mechanism when no alternative is specified by the user or programmer." 

I have a long list of "defaults," don't you? (Things or people that I automatically turn to in certain situations.) For example, I have a "go to" breakfast that I eat most mornings. Thankfully, it's a healthy choice.

But if my regular defaults are harmful to me (or to others) or if they keep me away from benefits provided by other choices, it's definitely time (past time!) to choose new defaults.

Dear Reader, there is one "default," a spiritual one that--once it's set on GOD--should never be changed. The Bible clearly says:

Therefore, He is the One to whom we should automatically turn to every time. If He isn't, then it's time to change that default.