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Hope in the Harbor

My husband and I love to visit areas where ships clutter coastlines and the waters disappear into the horizon.  I am drawn to water, no matter the depth or type of coastline it is.  I love rivers, oceans, lakes, ponds, and creeks.  I’m the type of person that can’t just look at a body of water and enjoy the scenery.  I have to dip at least a toe or finger in it, even if it’s freezing cold.  But, if it’s warm or the chill isn’t unbearable, I have plunge into the water, even if I’m not properly clothed for it.  I’ve always been this way, my parents can attest to it from stories of me as a toddler, escaping their attention and jumping into a pool of water, clothes and all.   With that said, my husband loves ships, boats, and lighthouses.  He prefers to float on the water in a vessel or at least admire it from the shore.

I wonder if I’m just anxious for a vacation or if God’s trying to show me something today.  I think it’s a little of both.   This morning, I was praying and not really going anywhere with it.  I have so much on my mind right now and a lot of emotions and thoughts swirling around my head, so this blog post could cause a little seasickness to the reader.  Disclaimers are necessary in the world today!  Anyway, I was loading laundry into the washer, when I just felt like God spoke one word to me, that word was harbor.  I felt like he wanted me to explore that word, so I did.  It lead me to first look up the definition of the word, although I know the definition, but investigating it and chewing on it often leads to other thoughts.  There is a noun definition and a verb definition.  The noun definition is a place on the coast where vessels may find shelter, especially one protected from rough water by piers, jetties, and other artificial structures.  It is also a place to seek refuge.  So, thinking of harbors, I immediately think of mine and my husband’s love for them.  But, being a believer, I also think of God and Him being the place that I find shelter during the storms.  He is my refuge in all the emotional thoughts and feelings that I am having at this moment.  I think of sailors who are at sea and a storm comes upon them, they have to act quickly, but their thoughts are immediately on seeking out the horizon, trying to locate a place to dock their vessel, searching for safety.  The depths of the seas surround them; waves crash over the boats, the storms probably feel like they aren’t ever going to end.  I wonder how hopeless they feel when they see the strength of the ocean and understand they aren’t in control.  Then, how do they feel when they spot land, a lighthouse, a harbor with hope inviting them in?  I’m sure they feel relieved, glad, and thankful.  I think of myself and certain times in my life when I’m trying to ride the storms out without seeking direction or looking for refuge.  When I do that, I may feel in control for a little while, but then the severity of the storm hits me and I get scared and realize that I need a refuge, a savior, a harborharbor on the horizon.  With all that being said, I feel like God is just saying that I need to dock my vessel.  I need to tie up to His dock, rest, refuel, and await instructions for the next step.

However, there is also a verb definition for the word, harbor, in two forms as well.  The first is to keep (a thought or feeling, typically a negative one) in one’s mind, especially secretly or to have in mind a thought or feeling, usually over a long period of time.  With this definition, I start thinking, what am I harboring in my mind?  What bad thoughts are keeping me weighed down?  Is this why I feel like I’m drowning sometimes?   Is it worry, anger, doubt, self-pity, aggravation, or maybe a molotav cocktail of them all? Whatever it is, I know it’s not healthy for my soul.  The other verb definition is to protect someone by providing a place to hide.  This points to God again; he protects me and gives me a place to hide.  The scripture that I immediately think of when I think of this definition is Psalm 91:4 “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”   In this, I know I have to give all my thoughts, feelings, and hurts that I’m harboring to God.  He will cover them and I’ll find refuge there.

The next passage that I was led to was Psalm 107.  I love this and have highlighted the theme of this blog today, but the whole passage is spiritually filling, I hope that it feeds you as well.

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!

    His faithful love endures forever.

2 Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out!

    Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies.

3 For he has gathered the exiles from many lands,

    from east and west,

    from north and south.[a]

4 Some wandered in the wilderness,

    lost and homeless.

5 Hungry and thirsty,

    they nearly died.

6 “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble,

    and he rescued them from their distress.

7 He led them straight to safety,

    to a city where they could live.

8 Let them praise the Lord for his great love

    and for the wonderful things he has done for them.

9 For he satisfies the thirsty

    and fills the hungry with good things.

 

10 Some sat in darkness and deepest gloom,

    imprisoned in iron chains of misery.

11 They rebelled against the words of God,

    scorning the counsel of the Most High.

12 That is why he broke them with hard labor;

    they fell, and no one was there to help them.

13 “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble,

    and he saved them from their distress.

14 He led them from the darkness and deepest gloom;

    he snapped their chains.

