Photo Challenge: “Fresh” in Oahu

Hanauma Bay

For I satisfy the weary ones and refresh everyone who languishes. Jeremiah 31:25

 Oftentimes, even while resting on a beautiful beach, we cannot find quiet and peace for our souls. Many of us rely on substances to soothe our heartaches, but they only create more problems for us in the end. May you find times of refreshing and joy in the presence of the Lord…He can set you right again. Aloha to you.

More Hawaii beyond Hanauma Bay…

Moving Forward

Power Behind the Beauty

Get Involved in the Photo Challenge

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Photo Challenge: Fleeting Skier

Sculpture in Vail, Colorado for the Fleeting photo challenge.

Fleeting Skier

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” James 4: 13-15 NIV

I’ve been learning that life is fleeting.  We often realize that as a result of tragedy…allow your sorrow to spur you, not to bitterness, but push through it to the lesson, which will make you stronger. I lived my life as a unbeliever for 33 years and during those years, try as I might, I could never figure out how to do that.  But with the Holy Spirit living inside of us, we can forgive, be healed of the loss, grasp the lesson, and move on. Everyone has pain…it is the privilege of the Believer to reap a great harvest from it. Life is fleeting, don’t miss it!

Strong Tower

Devils Backbone Loveland ColoradoDevils Backbone, Loveland, Colorado

In the wake of all the craziness in this world, including the Boston Marathon bombing, or whatever sorrow or trauma you are dealing with today…

The name of the Lord is a strong tower;  The righteous run to it and are safe.
Proverbs 18:9-11

There is always an open door in that tower, just waiting for us to walk through.

More thoughts on grief…

Happy are those who mourn?

The Road to Giving Thanks

Are the Heavens Locked?

Are The Heavens Locked?

As we walk through our lives sometimes the heavens seemed locked against us. We pray and pray but nothing happens and God is not to be found. For many, the heavens always seem shut tightly against us.

At this point, many of us stop knocking and walk away. We get angry at this silent, inaccessible, Christian God, turn our backs on heaven, and look elsewhere for relief.  Whoever this God is, IF He is, He obviously doesn’t care.

But God is very much like an honorable woman in love who knows her worth.  He will let our relationship mosey along for a while, showing us the blessings of knowing Him, and wooing us with His wonderfulness. But at some point in this divine courtship, God looks at us and says gently, “I want more.”

Many of us look at God blankly and stutter, “More? What do you mean “more”?  Do you want my soul or something?”

To our surprise, His answer is, “Well…yes. I don’t want to scare you, but if I’m going to give you my heart and my soul, I’m asking for yours in return.”  God doesn’t mind going steady for a while but eventually He wants a marriage with us. He wants to give us the wonder and joy of being intimate with Him, but He won’t give himself away in a relationship of convenience.

If the heavens are locked against us, there’s a good chance we have rejected Him at some point. He respects our freedom, so He lets us break up with Him and search for someone or something else to make us happy. Instead of walking away in anger when the heavens are locked, it’s better to consider…why? What was the last thing my divine lover asked me to do and I said, “No, God, sorry, I’m not going there. And you can’t make me.”

The good news is, even if we have rejected His advances in the past, He is still loving us, hoping for our return, and is ready to open the heavens for us so we can see His glory.

 

 

Related Posts:

Happy are those who mourn?
The Road to Giving Thanks

 

Happy are those who mourn?

Over the past few months I’ve seen a lot of struggling in many lives; much grief, pain, and sadness due to many different issues. I’ve struggled with writing another post about sadness during this holiday season, but I could not shake it. Even during the celebration of Christmas many are grieving and the Lord’s eyes are upon them, maybe you, and He wants to reach out and heal.

The Bible says quite a few things that make you go hmmmmm and one of them is the statement: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted“. In our modern age, we’re not much into “mourning” anymore. Used to be, grief was respected and a season was set aside so comfort could be given. I’m not saying we should wear black for six months, but after a loved one passes, are we really ready to go back to work after three days?  After a painful divorce are we really ready to date after six months?  Be tough and stuff it is the American way. We are too busy in our pursuit of happiness to deal with our sadness.

But ignoring grief is very dangerous. There are a staggering number of people on anti-depression and anxiety medication these days. Others medicate with too much booze, sex, illegal drugs, anything to dull the throbbing pain in our hearts. We cover up our symptoms and ignore the bleeding wound underneath. Or we don’t medicate and just get angry, maybe at God for allowing such things to happen.

