Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Light of the Holiday

It has been too long since I have posted. But today, my words are filling my mind and I felt the need to write.

All this week I have been reminded of the need for Christmas. And by Christmas, I mean the real Christmas, the true meaning, not the celebration we attach to it.

I look around at the people who surround me, and now with technology that circle seems to have gotten very large. I see more, hear more and I am reminded more of the emptiness this world offers. We have blessings here that do bring us joy and happiness, but it doesn't fill the void. It seems temporary, and often can even be disappointing when we are let down, or when the momentary joy slips back into routine. We, as humans, seem to always be searching, trying to find that thing that will take up that space that is empty.

And then we are faced with tragedy and the real darkness of this world is big and bold.

It is then, I want to walk up to each and everyone and hand them the gift of Christmas. I want it to make sense to them. I want them to know they can fill that void. They can have peace, hope and faith that fills the void and lights that darkness.

That void is there to remind us, we should be in search of something. It isn't a religion and doesn't need to be found on a church pew.

When sin entered this world, that void was created. When Christ came as that little baby in a manger, He came for one purpose. He came to die, and to offer himself as the sacrifice so that we could fill that void again. So that we could enter back into fellowship, a relationship with God.

So, if you wonder what it is that you have to do....really, you have to realize that you need to let go. You work so hard at being the best you can be. You keep trying to find a way to fill that void. You try different churches, programs, hours of personal commitment to activities or pleasing others....and still come up empty. So, realize, you CAN'T do it. You need God. It is that simple.

For us, it can be hard to humble ourselves. Or to just understand, there isn't a thing we can do. We have to put our hands up to the  Holy God, and surrender. Surrender it all. And you will find that light reaching down to the deepest of depths, and filling all the emptiness. You will be changed. You only need to accept the real gift of Christmas.

I still walk in this world of darkness, and the tragedy still hurts. But I have a hope to look forward to. This world is only a stopping place....I do not belong here. The beautiful thing, it is nothing I could do or have done, no religion I tried (and I tried a few). It was just telling Jesus, I want a relationship with you. I accept the gift you provided.

What about you?

I am praying these words reach the hearts of those who need it. Praying the Holy Spirit will be present as you read it. Praying your heart is beating and you know you hear Him calling. Just let go and accept.

"He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel." Luke 2:32
"He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead they will live for Christ who died and was raised for them." 2 Corinthians 5: 15

May my words always be salt and light to the reader of them.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Walking in Two Worlds



Last week I spent time with a little over 80 students from Marion county. I had the privilege of watching them celebrate, find hope and answers and redemption. We spent a great deal of time in the Word through devotions, study and messages. We sang and praised together. I came home in a spiritual bubble, so thankful for the week in the light.

Today I drove to the neighboring county of Citrus. I stood among students who were mourning, full of questions and unable to comprehend the loss they had experienced. It was the funeral of an 11 year old boy. Not just any boy. A boy full of life, with a smile that cut through you and eyes that danced. He was charming and adventorous. He left a mark on so many lives. But today, at his funeral, I stood among darkness.

I felt that contrast so much today. I wanted to merge them together. I wanted to offer what I experienced last week to those I stood beside today. And the best I could do was pray, and hug some necks and share some love.

I know in my heart we walk both these worlds constantly. We attempt to bring salt and light into the darkness. We hope our match will bounce off the walls in the darkness and offer some hope. It is in the times we are in that spiritual bubble we feel we can conquer it. We feel like we shine a little brighter and we feel like the darkness will feel drawn to us.

The contrast between the light and darkness isn't always as vivid as it was for me today. The experiences I had magnified it. But in our usual every day life, it isn't always so noticeable.

In our every day lives, we sort of just mix the two together. Our light isn't always so bright, and we don't feel that darkness as heavy. We allow a little to seep in. As it seeps in, we allow our light to get covered up. We get busy, too busy to allow it to shine.

So, we have to question...what brings us to those spiritual highs and our lights shining so brightly? It all has a lot to do with how we spend our time.

 Last week I was in the Word morning, afternoon and night. I was in fellowship and making plans on how to focus my life. I was singing praises, praying and getting lost in worship. I was away from the distractions of reality. I was practicing a heavenly kind of life!

We spent a lot of time telling our students to purpose their lives. And I think I can learn a lot from that for myself. I need to purpose the minutes of my day. I need to set limits, and push myself to a daily life of prayer, study and worship. If I want to shine in this dark world, I need to keep the light burning, I need to fuel it.

The beauty of what happened in my two worlds...I can now call on these students of Marion County to pray for the students of Citrus County. They can begin to make a difference in the lives of their neighbors. We can bridge the gap between light and darkness. They can share the one true thing that does bridge the gap between light and darkness....the love and hope of a Savior.