15 Let them praise the Lord for his great love

    and for the wonderful things he has done for them.

16 For he broke down their prison gates of bronze;

    he cut apart their bars of iron.

 

17 Some were fools; they rebelled

    and suffered for their sins.

18 They couldn’t stand the thought of food,

    and they were knocking on death’s door.

19 “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble,

    and he saved them from their distress.

20 He sent out his word and healed them,

    snatching them from the door of death.

21 Let them praise the Lord for his great love

    and for the wonderful things he has done for them.

22 Let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving

    and sing joyfully about his glorious acts.

 

23 Some went off to sea in ships,

    plying the trade routes of the world.

24 They, too, observed the Lord’s power in action,

    his impressive works on the deepest seas.

25 He spoke, and the winds rose,

    stirring up the waves.

26 Their ships were tossed to the heavens

    and plunged again to the depths;

    the sailors cringed in terror.

27 They reeled and staggered like drunkards

    and were at their wits’ end.

28 “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble,

    and he saved them from their distress.

29 He calmed the storm to a whisper

    and stilled the waves.

30 What a blessing was that stillness

    as he brought them safely into harbor!

31 Let them praise the Lord for his great love

    and for the wonderful things he has done for them.

32 Let them exalt him publicly before the congregation

    and before the leaders of the nation.

 

33 He changes rivers into deserts,

    and springs of water into dry, thirsty land.

34 He turns the fruitful land into salty wastelands,

    because of the wickedness of those who live there.

35 But he also turns deserts into pools of water,

    the dry land into springs of water.

36 He brings the hungry to settle there

    and to build their cities.

37 They sow their fields, plant their vineyards,

    and harvest their bumper crops.

38 How he blesses them!

    They raise large families there,

    and their herds of livestock increase.

 

39 When they decrease in number and become impoverished

    through oppression, trouble, and sorrow,

40 the Lord pours contempt on their princes,

    causing them to wander in trackless wastelands.

41 But he rescues the poor from trouble

    and increases their families like flocks of sheep.

42 The godly will see these things and be glad,

    while the wicked are struck silent.

43 Those who are wise will take all this to heart;

    they will see in our history the faithful love of the Lord.

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Awaken the Gray

Fuzzy logic,

Blurred truth,

Unclear lines,

Indistinct certainties,

Overcast thinking,

Crowded acceptances,

Confused, there is no black or white.

Our world is gray.

Blocking vision

No right or wrong

Anything goes

While empty souls roam around

Knowing only the gray.

Thick gray fog covering…

Hovering…

Puddling….

My heart is heavy

Watching color fade away

I slowly dip my brush in paint.

Tears of blue drip onto the canvas

Drip….

Drip…..

Drip….

Streaming down, making pools of water.

The water swirls….

Searching….

Seeking….

Looking past gray skies.

Seeing yellow…

Blinding…

Bright….

Warmth….

Energizing, renewing, igniting inner beings that were asleep.

Transforming into orange…

Realizing, conception, created for

Such a time….

Tick…Tock…Tick…tock…

Moving hands, awaking the gray…Alarms sound!!

Flowers bloom, plants open up and feed off the sustenance that makes life thrive.

Bursting forth….

Opening up…

Red explodes, covering its surroundings.

Can’t help but feel the heartbeat beating…

Thump….thump…thump…

See the passion, His loving eyes reach out erasing the nothingness around.

Covering….

Suturing….

Removing the gauze

BOOM ….

BOOM….

BOOM….

Victory marches in with vibrant robes

Authority…

Kingship….

Worthy….

The Crown awaits.

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2018 in Poetry, Spiritual Reflections

 

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More than I can count

We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies. Martin Luther King, Jr

Some days I just feel the need to write.  There’s some kind of healing that happens, I believe when you can just throw the words out of your mind and onto paper or a screen.  I’ve been gnawing on some things that have been going on in my life with certain people who are causing discourse either with those around me or myself and at the same time I’m reading a book that is reminding me to love the unlovable, people different from myself, those I mostly don’t acknowledge or even see.  But, to do this is hard, especially when you encounter those who are ready to run you over and take anything that is left of you or accuse you of not caring when you care more than they understand.

