Freedom Taking the Next Step

Many of us are “coming out of quarantine” – slowly moving forward after feeling like we have been on hold for a while.  We feel like we are regaining our freedom.  I am happy to be moving forward, but I hope no matter how this situation plays out that we learn/remember a few things.

1. The world has never revolved around “me”.  Too often in our society, we see “it’s all about me” thinking.  We need to remember to think about others.

2. No matter how hard we try, we can’t please/take care of everyone. Too often as we try to rectify selfish thinking, we move too far in the opposite direction and become people pleasers.  That doesn’t work any better than error number 1.

3. The longer I live, the more I see the need for balance.  As we work through 1 and 2 above, we need to find what works the best knowing we will never have the perfect solution. I am often an idealist/optimist, but the truth is that we have tough stuff to face no matter what.

For some this new virus showed very publicly what they have faced before.  Someone who has severe health issues has to be cautious during cold and flu season. Germs that don’t bother most of us can have a harder affect on someone who has cancer for example. Their needs are different.  We still need balance.  We can’t perfectly protect the vulnerable. We simply need to be ready to serve with our freedom.

What is the best way to serve?  Make sure to start with pray. When a friend sent me a message in January that her husband (who has cancer) came down with pneumonia, I was pleading in prayer.  While praying doesn’t always feel like much, I still believe it is an action.  I would love to cure cancer, but that is not in my skill set. My prayer helps me to be prepared for what God does want me to do.  As I submit to Him, I will be better prepared to serve. I will have freedom from my own selfish wishes and much more able to help others.

So, as we regain “freedom” let us find ways to put others first.

Dear Heavenly Father, please help me to learn how to reach out to others. Please remove my selfish wishes and replace them with the desire to serve.  Please show me what I should do.

I pray this in Jesus’ name.

God is so good.

A Good Drive By

Last Saturday afternoon, I was privileged to be a part of a “drive by encouragement” activity.  Some members of my church family made signs and decorated their cars.  We then drove around town to “visit” several member’s homes.  The caravan of vehicles honked their horns and shouted hellos as we drove by.  While we did this to encourage folks who get out less than most of us these days, I found myself very encouraged. It was fun to see people – even from a distance.  We received word from several who enjoyed the interaction.  Some were able to tell their neighbors.

While we were driving around, I counted 4 cars who had the right of way but stopped to allow us to stay together.  Many people along the way waved at us and gave their own greetings.  I had a “God is good” sign on my car – one person shared her agreement. 

We are living through hard times right now – hard for different reasons for different people.  This activity was a breath of fresh air as we all navigate stay at home orders.

As a church we are to show the love of God to one another.  Some days we are better at that than others.  I pray that this time of separation helps us to rethink how we are expressing the love of God.  We have needed to be creative since normal avenues of reaching out have been closed.  This hasn’t been all bad.  I hope you are in the position to give and receive the love of God.  You will find nothing better in life.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the opportunity you gave me to encourage and be encouraged.  Please help me to be sensitive to the needs of others.  Please guide me in showing Your love to others.

I pray this in Jesus’ name.

God is so good.

Instrument of Peace

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;  

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.  

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

The Prayer of St. Francis

I love the concepts in this prayer.  It sure sounds like something directly from the Bible – but it isn’t.  The words, however, are loaded with Biblical principle.  During times like these we need people who are willing to follow this prayer. Acts 20 tells what the Apostle Paul encouraged the Ephesian elders to do and the reward that goes with it.  Verse 35 talks about helping the weak.  Right now, we are hearing about protecting those who are most vulnerable physically.  While caring for the physically weak is a good principle, this verse is talking about protecting the spiritually weak.  We have so much focus on physical health right now that we are at risk of forgetting about spiritual health. 

There are countless needs right now. All kinds of needs.  Will you pray with me to meet whatever needs you can?  No one can meet every need – each of us has limited resources of our own.  However, through a relationship with Jesus Christ we have unlimited resources available to us.  God will bring us through, His way – and we will be blessed.

