Friday, April 28, 2017

A Fragrant Offering

Daily Gratitude Year 5- Day 118: Today, I am grateful for another chance to make a fragrant offering. 

Some days stink. Some days, I stink. Other days, I am reminded that my choices  and my attitude are my scent offering to God and it impacts others. 

I need this verse this morning.  I am going to do my best to cling to it. Focusing on "the aroma" we exude can be a way to realign our mental status for whatever craziness the day may bring. 

I thank God that in his design, he only gave one tongue. Keeping one bridled is tough enough.  It gets in the way of some of the best laid plans. 

How will we face this day? We have clear instructions for daily living in Ephesians.  

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. -Ephesians 5:1-2

"As Christ loved us and gave himself up for us..." Oh, those are big shoes to fill. The equivalent of 3 inch heels. Not impossible, but a challenge. One that requires concentration, thought and prayer. 

I'm scent sensitive. It is a blessing and a curse. Faintly pleasant aromas are captured, as well as the bold. I can let it be a reminder to check my scent... like I check my deodorant. 

Today, I am grateful for another chance to make a fragrant offering. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Consumed

Daily Gratitude Year 5- Day 117: Today, I am grateful we can choose what consumes us.

Today we have a short little lesson from Eve.The image is from Lysa Terkheurst of Proverbs 31 Ministries and her book "Made to Crave". 

What will consume us today? What will we seek avidly engrossed? What will be the main thing on this one day?

Eve had it all available to her. Not one thing did she lack, but Satan whispered, "There is more, and you deserve it all." He is a liar, but we are so easily distracted and consumed. 

We are told many times through The Word to "focus", so we are not consumed by things that are less than what he has for us. I think of so many of the images of the rich and famous on the newsstand and gossip magazines who "have it all" but seem so lost and broken. 

I have heard people say that they don't want to have to "give up" some things to follow Jesus. The chains of the things that are cherished by the world are so heavy. There is freedom in surrender and  peace at the cross. Say "Yes" to the best and see if there is anything better. 

My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times. -Psalm 119:20

This sounds crazy, right? Longing for your laws? Who loves rules, anyway. Wait, first borns you need to raise your hands.  Many oldest children, too. God doesn't give us his laws to burden us but to free us. Many of the Old Testament laws saved lives. They were good health choices. All of God's laws help us know him better and love others more. These are not bad things to keep in focus. 

For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.-Malachi 3:6

This is a comfort verse for me. In this ever changing world... He is my constant. His laws are in nature and in His Word for us to seek him, think about him and chase after his heart. 

But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.-Galatians 5:15

This is a warning verse. My friend Julie had a senior citizen mentor who once said, "Oh Julie, Satan does some of his best work in churches." We can so easily become so consumed with one thing that we lose sight of our great commission. We obsess over carpets, music and which translation is best that we lose sight of what is really important. Remember the main thing is still the main thing..."Love me.Love your neighbors (all of them)."

Eve obsessed over the wrong thing - and it cost her... and all of us. She let her spirit of pride and dissatisfaction impacted her relationships. She became consumed with the wrong things and that act of defiance came at a high price. Free will. A gift.. but it comes with great responsibility.  


So... today is exactly one month from our oldest son's wedding day. Many of our thoughts are consumed by the wedding as we wait, look at lists, double check RSVP's and all the things that go along with a special life event. We are so excited for them and for the time with other loved ones in celebration. 

Free will takes them to the alter where they will be joined. Marriage is a holy sacred covenant, that should not be entered lightly. They have had 26 years to prepare. Both families have been covering them in prayer since the day these children were born. 

I loved the God billboards that used to pop up in random places. I miss them. One of my favorites was:
 "I loved the wedding. Invite me to the marriage." - God

Weddings can be crazy and stressful, but the are a memory in a minute. A marriage is a lifetime commitment to an imperfect person. To keep the focus on what is important and good is key. God is the Gorilla glue. 

Today, I am grateful we can choose what consumes us.






Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Radiant



Daily Gratitude Year 5- Day 116: Today, I am grateful for the word "radiant".

