God Did it Again

I had taken a year off to work part time because both of us were working full time.

I explored part-time work.

Thought I might contract with a funeral home in OKC.

Everyone was set. They needed no one.

Plan set aside.

 

Loierrty-years  (Hand covering mouth so you won’t know how many) later

God handed me the opportunity to do that very thing.

Go figure.

I’ve just finished the one book I had to write (People of Faith in a Changing World) based on my journals

I’ve gotten health problems solved

And God took care of another dream – to regularly use my piano playing professionally.

 

I told someone just when I face reality and say to myself, “This is it. What is here is what I will be content with.”

God comes along and says, “I’m not done yet.”

“I put this idea in your head a long time ago so when the opportunity came,

You would be ready to accept.”

Same thing happened when my husband had the opportunity to

Move from the pastorate into chaplaincy.

 

It tells me God is a living, active spirit in my world.

It tells me God doesn’t play with my life.

It tells me God is the author of my dreams as well as gives me abilities,

And just because the dream doesn’t happen now, doesn’t mean they never will.

It tells me I will always have something to contribute

No matter what else changes in life.

 

I rejoice as I realize God can and will continue to use me.

I am here, God, take who I am

The abilities you have given me,

For the comfort of others.

May I never tire of service,

May I always rejoice in serving.

Review of People of Faith In A Changing World

Review People of Faith in a Changing World

By David Ramous

https://offsetinnocence.wordpress.com/author/offsetinnocence

I love devotionals (hence why I’m writing a whole series of them). A good devotional is like ahealthy snack The author has to really understand what they want to say and then communicate the truth in a short, digestible means – one that is also powerful and true.

This book does that extremely well.

Now, this book is not a short one. It’s300+ pages with literally hundreds of devotions ranging across all of Scripture. The author writes clearly, and I felt recharges as I brought this book with me on my recent trip to Georgia.

The book contains both honesty and variety. I never got bored, and there was a nice mix of stories, poetry, deep theology and much more.

Anyone looking for a large anthology of devotions should definitely check this book out.

Thank you to David Ramos for the kind words. I have been following David’s blog and he has written a book of devotionals called Climbing with Abraham. I have ordered it and read most of it. See a review on my page ‘Book I read’.  It is worth your time.

People of Hope

I Corinthians 13:10

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love

Squeezed between faith and charity is that little word, hope.

I have come to believe the shape of the world today is because so many people no longer have hope. People (with the exception of those who kill to obtain a place in heaven) who fall into addiction and are incited into violence because they think that’s all there is. There is no future, and they might as well as live for today’s pleasures. And then there’s the anger that grows into hate that becomes disdain for society and life. I wonder if it starts with people rebelling against feeling hopeless and helpless.

I do understand in this world of complexities, that might be just bit simple. But it holds up in a lot of instances. Many insightful people in the secular world are looking for ways to give these disenfranchised young people hope so they can find their way out of their present nothingness.

Hope:

That life can be different

That I don’t have to repeat the mistakes of my parents.

That I can be a person of consequence.

That I might be lovable and loved.

That I might make a difference because of being here.

When that hope is pinned upon help from governmental agencies, education, important people I know, family, money, marriage or career, hopes can get smashed very quickly. Many people despair, thinking life cannot be different.  Help can be found in all the agencies we have in place, and people’s lives have been changed by them.

But even after we have received the help we need, there still are times of strong support and times when everything seems to desert us at once. Where is our hope when the hard times return?

Hope.

My hope is in the Lord.

Easy words.

But stronger words never spoken.

Because I have prayed and asked for guidance and wisdom, I have hope:

That I can make wise decisions

About where I put myself

The people I let influence me

The career I follow

The way I spend money

The choice of spouse I make,

How I relate to people around me.

All those things affect the way I end up living my life and the benefits I reap because God makes me into a better person. And when I fail, I find forgiveness and hope that I can start again.

God doesn’t run out of his funds of love or strength or grace or opportunities like people, careers or agencies we put our hope in run short of resources. It is the steadfastness, the all powerfulness, the love that we place our hope in.

And because God never fails, our hope never wavers.

So I Pray: God of hope, give me the wisdom to live my life in a way that reflects the hope I have placed in you. Help me be a representative of what hope can give people the courage to try. By my example, help people understand that in God’s hope there is the possibility of a different life.

People of Faith in a Changing World

BookCoverPreview POFCWPeople of Faith in a Changing World. New From Jo Bower

“Much of what I know today will not be so tomorrow….” This quote from a devotion in “People of Faith in a Changing World” reflects the uncertainty of our world. Jo Bower has kept a journal through the changes in her life, and shares some 200 devotions based on those journals.

Encouragement, God’s faithfulness, growth, unity, asking ‘why,’ balance, change and overcoming are all themes readers will encounter in “People of Faith in a Changing World.” Seasonal Devotions are also part of this collection.

This book is available at Amazon.com, Kindle, and you local bookstore can order from Ingram Distributors.

Message from the author: It is my pleasure to share the book I’ve been writing my whole life. The I hope you glean as much from the devotions as I have in the living of them in God’s presence. Enjoy them and blessings to all.

