Imagine …

“God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!” Ephesians 3:20-21

One of my favorite songs is “Imagine”–the best-selling single song in the career of John Lennon. According to Wikipedia, John and his wife Ono had received a Christian prayer book which inspired him to write “Imagine”—lyrics that encouraged listeners to imagine a peaceful world with no borders or divisions of religion and nationalities. Unfortunately, John Lennon died when a “fan” put four bullets into his back. His plea for peace had not been heard by the 25-year old man who shot him.

Besides trying to image a world full of peace, I like to imagine what life would be like if I could live my dreams for a more peaceful world:

  • Imagine a life in which in which you can be free to express your dreams and needs;
  • a life without the fear of being judged by others;
  • not feeling responsible for controlling anyone else and their opinions;
  • living without judging others and with readily forgiving those who step on your last nerve;
  • living and working in an environment without the fear of loving and not being loved in return;
  • not being afraid to take a risk and to improve your life;
  • and in which you can love yourself, including your emotions, just the way you are.

Dear Lord, help us imagine our dreams coming true, because you are the God of all possibilities. Amen.

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From where do you lead?

“On your way! But be careful—this is hazardous work. You’re like lambs in a wolf pack.” Luke 10:3

Jesus sent seventy disciples paired in two’s to places which he designated for them to “make way” for his eventual visit. He warned them that they would be like scattered sheep, easy prey for wolves and coyotes. They were to preach the gospel and work miracles, which would make them a target.

Today, I read an article about wolves which gave me new insight as to these amazing animals. There was a picture included in the post which showed a pack of wolves traveling across a snowy mountain trail. Three wolves were in the lead, many followed directly behind, five more behind them, and in the rear, one sole wolf trailed behind the rest.
What I found interesting in the narrative is that the first three were the old and sick and set the pace for the larger running group. Next came the strongest and best—the protectors. The sole wolf was actually the leader of the pack. His job was to make sure no one was left behind and is ready to run any direction to protect and serve, such as a bodyguard.

I have found that traveling in pairs in not only safer but more fun, helpful, and inspirational. But it is the Leader who I want to join me in my travels—the one that has my back at all times.

Lord, thank you for being the great Leader in my life. Amen.

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I’m willing, but …

Jesus said, “No procrastination. No backward looks. You can’t put God’s kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day.” Luke 9:62

It’s easy for me as a daily writer to procrastinate: “I’ll write later today” or the times I ask myself if God is really calling me to write. No matter what our task for the day, week, month or year, it’s easy to get distracted, but we need to fight the desire to put it off.”

I’m reading a book, “Your But’s Too Big–Leaving Your Excuses Behind” by Travis Hearn, whom Pastor Rick Warren calls “an inspiring young [Christian] leader.” The number one but grows larger out of fear. Fear is a response to anything uncomfortable or dangerous, or it may be to avoid failure.

Moses experienced fear when God called him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. He may have said, “But”God, why me?” And, Jonah ran away from God: “I hear you, but I’m not going to Nineveh.”  In Isaiah 41:10.11, We read, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, …”

I have two books in early stages of writing, but I seem to find too many obstacles to sit down and get the work done. I need to kick the buts out of my office.

Lord, give me strength to kick “fear” out the door to remove the but’s in my life. Amen.

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Another pity party?

“God, God, save me! I’m in over my head, quicksand under me, and swamp water over me; I’m going down for the third time.” Psalm 69:1-2

In Psalm 69 David was having a giant-size pity party, “Everybody hates me, nobody loves me, guess I’ll go eat worms,” like my mother used to sing to me when I began to feel sorry for myselv. In verse 4, David concluded, “ I’ve got more enemies than hairs on my head; sneaks and liars are out to knife me in the back.”

Sometimes people pick up on something I’ve said or didn’t say, did or didn’t do, and I’ve disappointed them. Or, I don’t fit into their expectations of how I should live my life and am blackballed. David’s complaint sums it up: “What I never stole must I now give back?”

