Category Archives: Random Thoughts

Lasting Help Comes From God

Ominous cloud formation last Fall, 2014

Ominous cloud formation last Fall, 2014

True help cannot come from our own strength.  It does not come through devices of our making, nor originate from ideas of our initiation.  It comes from a power source not our own.

Real and lasting help in a battle comes only from God.

This is especially true, when the storms we face are dark and ominous.  Onslaughts brought on by unseen dominions and principalities, at work against us because we belong to Christ.

Hallelujah, our God is greater! 

He is a very present help for any need.  His is the kind of help that is more than a mere temporary fix, because the Lord’s help goes beyond our finite understanding of what is really needed or wrong.  He understands the battle for what it is.  He sees to the root source: the real enemy we face.

Are you up against an overwhelming situation?  Is the battle raging?

*Admit that you need God’s help.
*Cry out to the Lord and then trust in the power of His name.

Through God alone, we shall prevail, beloved.  He will not fail us, but will deliver in our time of need.

Then Asa called to the LORD his God and said, “LORD, there is no one besides You to help in the battle between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us, O LORD our God, for we trust in You, and in Your name have come against this multitude. O LORD, You are our God; let not man prevail against You.
2 Chronicles‬ ‭14‬:‭11 NASB

Fifty Shades of Right ~ Blessings of a Christ-Centered Relationship

Shades of a Rose

Shades of a Rose

Fifty Shades of Right ~ Blessings of a Christ-Centered Relationship

1.   The unending spark of clutching; still holding hands when hair turns grey
2.   The warm embers of gazing, into eyes that will never stray

3.   The deep assurance of trusting; constant companion who won’t walk away
4.   The pure delight of melting, into loving arms of one who will stay
5.   The close connection of bowing; hearts intertwined together to pray

6.   The simple joys of sharing; close dialogue between just two
7.   The gentle touch of remembrance; thoughtful gestures designed for you
8.   The constant heartbeat of commitment; soft whispers of remaining true
9.   The blessed hope of forever; an eternal love that remains new
10. The blissful benefits of matrimony; solid vows, before God we say I do

Bright rose with shading 111.  The fulfilling sense of acceptance, no matter the flaws or pain
12.  The contented feeling of belonging; lonely times need not remain
13.  The wondrous blessing of covenant; helpmates throughout wind or rain
14.  The beautiful secret of romance; passion that grows past the mundane
15.  The special bonus of devotion: despite hard times, God’s promises sustain

16.  The amazing mystery of completeness; still unique, yet one instead
17.  The splendid journey of growing; more in love now, from whence we wed
18.  The exciting path of discovery; new insights, like pages unread
19.  The truest gift of pleasure; man and wife in bodily pledge
20.  The highest place of intimacy; God’s design for a marriage bed.

Bright rose with shading 221.  The sweet refrain of harmony; watching as all problems dissolve
22.  The happy sound of peace; squelching any strife that may evolve
23.  The solid fortress of purpose; staying the course with sure resolve
24.  The selfless act of giving; finding the world, around you does not revolve
25.  The surprising power of humility; love is best, when to Christ we yield it all

26.  The genuine attention of consideration; carefully pondering what makes one smile
27.  The right understanding of importance; wisely avoiding what might hurt or defile
28.  The pleasing pursuit of give and take; eager willingness to go the extra mile
29.  The determined display of faithfulness; remaining strong through the other one’s trial
30.  The purest display of relationship: equally submitting, with Christ first all the while

Bright rose with shading 331.  The reassuring rest of security; someone else to cling to when you fall
32.  The calming effect of protection; where safety’s concerned, never drops the ball
33.  The dependable help of reliability; when problems arise, you need only call
34.  The restorative place of encouragement; when life pushes down, you’re made tall
35.  The sure rewards of faith; when facing life’s trials, God’s promises we recall

36.  The comforting face of familiarity; knowing each other through and through
37.  The watchful eye of perception; always alert if another feels bruised
38.  The artful depth of insight; knowing all the ins and outs of pleasing you
39.  The tender moment of realization: in your eyes, seeing part of me, too
40.  The joyous awareness of destiny: meant to be together, before Creation God knew

Bright rose with shading 541.  The priceless value of respect; balanced consideration for what matters most
42.  The supreme height of yielding; preferring the other becomes our boast
43.  The careful boundaries of sensitivity; certain things, to the world we will not post
44.  The mutual maintaining of modesty; private splendors, to others don’t disclose
45.  The exemplary model of dignity; made in God’s image, our highest for His utmost

46.  The unending satisfaction of longevity; to give up, we would not dare
47.  The enormous delights of monogamy; temporal thrills pale, by compare
48.  The treasured bonding of unity; the closer we get, the more deeply we care
49.  The decided attainment of oneness; how it happens, neither of us is aware
50.  The matchless glimpse of perfection; Christ our example, His sacrificial love we share

Blessings of Right

Blessings of Right

For the fifty examples above, I gleaned from lessons and experiences of my wonderful, Christ-centered marriage, soon approaching thirty years strong. The rose photos, with shaded progression, show how a relationship with God at the helm grows ever richer in vibrancy and satisfaction, as compared to becoming empty and stagnant in shallow shades of grey.
They depict the blessings of a relationship done right, God’s way.