"This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth." 1 John 1:5, 6


My hope is that my words will be pleasing to God. And in doing so, it is also my hope that they will be salt and light to you, my reader.

Friday, July 6, 2012

For You Eldon



I wish I had a photo of him turned and showing his dear sweet smile...but Eldon was always on the go.

I didn't know him very well. I sat and prayed with him before church services, smiled and received my hug when I saw him and enjoyed to be in his presence whenever I had the chance. You were very aware when standing in his presence, he loved the Lord and he wanted everyone to know and experience this relationship he had. He had a genuine love for people as well.

On July 2nd, Eldon went home to be with the Lord. Yesterday I attended his memorial service and learned a little more about this special man. Little does he know the impact he has made.

You see in the last year, Eldon made it a point to share a message with the world. He hand wrote his message and had copies made. Then he drove his car up to the Dollar Tree and handed it out to everyone and anyone he could (he tried Walmart, but they wouldn't allow him to stay). When Eldon heard he would no longer be able to drive, he knew his visit here was done. He had done what he set out to do and now he was headed home to celebrate. He shared his message with over 1,000 people. When our pastor asked him why he did this....his response, "If I don't, who will?"

Those words are what hit me yesterday. I know the same message Eldon knows. I also know the same command he did, that I am to share it with others. But I don't. Not nearly enough. And I don't know why. If I hold the most special knowledge and important message...why do I keep to myself?

Another one of Eldon's friends who spoke yesterday mentioned that Eldon's gift from the Lord was evangelism...and he used that gift. She reminded us that each of us have gifts, and we are to use them. Another step on the toes for me.

So, Eldon, today I share your message out into cyber world. And reader, if you are reading this, please share it, not for me, but for Eldon. I think he would smile that smile of his.

"You can become a Christian if you give your heart to Jesus Christ and believe that He died on a cross as a sacrifice for your sins, and you believe that in three days He was raised from the dead.

You should join a church that believes in the Holy Bible, and then live to please Jesus.

When you die you will go to heaven and live forever."   Eldon (12/31/17-7/2/2012)



Thanks for teaching me and impacting me Eldon...you will be missed.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Not By My Schedule

I have never been one to stick to schedules, not very organized, and being on time?..well I have gotten better. But today I sit, watching the moments click by, waiting, and wanting things to be a little more on my timing. But I do know, if that were so, I would miss so much.

Today I remember who it is who sets the appointments, sets the meetings, creates the perfect opportunities..it is our God. I remember the times I was in the best place at the exact moment I needed to be. I remember the stories of others who had divine appointments with people and situations that changed their lives. In that, I can relax, and wait for the grandson who was due on April 16th, and know it will be in His perfect timing. I can't wait to watch my daughter hold her son. I am excited to see her and hubby as parents. I am anxious to have yet another grandchild to love and be a part of my life. But...I know, he has an appointed time to enter this world, his days have been planned.

It made me wonder...is it important who will be on duty at the hospital? Is it something on one of our schedules that we yet do not know? Could it a dimple that isn't quite finished (not likely)?
Or is it something that will happen years from now? Does he need to be at a certain restaurant celebrating his birthday on that date to meet the love of his life?

When you start to wonder....it makes you realize just how much He knows. Just how many paths he must connect. How he looks from behind, to connect to the now and braid in the future. It makes you remember details in your life of how He did that for you. I wouldn't want my impatient wishes to get in the way of that.

And when you remember who He is, then you begin to let go. Let all things be done in His schedule and on His time. Having the ominicient view that He has, makes our lives so much more fulfilling. Waiting for a change in your present doesn't always happen quickly. But it seems always in hindsight, at some point and time....maybe not for a long time, you can see why it had to happen when and how and where it did.

So, on that day he took my grandson's soul, whom He already knew and placed him in my precious daughter's womb; He knew then and even before, the day that he shall be born. He knew the where and who would be there. He knew the why and He knew the prayers that would be lifted now. He knew He would smile gently and send us His peace and tell us it won't be long. He knew He would need to remind me, that He knows best. So I will await His chosen day, and celebrate when it comes.
Thank you Lord for always knowing what is best, and especially for reminding me when I need it.

"You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed." Psalm 139:16 NLT

May my words always be salt and light to those who read them!

Friday, April 6, 2012

It's been a while...

