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Braking Points

Pausing in the midst of Life to ponder, pray and find footing to continue.

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Devotional

Post Christmas Ramblings

Perhaps you are a little bit like me.  No Christmas is perfect, especially when our human expectations meet the human actualities.  Almost like a hangover…in some cases, a real hangover…the day after all the festivities can become a downer.  Which gives the devil a tiny little foothold.  Joy is fragile during times of attack.  Looking at the scattered paper under a Christmas tree and looking for the manger with the baby under the scattered paper, I could not keep a melancholy from settling on me.

Knowing I needed to turn the focus away from myself, I read my devotional, found scripture that spoke to my current feelings, and wrote the following.

Perhaps it will speak to you, too, if you are a little bit like me.

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Distracted,
Disappointed,
Disillusioned,
Disheartened,

These tools of the enemy
Threaten DESTRUCTION.

Gifts stacked upon gifts
scattered remnants
paper and bows,
Expectations and emotions


Unable to make the gift that was wrong
Right.


Unable to clear mental clutter in the midst of

all the debris  

Reminders of yet another

Christmas barely past.
Weary, worn travelers congregated
Then scattered


Where is the manger?
Where is the Baby Jesus?

Where is all that promised joy, peace, love, and grace?

Time to reflect

Dig deep

Refresh, remember, reflect

PRAY!

I will trust

I will not allow 

Inadequacies, stilted moments, grief or 

Selfishness

Become the big “D” tools of an enemy

Whose only goal since I belong to Jesus

Is to promote self condemnation,

Critical thoughts, sin in my life

So that I feel unworthy of the Savior’s Love

So I doubt His love for me

And fall into the Post Christmas Blues

I will trust in His unfailing love

I will seek His face, 

Believe His grace

And Rejoice

For unto US a Child is Born

Unto US a Savior for all the world

Unto US  a Purpose and Plan

So I dig deep

Reflect 

Pray

Hope for tomorrow and Hope for today.

 

 

Support Workers in the Fields of God

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I found these verses this morning. Perhaps it was the translation, but I do not remember reading them before…and yes, I have read 3 John. I wasn’t even looking for a reason to support missionaries, even though we do. I was just reading. There it was. So just a couple of thoughts on ministry partnerships.

What better direction than this for Christians to support missionaries, pastors, Christian workers, Christian ministries who bring the gospel, like buckets of living water to folks dying of thirst here at home and around the world. Trouble deciding who to support, pray, study the ministry, the people, the need, the scripture and pray again. Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would guide and direct us. Don’t center on numbers, Jesus did not.

Support the workers in the fields of God and you will be partners with them at the harvest.

I WOULD GIVE ANYTHING….REALLY?

Morning
Morning
Around 7 AM this morning I set out to take Max and Emma for their first walk of the day. As they piddled around as they often do, sniffing every blade of grass as if that was the whole purpose of their walk, I stood still for a moment rather than rushing them along to get on with business.

Standing there observing the morning sky as wispy clouds blew across a magnificent pale blue dome, I whispered almost to myself, “I would give anything…” I stopped before completing the statement. The words intended were, “to capture that sky in paint, secure it to a canvas, sketch pad, or maybe to capture it in a photograph”. I stopped because as my husband has often pointed out, words often are prayers and my wistful expression needed examination before utterance.

Self examination serves to heighten personal awareness of thought patterns, motives, and actions. A step deeper is to allow the Holy Spirit to shine His spot light which reaches the corners and crannies better that self alone can do. What Would I Give Anything for?

Let me share some of the things I have said “I would give anything for…”

A cup of coffee
A soft bed
A decent meal
For the rain, or snow or wind or other weather condition to stop or start
For a bathroom
For a break…especially during a long meeting
To be able to sing
To be able to dance
A good medical report
For Christmas, especially as a child

I suspect you, like I reluctantly did, see a pattern, every single example I unearthed centered on SELF. Oh, I could spin them a bit and find some way of making them more altruistic, for example…”a cup of coffee, so I am kinder to others.” If it had just been me on this exploratory adventure, I possibly could have gotten away with some of that, but the Holy Spirit basically said, “Nah, its all about you.” He can be so stubborn about these character issues. He even suggested a few scriptures, pulled out God’s Word and highlighted it. One was:

“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (‭Luke‬ ‭12‬:‭27-34‬ NIV)

Once that inventory was as complete as I cared for it to be (the list above is just a sampling), He nudged me to consider the word, ANYTHING. To consider that Jesus called his followers to “count the cost” of discipleship and to “take up their cross daily” and to turn from anything that kept them (me) from following him. And again, since I was obviously struggling yet again with these facts the Holy Spirit pulled out the Bible:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (‭John‬ ‭3‬:‭16‬ NIV)

After that I carried Him with me to church by then He was being pretty silent as I mulled over what I had on the plate before me. At Babson Park First Christian Church this morning we had missionary guests, Vivak and Angela Lall with Mid-India Christian Mission. During Sunday School he spoke about their mission, the victories, the challenges, the political situation in India. He was a very interesting articulate speaker.

