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Sunday, March 18, 2018

What Joy and Exhilaration!

as Daddy catapults me upward from His arms and into the air.
I squeal with Laughter in the rush of the moment. 

Is there any place better in this world? Any other place I’d rather be?
To ask me that would be like asking a deer if it would rather be in the desert 
instead of frolicking in the green meadow,
or a fish if it’d rather be flying in the sky than swimming carefree in the ocean.

You are my Home, God.
You are where I belong.
Where You are is where I am meant to be. 
Though others may desire other things,
my heart is continually drawn back to You,
for you are more fascinating than anything in this world.
Your Love is Unique and unlike anything found on earth.
It is pure and beautiful and lovely. You are my Grand Canyon,
and my heart skips a beat whenever I draw closer.

And you are Stronger God.
Stronger than confusion and things that keep us from seeing clearly.
You steady my spinning world so I see things as they are.
You lift me higher so my perspective is the same as Yours.
You let me see the world and people at your angle -
through the eyes of Love and not condemnation and religion.
I see them as beautiful and lovely, because of what Your Son has done.
They are loved and they are all welcome...
welcome to know You the way I do,

welcome to come, just as I have come.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Where the Problem Lies

So often we just want God to change our circumstances. We ask Him for a new job, a new spouse, more money, better health, better relatives...all the things that make for an easier lifestyle. And if it doesn't happen, we might begin to think that God is heartless or weak or unable to bring about change. But that is just not the case. God is neither heartless nor weak nor incompetent. What He is though is a heart-changer. See, while we are busy looking for Him to change the outward things we can see, He is yearning to change the things we don't see - our hearts. As we beg Him to push us past or remove the uncomfortable, He is waiting for us to stop and see that our problem is not our circumstances, but rather our perception of our circumstances and our perception of Him as our Provider.

I know this to be true in my own life when God said to me once, "You know, Valerie, it's not hard for me to change your finances. I can make provision blow in like a sudden rainfall that unexpectedly blows into a city. It's not hard for me to bring change. What's hard is changing your heart about it."

I had to laugh. All along I had thought the problem was His incompetence and uncaring heart, when in reality, the problem was really me. God was ready to bring change - as soon as He was able to break through and change my faithless heart. He didn't want to see me leave the circumstance without learning from it first. He knew the whole season would have been a waste if I had come out on the other side of it unchanged and not knowing and trusting Him more.

And so was the case with the Israelites in the wilderness. They cried out and complained for God to change their circumstances. But instead of taking them out of the wilderness, God met them where they were at and showed them His faithfulness and ability to meet their needs - even in impossible circumstances. He miraculously fed them manna and quail. He gave them water from a rock. He showed them what He still shows us today: that He is enough in every circumstance and every season of life. And He is only after one thing - our hearts. How He longs for us to know Him for who He really is: Loving, Faithful, Strong and Able. And He wants more anything to draw us to Himself and learn to trust Him - no matter the circumstance.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I have heard the Israelites’ complaints. Now tell them, ‘In the evening you will have meat to eat, and in the morning you will have all the bread you want. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’

That evening vast numbers of quail flew in and covered the camp. And the next morning the area around the camp was wet with dew. When the dew evaporated, a flaky substance as fine as frost blanketed the ground. The Israelites were puzzled when they saw it. “What is it?” they asked each other. They had no idea what it was.

And Moses told them, “It is the food the Lord has given you to eat.”

‭‭Exodus‬ ‭16:11-15‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Monday, March 5, 2018

Ferris Wheel Faith

My first memory of riding on a ferris wheel is a terrifying one. I must have been less than 10 years old and not ready for such an experience. Though I remember the view was amazing, I couldn't relax enough to enjoy any of it. I was like a deer in headlights, frozen with fear. I wanted so much for the ride to just stop and let us out. I desperately wanted the wind to stop rocking our cart. And more than anything, I just wanted to gain a sense of control in the situation. But I knew I had no control over any of it. All I could do was slide down off my seat and sit on the floor of the cart we were in and hope the ride stopped sooner than later.

