She Picked Jesus Over Tradition

“If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me.”
                              —John 14:15-19 (NLT)


A couple of weeks ago, you might have seen me hugging a stranger on Presque Isle in Erie. A little weird, I know, but that’s often how God works.

The old me would have thought I was nuts! Many people still do. But sometimes, these spiritual matters don’t make a whole lot of sense to the natural mind. They sure didn’t make sense to me before I was saved.

I heard how Christians talked, and I secretly thought these people must have received trauma earlier in life to act the way they did now. You know… a little too excited about Jesus and their relationship to Him, which I thought was extraordinary and possibly IMAGINED. I mean, I knew about Jesus, too, but I didn’t have to talk about Him all the time.

So what gives? I asked myself.

Over time, I found out. The Spirit—that’s what gives!  He is the third person of the Trinity (also called The Holy Spirit or the Holy Ghost). And He is what gives understanding, discernment, comfort, and guidance about these matters.

He gives and gives and gives, but if you don’t have the Spirit, you’ll stand around looking at born-again Christians thinking they got derailed somewhere along the tracks. Trust me, I’ve been there.

“Are you a Christian?” I once was asked by a Catholic bishop, standing in front of a large confirmation ceremony.

“Yes.”

“What is a Christian?”

“Someone who believes in Christ,” I said.

It seemed simple enough. My head knowledge freed me from the bishop’s gaze, and I got to sit down. An uneasy, temporary peace followed.

But wait! There was more. By studying the Bible, I learned head knowledge alone wasn’t enough. Wasn’t that the Pharisees’ problem?

Jesus told Nicodemus, “You must be born again” (see John 3). 

(Side note: My pastor said if you look up the word “must” in the Greek, it means “must.”)

Born of water and the Spirit, Jesus goes on to tell the religious leader, Nicodemus. 

So, it’s not about answering questions the right way or reciting a creed. That’s not how you become a Christian or receive the Holy Spirit.

It’s about taking out our hearts of stone and replacing them with hearts of flesh, as we read in Ezekiel 36:26. 

It begins when we realize our brokenness and need. Our recognition in turn drives us to God in repentance and allows Him to work from the inside out. In short, we say “yes” to God. We TURN and change directions (the very definition of “repentance”).

The Spirit, in the case of the woman I hugged on Presque Isle, gave me an instant connection to her, because we found out we were both Christians. We were sisters in the Lord!

My husband asked her and her husband the question: “Are you, by chance, Christians?”

“Yes,” they answered excitedly, a bit surprised.

We had stopped on the bike trail to offer help for a bad tire. My husband was being led by the Spirit to ask this question.

A fantastic conversation followed. The wife told of how she was raised Amish and how she had to choose between her Amish tradition and Jesus at the age of 17, when someone shared the gospel with her. Her dad gave the ultimatum. 

She picked Jesus and moved out.

I felt an instant connection point with this woman. Not because I, too, had left the Amish. The Spirit connected us, our values connected us, and our future connected us.

The Holy Spirit is a sweet gift to all who are willing to repent, change directions, and put their faith in Jesus.

I wish it for all I know! Unfortunately, I cannot make it happen. Only God and the person He is drawing can do that. 

My small role is to tell of His greatness and the gifts He’s given me. Now I can answer with peace, “I am a Christian.”

Journey Along,

Beckie

I’m Sick of Inspiration

“But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’ “

—1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV)


Blind people can do incredible things. Climb mountains, travel internationally by themselves, write epic poems, enter triathlons, ski down mountains, make art, and the list could go on and on.

Then there’s me.  

My list of incredible accomplishments reads as follows:  

Make it through the grocery store without a meltdown (mine, not the child’s); 

Successfully give my card number to a woman on the phone taking my reservation—successful after three tries, that is. Plus magnification and an explanation of why I couldn’t easily read the numbers in the first place. 
“Let’s try this number, ”  I said, trying to focus. (She thinks I stole the card, I thought.);


Correctly identify a person talking to me in the post office after only two minutes of conversation;

and here’s a biggie:  NOT FEEL ASHAMED or APOLOGIZE when I explain to the doctor’s office I can’t read the fine print on their forms. Consequently, I cannot fill them out.

