Speak Life

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Life is full of the “ good, the bad and the ugly” along with many more expletives. But today I desire to focus on the fact that the first in that well-known quote is “the GOOD”. Life IS full of good – it is all around us if we look.

Unfortunately we are inundated with the negative. We hear and see it everywhere. The news visually captivates the worst of the worst, as it pours in through our televisions and the radio screams it in our ears, while we scroll through an endless social media feed.

Somewhere within our senses we become callused and obsessed with the bad – forgetting that there is good. That callousness easily fuels and changes our hearts. Soon we have become bitter and continually negative – everything is tainted by that bend in our thinking.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (ESV)

Choosing to do as this scripture encourages, means a concerted effort to turn off that “bad and ugly” input – to look around and find the “good”.  Join me today in an effort that will renew your life – an effort to find the “good” everywhere you look and go. Begin by speaking life to those around you and watch the transformation happen.

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It’s ALL in the Waiting!

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“It’s a waiting game.” We hear that all the time when something we are hoping for, expecting, desiring or needing doesn’t come about in “our” set time frame. Waiting requires something from us – patience. Yes – patience – a dirty word we don’t like to think about. But patience is required whenever we find ourselves in the “waiting game” – where prayers have been lifted over and over with what seems to be no answer. But the waiting process is not in our control but His.

In my garden I plant tulips and daffodils in the fall and then I wait. They need to “chill out” in the deep cold soil – waiting for the right time. That waiting time is necessary for them just as it often is for us.

Sometimes the answer we are asking God for may not be – no – but – wait. His time is perfect. Our job is to “chill out” and allow His perfect work to develop within us, and that perfect work may require times of growing underground in the deep character areas of our lives.

This process of waiting develops many attributes that can’t come to completion any other way. Our faith is fortified – patience brings about strength, perseverance, hope, long-suffering, joy, kindness, gentleness and peace to mention just a few of the beautiful bulbs that are down there just waiting to bloom in the midst of your waiting.

Rest today in the “waiting game” that you find yourself in; trust that God has beauty planted deep within and your joy will bloom at just the right time.

Romans 5:3-5 This doesn’t mean, of course, that we have only a hope of future joys—we can be full of joy here and now even in our trials and troubles. Taken in the right spirit these very things will give us patient endurance; this in turn will develop a mature character, and a character of this sort produces a steady hope, a hope that will never disappoint us. Already we have some experience of the love of God flooding through our hearts by the Holy Spirit given to us. (Phillips)

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (ESV)

 

Up from the Ashes

In the midst of the pain and loss a seed is found – life will move forward, life will spring forth, life will be green again as it rises up from the ashes.

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I often ponder the parallels found in the truths of scripture shown through the natural and spiritual. Many such, have been in the forefront this year.

As last spring began, the lush tall forest trees of the west coast stood strong and vibrant, never knowing what the next season would bring. Spring soon led into a scorching summer as flames consumed over 8 million acres that now lay in ashes – those same lush forests destroyed.

An interesting fact occurs in the midst of forest fires – the seeds of life are spared, hidden and protected – they are surrounded by a hard safe shell that allows them to spread, land and in the midst of the nutrient ash – in time – they will bring forth life. Seedlings of life will begin to turn the black and gray colored hills and mountains into soft green life.

These last 6 months have left much in ashes across our country. Thousands of lives will never be the same due to floods, fires, and hurricanes but also from accidents, drugs, suicides and disease. They too, never expected to have their lives lay at their feet in ashes.

However, strength and new life will arise. If the ash lies at your feet it doesn’t look or feel possible, but somewhere deep inside faith stirs, then rises up to keep moving forward. Somehow that seed of faith has been hidden and protected. In the midst of the pain and loss a seed is found – life will move forward, life will spring forth, life will be green again as it rises up from the ashes.

In the midst of the ashes believe that Jesus has a plan – a protected, hidden seed within you. Your story is not over – trust in your Heavenly Father. He loves you, never leaves you, walks with you, is faithful and good all the time. Trust Him to bring life up from the ashes.

Is 61:2b-3 He has sent me to comfort those who are sad, those in Zion who mourn. I will take away the ashes on their head, and I will give them a crown. I will take away their sadness, and I will give them the oil of happiness. I will take away their sorrow, and I will give them celebration clothes. He sent me to name them ‘Good Trees’ and ‘The Lord’s Wonderful Plant.’(ERV)

Psalm 30:11 Then he turned my sorrow into joy! He took away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy. (TLB)

God’s Miracle Dew

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     The story of Gideon, a man hiding from the national chaos around him, sounds rather like us today. He chose to tuck himself in the side of a cliff (a wine press) to beat out his wheat in secret – just minding his own business. But suddenly there in that cave, he is met by an angel – there, he is called a “mighty man of valor” and told he is to save Israel; here begins his questions. Here God begins to mold him into that man “a mighty man of valor” that God already knows him as. God shows up, speaks to him, patiently shows him grace upon grace, and builds his faith.

     My interest today is on God’s confirmation of that “call” – the fleece.

     “Are you sure God?” or “Who me?” These phrases have rung out from before Gideon – right up to today – including you and me.