Well, fast forward about 30 years and the ride I'd been avoiding for so long came back to haunt me when my kids begged me to go on one with them during a family vacation. I realized then how much I must love them because I actually agreed. I wish I could say I was cool and collected. Ha! No such thing. The same feelings came back again as I held on for dear life and begged my family not to rock the cart! I couldn't wait to get off. But as soon as we got off, my kids begged to go back on again! (Did they want to kill their mother??) Like the sucker I am, I went again. But this time, I tried to talk myself down from my panicked state and told myself that if I had made it through last time, I would surely make it through another time. The ride had proven itself to me, so I thought to myself, “Hey, maybe I should try to enjoy it like everyone else seems to be enjoying it.” Surprisingly, it worked. The more I trusted, the more I rested. And the more I rested, the more I was able to enjoy the ride, the view, and the people who were with me. 

In my walk with God, I have come to learn that He loves to ride Ferris Wheels with us, too. I don't mean the ones at amusement parks. I mean the Ferris Wheels in life that build your faith. The kind that pulls you up and away from any kind of control you think you have in this world. The kind that makes you trust the Cart you're sitting in and the Operator that's running it. The kind of Ferris Wheels that give you magnificent views, if you could just learn to relax in the moment to take it all in. The kind that remind you of how small you really are in this grand universe, and yet completely loved and cared for in the Cart that carries you safely along. The kind of Ferris Wheels that are meant to ultimately be fun. Yes, Fun! And the more you ride them, the more you learn to Trust and Rest. And more you Trust and Rest, the more you're able to enjoy the ride, the view, and the people with you.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

I'm Right Here

I came to a realization years ago that one of my greatest fears in life is (well, besides not having milk and bread in a snow storm) is being abandoned. I'm not even really sure how I developed this unspoken fear. I was never left on the steps of an orphanage or told to fend for myself while growing up. I was never ever physically abandoned. And yet, I had a deep insecurity that I could be left all alone in this world. (Now, there are days as a mom that I wish I could be left all alone! Ha!)

It was an insecurity that the Lord addressed immediately when I came to know Him. He would tell me all the time, "I will never leave you, I will never forsake you."

It was, and remains, a forever promise. Because I said yes to Him, He has forever said YES to me. And He will never, ever, ever, ever leave me. He means it - even on the bad days that I don't even feel good enough to look Him in the eyes. And on the sad and even traumatic days that I question His Love and push Him away. He'll never walk out. NEVER. 

See the thing is, God takes abandonment extremely seriously because, other than the obvious break in covenant that would be, He knows how much it hurts when it happens. He knows what it feels like to be abandoned. There are many passages in the Old Testament, especially, where we are told that He was abandoned by His own people. Oh, if only we could see the teardrops that came down from His face through those times that pierced Him to the core! His people in essence said, "We don't want you anymore. We're outta here." They may as well have ripped His heart out and stomped on it. The people He loved and called His own didn't love Him or want Him anymore. That left one broken-hearted Daddy.

But that never stopped or stops God from remaining faithful. And the promise remains for us today.  

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭13:5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

And God is not a liar. If He says it, it's true. Even if we feel like God has left us, His Truth is greater than our feelings. We have an eternal security that God will always be with us, will always be close, and will never leave us - whether it be here on earth or when we die. He will never leave us. And that's a promise we can take to the bank.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Conversations with a Mannequin

She startles me every time. The store has positioned this mannequin just perfectly at the end of one of their clothes racks in such a way that, from the corner of my eye, she looks like a real customer, a real person. I guess I don't go to the store enough to remember she is standing there. So every time I see her, I have to take a second look before it registers in my brain that she is not real. I may have even said, "excuse me" once when I almost bumped into it. I'm sure anyone that heard me got a good laugh at that one! A sane person does not speak to mannequins like they are real... Well, other than that guy who not only spoke to but fell in love with one from that famous 80's movie, "Mannequin". (Love that movie!)

A conversation with a mannequin would probably be much like playing with a Barbie doll or puppet - both of which I have experience with. I know very well how to have a conversation with something that is not real. You have to pretend they are listening, pretend they are understanding you, and pretend they are responding. You would, of course, need to put words in their mouth and answer for them, as well. It’s a whole lot of fun, but at the end of the day, there’s obviously no real relationship happening because you know they’re not real.

