A Few Seconds Can Change a Life: Use Your Time Wisely

A Few Seconds Can Change a Life: Use Your Time Wisely

As I look back, I realize more than ever how often a few seconds can change a life. I am still learning the art of using my time wisely by valuing the days, moments, and even seconds God has given to me. The results, or fruit, of these moments become the seeds that influence many other moments of our lives.

I have often told others, “I can not afford to have one negative thought toward anyone.” Why? Because the thought I harbor will influence my actions, my actions will form patterns of behavior, and those patterns will ultimately dictate the course of my life.

Does this sound too dramatic or overstated? Perhaps, but not likely!

God continues to challenge me with the reality of making the most of this moment of time — to reevaluate and refocus.

Procrastination

Procrastination robs us of any future reward for present effort. It deceives us into believing we have unlimited time to do the things we know we should do, and to think the way we know we should think. In the deception, we are hindered from moving forward.

“I know I should forgive, but …” “I should invest in that relationship, but …” “I shouldn’t think this way, but …”

We muse, buried in excuses and self-absorption — unmoved and unchanged. It’s a sad representation of far too many lives.

In a Few Seconds

In a few seconds, we have the power to change both our thoughts and actions.

  • “There’s nothing I can do about it,” can become “I can’t do everything, but I can do something.”
  • “Someone else will do a better job of that,” can become “I may not be the best, but I can make a difference.”
  • “It’s not my problem,” can become “Whether I’m the source of the problem or not, I am responsible to do my part.”
  • “I tried, but nothing changed,” can become “This relationship means too much to quit now. I will do everything I can to bring change.”

These changes of attitude demonstrate single moment re-thinks capable of transforming the lives of more people than we realize. A few seconds can change a life. Even mine!

The Seeds of Change

What is it today? What is God asking us to do right now? Les Parrott speaks of six impulses that keep us from improving:

  • Giving up before trying … because we feel helpless.
  • Shunning a challenge … because it seems daunting.
  • Settling for the statue quo … because we lack vision.
  • Shirking responsibility … because its easier to shift blame.
  • Doing the bare minimum … because that is all that’s expected.
  • Avoiding taking action … because we fear failure.

We don’t need to lose momentum, robbed of time and opportunity. By God’s grace, we can move beyond limitations into a lifestyle of wise time management. A few seconds can change a life!

May we be bold, asking the Holy Spirit to reveal any areas which are keeping us from living to our full potential. We have all faced similar challenges.

Truth to Hold on To

Instead of focusing on the problem, God offers us living truth:

  • We are not helpless!

 “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness…”
Romans 8:26

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Philippians 4:13

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10

For we are each responsible for our own conduct.
Galatians 6:5

  • I will do my best in every situation.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23-24

  • God defines me, not failure!

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
2 Timothy 1:7

A Few Seconds Can Change a Life

Let’s take a few seconds to consider these truths God declares about us — seconds that may change our lives. Hopefully, these seeds of change will produce the fruit of change in others.

“Lord Jesus, show me the paralysing lies that keep me from transformational change. May the truth You declare about me become stronger than the belief systems that have bound me. May I use the time You have given me wisely, bringing life, love, and hope to others. May I accomplish the full purpose and design You have declared for me. Today, Lord, I turn from wasted moments. I know that what You have ahead of me is greater than I can imagine. Thank You, Jesus. Amen.”

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5 Unbeatable Exchanges Nobody Wants to Miss

5 Unbeatable Exchanges Nobody Wants to Miss

We can find far more than five unbeatable exchanges that nobody wants to miss — divine exchanges which bring immeasurable benefits. Today as I focus on these few (life, peace, beauty, joy, and praise) may we also discover the many other exchanges available to every believer.

Often things that once worked perfectly, begin to malfunction over time. Some companies even offer trade in discounts to exchange newer, upgraded products for older models. Usually, it’s a limited time offer to urge customers to purchase the latest, fastest, gadgets.

Our children, like everyone else’s, quickly grew out of their clothes as too much leg began to show beneath the hem of pants and tummies protruded from under shirt lines. Shoes also became too tight and developed holes. I smile as I remember how the new purchases seemed to make them stand taller and how they proudly showed off their new-found ability to run faster.

Purging closets and cupboards comes easier to me than loosening my grip on other things which I know I should get rid of — even when those things no longer serve a useful purpose.

An exchange means changes. With changes come challenges we would often rather avoid. But God offers everyone five unbeatable exchanges nobody wants to miss.

The Greatest Exchange

The most beautiful and powerful exchange comes when we surrender our old, temporary life for a new, eternal life in Christ. This divine exchange occurs not outside, but inside us — in the spirit — as we accept Christ’s payment for our sins through His sacrificial death on the cross.

No one dares to claim full understanding of such an exchange. We only receive it by faith. Jesus did for us what we could never do — bridging the gap of separation between us and God and bringing us into relationship with Him.

You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins.
Colossians 2:13

What a wonderful exchange … death for life … separation from God to being united with Him! Nothing compares to the freedom and joy found in this magnificent exchange.

 “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”
Colossians 3:3

Labor for Peace

Although we are all unique, we each feel the weight of responsibilities and concerns. But Jesus welcomes us to exchange our burdens for His perfect peace and rest.

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me. For I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30

Another version puts it this way: “Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Too often, life feels “heavy or ill-fitting.” These never come from God. Sickness, death, and pain were never God’s plan for us. But because we live in a fallen world, rampant with evil, we face trials. God stands with open arms, offering to carry the full weight for us. He teaches us His “unforced rhythms of grace” to walk through even the most difficult times.

Three Exchanges in One

Hundreds of years before Jesus walked the earth, Isaiah promised the unbeatable exchanges Jesus would one day bring.

