Who Needs a Savior?

Seems every time I turn around there’s more bad news. Friday, for example, one friend finished her last chemo treatment. She shared about the death of the wife of a mutual friend of ours. On my walk, a neighbor pulled up to tell me she was having surgery for bladder & kidney cancer. Then another girlfriend called to say she was sick so was cancelling Easter activities, her husband had just lost his job and they have two small children to care for. Can you think of someone who is not hurting in some way? Who does not need healing, grace, or forgiveness? Would anyone reject a miracle touch from God?

Most people I know have a need. It may be a financial, physical, relational, or emotional need, but everyone has a need. We search for solutions in many places. Some seek solace in their jobs, others in food and drink. Still others busy themselves with activities, sports, or exercise. But at the end of the day, we come up empty-handed. Why? Because no one can provide the healing and the peace our souls long for. No one, that is, except Jesus.

Many have scoffed and scorned him, even so far as nailing him to a wooden cross. The scorn and contempt continues today, doesn’t it? Jesus, they say, is a crutch for the weak. Or Jesus was just a good man, a prophet. But they deny his deity. If you look at all the other religious figures in history, they are all dead and buried in a grave someplace. Not Jesus. His tomb is empty. Could it be, perhaps, that Jesus, too, was misunderstood? His mission was not to become a king or a conqueror as we think of in human terms. His mission was to redeem mankind, like sheep who have strayed, and reconcile us to the Father. “For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” (Luke 19:10).

What have you lost in this life, dear one? Perhaps you have suffered a loss of trust such as a divorce, an affair, or a betrayal. Maybe your confidence has been eroded by life or your faith shattered by pain, grief, or tragedy. Others have lost their direction, purpose, or forgotten the promises of God. The mountains in life can seem insurmountable at times, but remember Jesus’ words. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” (Luke17:20).

Jesus came to restore, redeem, and rebuild lives. He came not just to show us the error of our thoughts and ways, but to free us from them. He shed his blood so that we may have free access to God, the Father. “We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but he is ready to hear those who worship him and do his will,” says John 9:31. All of us have sinned (Romans 9:23). To say we are perfect and blameless is blatant denial. All I have to do is examine my thoughts and behavior for one day and the truth of my sin glares back at me.

Yet, until we comprehend the holiness of God we cannot fathom the depth of what Jesus did for us on the cross. This is not meant to put anyone on a guilt trip, for ‘there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). We all have faults and there is no shame in confessing them. I was convicted recently of trying to fight my battles on my own and I cried out to Jesus for forgiveness. I realized I cannot fight all these battles and I need more work in the surrendering area. But Jesus did more than open the path to God for us. He came to fill our deepest needs.

Did you know that Jesus accepts us just as we are? He loves us UNCONDITIONALLY and isn’t that what each of us is really looking for? To be loved and accepted unconditionally by another? The miracle we are looking for can be found at the foot of the cross. Will you draw near? Will you put your faith in the One who loves you so much he shed his blood for you? Until next time, my prayer is that the light and love of Christ will shine into your heart and you will know how truly loved you are this Easter. Happy Resurrection and here’s to new life!

What’s Your Story?

Everybody has a story. Like any good novel, each person’s story has a central theme. If your life were a book, what would the theme be?

Recently I visited my aging parents and became acutely aware of my own mortality. How do I want to be remembered? What do I want written on my tombstone? Scripture says our lives are like a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes (James 4:14) and reminds us that our days are numbered (Ps. 39:4). Heaven only knows how long each story will be.

The central theme of my life is the theme of faith. Mine has been a journey to learn to trust myself, others, and above all, God. This theme, like a brilliant golden thread, has been woven through the tapestry of my life. Every day presents opportunities to respond in either faith or fear. Will I trust? Will I step out in faith? Shall I believe in myself? Others? God? Will I continue to hope?

Each time I answer “yes”, the needle weaves the thread once more and joins the fabric of my life to a much greater tapestry. This month, millions have been watching as “The Bible” mini-series airs on the History channel. As this true story unfolds, we have seen the thread of faith being woven into the life of many, beginning with the life of Abraham, then Moses, David, and ultimately, Jesus the Christ.

These people were all people of faith and each affected the course of history. Did you know that as the result of Abraham’s failure to trust God by having a child, Ishmael,by his wife’s servant, the world endures the Palestinian/Israeli conflict? Look it up. But the central figure in this story is Jesus, the Messiah. This one man’s life, and even more so, his death and resurrection, continue to affect millions even to this day. His story gives us hope and strength to endure our circumstances. As I said to my mom, “Didn’t Jesus suffer? Are we any better than he?” No, we are not Jesus, but we can, through his power and grace, overcome the trials and tribulations of life and write the next chapter in our lives.

Whatever the theme of your life, the next chapter is not yet written. What would you like it to say? How do you want to be remembered? What will your contribution be to this world? My prayer is that this post has encouraged you in some way. No matter what your age, you can write a new chapter. Until next time, feel free to share your thoughts and as always, keep looking up!

When Life Gets Out of Balance

As a single woman in this country, I am very grateful for the many freedoms I enjoy. But with great freedom comes great responsibility, true? The pressures to do a good job at work, maintain a home and a car, eat well, exercise, care for relatives and be there for friends can be exhausting at times. And when one area of life gets out of balance, it throws a kink in the whole works. I don’t know how your year has started off, but mine has been quite, shall I say, challenging. Can anyone relate?