     We often think of this story and wonder why he asked twice – but Gideon’s belief-system was one of living with the natural course of life. He believed there was a god that created us but he didn’t intervene – life just happened “it is, what it is”. There were no miracles. Ummm – sounds pretty familiar doesn’t it?

     So asking for proof was a big deal to begin with. But though morning #1 gave a specific answer with the fleece being soaking wet and the ground dry, Gideon’s upbringing and belief-system kicked in. Fleece naturally pulled in water, so his mind questioned if this was not just a natural phenomenon. But his second request, to keep the fleece dry and dew everywhere else, was a big step of faith and when on day #2 it occurred, his paradigm shifted – this was a miracle.

     This miracle opened Gideon’s eyes to walk into all that was to come. This miracle opened his ears to hear more clearly when God said to go into battle with only 300 men – sending home nearly 30,000. God wanted them to know that it was not a natural battle but one where God was REAL, where He intervened and where He brought victory. Because of their belief-system, the people needed to see what was truth – that there was a God who was REAL.

     Are we not living in the same state today? Often we don’t ask because we don’t believe He will intervene, He is REAL, or that He cares, much-less loves us. We live a life where, life just happens, “it is, what it is” BUT I know a God that is REAL and makes Himself real in our lives every day if we open our eyes to see and our ears to hear.

     Gideon’s request – his “fleece” didn’t anger God. That fleece was a genuine heart request and God was filled with love and compassion to show His divine grace and favor over that request.

     That fleece was the miracle that allowed the “YES LORD” to leap into Gideon’s spirit and move his feet into place. That place allowed him to pick up and wear the mantle that made him God’s “mighty man of valor”.

     As ambassadors of Christ we all have been given assignments – maybe not like Gideon – but ones that impact others. Often due to insecurities, belief-systems or other obstacles we question that assignment – that’s ok – don’t allow the enemy to win. God still is gracious to confirm His assignments and build your faith – making you ready to carry all He has called you to. Taking that opportunity is where faith steps in.

     Remember, not only was Gideon’s double “fleece” confirmation a miracle in the natural it also gives us an incredible example of God’s grace and patience.

     And one more tidbit – dew throughout scripture is used as a sign of divine grace and favor. So step into it and watch as HE makes Himself REAL in your life.

Numbers11:9 When the dew fell on the camp at night, the manna would fall with it.

Grandma Blankets

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     Pregnant with my daughter, I began a craft that has covered babies for over 40 years. Now hundreds upon hundreds of blankets made from yarn or fabric, covered with love and prayer have warmed so many little bodies.

     Recently I have begun to hear and see what I never expected – those much older children and adults still have their “grandma” or “Judy” blankets. Tattered, torn and covered with patches they still cherish those “blankies”.

Why?

It’s just a piece of fabric long outgrown.

Secondhand stores are filled with old beat-up blankets.

But these seem to be different, held in unusually high regard.

     As I pondered this I felt the Spirit of the Lord speak – encouraging me that each act of love poured out will reap a harvest and that is what I am now witnessing. He reminded me that every blanket I have made specifically for that one “special” little one – or now “special” loved one; is soaked in prayer as each stitch is added.

     It’s that Love that is felt – as it saturates and covers them right there, as they cuddle down into its warmth. It brings peace and comfort – so years later when hard, painful times are faced – the heart, the mind and the emotions return to think on the “blankie” and what comfort was found there. So they keep it – treasure it – fold it away for another time – a time to be reminded of the comfort found there.

     Those “blankie”s are simply an earthly example of a heavenly, eternal comfort available to us all. So for now, I have been blessed to pass on a little bit of heavens love to the “littles” around me – those “grandma” blankets.

II Corinthians 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (ESV)

 

Living a Road-kill Lifestyle

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“I have such a crazy busy day, I don’t know how I’ll get everything done.”

     We have all said those words – felt the build up of stress they evoke – experienced the exhaustion as that day ends only to begin again tomorrow in the same fashion. How do we get off this crazy cycle?

     Expectations wait for you at every corner, every event, while every individual seems to elicit more of your life. Even worse, they are all good – nothing you’re involved in says, “This isn’t worth doing”. But, still the chaos swirls around you whispering “more, more, more”.

     A day must come when the brakes are applied. The screeching of tire meeting pavement must fill the air because without that application the next sound will be the uninterrupted crunch of metal and breaking glass as you become the road-kill beneath your “I can do this” chaotic lifestyle.

     Living in a constant “flurry” of activity leaves no place for the whisper of the Holy Spirit to direct you to that broken young mother, that lonely old man, that friend who needs a listening ear. No time is available to dig deep into the Word searching for the nuggets He has stored there just for you – just for today. No time left to “pray” for your friends needs that you carelessly regurgitate “I’ll pray for that”. The enemy loves to keep you at this pace for when he does you are of no threat to him and of little value to those you love.

     The application of the brakes – the NO – has to be a choice, a very specific decisive choice. It is NOT easy but once applied – in time – you will find the rhythm of walking under the grace of God. Waiting, listening, hearing and moving as He directs. Will you never again feel that “busy” day syndrome – No – but it will be with a different mindset and with an outcome that will be eternal.

     Hit the brakes today – avoid becoming the road-kill of your chaotic lifestyle – step under the peace of His presence and learn to walk in the rhythm of His grace.

Romans 8:5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. (ESV)