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Call in the Dump Truck

Garage_JunkMy husband, Chris (also known as Poppy), has been unable to park his car in the garage all summer due to my unending collection of soon-to-be re-purposed furniture. So, yesterday, when Poppy purchased a newer car, I asked my oldest grandson, Carson, to help me clear a space in the garage for Poppy’s homecoming.

We swept the concrete floor and moved my massive furniture collection into a truck for a future Goodwill drop. At day’s end, drenched in sweat and dirt covered clothes, the garage door was lowered with a sense of accomplishment. The once cluttered space had been cleared for something of greater value than my curbside finds.

I can’t count the number of times my spiritual life, like my garage, has accumulated things of no value. Life travels present us with plenty of opportunity to pick up curbside finds. With no forethought, we purpose grandiose ideas of how these discarded items can be salvaged or repurposed into something of value. And so, like the stockpile of stuff in my garage, we fill our life with things that serve no purpose.

In an attempt to save the masses (curbside finds), we clutter our life with other people’s problems (curbside garbage).

When Chris arrived home with his new ride and opened the garage, he was amazed at the transformation. Carson and I had cleared a space for something of value. There were a few furniture pieces that we kept, but our selection was reserved to items that showed a promise of restoration.

As Christians, there are occasions we need to call in God’s dump truck and empty the accumulated garbage that prohibits spiritual growth and crowds God out of our life. It might be:

• Addictions
• Work
• Anger
• Pleasure
• Busyness
• Relationships

At the end of the day, when you lower the door of your life, will you have a sense of accomplishment or frustration?

God longs to eliminate the clutter in our spiritual life and replace it with things of value. Are you are ready to open the door to God’s spiritual dump truck and unload your curbside finds?

One thing I can promise, when you ask God to clear a space for Him to park within your life, that space will be filled with things of eternal value; things of purpose.

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Reflections: Golden Years

golden-years-card-7

As I approach 60, my mailbox is filled with AARP promotional material and long-term health care applications. My prized collection of reading glasses has grown to over 20 pair; and crossing my legs has become a mandatory ritual whenever I cough or sneeze. The grand kids know that lost reading glasses can be found perched on my head and sending a one line text message will take me 10 minutes.

With age, comes a sense of freedom from others opinions or expectations. It’s truly exhilarating to grocery shop in my bikini, wear PJ’s to my dental appointment and cruise past a fast-food drive up window topless… just kidding!

A transcript of my daily conversations are much like this:

Grandchild: NeeNee you wore that outfit yesterday.
Me: Yep, and I might wear it again tomorrow. In fact, I might wear it all week. Mention it again, and I will show up at your school in this outfit.

Builder: I can have that done in 2 days for $$ cost.
Me: So, what you are saying is it will cost twice as much as your quote and take twice as long.

Husband: Did you take a nap today?
Me: Yes, I did and the answer to your ‘real’ question is NO; you can’t have the TV remote tonight because I will be up late watching every Hallmark movie made.

Daughter: Hi Mom, it’s 9 PM; I hope I didn’t wake you?
Me: Of course not, I’ve been asleep for an hour waiting for your call.

Grandchild: You sure have a lot of wrinkles.
Me: I know; thankfully, they are the only thing that doesn’t hurt with age.

With age comes knowledge and there are a few things I have learned. Like memory loss can sometimes work to my advantage, sex is over-rated, control isn’t the Holy Grail and neck scarves do wonders for the fleshy wattle around the neck. The cowboy boots that look so cute on the magazine model won’t look like that on me. Neither will the size zero stretch pants on the mannequins in the junior section of a store.

On a spiritual level, I have discovered life isn’t all about me. I now listen twice as much as I talk, and when I do, something marvelous happens. It generates a call to action based on the need of someone else and fosters an attitude of generosity, pay-it-forward and volunteerism.

And so, as I head to the salon to have my gray hair colored, purchase age-defying make-up from Mary Kay, pack Spanks and reading glasses into a suitcase for an upcoming vacation, I consider what age 60 will be like in heaven.

What characteristics and features will identify me to those I’ve known at different ages in my earthly journey? Will wrinkles, gray hair and reading glasses no longer exist? I can’t help but wonder if we will be given the opportunity to pick our ideal age in Heaven. If that could happen, what age would you pick and why.

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THE SWORD

cross
This morning one scripture commanded my thoughts as my spirit engaged in quiet time with God.

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul and spirit, joints and marrow, as it judges the thoughts and purposes of the heart.”
Hebrews 4:12 NIV

I had memorized and recited this verse since childhood but it wasn’t until today that it stirred me with divine enlightenment. As a Christian, I am aware that the power of God’s written Word imparts change. My daddy was a pastor and in difficult times I would turn to him for guidance. No matter the situation I faced, his counsel was always the same– Get into the Living Word.