Yes, I am accomplished. For real. 

As wonderful as the stories of heroic blind people are, I kind of get sick of them. THE STORIES, not the people. Because it’s not a total picture of their lives. Those are moments of victory. Great moments to celebrate, for sure, but not the norm.

I just gave you the norm. Not that our norm sells much or endears us to the public. Not that we visually-impaired people enjoy advertising our struggles.  But in an attempt at reality, let’s just be honest.

It’s a daily battle. 

I’ve observed two ways we acceptably talk about vision loss in our culture. Witness the victorious blind person, as I just mentioned, or laugh along with the blind mistakes we make. Laugh nervously, but do join in. 

Hey, sometimes it is funny, and I’ll be the first to laugh. I have my own battery of blind humor to draw on. We surely need that relief valve!

But other times, it just isn’t funny, and it can be downright dangerous.

There is a third option, also, and that is:  IGNORING the elephant in the room. This simply makes us feel forgotten or bad because we’ve made you so uncomfortable. I’ve found some people actually avoid me after I tell them about my vision problem. They think I can’t see them turning away and moving off in the opposite direction, but I can. I don’t know…maybe they’re afraid I’ll ask them for a ride or something.

So, how best to handle the dilemma of talking about vision loss in a way that neither falsely portrays success nor makes light of the struggles?

As a woman I recently encountered did—with genuine curiosity and compassion.

“You proofread the newspaper with one eye?” she asked incredulously, shaking her head.

It made me see things from her perspective, which used to be my perspective as well. But strangely, after you’ve been blind a while, it becomes normal to you.

“Funny how your thing is writing, and you lost your vision…” she mused.

I agreed and said God often allows things like this to show His power through our weakness. We both agreed with that.

Then she grabbed my hands and prayed for my eyes to heal. How sweet! She had total belief it could be done, and I do, too, though I told her I never pray for my eyes.

“It’s the glue that keeps me close to God,” I said. 

Again, she was curious and courteous. I SO appreciated her heart!

Her kind of response makes us feel heard, understood, and accepted.

See, here’s the thing:  
We blind people are blessed with an inner vision; we see people’s hearts more clearly than most. The way others react to us gives a great indication of their character.

It’s one awesome hidden benefit of vision loss I’ve discovered, and one I just decided to put on my list of accomplishments!

Journeying Along,

Beckie

Hope for the Leaky Vessel

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”  
—John 16:33 (NASB)


Sometimes I get disgusted with myself for being such a sieve. For seeming to need a constant re-fueling from God. Why can I not hold on to my strong position in Christ for more than a day or so?

And why does this even bother me? I should be happy to go to God daily and get an infusion, right?

Well, it bothers me because I want to be strong and steady, abiding as the title of my blog claims. Yet I feel weak much of the time. Beaten down by circumstances and situations that will not change.

My vision, of course, is an obvious source of leakage. I recently asked a group of blind people if they, too, felt wiped out by day’s end, and I got a definite “yes.” I’m sure our brains, eyes, and other senses work overtime just trying to make sense of life.

That’s physical weariness, and it certainly plays into our emotional state. But there is also world weariness.

World weariness often stems from feeling disappointment in what we see around us. People chasing after all kinds of temporary pleasures, being rude to one another, shouting, trying to climb over each other to make themselves look good.

Yuck. (And I’m not excluding myself from the list of disappointing human behaviors which could go on and on.)

Double yuck.

In the end, it all just points me back to my need. My daily need for God. My daily need for connection through prayer and study of His Word. 

Jesus said, “In Me you may have peace.” 

IN HIM—not in my own understanding of the circumstances I see around me. That’s what re-fueling is all about. And let’s be honest, it is usually more than a daily fill up…more like hourly, minute-ly (if that’s even a word!).

No matter how many times you’ve heard it or know it in your head, the necessary practice of turning to God CHANGES THINGS.