****

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”
Ephesians 5:31

The Game of Pin the Tail ~ Strategies for Sowing God’s Truth

Pin the TailHave you ever played the game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey?  It is a fun group game where someone posts a picture of a tail-less donkey, then people take turns trying to tack its tail back on the proper place, a task at which few participants succeed.  That is because the real enjoyment of the game comes from watching when players, spun and blindfolded earlier, miss the spot on the donkey, landing the tail on random, hilarious sites instead.

Although humorous as a game, there are situations in life when missing the mark is not at all fun and games.  This is especially true when sharing our faith.

Do you ever feel like the truths of God you try to sow or ‘pin’ into another person’s life miss the mark?
Have you ever experienced times, where it seemed like the enemy so spun the circumstances around, that it seemed like the words bounced right off and fell to the ground? 

As followers of Christ, we must be ready in season and out to share His truth in love.  So often when we do, though, those same truths seem to fall on deaf ears.  When we rarely see a harvest for our labor, it is easy to start concluding we missed the mark, from inadequate sowing. 

Proverbs depicts the ideal:

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”
Prov. 25:11

When I read this, I imagine a canvas still life showing a fine silver goblet surrounded by luscious golden apples.  Words of truth spoken in such a timely, Spirit-directed way that they reap a harvest as lovely as a masterpiece.  Sadly, that is rarely the case anymore.

The reality of our culture is an outright refusal of truth, predicted years ago by the prophet Isaiah:

“And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.” (59‬:‭14‬)

Do you see this happening in your efforts to share the gospel?  The precious words of Truth seem to fall on the street, left for trampling underfoot.
Does the lack of receptivity tempt you to give up?
If rejected, should we continue to cast the treasured pearls of God’s word, as if to swine?

We cannot and must not give up on anyone, but we do need to understand the mission.  To explain, I’ll take us back to the game of Pin the Tail.

First, it is never our job to decide when, where, or how a person needs a word of truth.  Our only responsibility is in the sowing, or for illustration purposes, the pinning of the Word.

Also, we must remember that although it can seem like it, we are not blindfolded or alone, as we go about this call.  The Holy Spirit is always there to direct and give us the boldness needed in every situation.  He is the One completely capable of effecting the intended purposes of the Word, despite the devil’s attempt to spin things in a wrong direction.

Even when we do not see results, we can rest assured that the Word does not come back void.

We always err in assuming that what we see now is the reality of what will be in eternity.  Doing so only sets the stage for discouragement or the temptation to take matters into our own hands, both of which are futile.  Discouragement weakens our own faith and self-effort only pins truth further away from the intended goal of winning people to Christ.

Finally, for effective truth-pinning, we don’t wear blindfolds, but actually could use blinders, of sorts.  Anything that would enable us to shift the focus from an outside monitoring of truth’s effectiveness, to an inward inspecting of our own obedience. Willingness is all that God asks of us.  He is Lord of the harvest and the One who gives the increase.

The word of God is NOT the tail, even though that is exactly what the enemy deceives people into believing. That God’s word is irrelevant, unnecessary.
Jesus is Author, Finisher, the living Word.  He is Alpha, Omega and lifted high above all.  We are the body of Christ, but He is always the Head. 

Am I clear?

Like any other, this attempt at sharing truth may miss the mark.  However, God knows how to pin His truth to accomplish His purposes, and as such, will use even this.  That is because only He knows how to reach each of us lost (by nature, clueless as a donkey?) sheep!

Woven ~ God’s Presence and Love For Us

Woven

Woven ~ a heart-shaped potato chip I found.  Sort of a belated Happy Valentines!

Woven

Your presence,
Woven into the very fabric of who I am.

Your goodness,
Extending seamlessly throughout my life.

Your mercy,
Threading my soul to eternity.

Your love,
Connecting me to You from every side.

****

“That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.”

John 17:21-23

Written on 4/12/14, three days prior to my neck surgery.  I was having fears about it all.  God reminded me that He couldn’t possibly leave me on my own, because His presence is woven into the very fabric of my being.

The same holds true this side of my surgery.  God continues to sustain, comfort and clothe me with His presence and love.

Blessings and much love, with whatever you are going through!

God Values the One ~ Each Offering Multiplies

Dandelion seed pod brushed with grainMultiplies

God notices the small
And hears their cries.
He values every one;
By them resides.
He takes each offering
And multiplies.

Do you ever feel like your efforts for God go unnoticed?  Do you sometimes long for a wider realm of influence for your messages?

In our age of self-preoccupation, it is difficult to stay satisfied with pleasing Christ alone, and all too easy to get caught up in the trap of craving affirmation from others. 

Desiring multiple likes,
Wanting more feedback,
Obsessing over selfies,
Longing for massive followers.

As ambassadors for Christ, we may even conclude that success means reaching the masses.  After all, does not the great commission instruct us to do just that?  To go into all the world and preach the gospel?  It would almost seem like God wants each of His followers to pursue a global audience.

