The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Thankful

Many of the Samaritans from that village committed themselves to him because of the woman’s witness: “He knew all about the things I did. He knows me inside and out!” They asked him to stay on, so Jesus stayed two days. A lot more people entrusted their lives to him when they heard what he had to say. They said to the woman, “We’re no longer taking this on your say-so. We’ve heard it for ourselves and know it for sure. He’s the Savior of the world!” John 4:39:42

All of us long to have our story told, and not just the good parts, the whole story. Somehow I feel like that woman must’ve run away from Jesus lighter in heart, unburdened, free. Aren’t we all walking around with burdens we wish we could throw off? Oh, we share…..but we share just what we want others to know, the whitewashed versions.

Secretly, don’t we all fear that if we told everything, it would confirm the fact that we are all just a little insane? What things do you tell Jesus just after you lay your head on your pillow each night?

Some mornings lately, I feel like I just crashed landed on the earth. Delivered fresh from the jaws of night, coughed up on the shore covered with whale spit, just like a bewildered (but thankful) Jonah. I’ve just retired from a job I’ve been at for 20 years. I am still trying on the feeling of not having a plan. I can’t say I am too crazy about it.

I have a feeling the reason the woman at the well ran away bursting with joy was because she finally got rid of the baggage that was her life. (5 husbands and one live-in boyfriend later) She just met someone who knew her whole life story, recited it back to her in fact. Not only that, instead of shrinking away from her, He gave her a new life of freedom. A second chance. And because of her testimony, many in that town were saved.

My words aren’t many today and that’s okay. I will close with Buechner who says it better than I ever could:

He said, we all got secrets. I got them same as everybody else–things we feel bad about and wish hadn’t ever happened. Hurtful things, long ago things. We’re all scared and lonesome, but most of the time we keep it hid. It’s like every one of us has lost his way so bad we don’t even know which way is home anymore only we’re ashamed to ask. You know what would happen if we would own up we’re lost and ask? Why, what would happen is we’d find out home is each other. We’d find our home is Jesus that loves us lost of found or any whichway.” Frederick Buechner, The Book of Bebb

Lord: Thank you for interceding for us today. You know our needs, our individual burdens and heartaches. Help me to unburden myself and maybe someone else today too. Beat back the darkness in our lives and let Your light shine our my path. Thank you in advance for directing my steps. Amen

His Peace…..

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“Everybody I know says they need just one thing
And what they really mean is that they need just one thing more
And everybody seems to think they’ve got it coming
Well I know that I don’t deserve You
Still I want to love and serve You more and more
You’re my one thing…….my one thing
And the pure in heart shall see God.” Rich Mullins, “My One Thing”

“One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple.” King David, Psalm 27:4

Sometimes we need a reminder of who and what our One Thing is, for there are so many other things that compete and clamor for our attention. Like all those turbulent thoughts from within and without. Sometimes the decibel level in our own heads is frightening. When the weight of stress or grief or just the weary world assails from outside they demand an answer……..

What are you going to do???? They shriek. Like a house of cards flying madly awry in the wake of the Red Queen’s wrath our thoughts fly every in direction. 

Then, just when you need it most, God or an angel or one of His representatives leave two pieces of paper in a parking lot. Partly hidden under a tire, they could have easily been missed. Unlike myself, Elaine is always keenly aware of her surroundings and she saw them right away.

It was one of those particularly difficult days before her Dad passed away, and it was around Easter time. She picked them up in the nursing home parking lot; these two Heavenly missives, and they provided her with great comfort that day and even now to me when I read them again. More than likely they came from the Pastor who was preaching there at the care-home, but God working through people makes it no less of a miracle to me. He simply knew she needed them that day.

Out of all the hundreds of things we worry and think about on any given day, only One thing is really necessary to focus on. Jesus addressed this with Mary:

Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home.  She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

Sometimes I think God is allowing me some sleepless nights so that I will learn to silence those nighttime thoughts that run rampant by simply calling on His name. There are Bible verses about finding peace and safety in the name of the Lord. A few nights when I have been exceptionally troubled, I have calmed my thoughts by just saying, “Jesus……Jesus……Jesus” like a one word prayer over and over. And I can tell you that this works. He works. One night in particular I actually felt as if I was lost in a forest and I found one of those red phone booths like you see in the UK. That was God’s way of giving me a visual of the safety of His name.

Now when I lay awake at night and say my Jesus prayer, I see that red phone booth. God knows we are a visual people. We need a sign, and sometimes it’s a phone booth. What else can I say?

If you try to put your ultimate trust in anyone or anything else to give you the peace that only Jesus can give, you will be disappointed every single time. People, places or things just can’t do that and it’s not fair to expect that of them. Only Jesus can calm the stormy seas in your heart.

