Are you wise?

my-lakeOn my walks now, the air is  crisp, with a cool breeze where there has been stiflingly humid heat.  Low, slow moving cloud-cover makes pleasing patterns in the sky where eyes used to be met by the burning glare of the hot sun, which now rises later and sets earlier than a week ago.

The flowers are changing.  Those that held up their pompous bushy blooms to the full sunlight are beginning to droop with age, while new, fresh colors appear peeking through the fading flora.

We recognize these as signs of change in the world around us.  The seasons are changing.  We change with them.

Our iced drinks, Jell-O and sliced fruit plates give way to hot chocolate, and plates of warm, just baked cookies.  We share recipes with a neighbor for fruit pies or jams from the harvest.

people-2590555_640We change the way we dress to greet the world.  Shorts and tank tops have added an over-shirt to their look.  Slowly sweats and sweaters creep back into our daily wardrobe.  We may allow our hair to grow a bit to cover the back of our necks.  Our thoughts turn away from the pools and picnics of summer to hayrides and harvest moons.

We recognize and respond to these signs so easily and freely.  We would never want to be caught wearing an out-of-season outfit.  We think ourselves wise to have learned these customs.  Are we?

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The Bible tells us of change.  It says a time is coming when our Lord Jesus Christ will come again.  Soon, the Lamb’s Book of Life will be closed forever.  The names of the saved are written in this book. And even today, as people hear and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, names are still being added.

But the day is coming when not one more name will be allowed.

waiting-410328_640We do not know that day specifically, but we know that each passing day brings us one day closer.  Just as we don’t know the date of the first snow; we know it is coming, and we prepare for it.

How are we preparing for Jesus’ second coming?  Are we changing outwardly?

Instead of a recipe that will stay in his stomach for an hour, why don’t we share with that neighbor, a message that will stay with his soul for eternity?

20180916_193142You know the message. There are only two teams. Jesus and satan. We are all born onto Team satan.  Staying on that team ends in eternal death, a one-way ticket to hell. But you can choose to leave that team to join Team Jesus. Team Jesus has eternal life, heaven – forever.

To join Team Jesus it’s as simple as A-B-C.  Accept the free gift of God’s salvation.  Believe that Jesus died for your sin.  Confess, or say out loud, that Jesus rose from the dead and is your Savior.

Speak that in a prayer to God and you are on Team Jesus – forever! You will never play for Team satan again.

That’s the message to share.  But if you just prayed it for the first time – Congratulations!  You are on team Jesus!

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Tell someone about it – shoot me a comment, or email Josh Burris at jesusisundefeated@gmail.com.  Get Josh’s book on Amazon.com.

Get hold of a Bible and start reading it.  It is God’s love letter to you to learn more about Him and your life on Team Jesus.

 

It’s time. Clothe yourself with Jesus’ righteousness. Serve salvation to a starving world. And prepare for the days ahead in a way that you will be called “wise.”

“Let the wise listen and add to their learning.”  Proverbs 1:5

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A “Wake-Up Call”

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I have received a “wake up call,” have you?

In a hotel, it’s literally a phone call made to your room to wake you up for whatever you have to do for the day. It’s a call that you preschedule according to your own needs of the day.

When it comes, you simply answer it and it’s over. Unless you arrange it, they do not call again, and would never come to the room and insist you get out of bed and begin your day’s business or requirements. It is a courtesy.

Your choices are to stay in bed and sleep some more, or to get up and begin your day. Your choice.

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Sometimes a wake up call is created by circumstances. It could be an opportunity you thought you had that passes you by. In business. Or in a relationship. Maybe a person moves out of your life who you thought you would have lots of time with.  Or a health issue.

Some wake up calls are humorous. Like your first gray hair. Or your first wrinkle. Or your child starts kindergarten. Or college.

However, a wake up call from God is different.

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You do not prearrange it. It comes when it comes – often when you least expect it.

Things may have been going along smoothly, when something happens that makes you acutely aware that your time and energy are not unlimited.

God will never insist that you get up.  A wake up call from God is a blessing.  Dealing with the call is still your choice. Go back to sleep, or get up and go.  If you choose to get up and go, here are three suggestions:

1 – Thank God for the opportunity to be woken up and for the assurance that all your days are in His hands

Without the call you could have wasted much time and energy doing things that don’t really matter. Ask God to help you “fix your eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18

And be reassured that “all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:16  That is a promise.

 

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2 – Spend time in prayer

Ask God to show you where you are wasting time and energy: in activities and in relationships. Ask Him to clarify and adjust your perceptions and priorities

Make a list, and be willing to give up those things that are not beneficial. And spend your time and energy on those things that He shows you are important.