My days with Barbies and puppets have passed, but I’ve had times in my walk with God that my conversations and relationship with Him has felt a little similar. Probably without fully realizing it, I would talk to Him like He was some kind of lifeless, blind, mute, man-made object like a mannequin or Barbie. I would fail to acknowledge Him for who He is: REAL. A real, Living God, who sees all, hears all, and knows all. And if I wasn’t careful, I might have even put words in His mouth, so I could ‘hear’ what I wanted Him to say.

But I love how kind God is and how determined He is to fully convince us of Kingdom Reality. His desire is for all of us to talk to Him and relate to Him based on who He really is - Real and Good. Hebrews 11 says this exactly:

It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭11:6‬ ‭MSG‬‬

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭11:6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

He wants us to know in our hearts that when we come to Him, we are not talking to an inanimate object. He can hear us. He can see us. He knows us. AND He wants us to believe that He is GOOD - that He “cares enough to respond”. So He’s not just alive, but He also cares and is compassionate toward us. He sees the troubles we’re in and yes, He gives a darn. He cares and He will respond - very possibly not in a way we would expect or the timing we would prefer, but He will respond. After all, He’s no mannequin. He’s our Good Father.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Three Swords

Sometimes God uses dreams to speak to us. Like this one night very recently...

The Lord showed me 3 large pictures. They were like large framed posters. The first two were very dark, painted with black and brown colors. They both had a picture of a sword on them. 

Then the Lord brought up a third framed picture with a sword on it, as well. But this picture radically contrasted the other two. This picture was ‘colored’ in pure, bright, blinding light. It was so brilliant! So white and so much light! The power of the light overpowered the other two dark pictures.

     Without asking Him, I knew each picture represented a season of life and that we were now coming out of the first two (darker seasons) and into the third (beautiful, brilliant, glorious season). 

     But I said to the Lord, “What do the swords mean?”

     And He responded, “The first two swords were for defense. The third sword is for offense!”

Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Lazy Man & The Workaholic

I'm not sure what's harder -
motivating a lazy person to move or getting a workaholic to sit down. 

The lazy person loves to dream about Tomorrow, while Today is wasting away. He sits and only hopes for good things to happen. He is like a gardener who dreams of eating delicious food from his garden at the end of the summer while he sits on his back porch staring at his property, wondering how God will make his garden grow. He resists the idea of get in there, rolling up his sleeves, and getting his hands dirty. His pride and maybe a fear of failure keep him from engaging in the process.

But the lazy man must learn to trust and work with faith in his heart that God is with him and will prosper the things in his hand. And God will not fail the lazy man. He will show him that dreams can come true when he is willing to be an active participant.

The workaholic says in his heart, "If I just push myself a little harder, my dreams will come true." He thinks rest and leisure are for the lazy - which he will emphatically prove to himself and everyone else that he is not. He jokes and says, "I'll rest when I'm dead" as he stretches himself beyond his limits and finds himself completely depleted at the end of the day. And though he works and works, he never enjoys the fruit of his labor - like a chef that cooks day and night but never sits down to eat a meal. He starves while others feast and his heart only grows bitter toward those that are enjoying life while he toils and toils.

But the workaholic must also learn to trust and work with faith in his heart that God is with him and will prosper the things in his hand. He will not fail the workaholic as he makes him lie down in green pastures, leading him to quiet waters, and refreshing his soul. He will show the workaholic that life is not about driving yourself into the ground, working your fingers to the bone. He will show him how to seek first the Kingdom and His Righteousness and find that all things will then be added. He will show him that dreams can come true when he is willing to let God be an active participant.  

Friday, January 26, 2018

Dark Alleys

I’ve never been lead into a dark alley. Doesn't that just happen in movies, anyway? I mean, who would be foolish enough to let themselves be lured into a dark, potentially dangerous place like that? Wouldn’t instinct alone make the average person walk, if not run, away?

