Saturday, November 19, 2011

Giving Thanks in ALL Circumstances

As we look forward to Thanksgiving this week, I find myself being challenged. It is to be thankful as we are told in I Thessalonians 5:18, in ALL circumstances.

Circumstances can change day-by-day and sometimes moment-by-moment. When you aren’t prepared, it can feel like you have been blindsided. But even “smaller” moments can take you off guard. Unexpected changes to come or a sudden realization of something not being what you thought it was.

Life is filled with challenging times, disappointments, frustrations, good times, blessings, laughter and so much more. Our lives are a tapestry, weaving together the good and the bad to create a variety of circumstances.

So its not just in the good that we are to be thankful…it is in the circumstances we would rather not be dealing with, that we are to be thankful as well. This doesn’t necessarily mean we are thankful for the difficulty itself but we are thankful that we aren’t alone.

We know this because I Thessalonians 5:18 then goes on to say, “for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” This puts a different spin on things. Our circumstances are not a surprise to God. It is His will that no matter what we are facing, we learn how to be thankful.

So clearly He is there with us. He knows. He sees. He hears. He holds. He loves.

I don’t know what circumstances you are facing today but know this…none is beyond God’s ability to bring good out of it. Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever (Psalm 136:1, ESV).

Photo by Cieleke on stock.xchng

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Radiance of Christ

Last week I had the privilege of sitting down to talk with a wonderful couple. They were seeking guidance on publishing options.

He has just spent the last year battling cancer, mantle cell lymphoma. Praise God he is in remission. During the past year he has not only kept others up to date on his condition but he has been a real source of inspiration through his Caring Bridge Website. Many (myself included) has encouraged him to turn what he has written into some sort of devotional.

This couple has been through their fair share of trials…job losses, the death of a son and the recent journey through cancer. Yet what I found remarkable was the peace and love of God that radiated from them. I’m not even sure they realize how evident this is.

How do you walk away from such an experience and not feel a deeper appreciation for your life and a desire to demonstrate such radiance? It reminds me of how Moses, in the book of Exodus, had to wear a veil because of the radiance of God upon his face.

As many times as I have chastised the Israelites of the Old Testament, with their constant murmuring and complaining…I have to point the finger back at myself. How often do I fall into the same trap?

Complaining about the silliest things…the driver in front of me isn’t going fast enough. The grocery bagger squished my bread. I didn’t get enough sleep. A light wasn’t turned off.

We can get so wrapped up in the little stuff—falling prey to the murmuring and complaining—that we fail to demonstrate what this couple did…the radiance of Christ.

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory…Hebrews 1:13

Now let Him shine through you!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Way We Look at People

Last Sunday my pastor preached about getting out of the boat. Anytime I hear a teaching where the disciple Peter is mentioned, I am especially interested. I guess it’s because I can relate so well to him.

Much of his personality is similar to mine. I have always been rough around the edges but through the years, the working of the Holy Spirit in my life has softened much of that.

It doesn’t mean I have suddenly become this demure, passive and gentle woman. It just means that those edges which were too sharp to touch have become smoother. Oh yes, there is still work to be done.

But the thing I love about Peter is that his boldness and brashness does have a positive side. I try to look for that in myself…otherwise, I can fall into the trap of beating myself up and wishing I were more like so-and-so.

Peter is oftentimes criticized for not having enough faith to keep walking when he was on the water. Here was the chance of a lifetime, to step out and do something that no man has ever done. We tend to look at him as “blowing it.”

I don’t look at his lack of faith. I look at his boldness to even step out of that boat in the first place. There are so many things that Peter does throughout his life in which we can look at through a critical lens. But isn’t that true when it comes to others?

When someone doesn’t act like we do, think like we do or handle certain situations the way we do…we tend to view them critically. We see the lack of and we attribute it to any number of things, including a lack of faith or spiritual maturity.

But God uses all kinds of people. Meanwhile, we put God into this box and don’t believe he can use so-and-so because they do or don’t do such-and-such.

Maybe it’s really just about trying to look for the good in people…

(Photo by namida-k in stock.xchng)