Tuesday, June 28, 2011

But It's MY Money

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippans 4:19 NIV

My fist clutched the coins. Clink, clink. My grasp loosened and the coins dropped into the plate.

Mom and Dad had taught me to give some money in Sunday school class each week when the teacher collected the kids' offering. I took the quarters from my allowance and put them in the plate. It was normal. It was how I was taught. I didn't give a second thought to obeying my parents expectations.

One day I heard about "tithing" -- giving 10% of my income to the church. "There's no way I can do that. I need my money. Besides, I earned it." My clutch tightened around the money I needed for bills. This was a new concept and I needed to learn.

The pastor preached that the Bible mentioned money more than any other subject. I bristled, not wanting to hear any more. "Tithe your resources to the church in terms of talent, time, and money," he said. The first two I accepted. I got involved in Bible study and volunteered at church. But my money was exactly that-mine.

Years later, God raised the topic again. A pastor on Christian radio shared God's challenge to test Him regarding our finances, to learn that God would provide our needs. Did God want me to test Him? I wondered. Unsure, I tried it, committing to give 10% of my check to the church.

I figured it couldn't last because I needed money to live. But God surprised me. He provided all my needs. Maybe God's promise really was true and He would take care of me. I've put Him first ever since-even with my finances. And He never fails me.

Are you afraid to loosen your grip? Our earthly possessions are just on loan. Take a risk and trust Christ. He just might surprise you.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Beauty, Part 2

“The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ Matt.13: 27

The other day, I shared that I love to be outdoors.  Unlike most other people I  know, though, when I work in the garden, what I most love to do is weed.  “Weed?  Why would you like to weed? " you ask. Fair question; here’s the answer. 

When I look at my garden, I enjoy the flowers, not the weeds. I never plant the weeds but somehow they grow anyway. When they do, they impede my view of the garden I’ve worked so hard to create.  It’s worth it to me to invest time pulling the weeds in order to display the beauty of the flowers.

I don’t enjoy the process of weeding, working my muscles to the point of fatigue, and getting filthy as you can see from the photo.  But, keeping in mind that all my hard work will transform the garden into something beautiful motivates me to keep going until it’s finished. 

This concept applies to other areas of my life.  And when I’m tired of the hard work, and hard times, I try to keep in mind that there’s a goal God has in mind for me and in the end (whenever that is). People will see the difference and it’ll be worth it. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

One Step At A Time


Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I Psalm 61:2

Camp was always a lot of fun. For years, I went rock-climbing and rappelling. The belayer, tied into the rock at the top, was secured with specific knots to ensure safety. The person scaling the rock before the climb begins, the belayer and the climber communicate to make sure each is ready. “On belay?” “Belay’s on.” “Climbing?” “Climb!”

I began to climb, looking for and grabbed hold of handholds and footholds to pull myself up. Sometimes I had to jamb my hand or foot in a crack, secure it, and shift my weight to hoist myself up. Keeping in mind my goal was to reach the top motivated me to continue up the rock, despite the periodic scrapes and bruises along the way.

It often looked impossible because I saw nowhere to place my feet or hands. But, the belayer and those at the bottom had a different perspective and they could see the bigger picture. They suggested other possible routes for me to take. Following their direction allowed me to reach the top, eventually.

Only years later did I realize how this situation is akin to my life. Many times, I set out toward a goal and have a plan to get there but can’t do it alone. God uses people with a different, bigger perspective to help me along the way. Listening to them gives me the support I need and encourages me to persevere, taking it one step at a time.

If your goal seems out of reach, or you can’t see how to get there, look to God and seek His path for your life. He alone can see the big picture and will lead you in the right direction.

Friday, June 17, 2011

 Beauty, Part 1

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:  a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot

I love nature.  Whether it’s hiking the mountains, wading along streams, or watching a sunset doesn’t matter to me. I love it all. 

I think one of the things I love most about nature is that it’s so pure.  Our gardens are full of daylilies like these.  Yesterday, I counted 35 in bloom in one of the gardens in our front yard.  Such vibrant colors, and yet each flower lasts only one day.  One day.  Seems like such a short lifetime, don’t you think? 

So why plant something whose blossom has such a short lifespan?  What’s the point if it’s only going to die by the next day? 

