Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Unchangeable One

It's a season of change. The last days of summer are waving goodbye as autumn approaches next week. Seasons change, life changes. People move away. Start new jobs. Enter new relationships. Lose weight, gain weight. Birth babies. Send kids to college. End tours of duty. Begin again.

Our political climate is changing. And wildly. Things will be significantly different a few months from now. Wall Street is a roller coaster this week. And many people I know are having significant changes in their lives. A friend's husband dies at age 42. Another friend learns she has a life-altering illness. Still another decides to move to another state.

Thankfully, God never changes. He is the same today, yesterday, and tomorrow. May He be our steady rock, the One we can lean on and count on through all life's changes and transitions.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Good Quote

"I have found that there are three stages in every great work of God; first, it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done." Hudson Taylor

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Rest of God -- An Excellent Read

Need rest? I mean real, deep, soul-satisfying rest? Here's an excellent book by Mark Buchanan, The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath (W Publishing Group).

When it comes to a word we don't use often these days like Sabbath, some explanation is needed. Buchanan says that it's more than a day we set aside, it's "an attitude to nurture such stillness." It's rest that is physical, mental, spiritual, but also "the rest of God--the things of God's nature and presence that we miss in our busyness." Rest, he continues, is as essential to our well-being as food and water. That gives me pause to think. Without food and water I will die. Without rest, I will die on the inside.

What if?

What if the rest God gives us changed everything? What if we decided to take time to change our thinking about real rest? Buchanan says:

"It's spend most of your life breaking Sabbath and never figure out that this is part of the reason your work's unsatisfying, your friendships patchy, your leisure threadbare, your cavations exhausting.

"We simply haven't taken time. We've not been still long enough, often enough, to know ourselves, our friends, our family. Our God. Indeed, the worst hallucination busyness conjures is the conviction that I am God. All depends on me. How will the right things happen at the right time if I'm not pushing and pulling and watching and worrying?

"Sabbath-keeping requires two orientations. One is Godward. The other is timeward. To keep Sabbath well--as both a day and an attitude--we have to think clearly about God and freshly about time...Unless we trust God's sovereignty, we won't dare risk Sabbath. And unless we receive time as abundance and gift, not as ration and burden, we'll never develop a capacity to savor Sabbath."

Rest comes for those who have confidence and trust, and know deep down that God really is good. He really is in control and He, not us, makes the world turn every day.

Check out this book at your library or bookstore. It could change your life. It certainly changed mine.

"Be still, and know that I am God."
Psalm 46:10

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Is a Balanced Life Really Possible?

Life can be hectic. For many of us, there always seems to be a lot to do and never enough time. We take pride in getting stuff done—the more the better. The daily cycle of work, chores, and errands can seem endless. We want things to be different, but we don’t know how to get to a better place. So we press on, Starbucks in hand, while the long hours and stress begin to take their toll on our life, health and emotions.

For others, days are empty, long and monotonously boring, with a lack of life purpose or vision. Either way, we can be out of balance. Yet, the question remains:

Amidst the busyness of life, is it really possible to find balance?

The concept of “balance” is often portrayed with the old-fashioned weighing scale. Tipped to one side, unbalanced; perfectly level, the scales are balanced. But if your life was like a scale, how often would it be perfectly perfect? An hour, a moment, a few short seconds?

Indeed, perhaps there is another way.

Jill Briscoe once told me that we should strive for a life that is CENTERED, not BALANCED. Centered on God, we discover who we are. A daughter, a son, a child of God. Centered on God, we find our purpose, our callings in life. We find freedom, hope, identity, peace. We find a faithful God who helps us sort out priorities and have the power and energy to be the best person we can possibly be. We find real rest.

Work is good, but we also need time for cultivating relationships, enjoying life, having fun, serving others, knowing God, and yes, time for taking care of ourselves. Someone once told me, “Don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.”

The truth is you only have so much time and energy, what are you going to use it on? What are your priorities? What plumps up your soul and nourishes your life? Do you have space—some time in your life—to think, ponder, or to just “be”?

Why not take some time this weekend to renew and energize. When you do, you’ll be able to get more done and feel refreshed, when you get back to it. If you take the time to take time, the results could be positively life-changing: a heart at peace, more joy, increased energy, better relationships, more productivity at work and ministry, and more.

Pray. Rest. Talk to God—and go get your life back.

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness,
and all these things will be added to you.
Matthew 6:33

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Boundaries in Nature

I live in the land-locked state of Colorado and sometimes I miss the water. Before I moved here I lived six blocks from Lake Michigan, our own little ocean. From my east side house, I could easily walk to the beach and feel my feet on the wet sand, hear the soothing lilt of the waves and the caw of the seagulls overhead.

Today I walked on the beach in Denver. Weird, huh? Yep, there’s a place—Cherry Creek Reservoir—with water, sand and mountains in the distance. I enjoyed the familiar hum of motor boats and jet skis. I smiled at the sailboats drifting along on a Sunday afternoon. As I breathed in the fresh air and felt the warm sun on my shoulders, I noticed a few aspens leaves turning gold on a trees replete with green ones. Can it really be September already?

I love watching the rhythmic cadence of the waves. In and out, in and out. It never ceases. How, wondered, do the waves know when to stop? Why don’t they keep going farther up the shoreline?

Then I remembered…

In his dialogue with Job (as in my-life-is-totally-falling-apart Job of the Old Testament), God reminded him that He was the one who created and commanded nature. God is the one who said, “…This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt?” (Job 38:11)

Boundaries in nature.

It comforts me to know that God is in control. That there is order, structure, and design in nature, as well as freedom, creativity and beauty. May your life resonate with the sights and sounds of God’s handiwork in your life—as Keats says, “a thing of beauty and a joy forever.”

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Trusting When You Cannot See the Way

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5, 6

Someone very wise penned those words thousands of years ago and they still apply today. So many times in life we ask, "What am I doing?" or "Where am I going with my life?" Like a path set before us with no end in sight, we often stand there, frozen. What causes us to feel stuck? Why is it so hard to move forward sometimes?


Maybe we're afraid we will make the wrong choice, take the wrong path and miss it. Maybe we are afraid of success. Maybe uncertainty has us in its ugly grip and we just don't know how to let go.

First, Joyce Meyer has a great saying. When we worry and fret about thinking "What if I miss God? What if I make the wrong decision?" She says with a smile, "If you miss God, He'll find you!"

God is smarter than us, wiser, totally in control and never drops the ball. We can rest secure in knowing that if we surrender, obey and trust Him. He will lead and guide our lives. He does it. We do our part; He does his part. Our part is to trust and obey.

Trust. Release. Surrender. Let go of fear, worry, doubt. Unwrap each finger and hold open hands upward to God. And He will fill them with the blessings of heaven...and all He has for you.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Learning to Rest

Life can be crazy. Many people’s to-do list is never ending: work, errands, chores, family, friends, hobbies, ministry, and more. Is it possible, amidst the frenzy of life, to learn to enjoy the fruits of our labor?

How do you balance rest and work?For me, it’s being in the beauty of nature, God’s creation, and being with those I love most. I find my soul calms and worries fade when I:

see the afternoon sunlight dancing like diamonds on the lake,
or a full, white moon rise in the night sky...
or laugh with friends.

Jesus sees, hears and knows our needs. He calls, beckons us from busyness to come and rest. Sometimes we just need to listen…and follow.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28