One word can be an encouragement and a challenge. It can make me smile and feel challenged at the same time. Today's word is radiant. This image is from Kate Sullivan on Instagram. 



Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. -Psalm 34:5

What a great verse of promise, hope and challenge! I am reminded daily that it is hard to act in love in the daily grind of garbage duty, cooking the meals, answering the phone and managing the mess that real living hands out every day. 

Still, in this tiny verse is the answer to every question by such a simple design:

"Those who look to him..."  He is the source from which light, full life and warmth radiate. 

How is radiant defined?

radiant:
adjective
1. sending out light; shining or glowing brightly.
2. bright with hope
noun
3. a point or object from which light or heat radiates

If you have lived in an older home... or newer one... radiant heat may be familiar. I remember surrounding radiators in old buildings as a child. Today, they put "radiant" heat in floors for a taste of luxury that is practical, too. There must be a source from which the heat or light radiates.

In our faith walks, we are encouraged by those who radiate God's light. None of us is perfect. He is close to those who seek his face and whispers encouragement even in our bad days. To be radiant is an evidence of God's love. Isn't love often described at "warm" or "light"? God is love. God is the source. If we achieve any radiance, it is all Him. 

Most know of my infatuation with Moses. I have a cartouche with my name in hieroglyphics that my Randy surprised me with one Christmas (I kind of hinted for years by opening the "Wireless" catalog to the page every Christmas for years... but the year I didn't hint, he surprised me.) I love it because I imagine that it was what Moses knew and read in the palace  as the adopted prince of Egypt. 


When God called him up to service... called him out... Moses was not always quickly cooperative. God is persistent. Just as Miriam and his mother wove the basket that floated Moses in the Nile for a princess rescue, God wove Moses and his story for a big part in God's love story of redemption. A long, beautiful and intricate love story with plenty of adventure along the way. 


I love the song "It Must Be You" - sung by Bart Millard (MercyMe) from "Songs Inspired by The Story.
"If there's anything good in me, it must be you. If there's any part of my shaking heart to see this journey through, it must be you. Not going to argue with fiery branches that speak my name." 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDQdzksTCaQ  

"Those who look to him..." 

Satan chants, "You will never be good enough." "You will fail."  "You aren't talented enough." "You have too much past." 


God says, "I AM who I am." He was, is and will be our enough. 

What is God urging you to do today, for His kingdom? Don't worry about perfection of getting it right. Just let him be the radiant source of love and light. Be on the look out for fiery branches that speak your name. I've already had mine today. I just replied to one of my "sisters" about the opportunity to lead some Bible Journaling this summer. 

Today, I am grateful for the word "radiant"... and knowledge of the radiant one who provides all I need. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Parking Place

Daily Gratitude Year 5- Day 115: Today, I am grateful for good parking places. 

Mama Ina Mae always said, "Thank you Lord" over a good parking spot or any spot at all in a busy place. Of course, as a child, I found it completely silly. Funny, how I find myself doing the same thing. It is no longer silly. It is recognizing God in the tiniest details of our daily life. 

Nothing gets to me quite like the perfectly healthy person who throws up a handicapped placard to take advantage of close parking spot... then practically skip to thier destination. It is one of those slow burns. It is obvious their handicapped person is not with them. They are just taking advantage of the power of the placard. 

I loved this Lysa Terkeurst quote form Proverbs 31 Ministries: "Asking God "what can I learn?" instead of "why me?" is a much better place to park our minds." 

What can I learn? From the blessings and the failures? In good parking spots and delays due to red lights. Years ago, I was just minutes behind a serious accident. I was in a hurry, but my boss had delayed me with his "just a minute". And, that was all it was. A minute or two outside of my planned departure.  I missed the accident because Mike delayed me by those few minutes. I realized that I had been protected. It reparked my mind. From irritation that he put me behind... to realization of God's mighty hand in the details. 

Good parking spaces for our cars... and for our minds.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. -Proverbs 3:5-6 

Trust his ways.
Trust his timing. 
Trust his heart. 

