Look Up

“I will lift up my eyes to the hills—From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord,Who made heaven and earth”. (Psalm 121:1-2).  I love the mountains.  Maybe you guessed that from the picture of the mountains.  Some people love for the beach.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the beach also, but, to me the mountains speak to my soul.  The mountains make me feel peaceful, and closer to God.  

mountain-landscape-beautiful-hd-wallpaper

I was blessed to live in the mountains for a few years-well maybe the foothills you might say.  The landscape was always changing with the weather and with the seasons.  I love the solitude you sometimes find, the quiet.  Living there had its challenges.  I wasn’t fond of driving on icy mountain roads for instance.  Or being far from some conveniences.  It’s a trade off.  But oh, the peace and stillness of a mountain morning. The quiet.  We have so little quiet in our lives these days.  In my mind, I don’t know how you could live in the mountains and not know God.  His presence surrounds you every day in His creation.

In the Bible, when you look up the word mountain and read the various scriptures; you find a lot of people living in the mountains, fleeing to the mountains and/or hiding in the mountains.  I guess you could hide from the world in the mountains to some extent.  Maybe that is part of its allure.  At least for me.  I sometimes long to be distant from all the turmoil in our world.

I often hope that there are mountains in heaven. Or, here on earth if the earth will still be here.  Its so comforting to me to read many scriptures in the Word that I love that are about mountains, such as Song of Solomon 2:8: “The voice of my beloved! Behold, he comes . Leaping upon the mountains,skipping upon the hills”.  That sure makes it sound like the Lord loves mountains too. Or, one of my personal favorites.  Different versions found in 2 Sam 22:34, Psalm 18:35 or the version in Habakkuk 3:19 :  “The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills”.  Perhaps high hills is symbolic for something or someplace other than mountains; but I just like to think it is of being on high hills.

One of my favorite books of all time is Hind’s Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard. It is an allegory about the character Much Afraid, and her journey to the high places.  It is a beautiful story about her challenges and difficulties along the way. Through it all she has to depend on the Shepherd and trust him; even when it looks like she is going totally in the wrong direction.  Her journey is so much like ours.  Her many fears, her “relatives” who are named in the book, things like pride, bitterness and resentment and how she conquered them and changed along the way.  If you have never read it; I highly recommend it!  I haven’t read it in a while, I think I may have to read it again soon!

Its been fun taking this journey today of musing about the mountains. I think I sense a road trip in my future!   I will leave you with one last mountain scripture.

“For you shall go out with joy,
And be led out with peace;
The mountains and the hills
Shall break forth into singing before you,
And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands”.  Is 55:12.  Amen!

 

 

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Are You Marching?

To the beat of a different drum?  Good!  As a Christian we are called to be different from the world.  When Jesus was praying for His disciples (and us) in John 17:14 He said: I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.  

Have you found that to be true?  People you work with, or live with, sometimes do not like that you are different.  They may feel threatened when you aren’t living the same kind of life as theirs, or they just plain may think you are crazy!  That’s ok.  There is really only one person’s opinion that matters on that subject.  That would be Jesus.  If you are following Jesus and striving to be more like Him then some people will think you are crazy.

If they think you are crazy or a fanatic maybe you are doing something right!  Jesus’s own family at one time thought He was crazy.  In Mark 3:20-22 His family came and wanted to take Him away because they said He must be out of His mind.  And some of the religious scribes said he must be possessed of the devil.  I guess he wasn’t really fitting in with some of the people of His world.

It can be hard to live in this world while remembering you are not of this world. Especially when you’re  living or working with people who try their hardest to pull you into their way of life.  The fact is we are called to be a witness in this world while we are here.  If you are a Christian, people should be able to look at you and know there is something different about you. We should be like Peter and John in the book of Acts 4:13  Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.  People should be able to look at us and see that we have been with Jesus.

The Bible tells us we are not to be like the world.  In Romans 12:2 it says: And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.  The only way to renew your mind is by reading and meditating on the Word.

You still may face persecution from others.  You may be shunned or ignored by friends, co-workers or family.  That can be hard.  It can be hurtful.  What is the alternative?  We do not want to go backwards in our walk with the Lord so that we fit in here.  At least I don’t.  I choose to walk with Him, listen to Him and be obedient even if its not popular with those I interact with.

I think its cool sometimes to think on Hebrews 12:1 where it talks about us being surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.  So many have gone before us and walked this road, and many have walked a much harder road then we ever have.  I think of them with Jesus just watching from up there cheering us on, waiting for us to finish our part.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Let’s finish our race strong; and cheer each other on while we are here!

Do You Realize?

How deeply loved you are?  Yes, you.  Yes, you the one who feels lonely, unloved and unnoticed.  Yes, you the one who feels there is no hope and no way out.  And you, the one who thinks they’ve just done so much wrong; who could possibly love you?  Maybe you think you don’t need anyone to love you; you are doing just fine on your own, thank you.

Whoever you are.  God loves you.  Right where you are today, He loves you.  He loves you so much He sent His only son Jesus to die for you.  John 3:16: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  He loves you so much He wants to spend eternity with you.  He’s watching you.  And waiting for you.  And longing for the day when you turn to Him and want to be with Him too.