Peace for your day today and may calm rule your heart……Lori

******If anyone would like me to send a copy of these via email, give me your name and I will forward them on………I would like to give credit to who wrote them but somehow I think they would be happy knowing that their words are still bringing encouragement.

Craving some Peace today?

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You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:7

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

What would happen if we all just ceased striving for one day? Left our cars in the driveway. Let the stack of bills sit……let the dust bunnies roll around and settle in the corner. How quiet it would be if we didn’t hear the sound of the washer, if we didn’t hear one car on the street.

What if people put down their weapons of war for just one day and asked themselves what they are truly fighting for? It’s never happened yet but it’s something to think about. The Bible says that in the future there will be such a time, Isaiah’s vision for peace:

People from many nations will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
    to the house of Jacob’s God.
There he will teach us his ways,
    and we will walk in his paths.”
For the Lord’s teaching will go out from Zion;
    his word will go out from Jerusalem.
The Lord will mediate between nations
    and will settle international disputes.
They will hammer their swords into plowshares
    and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will no longer fight against nation,
    nor train for war anymore.

We live in a time of continual striving. It’s become our normal, especially in America. Even if our bodies are relaxed and peaceful, our minds are going a million miles an hour. We have to train ourselves to relax because we don’t know how. We have all the drugs in the world to prove it. But only Jesus can give us the kind of peace we truly seek. The peace that satisfies. The peace that remains no matter the circumstance.

I often walk past this little dove. She is sitting in perfect peace amidst all these thorns in the crux of this huge cactus. We live in the world which has much turmoil right now, thorns everywhere we turn. But if we take a deep breath and slow down, peace is possible. We don’t have to fear the thorns. I have watched this Mama dove weather many summer storms but she peers out at me as if to say…..”See, not to worry, I am still here.”

I am praying for peace today, not the kind the world gives, the kind Jesus gives. The kind that settles deep in your heart and lodges there like a calm lake without one ripple. No matter what else is going on in your life, ask the Lord for that peace. He is generous with it. If you find yourself in turmoil today, slow down. Rest easy. Do one thing at a time and focus on only that one thing and then go on to the next. That way you won’t be overwhelmed.

Soon you will find that lake of peace that rests deep in your soul. I leave you with a little Psalm………….

He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariots with fire.
Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46: 9,10

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He will give us rest…..it’s a promise.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

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Yesterday, I found a little island of peace in the middle of the day. I should have been doing things, I had a list after all, and still had several things that hadn’t been checked off. I felt like I was spinning my wheels……

digging a rut in the mud and going nowhere. Sometimes you just have to grab a bit of rest where and when you can. I decided to join the cats, they have perfected the art of relaxation.

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Sometimes the cares of the world just become overwhelming and they crowd out the rest, I remembered what Jesus said about the seed that fell among the weeds…..who and what is crowding out your rest today?

 “The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced.”

I was forgetting where my seed was planted……I was forgetting the soul rest that Jesus promises for every day.

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As I layed there, listening to the sound of two cats breathing heavily in their sleep, I wondered where my own sense of rest had flown to recently. I wanted it back.

It is a promise you know, that rest that Jesus gives…….but sometimes we strive so hard for it that we miss it. Until we remember that all we really have to do is trust Him.

And let go.

By letting go, we open our hands and our hearts to receive it.

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Keep trusting my friends. This life is not easy, but it is worth it. The rest will come when you least expect it.

Sometimes it comes in the form of a friend who comes quietly alongside and offers to lift part of the burden. Just a little spark of kindness can put back what everyday stress can so easily take away.

Join me today in expecting that rest at unexpected moments

This morning I wanted nothing better than to climb back in bed…..the sky was dark and the temptation of extra sleep was overwhelming. But as I headed to work, I was given a little unexpected helping of peace when I looked up at the big yellow moon rising on the other side of the world along with the sound of Yo-Yo Ma’s Cello filling the car.

I know where it came from.

 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7 NLT

When the Son sets in our hearts

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“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.” James 4:1,2

“The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it? “I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.” Jeremiah 17:9,10

For the first time this morning I was able to pray minus the sound of gunfire from the dove hunters out in the desert. It has disrupted my morning peace for two days now. My brother and I were both complaining about it on opening day which was September first. He’d gone out to his driveway with his mug of coffee as he usually does when he is home and was looking forward to listening to his doves cooing from the trees in his yard. Now he is worried about the wild turkeys they have all enjoyed watching come through in the evenings.

We both decided we would put out some wild feed to keep a few close.

The staccato sound of the guns made me think of what is going on half a world away, in Syria. They say around 2 million Syrian people are now refugees and around half of these are women and children. Unrest is the state of the world today.

