Monday, May 4, 2015

Accidental Tree

While driving through the vast openness that is Kansas, I watched miles of flat pastureland roll by my window. I had turned the radio off and was talking to God. I was pouring out my frustrations about where I'm at and questioning if I'm serving Him at all when all I feel is chaos and discouragement. Just as I finished that thought, I saw it. In the middle of all the flatness, there was a tree. It was pretty weathered and tilted by the years of prevailing winds. It was all alone there with nothing like it as far as the eye could see. I said, "See, I feel like that tree Lord, beaten, weathered and little tattered. I feel so alone sometimes and very isolated. Where I'm at makes about as much sense at that tree in the middle of miles of nothing". His gentle answer was as soft as a breeze and I heard Him say to my heart.

"From this distance the tree appears alone, but if you were to look closely it is a home for animals, birds and insects. It provides shade to the farmer when in the heat of the day he seeks shelter. It is bent but has grown strong in the winds day after day. It appears to be random and alone in its placement, but to those who needed a tree right in that place, it is exactly where it should be. It is unique in its surroundings and stands out because it's the only one of its kind there. It's visible from a long distance and has beauty in the contrast."

I hear you Lord and I'm okay right where I'm at...

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Humble and the ....Strong?

It takes great strength to humble one's self and serve others. Setting aside my natural bent towards consuming self-interest is not accomplished by accident. The fruit of the Holy Spirit includes self-control. This is a deliberate discipline which must be practiced and exercised every day. I've heard that 'meekness' means, "great strength under control". As God continues to teach me what the sanctified life looks like, He continues to stress humbling myself as a basis for all He would sanctify in me. Daily humbling myself to Him and others is a discipline which I am purposefully walking through. It begins there. Emptying myself and submitting completely and utterly to His masterful hand. Obeying, even in the slightest thing. Standing, when a direction is unclear and waiting on Him to move. Continuing in what I know, even when it seems monotonous or fruitless. He will harvest. I am to sow, water, weed and work until He calls me home.

Thank you Lord for your strength. I need nothing but You to live in abundance. You are my joy. You are my peace and I love You with all my heart, mind, soul and strength.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Remember when God parted the waters? Not the Red Sea....the other time!

Have you come to an immovable obstacle? A crossroad? A life-altering decision?

We all know the story of Moses and the exodus from Egypt. God parted the Red Sea and the entire nation of Israel crossed over on dry land. To leave where they were in bondage, it took a great step of faith. With walls of water on either side, they had to walk quite a distance trusting that God would hold the walls up until they were safely on the other side. How quickly they forgot that miracle of power and became so disobedient they wandered in the desert for 40 years. Even Moses, their great humble leader did not enter the promised land.

Fast forward to that time of entering into the promised land. Most of us don't know that before entering the land God had promised, Israel had to again take a great step of faith. God told the priest to carry the Ark and step into the flooded Jordan river. As their feet sunk into the muddy bottom, God piled up the river and the nation walked across on dry land. This time, the Lord told them to take up stones from the middle of the river bed where the priests had stood with the Ark of God in order to erect 'stones of remembrance' for future generations. God led them out of bondage with might and led them into a promise with His power. There was no mistaking His presence as both events were marked by a supernatural extraordinary miracle. The exodus and the entering into the promised land were both made possible with steps of faith. But, only the fulfillment of the promise of their new land was to be marked with those stones.

Strange how the story of Moses parting the Red Sea is known by believers and non-believers alike (thought Moses didn't part the sea, God did), but the story marked by God's instruction to set up "stones of remembrance to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever" is little known but for a foot note.

We credit Moses for parting the sea and forget the God who did it twice for Israel.

The Lord your God did to the Jordan just what He had done to the Red Sea when He dried it up before us until we had crossed over. he did  this so that ALL the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD your God. Joshua 4:22-24

We must step where God leads. Whether it is out of sin's bondage or into a place of promise, God reacts to our faith in Him and in His power. So if that raging river looks daunting, go on, step in and look for God to part the waters. Take up those stones of remembrance for the next time the river is raging. God is just waiting for you to step in so you can watch Him be magnificent!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Ode to the average American

I am not a politician. I am not a public union employee. I am not a hyphenated-American. I am not a person of wealth or influence. I am a native of my state. I am a veteran of both the United States Air Force and of the Army National Guard. I am a college graduate with an advanced science degree and I am a daughter, wife, step-mom, cousin, niece and friend.

I have filed and paid my federal income taxes every single year that I have earned a paycheck. I pay too much in taxes to the federal government and apparently it’s still not enough. Billions of our tax dollars are given to political cronies under the guise of “job creation” and still true unemployment is above 11%. Those who have made it a career to be politicians have made wealthy, powerful friends who keep them in office so that they benefit financially year after year. We, the taxpayers, continue to watch reality TV, network news and stick our heads in the sand as to the reality of the filthy corrupt cesspool that is DC.