“… to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”
Isaiah 61:3

Will we sometimes feel like our lives have disintegrated into ashes scattered by the wind? Sadly, yes. Will we face the heaviness of grief and mourning? Undoubtedly. Will we experience seasons of hopelessness and despair? Perhaps.

However, as we draw near to Jesus He promises to bring beauty from the ashes. Even in the midst of mourning, He pours healing oil into our wounded hearts. And out of the dust of despair, He can and will bring forth songs of praise — not for the circumstances, but for His Presence bringing us through those circumstances.

Jesus doesn’t stop there. Twice in verse seven of the same chapter, Isaiah tells us that Jesus will give us “a double portion” for any trouble we have experienced as we choose to place our weakness into His strength.

Unbeatable Exchanges

Even as I write, I sense the heaviness of what some of you are experiencing today. So, I write with tears of compassion. I feel the heart of God welcoming you to His divine exchange, surrendering your loss for great and eternal gain.

Please join in this simple prayer, accepting His divine exchange.

Lord Jesus, I am tired and worn out — tired of pretending I’m strong and have life together. My heart hurts and my emotions feel as scrambled as my thoughts. I give you my broken life and welcome Your whole one. I long for an intimate relationship with You as my loving Father God. Take my sins and failures, Lord. I believe You died for me. I receive the unbeatable exchange of life and fellowship in Christ. The burdens and pressures have become too much for me to carry, Lord. So, I lay them at Your feet. Teach me the “unforced rhythms” of walking in Your grace. I give you the heaviness of my heart — the burned ashes of dead hopes, the mourning over lost dreams, and the heavy spirit of despair. Today, Lord, I receive Your unbeatable exchanges of life, peace, beauty, joy, and praise. Only You can transform my life into something that will ultimately bring You glory and praise. And in that transformation, I know You will give me life eternal and immeasurable good.
Amen.

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Know Which Path to Take — God Leads the Way

Know Which Path to Take — God Leads the Way

Are you sensing a change in direction or feeling uncertain which path to take in business, ministry, or your personal life? There is no better way to begin our search for direction than by seeking God and allowing Him to lead the way. As we do, He frees us to make those decisions with greater confidence and peace of heart and mind.

God has promised to lead us, to teach us His way, and to guide us in the right path to take. Today, let’s look at a few Bible verses to encourage each other in this season of change and transition.

Trust

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
    do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
    and he will show you which path to take.

Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT

In the familiarity of this verse, we might easily loose the significance of the beautiful promise contained within. God calls us to purposefully reposition our hearts and minds to trust in Him rather than our own “understanding.” Human perception limits the possibilities of what can or will be.

How valuable to seek His will in everything! As we do, God promises — yes promises — to show us “which path to take” in every area of our lives. Only He knows the possibilities available to us!

Surrender

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”

Psalm 32:8

I often wonder how many times I miss the leading of God because of my stubborn resistance to His voice. Perhaps, it happens more times than I would admit.

Though He promises to “instruct and teach” us, any refusal to listen will lead us down paths in direct opposition to His perfect plan for us. After this promise, God warns us not to be like a horse or mule, needing a bit to control their direction.

Do I consistently surrender my heart and mind to God’s direction even when it doesn’t make sense or feels frightening? God has been prompting me in this area. Though I am willing, He desires my willingness without conditions.

Pay Attention

This is what the Lord says—
    your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“I am the Lord your God,
    who teaches you what is best for you,
    who directs you in the way you should go.”

Isaiah 48:17

The following verses remind all who will listen to “pay attention.” What signals of change should we give our attention?

  • Are doors opening that used to be closed? Or closed that were once open?
  • Where is God’s favor resting on our talents, abilities, skills, or expertise?
  • Do you feel God’s peace about a specific direction?

Allow yourself time to reflect and ask God to reveal the answers to these and other questions. The answers may reveal which path God desires you to take. He constantly speaks, teaching and directing us “in the way” we should go.

Prayer

Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are God my Savior,
    and my hope is in you all day long.”

Psalm 25:4-5

Without God’s help we may swing from over-confidence to insecurity while making decisions. Prayer turns our hearts and minds in tune with His heart and desires for us. Whatever decision we may be facing He promises to teach us which path to take.

The Path to Take

In the place of prayer God gives “flashes” of vision which our natural minds could never conjure. These God directed insights often ignite excitement and passion. At other times, prayer prepares us. The path He leads us toward may be difficult, requiring wisdom and strength beyond our present ability.

In whatever direction He leads, we know that He is with us, guiding us with His loving eye. We need never fear! It is only when we deliberately step away from His path that we should be concerned and make course adjustments back toward Him.

The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
    when he delights in his way;”

Psalm 37:23

“Father, we come seeking not only direction for the decisions ahead, but Your Presence above everything else. Hide us under the shelter of Your wings, near to Your heart. May we sense the fullness of the good things You have awaiting us — whether we are three- or ninety-three-years-old.
We wait for your direction. Search our hearts and examine our motives. Reveal the secret things which may attempt to lead us outside your will.
May we rest in the knowledge and security of Your promise to lead, teach, direct, and establish us in Your ways. We know and are assured that You will establish us in Your perfect path, now and always. So, we rest in the goodness of Your grace and the protection or Your love.
Amen.

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Know Your Call! Stay in the Right Lane!

Know Your Call! Stay in the Right Lane!

Perhaps the most difficult thing to discover is the call of God on our lives. Next most difficult is to stay in the right lane of our calling.

Like many vehicles, my car beeps a warning when I veer out of my lane. Why? Because veering off lane creates a dangerous situation for me and everyone else. Of course, if I use the signal indicator before changing lanes, I provide everyone with adequate warning of my intentions.