All my life, I have sat in church hearing of a time when there will be “wars and rumors of wars.” It was just a Bible verse and a time somewhere in the future, but real war was never anything that touched me. It was never something that surprised me or factored into my life in any way at all. It was just a part of what I heard in church or on TV.

But how many people around the world today must live, pray and sleep to the sound of gunfire and shelling? Living and breathing with fear and the possible loss of their own life or the life of their children. Knowing that any moment, they will lose what little shelter they have, grabbing what little they own and heading across the border to somewhere else.

Our world is getting crazier every day. There is no doubt we are in the last days, but who knows how long these last days will stretch out?

There is only one thing that will ever stop war for good and the truth is, not one of us is willing to do what it takes to stop it. Until we each settle the war in our own hearts, war will never end. The war in our hearts will only end when we invite Jesus in.

And I am not talking about lip service but life change. There is a tired, old argument that people use over and over. In fact, I heard it again on the radio just Sunday morning. A talk show host said: “I hate religion because more wars have been caused by religion than anything else.” And while I can understand why they make that claim, it’s still as wrong as wrong can be.

Guns don’t kill people and religion doesn’t cause wars. All wars start as a result of the evil in the confines of the human heart, and just because something is done in God’s name, doesn’t mean God is in favor of it.

When someone is truly transformed by the love of Christ, it will show by how eager they are to strive for peace, not war.

I am talking about a relationship here, not a religion. That’s what makes Christianity different from any other on the face of the earth. And when He comes in and makes a home in our hearts, peace reigns. Note that I didn’t say perfection, I said peace.

War is caused by the selfish desire to get what we want when we want it. Nothing more. And when power and money are added in to the mix it just gets bigger because more is at stake. Sometimes war is unavoidable. When the end result means peace for the world, then I believe it is just.

Universally though, the hope of this world, more than ever, is Jesus. Jesus, only and ever Jesus.

You might wonder why then, does Jesus say this?

Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

In light of all the talk about peace, it doesn’t seem to make any sense, until you understand that while a relationship with Jesus most certainly brings peace to the individual heart and life, it doesn’t necessarily bring peace to the world. That’s because of one simple aspect of human nature.

We still want our way, not His way. When Jesus said that, it was with perfect understanding that He knows what we are made of.

When Jesus was born, King Herod was so threatened by the rumor of a new King, he had all Jewish babies living in Egypt two years and under slaughtered. And right before He was crucified, the religious leaders of the day were so threatened by Jesus popularity with the people, and by their loss of power, security and position, they had to put together a mock trial complete with false testimony in order to sentence Him to death.

And yet, He reaches for us still.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. John 3:16-19

I pray for our world today. I pray it finds Jesus. You might think that it looks pretty bleak and that there is really nothing we can do as an individual. But there is always something we can do. We can all shine the light of truth and love brightly, each in our own corner.

Right where we are. And pray.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16

Pulling over and slowing down

Steadfast and Immovable

And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. Mark 6:31

Last night on the way home, I heard music literally spilling onto a page. It was piano, and the notes were played so fast and yet so perfectly they sounded as if they were spilled, not played. If you have never heard that I hope you do someday. The notes made me feel as if I were sitting in a grand but restful drawing-room in a Downton-like mansion.
 
Lately I have felt the need to pull off the super-highway of social media. For awhile, I was twittering, pinteresting, face-booking and instagraming all at the same time, simultaneously. Oh, and add blogging into the mix, and reading other’s blogs as well as trying to write my own.
 
I forgot why I was writing and who I was writing for. I was playing the comparison game and it was wearing me out. In light of that, I have decided that if an activity doesn’t give me a measure of peace, then I will stop doing it. Of course, that doesn’t apply to work, I have to do that.
 
Sometimes life is like what happened to me in my car last night. I was driving along minding my own business at around 75 MPH when all of a sudden the engine lost power. There were no warning lights on the dash. Nothing to tell me anything was wrong, other than the fact that all of a sudden, cars were zooming by me and I was slowing down.
 
I had to pull over, and fast. I put my flashers on and got to the side of the road and adjusted the floor mat which I thought maybe was a contributing factor in why I slowed down, I thought maybe it got caught underneath the gas pedal. I cautiously started driving again and it seemed fine, so once again I got up speed and zoomed my way home.
 
By the time I pulled in the driveway, an indicator light did come on which turned out to be the EPC (Engine Power Control).
 
Suffice it to say, I have had a warning light to slow down my activity on social media for a time. And I have.
 
And it has been good for my peace.
 
I will still blog and get on Facebook and all the rest, but now it will be like touching down and checking in rather than full immersion.
 
The desert is a peaceful place……and I want to bring that to you in this blog. A little corner away from the multitudes and noise and confusion of the world. I want to bring the peace of Jesus here.
 
Because sometimes you just have to pull over and let the others just zoom by. If you need me I will be sitting at the base of these trees.