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God’s Appointed Seasons

fall-leaves-on-deck

There was not the usual gentle, graceful swaying of tree branches on the lake today. Gusty autumn winds prevailed as if driven by a higher power with a divine purpose. I watched as leaves fluttered to the ground fated for a season of change.

Repeated attempts to clear the avalanche of leaves from the deck proved futile and I gave up. This was a God appointed season change; my continual raking wasn’t going to change anything.

 “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—“
Ecclesiastics 3:1

We have two choices when God assigns a seasonal change to our life–take pause or face down. In past years, I would have assumed a face down attitude… “You want to get confrontational with me, God? Well, you got it!” That demeanor didn’t set well with the Master of the universe.

And so, He gifted me with life experiences that fused rebellion with knowledge. It forever changed my view of God’s seasonal changes within my personal life. I now see autumn’s fallen, withered leaves as heavenly compost that conditions the soil of my soul to sprout new growth.

God’s ebb tide for the seasons of our life continually changes.  From the time of our conception, a spiritual blueprint was designed for each of us. It is divinely drafted to meet not only our eternal needs, but to point us in the seasonal direction of our earthly needs.  That’s the beauty of our Lord.

Are you are being tossed and swayed by current life circumstances?

My past life reads like a best-selling novel and certainly not something you would expect from a preacher’s daughter. But God’s grace changed the seasons of my life into something miraculous. I encourage you to trust in the Lord and let Him orchestrate the season of your imperfect life.

 “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.”  Matthew 10:30-31

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Confessions of a Doing-Addict

ludwig-wittgenstein-quotes-18650Those who know me well will agree I have an exceptionally kind heart and caring nature; that is the good part. Unfortunately, it is my inability to recognize the obvious warning signs of a ‘doing addict’ that causes problems.

Sometimes it takes an epiphany, a thunderbolt moment so to speak, before we hit the pause button in life, inhale deeply and ask, “What does enough look like?” I was about to find out when a thunderbolt moment jolted me to my senses. Perhaps God realized I would never push the pause button; and so, He did it for me.  It was a spiritual awakening long overdue.

An over-giving, doing-addict situation was about to bring clarity about how I valued myself.  Once the haze of deception cleared, my partnership with self-sabotage was revealed. It was MY thunderbolt moment. What internal anomaly caused me to give greater value to the life of others over my own?

I liken myself to an ATM with a dysfunctional operating system that disperses withdrawals carte blanche to anyone who expresses a need. Trust me, random free-loaders aren’t the only ones who are quick to cash in on the fringe benefits of a giving heart; so are many Christians.

Overtime, logic rules and the inevitable happens—the doing-addict goes bankrupt.  Without withdrawal limits in place, energy, happiness, time and money are depleted. I knew it was time for God to restore my operating system. My good-intentions, over-giving energies needed a purposeful balance. My ‘doing addict’ days were numbered.

And so, to gain insight into those situations that trigger my self-destructive choices, I have elected to participate in a behavioral management program that, I believe, will rehabilitate and bring a positive change to my eternal thumbprint.

I wholeheartedly embrace this opportunity as a way to cultivate spiritual growth, redefine my goals and give God free reign to my thunderbolt moment.

With the imminent second coming of Christ, my soul senses the Holy Spirit stands ready to infuse each of us with thunderbolt moments that electrify our souls to God’s eternal purpose for mankind.  Life circumstances may differ for each of us, but when God points a thunderbolt moment in our direction, it is best to embrace it with open arms. It will change us in ways we never imagined.

Motivated by good-intentions, doing-addicts inevitably assume the role of an enabler and react to situations based on their impulses. This presents a problem because to exercise our will over God’s divine direction puts us at risk of spiritual, emotional and/or financial bankruptcy.

 

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GO FOR THE GOLD

medal-390549_640I watched each Olympic gymnast run down the floor mat and jump onto the spring board. They catapulted onto the vaulting table with calculated precision in preparation for a perfect dismount. They knew every twist, turn and flip of their body could cost them a medal.

Countless hours of training had placed these athletics in a position to compete for the gold. They were disciplined, dedicated and driven to succeed in this competition but even that didn’t guarantee victory.

Slips of the foot on the balance beam, out of bound dismounts, body alignments and falls were critically judged. It required total perfection to win and every mistake or miscalculated move would be deducted from their final score. Pardon or favor by the judges was not an option.

I am not an Olympic gymnast nor do I participate in competitive events. However, I do train, practice and take part in Christian living. It is an affirmation of faith that requires a lifestyle based on Biblical principles.

Like Olympic gymnasts, there are times I make mistakes, lose my footing and fall. In those nebulous moments, I question the futility of my Christian commitment and wonder how many more times I can fail before being eliminated? The answer is NEVER.

In Christian Olympics there is only one judge that determines who receives the gold and His name is God; Elohim, (Creator and Judge of the universe). With divine knowledge God judges the actions, spoken words and hidden secrets of our hearts. All mankind is a participant and the only way to win is an admission of our unrighteousness and an invitation to make Jesus our Savior and Olympic coach.

To accept Jesus into your heart means imperfections are forgiven; they are no longer counted against you. The blood He shed at the cross covers the curse of sin. Like the Apostle Paul, the finish line is the Olympic goal of every Christian.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness is laid up for me, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but to all who crave His appearing. 2 Timothy 4: 7-8

Feeling defeated today? Are you ready to give up because you’ve lost your footing on life’s balance beam? Maybe you’re faced with life changing events that have caused you to lose your grip or have fallen from grace and overcome with brokenness.

