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7 Years Today

 

My blog is 7 years old today. I remember when I started it.. I really did not know what a blog was or if I could write anything that people would want to read. So here we are  way down the road.. and I am still writing.. and there are some of you who benefit from what I share.. I am thankful to the Lord for providing me with the words and ideas for the last 7 years.

The month of March is significant in many ways.. my dad died 10 years ago this month and I got married on March 30th..15 years ago.. to the love of my life after waiting many years to meet him:) God is so good. My son-in-law’s birthday in March as well. It is a significant time for me.. endings and new beginnings. They always go together.. often things need to end so that new things can begin and it can be painful while it is happening. Steve and I are in a new season right now and the transition has been challenging. After 7 years of job disappointments for both of us and a long period of unemployment.. we are finally in a more stable place. The things I hoped for during that time have not happened.. but God has been sovereign over all of it. He has taken care of us and provided for us during this long pruning season. I look forward to the fruit that will come from this time.

The road of life is unpredictable and uncertain.. we hope for stability and the ability to see way down the road and know we will be safe.. that is natural for us. The truth is this life is not going to provide that.. our certainty and safety is only in the Lord.. not in our circumstances. He leads us and we follow.. knowing that He is ahead preparing things is very reassuring… we are in His hands and He will never forget us. In our world that is shaking daily.. where all the news is bad and frightening.. we have our God and our real life is in His kingdom.. Someday we will experience it fully and the things of this world will fade away.. Right now we can only live a day at a time.. or maybe an hour at a time.. trusting that He is with us and for us!

” Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
  In the light of His glory and grace.” 

 

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Discernment

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I like this word.. discernment. It is the ability to tell right from wrong.. truth from error. This is critically important in our present day culture. So many things that are not true are presented as facts.. everyone is an expert. We need wisdom so we can tell the truth from the lies..that is not always easy. Fortunately we have the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth. What that means for us is that there is a source we can go to and we can seek the truth about everything.. if we really want to know it.

Sometimes it is easier to just read something in a book and believe it.. the problem is that it may not be true.. unless that book is the Bible. There are no errors in the Bible, but there are many books that claim they are interpreting scripture.. in reality they are misrepresenting  it.. very troubling. Our only hope is to pray and seek clarity from the Lord .. to use the minds He has given us and to realize that His truth is not hidden from us. It is available if we seek it with our whole hearts, minds, and souls.. we need to desire it and to search for it and to make it important enough that we would die for it.

This is not a popular outlook in our narcissistic culture..we are constantly being sold a bill of goods. Our lives are to be filled with comfort.. remember anything goes.. don’t rock the boat or question things too deeply. You may cause division or create conflict if you stand up for what is right.. better to just roll over and be a peacemaker. There are times when there is no way to achieve peace.. relationships are messy and they don’t always end well. Life is complex and the road to the Kingdom is filled with potholes and traps.. we may fall if we are not careful.

So.. let’s be discerning people.. opening our eyes to the truth.. searching for it and believing that God is revealing it daily as we seek Him and His ways. Don’t blend in and don’t fit in.. stand up and speak out. Let’s pray for courage and strength in these times.. God knows we need it.

” When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.”  (John 16:13)

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Choices

 

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A conversation I had with a friend this morning made me think deeply about choices. We have so many of them in this world. Everyday we are choosing without even knowing it. The Lord gave us free will and He gave us a mind. Both of these enable us to choose.. He seems to be very in favor of that or He would not have created us with the ability to choose so freely. I realize that there are people who think we should choose everything that feels good with no regard for anyone else.. I am definitely not in that camp. Then there are those who believe if you do not choose what I choose.. then something is very wrong with you.. not in that camp either. Choices are very serious and they are messy.

What prompted this blog post was the realization that we may have more choices than we realize..  maybe we feel like if we don’t choose wisely right now.. this could be our last chance. While I realize that there are grave consequences to choices made lightly without careful prayer and seeking God’s best.. I also know we are serve a God of second chances. third chances etc. Basically we cannot run out of chances with Him. So how do we navigate this road which often feels like it is full of potholes? I can’t claim to have all the answers.. but I do know that we live in a world where the Lord is constantly redeeming things. I also know that so many of the heroes of the Bible did really unbelievable things.. in fact if we were in charge we might say to them.. ” that is it.. no more chances.” Fortunately we are not in charge and that is not how God sees things.. He does not run out of grace and mercy.. even we take a wrong turn He will steer us back in the right direction.

