Mar 262010

Have you ever been falsely accused of something at work? No, I’m sure that has never happened to you.  Well, maybe at least once, right? How does that make you feel? Angry? Defensive? Depressed?

Jesse, David’s father, had dispatched him to the battlefield to get some news and to take some good home cooking to his older brothers and their officer. When he arrived, he walked right into a mess. A giant of an enemy stood in the valley between the two armies, screaming profanities and challenging his army, his country, and his God! David was furious! He began to ask about what the plan was to shut this guy up. Enter Eliab, the oldest brother- no thanks for the food, no interest in news from home, just a barrage of accusations that David had deserted his “little sheep herding job” just to get some fun out of watching the battle. Wow!

“Now what have I done?” said David. “Can’t I even speak?” 30 He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter,  1 Samuel 17

Boy, you try to stand for the right things, you try to be helpful, only to get kicked in the teeth! David had a choice of how to deal with this attack. He could have become disheartened and gone home. He could have fired a verbal volley right back and continued the argument. Instead, he redirected his energy and concern to another audience and that made the difference between a discouraging army camp visit and a God-powered fight with Goliath that changed the course of the war! It became one of the most commonly known stories in the Bible. Peter talks about being the victim of malicious talk:

But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 1 Peter 3:15-16

He goes on to say that it is better to suffer for doing good than for doing evil! I have a choice when faced with accusations. I can lash right back. I can wimp out and let my life direction veer off course. Or, I can keep pointing in the direction God has set for me, ensuring that I speak with gentleness and respect. Wow, sometimes that takes a little more humility than I have on tap! Resolve today to let others live in the gutter. God has great plans for you today!

shared in the workplace 3/22/10

Mar 172010

Sometimes it would be sitting in a comfortable chair in the living room. Sometimes it would be on the porch swing during a rainstorm, with my coat wrapped around us both. Many times during their lives, I have held my girls one at a time and told them stories of what I did with them when they were small. I hold them in my lap and whisper in their ears about how I would cuddle them, how I would hold them tight during a storm, how I would love them soooo much, how I would kiss the top of their heads one, two, three, four, five times.

I still do it. Why? To remind them that my love for them is a lifelong choice that started before they were born and will never stop. To remind them that they have a history of love from me. To remind them that my love for them is a constant that they can count on no matter what happens in my life or theirs.

…you whom I have upheld since you were conceived,
and have carried since your birth.

…I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46:3, 4

Our Heavenly Father wants to do the same thing for us. He identifies Himself by reminding us of what He does and has done for us. He continually reminds us that He made us, that He carried us when we were babies, that he will sustain us. The word “sustain” means to support, hold, bear us from below, keep us going. He will be our Hero and pull us out of trouble.

Father, I claim this promise today. Hold me, lift me. Help me to trust You more today. Allow me to rest easy knowing that you are bearing me up from below and I don’t need to carry my whole weight. Amen.

Mar 152010

…weeping may remain for a night, Psalm 30:5

David sure knew about weeping.

He had brother troubles.

They had all been passed over by the prophet Samuel to be anointed as Israel’s next king. They did not recognize his calling and ridiculed him as a youth.

When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the desert? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.” 1 Samuel 17:28

He had employer troubles.

Playing background music for King Saul one day, the king threw his spear at David, not once, but twice, intending to pin him to the wall! Talk about music appreciation!

He had all kinds of troubles. Plenty of reasons and opportunities for weeping. Our Heavenly Father knows that we, too, often have weeping times. What David learned, what our Father knows, is that if we are willing to dump on Him, we don’t have to weep long. Here’s the last part of the text:

…but rejoicing comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5

We can choose with David to have joy in the morning. Yes, it’s ok to allow ourselves a moment of grief when things aren’t going our way, but living in that grief is not part of God’s plan for us. Did you ever wonder why we can become so paralyzed by grief and despair? Why it can drive us to the point of depression and suicide? God knows that we are not built to handle that kind of stress. He created us so that we would need to dump that stress on Him. He designed us so that we would only run right if we let go of things that only He can handle. Are you carrying a load today that is too much for you? You’re right! It is too much for you! Give it up! Give it to the only One Who can bear it. It’s your Heavenly Father. Let Him free you of the burdens that drain the joy from your life.

I choose to rejoice in the morning today!

Shared in the workplace 3/15/10

Mar 102010

Our lives often feel like a confused mix of challenge and disaster, gifts and blessing. Sometimes it seems the stress of the challenges overshadows everything else. Jesus had a long talk with his disciples toward the end of his ministry. He reassured them of His love and the Father’s love. He prepared them for trials to come so that they wouldn’t be surprised. Then he said the following words:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Jesus never promised an easy life. In fact He promised that there would be trouble in this world! Isn’t that just great? It doesn’t sound great. I would prefer a promise including the words “trouble free” in it, wouldn’t you? But where’s the miracle in that? It’s not so difficult to experience peace in the absence of strife. Jesus wanted more for His disciples. He wants more for us. He wants to give us something that will spontaneously cause us to praise Him, realizing that He could be the only source.