I’ve lived several decades and made more than a few lane changes in my life. Some changes occurred abruptly — the sudden swerves to avoid danger or navigate a sharp corner. For the most part, however, I perceive these changes a long time in advance, allowing for minor or consistent corrections in choices or shifts in priorities.

As annoying as the warning beeper is in my car, I appreciate the safety feature. I want to know how to stay in the right lane.

The apostle Paul knew his call. He provides an excellent example of how he faithfully stayed in his lane.

“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God.”
Romans 1:1

By God’s Grace

Whatever the call on our lives, we remember that it is all by God’s grace!

“God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
1 Corinthians 1:9

By God’s grace, He has called each of us to Himself — not so that we could do more for Him, but so that we could be united with Him in fellowship.

He honestly doesn’t need us to do anything. He purely loves us and wants us to know and enjoy an intimate relationship with Him.

But part of our calling to Him does include a calling to serve Him. Those He calls He also equips.

“Just think — you don’t need a thing, you’ve got it all. All God’s gifts are right in front of you as you wait expectantly for our Master Jesus to arrive on the scene for the Finale. And not only that but God himself is right alongside to keep you steady and on track until things are all wrapped up by Jesus. God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son and our Master Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that.”
1 Corinthians 1:7-9 MSG

Isn’t that amazing! God makes His call known to us and He helps us to stay in the right lane by keeping us steady and on the right track.

Know Your Call

The Corinthian church experienced more than a few problems. They became known for disputes and disruptions. Paul makes his call clear to them.

“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel — not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”
1 Corinthians 1:17

Ministry, and life in general, carry many responsibilities of things that could be done, should be done, or ought to be done. It’s a constant battle to focus on the essentials. We may not feel our calling is significant, but it is. Every act of kindness and everything done out of love has immeasurable impact on those around you. Then that love will flow from them to others and to still others more.

Never underestimate or minimize your call. Own it! Walk in it! Foster it!

God called Paul to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Obedience to the Call

Obedience resembles not just getting into our car but driving it. You will have no opportunity to stay in the right lane while parked in the garage. We use vehicles to take us from one place to another. Obedience turns on the engine, pulls our lives into motion, and moves us into our lane of ministry and service.

Paul placed concentrated effort into extensive learning. Then he walked in the misguided authority of human wisdom and position. The results proved devastating to those whom he imprisoned and murdered for their faith.

After God called and equipped Paul, everything changed. Paul immediately shifted into the right lane.

“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power. so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.”
1 Corinthians 2:4-5

Paul’s pre-Christian influence came through “wise and persuasive words.” But now in obedience to God’s call and the anointing of the Holy Spirit everything flowed through God’s power.

Stay in the Right Lane

Because Paul obeyed God to stay in the right lane, the impact of his life probably comes second only to Jesus Christ. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul wrote about twenty-eight percent of the New Testament. He is perhaps the most quoted writer of New Testament scripture.

His in-person preaching reached tens or even hundreds of thousands of people. His writings have turned untold millions to confess their faith in Jesus Christ.

How could one man impact so many people through the centuries?

  • First, Paul received and responded to God’s grace confessing Jesus Christ as Lord.
  • Second, Paul committed himself to full obedience to God’s call.
  • Third, Paul continually demonstrated through his life how to stay in the right lane.

“But we preach Christ crucified … Christ the power of God and wisdom of God.”
1 Corinthians 1:23-24

Prayer

Father God, we receive the grace to know You, the One true God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Thank you for welcoming us into fellowship with You and for calling and equipping us to share the gospel with others.
Whether our sharing takes place in our homes, with friends, in the marketplace, or from behind a pulpit doesn’t matter. We desire to walk out our calling in full obedience. Keep us steady, Lord, and on the right track. Help us to stay in the right lane. May the Holy Spirit “beep” a warning whenever we veer from the path You have called us to walk.
I ask for boldness and faithfulness to love as You have called us to love and to serve as You have called us to serve. Fill us with contentment to stay in the right lane.
And Lord, may our lives become a “demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.”
Amen.

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Expanding and Contracting: Adjusting to Change

Expanding and Contracting: Adjusting to Change

Expanding and contracting often occur subtlely around us. Gradual changes may go unnoticed, hidden in the busyness of daily lives. However, extreme shifts rudely jar us awake, demanding immediate attention.

Last night our house popped noisily as temperatures plummeted almost as quickly as a downed aircraft. Sleep refused to come during the racket. I felt powerless, and a little irritated, as I pulled the warm sheets over my head. As I hunkered in my bed, the creaking and cracking persisted through much of the night. The process continued later in the day as the sun shone its warming rays upon the roof and walls, striving for supremacy.

Here, on the northern prairies, such temperature fluctuations occur often. Neither my house nor I respond well to sudden shifts of anything — temperature or otherwise! I prefer gentle smooth transitions, especially ones I foresee and can control.

Some of life’s expanding brings joyous benefits — a successful business or growing family, a larger home or increased wages, even an extra day off work or hour in bed.

Our living space contracted recently when we moved from a house to a condo. My husband and I welcomed the downsizing of our home and the responsibilities that went with it.

Other times, both expanding and contracting brings grief and loss. It may require a move away from family and friends or the termination of independence. Whether the changes come swiftly or more slowly, I’ve discovered four major keys to navigate the stretch and shrink points of life successfully: flexibility, contentment, consistency, and peace.

Flexibility

Whenever I read in The Gospels about Jesus calling His disciples, I wonder in amazement. Would I have responded so quickly to His call?

” ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.”
Matthew 4:19-20

Imagine! One moment you cast your nets — the same nets you cast yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that. The next to leave them all behind. Your father taught you the business and passed it hopefully to you. In fact, the business grew successfully over many generations.