What the heck does that mean?

I am nearing 60-years of age and though the daughter of a minister, it wasn’t until today, I understood with divine clarity that I am empowered to become more like Jesus when I hide God’s Word in my heart. Old habits and lifestyles are replaced with new ones that please God and lead to peace and joy.

It is the double-edged sword of God’s Word that pierces through all the refuse we hide in our heart. The sword reveals who we are spiritually and when we get into the Living Word (read, study, and meditate) something supernatural happens. Our carnal passions and appetites are no longer concealed and become subject to judgment.

There is life in God’s Word.

Because it is living, it produces effects. It isn’t compared to just any sword, but to a (sharper than any) double-edged sword that is able to cut through the thick joint of a bone to the inner, soft, living part of the bone (the marrow).

God’s Word reveals the invisible dimension of our life; the natural man (soul) and the spiritual man. Are the “thoughts and intentions of our heart” spiritual thoughts and intentions or only natural thoughts and intentions.

Allow God’s Word to pierce you.

When we get into the Living Word and allow it to pierce our soul, we become acutely aware of our spiritual condition. Will there be marrow and life in our bone, or only a spiritless soul?

Today’s prayer:

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.”
Psalms 19:14

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WHY TODAY?

Why Today?The recent killing of four marines in Chattanooga raises the question, at least for me, of why today? It’s a question I ponder about death. In the case of my dad, it was death by cancer. He clung to life until the appointed day of his death.

As the marines drove to work that day, they had no foreknowledge of the fate that awaited them. That day they were in the right place at the wrong time.

I understand God has given mankind freewill and the choices we make will impact our life as well as the life of others. The gunman of the marines choose the day he would purposely fire an AK-47 rifle at innocent people. In the process, he was empowered to determine the day he and four others would die.

Certainly the families of the slain, like me, have asked why today. As I try to wrap my thoughts around death, I am reminded that scriptures only provide a glimpse into the mystery of death.

“It is in the plan that all men die once. After that, they will stand before God and be judged.” Hebrews 9:27 NLV “Man’s days are determined; you (God) have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.” Job 14:5

In this age of electronic devices death is broadcasted in real-time and reminds us that life is but a breath; it can end with little or no warning. Even as I write this piece another senseless massacre has taken place in a Louisiana movie theater; three people are dead and others seriously injured.

What I do know about death is we will all die. Some will experience a prolonged death; others may die instantaneously, accidentally or by choice. The knowledge that death is inevitable poses a greater question. Are we prepared to meet our maker when that why today moment happens?

The Psalmist said, “My whole life is in your hands.” Psalm 31:15 NIRV

When we trust that God is sovereign and in control of all things, the victory of the cross overcomes the fear of death. When our life is in God’s hands the why today question is answered with why not today.

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FINDING TIME FOR GOD

Finding Time for GodMy mornings begin at 6:30 pm, sometimes earlier. I pour myself a half cup of coffee and head to my office where the computer is always on because I work from home. The day starts with a check of social media, emails and finally sifting through the endless stack of papers that clutter my desk.

If time permits, I work on a devotional or scout out a hands-on project to do with the grandkids. By late morning my home is filled with workers and my focus turns to business matters until their 6 pm departure. I scramble to pick up the house, do a load of laundry and prepare dinner before my husband walks through the door at 6:30. And then- I crash on the sofa.

It’s not a glamorous life by any stretch of the imagination. There are many days I don’t shower until late evening. By mid-summer every potted plant on my deck has died from thirst and there are least a half dozen items in my fridge that should have been pitched months ago. Thankfully, I have a bi-weekly cleaning service to keep the dust and dirty floors in check.

The demands of daily life can be overwhelming. We tend to make time for the things we really “love and want to do” but try to find time for things we “have to do”.

So where does God fit into our day?

I believe when we find it difficult to fit God into our day, it’s a love problem. When God time is squeeze out by our preoccupation with social media, emails, texting and over commitments, we suffer spiritually.

It is only when we give God His rightful place in our daily life that we experience the joy of the Lord is our strength and become more productive; we accomplish more in less time with less stress. When we make God first, we experience peace and joy even when our daily schedule seems daunting.

Our present joy and eternal destiny depends upon making time for God. Our Creator wants to intimately connect with us. It takes effort to find the time and energy to connect with God on a regular basis – just as it does with any relationship that matters.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33

When we get quiet with God and shut out the daily noise that surrounds us, God will surprise us with insight; He re-calibrates our soul. It’s an invitation for Him to do new things in our life.