The other day, I had had an fasting blood test. It was about 9am and I needed to get to town to check off all of the things I needed to get done over spring break. My plate was full. I drove through for my Egg Mc Muffin... and the line was long. The van in front of me had Air Force decals on the windows. I thought of my sister April... my cousins in the Navy and all the other men and women who serve. I gave thanks for their protection and their sacrifice. 

When I got to the pay window, they smiled and said the van in front of me with the Air Force decals on the window had paid for my meal. 

Once again, I am reminded of the blessings beyond what I deserve.  I don't deserve a good parking spot. It is a gift. I don't remember to pray daily for our service people, but I am grateful for payer triggers to remind me, like car decals. I deserved to pay for my own meal, but some stranger paid it for me.  I do deserve the price of my sins, but  my Jesus paid it for me. 

That is a much better place to park our minds today. 
Today, I am grateful for good parking places. 



Monday, April 24, 2017

Now

Daily Gratitude Year 5- Day 114: Today, I will choose to be grateful for the "now". 

Today is a Monday in front of another full weekend. 

I need the reminder to pause; gratitude for this day is not enough, it is a precious part of the gift.

The "nows" of the weekend included: time with friends who are family, time with lifetime friends and an old neighbor who became a friend for life.  Add in two family birthdays,  two bridal showers to celebrate love chosen, time with sons by birth and in love, a date with my husband and some of my favorite men and Anna, a long wait for dinner meant time to really catch up and a wee bit of playing with pictures. The weekend went so fast, but it was rich in "nows".

Now, on the precipice of a new week, I want to intentionally take in   moments. I do not want to lust for the future, but to live life fully on this day. To live in full gratitude for each moment .  Not just grateful for the gift, but in the gift. 

Today, I will choose to be grateful for the "now ".

Sunday, April 23, 2017

God on our Side

Daily Gratitude Year 5- Day 113: Today, I am grateful God is on my side. 

I still wonder at the miracle. Anyone who seeks his face finds his grace. 

When we look and long for Him, there is no question that he hears and comes near. 


"Knock and the door will open."
"Seek and you will find." 
"I AM with you."
"I know the plans I have for you... when you seek me with your whole heart." Jeremiah 29:11 &13)

This comfort is our lifeboat. It carries believers through the storms, the deserts, the struggles, the confrontations with evil, the illnesses, the losses, and the disappointments. Knowing Him... it increases our joys and divides our sorrows. 

I love the concept of a team member not a fan. God wants us on the team, not just in the stands paying to cheer Him on to good victories. He wants us to sign on... to be under the contract that was signed in blood, but he will never trade us. We only leave by choice. 

Fans can be excited and passionate about their team. Team members know the sacrifice, the hard work, the bench time, the frustrations of trials, injuries and other struggles. The team is one... even when it has challenges and struggles. The team can disagree on plays and even differently interpret the coaches commands. Still, those who continue to seek His face and be in relationship... they will find him accessible and available. 

One of the interviews I watched with Jim Caviezel, who played Jesus in "The Passion of Christ" revealed something sweet. His Dad played basketball for the famous John Wooden. Wooden said that for him, it was the practices he loved. In practice, he could impact young men and mentor them. He wanted them to understand that there character was more important than winning. In a nutshell, "Character before Victory". 

Jim wasn't as good at basketball as his father - so Big 10 college ball was not his path- but one of his coaches once remarked that "Jim was the hardest working player he had ever coached". Jim poured everything into the game - even with limited talent, he gave His best."

Jim had a Dad coached and mentored by John Wooden. 
Jim had a basketball coach who recognized his talents beyond his skill.
Jim worked hard... in success and in failure.
He failed at Navy Seal acceptance 3 times.
God was not against him, but preparing him for a bigger role.

Jim trusted that God was on his side... and that was his enough. 

When faced with the choice of potential death on a cross (the doctor on the movie set feared that Jim would die if he finished the death scene... Mel Gibson let Jim choose)... or abandoning the mission... he took the cross. His commitment to the story of the cross never wavered.  

