Unity is a gift

Unity is a gift, and it comes from God. 

We are in dire need of unity today…in our marriages and families, our communities, our churches and our nation. In scripture we learn how God blessed His people with unity.

Hezekiah sought God’s guidance and blessing.  And God blessed: “Also in Judah the hand of God was on the people to give them unity of mind to carry out what was ordered… following the Word of the Lord.” 

Paul also wrote about the unity of believers: May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

So I believe unity needs to start with us, believers, asking for and being willing to seek it in our relationships – first, with each other.

Heavenly Father, I ask for unity in our church.   As we make decisions about our future, our finances, our lives of serving and ministering together, give us agreement in these areas.  Help us see our circumstances from Your perspective.  And regardless of what the world would say, give us Your wisdom.  Remind us to put our faith not in numbers or schedules or the plans of men, but in You.   

In our church, many plans can be prayerfully considered, but only Your plan counts.  And only You can bring it to pass.  Father, honor the desire of our church to bring Your kingdom into our community.  Show us how to most effectively do that.

Help us make all who come feel welcome and make a place for them to learn and grow and use their God given gifts and talents in our fellowship.

Lord God, I ask for unity of Your believers.  So many things divide us.  Even as one body, we are many people with many opinions.  We are overcome with the world.  We fight each other over things that are disputable until the world sees an inconsistent, arguing, critical body that they want to avoid at all costs; instead of being drawn into Your love and Your care for them. 

You give us endurance and encouragement in Your Word.  Let us draw on Your Word’s truth to live our lives. 

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”  Father, bring us this hope.  Bring it into our relationships, our families, our church, our nation.  

Remind us to make time to read the Scriptures so we might receive this encouragement.  Let us learn so we will have the endurance we need.  Give us patience and humility so we can be used by You.  

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And as we live and work and serve together, we can be a model for others. It will take work. And we need God’s help. Through Him we can have the encouragement, the endurance, and hope for our future.

Will you Squat or Soar?

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It may be warming up where you are, but in Colorado, we are having what may be the snowiest March on record!

And there are still lots of birds wintering here from Canada.  They’re fun to watch as I walk around the nearby lake.

Picture a cold snowy day. There is a white, icy bed of snow on the ground; ice creeping slowly across the lake.

Your eye moves from the white of the ground, to the gray of the freezing water, to the haze of the sky, hemming in the horizon with a veil of frosty air. The sun is only a bright spot in the gray blanket of low, snow clouds tucked in around the lake. Not much is moving as you gaze out across the expanse of grayness.

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There are groups of ducks and geese, tightly tucked and asleep on the ice. Another group of nondescript white birds is clumped together near the water. But there is none of the clucking and chatter that usually accompanies their presence. Not a sound is heard. The frigid air threatens to stop any communication cold, as it freezes every breath taken.

Then, above the lake, a bird appears: silently soaring, in seemingly slow motion. Its graceful wings, stretched to its farthest reach, give it a look of majesty as it hangs upon the air. It is joined by another. They turn twice, together, and are joined by a third.

The mid-air ballet continues for several moments before they separate and go in three different directions. As one flies towards you, you can see the graceful curve of its pure white, broad wings, and the delicate black tips that reach out to capture the air that lifts it higher.

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You recognize this bird. It’s the same kind that you noticed before, squatting, clumped together with others like it in a huddle on the ground. This same little nondescript bird that blended in so plainly with the frozen background displays a Godly majesty when flying. But of course! Flying is exactly what God created it for!

Soaring, is what God created you for. What is keeping you squatting in the snow?

It’s so easy to stay on the ground with our friends, huddled against the circumstances of our lives, fearing the cold, the wind.

But the air is warmer higher up. And the wind lifts you. And God has prepared you to enjoy using the gift of soaring He has given you! And His glory and majesty that you reflect, will inspire others and honor Him.

But, the choice is yours. Will you squat? Or soar?

Take the leap!  See you up there  smiley-1635449_640

Snow Storms!

it is rare that storms come that are predictable and bring a blessing and beauty.

snowprepWhen they’re predictable we can prepare for them. We can have on hand everything we need to handle whatever the storm brings. Food, a secure shelter, the ability to cancel plans in advance so no one is inconvenienced and no one is trapped without having their basic needs met. That way we can hunker down in the storm and not have to worry about the dangers because we have already taken care of our needs.

At that point the storm is more welcome. All the more if it brings a blessing. The snow storm which we have prepared for and finally come will bring needed moisture to the grass, plants, and trees, saving us the cost of watering.

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And it comes with beauty. The soft glistening blanket of snow that covers the ground renders a quiet loveliness to the landscape, encasing the trees in a surreal, fairytale-like beauty.  We can enjoy a storm like that from our warm homes, with ample food and nowhere we need to go.

If only life were like that!

But the storms in life usually take us by surprise. The unexpected death of a loved one that shatters our world. A terrible diagnosis that turns our life upside down with surgeries, treatments, and expenses. The surprise break-up of a deeply felt relationship that we have depended on for support, encouragement, maybe even love.

people-850097_640These are the storms that we seem to be ill prepared for that take us down a road we don’t want to go: disappointment, discouragement, despair; and bring their friends: sorrow, loss, pain, grief.