Though most people have the wits not to be lured like that, it’s amazing how many of us get lured into dark places inside our minds. Bad memories and sad thoughts draw us in like a creepy stranger on the street coaxing us to come with him. Without realizing what we’re even doing, we suddenly find ourselves entertaining negative thinking and dwelling there like it’s our current reality. If you ask me, that can be a scarier place than any real dark alley!

God is fully aware of these dangerous alleys. And as we stay close to Him each day, He’ll help us stay clear of such traps. Even this morning, as I sat down to talk to Him, my mind wandered to a bad memory that always leaves me feeling condemned. But, thankfully, before I made my way too far into that alley, He caught me and said,

“Don’t bring up bad memories and mull over them, chew on them. You wouldn’t take moldy bread and start eating it, would you? Then leave the memory there. It’s not where I Am and not where I Am taking you.”

Phew. That was close. A trip down that alley could potentially ruin my whole morning or who knows, my whole day.

This is why Philippians gives us this advice:

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; 
things to praise, not things to curse. 

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:8 MSG‬‬

So be careful today. Don’t let yourself be lured in. A dark alley is no place for God’s kids. 

Monday, January 22, 2018

Clean At Last

My husband and I have been living in the same house for over 15 years. It was just meant to be our starter home, but two kids and one dog later, it’s obviously stretched into far more! As I sit here on my sofa (like I do every morning), I’m staring at my dirty floors I just swept yesterday. Yes, YESTERDAY! It’s practically impossible to keep my house clean for a solid 24 hour time span. I guess four people and a shedding dog will do that. After 15 years, I have cleaned the very same spots in this house over and over and over and over and over again. If I do the calculations, I estimate that I’ve probably cleaned them 5,475 times (give or take)...and counting! That’s a whole lot of dust pan and vacuum use! Oh, to be able to clean ONCE and have done with it forever! 

As impossible as this would be for my home, God has actually made it spiritually possible for people to experience this very thing. Hebrews tells us that the priests in the Old Testament had to offer sacrifices everyday to get clean - not to get a clean house, but a clean heart. EVERYDAY, they made sacrifices to take away their sins. Ugh, I can’t imagine. 

But then Jesus entered the scene in the New Testament. And, boy, He didn’t mess around. He’s didn’t just take over as Priest, He also became the Sacrifice! And in one fell swoop, He handled Sin once and for all, so that the business of daily sacrifice could finally come to an end! And when He had done all this, He sat down because it was finished!

Ladies and gentlemen, if someone came to me and said that they could come in and clean my house once and I’d never have to pick up a broom or vacuum again, I would be a fool not to take them up on their offer! In the same way, Jesus is presenting this outrageous offer. Because He died once and for all, He can now clean our hearts, as well as our consciences, forever. It’s a deal only God could think of and a plan only God could make happen!


Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins. But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. There he waits until his enemies are humbled and made a footstool under his feet. For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy. 

And the Holy Spirit also testifies that this is so. For he says, 

“This is the new covenant I will make with my people on that day, says the Lord:
 I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” 

Then he says, “I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds.” 

And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices. 

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 ‭10:11-23‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Monday, January 15, 2018

What This Is Really All About

What’s this really all about? 

I’ll tell you. It’s about one single person.

Our Christian Walk starts with Him. It starts by building on Him, the Cornerstone. Not a religious theology. Not the opinions of others. No, we build our lives, our thinking, our agenda, our goals, our words, etc. on the Person, Jesus. We do this by getting to know Him through reading scripture and prayer/worship. It’s a personal journey that no one can take for you.

Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem, a firm and tested stone. It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on. Whoever believes need never be shaken.
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭28:16‬ ‭NLT‬‬

And our Christian walk ends with Him. When we leave this earthly dwelling, there is only One we are accountable to: Jesus. Yep, sorry, St. Peter won’t be the one welcoming some and turning others away. That job is reserved for the King. 

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭4:13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

The whole thing is pretty straightforward, really. The One who called us to Follow and started the work in our hearts, is the One we will report to at the end of the Day. So it is Him that we listen to. It is Him we conform to. It is Him that we love.