Perhaps it’s because it’s not the amount of time the flower has on this earth, but the enjoyment we get from them while they are here.  They provide a great splash of color to enjoy. And, since we know it’s going to be gone tomorrow, we’ll take time to enjoy its beauty while it’s here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Who Me--Royalty?

New Castle, Pennsylvania by erjkprunczyk

Me, a princess?  Yeah, right!  A princess lives in a castle with servants who answer her every beck and call.  She walks gracefully, smiles pleasantly at everyone, and fits society's view of elegance.

I'm none of those things.

Yet, the Bible tells me my Heavenly Father is the King of Kings.  And since I am His child, that makes me a princess. And, like any other princess, my Father, the King, loves me and takes care of all my needs. If ever I need anything, I simply have to ask and He will provide.

Maybe we need to look beyond the surface, the glitz, and the glamour, and reconsider what a princess really is, based on who the real King is.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Under Construction

“Even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation, faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine.” I Peter 1:6-7 (The Message)

What a mess. Most our furniture and rugs now make their home in the garage and drop cloths cover the couch, dining room table, and china cabinets.  All because we’re renovating our family room and repainting the dining room. We eat meals on TV trays we’ve set up in the office.  Certainly not ideal, but it’ll do for now.
The walls in the living and dining room sport various colors of paint as we decide what will look best. To change the fireplace, the stones surrounding the firebox have been removed, leaving about 6 inches of bare wall on each side. Tomorrow the workers will lower the firebox  before putting new bricks in place.

The good news is that it’s temporary.  In a few weeks, both rooms will look much better than in their current or original state. The dust will be gone, the furniture and rugs back in their rightful places, and the pictures rehung.  And the room will look fresh and new. Keeping this in mind makes it easier to handle the inconveniences in the meantime. 

It seems to me this reflects the condition of our lives from time to time.  We get used to our daily routine until something shakes things up. Whether it’s a job change, medical emergency, or something else, things happen that make us have to adjust. 

God is in the reconstruction business in our lives. And when we’re under construction, it can get messy, as parts of our lives are rearranged, others discarded. Life may be unpleasant in the interim, but He has an end goal in mind. When He’s done, the result will be much better than the original.  But we have to endure the process.   

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Slowing Down

I ate breakfast on the back porch early this morning, before it got too hot. With nothing else to distract me, I enjoyed simply observing my surroundings. The leaves rustling in the trees with a slight breeze, the flowers blooming in the garden, and the twittering of the birds, each with their different songs.

It dawned on me that God created all of it. He’s an incredible artist whose creativity is often lost on me as I go about my life. Sometimes it’s focusing on a list of tasks that I’ve set out to accomplish that day, or worrying about things that I may or may not even be in control of. These can so occupy my thoughts that I overlook the beauty and wonder of God’s creation around me. 

Slowing down to notice the things around me reminds me of all He’s put in my life to enjoy. The key for me is to slow down and observe it all. It brings me back to Him. This, in turn, changes my attitude as I go about my day.  

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Little Things Matter

Yesterday morning when I went to take my dog out,  I opened the garage door. Suddenly, I heard a loud CRASH!  “What in the world?” I wondered. I didn’t see anything amiss so I went out with Oscar.  When I came back in though, I saw a foot-long “pipe” lying on the floor.  Unsure what it was, I inspected further. 

Sweeping up the pieces of the garage door that had flown off, I discovered a screw. Apparently it had held the pipe in place.  So when it came loose, the pipe-like spring flew off, it put a hole in the ceiling. The hole was large enough that I could see into the attic all the way to the roof.  Thankfully, I hadn’t been near it, and nothing in the garage was damaged, including my car. 

Prior to this, I’d never even seen the pipe that held the door in place, let alone the screw that held the pipe. Only when it failed did its significance become obvious. 

I realized our lives are much the same way.  There are many things and people we often take for granted as we go about our days.  Yet if they weren’t there, we’d have a hole in our lives, and suddenly recognize how essential they were.  Or, we may have a background role in the things we do, but our supporting role matters more than we realize.

What do you often take for granted that, if it were missing, would  make a difference in your life? Don’t forget to join in the conversation.