Mostly, it changes our outlook, and as we tell our kids, attitude is everything!

Thank You, Lord, for the opportunity to come to You whenever we need a fresh infusion of Your peace.  Your perspective in our circumstances changes everything, and for that, I am grateful!
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Beckie

Thou Shall Not Be Boring

“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
—Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)

You’ll be happy to know I’ve settled something. After years of feeling guilty if I didn’t finish a book or if I started a new book while still reading another, I’m over it. The guilt, that is. I’ve come to terms with the fact that some books are not worth finishing. The writing is lacking, and I don’t want to spend precious time (and vision strain) locked into a boring trip. Life is too short for bad reading.

Now, on the issue of reading more than one book at a time, my 12-year-old son taught me a lesson. Watching him changed my view of my old policy, which was, I could never start one book until I finished another.

Andy’s got several books going at once. He loves reading, and, in fact—BRAG WARNING—he is the top reader in his grade. (He recently won a Barnes and Noble gift card for his mega-reading points.)

My husband was worried about what the other kids would say when they saw Andy carrying around a high stack of books. This is middle school, you know.

“I don’t care what they think. They already know I’m smart,” he said.

I guess you can talk like that when you’re one of the tallest boys. Never tried it myself.

The other day Andy said to me, “Mom, why don’t we just go eat pizza and talk about books?”

Pinch me. I must be dreaming…

Since he’s been consuming books the way others consume cups of coffee, it made me think about my own reading habits.

Of course, my gold standard is The Holy Bible.  And the key to making that come alive is the Spirit of God. No one can truly understand God’s Word without the Spirit giving insight. I know because I’ve heard smart ministers say so. But more than that—I’ve lived it!

When I went to a Christian college, we were required to take classes in both Old and New Testaments. Also, one in Christian living; plus, every other class incorporated God’s Word somehow. So I was immersed.

The problem was…I wasn’t a born-again Christian. I didn’t have the Spirit of God working through the Word. The writing just sat on page. Oh, I memorized and regurgitated, but that’s as far as it went.

I was a cultural Christian, just going through the motions, saying, “I believe in God,” like I was doing Him a favor. The classic mental assent/no heart change played out in my life.

BORING!

Now, however, I experience the Word as “living and active”(Hebrews 4:12).  Always fresh, always relevant, always revealing new truths and illuminating my current situation. Nothing compares to God’s gold standard!

Consequently, if I find myself engaged in reading that is flat and lacking, it stands out in contrast. This includes Christian writing. I’ve seen so many dull blogs and books…it saddens me, because God is not dull! Why should we be?

This is how I define boring:  Writing that belabors the obvious; writing that is too theological in nature—with no concrete references—you find yourself zoning out; or writing that moves nowhere and inspires nothing.

I urge you, fellow Christian readers, to observe God’s unwritten (but clearly implied) eleventh commandment:  Thou Shall Not Be Boring! God is exciting and so is His Word. Let’s follow suit in our reading and in our lives.

Take a page from Andy’s book (but not literally). If you find yourself being dragged down by dead prose, abandon ship and find life in the vast sea of great Christian writing. And enjoy!

Here is my current reading list in case you need some help.  The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis, A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman, and Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence by Sarah Young.

What’s on your summer reading (or listening) list?

Journeying Along with Great Books,

Beckie

Have You Been… Avoiding Quiet Time?

“Ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ…to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers.” 
—Ephesians 1:17-18 (MSG)


Oh, my goodness! How easy it is “in this day and age” (yes, I’m officially a geezer saying “in this day and age”), but how easy it is to avoid getting quiet with God. To avoid trying to hear His voice and discern His calling on our lives.

And I confess, I can be just as guilty as anyone.

“In my day,” people knew better how to enjoy quiet and stillness. Frankly, it was easier. There weren’t as many distractions at our fingertips. Still, I think we valued it more and made it a higher priority. 

Why, I spent many an hour myself sitting in trees in the backyard, just being quiet—thinking. Maybe eating cherries and spying on people, too. But being quiet nonetheless.