These feelings are minor compared to what Jesus must have felt when those closest to him abandoned him.  That’s what I have to remind myself of.  Jesus felt all the heaviness of all types of problems, sins, hurts, regrets, guilt, accusations but still loved the world enough to bear them.  What amazing love that is.  Yet, how many times have I felt disappointed in God for not doing what I expected him to do?  How many times have I tried to manipulate God to get what I want?  How many times have I shut the door in his face because He’s telling me something that I don’t want to hear?  How many times have I been selfish?  How many times have I been cruel?  How many times have I blamed Him for something I caused myself?  How many times have I hurt him?  How often have I pushed him away?  How many times have I run over him?  How many times have I lied to him?  All these questions remind me of the scripture where Peter asked Jesus how many times do I forgive someone who sins against me? Is 7 times enough?  Jesus replied to Peter and said, no seventy times seven.  Now me, my math skills are terrible, so I would just know that number is more than I can count on my hands.  But, after I figure it up with a calculator, the number is 490.  I don’t think Jesus intended for Peter to keep score to 491 and then write them off as unforgiven.  I think he just gave a high number to show that to forgive isn’t something you should keep score with.  You just need to do it, even when it hurts.    Even when you haven’t done anything wrong but the other person thinks you have.  Forgiveness is never easy.  But forgiveness is necessary.  Why?  Look at how many times Jesus has forgiven you and me and not kept score.    He doesn’t look at you and me and say well, remember the time when you messed up and so on.  Nope, he just forgives and loves.  That’s what we are commanded to do as well.  Is it easy?  Not at all, but it is possible with God.  Trust me, I don’t have it all together and I know I have a long ways to go.  I’m just reminded recently that to be Christlike can hurt and not be comfortable.  But, this is how we show others who He is.

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2018 in Spiritual Reflections

 

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Give in, Get rest

fightingsleep

This morning when I got up, I kept hearing Chris Tomlin’s song “Lay me down,” in my spirit.  I like the song, it’s upbeat and catchy.  But, I really started thinking about the lyrics and what it actually says.  Often I can hear something, but not really listen to what its saying.  I hear the sound, but don’t listen to the message of it or just don’t really think about it.  While I was thinking about it, I started visualizing a kid who fights a nap.  I’ve seen kids do everything possible to fight sleep and avoid rest.  Kids can do some really silly things to stay awake.  They wiggle, ask for food or drink, go to the bathroom a million times, cry, sneak and play after the parents leave the room.  But, after a long fight, usually sleep just overtakes them or they skip the nap and become unbearable the rest of the day.

If I don’t get enough rest, I know that I can be hard to live with.  I try to medicate myself with enormous doses of coffee, but that’s just a quick fix to the problem.  Anyway, after thinking those few thoughts, God spoke the verse “Be still and know that I am God.”  The thing is, if you are still and not fighting rest, you find it pretty quick.  Your eyes get heavy and the next thing you know, you’re in dreamland.  After thinking about that verse, I wrote down some key words that I felt went along with my whole visualization that I know God gave me, for at least my own personal life.  The four words I wrote down were lay, listen, rest and know.   I started digging in the word and wrote down some verses to look up later when I had more time to examine what God may be trying to show me.

First, for lay, I read about Jesus laying down his life for his sheep….for me and you.  (John 10:11)  Jesus’ death on the cross was the ultimate sacrifice.  Next, I read 1 John 3:16 and it says that Jesus is our example of love because He laid down his life for us and that we should do the same for our brothers.  Sacrifice involves laying down things that are hard to lie down; otherwise it wouldn’t be a sacrifice.  The thing about sacrifice is that God isn’t going to force us to lay that sacrifice down, he wants us to be obedient and willing to do so (John 10:18) Jesus became willing to go to the cross.  So, back to the thought of a kid taking a nap, in order for the kid to receive rest, he has to first decide to lie down.

Second, listen.  Listen is an action word.  I cannot hear well, I wear hearing aids and often I have to really focus on the person speaking to hear them.  Other noises that are louder will distract me from actually hearing someone who is speaking soft.  When I was a kid myself and couldn’t go to sleep, my Dad would tell me to just close my eyes and think of good things.  I would most of the time listen to his advice and do that and fall asleep.  But if I listened to the worries of the day or the fears that lingered in the shadows, I’d toss and turn and have trouble falling asleep.   So, the first thought is that to find rest, I need to listen to my Father (Heavenly one).  John 10:27 says “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”  Proverbs 1 says that those who are wise listen yet fools despise wisdom and discipline.  I don’t think I want to be a fool, but I know that I have been and sometimes I’m foolish and stubborn because I don’t listen.   1 Samuel 3:9, “So Eli told Samuel, Go and lie down, and if he calls you say, speak Lord, for your servant is listening.  So Samuel went and lay down in his place.”   In this verse, the word servant stands out to me and the word Lord.  The Lord is lord of my life, He reigns over me and I need to be willing to be submissive to hearing what He wants to tell me.