Yes,  He actually wants us to live through trouble with peace in our hearts, knowing that He has won the battle already! I don’t want to miss the chance to live a full life of peace and joy and strength until I really go home. I have experienced the wonder of that peace gift through hard times, knowing that it could have come only from Him. Choose today to let Jesus’ promise liberate you and let your life shine like the sun!

Oh child, precious one
Let your life shine like the sun
But you say “How long ’til I can come home
‘Til I can rest in your arms again”
And I say “Not long but don’t miss this life and I’ll be
Waiting ’til then”

Live with the wonder of a child
Pray with your arms thrown open wide
Love with a love that has no end
Until I see you again

Oh child, precious one
With each breath know you are loved
But you say “How long ’til I can come home
‘Til I can rest in your arms again”
And I say “Not long but don’t miss this life and I’ll be
Waiting ’til then”

-from “Until I see you again” by Mark Shultz.

shared with my three jewels 1/12/2009

Mar 072010

Recently, I stood on the top of Beech Mountain, NC with my oldest daughter. At over a mile high, the view was breathtaking. On a clear day, we can see dozens of mountain peaks covered with snow extending from the Carolinas to Tennessee and even Virginia! We hesitated before skiing down the slope, drinking in the dramatic beauty spread for dozens of miles before us. Indescribable! I breathed a prayer, thanking God for such an amazingly spectacular gift.

Sometimes, images and messages come to me in increments.  Later on, in church, we sang this song together and I was blown away one more time by the globe-encompassing and giving power of our God.

Who has told every lightning bolt where it should go

Or seen heavenly storehouses laden with snow

Who imagined the sun and gives source to its light

Yet conceals it to bring us the coolness of night

None can fathom

Indescribable, uncontainable,

You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name

You are amazing God

All powerful, untameable,

Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim

You are amazing God

You are amazing God

Let your heart praise Him as you listen-

And yet later, this praise from David-

Praise the LORD from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,

lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
stormy winds that do his bidding,

you mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars,   Psalm 148

I spend much of my worship time thinking about the love God has for me, about the grace He freely showers on me, and about Jesus and Life that so perfectly reflected the Father to us. Sometimes, however, I just get blown away by the evidence of God’s creative power. As I write this, I am overcome with emotion. Who chose the deep blue of the sky, the dark brown of the trees, the blinding white of the snow that covers each branch  as far as I can see? How dare I take that for granted for even one day. How can I miss one day of praise? Who could create such a resiliently spectacular world that, even after the flood and the ravages of sin, shows off such beauty?

Star Breather,

Snow Maker,

World Rocker,

Lightning Thrower,

Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim,

My God, You are amazing!

Mar 032010

Have you seen the fast food ad recently? The one where the guy comes up to the counter and in a stage whisper asks the employee if she remembers him and the special “deal” he got the other day. She caters to him, rolling her eyes because she knows that the special “deal” is available to everyone!

How about the guy next door who tells you about a care salesman downtown. “Yeah, just ask for Eddie. Tell him I sent you. He’ll give you his best price.” It is so tempting to believe that we need connections to get the best, to get close to people.

I was reading one of my favorite parts of the Bible the other day. John 14 through 17.  One of the longest stretches of red letters, that is, if you have a red letter edition. Before the cross, Jesus shared some of His last moments with His disciples, again sharing with them  key truths about His Father, His kingdom, and what He wanted for us and from us.

In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father. John 16

What? Jesus won’t ask the Father for us?  Didn’t He just talk about us asking the Father in Jesus’ name? Confusing, huh? Maybe that’s why I skimmed right over it even after reading it so many times. Yeah, it might be confusing if I stop reading too soon. If I keep reading, things start to become clear.

What was one of Jesus’ constant themes? What the Father is like!  Here Jesus says that the “Father himself loves you”. Often we succumb to the view that the Father is a distant, stern, powerful God that should be feared. A God who requires an interface or connection to become reachable. No! Jesus wants us to know that the Father loves us like He does, that the Father wants to be approached directly, that the Father wants a loving connection with us just like Jesus does.

My mom was laughing at me the other day at lunch. I picked up a cookie and took a bite. Suddenly a little hand came out of nowhere and took it out of my hand. I took another cookie, another bite, and the hand took that cookie as well! I finally got my third cookie and ate it all! My youngest daughter was the culprit. She often will take a swallow of my drink too- all without asking. She knows her position in my heart. She knows that whatever I have is hers. She knows that she can confidently come to me for what she needs. She doesn’t need a go-between. She doesn’t need anyone to ask me on her behalf.

In the same way, Jesus desperately wants to introduce us to Father as He knows Him, One who wants us to confidently approach His throne, asking for what we need, asking for more of Him.  How about now?

shared in the workplace 3/1/2010

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