Porch sitting, also…we sat on porches and took in the scene. There were no devices! We looked at people’s faces. Remarked on the colors of the seasons. Laughed at the geese honking merrily across the sky. Simply took time to notice God’s work.

And it filled us.

Today’s culture values busyness and activity over stillness and observation. What a loss! God says to “be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Not “over-schedule yourself, run around like a squirrel, and wonder why you don’t hear my voice.” 

Seriously, it’s a trick of the enemy. But one we willingly participate in.Think about it: If he keeps us busy, frazzled, and depleted, we will not seek God. Heck, we may even forget about Him. We’ll be too tired to worry about eternal affairs. We’ve got to keep up with our schedules, after all. Can’t you just feel it happening?

I have been having this niggling sensation lately God wants to tell me something. I must be super-intentional in seeking quiet time, lest I miss the lesson or directive. Honestly, it can be scary. What if God tells me something I don’t want to hear? It’s happened before! Then I have a decision to make:  plug my ears and BE BUSY or listen quietly and obey.

Here’s a short list of how I’m trying to guard quiet time:

NO EXCUSES—We live in an excuse-making, blaming society. We can easily ignore a seemingly unproductive time with an invisible God. We can make excuses. This is to our detriment!

God sees our hearts, however, and lame stories don’t stick with Him. Start by covering this time in prayer. Pour out your fears, confess your shortcomings, and ask for understanding. Then just as Ephesians 1:17-18 says, we will “see exactly what it is he is calling (us) to do (and) grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers.” 

NO DEVICES—We don’t answer the phone in the shower, and we don’t text in church. We can be disciplined with the ubiquitous technology. So let’s extend our discipline to a screen-free quiet time. Become master of your devices by putting them in their place! God will reward the act by giving you His sweet presence. 

As a result, you will be filled.

NO BAD ATTITUDES—Come expecting renewal, and receive it! Don’t come as a “duty” or in order to check an item off your to-do list. Quiet time with God is life-giving and life-directing. Actually, it’s an other-worldly privilege! Contemplating our blessed calling fills us with gratitude and joy. How’s that for a flipped perspective?

The bottom line is…I have the feeling God wants to tell you something as well. Don’t disappoint Him by being too busy or too fearful to stop and hear His voice. 

There are blessings in obedience.

So, are you ready? Ready for renewal, direction, and soul satisfaction?

Then…On your mark, get set— STOP!

Still Journeying,

Beckie


When God Asks You to be Vulnerable

“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”  —Galatians 1:10 (NIV)

As Ernest Hemingway once said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

That’s all…just sit down and bleed.

While I am no Hemingway, I can surely relate to that quote. And strangely enough, I can relate that quote to much in the Christian life (though Hemingway was not Christian). 

It’s about vulnerability. That which makes us feel exposed, wide open for all to see, subject to attack, rejection, failure—fear.

I’ve spent my entire life trying to avoid those things, haven’t you?

But now God asks me to write, which is at its very core, exposing who you are on the page. Even what you choose to write about reveals your personality. The same applies to what you post or talk about. It’s inescapable.

“Guarded” is how I’ve been described (nicely described, according to my daughter, who laughs when she hears this). Guarded is the opposite of vulnerable. Guarded is safe.

But…guarded doesn’t grow.

The reasons why a person becomes guarded are varied. For me, it’s a fear of criticism. Others have other motives.

Regardless of the cause, God wants us to step out in courage and trust in Him. To follow His directives and pass through the doors He opens. Then leave the results to Him.

It’s like Paul says to the Galatians in the verse above. We’re looking to please God, not pander to people. Some will track with us; many will not. But that’s okay.

We can accept this better the longer we go being Christians. As you know, simply announcing you are a born-again Christian makes you vulnerable. It marks you as a radical and someone who’s gone off the deep end. Someone who can no longer be trusted to think for themselves. A person for others to avoid lest they become “evangelized.” (I’m smiling here.)

So much of what God asks us to do for His kingdom involves vulnerability. 