Yet, it still seems easy for things to get muddled. Some think Christianity is simply immersing themselves in Christian culture. They just need to talk a certain way, dress a certain way, use the right jargon. We can start to think that Christianity is about being part of a culture - the more we conform to it, the closer we are to Jesus. I dare say, that is dangerous ground to tread on. Jesus never said build your life on what religious culture is doing. That would be a shallow life, and can deceive you to think that you are saved, but in reality, are not. 

No, true Christianity is a Love Story between you and Jesus. It’s a beautiful romance like one you’d see in the movies where the Prince rescues the princess, they fall in love, and live happily ever after. That is Christianity! And once He sweeps us off our feet, there is no one else we’d want to follow or conform to. His Love penetrates every part of us and He moves us to care about the things that He is passionate about. He energized us to be History makers, Bread distributors, Love Story tellers! It’s a life lived in the Shadow of the Most High and at the feet of the One who died. 

And that is what this is really all about.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Bats in the Night

The only light in the room was coming from our neighbor's outside light. I heard it at first. Then I saw it. When I realized what it was, I found myself completely frozen under my blankets. I knew there were bats in our neighborhood, but had no idea one had found its way into our house! Without removing my covers, I slid down off the bed and onto the floor as I simultaneously nudged my husband.

"Honey! Honey!" I said in a paniced whisper. "Honey, there's something in our room. I think it's a bat!"
Many of us experience it: the haunting fears that come out at night. The ones that hover over us in the late night hours - like a bat in our room. The ones that wake us, shake us, and rob us of peace. The ones that leave us sleepless, frozen, and anxious. The ones that bully us, making themselves look larger than life- like a large shadow on the wall of something not so large in reality. The ones that make us feel helpless and we fall victim to in our most vulnerable state. 

Psalm 91 calls them “the terrors of the night”. They skew Reality and try to convince us of this lie: that God has left us, that He is not strong enough, and that we have been abandoned to figure things out for ourselves. We feel trapped by it and can’t even reason it away because the lie feels so powerful and makes us think it’s truth, when of course, it is not. 

In those moments, there’s only one thing we need to do: Take shelter and let God handle the Bats. Just the way my husband took care of the bat in our room that night. He woke up immediately and ran to get the broom, while I ran and took shelter in our daughters’ bedroom. I could hear all kinds of commotion through the door as He fearlessly went after it. This was his house and he wasn't putting up with such night time invaders - and neither will God, and neither should we, and yes, neither should you. Bats may think they have the upper hand with us when they come at night, but God is still God and we are still His children regardless of what time of day it is. According to this Psalm, He is our Refuge during the night, during the day, in the darkness, and at midday. He never stops being our 
Bodyguard and He will fight every Bat that terrorizes His children!

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. 
He will shelter you with his wings.
 His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. 
Though a thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you. Just open your eyes, and see how the wicked are punished. If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. 
They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt
your foot on a stone. You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet! 
The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
 I will protect those who trust
 in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭91:1-16‬ ‭NLT‬‬


Sunday, January 7, 2018

New City Reality

When traveling from one city to another, it’s neat to watch the one you left behind fade in the distance. The lights and sounds and busyness that were once so bright and so loud to your senses gradually fade away until you no longer see even a twinkle of it. But then as you look ahead to the new city, a reversal happens. The city lights at first look like a far away star in the universe. They are barely seen in the distance. But the closer you get to the new destination, the greater clarity you gain. The faint lights get brighter. The sounds get louder. The reality of it all becomes more obvious. The city you could only imagine before, is now clear and real.

I compare it to the journey we are on with God. The ‘City’ we left behind that once used to fascinate us, mesmerize us, and fill our senses, start to lose their luster. What used to attract our attention becomes increasingly more dim and less appealing, until we finally don’t even notice it anymore. It has lost all glimmer to us. This world and its system becomes the City we left behind and Heaven becomes the New City we are headed toward. The lights of this New City become brighter to us even as we live here on earth, and we see the Kingdom of God with greater clarity everyday.

As a result then, we become more concerned with what’s happening in the New City where we are citizens of, than we are with the agenda of the Old City we left.

