Mountains

Smoke and sunset MM

Some days we just need to see an example of the faithfulness of God. I shared this photograph with my father this week. My father and I love photography and see something extra special in an image. I purposely left the busy country highway in the frame for context. We can hustle and bustle our way through the day and forget to appreciate creation.

My father’s interpretation was spot on, his text to me stated: “The mountain looks red like a hot iron like the sun penetrating through the mountain”.

I responded, “Yes, I felt the same, its illumination, like Psalm 121, the Son is our helper watching and shining through the mountain metaphorically.” He agreed with my reflection 🙂 as I shared the scripture with him.

No matter what you are going through. He is there. I have a friend whose son is a Marine in Afghanistan. These past few weeks have been prayer and praise, encouragement and lifting the Body of Christ in prayer.

We need to turn to the Creator of the mountains, the heavens and the earth. He does not slumber even if we don’t understand the events in our lives.

Our battles may be across the world or in our own home or backyard. I am not sure who needs to remember this promise, however, Psalm 121 is a great scripture reminding us our help is from the Lord.


Psalm 121
1 I look up to the mountains—
    does my help come from there?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth!

3 He will not let you stumble;
    the one who watches over you will not slumber.
4 Indeed, he who watches over Israel
    never slumbers or sleeps.

5 The Lord himself watches over you!
    The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
6 The sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon at night.

7 The Lord keeps you from all harm
    and watches over your life.
8 The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
    both now and forever.

If you are blessed to see the mountains on your horizon, look to them as a visual reminder of God’s faithfulness.

If you don’t have mountains in your community, look at a photograph like this one. Let the Son of God illuminate the dark, scary places in your heart, mind and soul. There is life and hope to be found!!

Bricks must fall

The world says I must be happy or something is wrong with me. A false thought, for sure. I think life shows us continuous happiness as a goal but it is not possible. Life has ups and downs.

Hypocritical Christians may tell us, “if you are going through hardship, conflict, emotional distress, you are not a good Christian. Maybe you aren’t walking with Jesus. Maybe, you are sinful and being punished, you don’t show Christian love.”

I liken these statements to bricks. They are stacks of lies from the enemy meant to keep us from the wisdom of God which can bring joy. They are meant to tarnish our testimony.

These bricks can limit our lives and cause others to question the love of Jesus. They are a barrier to freedom in Christ shared with anyone placed across our path.

John 16:33    Jesus said, "I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Jesus promised there would be troubles on earth. However, He said, He would be with us in the trials. He said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Life has trials and sorrows but we don’t have to stay in a victim mindset. We can drop the bricks.

In my legalistic upbringing, I believed the lies I shared above. However, the more time I read the Bible for myself, the more I feel the Words of God speaking truth and taking down the bricks I stacked as a wall holding me back from freedom. There is freedom in Jesus.

What are your bricks named?

Is it, you are not enough? God does not really want to hear your voice.

I don’t suppose you will test God again and be a risk taker. Do you have a death wish?

You will never be forgiven. You are a lost cause. You are being punished for past consequences.

Slow but sure, the bricks are stacked. One by one, the wall gets higher and higher. On one side of the bricks is the condemner talking lies and discouragement. On the other side of the brick wall is Jesus waiting for you to stop and take down each brick as He guides your hand. The more you hear His sweet peaceful voice the more you see His face emerge. Bricks begin to fall, the space between you and Your Savior becomes cleared like a demolition. It is work to take down the bricks, however, the more we trust in Him the more endurance He gives to keep going.

I used to think the future had to be successful. I would put the work in, determined to achieve goals, career, marriage, have a family, buy a home, and then I would be happy. But life didn’t work the way I planned. I had to have times of no control and learn perfectionism is a brick of sin. My journey from infertility to being a mom blessed by open adoption was filled with fears, grief, love and joy. I was being made new as I leaned into Jesus.

What I am learning with every new day is God’s level of success is not in the stuff, it is in the obeying Him. He will direct my path to the best and He can be trusted.