When I’m in the storm, my world shrinks and is completely taken over by the ordeal.  I forget that other people aren’t going through the same thing.  And then when I see that they’re not, and simply going on with their lives, I can’t understand how they are unencumbered by my pain.

But we praise You Lord that You’ve promised to be with us in the storms. Even if they are not predictable. Even if they do not seem to bring a blessing. Even if there is no beauty in them. Thank You that You provide all we need to weather the storms that come into our lives.

clasped-hands-541849_640As I look back over the joys of my life, I can see that You were there. Forgive me for not giving You thanks and praise for the highs, the joys. And as I look at the lows, the storms, I see that You were there with me also.  Forgive me for not giving You thanks and praise for being with me then too. Without You I might not have survived

Thank You too, that when the storm has passed, there is often blessing, and beauty in Your provision.

You have told us that we will have storms in our lives.  You told Your disciples, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

winner-4912049_640When the storms come, help me remember to “Take heart.”

Because You have overcome the world.  Because You are with me.  And because You share Your victories!

Are you praying Apples or Potatoes?

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I’ve been praying a LOT lately – maybe you have too.  So many things happening in my life, my family, with Covid-19, in our nation, the world!

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And I trust and thank God that He hears all of my prayers, and your prayers too. Whether we are singing out in praise, calling out thanksgiving, whispering out our needs, or crying out in brokenness, I know that God hears and answers every time.

I love it when I can see God’s hand at work in the relationship or situation I’m praying about.  It’s so encouraging! It’s like watching an apple tree:  you can see the leaves appear, then the buds come, the blossoms open and then fall off, and you can see the tiny fruit form.  The apple grows and matures on the tree right before your eyes.

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An apple farmer can see his harvest before he ever starts collecting it.

Some prayers are like that. You get to see how God is working and preparing the answer for you right before your eyes. You can see change in the person or the situation, or in yourself.  It is so rewarding.

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Other prayers are like potatoes. We keep praying and praying for a person, relationship, or situation but see no change, no growth, no hint of an answer on the way. The potato plant is like that: the leafy vine can be seen.

But the fruit or tuber, the part we eat, is formed underground. The vine remains unchanged above the ground as we water and fertilize. All the while the fruit, the tubers are developing and maturing under the ground where we can’t see.

digging-for-potatoes-1319302-640x480It is only by faith that a potato farmer begins the harvest, trusting there is a crop there under the ground!

Potato prayers are harder because you feel like nothing is happening in the situation you’re praying about.  When the truth is God is surely at work answering your prayer, just not in ways visible to the human eye.

Both kinds of prayers yield an amazing and fulfilling harvest. Both have the same promise of an answer from God. And both will build our faith.  If you are praying an Apple Prayer, thank God that He is allowing you to see His hand at work in the person or situation. Be encouraged.

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If you have been praying a Potato Prayer, thank God for being at work beneath the surface.  And be encouraged!

Trust in God and in His timing and purpose. We are the workers but the harvest belongs to the Lord!

people-2604834_640And especially for those Potato Prayers, Father, help us wait and not fall into discouragement, self-pity or giving up.  Keep our faith strong and our trust in You solid; so that at the end of the waiting, we will sing of the wonders of the Lord!  Amen

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14

Geese: Silly or Smart? Part 2

Still seeing and hearing the geese around – even in this below-freezing weather!

Here’s 3 more lessons to add to the last post about what I’ve learned from these silly/smart birds:

canada-goose-3190675_640#3   Communicate with those around you

Geese are not quiet birds. They seem to always have something to say to each other.

Whenever a group is already on the water and another group comes in to land, all kinds of honking commences. Similarly, when a group is preparing to take off, there is much ado.

We should share with other believers what we have learned: how to get along better in life, where there are traps and how to avoid them, praise and thanks for God’s bountiful provisions.

I don’t know what the geese are telling each other, but it could be: “Hey there’s great grain over here!” Or “Watch out for the foxes at the end of the lake!” Wouldn’t you like to receive helpful direction and encouragement?

wild-geese-1148985_640#4   Circle before you land

Geese will always fly around an area before they actually touch down. I have seen them circle the lake 3 times before the first one touches down on the water or in a field. It’s as if they’re scoping out the location for danger and suitability.

Too often, we jump right in without checking things out and counting the cost. We need to use the brain God gave us and seek His wisdom as we make decisions, accept commitments, and move forward. Pull back to get the big picture and know what you’re getting into before you jump in with both feet.

goose take off#5   Travel light

Before a bird takes off, it offloads all excess baggage. Every ounce counts when you have to physically carry it, especially over long distances. So before it takes off, it poops! If you live in a flyway, this is a common sight and the result makes for very messy walking or picnicking.

We need to remember to take only what we need on our journey. How often do we travel with so much past hurt, anger, disappointment and upset that we can barely move forward? We need to expel envy, malice, bitterness, and hate because these things weigh us down and keep us from flying high. Drop off and leave behind discouragement, resentment, unforgiveness, and whatever else entangles you.

Get the help you need to be rid of those poisons that will steal your joy and sap your strength. Read books, get counseling and pray to be able to forgive and let go of past hurts and failures.

canada-geese-826022_640We may like to think of ourselves as more majestic creations, maybe like the swans or eagles of the bird world.

But God has placed wisdom all around us in all shapes and sizes. We can learn from everything He created.

Learn from the behavior I’ve seen in these geese.  And be a little Silly…or Smart!