Author Archives: Gerry

Boundaries

The day is yours, and yours also the night;
you established the sun and moon.
It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth;
you made both summer and winter.

Psalm 74:16-17 (NIV)

I’m sitting here with my keyboard in my lap because the desk is too high. That is just one of the many changes that have occurred in my life in the last 10 days. I don’t know what it is about June, but it is a lousy month to move in Arizona because it is so hot. The day that the movers were there, I tuned off the air conditioning and it quickly registered 95 degrees in the house.

But we are now settled in our little rental home for the next six weeks of our “stacation” while we wait for our apartment to become available. One friend characterized it as “cute and cozy. Kind of like God is wrapping you in his arms.” And it does feel like that. It’s totally furnished so all we had to bring was our clothes, personal items, and Rusty. After the frantic race to complete the estate sale, move, and finish the closing on the house, I can just sit. God knew I needed a break before we begin the move and settling in to our next abode.

When I read these verses this morning, the word “boundaries” lit up. This move has tested and stretched me so that the knowledge that there is an end is reassuring. I have needed a boundary to show me when the old is complete and the new begins. It’s easy to run them all together but then fatigue and frustration hit.

God promises us that one season will end and another begin. We don’t have to worry that the cold of winter will be unending. That as dark as the night may be, morning will break forth as the dawn. When waiting becomes arduous, remember, God has His limits. I love the verse that parallels this: Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30:5.

So join me in a time of rest this summer. Enjoy small pleasures. Pay attention to your surroundings. Tomorrow will come.

“Morning Has Broken”
Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the word

Sweet the rain’s new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dew fall, on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God’s re-creation of the new day

Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the word

 

SaveSave

Share

Twelve years

“A woman had been sick for twelve years…He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be free from your sickness.”

Mark 5:25-34 (NLV)

Our church has been reading through the Bible with the YouVersion app this year. If you have always thought you would like to read the entire Bible but didn’t think you could do it, this is an easy way.

As I read this portion of scripture in March, three things struck me: twelve years, daughter, and faith. Our house has been on the market since June, 2017. I remember praying with the realtor that day that we would trust God’s timing knowing from Jeremiah 29:11 that He has a plan for me. As the months wore on, I was confident that God knew what He was doing and I trusted Him. It was not that we were homeless as we lived in a lovely home. But, there were moments when I wondered “when, Lord?”

As I read the scripture that morning, twelve years lit up in neon because in June, we will have lived here for twelve years. And then Jesus said, “Daughter.” That was me. I am His daughter. And she was healed because of her faith. Faith has been my word for 2018. As I wrote in my journal that morning, I praised Him for His words of encouragement to me. And as the weeks went by and no sale, I thought to myself, “It’s not June yet.”

Last Sunday, a realtor called for a showing for a couple from out of town. We hurried home from church to turn on all the lights and grab the dog. Normally, a showing lasts 15-20 minutes so we decided to just sit in the car and wait…and wait…and wait…for an hour.  At that point it was too late to go grab lunch and it was 100 degrees. Finally, the car drove away.

I received a call from my realtor about 5:30 that afternoon and she asked me if I believed that the house was sold. I said, “No.” How about for full price? Again, “No.” Well, it has and it was a clean offer with an acceptable closing date in mid June. And she told me that her father has a rental house that we could use until we find something more permanent. I have nothing lined up for the next part of the journey because I didn’t want that pressure or disappointment. I have trusted God all along that He would show me and He gave me more that I could even ask or think about. If He could do it for Abraham, He would do it for me.

The tears started flowing and wouldn’t stop. And then I realized it would be exactly twelve years.

When we moved here, I found a saying in a devotional that I adopted; “God is rarely early but never late.” As I have looked over the challenges of this last year, I know He is right on time. With the next step, my faith is being stretched once again. He has proven Himself faithful over all these months so I know He has just the right place in mind. Yes, Lord, I will trust You.

 

Share

Flyer or Base

 So encourage each other and give each other strength, just as you are doing now.

I Thessalonians 5:11 (NCV) 

My granddaughter, Tori, celebrated her 16th birthday this week, passing her driving test today. Look out world, here comes T! Since she was 7, this girl has been willing to test gravity and take on challenges through the sport of cheerleading. What started as a fun class with a friend in second grade has developed into the position of co-captain of her high school junior varsity cheerleading team.