There are times when no matter what I do or say to lives around me they can not be molded by me. I must give their lives to God. I must not pray for success, but instead for the trials and joys to draw others in my sphere of influence to obedience to God. The bricks will fall when I change my thoughts and pray in this way.

There are times when we do not see the fruits of our attempts to love like Jesus. We can not see into the future. It is in those times of uncertainty I found Ezekiel 3: 4 – 12 very insightful.

Ezekiel 3:4-12 NLT[4] Then he said, "Son of man, go to the people of Israel and give them my messages. [5] I am not sending you to a foreign people whose language you cannot understand. [6] No, I am not sending you to people with strange and difficult speech. If I did, they would listen! [7] But the people of Israel won't listen to you any more than they listen to me! For the whole lot of them are hard-hearted and stubborn. [8] But look, I have made you as obstinate and hard-hearted as they are. [9] I have made your forehead as hard as the hardest rock! So don't be afraid of them or fear their angry looks, even though they are rebels." [10] Then he added, "Son of man, let all my words sink deep into your own heart first. Listen to them carefully for yourself. [11] Then go to your people in exile and say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says!' Do this whether they listen to you or not." [12] Then the Spirit lifted me up, and I heard a loud rumbling sound behind me. (May the glory of the LORD be praised in his place!)

Lord, help your people, parents, family and friends to loose the people who are in conflict.

Reread the Ezekiel scripture again. Place your family / conflicted persons name where you find the name Israel. Then leave your petition at the foot of the cross.

We can pray but only God can move mountains and open ears, hearts, minds, and eyes. In the end, sometimes the call is not success but to obey God.

Sisterhood (Brothers too.)

Lessons from the Clucky Ladies are many. This photo taken by my youngest is such a beautiful picture of the Sisterhood ( Brotherhood :)) of Christ. Let me paint a clearer image for you nonchicken people stacked chickens in a laying box is not the norm :).

Chickens need their separate space in the chicken coop to lay eggs. Generally speaking, each chicken needs time to release their egg in the laying boxes. There are 5 separate spots for our ladies. As they prepare to lay their eggs, they have a pensive face, quiet and determined. As they are laying, they usually sing a song. Or at least that is what it sounds like. I would guess it is a feeling of accomplishment.

One of the chickens is brooding for the past few weeks, this potential mom to be sits on her egg and her sisters eggs all day hopeful for a chick to be her reward. She is steadfast in this behavior and day by day we are needing to provide extra tender loving care by providing water, and snacks to keep her alive. We have no rooster, therefore, this want for a baby chick will never be filled.

The brooding chicken clucks in a loud noise as we remove eggs gently from underneath. She has been loved by our daughter and myself, held as a little chick and thus is not mean. She runs off to eat after we remove her egg.

We have watched her red comb, the object on her head and below her chin, shrivel. I have learned that the comb is very vascular, meaning it carries blood supply to the body, it provides cooling for body temperature. A healthy comb is vibrant red and thick in size, as you can see in the photo of the other chickens.

This beautiful snapshot our “Cluckly Ladies” reflects our need to surround friends and family with support. It can be just a word of encouragement, a phone call just because you feel prompted ( maybe by God), or dropping a text or funny meme. It can be lifting up a prayer right away. There is nothing better than hearing someone pray for your needs. Its love in action. You will be amazed when you step out of the box and bless another.

Matthew 23:37 tells us the Lord wants to gather his children as a hen protects her chicks. What love is this, He is protector and wants us to love others. We have to be open to spreading love to others. It can be scary but so amazing.

The Sisters (Brothers) in your life, biological or otherwise need to hear from you. It may just be what the Great Physician ordered.

Speak

Our Sisters and Brothers in Christ across the world need our prayer, whether Afghanistan, Nigeria, any where there is persecution for being a follower of Christ. I feel called to speak this truth as we are seeing the turmoil continue to grow. We can lift up our voice on behalf of those who are in trouble it could be in our own family or across the world.