No God - no peace
Know God - know peace. 

Take in the spring air. Let your senses embrace the scents of the lilacs, the song of the birds and the mystery of a seed that sprouts like each time is the first time. 

Today, I am grateful God is on my side. 





Saturday, April 22, 2017

To Serve in Love



Daily Gratitude Year 5- Day 112: Today, I am grateful for opportunities to serve in love.

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. -Galatians 5:13

This scripture is a calling to choose one path or the other. Self-indulgence or humble service. 

One of the most challenging authors and ministers of our day is, without a doubt, Francis Chan. He is remarkably bold, in this era of soft, unoffensive doctrines. Even when he says something that makes me cringe (often with conviction), Francis Chan makes me always makes me think. 

Bottom line... in the end, it is not really about did we offend others with our interpretation of scriptures...but did we make choices that offend God? Did draw circles of inclusion or walls to shut out? Did we seek his face to serve in love? 

In truth, the spirit of correctness is not a fruit of the spirit. If we love with His love... then His Word and His Spirit will take care of any correction, restoration and repair work. 

"How will you answer the King when He says: 
'What did you do with what I gave you?'  - F. Chan

Not "What did you do?" but "What didn't you do for the cause of Christ?" 

This is why he calls us to love above all other responses to His grace poured out... in blood... on the cross. 

My Mama is such a role model of service. She served her parents and siblings in some big ways as a child. Yet, she never told me, but Dad did:  Mama Ina Mae only took what she needed from her paycheck she earned from teaching music at Veronda's Music studio for her needs and gave the rest to her parents to help with household expenses. 

The littlest siblings Helen, Bobby and Kathy needed milk. She often longed for more milk, but the little ones needed milk more. One glass a day for the big kids.  When given the choice to be selfish or pour love, I can honestly say I never saw Mama choose selfish all the time I was growing up. 

Mama served in the church and community wherever there was a need. She loved helping with food pantries, because feeding the hungry was dear to her heart. I don't think she lived with real hunger - but there was not abundance with 7 hungry kids in her house. She was the oldest child. She adjusted her portions so there would be enough for others.  

Sharing any meal is a beautiful way to say "I love you." Eating less so others have enough... I have can learn from that example. 

Our church currently participates in a ministry that gets food into the backpacks of children who might face hunger over the weekend. Hunger happens in every community where there is job loss, limited resources, addiction or neglect. Often, packing the snack packs is a service project for our youth and smaller children. It helps them understand that hunger is not a result of Mom not buying the "right snacks". Hunger means, not having food in the house or food offered. 

To serve one another... humbly... in love, that is the opposite of selfish indulgences. For me, there is always room for growth and improvement. 

The interesting thing about serving in love... it can become addictive. The resources that we often perceive to be our "biggest blessings" don't fulfill us until we learn to share them with a generous spirit. Now, I fully believe in managing resources with wisdom... but when we learn to be a little more whimsical in giving, joy follows.  

Our God is love. He is the source. We cannot run Him dry. It is His essence and... perhaps... it is a part of our soul breath. To breathe, we must inhale and exhale. We can't just take it all in, we must breathe it out, too. 

What shall we do with love today?  It has been too long between verse dissections. 

You, my brothers and sisters... that means all of us
were called... called by Jesus... it is in his "text message".
to be free...  Not bound or burdened, but free!
But do not...  That means don't. 
use your freedom ... To use or misuse? That, is the question.
to indulge the flesh... to please yourself.
; (Semicolon) (means PAUSE and think)
rather, ... instead of, comparatively, preferably  
serve...  to be of service and in service, to present or pour out, to be of use or trustworthy
one another... our neighbors, our community, our family, everyone
humbly... without pride or arrogance, not self-serving, in submission, unpretentious
in...  inclusion, location, or positioned within the limits of (That 's good stuff!)
love...  a benevolent relationship seeking only good for another, tender affection, kinship

Remember, Matthew 25:40:
And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

What shall we do to serve the King of Kings today?

Today, I am grateful for opportunities to serve in love.