Have you had a hard day? I can so identify with that, except not only have I had a difficult day, mine turned into a week, then a month. Challenging would be the word to describe it. One strange event after another has happened. I would call them coincidences, but it has almost like a little gremlin (if I believed in them) has been following me around causing one little calamity after another, for not just a few days but a month. It is almost laughable; however I still have had to solve repeated issues.
Isn’t it like life to do that? You are rolling along day after day, just thinking life is grand and then wham, the challenges keep on coming. It is almost like you have an audience waiting to see how you will respond. In reality, we actually do have people watching us, waiting and observing our reactions or responses. I make a distinction between these two for a reason. I like to say that a reaction is a reflex, like a knee jerk, an automatic movement to a trigger; the first thing that just blurts out of your mouth or a physical action that can be quite unbecoming. A response is more considered, thought out. It often comes following pondering the issue or Prayer to our Lord for Higher Wisdom.
Reactions are seen daily on our roadways, in grocery checkout lines, walking down the street, on buses and subways. Road rage is reactionary. We are often the victims of reactions. They leave us cringing and uneasy and even fear filled.
Responses are vastly different. They may be preceded by silence, sometimes by hurt looks, but seldom more than that. Responses do not always take days to manufacture. It is a challenge presented to us to refrain from giving into the reflex action of our flesh.
If we can look at it as a test and not an assault, we have made the first step to overcoming it. What do we rely upon when presented with such a problem? If we solely trust our instincts, we will likely fall and fail. I find that I can only surmount the obstacle by looking at the issue through God’s eyes. He is the only one who truly knows all the things affecting the situation. He alone has the Wisdom with which to deal with it. In our limited perspective and perception, we will always have incomplete understanding and thus faulty reactions. Stopping for a moment and asking the Lord for Wisdom will never be a waste of time. The Holy Spirit is always ready to provide insight not readily available by observing the outward appearance of a circumstance. Based on His Wisdom, He is always ready to Provide that little extra we need to respond with Compassion and Love.
The next time you experience a challenge, or series of challenges, pause and Ask the Lord for Guidance before you say a word or do anything. It takes but a moment, but it can save you tremendous grief. Like they say when finding you are on fire (in reality or figuratively), "stop, drop and roll." Stop your flesh from reacting. Drop your preconceived notions. Roll the care of it onto the Lord. He will Provide Wisdom, Understanding and Discernment and often a gentle word or action to diffuse the situation. We do not need to have all the answers when our Lord has all the Answers we will ever need. Just ask and He will Respond for us and through us.
This is the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. It is a time of reflection about the things in our lives for which we are grateful.
Enter His gates with a song of thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, bless and praise His name.
For some of us or those in our midst, the circumstances of life are overwhelming. Yet, we are to Praise the Lord while life spins out of control. When all else is crazy, we still have the Name of the Lord to Praise, a Name above all names. We have the breath of life and can be thankful, for in each breath is the potential for a new start. Take this opportunity to Praise Him for new beginnings.
Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God.
Even in the middle of trials, tests and dire circumstances tell your problems to the Lord with a thankful Heart. Even when we are down to our last two cents, we can Praise Him for what we do have, even if it is only the clothes on our backs and a new day. He Hears our Heartfelt Prayers and can Show us the Way to start over while we are yet Praising Him.
Praise Him for His Word and that He never leaves us nor forsakes us, no not ever. If we reach out to Him, He is there waiting and Willing to Do us Good. It might not be in the way or the timing we anticipated, but He is always there for us.
Be persistent and devoted to prayer, being alert and focused in your prayer life with an attitude of thanksgiving.
God inhabits our Praise; He Lives there. That means He is near us when we Praise Him, near enough to carry us through our pain and suffering. An attitude of Gratitude in the midst of our misery draws us closer to Him. He will take any invitation offered. Things change in His Presence. We are able to see situations from a fresh Perspective and Miracles can happen.
2 Corinthians 9:11
You will be enriched in every way so that you may be generous, and this [generosity, administered] through us is producing thanksgiving to God [from those who benefit].
God Loves to Bless us. We are Blessed to Be a Blessing to others. We are not meant to be storehouses but distributions centres from which God’s Blessing flow to those around us. Give Thanks to the Lord for what you have. Sow your little so that you may reap more, and in turn you may give more to others If you need friendship, be a friend to another lonely soul. If you need someone to share your burdens, help another with theirs. It starts with sowing the little you have, so that God may richly Bless you for your benefit and those around you. When others reap Blessings, we can tell them they came from the Lord and then they can be Thankful to God for what they received.