 

3 – Ask God to grow your faith to meet whatever challenges this wake up call has raised. And to give you the encouragement you need to persevere

Paul made this statement about his circumstances and the difficulties he had been through: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”  2 Corinthians 4:8-9 It seems this is true for me and most other believers as well.

I am encouraged to know that God is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to His power” Ephesians 3:20 And that He is sovereign over the broad strokes and the details of my life. I believe that He will not let one thing be wasted if we ask for Him to be at work in us. And that whatever we experience, “our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” 2 Corinthians 4:17

My wake up call last week was a diagnosis of a very treatable form of breast cancer.  I am very grateful for this reminder to be busy about the things that are eternal and that God would have me do.  And for the assurance that nothing can take away a single minute of life God has ordained for me.

I have been very encouraged in this challenge through prayer and scripture.  If you could use some encouragement, here are two places I go every day:

31 Days of Praise by Ruth Myers free download website

my Daily Bible Prayer blog

I pray for each of us: Father, when we are hard-pressed, make us stronger. When perplexed, light our way with Your truth. When we are persecuted or struck down, raise us up in Your strength.

Do not let us be overwhelmed or discouraged by what is temporary. But renew us day by day as we come to You in prayer.

Thank You for Your grace and help. Thank You that You will never leave us. That You will always love us. And that we will always be Yours. Amen

 

 

God’s plan is Light

A poem I wrote many years ago speaks to the truth that our lives do not follow the pattern or plan we lay out according to our own desires and wishes. That’s OK when we are Believers because we trust the One who knows more than we do with the ultimate outcome.

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Part of God’s purpose for His people is that we share the Holy Spirit – the light He has placed in us. As containers of that light it can only get out when there is an opening or hole. Sometimes openings or holes are made when our lives are filled to overflowing and we literally burst with joy!

Other times, God allows pain and suffering to cause splits in us and where the sorrow spills out, the hole that’s left allows His Light to shine through.

Some people seem to spill light from places were joy has been. And some seem to have mostly holes that have been formed by pain. I believe God is with us in both times. He rejoices with us when we are filled with joy. And He cries with us when we suffer.

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It breaks His heart that some choose to do evil in this world and cause others pain. But good can come from it when we minister to people who have similar pain in their lives. We can seek the light from those with similar pain, and we can be the light for others.

As Believers, we are also assured that whatever we endure in this life will be laid down at His throne. Whatever we surrender in the future will glorify Him and we will receive an eternity so glorious we cannot even grasp it in our earthly understanding.

I pray you will be encouraged in the remembrance of your sorrows and your joys; and be empowered to move forward and let His Light shine through you.

My Life poem

My life is borrowed, ‘tis not mine

I cannot hold it selfishly

But give it to the One above

Who gave His all, His life, His love

That I might one day see

I see with light that is not mine

I cannot make one star shine bright

Yet through the holes God makes in me

His Spirit shines, so I can be

A lantern, glowing Holy light

This light alone will light my path

It is a course I do not choose

My way, my will I give to Him

Who walked this earth and knew no sin

With Him I cannot lose

And so, my life, my light, my path

Are not for me, but God alone

No pain or sorrow come to me

That I am not assured will be

Exchanged for glory – at His throne

 

Is it Fall already?!

20180802_145757.jpegToday, walking out to my car, something yellow on the ground caught my eye. When I bent over to pick it up, I couldn‘t believe it! This couldn’t be a fall leaf. It’s still August! The kids aren’t even back in school yet. We are still in the process of figuring out who needs new notebooks, calculators, mechanical pencils and underwear!

Surely this was out of place – a joke someone was playing on me? So I looked up in the tree, and unbelievably, there were others just like it! – still green in the middle, but mixed with yellowing, and downright brown on the ends. I felt queasy, disoriented, like someone had put my life on fast-forward without my knowledge. I wanted that time back. This felt all wrong.

Why did this little occurrence upset me so?

The seasons change, I know that. It happens every year. And they always occur in the same order, so it’s not like it was totally unexpected. Yes, the days have been getting somewhat shorter, and the nights have been a little cooler to relieve the high temperatures of the day, but the leaves turning already?!

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There’s something to look forward in winter: Christmas break, hot chocolate, snowmen, the chance for a snow day at school, or a lazy, snowy winter day to curl up by a fire.

 

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And when that gets old, we can’t wait for exciting spring! A time when the earth reawakens: Easter, flowers, baby animals, light, hope. Spring is my favorite season: warm sunshiny days with cold nights to snuggle, the whole earth bursting forth with new life.

