Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I've fallen but I CAN get up!

Proverbs 24:16 NIV

...for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.

"Just because someone stumbles and loses their way doesn't mean they're lost forever". Wow, how profound and it came from a movie screen; X-Men, a fantasy action film. Yep, I'm sitting in the theater and God spoke to me.

Everything around me reminds me of something I have read in the Scriptures; a teaching that the Lord has left for me; a parable for me to glean from. All creation testifies of Him!

Stumbling, now that's not a word we would want to describe ourselves with; not a situation we would want to find ourselves in.

Nobody wants to fall, to find themselves in a place of error or embarrassment.

We've made a mistake and all eyes are on us. We are in the crowd, a place where words are exchanged and next thing you hear is a comment that you would argue could not have come from you. But there you are, awkward, tripping over your words as you try to excuse yourself but find that you are toppling in deeper. Why did I say that?

You agreed quickly and now you find yourself in a binding contract; the lender is coming after you. Yes, we borrowed more than we could pay back. We are over-extended, deep in debt. The binding contract is now an instrument, a thief that robs us of sleep.

We said we would go to church; committed our life to Christ, but we have served everything but him. The lures of the world have called out to us and we are answering, stumbling our way through life.

Misuse the name of God, dishonor our parents, steal, adultery, false testimony, greed, lies, pride, anger, malice, and on we go with our lives.

When we were kids we'd play outside and inevitably we'd find ourselves with bruises and scraped knees and elbows. See our parents warned us of climbing the fence, "don't climb the fence, you're going to get hurt".

The fence was probably there to keep us secure, inside safe pastures. But what did we do, we jumped the fence and found ourselves stumbling to the point of pain and sometimes blood. Scars to prove we disobeyed.

Something about the words "don't do it" cause something in us to rise up and challenge it; confront and defy authority. We are rebels out to prove ourselves correct.

Sin entices us. It's the one that whispers open the latch; go outside, it desires to see us fail, miss the mark and stumble. He calls to us, repeatedly saying, open it up, lift the hatch, climb the fence, go under the wire, and on it goes; all the while the group of "demonic cheer leaders" hoping that we fall.

If this was the end, we would be in a heap of trouble.

Since God made me, he knows how to call me back. Actually his love is so grand for me that the moment I disobey he reminds me of it; he offers forgiveness if I would but confess my sin quickly and turn from it. He can help me in my mess. Truly, if my ears were more attentive, I would have heard the warning and never found myself in danger or trouble. I would have been able to say no to mischief; the sin that calls me outside my area of safety. 

The Lord has given every believer, all who trust in him the ability to resist sin and temptation. He always provides a way of escape! (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Sadly, as we get older, it’s no longer just a wired "fence"; it's our language, our actions, our thoughts, temptations, until sin consumes us.

We still think we can jump the fence and only scrap a knee or two. Some continue to walk never to return home to the safety provided for us. 

Some of us like being outside the fence, don't we? The pleasures of sin sometime resonate well within us.

But the Lord knows that we are like lost sheep; dumb, unable to even stay within our beautiful gated community; we don't want to be controlled by anything, even if it’s good for us.

Through disobedience, we were kicked out of the Garden; but we were not lost forever.

God had a plan; a design with a purpose to regain that which was lost. "Just because someone stumbles and loses their way doesn't mean they're lost forever".

In the movie the X-Men (I won't give it fully away), one of the characters has lost her way; she seems confused and torn about decisions she needs to make in her life.

I'll leave it here: "Just because someone stumbles and loses their way doesn't mean they're lost forever".

Stumbling, an awkward motion; it's also an act that causes us to fall; we lose our footing.

Jesus is available, but the choice is ours to return home. He won't make us; he will indeed draw us with his love in hopes to win our heart. In the end, he is able to save us, something we cannot do for ourselves.

The price will be his life, but he will do it because of the love he has for us.

We make mistakes, but we don't have to stay there!

I hope you are reading through the Word of God; the whole counsel not just your favorite passages or the parts you assume you understand. The Word is alive! Enjoy and travel through this adventure that will impart wisdom; give insight, instruction, correction, make you laugh (at yourself) and will mature you in the ways of God. It's an incredible experience and it will keep you going back for more! Hallelujah!