I would like to start a trend. Beginning this Thanksgiving may we begin a journal of Thankfulness. Each day, we can make an entry highlighting one or more things that day for which we are grateful to God. It can be as little as being happy to find a convenient parking spot at the shopping centre or as huge as getting a clean bill of health after an illness. Just find something to be thankful for that day and write it down.
We have a little over two months till Christmas. It would make a lovely gift for family or friends if you were to share entries from your Thankfulness journal over the Christmas holidays in some creative way. Let your loved ones know how your attitude of gratitude has impacted your life this autumn. Let us make this Thanksgiving a time of truly Giving Thanks and sharing the Joy you have experienced from God with family and friends.
Happy Thanksgiving to one and all! May God Bless you abundantly.
September 11, 2001. It is a date that changed everything…our view of normal shifted, never to be the same again. September 10, 2001 was just another day. School had begun again for the autumn season. The kids were back to classes. We were thinking of autumn activities. There was nothing memorable about that day.
Twenty-four hours. I cannot begin to put into words how those hours changed my life, those of my family, the lives of my American friends, people from around the world. A sense of normal, a sort of complacency that life had previously exhibited would be no longer; in an instant all that evapourated.
When I first became aware of the attacks of September 11th, I was watching a tape of a favourite preacher’s teaching. My son, who was home sick from school, came into the family room and told me to switch over to CNN’s reporting of the unfolding events in NYC. At this point, all that was known was that one tower had been hit by an airplane. No one was fully aware of the size of the airliner. It seemed like a personal aircraft had veered off course and accidentally collided with the tower. Within minutes, however, it became abundantly clear that we were drastically mistaken as we watched in horror as the second jet was aimed into the second tower. That was the moment that our perspective of security and normal was forever changed.
I immediately pulled out my Bible and turned to Psalm 91 and read it to my son. I was not going to give the enemy an advantage in my household. Fear would not gain a foothold in my family. No matter how insane the world had suddenly become, God’s Word and His Assurance in our lives was still steadfast and sure.
Over the next minutes, then hours, more information became available. The Pentagon was also a target. Another airliner was crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. All airline travel was suspended. The United States was in shock and Canada too. We could not believe such horrific attacks could reach our shores. Almost every other attack we had ever heard of was so far away in some remote part of the world, but this act was close to home. It could have been me or a friend or a loved on. All too soon it became apparent that so many we knew had someone they knew of who was killed or directly affected by this event.
September 12, 2001 dawned to a changed world. Had life altered or was it merely our perception of it? No more could we be completely innocent and untouched by tragedy. My kids, then 12 and 15 were forever shaped by the perspective of vulnerability. The images of the smoking ruins of the Trade Center Towers and the Pentagon and the remains of Flight 93 on our television screens made sure of that. I admit that I persuaded my husband not to travel to New Jersey that weekend to participate in a boat race, feeling he would be too close to center of these attacks, perhaps near where another event could happen. There was a sense of uncertainty in the days that followed.
Time and distance heals. It has now been fifteen years since 9/11 was etched in our memories. So much has happened since then. The war on terror has morphed on so many levels. It has become part of our peripheral landscape. ISIS is part of our common conversation. Dictators and tyrants have been toppled and new ones have taken their place on the world stage.
One thing has become evident. No matter how insane the world seems, with attacks and bombings becoming commonplace, God is still in control. He predicted all of these events long before they happened and even wrote them into His Word. It does not startle Him. He knew about it before the beginning of time, He Knows about it now and He Knows what will happen in the future. He is in Eternity. He Knows the end from the beginning. He gave the Apostle John a glimpse into the future and allowed him to share it with us in the Book of Revelation, as well as visions given to Ezekiel and Daniel, and the words of Jesus Himself. We know the end of the Book and God Wins, we as believers win. It is an Assurance we can rest in, a Comfort we can Know. For those who accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour, our future is Sure. Hallelujah!
Have you ever been in the situation that you have so many options you do not know which way to turn? Some are obviously not good at the time, but then there are the ones that could be viable and helpful, yet is the timing right or realistic? In this day of information overload, I can so identify with this quandary. There are a multitude of online educators vying for our attention for their solution to our particular problem, hoping to cash in our limited budgets. The end result is our attention is so fragmented that we cannot realistically understand whose solution is the one we need.
The overwhelming plethora of choices can often result in fear…fear of not making the right choice but also fear of making any decision at all. We stall and balk at looking at the subject. We walk the other way or take the long way round in order to avoid anything to do with our problem. This can relate to anything in our lives, from business decisions to personal relationships to life’s milestones.