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And who among us hasn’t dreamed of and waited with excitement for summer? School is out, swimming pools, hot dogs on the grill, no homework, and long, lazy days of watching the clouds in the sky…

 

So how does fall fit in here? I think of songs we usually hear around this season:

Will I See You In September – a worry that fall will bring the end of a love relationship – not a great ode to fall

Wake Up Maggie – about a guy who realizes in the fall he’s been led on and dropped by a girl.

When I was 17 – is about the years of life, but when he gets to the autumn of his years, the days grow short and he thinks of his life as vintage wine from fine old kegs, as he says “from the brim to the dregs it pours sweet and clear…”

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The problem is that this year I’m feeling a bit like I am in the autumn of my years too. The days growing shorter reminds me of so many things I might have done with my life – which I haven’t done. I’m truly feeling there are more days behind me than in front of me.

And it makes me feel a sense of urgency about things yet to accomplish, and a sense of loss about things left undone.

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I don’t see my life as vintage wine. Or in fine old kegs. And dregs definitely do not sound good.

You could say my teens and twenties were “spring-like.” There was lot a lot of growth – things to learn and begin – lots of enthusiasm and energy.

And in my thirties and forties, there was sure a lot of busy-ness – a lot to show for all my efforts: the children growing up, involvement in church, school and community, teaching classes. So much was going on. That’s typical of summer – everything blooming and growing, looking busy.

But fall? That’s a time for the leaves to turn and wither, and blow off the trees, leaving a barren look. It’s a time of coolness turning to coldness, and a gradual darkening of the days. And I don’t think I’m ready to let go of my “leaves “– all that I’ve grown, produced – my children, my projects, my job.

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Fall is a time to gather in the harvest: freeze it, pickle it, jar it, can it up for others to enjoy throughout the next year. Is it really time to gather in my life? Is it time to “store up” all I’ve done? I can’t imagine my life in row after row of bright, pretty jars on shelves.

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And yes, the leaves are beautiful in the fall. The colors are vivid and add to the panoramic grandeur of the view. And yes, you can collect the leaves, make arrangements, even press them between sheets of waxed paper to preserve their glory. But it’s a past glory.

 

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “To everything, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” King Solomon examined everything – nature, man, wisdom, foolishness, wine, women and song. And he concluded his writings with “This applies to every person: Fear God and obey Him.”

If I can say I’ve done that, then it’s all I need to do. Regardless of the season. It’s not about how showy my spring and summer were. It’s not who has more cans on the shelf.

We sang a song Sunday that gives me hope and focus. “You [God] make everything glorious. You make everything glorious and I am yours – what does that make me!” In every season of life, I am glorious! I accept that, and trust the Father is with me always. He will guide me into and through all His seasons.  And I will do all I can to honor and obey Him.

click to hear:  See you in SeptemberWhen I was 17; You make everything glorious

 

Are you frozen?

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My shoulder is frozen.

For the third time.

And it’s not even cold outside!

The muscles have frozen the joint in place so that it requires rehabilitation for months before I can even do a simple thing like reach to the side. It is maddening, because I know that my arm was created to work with a range of motions, flexibility, and strength. And it used to accomplish those things painlessly all the time. Now, it simply won’t.

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It is so frustrating when you have to do Physical Therapy for a part of your body that no longer functions the way you know it should. Even the simplest tasks become a challenge.

 

Part of me is angry for taking for granted all the times I moved and my body performed effortlessly, without giving a thought of appreciation for this gift.

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Part of me is frustrated that my body operates so slowly now, and movement is accompanied by pain. I get so discouraged and impatient with it because it won’t do the things I know it should.

 

And it makes me wonder how God must feel when we don’t do the things He knows we can do. He has prepared work for us here on earth. And He has given each of us the necessary gifts, talents, experiences, training, and personality to join Him in this work. And yet, we hold back.

We don’t do it. Many times, we’re simply afraid that we can’t. Frozen. But God knows we can because it’s what He created us for!

As frustrated as I am with my shoulder, how much more frustrated is God with me? And yet, He is not a person with the shortcomings and limitations of a man. He is so much more patient than I am. And He is so much more powerful than I am. And He is able to provide the healing that overcomes freezing!

What has God prepared you to do? How can you see Him at work in your life? What gifts, talents, experiences and training can you use for His purpose?  Don’t be afraid. Let God work His Physical Therapy through you and show you what can be accomplished!

 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen me.  Show me how to use what You’ve given me to accomplish all You have for me.  Empower me to overcome whatever fear has frozen me.

Heal me!

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