I haven't posted anything here since January, and before that there had been a long space of time as well. When I began to write here faithfully, I felt it was a part of my spiritual growth, a place to reflect on the world around me and on how my spiritual growth was effecting that. I also felt God used these words for others. Maybe I need to get back to this?
Today I am feeling this choking...and I think I even expected it to come. I need to just get some of this out, and here is a perfect place to do that. Around me...my church, family, work, I have seen the spiritual rising. And I knew Satan would be angered, and I watched for him. I knew he would sneak in, and secretly and deceptively work his ways and weave them into the spiritual, attempting to steal the joy and peace. He is the enemy and he sees that spiritual uprising as a battle to fight.
I also still see God at work, and I am seeking Him, staying in the word and praying.
But I feel strongly we need accountability with one another. We need to be honest and open about our emotions, our temptations, because alone I truly believe we are weaker. I can look back to every time I fell from God's will and know, I walked it alone. I didn't confide honestly about all I was dealing with to anyone.
Even today, I have no idea why I am feeling as I am. I know this weekend will be special. Wonderful things happening. An Easter celebration! I can't even pinpoint what has me here. I can only believe it is a lie whirling in my mind. And he would like me to keep this quiet. He wants me to keep it hidden. Because if I post this, someone will be praying. His darts will hit shields placed before me. His demons will be pushed away by angels. The lies will be silenced, and peace will be wrapped around me.
It is a glorious thing to have believers among us. Even if you're not one, you should know, they are praying for you. They see your hurts, and sometimes your name just pops in their minds and they lift you up. They pray for God's will. They pray for peace. They pray for God to send people to you. It is the ONLY way to walk in this world, and for those of you who have not accepted the choice presented to you to believe....I don't know how you do it. How do you walk in this world? How do you walk without faith?
This was a very unfocused writing today. I just needed to get this out. Ramblings most will not understand...but I am asking God to lay it into the right hands. I already am feeling lighter.
Lord, on this weekend that we here celebrate the gift given to us....your birth, your perfect life, your sacrifice....and then your promise in your resurrection...I thank you. I thank you for the promises I have in you. I thank you for the believers in my life. I thank you for reminding me I serve a powerful God....and this too shall pass. You always have the victory!
"Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen, it gives us assurance about things we cannot see." Hebrews 11:1
Today I hope my words may be salt and light to someone..I am looking for some too!

Monday, January 9, 2012

The path we want...and the path we get

Are there any among us who set our feet on a path and from where we are we truly believe we know where we are headed? We have our ideas of the whos, the whats and the hows. We step off onto to those paths with the mindset that we are going to get there, our destination, following our plan.

How many us find ourselves with detours, twists, turns, and headed in opposite directions than the one we had planned? Some of those detours are disheartening, discouraging and we can't figure out how it happened, or what we are going to do from that point.

It is really interesting when we find ourselves in those places we were certain we would never be, situations that we avoided, and yet we find ourselves in the middle of them.

Have you ever thought why...or have you ever looked back and looked at what you learned from the twists and turns and detours.

God seems to get us to where He needs us. At times those are the places we are most umcomfortable and unhappy...and we question His will and leading. Other times we feel unequipped and ill-prepared and wonder why we can't just be where we want to. There are times when we feel scared and hopeless.

I have found many reasons God has taken me to these places.

Sometimes I think He just wants to remind me...I need Him. He puts me there to have me reminded, it is Him I need. On my own...I am lost. He pulls the me out of the way until I reach out for Him. Just like the wandering Israelites in the desert getting their daily manna. Completely dependent on Him, every day, for all their needs. Sometimes I get  too full of pride, too much about me...and He allows me the consequences of all that me. And before long, I am back on my knees, totally aware.

Other times He stretches me. He has blessed me with gifts and talents I never knew I had. I had them hidden in doubt and disbelief. So, He placed me on my path in a place where I needed to stretch and discover more about me, and more about the gifts I have within. He put people in my path, struggles  and challenges and because of it I am changed. I am more complete than I had been, more aware of what He can do for me, what He has given me. And because of it, I have been blessed.

A major effect of these times on my path, away from my plan, I have learned. I learned about the nature of God. I have learned about love. I have learned about the Word. I have learned what faith truly is, what peace can be like, how mighty our God is....I could go on and on. The learned helps in the next steps, a continual process of growth and spiritual development.

I am not sure where each of you are on your own path...and how far you are from what you had in mind. But look around you, see what is happening to you because of this twist or turn. Pray that you are in His will, pray you are being lead by Him. With that, you will never be where you shouldn't...and you'll always have Him beside you.

Remember too, where you are now, it is not your destination...you are moving beyond the moment you are in. Keep your eyes open, and hold on to God through the twists and turns. He knows what is best...and He will carry you through the toughest areas. With him as our tour guide...we can't go wrong.

"The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand." Psalm 37:23, 24

May you always find salt and light in my words.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Temptation

"Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master"
Genesis 4: 7

When do you think we recognize sin in our life? Do we recognize it when it is crouching at our door, do we recognize it when it is whispering and tempting us....or do we wait until it is controling us?

I believe most of us wait.
These words stood out at me today...sin, described here with such life...ready to pounce, ready to control. And when God told Cain he must "subdue" it...how does one go about subduing sin? Are we able to in our own strength?

