Friday, September 14, 2018

Above The Storm

As I sit on my back porch watching the driving rains come down, there seems to be nothing but the small space around me. It's raining so hard that I can't see anything. When it lightens up, I only see the dark, heavy clouds looming over my backyard. This is how life has looked recently. If I went strictly by what I could see, I would truly be depressed right now. Thinking of the future based on what I can see would not look good at all.

I remember the last time I flew to see my in-laws. It was a stormy day when we took off in the plane headed to St. Louis. In the back of my mind, I was praying we wouldn't have to deal with turbulence while on the flight. When we flew above the massive, dark clouds, the higher we went the lighter it got outside. The rain stopped and the sun started shining. From the ground, I couldn't see the light. but as we flew above the storm clouds toward the heavens, the light appeared and was shining brightly before us. I think of Isaiah 40:31. Those that wait upon the Lord will not only renew their strength, but they shall mount up with wings as eagles. It wasn't until recently that I understood why God chose eagles. I had previously thought it was because they were big and bold. That wasn't right. Eagles are the only birds that fly above a storm. When we rely upon God during our storms, He will lift us above them. When we wait for Him, he will give us His strength, so we can walk and run again!

We can't always see or feel God, and we certainly can't always see the light. Sometimes the light is hidden by the dark clouds and storms of life, but the light is always there--it just may take a while before we can see it.

I have to remember to not base everything on what I see, because that is not allowing for the divine, for God's part in things, which I don't get to know ahead of time. He wants my trust, He wants me to have faith in Him. God wants me to depend on Him, and to lean into Him for His strength, not just His wisdom. He wants me, and everyone else, to wait for Him, because He will always make Himself known when the time is right, although He already is present, sometimes we're just so caught up we can't see past our storm, just like I can't see past my porch.

Watch "Still" by Hillsong

Repost from 9/2017

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Do It Again Lord by Max Lucado, September 15, 2001

A prayer written by Max Lucado for America Prays, a national prayer vigil held Saturday, September 15, 2001.  It seems fitting as we remember the anniversary of 9/11 to share it once again.  Permission to copy is granted and encouraged.

Dear Lord,

We’re still hoping we’ll wake up. We’re still hoping we’ll open a sleepy eye and think, What a hor­rible dream.

But we won’t, will we, Father? What we saw was not a dream. Planes did gouge towers. Flames did consume our fortress. People did perish. It was no dream and, dear Father, we are sad.

There is a ballet dancer who will no longer dance and a doctor who will no longer heal. A church has lost her priest, a classroom is minus a teacher. Cora ran a food pantry. Paige was a counselor and Dana, dearest Father, Dana was only three years old. (Who held her in those final moments?)

We are sad, Father. For as the innocent are buried, our innocence is buried as well. We thought we were safe. Perhaps we should have known better. But we didn’t.

And so we come to you. We don’t ask you for help; we beg you for it. We don’t request it; we implore it. We know what you can do. We’ve read the accounts. We’ve pondered the stories and now we plead, Do it again, Lord. Do it again.

Remember Joseph? You rescued him from the pit. You can do the same for us. Do it again, Lord.

Remember the Hebrews in Egypt? You protected their children from the angel of death. We have children, too, Lord. Do it again.

And Sarah? Remember her prayers? You heard them. Joshua? Remember his fears? You inspired him. The women at the tomb? You resurrected their hope. The doubts of Thomas? You took them away. Do it again, Lord. Do it again.

You changed Daniel from a captive into a king’s counselor. You took Peter the fisherman and made him Peter an apostle. Because of you, David went from leading sheep to leading armies. Do it again, Lord, for we need counselors today, Lord. We need apostles. We need leaders. Do it again, dear Lord.

Most of all, do again what you did at Calvary. What we saw here on that Tuesday, you saw there on that Friday. Innocence slaughtered. Goodness murdered. Mothers weeping. Evil dancing. Just as the ash fell on our children, the darkness fell on your Son. Just as our towers were shattered, the very Tower of  Eternity was pierced.

And by dusk, heaven’s sweetest song was silent, buried behind a rock.

But you did not waver, 0 Lord. You did not waver. After three days in a dark  hole, you rolled the rock and rumbled the earth and turned the darkest Friday into the brightest Sunday. Do it again, Lord. Grant us a September Easter.

We thank you, dear Father, for these hours of unity. Disaster has done what  discussion could not. Doctrinal fences have fallen. Republicans are standing with Democrats. Skin colors have been covered by the ash of burning buildings. We thank you for these hours of unity.

And we thank you for these hours of prayer. The Enemy sought to bring us to our knees and suc­ceeded. He had no idea, however, that we would kneel before you. And he has no idea what you can do.

Let your mercy be upon our President, Vice President, and their families.  Grant to those who lead us wisdom beyond their years and experience.  Have mercy upon the souls who have departed and the wounded who remain.  Give us grace that we might forgive and faith that we might believe.

And look kindly upon your church.  For two thousand years you’ve used her to heal a hurting world.

Do IT again, Lord. Do it again.

Through Christ, Amen.

As written by Max Lucado for America Prays, a national prayer vigil held Saturday, September 15, 2001.  Permission to copy is granted and encouraged.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Storyteller by Kimberly Burnette

As a fifty-something, I have found that the Christian journey is a long, hard one. When I first found salvation I had a much different picture of Christianity. I thought that giving my life to the Lord was the ultimate step, and that life would be so much easier after that! I saw it more as a conclusion to my story than an introduction. Indeed it was the beginning of a great story that has been unpredictable and challenging.

Don't get me wrong. I would not change my decision to become a true Christian for anything in the world. The more I get to know my creator and savior, the more in awe I am. At the same time I am learning that nothing is about me. The wonderful plan He has for me isn't about me, it's about something so much bigger. When He blesses me, He does so simply because He loves me. I'm also learning that God loves me so much that He uses what He needs to teach me.

So this story that I've been in has had many plot twists and tragic events. Sometimes, it has taken a while to get to the next chapter in my tale. Parts of my story have been very dark, and  the only way I could move is with the light that my God gives. He has lead me step by step. So why would a God that loves me so much let me go through all of this? Because it makes me stronger and it teaches me how to persevere. He allows me to go through all of these things so that I can help others who go through all of these things. Interestingly, He has put people on my path who were able to help me because they went through all of these things.

So as Christians we earn our testimonies and become incredible storytellers. Not only do we have incredible stories to share, but the ultimate example is when people see us live through our struggles with grace. This is when Jesus shines at His brightest in us. So not only do we learn from what we go through, but others are blessed by it too.

The wonderful thing I have found is that God is always there with me, always. He is as faithful as they come. When I ask Him to pull me closer I can feel His love touch me physically. When I need to do something He asks and I don't feel strong enough, I can ask Him to help me do it and He will. What an amazing God!

So while it is easy to get really down when one's story is hard, a change of perspective can make all the difference. Counting one's blessings each day can bring a grateful attitude. Realizing ways we have been spared is healthy. When I think about how God created everything around me and count it all as blessings, it can be overwhelming. When I reflect on the supreme sacrifice He made of His own son, to take the sin of the world on himself to save all of us, it astounds me. I feel so blessed that I have eternity in front of me where there will never be another tear or pang of pain. When I think this way, even on bad days, I can still put one foot in front of the other and share the stories God has given me to tell. What about you?

The mountain where I climbed
The valley where I fell
You were there all along
That's the story I'll tell
You brought the pieces together
Made me this storyteller
Now I know it is well, it is well
That's the story I will tell

From the song "Storyteller" by Morgan Harper Nichols. To see the song video click here

repost from 2016