I don’t feel entitled to anything I don’t earn. I am not a victim because I am a woman. I am not a victim when things don’t go my way. I am an average American who simply wants to be successful on my own merit and I want the US government to stay out of my home, my bed, my refrigerator, and my wallet. I want the federal government to do ONLY those things which the US Constitution gives it limited power to do and even then, I want it to be held accountable and on a tight leash by the governed. (Listen up! That’s you and me!)

I believe that over 50% of the ‘Government Agencies and Departments’ could be shut down and few people would notice. Level upon level of bureaucracy is simply a money pit for government and a wasteful way to spend our cash! It creates a huge part of our society perpetually dependent on the government for the entirety of their lives either by employment or programs.

I believe we the people should end all public unions. The very people paid by the taxpayers hold those same taxpayers hostage and level upon level of overpaid, overstaffed, bureaucracies are created to suck the average person dry with little to show for it. We have thrown billions of dollars at ‘education’ in the past 2 decades and still we are graduating, in comparison, the most ignorant people in the world! We cater to the weakest links in our society instead of raising the bar and holding parents responsible to feed and assist their children with their education. More money for the same old, same old in our public school systems is almost criminal and benefits no one but the union bosses and the political puppets they corrupt. People in ‘public service’ should make a decent wage and pay a portion of their benefits and retirement just like the rest of us. Bad teachers should be fired. Teachers that are passionate, creative and motivated should be kept and paid more! Get rid of level upon level of ‘administrators’. Pay good teachers so well, it becomes an honorable societal position to be one! Accountability not tenure will raise the bar and attract the most qualified and innovative to the career field. When pay is high and standards are high, guess what? The field becomes very competitive! Tenure and union strangle-holds increase complacency and indifference and perpetuate this declining system.

I believe in public office term limits and ending the career politicians’ gluttony at the trough of the American taxpayer. End ALL lobbying of the US Congress! Period!! Here’s a thought, go serve. Do the right thing for the country, not your re-election coffers! Then, go home and live within the same laws you passed for the rest of the country. While serving in the US House of Representatives, US Senate or as President, you get paid an average wage and when you leave office you get a job (not as a lobbyist perpetuating the same corruption) to plan and save for your future just like every other American.

As an elected representative of the people you ARE NOT the elite, the ruling class or the royalty of this great republic. As per our founding documents, you are to be citizen leaders and representatives of the people whose money you are spending! We have allowed those who stay on the public teat to keep voting people in that will give them more and more of other people’s money. I believe that until we drastically clean house in DC, the corruption and greed will continue and worsen. When courageous Americans stand up, take courage and make themselves heard as one voice, THEN we will get the change that must happen. Stop listening to the media, celebrities and race-baiters telling you what you are supposed to think. Get a backbone and shrug off the name-calling of your opponents. Speak the truth. Stand firm. Don’t compromise your integrity or principles. Those that scream most loudly usually don’t have either of those things to stand on.

I am like many Americans who watch as the loud minorities shove their radical agendas down our throats and then demand we pay for them! I would like to serve in the US House or Senate, but how do we citizens with principles and backbones start? Even at the municipal level qualified people of integrity are overlooked in favor of the ‘connected’ or ‘wealthy’ that can ‘raise enough money’. Or as is the case in my state, public unions basically buy their puppets seats in the state house to do their bidding. Our legislature is stacked with public union employees whose finances are taken care of while they ‘serve’ in the legislature. Either way, it’s an incestuous vicious cycle that benefits only those in its dirty little circle.

I believe that no matter what ‘party’ line each of us has bought into, there are people of all labels (R, D, I) who stand where I do. We should rise up. We are America. We are responsible for what we do with her. Shrink government. That means we fire a lot of bureaucrats and send a ton of jobs to the private sector. If these functions are necessary then the private sector will perform them better, cheaper and with more innovation than the government ever could! Wake up people! Learn from our country’s financial past….you only have to go back to the 70s to see that this big government full of corrupt panderers only leads to misery for the small businesses that make up the biggest part of any healthy economy. Don’t go one more day wallowing in complacency and willful ignorance. We the people can turn this thing around! Let’s DO THIS!!!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Just The Donkey...

I’m just the donkey. No, I’m not calling myself names or wallowing in self-pity of some sort. Walking through this life, I must think of myself as the young donkey who carried Jesus the day He rode in to the throngs of worshippers. No one was shouting “Hosanna” for the donkey, no one marveled at the little beast's strength or beauty. All they saw was Jesus.  What an honor and privilege to be that colt. Oh, for that to be the distinguishing mark of my life. That I would carry Him so prevalently that no one would notice me at all, only His beauty and glory.
Father, please accept my life as a vehicle to present Your Son to all I come into contact with. I choose to humble myself and give you all of me. I submit my plans, my purpose, my dreams, my relationships, my future, my today and all that I am to the sovereignty of Your will and purpose. No plan of Yours can be thwarted and I want to be in the middle of all that You are doing in and through me. What a joy to be chosen to carry Jesus to the world who is in desperate need of Him.
Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written: "Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey's colt." John 12:14-15