Suddenly, in the wink of an eye, everything changed! They left their boats, family, security, familiarity, and comfort, stepping into nothing but uncertainly.

Would I have so quickly responded to the sudden expanding and contracting possibilities? Would you? Their friends did, too!

“Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.”
Matthew 4:21-22

Perhaps the attribute of flexibility qualified them for future success and service. Maybe the willingness to be flexible prepared them to flow through the pending seasons ahead. I wonder if the first test of being an unwavering follower of Christ just might include adaptability to change.

Though I often vocalize my discomfort with the stretching and shrinking as much as my creaking house, I recognize the necessity of remaining pliable through change.

Contentment

When I face contracting and expanding in an area of my life, Paul’s words encourage me.

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want (and) can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
Philippians 4:12-13

We, like Paul, must learn contentment. No one begins life perfectly content. We cry at the discomfort of empty bellies and wet diapers, demanding a remedy. We learn how to scream for our needs to be met now. But as we grow and mature, we learn contentment.

Through contentment, we remember we are part of a bigger picture — an eternal whole. Contentment recognizes the shifting context of all that is earthly. Whether life flows smoothly or bumps along, we realize the temporary nature of things around us.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain.”
1 Timothy 6:6

Paul encourages Timothy to possess two vital attributes — godliness and contentment. This dynamic duo propels us forward so that whether we are expanding or contracting, we win.

Consistency

Certain areas of consistency help to smooth some of the more pain-filled changes and hurried transitions. These include daily rhythms of prayer and worship, Bible reading and meditation on Scripture. It also encompasses Christian community and fellowship.

Daniel demonstrates this so clearly. Jealous and overly zealous colleagues attempted to destroy Daniel. They persuaded the king to issue a decree demanded everyone in the kingdom worship only the king or face deadly consequences.

“Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room were the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to God, just as he had done before.”
Daniel 6:10

“Just as he had done before.” Daniel refused to allow external circumstances to interrupt his daily routines. Even though life-threatening events swirled around him, he maintained his spiritual priorities.

During even difficult extremes of expanding and contracting, we are also wise to remember our “whole” being. God created us with a spirit, soul, and body. Consistently nurturing ourselves helps to level the impact of often extreme fluxes of change.

Remember to eat well, sleep well, and exercise well. (A life pattern I’m still developing!) Which leads me to the next point of peace and rest.

Peace

In our former home, I found my cheerful place of peace to be in front of the bowed picture window. From there I watched many sunrises. At the beginning of each, I sat, reading my Bible and praying. Hopefully, someone else now finds comfort sitting in a chair and resting peacefully in front of the large window.

In my new home, the windows all face west. Beautiful views of the sun cresting the horizon remain outside my range of vision. But thankfully, peace isn’t a place. Peace is a Person — Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
John 14:27

Do you know what immediately happens when I hear the pops, creaks, and snaps of change around me? My heart instantly becomes troubled, and my mind fills with fear.

These words of Jesus comfort me. No matter what kind of expanding or contracting occurs in my life, Jesus Himself gives His perfect peace. His peace bears no resemblance to the world’s version. His peace flows deep, runs wide, and dissipates all worrying, fussing, and fretting.

Maybe you feel a little like I did last night. External “noises” refuse to subside or allow you time to rest. Unwelcome changes press heavy, attempting to squeeze the breath from your lungs. In this moment, may I ask you to slow down — to stop and breathe in His peace. Jesus extends it to us by the bucketful.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6-7

And when you exhale, whisper a small prayer, a weighty petition, or a genuine thanksgiving.

Not Alone

Unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury of choosing most of the upheavals and downward swings awaiting us. But we can choose to remain flexible, to learn contentment, and developing consistency, while relying on God’s strength and wisdom to carry us through peacefully.

The first place, and perhaps only place, to look is heavenward. Nothing rattles or surprises God. With clear vision, He saw this day, anticipated all you need, and prepared you for it. He has no intentions of abandoning you now!

Be strong. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Deuteronomy 31:6

So let the old house creak and pop. Don’t resist or hide from it. Together, may we rest and trust God who has us all under His gentle care.

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Move Out the Old! Make Room for the New!

Move Out the Old! Make Room for the New!

This year God is challenging me to move out the old and make room for the new. That means change! Even though I tend to be flexible and open to change, I like to know what change is coming.

My husband is a fully certified “keeper” of all things that may at some point be useful for any unforeseen circumstances. He is a “fixer” — and an excellent one at that! I, on the other hand, am a “thrower”. I resist clutter with a fervency. If something isn’t serving a useful purpose, I am quick to give it away to someone who will make good use of it. We have learned the benefit of “keepers” and “throwers”.

“You will still be eating last year’s harvest
when you will have to move it out
to make room for the new.”
Leviticus 26:10

Did you ever try to take food from a toddler? Be prepared! What a child lacks in size they certainly make up for in resistance.

Honestly, I feel the same way when I have to part with something I am enjoying!

Still Eating

It is the “you will still be eating” part that has me a little nervous. The “new” at the end of the verse sounds perfect, but what will I have to give up before actually seeing and holding the new?

“You will still be eating” implies the blessing of God in the preceding harvest was substantial. A harvest that was valued and appreciated!  However, “still eating” also means I’m not yet satisfied, full or content with that proceeding blessing.

Inwardly I groan, “Not yet! Wait until I’m full! Don’t bring change now! All is good!”

But it also bids me to ask,

“What blessings am I hanging on to?
What am I afraid to let go of?
Where is my grip too tight?”

Before every new harvest, storage bins receive a thoroughly cleaning. Any remnant of last years harvest is removed, eliminating any opportunity for the old to contaminate the new.