In my quiet time recently, as I was reflecting on this whole singleness thing yet once again, the thought occurred to me: Jesus was single! Yes, he was. Didn’t he have a ton of things to do as well? My list pales in comparison to his: healing the sick, feeding the poor, fighting the religious rulers of the day, and teaching the disciples, not to mention preaching to thousands. Jesus didn’t have a car or even a home, as far as I know, but was he ever stressed or pressured? I doubt it. In fact, Jesus encourages us to learn from him. My life verse for this year is Matthew 11:28-30 and the words come back to me again.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Now I understand the first part about coming to him to rest. But I think the key could be in the very next verse. “For I am gentle and humble in heart.” Wow. Isn’t it when we try to press our own desires and ways that tension comes? Gentle and humble in heart. I believe that correlates to surrendering. You know the prayer, “Not my will, but thine be done.” What I am learning is that when I surrender, even if I know I am right, there is peace. I can trust that God will show the other party what the right thing is sooner or later. In the meantime, I can relax and let go. Then my burden is no longer heavy. Interesting how this all fits together, isn’t it?

So, as I meditate on this passage and how I can apply it to my life, I wanted to share with my friends. Perhaps you have already learned this lesson and if so, good for you. I know I need more practice. What kinds of situations throw you off balance and what tips can you share with us? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas. In the meantime, I think it’s time for another post-it on my kitchen cabinet! Have a great rest of the week and as always, keep looking up!

Yes, Virginia, There is a God

There’s a lot of controversy over God these days, don’t you agree? Some doubt the very existence of a Creator, a Divine authority, or a Sovereign ruler of the universe. Many put their trust in a human figure such as the Pope or a Hollywood celebrity or sports star. Millions were shocked when the Pope resigned recently, and others were stunned when the truth was revealed about Lance Armstrong. These people were appointed for a purpose. But they are not God, only mere human beings.

God is alive and well and oh, by the way, He is very interested in YOU! Who me? Yes, you! Luke 12:7 says that He knows the number of the very hairs on our heads and that he has captured every tear in a bottle (Ps. 56:8). Did you know that? In fact, He is crazy about you! He wants to bless your socks off that’s how much He loves you.

But, as any good parent knows, children must be obedient and do the right thing. Did you ever give your son or daughter the keys to the family car after they refused to make curfew? Did you allow your child to fall on his face a time or two to toughen him up or learn a lesson?

Well, that’s how our heavenly Father works with us. He is not this strict, authoritarian figure waiting to punish us the minute we fall short, as some think. Au contraire, He is a God of mercy, grace, and favor as well as justice and discipline. Unlike we humans, he knows the perfect balance between justice and mercy, discipline and grace.

So, I hope this post has given you something to think about. God is waiting to get to know you – no wait – God already knows us. He made us. God is waiting for us to get to know Him!

What do you believe about God? What do your really know about his character? Yes, you can walk in nature, listen to music, and practice your breathing till the cows come home, but the surest way to get to know God is thru reading his word. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to know the truth. As Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”

But don’t take my word for it. Give it a try for yourself. Open the book and start reading. God will reveal the truth to you and open your eyes to who He really is.

Until next time, keep looking up!

Whose Will Is It?

Ever have your mind made up to do something or go someplace, make all the plans, and then have it all fall through at the last minute? How do you explain these frustrating disappointments? Fate? Timing? Or could it be God’s will?

Now, I know a lot of people poo-poo the very idea of God even caring about what we mortals do down here on earth. But I know differently. Here’s a situation that happened recently and you tell me what you think.

It had been a rough day, starting off with my computer not working. Isn’t that a fun way to start the day? “Oh my, here we go again,” I thought. “Wonder what happened to the connection this time.” So the first half of the day was spent troubleshooting what the problem was with the network connection. By lunchtime, I was thinking “I need to do something fun tonight”. Now I usually go out to dinner with my son, but that night I felt like going country dancing. After several attempts at communicating and getting agreement with a friend, the plan was in place and I was looking forward to a fun evening.

Took a shower, got all dressed, did the makeup and hair routine, and was ready to head out the door when that small inner voice said “Take the recycling out on the way”. I have learned, after many years, to heed that still small voice immediately, so I grabbed the bag of plastic containers and locked the door behind me. Coming back to my car after dropping the recycling in the dumpster, I noticed my left rear tire was extremely low.

“Guess I have to go to the gas station and get air in the tire now,” I sighed. It was a bitter cold night. At the gas station, the tire would not inflate. “That’s odd. I wonder what’s wrong.” Thankfully, I cannot remember the last time I had a flat tire. Undaunted, I decided to see if Sears Auto was still open. It was not. The sad realization that I was not going dancing that night finally sunk in.

“Lord, you know I wanted to go dancing tonight. I’ve had such a tough day.” But it was not meant to be. I have to say I was not a happy camper. Can anyone relate at this point?

So what do we usually do next? You can answer that for yourself. But before my thoughts went down that negative track, I caught myself. “You know, this could have been a lot worse. You could have been on the highway and had a blow-out in this freezing cold weather. Then what would you have done?” Dismay and disappointment gave way to gratitude and praise. “Thank you, Lord, for your protection tonight. Thank you for keeping me safe. Thank you for telling me to take the recycling out.” In Psalm 121:7-8, we are promised that “The Lord will keep you from all harm. He will watch over your life. The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”

Thankfully, also, the friend I was meeting was still at home, finishing dinner. As I related the situation, my friend jokingly says “So I guess this was not God’s will?” I cracked up. This was such an unexpected comment and it definitely lightened the situation.

“That’s my take on it,” I replied.

So what is your take on it? I am sure something like this has happened to you. How do you explain it? Until next time, let me encourage you to see things from a different perspective. What may look like a disappointment may well be the Lord’s protection on your life. Send me your thoughts and in the meantime, keep looking up!