How do we overcome this? First, we must realize that the Wisdom we need in this situation is not our own. We need Discernment that comes from God. He is fully aware of the issues, the options and the questions we have. Yes, there are a thousand and one people with human answers, but we only need one, the one that fits our life right now. By ourselves, we are not equipped to sort through the lists that are available. There are not enough hours in a day or a week or a year. However, our Heavenly Father has the Perfect Answer tailored to our unique life just waiting for us to Ask Him for It.
God is Love and Perfected Love Casts out fear. God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of Power and of Love and a Sound Mind - the Mind of Christ. God wants to be involved in our lives and bring sanity to us. Each of us needs a sound mind to operate in this past paced, highly pressurized existence. In and of ourselves, we are incapable of it and we need Super-natural Ability to Do so. When we step aside and Allow God to enter into the equation, yielding our will to His Will, things Change…the parameters of the problem fall into place, the competing solutions collapse until the only one you need remains. It all makes sense where none seemed to be before. Our heart rate slows and a sense of Peace that surpasses understanding in the human realm settles into our spirit and soul.
“If we let it” is the key statement. Are we willing to take our hands off the steering wheel long enough to Listen to God our Father and then Do what He Told us to Do? Do we Yield our will to His Will for our life? Believe me when I say that it is so worth it. It saves time, energy, money and Brings Peace and Satisfaction. Although seemingly counterintuitive, taking away your control and handing it over God puts you back in control of the situation. Fear leaves God’s Presence and Power and sound thinking return when Love enters the picture. Who is really the master of your life: fear or Love? Let Love reign in your life and things will Change. Thank You, Lord.
The sun has been scorching hot in the past few weeks. Weeks, not days. And really hot too.
It got me to thinking. If I have to work inside in my home office, that sunshine is a lure to draw me outside, to be anywhere but my office. On the contrary, if I am working in my garden, that same sunshine drives me to seek shade before I melt into a puddle of sweat. It is sweat, ladies, not perspiration, when you are weeding your garden. There is nothing lady-like about it.
When I am holidays, sitting by the pool or the ocean or a pristine lake, that sunshine is a blessing. I know that at any time I feel too hot, I can slip into the water to refresh me and cool my body temperature to a reasonable level. While working outdoors, edging my walkway or painting my deck, that same sun is punishing and depleting my body fluids. It looks like an enemy to be avoided as I repeatedly retreat into the house to find relief.
What is the difference? Perspective. How I view that same sun is dependent on my perspective of what activity I have to do in it. Pleasure or toil. Is there an easy way to cool down or do I need to remain working until I am on the verge of heat exhaustion?
The same thing happens in life. If we have a job that started out enjoyable, something we would do as a hobby, we loved doing that work. Over time, this same source of income can turn out to be toil and turmoil due to time constraints and demands from unreasonable people. How we view that same activity can now be dramatically different depending on our attitude. If we grow to resent the demands on our time and energy, we will eventually loathe the work we do. If, on the other hand, we choose to look at the same activity from the perspective of the people we are serving, we have the opportunity to turn it all around.
I will give you an example. I love to make jewellry. It is a creative outlet. I started making extra pieces to sell. Then came the Christmas season and I needed multiple necklaces to have on hand for people to purchase. It soon became a chore to anticipate the styles, sizes, colours and designs that might best capture a customer’s eye when passing my table at a craft fair. It was all about perspective. I was now making the pieces to satisfy a market rather than crafting them for individuals to enjoy. I was no longer looking at how I might bless someone with a unique item to complement their wardrobe, but it was source of stress. I immediately realized that I needed to transform my attitude in order to maintain the joy of the activity.
Anyone of us can do this with any of our jobs. We can think of the person who will ultimately be blessed by what we do or we can just resent it and let it become toil and pain. If I am a garbage pickup person, I can take each day as an opportunity to serve the community to keep it clean and healthy or just see it as menial labour that barely pays the bills.
At any given moment, the choice is ours make. Perspective means everything. Choose wisely. It will change your life and so often, transforms the lives of those around you. Each of us can make a difference!
I know I haven’t shared with you previously that I have recently become involved with modelling and acting for television commercials. It is not something I ever intended to do and it has taken me so far out of my comfort zone that I know that it could only be God Who has lead me there.
