Thursday, January 31, 2019

No Bootstraps


 

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing. John 15:4-5

I had a great conversation with a friend yesterday. We haven’t really talked in far too long. In catching me up on her life she shared some hard things that are going on in her family.  At one point she mentioned that her husband had told her that another family member should “pull herself up by her bootstraps.” Uh-oh! While I get hubby’s perspective, the only answer to the disaster which is currently encompassing their loved one, is Jesus. My friend knows that and is trying to help her dear one to see it as well.

In our conversation I quoted the above verse to her. Bootstraps aren’t going to get us anywhere. Oddly during the conversation my friend had to refasten the strap on her boot a few times. Why? Well, obviously because it popped open but mostly because God is good all the time. There is no bootstrap, elbow grease or steely eyed determination that defeats an attack by our enemy. One source of victory is available to us, one, and that is Jesus Christ.

Clinging to that vine is what makes my life livable, at times quite enjoyable and most important, fruitful. Yesterday in that conversation, I hope that my sweet friend was blessed. I know she blessed me. She put her trust in my faith which inspires me to be even more faithful. She gave me the opportunity to pray for her in the moment and to carry her burden with her as we are instructed in Galatians 6:2.

If you are a person who believes that you need to make huge efforts, pull up bootstraps, prove your worth or whatever other cliché comes to mind, please stop. Please read the verse above again, especially the last line. “Apart from me you can do nothing.” Nothing. No thing. We live and move and have being in Christ alone. (Acts 17:28)

Put on your boots, big girl panties or whatever else helps you feel confident but never forget that your true confidence comes from being a child of God. (1 John 3:1)  

Sunday, January 27, 2019

For Sentimental Reasons


 

Remember His wonderful deeds which He has done, His marvels and the judgments from His mouth 1 Chronicles 16:12

And he took the bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them saying, “This is my body given for you, do this in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19

 

Sentimental. According to the dictionary it means, “of or prompted by feelings of tenderness, sadness or nostalgia.” The synonyms listed are, nostalgic, tender, dewy-eyes, affectionate and loving.

          Just the other day I was praying and as I expressed my love to God I thought of the words from the Nat King Cole song, “I love you, for sentimental reasons.” Immediately I felt guilty for minimalizing my love for God. It felt wrong but as I began to apologize, God stopped me. My mind was immediately flooded with images of my life, as a child, teen, young adult and on. The images were of moments of closeness to God, not all of them happy but all of them important, enduring and tender. I knew then, that though my love for God has many facets and ways of expressing itself, sentimental reasons were not only okay but necessary. 

          Revelation 2: 4 says, “Yet I hold this against you; You have forsaken your first love.” When we forget those things that drew us to God it is too easy to walk away from Him. It is those very memories of closeness, of rescue, of discipline and forgiveness that help us remember that God is faithful and omnipresent.

          I love God for myriad reasons and the sentimental ones are quite plentiful because, and I have to PRAISE God for this, my walk with him has encompassed the majority of my years. When I go to the sentimental reasons I can see Him in places and events I may have forgotten.  

          Sometimes memory lane is my enemy. It is a road filled with missteps, shame and missed opportunities. When I see my memories in the perspective of what God has done for and in me, I become quite tender, nostalgic and sentimental. Quite the opposite of being irreverent, it turns out that sentimental reasons are more proof of God’s goodness.

          Go ahead, sing it to Abba today. Thankfully he does not care how well or poorly we sing. To our precious Lord we all sound like Nat King Cole. God will love to hear the song and you will remember your own sentimental reasons.

Monday, January 7, 2019

God's Perfect Plans


 

"For I know the plans I have for you" declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Jeremiah 29:11
 

Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that."

 James 4:14-15
 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding.

Proverbs 3:5

 

There is an event that happens in my life almost every year. Some years I look forward to it and other years it just feels like too much effort. I've prayed to be able to modify it, have a tad more control over it but for the past few years, it's gotten completely out of my control.

          This year, as in years past, as the date loomed closer I felt myself getting anxious, trying to find tactful ways to say, "Folks, this just doesn't work for me." None was forthcoming. Then God stepped in and made a way.

          The event is going to happen but not the way I anticipated. Enough change has happened that not only does this new style work for me but now my anticipation is one of great delight. I'm so looking forward to the event, with no dread in sight.

          I would love to say that I "let go and let God" but the truth is too many other things crowded my thought process and I just didn't have time to obsess over it. So today when I woke up and realized that I'm excited, eager for what is coming, I felt so blessed.

          Then I wondered. Why can't I do that in all things? God is in control. My Abba knows what is good, right and best. So why don't I just trust in Him? The top of my head answers are awful. Fear, selfishness and control issues seem to be the things that get in the way of trusting God. Oh and arrogance, that's another one.

          I am grateful for these moments when God shows me that His way is best. I'm just praying that I learn from them and that my trust grows and grows. It may be over worked and now sound trite but "let go and let God" really is the best thing to do.