He made you.  He knows everything there will ever be to know about you.   Psalm 139:16: You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book.  Psalm 139:3: You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways.  And even then, he still loves you.  

Maybe you’re a scoffer.  You say you don’t believe in God and nothing that I say is true.  But your innermost self knows that what I say is true.  Your head and your intellect can say there is no God.  You may want to believe that there is no God.  But, He’s there nonetheless.

Any time you see a sunset or look on a newborn baby or walk in the woods and see the many different creatures; you’re inmost being knows that God made them. You can’t explain it.  Romans 1:20: For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

Perhaps you’ve been deeply hurt by a church or by a Christian.  Don’t judge Christianity by Christians judge it by Christ.  The rest of us are just like you. Human. Striving to be like Christ but falling short.  Making mistakes. Sometimes hurting people in the process.

Don’t let your pride or your stubbornness or your hurt keep you from turning to Jesus.  He’s there waiting for you with open arms.  You don’t have to be perfect to come to Him. Just come.

There are not many paths to heaven as some would tell you. There is only one. John 14:6:  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Its so simple.  When you are ready here is a sample prayer you can pray. You can also pray in your own words. Image result for salvation prayer

That’s it!  You are now part of God’s family and will live with Him forever.  Thank Him for this precious gift!  Read the Bible, learn more about God and how much He loves you.  Find a good Bible believing church and get with some other believers.  If you prayed that prayer, congratulations on the best decision you ever made….and welcome to the family!

Welcome, Nice to Meet you!

Hi, a bit different post this is an assignment for an online blogging class.  Kind of a who I am and why  I am here.

Good question!  My name is Kate and I’ve been blogging about 3 weeks now.  A very new thing for me.  I had posted a couple longer posts on Facebook and got frustrated trying to type into those little boxes.  So, I thought I would start a blog, even if I was the only one that read it.

My blog is mostly about faith and everyday life, and some of the struggles myself and others have; wanting to be all that God made us to be, while still living in this world.  I’m a fairly private person and don’t often share  a lot until I have know someone for a while.  It seems I don’t mind sharing as much when I am writing .

It has been an interesting experience so far.  I am not a writer or a wordy person and never felt much desire to write at all.  During these last few weeks I have been compelled to write as thoughts and ideas come to me.

I welcome a chance to learn more about writing and blogs and to read others blogs also.  It’s definitely been a new thing, and very much out of my comfort zone. I find I am really enjoying it!   To my surprise people have been reading some of my blogs and it seems that some of them strike a chord with people reading them.  Pretty cool!  Thank You Lord!

Faith Like a Piano

I’ve been pondering faith the last several days.  We hear a lot about faith. The Bible is full of stories on faith and faithfulness but its one of those things that’s hard to pin down.  Everyone has their opinion on what faith is, and what it means.  The Bible talks about people with no faith, little faith, great faith and probably everywhere in between.

In Romans 12:3 it says that God has given us a measure of faith. So, how much is that?  Just for fun I googled “measure of faith”.  It came back with  5,220,000 results.  I guess that means that a lot of people are thinking about faith!

So as I was laying in bed I was thinking about all that; and thinking well ok, faith is a gift.  If God has given it to us, then it is a gift. ( Here’s where the piano comes in.)  Let’s say your parents give you a piano.  It was a gift. Its yours to keep.  What will you do with the piano? You can keep it in the center of your living room and polish the wood daily.  You can put vases of flowers on top of it or family pictures, and tell everyone that visits about your lovely piano. Well, that’s nice but then its just a piece of furniture. Or, maybe the piano also came with the gift of piano lessons.  And so instead of just polishing the wood you open the cover and start tentatively pushing some of the keys.  Then maybe by the next week you learn the scales and then maybe some simple songs.  If you keep at it, one day you may be able to play in front of an auditorium of people because you have practiced it so diligently.

I think our faith is a little like that.  When God gave it to us, He didn’t expect that we would know all the ins and outs of using it right away.  Or that we would never miss a note.  He does however want us to use it, and to practice it every day.  Like any sport or musical instrument if we don’t practice on a regular basis we get rusty. In these times we never want to be in that place where we haven’t kept up with our faith.  Every time we step out in faith and do something new, or believe and trust God that He is working something out for us and we do it without doubting; its like we are learning a new song.

The Bible is how we learn to exercise our gift of faith.  Romans 10:12 says: So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.  When we are plugged in and reading the Word daily we get our lessons in how to use our faith.  Everything we need to know about faith we can find in the Bible.  But guess what?  You could have the best piano teacher in the world and a library full of books on playing the piano.  However if you never open the lid and press the keys you’ll never learn to play it.  The same is true for the gift of faith.  We can memorize every scripture in the Bible about faith but if we never use it, it does no good for ourselves, or anyone else. Its up to us. We  choose how much we want to exercise our gift.