It is difficult to build upon what is right until we make time for God. In doing so, we realize our emptiness and God is able to intimately connect with us. Let us be reminded that a love relationship with God starts with an understanding of what He has done for us.

“For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.” John 3:16 AMP

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JUST PASSING THROUGH

100917080512+copyI slid my passport under the glass panel to the agent tending the a line at the customs checkpoint.

“What is your citizenship?” he questioned.
“United States,” I replied.
“What is the purpose of your travels?
“I’m here for vacation.”

The gentleman carefully surveyed my picture I.D before motioning me through the international gate. I breathed a sigh of relief as I tucked my passport back into my travel pouch.

The armed soldiers who walked the corridors of the Paris airport made me uneasy. My steps quicken as I firmly clutched my carry-on bag and headed to the baggage claim area.

Paris was my first overseas trip with my husband. He was a seasoned traveler and undaunted by the military personnel that circulated the airport with loaded weapons. This wasn’t a typical scenario at my local Michigan airport; otherwise, I would have never left the comfort-zone of my home to board a plane to the other side of the world.

I wasn’t prepared for the great number of Muslims that populated Paris. Subways and sidewalks were filled with chants, music and attire foreign to me. At one point, a Muslin woman cranked up a DVD player on the subway to broadcast her religious antics. Commuters appeared apathetic to their surroundings. But for me, a cloud of opposition and unrest seemed to hang over the city of Paris.

My feelings would prove true. On the morning of our departure, a group of Muslims protested in front of the US Embassy over a film produced in the U.S. denigrating the Prophet Muhammad.

I was overcome with relief when our plane safely landed on US soil.

It was a false sense of security. The U.S. ambassador to Libya and three embassy staffers had been killed in an attack on the American consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi earlier that day. Most disturbing was information that US government officials may have had foreknowledge of the attack and engaged in a cover-up.

Since my September 2012 to Paris the world has witnessed an onslaught of hideous massacres, attacks and devastation against humanity. Christians have become the primary target of Muslin extremists at home and abroad.

We’ve grown accustomed to the term ‘weapons of mass destruction’; it no longer has an impact on us. But that is about to change. God’s prophetic scripture is unfolding before our eyes and the world is rapidly approaching a time of reckoning for our immorality and blasphemous rants against the sovereignty of our Creator.

My faith remains unshaken in the belief God is firmly in control over all events and people of the world. I rest in the assurance that Jehovah-Shammah will bring a perfect end to everything He has started.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope”.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

Continue to trust the heart of God and His plan for the future.
We can’t control the future events of our life, but God can. Jehovah-Shammah walks with us into whatever tomorrow holds because of His great love. GOD IS THERE in your tomorrow and in my tomorrow.

Though the world is in crisis and turmoil among nations is epidemic, do not fear. Our citizenship is in Heaven and our spiritual passport is stamped with the blood of Christ. It confirms this world is not home; we’re just passing through.

“When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. “
Luke 21: 20-22
“When these things begin to happen, stand up tall and don’t be afraid. Know that it is almost time for God to free you!” Luke 21:28

Postscript:
When writing, I keep track of my word count as publications have limitations on the number of words that can be submitted for a given article/story. I was taken aback when I noted that the word count for the above article was 666. Hmmm….????

WordCount_666

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CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF HOPE

9625878147_837aba6b41_zI surveyed the sporadic patches of dense clouds from my window seat as the jet engines hummed in the background. The captain announced the plane had reached an altitude of 30,000 feet and it was now safe to move about the cabin. My gaze remained fixated on the endless billow of clouds that obstructed my view. Life’s journey guides us in many different directions and sometimes to locations where clouds obscure our extended vision. According to a NASA web page 70% of the earth is covered by clouds. I can relate to that because my personal life seems to have the same percentage of cloud cover. It is only when the sun breaks through to reveal clear skies that hope is revealed. Having been married to a commercial pilot, I was aware of our captain’s navigational skills would bring us to a safe landing even though my view was impeded by cloud cover.

“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV

Like our pilot, God is able to navigate in any weather, even when we don’t have a clear view of where we are headed. When He signals it is safe to freely move about our daily life, do not fear; unlatch the safety belt and enjoy the trip. Let God, your pilot, control the course to your final destination. As the plane began its descent to San Francisco, the clouds began to dissipate and gave way to clear skies. Once landed, the captain announced, “Welcome to San Francisco, folks. It’s 72 degrees with clear skies. I hope everyone has a great day.” When life is overshadowed by cloudy skies, know your only chance of hope is to trust God’s navigational skills for a smooth landing.

#devotional #cloudywithachanceofhope #denisemarksblog