Third key word is rest.  My first key scripture took me to Job 3:17.  Job is upset and he’s tired, he wishes to never have lived and wants death because he sees that as the quickest answer to his problems.  He wants to find rest and he thinks that death is it.  I’ll admit that I’ve had those thoughts myself in the past.  What I can take from this verse or the whole passage is that when I look inward, I’ll only find wrong answers.  I’ll hear the wrong voices that want me to quickly destroy what God’s answer is instead.  But, Psalm 62:1 says my soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him.   I don’t have the answers to my problems; I can’t save myself or others, my rest and salvation come from God alone.  How do I find that rest?  Matthew 11:28 says “come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”  So, I have to go to Him to find rest.  I know when I was a kid and if just thinking good thoughts wasn’t enough for me to fall asleep and find rest, then the next thing I needed to do was seek my Dad and have him hold me.  It was easy to fall asleep in my Dad’s arms.  I was safe there.

Lastly, know; when I rest what do I know? I know that He’s God (Psalm 46:10). I have to know that God is above all, He is in control, not I.  John 14:17 reminds us that the world doesn’t recognize God because they don’t know Him.  As His child, I know Him and I know His voice.  I can trust Him, because I know Him and know that He loves me.  Romans 7:18 reminds me that apart from Him, nothing good lives in me.  I am sinful by nature.  Romans 8:28 reminds me that I know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.  God is working in all situations, even when I can’t see it.  I have to rely on this love and because I see and know this love, I’m supposed to show the fruit of love to others (1 John 4:16).  Finally, 1 John 5:14 – 15 says “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.”

So, in conclusion, I lay me down, I’m not my own.  I belong to you alone…….

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2017 in Spiritual Reflections

 

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Unconditonal

amazinglovePeople are so fickle.  I was thinking about how easily others get upset with people on social media because they aren’t getting enough attention or likes. They threaten cleaning out their friends list because people don’t talk to them enough or God forbid they vote differently from you or have an opposing viewpoint. It seems more often than not, that we attach many conditions to friendship.  Why do so many people not allow for others to think for themselves or have their own opinion about something?  What happened with listening to each other and agreeing to disagree on certain matters?

Since Easter is this weekend, it makes me realize how wonderful it is to have a savior who loves mankind unconditionally.  We all can be punks sometimes.  I wonder how often Jesus feels neglected by mankind, even by Christians. I know personally that in busyness, I often push through life and neglect to give Jesus the attention or credit He deserves.  When Jesus walked the Earth, he taught radical living, opposite from what our flesh wants to do.  He ticked people off because His teachings didn’t line up with theirs.  Many walked away from Him. But, he didn’t move.  He wasn’t afraid of the lepers.  He touched them.  He didn’t care to be seen with a questionable woman.  He breathed real love upon her. For those who had questions,  He sat and answered the questions.  He spoke truth, but didn’t force it on the audience. He endured betrayal, physical lashings, ridicule, anger, and still forgave.  He knew He would be denied by Peter, yet sought him out afterwards for breakfast, after the Resurrection.

Explaining how extreme Jesus’ love for mankind is really unfathomable.  But, once you realize it and come in full contact with it, it’s overwhelming to know you are loved without condition.  When you are smacked with that kind of love, how can you not follow Him?  His love is a magnet.  It moves me out of myself and draws me to Him.  If you haven’t met Him, I hope that you will soon.

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2016 in Spiritual Reflections

 

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Building Upon The Rock

Last night, I ran into an old friend of mine from school. We locked eyes and were genuinely happy to see each other. We embraced each other and talked about how quickly time passes and she nodded toward her daughter when I asked if she had grandchildren yet. Her daughter was pregnant with her first grandchild who would be arriving in a few months. She spoke briefly of struggles she had been dealing with but that she was doing better. The new baby gave her renewed hope and direction for her life. I encouraged her and told her that she could continue to come out of her struggles. Hope is often something that seems lost in the moment of struggle. At least it does briefly, until you refocus on the goal at hand, but more importantly hope is found in God.

