Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Purpose of Life


Another senseless tragedy. Families torn apart. Pain, suffering and a sense of security that will never return.


How do our sensitive spirits deal with such tragedy? All we can do is pray. Pray for God’s comfort for those involved. Pray for some kind of reconciliation and peace, knowing it may be years before that is felt. How then do we soothe our own fears? 


We were meant for so much more than this. We cannot let the darkness overcome the beauty of this life. Reach down, deep within yourself. What do you crave? We crave love, and acceptance. And when these basic needs are not met in our lives, it seems our psyche may go berserk.


The truth is that there is no satisfaction for our souls in the ways of this world. The peace we seek, and the love we long for, are all transitional in the tangible world we live in. The only way to know true joy, to feel a deep sense of peace and belonging and to realize true love is to know God. 


With God, we are never alone. He loves us inexplicably, no matter what we do or say. His heart and His love are not based on the things of this world. He is in our thoughts, both conscious and subconscious. 


He exists in a realm our minds cannot conceive, yet we know that He is there. His presence can be felt in the nuance of a thought. His love can be known by the communion of His presence. We feel God and we experience God each in our own way. 


While we exist in this world of people and things, our hearts and our minds must be focused on the spirit. Our spirit guides us through our lives, and learning to listen to its yearnings will direct us on the pathway to inner peace.


We will always have the pull of our external world, with its obligations and insecurities. But if we move our focus inward, and realize it is through our spirits that we communicate with God, the noise of our busy lives can be pushed into the background and our true purpose will be revealed.  


Each of us must find our way. When we communicate with God’s Spirit through our own spiritual existence, we begin to understand the reason why we are here. It isn’t to fight the 9-5 rush-hour life. It isn’t to gain notoriety or wealth.


Our purpose is to grow as spiritual beings, bringing us closer to the realization of what life can mean when our focus is not on the things of this world. Through prayer and a conscious effort at gratefulness in all areas of our lives; through connecting with God from our inner spirit, and not through our intellect, we begin to glimpse the beauty of life that we are meant to know. 





Sunday, February 26, 2012

Praise God through the Storm


Sunday Scripture

and a

Song


"Naked I came from my mother's womb,
naked I'll return to the womb of the earth.
God gives, God takes.
God's name be ever blessed."
Job 1:21 (The Message) 



No matter what storm you are facing, trust that God is there with you. 
This video accompanies Casting Crowns' powerful song 
"Praise You in this Storm"



Subscribers please click here to view this video on my blog.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

What to do While We are in the Wait


Sometimes our season is peaceful. Everything seems to come together and we bask in the fruit of our hard work and harmony reigns and we know great peace in the simplicity of just living. 

Well, it can happen this way, but it really isn't the norm.

More likely, our lives feel chaotic and out of control, as we try to make sense out of trials and temptations and suffering. This is more the reality of our lives.

It’s wonderful to have the blissful moments where we bask in the sunshine of our summers. And with God’s help, we struggle our way through our winters.

But what about those seasons of transition? The times when we are waiting. When something new and purposeful is just around the corner, and we know it is only a matter of time until we can taste and touch and see it. What do we do while we wait?

Have you ever dealt with a long-term illness or recovery from surgery that went on interminably? I have been there, in both circumstances. Time seems to slow, with the days moving barely perceptibly forward, yet around you the world is whizzing by and you feel like you are left further and further behind.

Or there are times when you wait, between jobs, with your fingers crossed that bills will be able to get paid and you will be able to provide sustenance, not even thinking about expenditures that used to come from your discretionary income.

These are times of waiting. Times of not knowing what will come next. And in these times we can learn a chapter in the great lesson of Trust.  No matter what we are going through, God is right there with us. He has gone on before us, and He knows what’s coming up.

If we can trust in Him completely, we will know Peace through this time of waiting. By practicing trust, and believing in the One who will lead us, we will make it through our transitional seasons with grace and assuredness that all will be well.


Having a relationship with God and trusting in Him during transitional times frees us from the worry that can rob us of our peace. When our focus is on our relationship with God, we rely on Him for what we need, trusting that He will provide.



This may sound difficult if you are used to being in control. Through practice, and through surrendering our stubbornness of desiring to control our situation, we allow a Greater Power to work in our lives; one infinitely capable of rendering peace amidst the chaos. 



Be still, and listen for the nudging of the Spirit. Be open to the idea that we may not have all the answers, and while we are in the wait, we can trust in the One who can offer us peace, and the promise of better tomorrows.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Who I Am


Sunday Scripture

and a

Song



“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; 
it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”  Ephesians 2:8-10 (NLT)







The Song "Who Am I?" by Casting Crowns was the song that defined me and called me into my music ministry. Through the words in this song, Mark Hall describes how temporary and insignificant this life is compared to the great gift from God through His Son, Jesus Christ that allows us to know we are God's children and we are loved.


Subscribers please click here to view this video on my blog.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Beauty from Ashes



Once there was a girl who dreamed great dreams. It was her way of escaping from the realities of life. She dreamed of great loves and new places and a happy life. She found relief from the adversity in her life by living inside of her mind, and she escaped into her fantasies whenever life got too tough.

