Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sunflower, Sun Downer to Light even in darkness

John 3:16-21 (NIV) 16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."

I've been thinking about the sunflowers and impending fall and winter for the last few days. The www.biblegateway.com verses of the day were 20-21 above so I knew today was time. When I read them, I didn't even think about that John 3:16 was part of this passage.

I missed taking a picture of the field of sunflowers I viewed on the way to one of our boating outings. There seemed to be 100s all opened wide and enjoying the sunshine. Each one looked like its own little version of the sun. I am not really an outdoorsy type person. I sunburn easily so it just seems like a chore to get all ready to be outside for any length of time. However, I try to remember to enjoy those few months of sunshine....trying to build up stamina for when I know we'll be indoors trying to avoid the cold and darkness of winter.

A few weeks later, we drive by the same field. Apparently, sunflower season is over. The same sunflowers that were so perky last drive by, are hanging their heads and starting to wither/dry up. Our family historically has not handled the lack of sunshine well. As leaves change and fall and darkness seems to come earlier and earlier, sadness seems to descend and tempers can flare. We're not as perky. We've found ways to adapt, but I still am not real fond of the upcoming time of the lack of sunshine.

I have come to realize that recognizing the problem for what it is, is half the battle. Remembering that emotions are stronger than I like and some overwhelmingly float to the top. Fighting the good fight is still worth it. We don't fight alone. Jesus was sent into the world to help us overcome darkness, physically and mentally. Remembering to let him help....is the other half of the battle.

After the darkness and the winter, the sunflowers will be back, reaching again toward the sun. We will too and we'll reach toward the Son through it all.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Who moved?

I recall a sermon WAAAYYY back where the pastor recalled that one time his wife expressed her disappointment that they no longer sat close together in the front seat when in the car. He was the driver. So he asked her, "who moved?"

Ah ha! Good point. He's the driver. His seat is not going to change. It was her choice to stay in her own seat or slide over to the middle, sit a little closer and get the closeness she desired.

Lately, I have let myself be TOO busy with a lot of stuff that really (in the overall scheme of life) does not matter. My times of devotions become maybe reading an online devotional during the day, but definitely not the Bible reading that really helps. My times of prayer become when I am at my limit of patience and uttered quickly in desperation for a specific situation. Then I am surprised when God does not seem as close.

If God is in the proper perspective in my life, he's the driver. HE didn't move. So, time to move closer to the middle for the closeness I desire. I become amazed how I am welcomed back like I never left. Sometimes my eyes are open, but I don't see. I see more of God in everyday life, when I take the time to look.

If, like me, there are days when God seems far away, ask yourself, "who moved?"

1 Corinthians 15: 57-58 (NIV) 57
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Whose to-do?

Mark 8: 34-38 34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? 37 Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels."

I have mentioned many times that I struggle with procrastination and time management. I consider schedules a necessary evil. I started thinking about this because I was going through my e-mail. I laughed because in the "junk" mail box, I had NUMEROUS (esp. over the last few days) notices that I had won $$$ or somebody in another country just needed "my" help clearing some funds in exchange for a portion of the funds. AND right underneath those was an e-mail stating I could learn to drive a truck. Hmmmm. Easy money or work for it?

I have a very scattered train of thought. I went from thinking about being buried with e-mail and communication from TV, newspapers, discussions, etc. and what a waste of time that can be. SO, I wanted to write about that. I usually try to link it somehow to a Bible verse. I searched words like clutter, junk and ruins (don't even remember how I got to that). Most of those were not mentioned unless in the Message version and still not what I was looking for.

Then I thought of a good quote "build me a stone wall" from Facing the Giants movie. I went to look on YouTube for a clip and couldn't find what I was looking for. It was about Nehemiah and the stone wall (just build the portion in front of you and let your neighbor build his part) because many times I'm trying to build the whole wall...on my own. I did read through Nehemiah though on www.biblegateway.com and found some interesting information and links. Along the way I also saw some disturbing videos on how some people view Christians and God followers. (topic for another day!)

I finally found the part of the movie and it didn't fit the way I thought it would. While on biblegateway I found the following: http://www.reviveourhearts.com/radio/roh/today.php?pid=246 "A State of Bondage" I glanced through briefly. Talked about time management and obligations. Then she talked about Jesus' short time on Earth and all He accomplished. She mentioned some verses in Mark so I looked a few up...and came up with the ones listed at the top here.

I started thinking about my "obligations" and my to-do lists that I try to prepare (and follow, ha!) daily. I usually try to rack my brain of all the possible things I know that I need to do and fit them into a day over the week. Ideally, I do this Sunday night to mentally prepare myself for the week. Notice how many times I stated "I" and "my" above? Oops, forgot something!

How much better could my day/week go IF I prayed first and asked God what He needed me to do with my time? Whose to-do list am I following? The one I think I need OR the one God lays out for me as someone who denies herself and follows Him? (vs 34)

Prayer: God, sometimes we get SO busy with details that we lose sight of the big picture. Help us to make prayer and time with you the FIRST thing on the to-do list so that we do not labor in vain. Provide wisdom to make our to-do list filled with your desires first.

Maybe I was looking TOO hard. This was the verse of the day for today. “[Two Kinds of Wisdom] Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom." James 3:13 (NIV)

Psalm 127:1-3 1 Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. (NIV)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Seeking refuge

Hebrews 6:17 - 19 17 God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind. 18 So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. 19 This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. (NLT)

I have struggled for a few days now knowing I had something to write, but not knowing where to start. I am very good at avoiding. I know time is going by fast, but the last few weeks it has really hit me. The end of summer, back to school for the kids, the leaves are changing colors and don't seem like they've even been ON the trees that long. One day of the week is here, blink, and the same day, next week. Ugh. If you've seen the movie, Click with Adam Sandler, that's what it feels like. Only I'm not wanting to skip through life faster. I've found lots of time to read other books, but have not been opening my Bible.

Found some of my answer today online in the above verses (JQ's positive words to live by was verse 18...then I checked out the other verses). I just went back and read all of Hebrews 6 ( http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Hebrews+6&version=NLT) Wow! Part of what I've been struggling with is the way the world seems to be heading in the wrong direction.
I know better....but sometimes I forget.

I especially picked up on the words refuge and hope. I'm thinking refuge in the Bible from what I remember was found in a cave. Not the best place in my mind to go and get in a better mood. I look up the word refuge on Webster. It is based on the words to escape, to flee. As a noun, it is shelter or protection from danger or distress. In the above verses, "we who have fled to him for refuge." Where have I been fleeing to? My cave of emotions where things can seem darker than they really are. Time to remember to seek a new source of refuge and hope. Refuge can be fleeing to something, not necessarily somewhere we stay.

Another verse (115) that mentions refuge and hope.

Psalm 119:113-115 113 I hate those with divided loyalties, but I love your instructions. 114 You are my refuge and my shield; your word is my source of hope. 115 Get out of my life, you evil-minded people, for I intend to obey the commands of my God. (NLT)

May we receive strength to take on another day and enjoy! May it not take a huge crisis (Sept. 11) to get us to remember our need for God. Churches were filled those few days after that day. 8 years later are we back to where we were before? Refuge in this world is not even close to the refuge we can have.