Jesus gave a similar illustration:

“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth
on an old garment,
for the patch will pull away
from the garment,
making the tear worse.

Neither do people pour
new wine into old wineskins.
If they do, the skins will burst;
the wine will run out and
the wineskins will be ruined.
No, they pour new wine into new wineskins,
and both are preserved.”
Matthew 9:16-17

You Have To

“You have to” doesn’t exactly sound favorable either. Give me choice!, Show me the options allowing time to weigh and assess benefits. I can adjust with that! Add the words “you have to” and the dynamic changes!

What makes change so difficult?  Here are my top five reasons for resisting change:

  • Change is awkward! More of my life than I care to admit is lived by learned behaviour! Adjusting to something new takes time and patience.
  • Change costs! Want an example? My old computer stopped working; the new replacement has added features but was expensive. Change often carries an unseen price tag — sometimes financially, maybe relationally, or even emotionally.
  • Change is a process! It is the undetermined span between the now and then, the here and there, that requires effort and time. This unknown discourages movement.

  • Change awakens fear! What if it doesn’t work? Will it be worth it? What will people think?
  • Change requires confidence and trust! When the change isn’t my choice, I need to have a deep trust of the one asking me to change. I need to know my best interest is considered or there is a higher goal or purpose for change.

Some things I will gladly let go of, however. The sooner poor habits, destructive thought patterns, or nagging fear exit my life the more content I’ll be.

Thankfully God attached a promise with the “have to”; it includes “make room for the new.

Make Room

I am an expert at making room! We had five boys in just over eight years in a relatively small three-bedroom home. Making room for one more created a welcome challenge.

Now with family grown, we have downsized into a much smaller home. Over the years, I have become proficient at making the best use of even the smallest spaces.

The changes necessary to make room for others includes far more that external space

to broader dimensions of love,
devotion, care, provision,
to sharing and giving,
preferring and protecting.

Just like I am unsure of what I may have to let go of, I am equally unsure of what God is asking me to make room for. These unanswered questions create tension, an uneasiness, that only faith in God can resolve.

The New

Not every harvest is prime quality or quantity on the Canadian prairies. There can be infestations of disease or pests, adverse weather like drought or hail, and any number of other issues that significantly affect the new crop. As a matter of fact, there is no guarantee the new crop will even be realized!

Yet, God promises us new!

“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.”
Isaiah 43:18-19

It is virtually impossible to forget the “former things” when the flavour is fresh in your mouth. However, there will be no appreciation for the new unless we willingly release the old.

Being a seasoned veteran at “letting go”, Corrie Ten Boom offers us solid advice,

” Hold everything in your hands lightly,
otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open.”

Perhaps the reason change becomes increasingly difficult is previous experiences with both positive and questionable changes. Such resistance to letting go of something firmly possessed for something not yet visible is understandable.

Faithful

With confidence I step into God’s promise purposefully laying aside fear and comfort. Why? The One who promised is faithful!

If God is asking me to let go of the old,
if He is saying in no uncertain terms,
“you have to”,
I know He has a greater plan
than I can presently see.

I trust Him and His word! Not blindly, but fully!

Faith is never blind! Though I cannot see what the future holds, I see clearly the God who holds my future. He never fails in His promise.

“For all the promises of God
find their Yes in him.
That is why it is through him
that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.”
2 Corinthians 1:20

Laying aside yesterday’s blessings, yesterday’s provision and yesterday’s anointing is for the sole purpose of taking hold of today’s increased blessing. I will never fully realize God’s best while stubbornly holding on to yesterday’s good.

So, I am prepared “to move out” all that is necessary “to make room” for what is ahead!

It sounds like work! But I’ll let you know how God works it out!

**********

Looking, Seeing, Keeping Eyes Open

Looking, Seeing, Keeping Eyes Open

Looking without seeing is a blinding condition in more ways that one! I can drive the same road day after day, week after week without noticing the environment around me. Suddenly, I will see something as if for the first time that isn’t new. Though I was looking, I wasn’t truly seeing! My eyes were not open to the obvious.

Does anyone else have the same problem?

“Keep your eyes open for God,
watch for his works;
be alert for signs of his presence.”
Psalm 105:4 MSG

By watching closely, we will see evidence of God all around us.

Ezekiel

God brought Ezekiel to the temple court – the place where the priests minister. When Ezekiel looked, he saw a “hole” in the wall.

"I looked and I saw a hole in the wall"

“Then he brought me to the entrance to the court.
I looked, and I saw a hole in the wall.
He said to me, “Son of man, now dig into the wall.”
So I dug into the wall and saw a doorway there.”
Ezekiel 8: 7-8

When Ezekiel began digging “into the wall”, a doorway became visible. Looking, seeing, and digging wasn’t enough! God asked Ezekiel to go through the doorway to look harder, more intentionally, at the condition of his city.

He challenged Ezekiel, “Look! Observe! Pay attention!

What Ezekiel saw was disturbing!

Looking Personally

I assist hurting people every week as they wade through destructive life circumstances, helping them “look” at the truth of God’s word personally and “see” hope in Christ. My work with others often awakens a fresh awareness of areas needed in my own personal development and healing journey.

Opening the way to see!

God desires for each us to be on a continuing trajectory to health and wholeness. I have come a long way, but have a long way to go.

“But by the grace of God I am what I am,
and his grace to me was not without effect.”
I Corinthians 15:10

What you see now is not what I used to be! Thankfulness for all God has done is appropriate. Allowing myself to be blinded to the need for continued personal growth, however, is harmful. Change is not optional, but rather mandatory, for Christians!

As a lay minister, it is often in this place of assisting others that my own “gaps” and “holes” become most evident. It is the perfect place for God to reveal points of His unfinished work.