So choosing is an awesome responsibility .. God knows that through our choices we will see Him more clearly.. even the bad choices. He knows that we will learn to seek Him more deeply as we choose.. if we desire to follow Him throughout our lives and He does not have a list of consequences we can read before we decide. Choices are deeply entrenched into our life.. we are walking by faith and not by sight. Choices tell the Lord we trust Him even if everyone around us thinks we are crazy.. Choices knit us to Him in a way that rules and regulations never will. We are given freedom.. lots of it.

Really the only thing we can do is pray and seek Him and ask Him to stop us when we are moving in the wrong direction. Then we can shut out of the voices of well-meaning people or how- to books and leap ahead in the direction that is right for us. Once we realize that if we fall He will catch us.. We can ask for courage and turn away from fear as we move forward..

I hope this year is one filled with hope for you as we move into 2017.. may you choose wisely as you follow our amazing God.

 If you wander from the right path, either to the right or to the left, you will hear a voice behind you saying, “You should go this way. Here is the right way.”  ( Isaiah 30:21)

 

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All things..

 

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Romans 8 : 28 is one of my favorite scriptures.  The NIV says 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.”

I also like the KJV version of this verse..And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Both translations are making the same point. God works everything together for our God and to fulfill His purposes. It is reassuring to know that nothing is happening without His permission.. that He is always working behind the scenes and His plans and purposes will prevail. I was recently reading the first chapter of Job.. it is quite an eye opener when it comes to explaining trials and tests. The NLT version tells the story this way;

“One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the Lord, and the Accuser, Satan,came with them. “Where have you come from?” the Lord asked Satan.

Satan answered the Lord, “I have been patrolling the earth, watching everything that’s going on.”

 Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.”

 Satan replied to the Lord, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!”

 “All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” So Satan left the Lord’s presence.”

The Lord granted the enemy permission to test Job. That’s right.. He allowed all those things to happen to a righteous man. Job’s losses were not punishment. They were from God.. He was involved and He even suggested that Job be tested.. why? Because He knew Job and He was going to use all of this suffering for good in this man’s life. Of course while Job was suffering.. he did not know that and he doubted and challenged God. Eventually by the end of the book.. he realized his folly in questioning God.. The Lord reminded him of who He was.. the creator and sovereign God of the universe. Job was humbled and realized he has no right to question God’s ways.. All things will work together for the good of those who love Him.. those who trust Him ..those who submit themselves to Him.. those who lean into Him when times are hard.. ALL THINGS!

 

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So what does God really want for Lent?

Yep! We are still in that season.. almost all the way through March until we get to Easter Sunday on the 27th. This is an interesting time of year for my husband and I. We met on the day before Easter in 2001 and got married on the day before Easter in 2002.. we actually picked that day because of the significance of Easter in our relationship.. and of course there is our last name which is Feaster! So this season is a big one for us. We celebrate our anniversary soon at the end of March and the date we met which falls in the middle of April. I try to pay attention to what God is doing since He really got my attention almost 15 years ago when we met. It was a huge change for me to get married again after being widowed and having two bad marriages. The good new is that Steve is the love of my life and we have a really good relationship that continues to grow and thrive.

We’ve been though many trials together starting when we got married and both lost our jobs. It has been a pretty wild ride so far with lots of change and losses. So here we are many grandchildren later.. between us we have 13. Most of them were born during the last 15 years. God did something great when he brought us together, not just for us but for everyone in our families. It has been amazing and I am so thankful. Just a little background for you and some great reminders for me!