You might think this is an over-simplification of a really deep subject; and maybe it is. But imagine with me for a minute.  What would it be like if in the morning we all got up and starting using our faith.  And what if we were believing that the Lord could use each and every one of us to change the world for the better, heal the sick, help people in need and do the countless other things He wants to use us to do.  Wouldn’t that be something to see?  It’s not about us anyway.  We can’t take credit for something that was given to us. Its about God, the giver of the gift.

 

Breathe, Just Breathe

I was at the sink washing some dishes listening to the song Breathe by Johnny Diaz.  As an aside, great song, speaks so much to many of our lives in these “busy” days.   To read the lyrics or hear the song; check it out on YouTube!  ANYWAY I was thinking how true it is. We are all so busy all the time running around trying to get things done.  I was in the grocery store this morning and I asked the young man cashing me out how he was. He said he was “trying to hang in there”.  When I asked why, he told me he was doing an 8 hour shift and was trying to pace himself; not run everywhere so he could have enough energy to get through the day.  How many can identify with that?

I was also thinking about a friends post I saw on Facebook this morning and a comment she made about how she was going to take time to enjoy doing what she loves.  Well, that made me think!  And, I confess, I was also thinking about a line from when I was watching Madame Secretary last night where one of her daughters told her sister you and Mom aren’t fun anymore.

Now, I don’t know about you. But I realized sometimes how little time I spend doing “fun” things and just enjoying life.  Why do we feel that we have to be busy all the time and if we aren’t we feel guilty? (I say we.  I mean me. But I know I’m not alone!)  We think, wow I should be getting more accomplished; or how can I be happy and joyful when so much is going on? I just don’t have time for that!  The Lord wants us to enjoy our lives.  John 10:10 Amp states: The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].  That doesn’t sound like a ho hum never take a break kind of life to me!  I don’t want to look back one day and realize I never had the abundant life I was supposed to have.

Yes, we have to work, take care of our homes and kids, do chores, go to church, grocery shop and a hundred different other things. But most importantly we are made to take time to just be in God’s presence.  Just listen.  Sit. Breathe. He wants us to tell Him all about our lives, to tell him how much we love Him.  To spend time with Him because we want to not because we have to.    In Jeremiah 33:3 He says  ‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’  And in John 16:13  However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.

How will we hear and know what He is trying to tell us if we are constantly on the go, and we never take the time to just sit in His presence and listen?  Here’s some good advice from the chorus of the song:

Breathe, just breathe
Come and rest at My feet
And be, just be
Chaos calls but all you really need
Is to just breathe

I know I’m taking some time each day to  do this. I had a friend challenge me to do that for 5 min a day.  Turn off the phone and just listen.  I figured I’d give it 15!  Give it a try;  let us know what happens!  It just might change your life! Placeholder Image

Don’t Let Your Past Affect Your Future

Lets face it.  We all have things in our past that sneak back in our minds and try and distract us or distress us.  You know the things I’m talking about.  The what if’s, the why did or didn’t I’s.  The how could I’s? The why me’s, or the woulda, shoulda, coulda’s of our lives.  If we keep looking back at our mistakes it will hinder us from moving forward.  Trust me; I know!  If there was ever a person who had a lot of terrible things in his life to look back on it was the Apostle Paul.

In the book of Acts, Chapter 7:54-60 it tells about the stoning of Stephen.  Paul (who was still called Saul)was there. He was watching.  Chapter 8:1 it says; now Saul was consenting to his death.  Then a great persecution arose against the church. Verse 3 goes on to say: As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.   Wow.  Most of us have made mistakes or done things wrong but probably nothing like that.  After he was converted he could have spent years in counseling; wringing his hands and moaning over what he had done. Or he could have spent years talking about how he wasn’t worthy to be used by God because of his past. But, no.  He spent some time with the disciples and ate and was strengthened.  Then, amazingly he moved forward.   Chapter 9:20 it says Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God. Immediately.  As in right away.  Of course the people of his time were amazed.  They chatted among themselves saying hey, isn’t he the guy that did all those bad things to the church?  You know the type.

Despite his reputation and what people said about him, despite the numerous times they tried to kill him or they stoned him and beat him, still; he went on.  In fact he went on to write a good part of the new testament.  What was his attitude during this time?  I don’t know about every day or if he had days when he wanted to just throw in the towel and run away.  I know I would.  I know he never looked back or went back and renounced Jesus.  Check out the book of Acts.  He praised God even in the hard places. Even in prison. One of my favorite things he had to say was in Phil 3:12-14. He said: Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.  Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,  I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

He. Pressed. On.  He forgot the things of the past and looked ahead.  That’s some pretty good advice right there!  He knew God had things for him to complete.  Guess what?  God has things for us to complete also.

Have you done something that needs forgiveness?  Ask for forgiveness from the person or persons and ask forgiveness from God.  Then, here’s the step many of us find so hard.  Forgive yourself.  Then let go.  Give yourself grace.  God does.  He knows we make mistakes and  aren’t perfect.  He loves us anyway.  Don’t let guilt, shame, condemnation or regrets keep you from letting your light shine and doing those things God has made for you to do.  There are things God has for you to do that no one else in the world can do the way you would. There is no other part of the Body of Christ that is like you.  When you truly let the past go and forgive; the past can’t hold you back any longer.   Press on my friend.  Press on.