“Stop! Look closer!” I’ll sense Him say.

When I am willing to look, He allows me to see more broken jagged edges!

Taking a closer look at negative life patterns

Holy Spirit reveals hidden places of self-protection, negative thought patterns and recurring destructive behaviours. Blinded by familiarity, these patterns would otherwise go unnoticed.

It amazes me how much of life can be lived without any serious looking or digging!

Only when I am willing to become honest before God and others will the avenue of healing and liberty be exposed to view. Thankful for victories past, I prepare to work on present trouble spots! In the space between past and future I feel the burden of now — fragile, exposed, and vulnerable.

Progress

Looking isn’t easy! The depravity within and without is wearying, even horrifying! My willingness to see, however, precedes any victory to come.

Seeing the best of every circumstance

God will not do the work for me; He waits for my active participation in the process. I must look with intention! Purposefully digging beneath protective layers requires obedience to open the door of my heart and mind to His examination.

In the looking, Christ is with me.
He is enough in the digging.
In the opening, He is present.
The cross has paid the price.
In my groping,
I find “It is finished!

My eyes turn back to the Bible, as I continue to read

“In the morning
the word of the LORD came to me…”
Ezekiel 12:8

There is always a morning! A new day! A fresh opportunity!

His Word transcends…
Truth penetrates…
Light overcomes…

His Word transcends… Truth penetrates… Light overcomes…

There must be present a purposeful intention both inwardly and outwardly; never so outwardly focused I am inwardly complacent nor inwardly minded that I am outwardly negligent.

God was the One who directed Ezekiel’s sightline. He is willing and able to aim my own.

With a Purpose

It is possible to maintain a quiet trust and confidince embedded within a surrendered heart. He turns my gaze, focusing my vision on what He wants me to see and become.

When He is says, “Dig”, I will have the strength to respond! When He says, “Look”, I will have the grace to see. Then, and only then, will He give me the wisdom to open the doorway to the next place of deliverance and freedom.

In it all, we see Christ and His divine purpose:

“We look at this Son and see the God
who cannot be seen.
We look at this Son and see God’s
original purpose in everything created.”
Colossians 1: 15 MSG

We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen.

It is astonishing to realize that in everything Christ can be seen when we are willing to look. Regardless of circumstances, God’s wonder is revealed in every direction, including our common ordinary.

We look
to see,
surrendered,
moving beyond,
ever forward
from strength to strength.

The courage of one, raises the tidal mark of bravery for others. As one person strides forward in victory, others are inspired to take similar fragile steps. Is this not the appearance of faith? Looking and seeing! Keeping our eyes constantly open for the movements of God!

**********

Personal testimonies worth sharing again:

A Daughter’s Redemption! Dawn Enters a New Day!

The Prodigal Returns, Prayer Answered! Running No More!

Transition of Seasons – Embrace the Change

Transition of Seasons – Embrace the Change

September’s dawn hesitates with each new morning, weary perhaps from the busyness of summer’s unceasing activity. The long daylight hours are filled with a multitude of treasured moments to remember throughout winter’s dark freeze. Cooler nights and shortened days herald the transition of seasons and prepare us to embrace the change.

Our summer certainly was filled! A June wedding, God’s gift of a fresh start, in Nevada and our own 46th anniversary of life together. A jam-packed family camping adventure with hiking, fishing, biking, boating, lounging, campfires, games, and giggles topped July’s memory making attempt. Mid August brought the completion of internship closing the chapter of Master’s Commission training. We laughed with friends marking birthdays from the north and south. Many moments captured forever in our grateful hearts!

Season of Change

As I consider personal transitions, the most dramatic came with marriage: single to united, independent to interdependent, under my father’s protective wing to another man’s, enjoying the benefits of my childhood home to making our own. Marriage brought a lot of change, that continues to this day.

Transition of Seasons

Seasons predictably come and go! Here in the northern hemisphere, the transitions may come subtly but the changes can be drastic!

The church that began with the apostles over two thousand years ago has seen major transitional changes, as well. Each change acutely different from the one before; each sparked by a fresh dawn of revival, while restoring an element of something lost.

With the Reformation and Luther nailing his 95 Theses to the door in Wittenberg in 1517 came an awareness that salvation is by grace, and grace alone. It cannot be bought, earned, or waggled into.

Luther - Wittenberg - 95 Theses

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith
and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God

not by works, so that no one can boast”
Ephesians 2:8-9

The price of redemption paid in full!  Jesus death and resurrection is forever enough! Nothing added and nothing taken away!  This cosmic event bridged the great, dark chasm between God and humanity. Now that’s enough to make one dance, leap and shout with joy!

However, it didn’t take the church long to grow lethargic. Another transition was needed to stir up the greying coals of revival.

The Great Commission

Prayer is always the unseen channel of fresh fire. It would take Edwards, Wesley, Whitefield and others to again stir the church reviving and awakening the desire for evangelism. The church jolted to action! God’s grace is for all!

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,
baptizing them in the name
of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I commanded you;
and lo I am with you always,
even to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:19-20

Go into all the world!

For the first time since the evangelistic wave of the apostles, “go” was back in the “go”-spel! The church took seriously the commission to bring the Good News to all peoples!

But how does one effectively go without the tangible Presence of the Lord?

Preparing for Change

There were many forerunners to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Azusa Street in 1906: D. L. Moody, Maria Woodworth Etter, Charles Parham, Evan Roberts and more. But Azusa Street became the fault line of the greatest quake of change in the church since the original Pentecost of the Book of Acts.