She wrote stories, and poems that conveyed the emotions she tried to conceal. She sang and she cried, waiting for a time when life would offer her an opportunity to be free and live her life.

Though she suffered great emotional pain and torment, she survived, and with time she began to grow into the woman she hoped to be. There had been so many mistakes over so many years. She was still searching for that escape, and she carried the burden of her scars.

Time has a way of nurturing maturity, and over a half of a lifetime she would learn to grow from her mistakes. Still, there were times when her lack of belief in herself caused her once again to fall, floundering, gasping for life and begging her Savior for forgiveness.

As time wore on, she began to find hope, and she realized that indeed something beautiful was growing from the ashes of despair. As she placed her trust in the Lord, she found sturdier footing and began to climb out of the pit. Reaching her hands to the sky, she praised God for rescuing her and giving her new life; abundant life, and it grew day by day to be rich and full of Light.


Life is meant to be lived fully, reaching for hope and breathing in the possibilities. The reality is that this is the only life we get, and living fully in each moment is the only way to savor this one life.

We all fall down. Sometimes we are stuck in the mire and feel no way out. But there is a way, and it is through a relationship with Christ. Jesus is the way, the only hope of new life. Through Him we will know God, and know of this abundant life we have been given.



Even though we all suffer trials and setbacks, we keep moving forward along with the hands of the clock and each season of the calendar. We need to find a way to live fully in the moment, to grasp the absolute beauty of each day we have been given.



And even though we may have landed in the muck, when we reach out to the One who can rescue us and free us, even from our own poor choices, we find love and forgiveness and the opportunity for life in a brand new day.


  

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love Greater than Life


Love

Comes

In many ways

Sometimes

We feel like

It doesn’t come at all



But there is always

Always

A love far greater

Than any love

That is shared

On this earth



God has given us

Each other to love

Our friends

Family

All those whom we love

And share in this life





But the greatest love of all

Comes from the One who created us

Who gave us this earth

To live and breathe on




And instructed us

Simply

To love one another















Blessings of Peace

and Love





Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Time for Everything

Sunday Scripture
 and a
Song


For everything there is a season,
      A time for every activity under heaven.

 A time to be born and a time to die.
      A time to plant and a time to harvest.

 A time to kill and a time to heal.
      A time to tear down and a time to build up.

 A time to cry and a time to laugh.
      A time to grieve and a time to dance.

 A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
      A time to embrace and a time to turn away.

 A time to search and a time to quit searching.
      A time to keep and a time to throw away.

 A time to tear and a time to mend.
      A time to be quiet and a time to speak.

 A time to love and a time to hate.
      A time for war and a time for peace.   

  Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NLT)


Today's video celebrates the joy of finding God in all the seasons of our lives.
"Every Season" by Nicole Nordeman



Subscribers please click here to view this video on my blog page.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Trust in God for Your Peace


No one said this life would be easy. In fact, we’ve been told just how difficult it will be by Jesus himself. He told us “In this life, you will have trouble” (John 16:33 NIV), and if your world is anything like mine, trouble comes with a capital “T”.

If I am honest, though, I must admit that sometimes I make my own problems. Mostly this is when I try to take the helm and steer my own ship through troubled waters, instead of turning to the One who can help. When I try to forge ahead and make a situation work to my advantage, invariably it ends in ruin. I would be much better off if I remembered to trust in God and take all my troubles to Him.

I’m getting much better at this, and I have found this trust to be the true pathway to peace. But there was a time, in the not so distant past, when I grasped for straws when I felt I was drowning. I felt tossed about on the waves, gulping for breaths before being submerged again.

Instead of trusting God, I took it upon myself to try to find my own way. I think I put my trust in myself instead of God, and figured that I could make it work all on my own.


Imagine my surprise when I came across this passage in James, “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”  (James 1:6 NIV)  You see, I would ask Him for help, but then I would take it upon myself to find solutions. I thought I knew what would be best for me. Actually, I just didn’t know God well enough to trust Him with my life.

Though I still continue to make many mistakes, I feel that I have made positive changes in how I deal with stressful situations in my life. Each time a worry or problem comes my way, I have a choice. I can worry and stress, or take it to God and know peace. It takes practice, but it really is as simple as that.

As I develop my relationship with God in my daily life, through prayer and sharing my heart with Him, I am beginning to understand that knowing Him intimately is the pathway to peace. I’ve learned that there is a better way than internalizing my anger and harboring resentment. I can give it all to God, and in return I get peace. I can trust that He will work for the good in all things.

I’ve included the complete verses below for the Bible references made in this article. But I think one that sums what I am trying to say is a familiar quote from Proverbs. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding." Proverbs 3:5 (NLT)

When we give God the helm to steer, He will guide us to calmer waters; and He will put our feet back on solid ground.




“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NIV)

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.  But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.”  James 1:5-8 (NLT)
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NLT)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Howling at the Moon




Ever feel like howling at the moon? There is something about a full moon that commands my attention. I am drawn to its glow like a moth to the flame. I stand and stare at its naked beauty. Sometimes I even desire to howl.