Years ago, I may have felt as if I were entering into quicksand whenever someone became angry or disillusioned with me. I’ve learned that everyone has their own set of values, expectations, sensitivity level, and in some cases, narrow mindedness. Like David, I feel “condemned if I do; condemned if I don’t,” and it’s difficult to apologize when you feel you have done nothing wrong.

I’m not implying one should never throw a pity party, but how long can such a party with complaints and “woe’s me” continue without it becoming a drag on one’s emotional and physical health? That’s when it’s time to take the complaints to God.

Lord, nudge us into reality when we are the sole attendees of a pity party. Amen.

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How times change …

“These are the instructions for a woman who gives birth to either a boy or a girl.”Leviticus 12:7

God gave Moses instructions how to treat a woman after having a baby. The new mom is considered unclean for seven days (same as during her period). If the baby is a boy, he will be circumcised at day eight. Then the mother is confined to her home for another thirty-three day for purification.

Anita Diamant wrote a novel, The Red Tent, based on the story of Dinah—Jacob’s only daughter. It reveals the traditions and turmoil of women in ancient times. The red tent was the place women spent one week each month during their menses and the time after a baby was born.

My mother told me that after giving birth with us kids she had to stay in the hospital for ten days. On the ninth day she had to lie still, as that was the day “everything went back into place.” Now, women give birth in the morning and can leave that day or stay a couple nights permitted by insurance.

A couple of weeks ago, during a worship service the pastor pointed out a couple with a new baby and said, “This child has never missed a Sunday going to church.” She had been born just a few days earlier. I remember feeling blessed to just shower and get my clothes on during the early weeks after having a baby.

Lord, be with all mothers as they bring their babies into the world. Amen

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A spare tire …

Today’s post is from “The Donut Theory” — just in time for summer travel …

Blowouts!

“Be kind to me, God, I’ve been kicked around long enough.” Psalm 9:13

When I was a kid on the farm, my family took a week off from chores in the summer and went camping. On our first trip, Dad borrowed a military-style tent with no floor. Mom stuffed frayed quilts and old bed pillows into feed sacks and filled a beer cooler with produce from the garden and meat from the freezer. Dad climbed up on the sideboards of the car and stacked the camping gear into a car top carrier he’d constructed out of two-by-fours and plywood. Then he covered it with a stiff green tarp and tied it down with baling twine. Everything else went into the trunk. As I think back on those days, we must have resembled a band of gypsies.

My three brothers and I piled into the rusty Chevy, along with Mom and Dad, and we headed to Clear Lake, about ninety miles north of our farm. About forty-five miles into the trip, Dad shoved the gearshift into low, and the car thumped to the side of the road. “Flat tire,” he growled. Dad changed the tire, and then he sat all alone by the side of the road, adding another patch to the old inner tube. After he stuffed it back into the tire, he used a hand pump to inflate the tube to make the new spare tire, which we needed before we got to the lake!

I’ve had a few flat tires as I’ve worked—like the Friday afternoon when I had one more job to copy and the machine stubbornly displayed: CALL FOR SERVICE. I stared at the bulletin that the wedding coordinator would be looking for in a couple of hours. Now what? I thought. Then I remembered a secretary from the church down the street had used our copier when their machine had broken down on a Friday afternoon. I called their office, and within an hour the bulletins were copied, neatly folded, and ready for the rehearsal.

Lord, send the Holy Spirit to keep our spirits inflated. Amen.

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A glow for all …

“When Moses came down from Mount Sinai carrying the two Tablets of The Testimony, he didn’t know that the skin of his face glowed because he had been speaking with GOD. Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, saw his radiant face, and held back, afraid to get close to him.” Exodus 34:29-30

Pippa Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge’s sister, at her recent wedding was described as a glowing bride. She should be glowing, as according to IK! Magazine, the bride was said to have spent $200,000 on spa treatments, nonsurgical procedures, and luxurious products before her wedding. I’d like to think brides are glowing because they are so in love, and more importantly, that God is blessing their special day.

In the Book of Daniel, we read, “Men and women who have lived wisely and well will shine brilliantly, like the cloudless, star-strewn night skies. And those who put others on the right path to life will glow like stars forever.” (Daniel 12:3) So, even if you never had your day to “glow” as a bride, you can live wisely and well and glow in God’s eyes.