The outpouring! The Holy Spirit moved to the forefront with restoration of signs, wonder and miracles:

“These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe:
They will cast out demons in my name,
and they will speak in new languages.
They will be able to handle snakes with safety,
and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them.
They will be able to place their hands on the sick,
and they will be healed.”
Mark 16:17-18

Miracles, signs and wonders will follow them who believe!

Every shaking of revival transforms those willing to change. Recoil or embrace? With each restoration of truth, fearless, faith-filled, hungry, even desperate, God seekers step from the familiar and welcome the inexplicable grace of God’s open hand.

The Father’s Heart

The most current transitional change broke forth with fresh awareness of the goodness of God, a revelation of the Father’s heart. With impeccable timing, it broke into an environment plagued by fatherlessness.

The Historical Atlas of the Twentieth Century quotes deaths through wars and oppressions alone totalled more that 188,000,000. The twentieth century became marked as the most lethal in mankind’s history. Each death represents families broken. Millions of fathers snuffed out, removed forever!

God’s heart most certainly must have wept over man’s ability to annihilate and destroy! Great grace flooded over chaos with a tsunami wave of His open heart of love through the Toronto Blessing. The impact continues worldwide!

God is good!

“For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.”
Psalm 100:5

While the outpouring of Holy Spirit at Azusa Street created more denominational divides than any other movement, the revelation of the love of The Father has drawn denominations together like no other.

Change is Coming

As distinct as the shift from summer to fall, I feel another change coming. It is an exciting time! The church is rising and growing at unprecedented rates secure in restored revelation:

  • Salvation through grace and grace alone
  • The gospel for all peoples
  • Filled with the Holy Spirit
  • Radically loved by The Father

Wait! Pardon me for mentioning it, but my Bible neither starts nor ends here! There is more!

The first act of God in Genesis was to prepare a garden for the union of a special couple, Adam and Eve. It was a place of constant fellowship between God and man, filled with peace, joy and unbridled communion.

The last act of God in Revelation is presenting the bride to The Bridegroom. Can you imagine that wonderful day?

The bride is getting ready for the Bridegroom!

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.”
Revelation 19:7

Every season of change for the church, every transitional wave of blessing and revelation, is for one purpose! The bride prepares for the Bridegroom!

Pulled close by His grace, the global church rises with arms reaching all. She is alive in the Spirit, immersed in the Father’s love. She is being slowly transformed into the likeness of The Bridegroom. Christ is coming back for a bride fully representing His heart, His character, His nature, and His glory. He will not be unequally yoked!

“The bride has made herself ready!” There she will stand, a glorious church filled with strength, dignity, purity, and honour.

However, to be ready, she must be willing to embrace change. The same transitions that have occurred corporately are to be approached personally and intentionally as well. Welcome each season with confidence that every change is, in fact, a preparation for the Bridegroom.

Get excited! The wedding day is perhaps closer than we think!

Flying Lead Change! Following God’s Lead!

Flying Lead Change! Following God’s Lead!

Though I would never consider myself of a horse person, I appreciate the beauty and grace of flying lead changes. Both horse and rider must become proficient to make these smooth, clean changes of direction in perfect balance without breaking rhythm or losing forward momentum.

Flying Lead Change

In a flying lead change, a horse changes leads without changing the rhythm of a canter. It is similar to skipping from one foot to the other, but on four feet instead of two!

While watching horses canter around an open meadow, you would notice how beautifully and freely they naturally accomplish this. Add a rider to the mix and it becomes a little more complicated.

The grace of a flying lead change!

Both horse and rider must develop a unified rhythm, trust, freedom of gait, perfect contact, straightness, alignment and balance. The rider must become “one with” the horse, in tune with the horse’s natural rhythm and timing. The discipline is nothing short of frustrating to master, but when accomplished successfully there is an awareness of genuine power unhindered.

The beauty, elegance and power of barrel racing, pole bending, dressage or many other equestrian disciplines is often a result of graceful flying lead changes. In full motion, the center of gravity shifts, the subtle cues of horse and rider are instinctively responded too. Nothing is lost! Everything is gained!

“What got you thinking equestrian?” you ask.

Lately, I’m having trouble “skipping” to God’s time and smoothly following His direction! Gracefully leaping through life is not an apt description of my walk with Him.

The Lord’s Lead

There is nothing wrong with the Lord’s leading, of course. However, as He calls me to change direction or adjust my focus, personal insecurity, hesitancy, and imbalance create a frustrating, out-of-step cadence within me. Like a stumbling novice I clumsily respond to His directing. I am unable to proceed beyond a slow trot.

“Where is he who set
His Holy Spirit among them,
who sent his glorious arm of power
to be at Moses’ right hand,
who divided the waters before them,
to gain for himself everlasting renown,
who led them through the depths?
Like a horse in open country,
they did not stumble;
like cattle that go down to the plain,
they were given rest by the Spirit of the LORD.
This is how you guided your people
to make for yourself a glorious name.”
Isaiah 63:11-14

Who holds the rein of my life?

What beautiful imagery! God leads His children like a horse into open country where there is perfect liberty or like cattle to peacefully rest in an open meadow.

Do I trust His lead! Trust is necessary for flying lead changes.

Trusting Fully

To trust means I need to lay down preconceived ideas of where I think I should be heading and the pace I want to get there. Personal agendas must fall!

Who really has the reins in my life? It is an easy question to ask; it is much harder to honestly evaluate my heart! As a matter of fact, I can believe I am doing quite fine, until God asks me to step into a new lead. Then reality sets in!

Trusting God to direct

Just like a horse needing blinders to avoid distraction and loss of focus, God often needs to allow circumstances to hem me in to get my full attention.

“I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands.”
Psalm 119:60

I hunger to sense the shift of His rhythm and bend in fluid motion to His every movement.