When she first began, she was a tiny girl with a brave heart, and she learned how to be a flyer. If you watch the stunts that cheerleaders perform, the flyer is the one on the hands, knees, and shoulders of her teammates with arms outstretched, back arched, and a big smile on her face. But for a flyer, it’s all about balance and trust. One bobble, one slip of a hand, one missed cue, and the flyer comes tumbling down, hopefully without injury.

The girls holding her up are the base. Their strength and concentration serve to keep the flyer in the air. Without a coordinated effort between the girls composing the base, the flyer can’t get a footing to complete her part of the stunt. And, it all requires practice, practice, practice.

As Tori grew, her role changed from flyer to base. It was hard to give up that flyer role because that’s the “fun” part, but she was needed in the supportive role of base. Having been on both sides of the stunt, she knows the importance of both roles and plays a leadership role, gaining the respect of her peers.

So are you a flyer or a base? No, not in cheerleading but in your daily life. Are you the upfront person or the behind-the-scenes person?

At different times in my life, I enjoyed both leading and speaking…I was the face of the group. But, there have been seasons when I emptied the wastebaskets, set up the room, took care of the children, or cleaned up the kitchen. I know how much I depend on the church office for support for the Bible Study I currently facilitate. I don’t fret that the flyers will be printed, the tables and chairs set up, and that the equipment will work when I open the door because I know it will be done.

The body of Christ needs each of us to fulfill our roles and do our part so that the Gospel is proclaimed and Jesus is praised. We need each other when life is easy and then turns hard… when we celebrate and when we mourn…when we are on the mountain top or in the valley. We need the support to give us balance and then our job is to trust in God for the next step.

We all have gifting for certain roles but how do you respond when that role changes? Rather than becoming discouraged or frustrated, do you accept with humility the role God has for you today? This may be a permanent position or only for a season but our response is key. Others will be watching. God has a job that only you can fill. He has equipped you, so revel in it and give Him the praise.

 

SaveSave

Share

Order and Compassion

 

And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus.  By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place.  And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house,  let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.

Hebrews 10:19-23 (NLT)

Have you read through the books of Leviticus and Numbers in the Old Testament lately? Our church is reading through the Bible this year using the app, YouVersion. This is not my first attempt to read the entire Bible but I had forgotten the detail and even tediousness of God’s instructions to the children of Israel about…EVERYTHING. There was a right way and a wrong way for every circumstance of life. I’m sure my children would say that I must be Jewish because it worked that way in our household, too. (I have a teeny amount of Jewish blood.)

But what the Israelites never seemed to master was that if they obeyed these laws, God would bless them. No, instead they whined about the rules and even wanted to go backwards in time, forgetting the horrors of slavery in Egypt and, as a result, they suffered the consequences and anger of God again and again. An eleven day walk took forty years of wandering in the desert because of their willful and disobedient ways before they finally reached the Promised Land.

The festival of Passover began the journey for God’s people because it celebrated their liberation from Egypt. God wanted them to remember the lengths He had gone to free them and gave them very specific rules for the sacrifices they offered – from what type of animal or offering, to how to wash your clothes for purification at the end. Nothing was left to chance with death to those who were careless or disobedient. Blood and water were used again and again in the rituals and ceremonies. And, always, a perfect animal specimen was required to atone for a person’s sins as a sacrifice on the altar.

Easter brings the story full circle in that Jesus exemplified every aspect of the law for this perfect sacrifice and cleansing from our sin. And He did it once and for all.

Why did God put so many rules in place? Because He is holy and we are not and often choose to go our own way in sin…just like the children of Israel. But God loved those wayward people and forgave them again and again. He knew that one day, His Son, Jesus, would become the ultimate atonement for all who turned to Him as the Lamb of God…the perfect sacrifice.

Some may think it is too easy…that we have to DO something. No, we have to give up our pride and accept a free gift because of love.

Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Share

Close to his Heart

He tends his flock like a shepherd:
    He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart…

Isaiah 40:11 (NIV)

Some days are crisp and focused. Some days slide by in a blur. The latter describes life around here the past few weeks. I’ve seen too many EMT’s at the door late at night, the inside of an emergency room, and the waiting room of the doctor’s office much too often.