I originally took on the training for experience to better my skills in public speaking, but as I got into it, I rather enjoyed my classes. I found myself in a classroom with tweens, teens and twenty-somethings and then there was me…considerably older as you can tell from my gray hair. It was delightful to be among all that energy and nervousness as we entered into new adventures, learning about the runway walk and how to go to auditions and perform on camera. I have since done more intensive acting workshops where we have had to perform monologues and television commercials on camera and watch the playback and receive critiquing. That is so humbling, I can tell you. The camera picks up every minor twitch and gesture that you never though anyone saw you do. It lays you bare before all to see.
In doing all of this, I have realized that God has taken me on an adventure that I did not ask to travel, but am grateful that he did. I have gained a great deal of confidence in the person He Created me to be. I do not have to make excuses about myself all the time. I have something valuable to offer through God to other people. After all, that is what we are here for-other people; to help and serve others and by so doing, enhance our own lives.
I was reading an excerpt from Max Lucado’s “You Can Rest Now” yesterday regarding Grace. He talked about not having to do it all yourself and that God has your back. It made me think of the couple of auditions that I have had over the last two weeks. When I got the call to go to the first one, I was so nervous I was vibrating and could not put a thought together. I stopped immediately and Prayed. I told God that I knew He had put me where I was with this opportunity for a reason beyond my understanding, but I also knew that I could not accomplish anything in this regard without His backing and Ability. It was not about me, but all about Him. Whatever I was about to do was about His Favour so I also needed Him to have my back for the whole adventure. This included getting me safely to and from Toronto (with traffic, a four hour drive), the proper procedures for signing in and performing the audition.
I also had to roll the whole of the care of it onto Him, not just part of it and not take it back when the traffic got heavy and it looked like I might be late. I had to realize that this was an opportunity for experience, not necessarily an actual job. I was growing as a person and as a model/talent. I might have what the casting director wanted for this particular project or I may not, but I was laying foundation for future requests for auditions and possible jobs. Every project has particular requirements and I might be a little younger or older or slimmer than what the director had in mind for this particular commercial. I do have to do the fundamentals required of me, take direction well and put my best effort into what is asked of me in the audition, but some aspects are beyond my control and that is okay. It does not reflect poorly on me as an individual if I do not get the job. I am just doing what God put before me to do. Who knows what effect my presence at the audition had on someone else? Perhaps that is the reason I was to be there.
So, now I ask you, what is the last thing that God asked you to do? Did you discount it as too beyond your capabilities? Is it something that you would have though t totally ridiculous a year ago? Did it put you completely out of your comfort zone? Would you have to rely on Him totally to accomplish it?
May I suggest that you go before God and ask Him what He wants to do with your life and then be willing to set out of the boat and walk on water, keeping your eyes on Jesus the whole way, not letting your eyes get onto the wind and the waves around you, and keep on walking on the water until He places you on dry land again. If you allow Him to be with you all the way, you can Do it!
Have you ever looked at those fuzzy little caterpillars and thought, "that looks sort of cute in a creepy kind of way?" It is nice from a distance but you don't really want it crawling down your leg. It is a bug, after all and although furry, it is still an insect. I have taken a moment to look at them, realizing how basic they are...not much more that a worm with tiny legs and hair on them. I guess I also wonder why they need the hair...lol. However, this is not their final destination in their wee lives. It is only a starting point. They must still search out a suitable location for the building of a cocoon, not an easy feat for a fuzzy little creature. The climb alone would be like scaling Mount Everest without guides to help or supplies along the way. Once there, they have to spin their own sleeping bag and go into a place of complete darkness away from all other life and wait...for transformation. If all the right factors fall into place, it isn't snatched away by some predator and the right amount of time elapses, out comes a butterfly. It is so gorgeous but fragile. It takes a while for the butterfly to dry its wings, then test them before they can fly. Once all these elements have gone by in perfect synchrony, the butterfly can then launch forth and soar. Often they are buffeted by wind currents, but they persist and land on one flower, then another, delighting our eyes.
Isn't this just like Life and Faith? We start out rough and sort of ugly in our attempts at making our way. We toil at just making ends meet, barely subsisting, often pushed around by circumstances and misery caused by others. If we are fortunate, we meet up with others who help us on our way, giving us love and support. Often times, we have to go it alone and learn through rough experiences how to persist in the face of hardships. It is only through a positive attitude that we do not give up or become discouraged and jaded. We keep moving and climbing towards a goal, sometimes stumbling but ultimately arriving at a resting point, trying to decide if we want to move forward or shrink back to the old and familiar and often messy. Likely, having arrived at that plateau, tired and battered, we hunker down and catch our breath. There, we retreat alone to regroup, look into ourselves and to God to find insight and new perspective. In that time of seclusion, new life sparks and readies us for change. We peek out from our quiet place and venture out, realizing we are no longer the same. The experiences, the knowledge, the revelations we have gained from our Lord have blossomed us into a new person.