And YET -

though we know the Old City is not our home, we do not live in it in vain. Instead, we live with Purpose and our prayer becomes, “Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (or in the Old City as it is in the New City). God gives us hearts of compassion and eyes to see the Homeless all around us - those that do not know that they, too, are welcome in the New City and can find a Home there. We reach out our hands and say, “Come, meet the One who made you, loves you. Come. Let me introduce you to the King of the New City.” And we take as many as we can with us. 

Monday, December 25, 2017

Make It Home Safely

“Make it home safely,” we say to our friends and relatives as they leave our houses. Above all things, we wish for them a safe trip home. You want the best possible ending for them at the end of the day.

Eternally speaking, this is our ultimate prayer for them, as well. In this life, we wish our loved ones health and wealth and happiness here on earth. But those that have eyes to see beyond the temporary, wish them far, far more. They understand that life is a breath and one day all this world will be history. So they pray with long term perspective for the ones they love. They intercede and ask the Father not just to get them home safely at the end of each day while they live on earth, but also that they will make it safely to their eternal Home in Heaven. They pray that they will have a relationship with Jesus and be forgiven. They pray that they will know Him and not be lost forever in eternity. They ask the Father to get them Home safely. And this is the most important prayer we could ever say for anyone. We simply want the best possible ending for them at the end of the Day.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Glue In My Scissors, Hair In My Vacuum

There are two things in life that create resistance problems:

Glue. Anyone that’s done any amount of arts and crafts knows what it can do to a pair of scissors when it gets in them. Oh yeah, big time resistance. You get enough glue stuck in there, you won’t even be able to open them, not to mention use them.

Hair. Look at the bottom of your vacuum. Anytime I do, I’m guaranteed to find it tightly wrapped around the brush - which makes the vacuum work harder and even stop working.

Thankfully, there are ways to help both. Warm water over glued up scissors can go a long way. And funny enough, a pair of working scissors can then cut away the tangled hair in your vacuum. Clean one problem up and it will help with the other!

We are tools in God's Hands. But sometimes we get a little glued up. We may even resist the Creator. But God’s Presence does the trick every time. A little ‘warm water’ over our hearts can go a long way. And once we are ‘unstuck’, He can easily mobilize us to cut other people free from the hair that entangles them. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Nothing Wrong With Practical

When it comes to gift giving, my mother always says, “Please, please, do not give me anything I have to dust." That's her way of saying, "Don't waste your money on impractical gifts for me." If we're going to spend money on her, let it be something useful.

I have to agree with her. There's nothing like getting an expensive gift from someone that then just sits in your closet or drawer or cabinet because you know you'll never wear it, use it, eat it, etc. The point of gift giving is not to clutter people's closets with things they don't need. 

The Bible gives us a glimpse of what great gift giving looks like. 

Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!” 

After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 

When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭2:7-12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Some scholars say that these gifts were symbolic in nature. I could see that. God is always doing symbolic things. But it was two-fold. These gifts were practical in nature, as well. I don't think the Magi gave them gold so they could just lug it around with them feeling rich. No, they used it to live on. They gave practical gifts

It's hard for some people in the Western culture to fully grasp this concept. We're always looking for the novelty gifts and wondering what we can give the person who doesn't need anything. I'm certainly not saying there's anything wrong with that. I'm just saying, it's OK to give ordinary gifts, too, because sometimes those are the gifts that are the most appreciated! I mean, if my vacuum broke and I couldn't afford to buy a new one, I'd be so much more grateful to get a new vacuum or a gift card toward the purchase of one, than get a fancy bracelet I'll never wear.

I say all this to say - there's nothing wrong with practical, even if it seems overly practical, like giving groceries or paying someone's electric bill. It's these kinds of gifts, actually, that will make some people lift their eyes to heaven and thank God for it, because they know it's Him that made provision for them. In these moments, you are not only giving a gift, but you are being part of answering a prayer.

So this season, let the Spirit of God guide you as you select your gifts. God loves to give gifts and He knows just what would tickle a person the most...and it may not be what you originally thought!