You don’t plan for months like this. In fact, plans that were on the books had to be changed and rearranged. Anxiety hits, hypervigiliance takes over, sleep becomes elusive, appetite lessens, and daily life becomes the undaily life.

I know that “new” normals appear throughout our lives. Marriage, new baby, new house, new city, new job but the older I get, unexpected changes of health and ordinary living seem harder to accept as the new normal.

Yet, the sweet part of it all is the closeness I’ve found at the heart of Jesus. That verse, “Pray without ceasing” now has meaning. I know that He is in control and if I turn the hard things over to Him, He will give me peace. Anxiety and stress indicates that I’m trying to do it on my own rather than dropping the burden at Jesus’ feet and leaving it there.

I often repeat the 23rd Psalm to myself in those night hours as I lean into my Shepherd, knowing I have everything I need. After a particularly stressful day, I climbed into bed and as I lay there, I pictured Jesus cradling me in His arms. I fell asleep at peace and slept through the night.

I don’t know what tomorrow will bring but I do know (from experience) that He will be there to get me through it. One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 29:11 but the words “plans to give you hope and a future” leaped out. Of course, hope, but this time “a future” blazed its way into my soul. There is more than this hard time, there is a future.

“I will take care of you.”

 

 

Share

The Next Thriller

The Lord was with him and caused everything he did to succeed.

Genesis 39:23b (NLT)

I love to read and one of my favorite fiction genres is action/thrillers. The story of Joseph in Genesis captures my imagination in a similar way. The twists and turns of the plot keep me glued to the story wondering what is going to happen next between the good guys and the bad guys. Typically, the bad guys are unknown to the hero but in this story, they are his brothers. Jealousy, vindictiveness, deceit, and cover-up define their actions as we watch them sell Joseph into slavery, ship him off to a foreign country, and lie to their father.

Joseph ends up in Egypt, his problems exacerbate, and he lands in jail. What could be a worse fate? And to top it off, his family and fellow prisoners think he is weird because he can interpret dreams. I’m sure this chain of events was not on Joseph’s “to-do” list.

However, the story does not end with doubt but with promise. Joseph trusted God and even when his future looked bleak, his good work habits, industriousness, and loyalty brought him positive attention. Eventually, even Pharaoh was impressed with the young man and his abilities and appointed him as second in command over all the land of Egypt. Without that authority, when a severe famine hit, he would not have been able to provide food for the whole earth, including all of his family in Israel. God does not make mistakes.

At times, we may question what is going on around us. Life is not fair. It’s too hard. I didn’t sign up for this. We question what God is doing but we can’t even see around a corner let alone months into the future.

God alone is the master of our destiny and all He asks is for us to trust Him. Joseph did not expect fame, nor did he seek it. But God placed him in a position of power for His honor and glory. What is God’s story for you? How is He preparing you for the next step?

Pay attention. Your story may be the next best seller in God’s story of faith.

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. Genesis 50:20

 

 

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

Share

Missing Character

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14:6

As a techno babe, friends call me when they have issues with their iPhones. The latest call came after my neighbor purchased the new iPhone 8. She is techno-challenged and I tease her that she has the most expensive paper weight because she uses it for so few things. But the main thing she needed was access to her second email account. This is not a difficult problem to solve and I was sure we could get it done quickly. But the first thing you need is your Apple password.

There are many ways to store passwords. Depending on your sophistication, it can be an app or a piece of paper. She had the paper. No matter how many different ways we entered the password as written, we kept getting the error message and to reset it was going to be very complicated. Our time and patience wore out so we decided to try another day.

I stopped by this week to try again and she mentioned that she had talked to her daughter to check on that password. The one we had been trying was correct except that it was supposed to have a # at the end. That single character had stopped us from accomplishing our goal but when added, it was a piece of cake.

Access to eternal life is much like that single missing character because without Christ, the error message pops up over and over. I read posts on social media that offer many ways to success, happiness, or fame. Usually, it is done by working harder, spending more money, or expending more time to attain the goal.

However, none of that will be the key to eternal life. Christ did it all, giving his very life so that we can spend eternity with Him. Some might think that belief is just too easy. But, what He really wants is for us to give up trying to do it all and accept His gift of life through grace. That missing character is the cross,.