Whatever your story and wherever you are in your faith, the Righteous Judge is near. He longs to show loving compassion, forgiveness and pardon from all your ineffectual attempts to participate in life without His help. He stands ready to coach you to the finish line and award you the crown of life.

“He knows the way I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” Job 23:10

The trials that test our faith are more precious than gold. So, go for the GOLD!

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Tried by Fire

soapshardsAs the owner of a soap making company, I often test soap product for quality assurance. While cutting into a block of soap base, I noticed the soap crumbled leaving soap shards everywhere.  My heart sank realizing this soap formula might be a total failure. I quickly called my chemist for advice.

There are many different formulas used in creating a soap base. Oil types, raw materials and filtering processes all play a role in the final product outcome.  My chemist explained the lab’s decision to use a mixing process to eliminate small white particles had actually caused the base to become harder.  The harder base was creating the crumbling issue.

Before revising the formula, I decided to test the soap to see how it performed when heated. The soaps my company sells are a melt and pour type. The soap is cubed, melted in a microwave and poured into plastic molds. Once the soap sets up, it is popped out of the molds and ready for use.

My heart raced a bit as I released the first batch of test soap. So far, it was good. Now came the critical moment of cutting into the soap. Would the soap slices be clean and worthy of use or would they crumble and break? I carefully made my first cut. It was a perfect bar. A clean cut refined by nothing more than heat and resulted in a harder, long lasting bar.

As I pondered this, I was reminded how Jesus said Christians are “refined by fire to result in praise and honor when Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:7). In our Christian walk we sometimes crumble beneath the shards of life and wonder if we can ever be whole. Rest assured, when the heat is turned up, the particles of brokenness are refined and we become ready for use in the kingdom of God.

Just as my soap base was refined by the microwave furnace (so to speak) so is our life in Christ refined by the brokenness we experience in life.  The furnace heat produces gold. It produces something beautiful out of all those crumbling shards. Let Christ be your chemist, let Christ turn up the heat and the final product is guaranteed to be a success.

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The Beauty Within Us

Spider Web
My eyes caught a glimpse of something glistening on the back deck. As I opened the glass siding door to get a better view, I saw the beautiful silver strands against the backdrop of the morning sun. It was as if God stopped me in my tracks for a single moment of reflection before I was overcome by the busyness of my day.

Only the Master Creator would impart to a detested and loathed insect the ability to spin a web of such beauty. If God gives grace to a spider how much more consideration has He given to us. Others see us from the outside, but God sees the potential for spinning a web of beauty within us.

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

The next time you see a spider web, remember this, God has graced each of us with inner beauty. It’s up to us to spin the web and let is glisten against the backdrop of His Son.

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MORE THAN I CAN HANDLE

god_is_strong
If I were asked to pick one Bible scripture I believe is repeatedly misinterpreted, it would be 1 Corinthians 10:13.

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

This verse is often misquoted as “God won’t give you more than you can handle (bear).” However, you won’t find that anywhere within the pages of the Bible. It simply doesn’t exist. The Bible is filled with stories of individuals given way more than they could handle and lamentations about their suffering.

For a start, take a look at King David, Apostle Paul and Prophet Jeremiah. They were all afflicted and burdened beyond what they could handle. Yet, in adversity, they learned to rely on the divine power of God to sustain them in their darkest hours.

We all will face trials and adversities in our lifetime, but it doesn’t indicate God doesn’t love us. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It is proof God loves me so much that He is unwilling to let us rely on our own strength. When faced with adversity, we need to know that our God will endure and persevere with us until the end; no matter the outcome.

When we face difficulties greater than ourselves God empowers and strengthens us to get through those moments that would otherwise break us.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me – Philippians 4:13 NKJV

When faced with a heavy burden or situation, turn to God for strength. I know from experience God’s light is revealed at the end of every spiritual, emotional or physical eclipse. Just whisper His name; He stands ready to strengthen us in our moments of weakness and in times of despair.

The death and resurrection of Christ empowered Christian believers to call out to God in our time of need; it afforded us entry into the Throne Room of God.

Forget about relying on your own strength. Instead, rely on the strength of God and the Holy Spirit when faced with more than you can handle.

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MY CUP OVERFLOWETH

PoppyJuice“NeeNee,” shouted my youngest grandson at the top of his lungs, “I poured too much Poppy juice into my cup and it spilled all over.”

The grand kids coined the term Poppy Juice when they were old enough to drink from a sippy cup. It’s a blend of red fruit punch that Poppy mixes in a big jug; should it spill, you have one big sticky mess with a good chance it will stain whatever it penetrates.

I’m fairly certain permanent wheelie marks were left on my office floor as I flew out of my office chair in the direction of the kitchen. What I saw was a panic-stricken six-year old on his knees with paper towel stretched in every direction in an effort to stop the trail of red juice that covered the floor.

“I’m sorry, NeeNee, I didn’t mean to put that much in my cup.” The remorseful and tearful way in which he spoke those words resonated with me. In that moment, I saw myself at the feet of Jesus asking for forgiveness.

I can’t count the number of times my life’s cup has overflowed and required heavenly intervention and damage control to mop up my bad choice messes. Like my grandson, I tend to ignore the voice that continually calls out to be slow and careful and I find myself saying, “I’m sorry, Jesus. I wasn’t slow and careful like you asked. and my cup overflowed.”

With love and a forgiving spirit, my grandson and I worked together to bring restoration to a chaotic and messy situation. That’s exactly what Jesus does for us. When we cry out for help, He comes to us with love, mercy and forgiveness to clean the stains of sin that overflow from our life.

“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

Though we fall short of God’s glory, He made provisions to restore His glory within us through the cross of Jesus. He stands ready to restore our life messes and lead us in the paths of righteousness.