But we are not all gifted to reach large numbers with the good news about Christ.  The Billy Grahams of this world are unique.  God knows who can handle notoriety without succumbing to the temptations popularity affords.  He recognizes that very few of us would stay humble. 

One of our biggest errors, though, is to dismiss the importance to God of the one.  He loves the world, and it is a world made up of individuals.  People like you and me. 

 God loves the one

Christ left the ninety-nine to search for the one lost sheep.  He met with one woman by the well.  He called every disciple, one at a time.  God sent His One and only Son to save mankind.  He would have done it to save a single one.

Since God values every person, we should not feel slighted when our influence is small.  And if our focus is on pleasing the One who really matters most, we will never be dissatisfied with reaching just one, even if nobody else notices.

God takes each offering and multiplies

What will be amazing is when we get to heaven and God reveals the full impact our lives had on others. He will show us how the simple offerings we gave multiplied.  We will find out that the things we thought did not matter were actually huge, when viewed from eternity.

Until then, we must take our eyes and emotions off reaching the masses.  Instead, we need to focus on Jesus and serve obediently, even if our offering seems way too small.

God values us, each and every one.  No matter the offering, He blesses and multiplies.

****

“Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness,”
2 Corinthians 9:10

Captured by Pain ~ Captivated by God’s Love

Ominous

Ominous ~ a recent storm approaching

Captured by pain
Yet captivated by grace sublime
Devastated in every way
Yet drenched in love Divine

God sometimes allows circumstances to capture us, in order to captivate us with His immeasurable love. 

He will even use pain to stop the busyness and speak into our lives.  To hold us in His arms and drench us with His love.

My recovery from neck surgery has been rife with ups and downs.  With periods of strengths and setbacks. 

Although I prefer the days without pain, it is during those weakened interludes that God grabs my full attention.  He is then able to remind me of His all-consuming love.

You may have noticed my infrequent blogging.  It is because of continued difficulties with computer usage.  Since I love writing and working with photos, my inability to do so has brought much discouragement.

The enemy wants us to focus on the ominous possibilities of our circumstances and dwell in devastated defeat.  To convince us that the life we once enjoyed has ended.  To permanently capture us with pain.

At its worst, though, discouragement cannot overtake God’s love.  Physical pain cannot extinguish it.  Hardship cannot prevent it.

No matter the difficulty, God’s love abounds higher, wider and deeper still.  Trials don’t have to destroy us; they can instead strip out the trivial and bring us closer to God.  We can discover afresh and anew that His word is true:

Nothing can separate us from God’s love.

I wish that things in life made sense.  The good news is that they don’t have to for me to know and experience a contentment found only in God. 

When trials capture us, we can rest in God’s embrace, knowing that He is in control. 

God wants us to focus on the magnificent certainty of His promises and dwell in contented rest.  To believe that the purposes He intends are yet realized.  To forever captivate us with His love.

God will use anything to drench us with an awareness of His everlasting love and His grace, so sublime.

“I will sing of the Lord’s unfailing love forever!
Psalm 89:1
NLT

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.
Genesis 50:20a
NLT

 

Written in Sand ~ God Erases Our Sins

I left this message at the beach ~ figured someone might need it

I left this message at the beach ~ figured someone might need it

Written in sand
Our sins, such disgrace
Forgiven, our mistakes
God’s love does erase.

I have fond childhood memories of trips to the beach.  I don’t get to go very often anymore, but periodically just yearn to see the ocean.

I get to missing the taste of salty brine and the feel of sand between my toes.
Of relaxing to the gentle lapping of the waves, skirting back and forth on the shore.
Or building castles fortresses and writing heartfelt messages in the sand.

My memories of the beach linger.  Not long after formed, however, my seaside fortresses and writings in the sand all washed away.

Words written in sand, meant to last forevermore,
Erased quickly by the seashore.

The amazing thing about artistry in sand is that once eroded or washed away, the erasure is permanent.  There is no ability to precisely replicate what was before, whether castles or words.  Sand tablets have the ability to completely clean the slate.

Written in the Sand ~ Jesus

When He knelt before the woman caught in adultery, we don’t know what Jesus wrote in the sand that day.  Many speculate that while the religious leaders took turns hurling accusations of her guilt, Christ listed each of their faults in the sand.  Since there is no record in Scripture, nobody knows with certainty what He wrote. 

Jesus could have written about the sins of her accusers.
He could have documented the wrongdoing of the accused.

One thing is for sure, though, when the ordeal was over and the adulterous woman went on her way, she did so forgiven and cleansed to sin no more.  Had Christ listed her transgressions in sand during her trial, no trace of her wrongdoing remained when it concluded.  That is because when God forgives a repentant heart, He wipes the accusatory slate clean.

Covered completely by the blood of Christ, our sins lie forever forgotten at the bottom of the sea.  The tide of His merciful love erases the penalty of death written over our lives.  Our iniquities, washed away like messages in the sand.  No trace of former evidence remains.

“He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”
Micah 7:19