Our community has been hit lately with some tough weather. We’ve had two weeks of snow and slick roads. Then it warmed up, which was great, but then yesterday morning the rivers and streams began to overflow. Many areas are dealing with flooding and being trapped once again in their homes by weather. Today it is sleeting, so the roads are very icy. The weather is affecting business. It’s also affecting others paychecks because they can’t get to work. But, we can’t let it get us down. We have to still live and do. I started thinking of the much quoted scripture in Jeremiah. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” That verse has often reminded me that God’s hand is on my life and that He wants the best for me. But, I decided this morning to explore the whole chapter. I think we should really remember to look at the whole context of the passage. Jeremiah wrote a letter to the exiles in Babylon, this is what Jeremiah 29 is about. He reminds the people that God knows where they are and why there are there. It makes no sense to the people why they are captive and dealing with trouble, but God knows the full picture. Jeremiah reminds them that God hasn’t abandoned them. He also warns them about listening to false prophets. These false prophets were telling them that their captivity would be brief. That wasn’t the case; their captivity would be for seventy years. Jeremiah tells the people that in this time period continue to build homes, plant gardens, and marry their sons and daughters. It’s hard sometimes to continue living even when the circumstances aren’t good, but we have to continue on. If we just sit down and do nothing when things are bad, we would not do ourselves or our future any good. Why does Jeremiah encourage them to keep building, planting and marrying? They needed to continue doing so because they are readying the future generation to come into the Promised Land. When we are struggling, we have to look past ourselves and look toward those who will benefit in our struggling. We have to teach the next generation that hope comes from God. We have to endure, so that we will survive, but more importantly so that the future generation will survive.
Think about your life and tough moments in your life. It was tough to go through those things, but have they helped you to be compassionate to others who’ve went through similar circumstances? Have they given you the ability to feed into someone else who is going through what you have already overcome? I know that through tough moments in the past and even current ones, I question God and ask why. But, we have to be ok with the fact that He knows and that His plans aren’t to harm us. He wants us to call upon Him and seek Him. He wants a relationship with us. He wants us to rely fully on Him. He wants us not to be selfish but to think of others. He wants us to build our future through people, our offspring and our community. We need to keep building and planting. Our relationships with mankind need to be reaching and lifting. Our arms need to embrace each other. We need to encourage one another. We need to pray for one another. We need to love one another.

“For the Lord says, ‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you and keep My promise to you. I will bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for well-being and not for trouble, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will look for Me and find Me, when you look for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ says the Lord. ‘And I will bring you back and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have made you go,’ says the Lord. ‘I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you away.” Jeremiah 29:10-14

 
 

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Decorated But Empty

emptybox

Through Christ we have a relationship with God.  At one time in my life I had a religion with God, it’s not the same.  You feel empty, you feel like you are never going to do enough or gain enough favor from him.  You mess up and you pray for forgiveness. You are afraid others will call you out on your sin and then hide it even more.  Then you slip and think if I do this or that, I’ll make my way into His Kingdom.  It’s tiring and unproductive.  Religion is cold, lonely and dark.

Christ’s love releases you from that worn out path of religion.  He knows you messed up, will mess up, and he doesn’t shame you in it, but instead he forgives you, constantly.  His love and forgiveness is never ending.   All you do is ask Him for it and it’s done.  With this type of forgiveness, you become victorious over anything that you need to overcome.  Because when you have a relationship with Christ, you come to Him raw.  You bear your heart to Him, because you trust Him.  You understand and somewhat grasp what all He has done for you.  Although, His love is unfathomable, you know deep down that it’s real and it’s there inside you.  He knows you better than you know yourself.    His love becomes greater than any sin that had power over you before.  He knows if you are having a bad day, if you feel awful, and yet He doesn’t close the door on you.  He’s there to listen, comfort you, and reassure you that He’s beside you.  A relationship is warm, comfortable, and light.

Anytime you have a close relationship with someone, you start to show little bits of their personality in your own.  I think it happens that way because you spend so much time with that person that they really do rub off on you.  That’s how it’s supposed to be with Christians, we should have such an awesome relationship with Him that we begin to show bits of who He is.  His light is in us and we should be shining it out of us.  His light is love.  He doesn’t love the world; He loves those who reside in the world.  He loves people, he doesn’t discriminate, he doesn’t choose particular types of people, instead He loves all people.   Christianity is made into something harder than it actually is.  Religion puts Christianity in a big pretty box, wraps it with expensive paper, puts a huge felt bow on it and tags it with, “Don’t touch unless approved by the Almighty.” 

Christ came and blended in with people that the religious folks didn’t expect him to be around.  This gift of Christ didn’t come wrapped in ribbons lying in a plush cradle.  This gift of Christ came swaddled in cloth lying in a manger.  This gift of Christ on this day whispered, “I love you and I’m here.” 

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2013 in Spiritual Reflections

 

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