In our national loss of faith in God, we have lost the wonderful benefit of His comfort. So, we spend years or decades in a state of depression or anger. He invites us to experience a better way. He knows there is a time to mourn and He encourages us to weep and lay our brokenness at His feet. When we are real with Him about our sorrows, He uses those losses to teach us incredible truths which transform us and the way we see life. To Him, grieving is a precious time to glean truth out of the pain. As our minds are enlightened with new understanding about ourselves, this life, the ones we love or have loved, we are comforted. The truth will set us free.

My pastor gave a great sermon about this topic and it’s well worth the listen if you are in this place right now.  Let’s weep for the night and walk into the joy of the morning!

The Road to Giving Thanks

Gobble…

Thanksgiving is coming with a gobble here and gobble there. To my chagrin, I admit, I have to force the meal down. I think I’m the only American in history who doesn’t like turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, or stuffing. But I’ve discovered that cranberry sauce is a good cover so I apply that liberally.

But even for those who love the traditional Thanksgiving fare and willingly run back for seconds, there may be a lump in your throat as you are asked to think about, and maybe even share, what you are thankful for. Maybe you’ve got a great meal in front of you, family and friends around you, but there’s a nagging pull of pain in your heart that creeps up and steals your joy.

Usually it is a loss or need of something…money, relationship, employment, health, a death, even a dream or a hope. The stats tell us that our most treasured national holidays are a time of sadness and depression for many people. Perhaps there is something we have forgotten…

We’ve kept the tradition of Thanksgiving, but we have neglected another day that our forefathers practiced with great regularity. When loss or need came upon the Pilgrims in the New World they did something that no one talks about anymore. They set aside a day…to fast.

Whoa, I know. In an age of unprecedented plenty it’s hard to conceive how we could not eat for a whole day, much less what it might do to help us. I found a great New York Times article written in 1896 that tells us why:

“When the Pilgrim fathers came over from England they brought with them the old custom of appointing special days for fasting and prayer. If there was any great object for which they were struggling, a day was set apart that all might join in the prayer to the Almighty for strength and wisdom.”

The article goes on to say that even by 1896 the custom of fasting was beginning to be lost. Most will say, good riddance!  But God has endowed prayer and fasting with special power. It’s for those times when you’ve got to get God’s attention. If the holidays only remind you of some great struggle in your life, it could be time to employ this ancient tradition to reach Heaven. Let go of the earthly things, like food, and pour your heart out to God. You never know what He might do for you. He could fulfill your need, He might share wisdom so you can see more clearly, He could give you peace and take away the pain. We don’t know how He might heal us unless we take the prescribed medicine.

I know this isn’t a very typical Thanksgiving post. I wasn’t expecting it to go in this direction, but here it is. Maybe it’s a nugget for someone. I pray your Thanksgiving Day is blessed!

James 8:8a …Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

Psalm 34:18…The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Building Beautiful Boundaries

A Boundary is a many splendored thing. The need for boundaries really sank into my brain last year when, in a time of terrible desperation, a friend handed me a book called “Boundaries: When to say YES, when to say NO“, by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.

At that point, all I knew was that I had allowed someone into my life who lacked integrity and character, I had put up with things I shouldn’t have, and it had all ended in a big mess.

This book was the light in the darkness, the holy grail, the shining nugget of truth and wisdom I had been searching for, for a long time. Quite frankly, it can be confusing trying to be a nice person. I mean, aren’t we supposed to turn the other cheek? Aren’t we supposed to forgive? Aren’t we supposed to give without concern about getting anything back?

I’ve learned that people can have bad boundaries with their kids, their parents, their boss, their spouse…anybody we are in relationship with. And you might have good boundaries with your boss, but poor boundaries with your mother.

The book leaf asks: “Are you in control of your life? Do people take advantage of you? Do you have trouble saying no?  Do you find yourself wondering: Can I set limits and still be a loving person? How do I answer someone who wants my time, love, energy, or money? Why do I feel guilty when I consider setting boundaries?”

If those questions strike a chord in you, this book will set you free. I am not kidding or overstating. It has changed my life. It’s sold millions of copies, won awards, is used by counselors in individual and group therapy. Of course, you have to actually DO the things they recommend, but you will find in it such hope and practical guidelines that you will be eager to get started.  These two amazing men (Henry Cloud and John Townsend) have written books for every situation: Boundaries in marriage, with teens, with older children, in dating, etc. Get a copy and get free 🙂

Related Posts:

Princess Bride…That’s You
Are the Heavens Locked?
Happy Are Those Who Mourn?