Sunday, December 8, 2013

I Am....Not

I Am...not

God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ' I AM has sent me to you'." Exodus 3:14
Reading in the four gospel accounts of Jesus' arrest, fake trial and Peter's denial, something struck me. All four talk of Jesus saying, "I am" in the garden when asked if He was Jesus. When asked by the high priest if He was the Christ, He said again, "I am".  In each account of Peter's denial something is just stands out in John's narrative (John 18). When asked by the girl if he was one of His disciples, Peter replied, "I am not". Then, again he was asked the same question and his response, " I am not".
As Jesus was about to receive the punishment for all our sins, He stood in our midst and declared, "I AM"
For anyone listening, especially those around the temple courts, they knew exactly what He was saying. He was claiming- 
While Peter's response was one of denial of association and discipleship, it is a reminder to me as I submit to Him, the I AM daily, that I am not. He is and beside Him is no other. He is the same today and forever. He is and I am not. He is my everything and He is all I need.
" I am not, but I know I AM" Louie Giglio

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Selective Memory of Discontentment...

 As we look at giving thanks this month, I read my friend's Facebook posts and am encouraged. While we are reminded to do this in November, do you get a sense that most people are not grateful and for all intents and purposes are really discontented? Why does it seem that contentment and peace are always just out of our reach? Are you bored or complacent about God’s provision? Have you finally become content with His will, surrendered to daily living in His provision, then, out of nowhere, this little nagging voice, that nobody admits to, says “is this all there is? What happened to the good old days?
The world screams at us from over the fence that we really deserve a better more expensive car, clothes that will magically make us riveting and accepted by all, homes with bigger and bigger mortgages or a more Twitter-worthy social life. Every ‘un-reality’ show seems to tell us that our lives pale in comparison to the ‘real lives’ of housewives in other places more exciting and fashionable than where we live.  For some of us, it's “churchy” stuff. We want the position that really gets us noticed. We want the ministry which will impress those in leadership.  We begin to think that life is more than this, we're special and deserve more.  Oh, you won’t hear anyone raise her hand in Bible study and admit it.  They’ll secretly wonder if they’re alone in their thoughts. Funny thing about this type of thought pattern, the more we entertain it, the more we will buy into the lie.  That’s right, it is a lie!  Just like the very first lie, it’s simply a roundabout way of questioning God Himself. 
  In the book of Exodus, Israel had been led out of captivity (I can relate) by miraculous wonders and perfectly-timed provision by God. Their short-term memory was apparently based on convenience, because soon after God’s glorious character is revealed, they start complaining with a very selective memory.  They had been enslaved in Egypt and crying out for freedom for 430 years. After some pretty incredible miracles, they come to the Red Sea and in unison pronounce, 
              “ Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn't we say to you in Egypt, 'Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? 
 We can look at that story and shake our heads at those silly ‘Bible people’, but here’s a clue, we are just the same! Some would argue with me that if God were to do miracles and wonders for them, they would be awestruck for life! Riiiighhht.  How many of us has God delivered from the captivity of deep and rooted sin? Pride? Arrogance? Addictions? Abuse? Habitual behaviors?  As soon as the coast is clear of that, we start looking around and questioning our current circumstances in light of some pretty warped memories.
Now, the Israelites are in the desert.  God has brought them through the Red Sea and is providing food and water for over a million people from nowhere but by His miraculous hand.  Manna is the perfect daily provision for His people. they not only are fed everyday without sowing and harvesting, they have this wonderful tabernacle that God personally inhabits every day and His presence leads them wherever they are to go.  Pretty good deal huh? Well, here we go again!  They start complaining about the meals. This verse is so stunning, it makes me want to throw my hands up at them.
           "The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost- also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic. But now we have  lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!”
Wow! They were so full of it!  Hadn’t cost them anything?  No! Only 430 years of being abused as slaves! They had lost their appetites?  No, they just wanted what they wanted and really didn’t care about God daily meeting their needs in His own way. He knew what was coming and knew if they would just learn to trust Him, they would never want for any good thing!
I don’t know about you, but I see myself in this. I get up, spend time with Him and look to the day and think, “Not this again. Come on Lord, how about a little excitement like I used to know?” Oh, Beloved, don’t ask God for excitement like that!
See, I know from where He has rescued me and, quite frankly, when the enemy begins to whisper things to me about ‘wanting more’ and going back where I was, I ask God for a very accurate memory of the pain, not the pleasures of my sin.  You see the enemy hates you and wants to destroy you. Any memory of my “Egypt” that comes back as ‘good’ is a big fat lie!  Jesus is my portion! He is my treasure! When I’m feeling discontent for any number of reasons, I simply look to Jesus and ask Him to restore my appetite for Him!  Father, bring on the manna, and the fresh, purifying, water that comes from only You! I will choose contentment in that.