BUT it was his message during the worship service that hit me full force, which I suspect is what the Holy Spirit had in mind. The whole message seemed to address the conversation I had been having with God all morning, but near the end he quoted someone else as saying,

“If there is nothing worth dying for then is there anything worth living for?”

Shall I live clinging to my life, my family, my home, my health, my finances, my stuff as if I can actually HOLD them. Shall I hunker down in my little bunker terrified that I might lose something precious?

Or shall I open my heart, my hands, my life, ANYTHING and EVERYTHING. Shall I Seek First the Kingdom of God and trust the ONE who has saved me to keep His promises?Shall I trust the ONE who has loved me to love the ones I love?

Shall I give everything so I can live as if nothing weighs me down or holds me back?

Shall I love with abandon as God has loved the world and given his one and only son?

Then there it was again plopped before me:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (‭Romans‬ ‭12‬:‭1-2‬ NIV)

I would give anything to become a good and faithful servant of Christ my Lord.

The Blood of Christ

I have had this in my head for several days, the power of the blood of Christ, covering so completely, filling the crevices where sin can hide. The blood of Christ like a transfusion works on the inside of the believer so that the outside of the believer manifests Christ in the world. It’s power is more than a fire screen, it is a river carrying the believer to the throne of God.

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ONE HOUR?

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Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. He said to Peter, “So, couldn’t you stay awake with me for one hour? Stay awake and pray that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:40, 41 NET)

Lately, I have struggled with insomnia or perhaps just difficulty falling asleep, because I do fall asleep eventually. Typically, I shift, turn, deep breathe and try intentionally to fall asleep. My mind races with worries, upcoming events, list after list of uncompleted tasks. Last night I pulled out my Kindle, tilted my body so the light would not disturb Terry’s sleep and read for 15 minutes or so. I checked the clock two or three times and then miraculously I fell asleep. This process which varies slightly from one night to the next.

This morning I opened The Upper Room to the devotion for today, April 16, 2014 and found the scripture traced Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane honing in on Matthew 26:41 and as God often does when I read familiar scripture it is as if one phrase, one idea, one word becomes illuminated.

“One hour?”

That approximates the time I often spend trying to fall asleep. What if I spent that time praying? What if, I treated the myriad of thoughts, some with names as blessed requests for prayer? What if I prayed and waited with Jesus? What if I allowed the invasion of mental images rather than fighting them off and carried them to the throne of Christ?

“One hour?”

How better to spend it than waiting with Jesus.

Messages to the Contrary are Just Plain Wrong

What then shall we say about these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Indeed, he who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, freely give us all things? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is the one who will condemn? Christ is the one who died (and more than that, he was raised), who is at the right hand of God, and who also is interceding for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will trouble, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “ For your sake we encounter death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us! For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39 NET)

For several days now, I have been considering memorizing the 8th chapter of Romans…no, I have not completed the task, but I find every word of it so powerful and so reassuring. What a bit of ammunition to have ready, when Satan starts in with his battery of lies, slander, and his store of old tapes. You know the tapes I mean, the slip ups, the mistakes, THE SIN that nailed Jesus to the Cross.

Also, about a week ago I started singing (off key, of course since I cannot sing) a little chorus that took shape into the verses below based on the power of Romans 8.

So here they are…if you can write music, I would appreciate a real melody…that is if these words touch you. To God be the Glory

I’m fine, I’m good
If you heard any differently,
you misunderstood.
God’s good, God’s strong
messages to the contrary
are just plain wrong.

Before I open my eyes, Before I see the sunrise
Climbing out of this bed, the thought fills me with dread
Deep down in my gut the pain starts settling in my shattered heart
But I Can’t let it take hold, Can’t give it any control
Gotta get up and dress. Gotta choose prayer over stress
Gotta move, My choice, Gotta go, Choose to listen to His voice.

I’m fine, I’m good
If you heard any differently,
you misunderstood.
He’s good, He’s strong
messages to the contrary
are just plain wrong.

Facing dragons today, Feel like turning away
Wandering here in the dark, seeking one little spark
Then a whisper shouts clear, “Grab your cross and come here!”
So when I’m losing control, He shouts, “Take hold!”
Gotta get up and dress, face the world with its stress
Gotta move to His Voice. For me there is no other choice.

His voice, My choice
His will what a thrill
His way every day!

Whatever life brings, if He’s there I can sing.

I’m fine, I’m blessed
Even when evidence
screams distressed.
God lives, God’s strong
Messages to the contrary
are just plain wrong.

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When I get to heaven, I am going to be able to leap like the girl in this picture, until then suffice it to say,” I’m fine, I’m good. If you heard any differently, you misunderstood. I’m fine, He’s Strong. Messages to the contrary are just plain wrong.

Overcoming Obstacles on the Downhill Slope

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Galatians 6:9, 10 NIV)

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We use the story of the Little Engine That Could to encourage children, but frankly now that I am in my GOLDEN years (ever wonder who coined that description) I could use a shot of “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can” pretty much every day. In fact some days several shots would be helpful. So what, if use phrases like “over the hill” to describe life after retirement. That is simply not true…the downhill slide is fraught with obstacles that must be overcome.