I took a walk late last night, under the full moon’s shining light. Thin, puffy clouds could not obscure its brightness. When the clouds passed by the moon, a rainbow halo glowed around it. Curiously, though, when the clouds were not present, the halo disappeared and only deep blue sky surrounded the moon.


As I walked along, I realized I could see stars through the clouds, and I stopped in my tracks. These were bright winter stars, bright enough to shine even with a full moon’s glow; bright enough to shine through the puffs of cloud reflecting the bright moonlight. I realized I was looking at the belt of Orion, and soon the rest of the constellation became clear. I watched until thicker clouds swept over and covered them up again.


It was an army of clouds, moving with great speed; puffy and round, in rank upon rank. They moved swiftly, though at ground level there was barely a breeze. To the west was a different sky. There, on the western horizon, skies were clearing. What clouds there were different, stretched out long and thin. The night sky between them was in deep shades of aquamarine. These clouds didn’t move, but stretched out long and wispy, separating the deep, calming blues of a clearing sky.


Even with the thin clouds, the moon was bright enough to cast my shadow on pavement that was brightly lit only by the moonlight. I walked in wonder at all I saw. Even in the middle of a mild Wisconsin winter; even in the dark of night, there was beauty to behold.

Other than the deep shades of blue in the sky, my eyes were robbed of seeing color by the white light of the moon in the dark night. Yet, I saw beauty in the night sky.


I wonder about heaven. If it is more glorious than we can imagine, and surely it is, how can it possibly be more beautiful then this earth we walk on? Day after day, I am in awe of the beauty of nature. Season by season, there is new beauty to behold as the cycle of life ebbs and flows.



If you travel at all, you begin to see the wondrous, changing landscape of our great earth. From the depths of the seas to the highest mountains, throughout the forested lands and through the open plains, we cannot begin to ascertain the greatness in the beauty of this land we have been given. It is to be cherished.



We are the stewards of this great planet. It was given to us as a great gift by the One who made heaven and earth.  Only we can make certain that its riches are not taken for granted. Our air, water, sea and sky cannot be allowed to become polluted. We must manage our natural resources with our thoughts on sustainability. 
Our earth is the only home we have this side of heaven, so it makes good sense to care for it with respect and understanding. Appreciate all of its beauty, and cherish the natural wonders waiting to be discovered, even on a cold, moonlit night.




Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Long and Winding Road



We experience many twists and turns as we travel down the long and winding road of life. We follow along though we are uncertain of where it will lead us. Faith is what drives us, with expectation and hope guiding us around each bend in the road.


Following a well-known path may offer comfort and familiarity, but we sacrifice the excitement of new discoveries when the path is well trod. Do you want something new in your life? You may need to strike out on a new path, which will surely lead you on a journey of self-discovery.

There are many times when we feel more like a ship at sea, tossed to and fro on the waves of uncertainty. We weather the storms, though we do not feel in control of our circumstances. Who, then is at the helm?

We have more control over our circumstance than we believe. It is easy to feel victimized when situations in our lives cause us to feel out of control. We can’t see our way out of our circumstances. But there is hope.

Nothing in life is static. Life is ever-changing. Keeping this perspective can help us get through those days when we feel there is no hope. Some days we feel the weight of the world on our shoulders, and the burden seems too great to bear. Those are the days we need to lift our eyes to a higher power, and give away the burdens that weigh us down. It also helps to keep the perspective of realizing tomorrow is another day that will bring changes we cannot see today. 

Acknowledge a feeling of helplessness before God is not a sign of weakness, for He knows our human frailty and understands our struggles. When you reach for help, you will find renewed strength. For it is in our weakness that God’s strength is greatest. He will lift you up and carry you, setting you back on your feet again.

Whatever trials we face, we never face them alone. God is always with us, joined to us by Spirit. Hold tight to that knowledge, and trust that He not only walks beside us, but knows the path ahead and is leading us.

In all circumstances, we need to hold onto God’s loving presence in our lives. Instead of fearful, overwhelming thoughts, focus on God’s love and His nearness, and say a grateful prayer. It helps to know we’re not alone, and when we shift our thoughts to gratefulness, we take our focus off our worries. God's steadfast presence in our lives brings us peace.


Each step we take along the winding road of life, leads us closer to the peace of knowing our Savior. Trust Him to lead. He has already seen the road, and knows what’s up ahead. He will lead you. And the more you trust in Him, the smoother the road will be.
"Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you." Psalm 25:4-5


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Soar on Eagle's Wings



Sunday Scripture
 and a Song





“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
    They will soar high on wings like eagles.
     They will run and not grow weary.
      They will walk and not faint.”  (Isaiah 40:31) 


Please enjoy this beautiful worship video. Reuben Morgan, worship leader at Hillsong Church in Sydney, Australia, performs "Eagles Wings" (which is different than "On Eagle's Wings").  Let this song seep into your spirit, and know the beautiful communion we can have with Jesus through the Holy Spirit.



 Subscribers please click here to view this video on my blog site.