Scripture tells us we belong to each other, in Romans 12, God’s word is clear:

Romans 12: 1 - 4    And so, dear brothers and sisters,[a] I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.[b] 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

3 Because of the privilege and authority[c] God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.[d] 4 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.

It is time to move in prayer and praise, our God is bigger, better, stronger. Lift up the Name of Jesus right now on behalf of the persecuted in the world. This song by Chris McClarney, spoke the words I was feeling as I continue to pray for those in the family of Jesus.

Thank you Chris McClarney for poignant lyrics.

Relate

I can relate to this new song from For King and Country, so relevant, enjoy!!

You are not alone, you are a treasure.

2 Corinthians 4:6-7 NLT
[6] For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. [7] We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

God sees you!

El Roi is the Hebrew name for “the God who sees me.” It is found in the story of Hagar (Genesis 16). There are days when we feel unseen, passed by, invisible. It can be as a result of our timid nature, a struggle of confidence, circumstances done to us or as a result of our own choices.

Hagar was in the unfortunate position of servant to Abraham. Abraham and his wife Sarai wanted a child and were blessed by God to have a son. They were impatient in their old age and decided to have Hagar surrogate their son. Then Sarai was sad because she was not the mom. So Hagar and her son were not treated the best. Hagar took her son Ischmael into the desert to run away. There in the desert she called out to God and God came. What an encounter, the well (place) was named, ” God sees me”.

God sees you. He knew you from the moment of conception. He knew what you would look like, He orchestrated steps, He will be the still soft whisper in your ears, He will be the Shepherd to us, His sheep.

Psalm 119:18 NLT Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions.

God sees you. He knows everything about you, your mistakes, your laughter, your times of despair, your times of triumph. He wants to be in relationship with you.

Psalm 139:23 NLT Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

God sees you. He awaits your voice. He waits for you to reach out to him, He wants you to choose. He wants to spend time sharing wisdom as He did with Hagar. He knows the voice of each of His sheep.

We have one goat, when I hear her loud voice, I know it is her speaking. There are other goats in our neighborhood. These fainting goats have a higher pitched sound. I can tell the difference. If our goat, Loute (her name is German for Loud), makes her voice known, I answer her concerns by checking in on her needs. Usually, her concerns are an alert to let me know her best friend, Opie the horse has escaped his corral.

God sees you!! Call out to Him. Tell Him your concerns. Listen for the Shepherd. He will give wisdom.

Pray this scripture below, Ephesians 1:4-11 placing your name inside it, such as “ Even before He made the world, God loved me ( )He chose me ( )in Christ… God decided to adopt me…etc.” Complete the scripture aloud. He wants to hear your voice.

Ephesians 1:4-11 NLT Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. [5] God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. [6] So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. [7] He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. [8] He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. [9] God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ-which is to fulfill his own good plan. [10] And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ-everything in heaven and on earth. [11] Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.

God sees you! He is good. Reach out to Him! It is worth the risk.

Music Mondays- Tremble by Lauren Daigle

great wisdom from my fellow blogger and in the song Tremble by Lauren Daigle. May it bless your day as it did mine 🙂

Jesusluvsall's Blog

I will tremble at no other name
My heart’s surrendered to no other reign

I will bow at no other throne
Rest my heart at no other home
Let these hands lift no other crown
Let these knees fall on no other ground
Draw these eyes from the gold that won’t shine
You turn this life from water to wine

When I think about Jesus on his throne in all of his glory, I think my reaction would be the same as The Apostle John when he was taken into heaven and given the Book of Revelation.. Revelation 1

When I saw him, I fell at his feetas though dead.

Jesus has all power. He is our creator. He is holy, all powerful, all knowing, present everywhere. There is nowhere we can go that Jesus is not there.

But the good news is the awesome all powerful Jesus loves us. His response to John in Revelation 1 was:

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Love really has Won!!

Sometimes a song hits you right when you need it. “Love has won!” by Citizen Way is powerful. It reminds us that we are not alone. That God is for us, that He conquered the grave and He has plans. Songs can bring hope, healing and peace. Thank you Citizens Way for the inspirational song.