God bless you!~Liz

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Take Courage

Matthew 14:27

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

About 20 years ago (wow that's 2 decades, sounds ancient) I took a day trip with my family and friends to the NJ shore. It was a beautiful day; beach is packed with sun-worshipers and the weather is perfect!

I am not a swimmer or a sun-sponge, but this day I wanted to get my feet wet and enjoy some sun-rays; maybe go up to my waist in the ocean water. Cool and refreshing; the water was glistening and inviting me to partake, so I did.

My husband and son are enjoying the waves; they are over their heads in water and having a blast! There had to be hundreds of people in the water. Every section marked off with a lifeguard; his job is to protect the swimmers, the ones enjoying the cool refreshing waters.

It's going pretty well on the beach; I am pretty brave; in the water I go; the water has now reached my waist and for me this is a risk; wow, I feel like I can conquer just about anything. The waves are coming in from behind me; they are pretty strong but I find the courage to even turn around and face them; I jump through them; I imagine myself a victor, I have defeated this accumulation of droplets; this massive body of saline water that we know as the Atlantic Ocean. Yeah, I feel good!

In my assumed mastery of this element I completely forget it's power; it's great command that it has over me. A wave came in quickly and shook my foundation; a second wave landed and my footing was threaten and as the third round came, I found myself in a dark tunnel unable to find light.

The wave tossed me as if I were a leaf without any branches or root to hold me secure. As each wave came I began to gasp for air, I tried to locate a visual of where I was because all orientation was lost. I was unable to push myself off from the sand at the bottom of this ocean floor because my arthritic hands were to weak.

This episode happened several times and all of a sudden I felt the hand of the rescuer, non other than my Night in Shining Armor....I mean, my husband in a bathing trunk! He swooped me up and though I still could not orient myself, he quickly led me to the shore, shaken but safe. My plan of escape came from within the troubled waters.

This is my question; where was the lifeguard? Did he not see what was going on; did he think I was playing with the waves or looking for new gill-bearing aquatic friends.
I was drowning and he did not help me!
My rescue came from the one that was actually in the "troubled" waters with me.

Peter, very bravely entered the water when Jesus called him. Soon he found himself being consumed by the waves, by the tossing water, perhaps by his own fears of the unknown; what if Jesus doesn't help me; what if he is unable to help me?

Jesus is more than enough not only to help Peter but to order every step that this frightened disciple will take. The Lord will lead him and equip him to do impossible feats. He will deny the Lord; maybe even wonder if he was worth saving; but God will use him, fill him with his power and build His Kingdom, using little frightened Peter.

It's a terrible place of vulnerability, when help seems far away, when rescue does not come from who you expect; when life feels like its going to evade you. Trust me, I know!

Jesus' hand was extended and he is also able to rescue!

Just like my rescue came from within my own troubled waters, I believe Jesus who is always with us sends help when he hears us cry out to him. Even when others fail. He stands in the midst of trouble with me; puts his hand out for me and beckons me to come, to trust and to grab a hold of Him.

He is in the midst of the trouble with us. Sometimes we cause the trouble, other times the trouble tries to rob us of Salvation or life itself; sometimes the trouble makes room for God to get Glory.

When trouble surrounds us we search for help. Look carefully and you will see Him everywhere in the Scriptures. He is the Rescuer! He is right in the midst of our lives!
  • The thief on the cross. Take courage Jesus says, "today you will be with me in paradise".  Christ is on the cross with the thief; in like situation.

  • The Israelites facing the Red Sea; threaten to be annihilated. Deliverance will come from God; Moses raise your staff.

  • Daniel in the Lion's den. Lion's mouth shut by an angel God sent.

  • Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace. Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.

  • Isaac rescued as the knife was about to fall. A ram in the bush provided by God.

  • Joseph in the Pit. What the enemy meant for harm, God used for good.

  • Liz in the drowning waters. Rescued as the Lord directed her husband to see what the lifeguard missed.

Look carefully and you will begin to recognize him in the midst of your troubles.

God, rescues, makes provision, gives wisdom & revelation, he sets free, he shields & protects, he calls and sets apart, he beckons us to come and trust him; he is with us and will never leave us.