If you have any questions about this offer of life, feel free to email me and we’ll chat.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Share

Follow My Leader

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

The calendar rolled over to 2018 at midnight…we have a new year! I like new beginnings — it energizes me to start afresh and move forward. I’m not one to look back much, for a couple of reasons. One, it can be depressing.  Two, you can’t change anything that happened. All those woulda, coulda, shoulda dates written in over the months can sometimes be painful reminders of things done or undone.

My word for the year is “faith.” As I pondered and prayed about what word to focus on, faith kept coming up. But I wondered how it differed from hope, my word from another year. Google gave me some insight and it always referred back to the source as the object of our faith. As Christians, that source is God — the beginning of it all. Faith in Him is the way forward.

One way to lend some understanding is: My son promises his two little girls a trip to Disneyland. They have faith (or trust) in their dad to keep his word because he has done so in the past. But they have hope as they look forward to this new and exciting adventure.

As I look over my calendar for 2018, I can plug in a few dates which give me something to look forward to. But those hopes and dreams may change if God chooses to take me on another path. And that is where the faith comes in. It may not be where I want to go, the people I want to go with, or the mode of transportation. But faith allows me to trust my Heavenly Father to take care of His daughter and and I will follow Him.

I wonder what adventures we will take this year?

SaveSave

SaveSave

Share

Festive or Frantic?

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)

The countdown is on and Christmas is fast approaching. Are you ready?

With all that there is to do, I wondered if you have heard the word “lament?” Sure, I’ve read it in the Bible but considered it a King James word, not one for this day and age. But I sure can lament about the things that are still not done. A dictionary definition of lament reads: 1. A passionate expression of grief or sorrow. 2. A complaint.

I read a book by Esther Fleece, No More Faking Fine, which really explains how as Christians, lamenting can be good for the soul and our relationship with God. In studying the life of David in our Bible study at church, I noticed that he was a great lamenter. Just read the Psalms where David poured out his fears and complaints to God on a regular basis. He held nothing back and God could take it. Yet, in the end, he always gave praise and thanksgiving for who God is and what He does because God was always there to take care of him.

Mark had deep brain stimulation surgery in September and the recovery has not gone as we expected. The brain is a complicated organ and mixed in with all of the other health issues that Mark battles, the doctors continue to tell us that it just takes time. In the meantime, much of the work falls on my shoulders because he is now very unstable, falling easily.

A friend commented that I was too anxious. Anxious?  I thought about it as I lay on my couch one afternoon and had a long lamenting (complaining) session with God about who was going to take care of Mark if I didn’t. I had reason for anxiety. But in His still, small voice, God spoke to my heart and said, “I will take care of him,” followed with “and I will take care of you.” Peace flooded my soul and I lifted up that anxiety and let it go to the One who cares so much for me.

The Christmas season is notorious for bringing anxiety to life. As much fun as it is, the pressure we put on ourselves to meet everyone’s needs and desires can be overwhelming. This Christmas, let’s purposely lay those expectations of ourselves and our family at the feet of Jesus. He delights in meeting our needs and giving us peace.

 

 

 

 

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

Share

I See You

 

She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”

Genesis 16:13 (NIV)

I’m not much of a dog person but we rescued Rusty six months ago and he has managed to wiggle his way into my heart. He’s a happy dog and likes nothing better than to lick whatever portion of skin he can find. This is not my favorite quality of his. But, he will also jump up on my knee when I’m sitting at my desk or on the couch and look right into my eyes, tongue hanging out and tail wagging.

“I see you” is my standard response. I’m not even sure that is what he wants to hear but it is enough to send him happily away to find a toy.

Don’t we all want to be noticed…to be seen and accepted for who we are and given a little encouragement for the day?

Hagar got the raw end of the deal after she obeyed her mistress and then was despised by this same woman. Eventually, pregnant and alone, she fled into the desert to escape unbearable circumstances. She had no place to go, no food or water. Only misery and the unknown.

But the Lord saw her in her desperation and gave her instructions for the next step in her journey. It was what she needed most — someone to understand and offer hope.

We never know what a kind word, email, text, note, or even a smile will mean to the person who is having a very bad day. That bit of love and hope may change the outcome completely, just like Hagar. We can also count on God to speak to us through His Word and the Holy Spirit.

Are you listening? Don’t forget — He sees you.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Share