Turning our hearts toward God…the season of Lent

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Today is Ash Wednesday. The first day of the 40 days that will take us to Easter.

And yes..if you do the math it is longer than that but you don’t count Sundays.

Go ahead.

I can wait.

Don’t worry…I checked too.

If you haven’t figured it out, I like old school so I intend to do something to set the next 40 days (plus Sundays) apart.

There are many ways to put ourselves in a position of drawing nearer to God.

The best way is the way you and God work out together.

Some ways I have heard of include:

Fasting – anywhere from parts of each day, to once a week, to something that is a special draw for you (social media, electronics, soda, coffee <GASP>, sweets…ask God, He will tell you. As a hint…the one that makes you go “NO!!! Not THAT!!” is most likely it…)

Study – use the multitude of word studies available online (unless you gave up electronics…) and set aside time each day or on a certain day to concentrate and dig into the Word OR…pull out that Bible study you never finished and finish it…OR choose a book and read it over several times

Simplicity – seek ways to do with less of the material things that you have come to rely on…make a pact to not purchase any new clothing items or anything decorative for the house or choose to eat less fancy foods…

and one I saw somewhere that I thought was just so perfect…

Practice forgiveness – is there someone in your life that you need to forgive (reminder…forgiveness is not saying they are right, but saying you agree that they owe you NOTHING…not an apology, not an evened score….nothing. As far as you are concerned, their debt to you is paid in full) …. use this season to choose to forgive…even if the feelings don’t accompany it.

I have found one of the greatest pathways of forgiveness is to write out a pray of blessing and prosperity — every good and perfect thing I can think of to hope for regarding those I hold dearest in my heart…and then pray that prayer every day for someone who has wronged me or betrayed someone I love.

OR…on a similar note…is there a situation that you go over and over in your mind…trying to figure out why God has allowed it…can you choose to simply lift it to Him each time it comes to mind and say “Thy will be done”?

Can we do it?

Can we ask God to show us some ways in the next 40 days [plus Sundays] to turn towards Him…or RE-turn to Him?

I pray we would all be attentive to the nudging of His Spirit…He is for us, not against us…His discipline is for our good.

Let us be obedient to pursue Him as we ….

journey onward through Lent 2016      <3

 

You win some, you lose some…

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I have pretty much made it a policy to avoid making this a place to add my thoughts to the current rant of social media…and I may regret breaking that but I hope and pray the thoughts I share would point us to Christ.

Even if you didn’t watch the Superbowl, chances are good you have read or heard comments and thoughts regarding the post-game interviews.

I didn’t really have a dog in the race, but was kind of pulling for Peyton Manning just because he has gone through a lot of surgery and rehab this year to finish the season and I admired that.

The hype predicted this will be his last season and highlighted his amazing career and it just seemed like a nice way for him to finish.

The Broncos played well. The Panthers didn’t. The score told the story.

And the media did what it does.

It tried to force the winning quarterback into making his retirement announcement surrounded by confetti and fireworks.

And it tried to force a kid who is only a year older than our son to “articulate what it feels like to”…basically know you and your team didn’t play as well as you had hoped and you lost the biggest game of the year and the 50th anniversary of it, to boot.

Then America sat back and judged who had class and who is a hothead…etc etc…

And all I can say is….according to their own admission, both of these men are my brothers in Christ.

I can also say that on various occasions in my journey, I have handled both success and failure with humility and grace…

and I have also handled success like I was doing a ridiculous victory dance in the end zone…

and I’ve handled failure with a hoodie pulled over my head and short answers right before I shut down and walked out…

And all of these scenarios have had been played out in front of a variety of audiences.

Sometimes with not one single person watching.

Sometimes in front of small audiences of family and/or friends

Sometimes in public arenas of the workplace, school settings, church

And sometimes out there in the wide open spaces of where life is lived with total strangers watching on. 

But this I know…whether it’s just little old me, little known me….

or a highly paid professional athlete…

in God’s eyes…

it was just one of His kids…

and here is His Word on it….

It matters very little to me what you think of me, even less where I rank in popular opinion.

I don’t even rank myself.

Comparisons in these matters are pointless.

I’m not aware of anything that would disqualify me from being a good guide for you, but that doesn’t mean much.

The Master makes that judgment.

So don’t get ahead of the Master and jump to conclusions with your judgments before all the evidence is in.

When he comes, he will bring out in the open and place in evidence all kinds of things we never even dreamed of—inner motives and purposes and prayers.

Only then will any one of us get to hear the “Well done!” of God.

2 Corinthians 4:4-5          The Message 

As Christians, it is not our place to judge another Christian on how well he or she did at a particular moment or in a given set of circumstances.

We don’t have to analyze the motives that led to the reaction.

Sure its nice when the attitude reflects what we know to be true of Christ…but we must always remember….

Only God knows what was going on down deep.

Whether our walk looks good or whether it needs some improvement…only God is allowed to pronounce judgment….

Which only serves to make me love Him with an even more grateful heart.

God bless you today.

Let’s continue to pray for our brothers and sisters…through failures and successes…that we would hold fast to Christ and allow Him to do what only He can do in each of us <3

Leaving room in the margins

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Our last teaching in the Common Threads series was on Finances.(firstdecatur.org/sermons)

Pastor Wayne used Scripture to give us God’s perspective on money and wealth and stewardship.