So what does God want for Lent? I don’t see this season so much as a time to give up things as a time to give things to God. What I mean is ” what is God after?” That is the question that I keep asking myself and Him. I got the answer this morning after reading the story of Moses not being able to enter the promised land. I have always wondered why that happened.. what did he do that kept him from entering after 40 years in the wilderness. Well.. it was actually pretty simple. He did not obey God.  God told him to speak to the rock to bring out water and he struck the rock. But there is more.. he struck the rock in anger and frustration. He was angry with God’s people and he took out his frustration by hitting the rock and acting like he was making water appear.  Not only did he decide to handle things in his own way, he made himself the center of things. God told him what to do and after leading Moses for all those years.. I imagine He thought Moses would do it.. that Moses trusted Him enough to speak to that rock calmly.. to show the people that God was providing what they needed.. but he failed and he did not enter the promised land.

Wow! That story totally struck a nerve.. I saw myself all over the place. My own anger and frustration with God’s people, my own desire to control things instead of letting go and doing it His way.  Then I discovered what God wanted from me during this season. He made it really simple so I would not forget.. He wants my doubts, fears, and unbelief. These are the things that are under the surface of the anger and frustration. He wants me to trust Him so i can enter the promised land and not just see it from a distance. I am so grateful that He revealed this to me right now.. there is almost a month until Easter.  It gives me time to show Him that I am  listening to Him. A revelation of this type needs to be followed by acts of obedience that show God that I am taking this seriously. I won’t go into detail but there are things that need to change in my behavior and decisions and attitudes.

So as you seek Him during this season, don’t be afraid to see yourself as you truly are.. He is showing us things so that He can breathe new life into us.. Let’s agree to give Him what He desires for Lent.. Easter is coming soon!

 

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Remembering the Romance..

About fifteen years ago I was part of a group of women who were reading The Sacred Romance by John Eldredge and Brent Curtis. It was a book that changed my life. John has gone on to write many other books..his wife and son also write. I appreciate their ministry and their message. This initial book is still my favorite..I often refer to it in my counseling practice and recommend it. The concept of a sacred romance was new to me and a little unnerving at first. Was God truly a romantic and was it true that He was romancing us in this very fallen world? As I began to open up to that possibility.. I saw glimpses of the goodness of God in ways that were wonderfully surprising.  Of  course.. it began to make sense.. we are created in His image … we embrace and long for romance.. He must have invented it.

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Over the years since that time in my life I have kept the romance alive as much as possible..there were times when it seemed exceedingly real and times when it seemed to be an impossible dream. I read John’s other books and reminded myself that I needed to fight for this. I keep thinking about the reminder at the end of the book.. John writes ” Finally, we were meant to remember together, in community. We need to tell our stories to others and to hear their stories told. ..our regular times of coming together to worship are intended to be time of corporate remembrance..’ This God has done’, we say this, He will do.’ ..remembering is not mere nostalgia it is an act of survival.”

DSCN3219He is the Great Romantic who fills the sky with colors for no reason other than our pleasure. He created the ocean and filled it with living things for our pleasure. He wakes us up in the morning with songs..birds singing their hearts out for our pleasure.. just some reminders.. in case today is a day when you need them.

DSCN3218These photos were taken last night from my deck.. and no I don’t live in Hawaii! I wanted to share them with you so that you can remember.. so we can remember together that the larger story of God has a wonderful happy ending.

 

Remembering His Goodness..

We had a church retreat this weekend and if I could give it a name.. it would be the title of this post..”Remembering His Goodness.” That is the theme that I kept hearing in the stories the speakers shared with us. They were actually speaking on the hard times in life and how we need to learn to accept them as normal and be able to reach out to those around us when they reveal their struggles to us. A great topic in these times where there is so much fear and anxiety in everyday life.

The key for me was hearing this theme as we read through the psalms and discussed the issues they presented. Our Creator God is good, He is faithful and available in all circumstances. He is larger than our circumstances.. bigger than our fears..sovereign over everything that happens to us in this life. He is our refuge and our rock.. We are always able to cry out to Him… to rely on Him and lean into Him. Although His ways are not our ways.. we can trust Him to bring deliverance when we need it and to rescue us before it is too late!

Our part is to remember this and to act on it.. to nurture the relationship.. to remember Him and His promises… to dwell on His faithfulness and to count on Him when the darkness comes. We are in a battle and our faith is constantly being challenged by the trials and tests that we face..but He is there with us.. We are not alone. This is our road.. we signed up for it when we committed to follow Him and He will carry us when we cannot walk another step.

“I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
    Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.”   (psalm 27:13-14)

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