I hope you feel the love of Jesus as you listen. Bask in His Love!!! His Love has Won! Thank you, Jesus!

Driftwood and Criticism

Criticism is not fun even if it is constructive. I consider criticism a statement of failure and condemnation, being judged unfairly and not measuring up to someone’s standard. It kept me angry. Synonyms for criticism vary from censure to review, assessment to appraisal. There can be negative or positive results.

Can there be rewards for constructive criticism? Should I be open to grow and be transformed into a better version of myself while I am feeling chipped away? Is there any truth to the criticism? Is this a healthy relationship?

I pondered, should I allow myself to be whittled like a dry tree branch? I have always been fascinated by people who can take a piece of driftwood or an old part of a tree and create something one of a kind, beautiful. They are able to see the beauty underneath the surface. Think about it, our God sees us the same way!!!

Photo by Kathryn Archibald on Pexels.com

On the outside the scrap driftwood appears to be dry and useless as it holds no life. It has been broken away from the main tree trunk. There are no longer pathways of sap to provide sustenance and energy. Maybe it has been floating in a river or ocean quite a while becoming further withered.

Do you ever feel like driftwood? Floating along, perhaps feeling alone, lost, distracted? The Master Craftsman could be waiting for you to float onto the shore and be ready for new things. If we ponder, the tools needed for this transformation we may use: Stillness with God, the Bible and humbly allow the cutting away of sin, forgiving ourselves, repenting and asking God for a new beginning. We must choose to let him carve away the dry.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

A wood carvers tools of the trade may be straight chisel, wood carving gouge or whittling knives each serving a specific purpose. A knife cuts away at the unnecessary layers of dead wood. It digs away layers slowly from the outside in. Could that be a chronic sin such as telling little white lies so we don’t hurt someone’s feelings instead of being truthful?

Proverbs 27 :5  An open rebuke is better than hidden love!

The gouge may allow the craftsman to gather the dry parts quicker, yet with care and patience the carver is hopeful not to gather too quickly. The gouge may be the deep consequence of returning to angry outbursts instead of listening intentionally.

Proverbs 15:1  A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.

The chisel removes debris closer to the surface. It’s a skimmer of sorts. Perhaps an example of this in humans may be, the gentle rebuke from a parent, ” Hey, do you want to try that response again? Deep breath and we can talk more.” or ” Forgive me!”


Proverbs 26 :28 A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.

Corrie ten Boom was such a humble example of Christ, she gained more self-control as she was in the trial. Her quotes from her time in a concentration camp are found on the internet and in her book, “The Hiding Place,” a biography from World War 2. She witnessed the oppression of Jewish community including her friends. She, along with her family, chose not to stick with the status quo and many lives were saved by not turning a blind eye to the atrocities on their fellow country man.

The world is better for women such as Corrie and their example of putting to practice the words of scripture. I do not know if I could have forgiven those who committed evil. I would pray that I would choose the wisdom of God were I in her shoes.

One of my favorite quotations from Corrie ten Boom: Our critics are the unpaid guardians of our souls. 

What a timeless quote for daily mediation. I think honest critical comments can help us grow into who the Lord already knows we can become. There is a difference between constructive, loving communication and criticism that is meant to devour another person. Loving communication must start with words of affirmation, truth and love.

James 3: 2   Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.



James3:6 And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.

The enemy wants us to switch gears in our minds and use our tongues to sear in fire those created in the image of God.

We must seek truth in Christ, be bold in speech and allow Him to grow our faith and bless our lives.

Ephesians 4:15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ.     

I need to allow the dry places in my soul to be touched and sharpened by those who can help me grow. However, I am not open to be devoured by another whose intention is destruction. I pray for discernment of the Holy Spirit.

Choose wisely who we trust with wisdom. God first, of course, then friends who want to reflect Him to the world, like Corrie. May be the unpaid guardians of our soul need to be given thanks. Let God, the Master Craftsman, cut away the dry places and bring out the beauty just as driftwood!

Proverbs 27 :17   As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.