It may take some effort, but we pull ourselves out from that dark solitude into a new light. We test our wings and realize that they can take us to places we have never been. Yes, we might be pushed around by the breezes of our environment, but we are stronger and use our wings to guide ourselves to new and beautiful vistas and settle on flowers of spectacular hues. We are in essence the person we began to be but are transformed by the Life of God, we are now glorious to behold in His Image, moving in a new direction guided by Him. It isn't always easy, but we are now empowered by His Spirit and fly where He leads, Trusting in His Presence for our needs while serving those He puts in our path, until our time comes to return to Him.
Such is the transformed Life in Christ.
Click here to ediDid you ever have a series of events go better than you ever expected? It is such a happy surprise that you can hardly believe it, especially if it wasn't looking anything like that was going to happen.
I had that occur this past weekend. I knew that I was prepared for the convention I was attending. I had done everything I could to put my best effort forward. I prepared and rehearsed all my sessions. I had packed all the right clothes and extras in case some outfits were not quite appropriate. I had certainly Prayed, asked for the Lord's Guidance, felt I was where I was supposed to be, doing what I was Lead to do. However, I had that nagging doubt in the back of my mind that things might go wrong or my efforts would not be enough. I saw other people achieving more than I felt I was able to do. I had a measure of disbelief hanging over my shoulder. My logical mind said I could not have done anything better, but that condemning voice still lingered.
Satan was working overtime to knock my confidence into a hole. He wanted me to have a defeated attitude so my words would reflect that negativity. I started to even express uncertainty. I rallied and retracted the negative words, replacing them with positive expressions and put it into God's Hands.
What happened next took me totally by surprise. I not only achieved goals I had hoped for, but surpassed them. I was taken aback. I soon realized that God was smiling at me, saying, "Child, why did you doubt?"
Moral of the story? In Jesus' own Words: Fear not, Believe only! Mark 5:36. Need I say more?
Click here The season turned in the last few days. Not only has it been sunny, but it has turned warmer too, allowing me to actually pull out my shorts. I have been so happy. I am actually allowing myself to consider taking the winter tires off the car for the season. I checked out the lilac bush by the driveway and the buds are growing, soon to pop out into leaves.
Why does this change warm our hearts so greatly? It is just the possibility that there will be no more snow until winter returns in December or is it something else, something deeper? I sense that return of the warmth of the sun reminds us of another type of warmth, the lovely feeling we have when are Loved. I am not talking about human love, which can be temporal, fleeting or changed by circumstances or death. I am referring to the Love of our Father, which far surpasses any human kind of love. True Love, deep and abiding and unending Love. There is a comfort in this Love that cannot be compared to human love, no matter how giddy it makes you feel.
The love we experience on earth, is but a mere reflection, a dim representation of the humungous Love that our Heavenly Father has for each one of us individually. After all, He Created each of us and He numbers each hair on our heads. Does your spouse or earthly parent know each of your hairs? Likely, not. Our Father Cares so deeply for us that He wants to spend Eternity with each one of us. How exciting is that? He did everything He could to make that available to us. How can we turn Him down? It is all about a Decision, a Life and death Decision with Eternal implications. Will you choose Him and the Gift He Sent us in His Son so we can spend the rest of time with our Father and that stupendous Love? It is up to you…what will you choose?
This photo says it all. Jesus carrying the burden of the cross on which He was about to be crucified...alone...deserted by all but one of His disciples (John was the only one who remained, from a distance.) However, what did this cross represent? The burden of this cross was you and me and our imperfections. He knew that nothing we could possibly ever do would be good enough to gain us access to His Perfect Father, so He, as a man who had never sinned, offered Himself a...s a Perfect unblemished sacrificial lamb on our behalf. He lived on earth as a man, just like each one of us, yet did not sin. He was the only one Qualified to be sacrificed in our stead...a Perfect Sacrifice shed His blood for us and that blood was accepted by the Father...not just for one Passover, but once and for all time, never to have to be done again...because He was a Perfect, unmarred by sin, man representing every one of us. And when He was about to take His last breath, He said, "It is Finished!" because the sacrifice was complete and the New Covenant was established on our behalf and New LIfe was made available to all mankind, no matter what we have ever done in our lives. Accept His Sacrifice on your behalf and you now have unlimitied access to the Father...forever! Now that is LOVE!!!!!!!ere to edit.
Judith Utman is the author of Voices in the Wilderness.