My sister owned a mature cutting horse. Countless times I toppled off the side or plunged over the neck of this amazing responsive horse. Duchess turned on a dime and stopped instantly to the slightest touch of the reins. She was sensitive; I was not! It took time to develop a trust between us that would enable fluid movement and unison.

Without Grumbling

Sometimes horse and rider fight for dominance. It can be a serious battle of wills. Every rider has met this challenge.

Responding with a flying lead change!

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing,”
Philippians 2:14

Time and energy can be wasted grumbling and arguing over God’s lead. Even though it may not make sense to me, a flying lead change requires that I don’t know all the answers or outcomes. Not only is a high level of trust necessary, I also must be convinced of the nature of The One who is asking me to redirect.

Often grumbling is rooted in my personal insecurity. Will I honestly acknowledge my frailty and embrace my struggle. Surrendering in childlike humility to my Heavenly Father always knows best is not an option.

Step by step I am working toward my personal flying lead change! It may not look or feel “graceful” today, but with practice and time it will! By even embracing the points of failure, I am preparing for success. I am learning much from present disappointments.

Tenacity

My father would often encourage us, “When you fall off, get right back on!”

He didn’t want his children to quit before they tasted success. I think Dad reflected the Father’s heart toward us.

“May the Lord lead your hearts
into a full understanding and expression of the love of God
and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.”
2 Thessalonians 3:5

Here is the essence of a flying lead change — understanding hearts fully expressing God’s love plus the endurance, or perseverance from Christ. What a perfect mix!

When God sees us flounder or break rhythm, He is never discouraged or disappointed with us. Gently, He invites us to try again. He picks up the pace, whispers a new direction, and welcomes us to respond.

When we begin to respond instinctively to His lead, we will rejoice together! The beauty of our flying lead change will be obvious to everyone watching.

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Testimonies of Others:

A Daughter’s Redemption! Dawn Enters a New Day!

The Prodigal Returns, Prayer Answered! Running No More!

Moving and Change – Welcome or to be Avoided?

Moving and Change – Welcome or to be Avoided?

Moving is perhaps one of the most common sources of change. For some people change is marked on the calendar and celebrated with glee, like a child anticipating Christmas morning. For others change resembles opening a shuttered window overlooking a new and unknown experience. Yet for many their pace slows in purposeful delay of the inevitable. Moving and change! Welcome or to be avoided?

There is a lot of moving going on in our family these days. Just a little while ago, it was announced to the children of one family that a move was forthcoming. Each was asked for their input and thoughts into how that might look for them.

Moving

The oldest pondered the situation very carefully, weighing every angle possible in her young mind. Moving wouldn’t be easy! As a matter of fact, it would be difficult to leave a comfortable home and special friends. The final destination isn’t clear; the benefits of a move are uncertain. After a long discussion which included many questions, she set her resolve; the pros out-weighed the cons. The oldest was ready to cast an affirming vote.

The next child, who had been listening intently, had very little concern over the many options and outcomes. The family was moving together. With that fact reinforced, her world was secure here or there, now and then. A move is no big deal while being surrounded and supported by those you love.

The youngest had left the family round table of deliberation early and hastily. Just as everyone was beginning to wonder what she could be up to, she reappeared. Her oversized bags were already packed. The most prized of possessions were in close tow already cased haphazardly. “Move now! Figure the details out later!” apparently was her motto.

Change

I’m still chuckling at the imagery! Yet, I realized most of us fit roughly into one of these three approaches to change:

  1. Positive change, in one opinion, will only occur after careful, calculated planning and preparation. Take your time and measure all possible outcomes is the best strategy. Then, and only then, proceed slowly and with caution.
  2. Change comes to us all! However, surrounded by loving support, even the most difficult adjustments can be approached confidently. Smooth change is possible when relationships are close and strong.
  3. Why sweat the small stuff? What’s the big fuss about? Pack your bags, board the bus, get with the program, full throttle ahead! The details will work themselves out!

My wonderful husband is a #1. My poor husband is married to a #3. Fortunately, we have lots of family and friends (for whom we are very thankful) who make our life journey more of a #2.

IMG_7005

What about you? Do you fit snugly in any of these “boxes” of change or are you creating your own definition?

Ecclesiastes (not the most upbeat book of the bible) says,

“There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens.” (3:1)

At least one of those activities, I’m certain, could be classified as “change”. It is true! Change comes as certain as the seasons on the Canadian prairies – and often just as unpredictable.

“…the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure.
For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter…” (8:5-6)

I need a whole lot more of wisdom! Few people develop the full understanding of “the proper time and procedure” when it comes to moving and change. Often, I find myself galloping up a distant hill, while my Leader, Jesus, is inviting me to lie down in green pastures and drink from quiet waters. At other times, He is patiently beckoning me forward; I, on the other hand, am far too reluctant to leave

 the familiar
the safe and secure
the comfortable or easy
and, of course, the predictable.

But before I, or you, get too hard on ourselves, there is another verse that carries a great deal of wisdom in seasons of moves and changes:

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    He’s the one who will keep you on track.”
Proverbs 3: 5-6 MSG

“He’s the one who will keep you on track.” With that knowledge, I take a deep, relaxed breath. He will! My position is one

trusting in Him
leaning on Him
and listening for His voice
in the shifts and
changes of life…
He will take care of the rest!

Ok! Now it’s your turn; take that deep breath… lean back… smile a little and allow Him to “keep you on track!” The pressure is off!


 Times of Change

Even though times and seasons change,
You are constant…
Your presence is more than enough
through any move or change that comes my way…
Today, I chose to trust and lean in a little closer.
You are good all the time…
Faithfully You lead me, directing my paths.
May I approach change simply by
stepping in pace with your rhythm
my hand in your hand
and my feet on your feet.