I think of teaching, singing, godly parenting, or praying in public. How about sharing your faith at work? All these things expose our hearts to the onlookers of the world. AND THAT’S A GOOD THING. It is what we’re called to do. We are not called to Christianity-lite. 

I remember a conversation I had with a woman who was looking for a church. I told her about mine. 

She said, “I just wanna be comfortable. You know what I mean?”

Unfortunately, I did. She didn’t want to change or be challenged by the full gospel. She wanted to feel alright with God by giving Him the mental assent, singing a few songs, and going home to keep the status-quo.

Yes, Jesus loves me. And He loves me so much He doesn’t want me to stay in the same messed-up condition He found me in.

We’re to be on a growth path here, moving toward His likeness. That only happens with growing pains and being shoved out of our comfort zones. Becoming vulnerable.

For some of us, that means bleeding on the page. For others, it’s singing an emotional song or praying an emotional prayer.  You can fill in the blank for your own life.  

What is it God is asking you to be vulnerable about?

Need some courage?

Consider the example of Jesus coming to Earth knowing all the trials and rejection awaiting Him. The human side of Him did not want to follow through on the horror of the cross. So He prayed. Matthew 26:39 reveals the struggle: 

“…may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.”

There we have it! It’s not about our wills or our own strength. It’s about God- reliance and God’s purposes being fulfilled through us. 

So if we call ourselves by Christ’s Name, let us follow in His steps of courage. Allow God to use our vulnerability for His Glory!

Journey Along,

Beckie






About That Mess

“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:  Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.”
—Lamentations 3:19-22 (NIV)


Sometimes our emotions can bring us so low, we feel paralyzed and stuck, stuck, stuck! Faster than a kid’s tongue sticks to a frozen flagpole, the exact combination of events sends us into a downward spiral and threatens to pin us in the stranglehold of despair. 

Confusion sets in. Doubt, anger, frustration, worry, and regret all grapple for the top spot. What to tackle first?

I debated this recently as I jumped from reading A Confident Heart: How to Stop Doubting Yourself and Live in the Security of  God’s Promises to The Storm Inside: Trade the Chaos of How You Feel for the Truth of Who You Are to Unglued:  Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions. All within a week! 

I wanted to master those things, but I couldn’t decide where to start. Talk about a train wreck! The books on my nightstand told the story. 

Then, in an attempt to inspire myself, I started looking through old journals. Among various half-baked ideas, I had written “Turn your mess into a message.”

I had to laugh because just the day before a random cartoon image had popped into my mind. It was a vision of the mess I was:  lying in bed with a huge round icepack plopped atop my head like a hat, a thermometer sticking out of my mouth, fuzzy slippers on my feet, and x’s over my eyes. It was how I felt. And there was nothing wrong with me physically.

Let’s just admit it:  the month of December often leaves us feeling this way. In my humble opinion, it’s NOT “the most wonderful time of the year.” Songs lie.

Oh, it could be. Oh, it should be the most wonderful time of the year. But the reality is—it’s the most stressful time of the year. 

When a friend asked me how the holidays were and I said, “Stressful,” she commiserated. I told her about the Unglued book and how one chapter is titled, “I’m Not a Freak-Out Woman.”  

She said, “I am SOOOO a freak-out woman!”  We howled. I told her she wasn’t alone.

Still, we must cope and press through. So aside from making resolutions to do better in 2016, I propose a little kindness to ourselves during the month of January.

If I were my own friend (and often times I am not),  I’d remind myself of some truths from God’s Word.

God loves us despite our mess.
His compassions never fail (Lamentations 3:22). Isn’t that just what we need? A little compassion and understanding, and who better than the Lord Himself to provide it! You will never find anyone who understands your situation better than He does, and best of all, He wants to help. Because of His great love!
If this seems hard to understand or believe, try remembering God’s faithfulness during other difficult times, and you’ll feel assured:  He cares for you.  He’s already shown it.