I think a beginning point for us is recognizing it. Sin seems to almost always begin in our thoughts. Whispers that make us think there is something better, something easier, something sweeter, something beneficial....but if it doesn't line up with God's word, then we should turn from it. So, can we subdue it on our own...no. We need God, His word. We need to be able to turn to Him, ask him for His help. But like Cain, Eve and Adam....sometimes we get caught up in the web of deception. It doesn't happen with bright lights and warning signals...it slips in quite secretively.

When I envision sin crouching at a door, I think of my cats. When they are prowling, crouching in position....they hide behind a corner, they watch from where they are, they are in position and waiting for the perfect moment. That is how sin would be....waiting, watching...and pouncing at the most opportune time. And if we are not careful, alert and on guard...it captures us. And we won't recognize it has control...until it does have control.

To be ready, we need to be in fellowship...with Christ, with other believers. We need faith. We need the encouragement. We need to be in the Word. All of these things, these are things we use to subdue sin.

All too often, we don't share the temptations we face with others. We try to handle them on our own. We are embarrassed by them. We need to realize we all have sin at our steps, crouching, waiting. We can't give sin its opportune time. We need to have strong barriers between us and sin. Those barriers include other Christians, the Word and prayer in faith.

So, let us be ready, alert and on guard. Let us watch out for others.

May you always find salt and light in my words.

Monday, January 2, 2012

An Awesome God

Today I began my OWNit365.com challenge of reading the bible in a year. I read two chapters from Genesis and two from Job.

My thoughts...I am reminded of what an awesome God we have looking over us.

First...creation. What a fine artist. A mathematician. A scientist. Our God is so much more of course than any of those, and I think of the minute things we can do and create, and then I look at His creation. The colors, blends, distinct details of animals, sunsets, the seas, seashells, mountains, lush fields, flowers...etc. etc. etc. How can one believe that creation was not by design? Someone had to plan, perfect and choose to not only make it something that takes our breath away...but create us to care and allow it to take our breath away. Then there is the preciseness of everything. Placed exactly where it needs to be placed, and doing exactly what it needs to be doing. And when it isn't doing what it should be....there is still a plan, other things kick in and make sure what needs to happen does and helps to repair it. Absolutely blows my mind when I focus on what our God has done...and He did it for us. And He continues to do.

Which takes me to the readings of Job. Here I was reminded of God's love and protection. One may laugh that I say this when speaking of Job. God allowed Satan to destroy so much of Job's things. However...I know God knew Job's heart. What stands out to me in all of Job...it's God's permission. I know He looks at each of our lives and nothing will happen to us that He won't permit. If you know of God's love, His perfect will, His understanding, His vision...then that is completely ok. If he permits it, then you who know and love Him can be assured in that. When sitting in this dark world full of evil that is a chair of faith we can sit back and  rest in. A bad day, or week certainly doesn't look as bad anymore. There is a reason, He has allowed it, and He will bring me through it. I will probably learn, grow in faith, and in the end see the significance of it. Or possibly not. Job may have never known the why...he just chose to trust. What a lesson for all of us. If only we can live knowing our time here is not even a sentence in our life story....it is a fleeting second. All that we own, all that we have....it isn't ours. And if we live as if it isn't...live just trusting and believing, we will know success and happiness. Not by the things we acquire here.

" 'I came naked from my mother's womb and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord! ' In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God." Job 1:21

May my words be salt and light to you.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Disciple/Discipline

As I was writing about my goals for this year and using the word discipline...the word disciple continued to stand out to me within that word. To be a disciple of Christ, I must also be disciplined. My haphazard ways can only lead to things that lead me astray. And it doesn't have to mean into a world of  dark sin, or temptations that I can not handle...it could just mean idleness, waste, mindless activity which keeps me from pursuing those things that I need to do and should do.

I have found that to be Satan's greatest tool when dealing with me. He just needs to keep my mind busy on other things. Even tonight, I knew it was January 1 and for me to keep my goal, I need to spend some time writing. And I found myself easily falling into other activity as the hours passed by. I have so many things that call my attention. A laptop. A phone. A Nook. A television. Those do not have to be tools of the devil...I would not suggest I must give them up or put them away for all time. What I need to do is to be careful, on guard of time and what I am using them for. As with all things, I need the balance.

I have these 365 ...or is it 366 days ahead of me?...and if I am careful with my time, I can discipline myself to be a disciple of Christ and grow, learn and share Christ with others, as a disciple should.

"Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me." John 12:26

And that is how I intend to check myself...would Jesus be where I am, would he spend his time as I am? Am I serving Christ when I engage in this activity? 

I am looking forward to growth in 2012. How about you?

May my words be salt and light to you.