And, in Proverbs 3:8, Solomon wrote, “Run to God! Run from Evil! Your body will glow with health; your very bones will vibrate with life!

So, to find that magical glow, you may want to put on your running shoes and make sure you are headed in the right direction.

Thank you, God, for giving us that glow that will continue on in eternity. Amen.

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Quick to anger?

GOD said to Moses, “I look at this people—oh! What a stubborn, hard-headed people! Let me alone now, give my anger free reign to burst into flames and incinerate them….” Exodus 32:9-10

If there had been a blood pressure pump and gauge available for God and Moses during the wilderness journey, surely they would have been advised to take a beta blocker to avoid having a heart attack or stroke.

I’m not a person quick to anger. It’s unbecoming, and in most cases, unnecessary to get my point across. Showing anger as a result of being frustrated or disappointed in a situation or another person doesn’t accomplish anything. Maybe that’s why I have low blood pressure.

There are times anger is appropriate. God’s anger in Exodus 32 was directed at the Israelites for turning against him by building a golden calf to worship. He threatened to incinerate them for being hard headed.  Next, Moses became so angry when he saw the golden calf and people celebrating, that he threw down the newly acquired tablets of the Ten Commandments and smashed then to pieces.

The world continues to be an angry place, often lead by angry people who are in a great position to show restraint in tough situations and defuse anger. Anger is better used as internal energy to make change, not an opportunity to show disappointment, disgust, or authority.

Benjamin Franklin sums up poor use of anger: “Whatever is begun in anger ends in shame.”

Lord, help us use anger when appropriate. Amen.

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Light at the end of the tunnel …

“Oh, how sweet the light of day,
And how wonderful to live in the sunshine!
Even if you live a long time, don’t take a single day for granted.
Take delight in each light-filled hour,
Remembering that there will also be many dark days
And that most of what comes your way is smoke.” Ecclesiastes 11:7-8

Today on a drive from Bedford, PA, to my daughter’s home in Hackettstown, NJ, I drove through three tunnels—one so long I couldn’t see “the light at the end of the tunnel.” Before entering the tunnel, I read signs advising drivers to “Turn on headlights,” “Remove sunglasses,” and “Do not cross lane.”

About a mile into the tunnel, I saw a slit of light ahead of me that began to grow brighter and brighter. Soon, I re-entered the full daylight, and my eyes no longer experienced true tunnel vision. I realized at that moment how much I depended on light for my spirit to soar.

Sometimes, we live our lives as if we have tunnel vision—like a horse with blinder. We block out our peripheral vision to joyful experiences. Our lives becomes busy with routines that monopolizes our time, and our faith begins to function like a dimmer switch going from bright to dim in a flash. We need to remember there will be dark days in our lives, and that God will help us remove our “sun glasses” to appreciate the light-filled hours in our days.

Thank you, God, for filling our days with light. Amen.

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Does anything last forever?

God told Moses, “Let them construct a Sanctuary for me so that I can live among them.” Exodus 25:19

Today, I went to a huge, lovely mall, no doubt built with a lot of expectations for successful commerce. The hallways, void of shoppers, could have been a race track for motor cross bikes, the food court had more empty restaurants than those open for business, and in the anchor stores, there were more clerks than customers. For a Saturday it seemed unreal that the place was so dead.

A report by retail consultant Howard Davidowitz predicts as many as half of America’s 1,200 shopping malls will no longer exist for retailers into 15 to 20 years. I’m not a big mall shopper and have gravitated to the big box “one stop” stores to pick up things I can’t live without. Yet, there is something sad about seeing a “dead” mall that makes me sad. What will happen to the building? The retailers? The people who need their jobs?
God instructed Moses to build the Tabernacle so he could dwell among his people.

According to www.AskMoses.com the portable Tabernacle remained for fourteen years and was dismantled, but the tapestries and rugs were kept and used in another sanctuary.
When a mall closes, hopefully the merchants will find a new sanctuary to sell their wares, sales associates will find new jobs, and the beautiful mammoth buildings will find a new purpose.

Lord, give insight to builders and investors to make wise choices for the future. Amen.

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