We are not stuck.
Perceptions can be deceptions. Just because we think nothing is changing and we aren’t progressing, that is unlikely if we are truly seeking God. Yes, we have setbacks. But often those setbacks come before a big breakthrough. Progress is not easy, and our enemy loves to throw up roadblocks. Re-align with God by wielding the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17). Here’s a handy verse to memorize for the seemingly stuck times: “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6, NIV). 


God delights in “doing a new thing.”
God’s plans roll along. He is not surprised by our mess nor is He deterred by it. And He always allows for human error in the equation of eternity.  

“See, I am doing a new thing!
   Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
   and streams in the wasteland.”
 
—Isaiah 43:19 (NIV)

So while we may see a wilderness and a wasteland…perceptions can be deceptions. God works in possibilities! This verse from Isaiah shows how God persisted with Israel (despite their bad behavior). He is still working with His people today. 

And that’s you and me.

Praise God! We serve The One who is in the business of turning messes into messages. 

Journey Along,

Beckie

Stamped With Longing

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
—Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV)


November always brings with it an awareness about the passing of time that, during other seasons, may go unnoticed. Shorter days and barer trees strip away any illusion I maintain about things remaining the same forever. Time ticks on, and the days of November won’t let me forget.

Starting with standard time…

Moving from room to room setting the clocks back one hour tends to re-wind the clock of my heart as well. Another season has passed. Did I make it count? How many more seasons left? Only God knows. 

Every day’s a curiosity to someone as questioning as I am. So, even while circumstances may be trying (at times), I still want to know what’s gong on and stick around for that.

Young or old, some aspects of our personalities don’t change. And feeling another season, another month, another year slip by only reminds me of what a sentimental dreamer I can be.

Tick, tock.

The veterans are marching down main street again. Carrying flags and walking in rhythm to the drums. 

Uniforms, metals, and hearts full of memories, these patriots send a tangible message to us: Don’t forget the sacrifice. We wave and whisper, “Thank you.”


I like to imagine these soldiers being young and full of enthusiasm for their country. What compelled them to sign up in the first place? Where did they go? I bet they have stories to tell!

Actually, I know they do. I’ve interviewed them and come away with a great admiration for their bravery and generosity of spirit. Parading in the stark sunlight of November pricks my conscience to remember— freedom isn’t free.

Candles and More Candles…

In this house, all the birthdays come during the late summer and fall season. Placing more and more candles on the cakes week after week means  someone is getting older. Could it be me?

I may ignore the mirror as much as I like, but I can’t ignore the needs of a growing child or an aging parent. Reminders abound, and birthdays set you up for a sigh.

Tick, tock.

The fourth Thursday in November…

Going ’round and ’round the table naming our thanks makes for an interesting reveal. Relative-ly speaking, of course.

What’s closest to your heart?

“A day off school.”

“My bucket truck.”

“There’s no bad boyfriend this year.”

“These yams!”

Seriously, I don’t need a holiday telling me to feel grateful; I already am! But I do need November to remind me of the clock moving. It creates an urgency to get it right, not squander the days. Put the emphasis where it belongs.

And that’s on the here and now only as it relates to the eternal.

Solomon had it right when he wrote,  “[God] has set eternity in the human heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). That’s why we feel a pull, a pull toward eternity. It’s in our hearts, yet this world is temporary. Trying to figure it out stamps us with longing.

But I do know one thing: I’m just visiting, folks. This world is not my home. I hear the clock ticking in November, and all in all, it’s not a bad sound.

Journey Along,

Beckie




Choosing the Happy Dance

“I tell you,” he (Jesus) replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

—Luke 19:40 (NIV)


“YIPPEE!”

Happy dance.

“That’s so cool!”

Happy dance.

Sometimes in life…you just have to celebrate.

Actually, with God, there are MANY times in life we could celebrate.  But I think we are negligent in this area. We tend to be like the Israelites wandering around our own personal wilderness—grumbling, murmuring, and complaining.

But not today.

Since it’s November and November is the gratitude month (I insist on keeping it that way!), and since I have a few articles coming out between now and the end of the year, I’m doing the happy dance.