In the midst of my troubled waters, where death tried to cut me off from the living; as the lifeguard missed his queue; the Lord stepped him, allowed my husband to reach me and bring me to safety.

For a long time I would have nightmares, I was pretty shaken. Over time I have begun to enjoy the waters again, embracing it with a different respect, assured that God has given even the waters for my enjoyment!

Even in the midst of troubles, if we search, God will reveal where he is. Take courage! He is right there with us.

I wonder if every time Peter went fishing, when he stepped into the water; did he see Jesus' hand; did he recall the day his Master rescued him; the day fear tried to make sport of him?  Peter's rescuer lifted him up and assured him he was safe in his hand.

Hold on, He is right there!

God bless you!~Liz

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

There are Clovers Everywhere!

Psalm 118:24 - "This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."

It’s Tuesday evening about 6:40 PM, I decided to sit outside my house, not in the back where I usually sit but in the front of the house.  The rays of the bigger light that governs the day is shining and I am trying to grab the last few sunrays before is trades places with the moon.
I have a headache, my right hand hurts but I am determined to enjoy a little peace, a little sense of awe from my God before the day escapes me. 
There is a gently breeze that’s causing the trees that are blooming to dance, to sway back and forth.  The birds are chirping and flying above me; I can almost understand their song of gratitude for the warm changes that have come upon us again.  They have no care in the world.
Life is so busy and I have been longing for more and more times of rest; not necessarily because I’m tired but because of what I am missing. 
When I was a little girl I would travel to Long Island (a very long island) to visit my aunt Myrna.  She had a lot of property with apple trees, pear trees and even a cherry tree.  I remember it being a treat to travel from the Bronx to what seemed a beautiful country to me.
I would sit for hours with my cousins on the grass and look for clovers, pick at the grass blades (not sure for what purpose) but just enjoying the green turf and the warm sun.  We would laugh, ride our bikes all around the house and pretend we were on a highway, hmmm, don’t ask, children do the funniest things.
I sit here as an adult the memories of tranquil summer days in the sun is refreshing.  The days of tranquility are more difficult to attain as an adult so I am making every effort to steal; grab them like a thief, wondering if I get caught, would I have to return the “goods”.  I want to keep my treasure; my peace, my joy, my laughter, my spontaneous trips to the “front of the house” and just sit on the grass, rest on a chair with my feet up.
I’m thankful that today, for this is all that is promised to me, I am able to enjoy the refreshing cool of the day; for as I write the day is transforming quickly to evening. Birds are still singing; it’s so wonderful.
Can an adult find the same kind of “rest” that we as children enjoyed?  For grow-ups rest is often interrupted by activities that beckon us to come; buy the next new thing that we must have; buy the lie that unless we pay $59.95 to enter the park we might miss something. We run here and there, and for good reason, after all somebody has to do the groceries.  
Worry knocks on the door and wants to visit; might bring along his cousin Anxiety.  If we are not careful the entire family might visit, Bitterness, Regret, Failure, Confusion, Arrogance; Pride knocks and wants to stay a while.  Let me stop there…quickly close the door!
They whisper hurry up, do it now, you are going to lose it, it passed you by, you’re in debt but who cares, you messed up, you need it to look good, who will know, just do it, yes, indeed you are a failure; you're a bad mom or dad; perhaps it's we let our parents down.  When cousin Regret takes over, well its downhill from there; rest has been stolen and the visiting intruders are the guilty parties on the line-up.
Simplicity, can you smell it, touch it; right now I am in it, I can see it. It’s me, the Lord, the grass, birds, sunrays and a gentle breeze.  I’m in simplicity right now; like the birds, with no care in the world.
The next time you are outside, (let’s make that tomorrow if the Lord gives us another day) look down at the grass.  Yep, three leaf clovers everywhere.  Some consider this a bad thing; I guess my lawn is not that healthy.  But what I see is a gentle reminder of our God; the Father, Son & Holy Ghost!  It is the very Spirit of God that gives us rest; so I have chosen to enjoy it!!  Thank you Lord. The grass is greener on MY side! Clovers, a reminder of who I belong to.
Nothing wrong with being grown-up, after all we all get there.  I love my life; the complications come when we allow Satan to rob us of rest; to raid our quiet times with the Lord and whisper false promises.  We begin to entertain thoughts that lead us astray; thoughts that can even endanger our very purpose for living; to know God and enjoy Him!
Get the Word, sit on the grass and just enjoy HIM!  A good book, a cup of coffee or a glass of lemonade; sing like the birds, sway like the trees, and enjoy the simplicity, the rest, which God has given us. 
Quickly, close the door; visiting intruders are trying to break in J
It's 10PM now...headache is gone.