Dear Heavenly Father, there are so many hurts and needs right now.  Thank you for the many people who have already sought to reach out.  Please help us to set aside our own wishes and seek to help others as You want us to. I want to be an Instrument of Peace.  Please guide me and give me strength.

I pray this in Jesus’ name.

God is so good.

The Cavalry Came in a Red Van

Today I want to tell a story from this past week. Minnesota has hit records for snowfall this past month. Not just snow for February, but snow for any month. Most of us are exhausted from the shoveling, bad roads, and other winter hazards. A week ago we had another blizzard. I knew there would be a lot of snow to shovel, so I prepared myself. I shoveled about 4 inches Saturday night before I went to bed. It was a bit heavier so I was glad to get it done before the worst hit. Sunday morning I woke up to bare spots on one side of my driveway and 3-4 foot drifts on the other side. I started shoveling knowing I had the whole day. My church chose to cancel the services to allow people to stay home during the horrible weather.

After 3 different tries of shoveling for 30-45 minutes each, I decided to call for help. A family in my church helped a few weeks ago and offered future help if I needed it. After a few text messages and phone calls, I knew someone would be at my house in 45 minutes. I wasn’t sure who would show up, but I enjoyed seeing the red van and 3 guys getting out. A father and his 20 something son as well as a teen from another family were armed with shovels and a little snow thrower. Before you mock the little snow thrower – it did the job! We broke up the chunks at the end of the driveway while the dad got his snow thrower ready (it is the kind that needs to be plugged in). About 30 minutes later (maybe even less, I had the rest of the driveway and sidewalks clear and one of the “mountains” at the side of my driveway leveled. Alone that job was a 1-2 hour job. With 4 of us – well, we know the saying, “many hands make light work”.

This group from my church are my brothers in Christ. They are also desirous of serving the Lord in various ways. Not many of us want to keep clearing the snow, but these 3 chose to serve the Lord by helping me. Thank you, friends! You made my week.

Below are before and after pictures. They aren’t the best (one is taken from inside my house), but I think they give the idea.

How does this fit with my theme of prayer? I prayed about taking on the task alone. I prayed about getting help. Then I praised the Lord for the help He sent.

Fall Memories of Faithfulness

A year ago, I spent several days helping a friend pack up her belongings so she could move from Minnesota to Texas to live closer to family.  When I said goodbye I told her, “Till we meet again”.  This friend had placed her trust in Jesus Christ.  While I didn’t expect to see her again in this life, I knew I would see her in the next.

I had no idea that God would take her home to heaven so soon after moving to Texas.  Shortly after she got there, she found out she had terminal cancer.  She died a couple of weeks later.

The verse I chose today fits her personality.  She lived through so many very hard times.  Appendicitis (which I think caused a miscarriage), a kidney transplant, being widowed with two children, Parkinson’s caused by anti-rejection drugs – and that is only what I remember.  This woman lived through many trials.

One word that described her life is faithfulness.  She was faithful in her service to Christ.  She didn’t have a flashy life; she was a wonderful example of simply and faithfully serving God despite hardship.  She didn’t do this in her own strength.  She didn’t have much strength.  She was often weak, but God gave her strength to keep going.

Isaiah 40 29

All Service

God has reminded me over the years that He is to be the object of my service.  The tagline for my blog is “Make God Your Everything”.  Galatians 3:23-24 is the reason.  Everything we do should be for God.

I know I can fall into the trap of thinking serving at church is the only way to serve God.  Being a part of a local church is important (Hebrews 10:25).  However, everything we do is either service for the Lord or ourselves.  Yes – everything.

When service gets difficult, I can fall into the pit of serving for the wrong reasons.  I believe we should show appreciation to one another, but that cannot be the desired result of service.  Honoring God should be the goal in everything we do.

I have fought the battle of the wrong view of service.  Have you?  We need to seek to stay on the path of serving God in all we do.  Will you join me?

Galatians 3 23 24