It’s a choice, you see. I still have all the same challenges as I normally do (maybe MORE), but I’m choosing to dance. It’s necessary, and God delights in our praises!

Even the creation seems to be celebrating lately with all the vivid colors swirling about us. And I love the visual Jesus gives in the above verse from Luke:  “The stones will cry out” if the disciples keep quiet. 

So, let’s not stay silent. Let’s “begin joyfully praising God in loud voices for all the miracles (we) have seen” (Luke 19:37).

In my article, “Leaping Off the Page,” found in the September/October issue of LIGHT magazine, I praise God for His Word. The piece describes five Scripture verses that sustained me during a time of loss. I hope you can relate!

Here is a link to that article from the Christian Record Services’ online edition:

http://connected.christianrecord.org/stories-articles/1259/

Happy November, Everyone! Happy Fall!
And Happy Dancing on the Journey!

Beckie

My Hiding Place

“You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble 
and surround me with songs of deliverance.”

—Psalm 32:7 (NIV)


Remember the old airline commercial that asked, “Wanna get away???” It has been rolling around my mind lately. For all the obvious reasons, too.

Life gets hairy. 

Circumstances pile up.

The usual relief valves stop working.

And the natural response becomes—RUN AND HIDE!

You may be more mature than I am (most people are), but I think we all have felt this way from time to time. So I’m not ashamed to admit it: I want to hide, and I don’t want to come out again until it’s blue skies and happy feelings. 

Well, good luck with that, right?

“In this world you will have troubles,” Jesus told his disciples (John 16:33). 
Here’s a man who knew troubles, but more than that—He knew the future.

He knew our future and our future troubles. But more than that. He knew the purpose of troubles (growth) and how it all fit in with His Father’s will. 

But even more than that.

He knew the temporary nature of our troubles, how we would receive comfort during our troubles, and the blessed outcome for those who persevere.

It’s good to know someone who knows, isn’t it?

Just last week I tried to escape my problems (if only for a few hours), and God promptly put me face-to-face with another person engaged in the same struggle. So we ended up talking about—what else? The very thing I was trying to avoid!

God clearly sent the message: You’re not going to run from this. You’re going to run to Me with this.

Then, in case I still had doubts, the minister mysteriously delivered a message on how God doesn’t want us to escape our problems, but instead look to Him and be overcomers in Christ. By His strength and by His wisdom. 

Maybe skywriting is next, I thought.

So, hey! I couldn’t escape the situation physically, but that rarely solves our problems anyway. It only gives temporary amnesia. Life always returns, and with it…problems. People with problems. Relationships with problems. Jobs with problems. And like I said, these things pile up.

How to “get away” without leaving home?

In Psalm 32, David tells us:  we escape by spending time with the Lord. Verse 7 says, “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” 

The Lord responds in the next verse, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. I will counsel you and watch over you.”

It’s true…God puts these messages right in our path, and He speaks through His Word, but we have to have spiritual discernment.

Keeping spiritual eyes open is a discipline I’m learning, and these three ideas may help you, too.



Prioritize:  Decide in your heart that time with God will take precedence over other activities. We all have hundreds of choices to make each day. We must prioritize. What’s most important? Should I worry about dust accumulating in my house or try to discern God’s Word by studying it? Should I engage in fruitless grumbling with a non-believer or keep a prayer journal recording God’s faithfulness? What’s going to net eternal rewards and peace of mind right now? What pleases God?

Plan:  Once you’ve resolved to make time with God a must, set a few goals to keep you moving along. Join a small group or attend a mid-week service that you normally wouldn’t. Set a reading plan. Finish a book long ago started and glean what you can from the message. Write out what you’re learning for future reference about God’s work in your life.

Persevere: Life is not a science; it’s an art!  Practicing flexibility without self-incrimination when plans fall through is the key to persevering. Jump back on track by talking with God, confessing your shortcomings, and taking the next right step.

Let Him be your hiding place in difficult circumstances. Our God delights in this and promises to make His strength perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

As a result, I’m learning to hide while staying in plain sight. How about you?

Journey Along!

Beckie