Lets consider just a few

Texting…a good friend of mine texts elaborately uses full words and syntax representative of the proper use of English grammar. WHY? Not because she wouldn’t like to use the catchy little acronyms like “U”, “R”, OMG, AITR, LOL, LMAO, but because when her daughter’s dog had to be euthanized she texted, “Thinking about you, LOL” thinking LOL stood for Lots of Love. Who has time to learn the 28 pages, I kid you not, look them up, 28 pages of texting shorthand acronyms? I use the ones I am sure of when appropriate or at least I hope they are appropriate..and if they are not, WELL, too bad. I am old you know and my fingers are clumsy.

Exercise…Zumba, Pilates, Yoga, Aerobics…so many choices and they look so easy and fun on TV. I do know many folks my age and older who do several classes a week and then bike, hike, swim or whatever. When I am in my northern home, we do three classes a week to tone, stretch and get our heart rate up, but other than walking we have not entered into any organized exercise plan here in the southern house…oh, and our walking is not exactly organized…more meandering than power strides. So knowing the importance of doing more than getting off the couch to go to the bathroom or get something out of the refrigerator, we do make an effort to park at a distance from the entrance to the store, use stairs instead of elevators, as well as intentionally stretching and moving our muscles two to three times a day. Exercising the body during our final years doesn’t necessarily extend life, but it does make living them easier.

The Television Remote…I cannot believe that many buttons are needed to turn it on, change channels, and adjust the volume….enough said on that issue.

I am sure there are many other examples of the daily challenges of living both physical and mental, but I also find myself challenged by the charge we find in Galatians 6:9-10. So tempting is it to retreat from the spiritual growth and action needed to meet the challenges found in these verses. So tempting to let the younger Christians with their boundless energy take the reins of ministry, and yet, God’s word compels me to consider the damage to self and others if I curl up and let other Christians grow, pray, study, meditate, and do GOOD.

Younger Christians may have the energy, but Older Christians usually have more time, experience, and often more resources available for doing good. SO, Do not grow weary of living the Christian life, that’s where all the fun and excitement of Christianity lies. Read Scripture and Act on what you read.

There simply is no faster way to die than to STOP! Christianity is not a spectator sport no matter how tempting that may be.

So like the little engine go into this day that God has made with these words, “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.” with Christ I CAN!

WHAT IF GOD WERE ONE OF US?

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While in Tulsa recently I saw a church sign that read,” What if God were one of us?” Since then I have rolled that around in my mind? Of course God is in all believers, but by Jesus own words He is also in the weakest, the sickest, the loneliest…the least of us and am I not both filled with His Spirit, but also among the least at times. The following verses emerged from my thought cycle. Readers, I hope they are meaningful to you.

What if God were One of us?

Fragile flesh, brittle bones, she sits and watches all alone
She searches faces as they pass, seeking solace in a glance
Once a beauty, once a lass, a wife, a mother inclined to dance
Now tired and weary to the bones, she waits in silence for the phone.

What if God were One of us? Would we see or feel His touch?
If He were alone or in disgrace, would I recognize His face.
Would I reach out to touch if Christ, my Lord, were one of us?
Lord Jesus, let me see, help me believe Your presence in the least of these.

Different somehow from the rest, he seeks to pass every test,
Every gauntlet thrown his way, yet falling short, a castaway
Last one chosen, taunts, and jeers, turning quickly to hide his tears
Wondering, Wandering, He did his best yet bitter roots fill his chest.

What if God were One of us? Would we see or feel His touch?
If He were alone or in disgrace, would I recognize His face.
Would I reach out to touch if Christ, my Lord, were one of us?
Lord Jesus, let me see, help me believe Your presence in the least of these.

Human refuge, scattered about, needing comfort without a doubt
Prisoners whether behind bars or not, seeking freedom or perhaps not
Aged relics, hungry hearts, defenseless child, raging masses running wild
Masking heartache, anger, fear, Where is one to dry their tears?

What if God were One of us? Lonely face on the outbound bus?
Hands that comfort a crying child or lift the fallen from the aisle?
Eyes that see beyond masks of man, Ears that hear what only God can?
What if we were called in a rush to be the Christ among us?

What if God were One of us? Would I reach out and touch?
Would I trust and believe that He lives inside of me?
In the mirror would I see that I am one of the least of these,
Who needs a touch from the God who is One of us?

What if God were one of us?

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For Those Who Need it Most

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If I am full of love the temptation is to share that love with others who are lovable, loving and who expess kindness to others. Loving the lovable is not wrong or evil, but it is incomplete. It isn’t unChristlike, but it is also not fully Christlike.

To love like Jesus means recognizing as God did that it is the sick who need a physician, it is the enemy of the Cross who most needs the Cross, and it is the unkind who most need kindness.

My prayer today is that I can express Love and Kindness to ALL. It is the least I can do and I cannot do it without the Holy Spirit within, but with Christ’s help I can. If it gets hard, I will remind myself that while I was buried in sin, Christ died for me. Christ died for all! And the ones who reject that idea need to be loved the most.