I heard this on the radio.  A man full of worry decided that he was tired of worrying so he hired a man to do all his worrying for him.  He said he would pay $200,000 for anyone who would take the job. So he finds his candidate.  Shortly after the gentleman accepts the job offer, he asks his new boss, “Boss, where are you going to get the $200,000 to pay me?”  The Boss replies, hmm, it’s your job to worry about that! 

God bless you!~Liz

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Real or Plastic?

"Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him." (James 1:12)

We have a hot tub in the backyard; it's a cozy little place to relax. Two years ago I added some greenery, "plastic fake greenery" interlaced in the lattice fence that surrounds the tub. It looks real; can just about fool anyone. The real plants and "plastic" plants mingled together. Looks pretty authentic if you don't look carefully! 

As the weather is getting warmer, I am now walking around our property trying to locate what needs "sprucing up". So, where am I today, you got it, the hot tub area. My eyes are looking for the plants, the vine that was entwined in the fence. Where did go? 

There was an abundant last year; there is not much left now! The snowstorms and frigid temperatures; the winds that howl and whip around outside bringing destruction to anything in its path have stripped away every pedal on this vine. What's left will fill the dumpster and be hauled away with the trash.

Behind the fence, we have some rose bushes that we purchased a few years ago; small little scrawny things. But over time, they have matured and are starting to thrive nicely. The rose bushes require sunlight, water, fertilizer (though I am not good at remembering), and a little pruning occasionally. In the winter, the snow comes, the winds wail; they take this plant and toss it with every winter, stormy element possible. I have no clue if it has endured. 

They were hit with the worse winter we have had in a long time; buried under 6 feet of snow. No sunlight, no fertilizer, nothing! What distinguishes the real from the fake? The rose bush was deeply rooted and has stood and overcome the storm. Nothing has uprooted this plant; it is secure in the dirt, in the ground, anchored and ready for a new season. It has developed, aged nicely, even to the point that it blooms beautiful fragrant flowers, even still! 

I can't say the same for my "plastic greenery". They are nowhere to be found; they were tossed and blown away by the wind, the effects of the many storms that swept by our home in the last few months. 

The Word of God says that in this life we will have trouble; so what should I do? When difficulties come and they will, what will we do? Storms come, they carry different names and affect us differently. The goal is to stay rooted, anchored, fastened; a tight grip to the one that can calm the storm or take us through it.

There is death and loss, financial destruction, family upheaval, pain that seems to have no remedy, memories that try to consume us, failures that remind us of our weakness. 

Pedals being plucked away by the storms of life threatening to leave an empty vine stripped away of everything beautiful, of everything good, of a fragrance that God has given us and uses to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.  (2 Corinthians 2:14)

Help us Lord to be like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers. (Psalm 1:5)

We feel scrawny sometimes, young; how do others do it; how do they overcome? I feel insignificant, unable to handle all that life brings. 

But feel the breeze, encounter the gentle wind that promises to come with restoration and life! 

Blessed is the one who perseveres!. Real or fake? Wither or live? 

Though we fully don't understand all that has occurred; it was like a gust that came and swept through our lives leaving marks and evidence that we suffered. The storm has now past. 

Authenticity leaves evidence; proof that the blooming process begins again. 

"Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him." 

The test reveals what's authentic. Will we pass or fail? The Bible says we are more than conquerors; we have overcome! 

It's not about the fence, but on what side of the fence we are on. We chose. We decide. I chose Life, I chose Christ! 

When the storms come, and they will; what will the evidence say?

The fake blew away.  The authentic is now thriving even after the storm!

God bless you!~Liz


 Acts 9:32-34 As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the Lord’s people who lived in Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas,...