As I looked over my notes this morning, I thought about Ruth.

As in Old Testament…stuck between Judges and 1 Samuel…Moabite widow….great-grandmother of King David…that Ruth…

how when she accompanied her impoverished mother-in-law to Bethlehem, went out to the neighboring fields to glean so that they would not starve.

Gleaning was walking behind the harvesters and picking up any seed they missed.

Gleaning was going to the edges of the field that had been left untouched for just such a purpose.

Gleaning was part of the Jewish law.

….When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your land or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor  shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger. I am the Lord your God….   Leviticus 19:9-10  NIV

Because God’s heart is generous….He calls us to be generous.

I once heard a teaching from a man in our church…who pointed out that God doesn’t set the exact place where the very edges are.

He leaves that up to us.

In the story of Ruth, the field where she gleaned belonged to a man named Boaz.

When he saw Ruth, she stood out. She was most assuredly easy to identify as a stranger.

A Moabite. A foreigner. A widow who was caring for a widow.

And out of generosity, he instructed his harvesters to reap less and leave wider margins for her to glean.

We, too, have a certain amount that is given to us. God invites us to use only the portion we really need and to share the rest with those who do not have enough.

As you ponder how much you are going to leave around the edges of your finances so that  can you give to others, let me also mention that with Valentine’s Day approaching the book of Ruth is one of the most tender love stories ever written.

Instead of shades of gray…it is penned in shades of red…

Redemption Red <3

Some stuff…

It’s Friday…YAY!!!!

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So here are some things to cap off the week…

First…I never did address the sermon from Common Threads.

I have listened to it three times. (@firstdecatur.org/sermons). It’s a good one and it’s on spirituality, but every time I listen all I do is cry and thank God our kids were raised in a church that stands on God’s word and lives what they preach.

So…listen for yourself.

You will be blessed <3

And yes…the “John, that would be Reimer” is ours <3

Second…I spent the day yesterday with…

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and….

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so…you know…

best day ever…

except someone …

didn’t take his nap…

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So while I did some things for his mommy, he bwilded…or builded as you might call it…

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and chatted and explained his creation of a little home for some of his animals…

and then it got kind of exciting because…

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Out of nowhere, he hollered for me to look and see that the whole thing had been surrounded by a pack of animals.

They were planning to attack it, or so he said.

And I thought…how like life.

I totally know how the critters in the little house feel.

Surrounded and out numbered and trapped.

Helpless and hopeless.

I ran some things upstairs and when I came back, things had improved dramatically…

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I truly believe the child will be a preacher some day…because he literally said…

“Look Lola. The animals thought they were going to destroy my house but I pushed them away with my own hands. I used my own hands, Lola, and I made them go away.”

When I am surrounded, I can use my own two hands…to fold in prayer and to raise in praise…to open wide and receive God’s blessings…to grab hold of the hem of His garment…to hold tightly to His Hand of grace, mercy and provision and then…to stretch out and help others…

so are my enemies defeated…IMG_9251

and seen no more…

God bless you this weekend!

You and God, you’ve got this!

Journey Onward in victory!

God wins <3

 

 

Signature scents <3

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About twenty years ago we moved from the south end of town to this house.

It wasn’t long after we moved in that we got new neighbors who moved here from out of state and were unfamiliar with Decatur.

One morning Rebekah, the mom, came to the door.

I had just washed my hair and combed it out when the bell rang.

As I opened the door, whatever her initial reason for coming was wiped away…and no, I didn’t scare her…she just blurted out “Aveda Confixor! Where do you find it around here?”

She was right.

I had just applied a gel by the Aveda line of hair products called Confixor; which helps me survive the bane of fine hair…tangles.

Trust me, this gel is pungent.

Another person may have thought it was something gone bad, but to Rebekah it was pleasant and familiar.

Scripture says that we who belong Christ also carry a scent.

Because we are saved by His Grace we smell like Him.

As we pursue growth in knowledge of Him and communion with Him; we give off His spiritual aroma.

And this scent is pleasing to God.

We literally smell like Jesus, His Son, to Him.

Like a signature fragrance, we remind God of Jesus.

And we remind those around us as well.

To those who are also familiar with Him, we smell like life.

To those who either don’t know Him or have rejected Him, we…basically…stink.

Our goal is not to be offensive, but we need to understand that sometimes, we will offend.

The Cross is offensive.

It makes no provision for pride, self-promotion, self-sufficiency or really anything to do with self.

So if you come off smelling great today…it’s all Him.

And if you stink it up out there in the world…well…it’s still…all Him…

The thing that matter is, are we speaking Christ to the world around us?

With our words and with our actions and with our lives.

Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance.

Because of Christ,
                               we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those                                                   on the way of salvation – an aroma redolent with life.

       But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting                                      corpse.   

This is a terrific responsibility.

           Is anyone competent to take it on?

                           No – but at least we don’t take God’s Word, water it down,                                                                    and then take it to the streets and sell it cheap.

                                      We stand in Christ’s presence when we speak;

God looks us in the face.
We get what we say straight from God and say it as honestly as we can.

2 Corinthians 2:15-17         The Message

God bless you all…and, seriously, what is that fragrance you are wearing today? It smells wonderful <3