Something Is Wrong In Here (In Two Parts)

Something Is Wrong In Here

Part One

Judges 9:8-15

One day the trees went out to anoint a king for themselves. They said to the olive tree, ‘Be our king.’ But the olive tree answered, “Should I give up my olive oil? It’s used to honor gods and people alike. Should I give up just to rule over the trees?'”

I’ve read two very different scriptures in one day: The first is Jotham’s Parable in Judges Chapter nine. The second John three. They go together in an oddly striking way.

Part One:

The parable starts like this: The trees looked for a ruler. They went to the olive trees Will you rule over us? What? And give up producing the most needed olive to rule over you? No! It is not worth it.

Next they went to the fig tree. Will you rule over us? What? The fig tree laughed at the other trees. And give up producing this lovely fruit to rule over you? No way! It’s not worth it!

Then, getting desperate I suppose, they go the grapevine. Shall I give up making this wonderful wine? To rule over you? It laughed. “No!” And waxed eloquent in its refusal, I would imagine.

Not being wise enough to get the message the trees approached the thrornbush. And the thornbush, being already somewhat envious of the trees, and also remaining true to its nature said: “Me rule over you? Me rule over the mighty trees? Why, it would be my pleasure!”

In the English Standard Version, verse 15 reads “Do you really want to anoint me as king over you? If you do, come and rest in my shade. But if you do not, I will destroy you!”

The Jotham parable was warning the ancient people against unwise choices of leaders, and choose to follow him over God. They assumed every new idol or religion they encountered was the new answer. And they followed anyone who consented to rule over them.

Jotham’s parable to us today would go like this: Christians wanted a king they could understand, so they went to the good things God has created and asked, “Will you become our central theology and ruling doctrines. But the good things from God reply to our question, “What? Me be your king and queen? We’re too busy creating more good!”

And we go to good works who says: “What? I’m just too busy. I can’t take time for administration of the law.”

And meditation says: “It is merely my place to advise.”

And so we run to all the good things God has allowed us: Technology says, “No, but I’ll help you organize and share it.” Service to others paused, really wanting to rule, then stayed true to its nature and said: “The right thing for the wrong reason does not last.”

We go on till we find passion, obsession, reason or enlightenment, who look at each other in delight. “Oh yes! We will rule. Gladly we will drive you and coax you, and tell you how to live.”

And we say, “Finally, someone to take charge.”

God sighs. And the evil one is delighted.

So I pray: God, Help me make you Lord and ruler in my life and not substitute ease and touchability for the harder work of following you.

There’s Something Wrong In Here

Part Two

John 3: 21 (ESV)

But anyone who lives by the truth comes into the light. He does this so that is will be easy to see what he has done with God’s help.

We repent of our faulty choices. We start anew. Things go along well. We are driven to be and do good.  We see some good things happen, and hope for the best. But in the end we realize it’s not enough.

Our choices haven’t changed. We return to our selfish need to have things all laid out in front of us and follow the path of less resistance. Somewhere in the middle of the next mess we find ourselves in, we put our hand to our chest and admit, “Something is wrong in here.”

Ah, enter John chapter three: those universal words of love given by the creator whose very nature is love and is expressed in constant giving. And when we respond to …God so loved ….he gave… we not only rediscover eternal life, we find the One God who will not turn into a faulty ruler.

God, as king provides the framework for us to hang the good things he gives us, the tools he provides, and the work he calls us to. In the end God is much more a king who we allow to become director, a mentor, a person whose kingship is one of love rather than the self-centered rule of a thornbush king.

So I pray: God, help me remember your kingship is based on love for all those you created and care for. Help me never forget others who would be my king are driven by their need to be in control.

So, Remind Me, Why Do I Need God?

 

Psalm 107: 26b-29
…In their peril their courage melted away. They reeled and staggered like drunkards: they were at their wits’ end. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, And he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were made calm.
Romans 8:26
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.

“Life is so complicated today people snap.” I’ve said that many times when I have heard some of the awful things people who, otherwise seem normal, have done to each other.
Coping is something we have become masters at. We smile and say we are fine when our families are quietly falling apart. We tell ourselves ‘it doesn’t matter’ when whatever it was matters a great deal. And we go on to the next thing in life without acknowledging, confronting, giving it to God and solving whatever the conflict or hurt or pain was.

Often it’s just life that piles up on us. We don’t feel overwhelmed as we go but and we just let things pile up, accumulating baggage. We continue that way, coping without resolution, until we suddenly find ourselves at wits’ end.  Some people ‘snap,’ some fall into addiction, some become clinically depressed, and sometimes mental instability sets in. Others retreat from reality to lose themselves in music, writing, and other arts. Sometimes we even use service to God and others as coping mechanisms.

However, there are other times when sorrows and life’s problems suddenly overwhelm us. One minute we are coping and the next the phone rings or cars crash and our whole life is never the same.
Either way, the gradual accumulation of baggage or instant sorrow, we end up reeling and staggering under the load at our wits’ end. Simply put, we burn out.

When we come to the end of our wits we most often draw from our own wisdom and strength to gather ourselves as problem solvers. Yet there is a time when we come even to the end of our wisdom.
We need God because everyone eventually comes to the end of our wits and wisdom.

Yes, we like to deny it. Yes, we keep coping, slogging through life, reading self-help books, not sleeping and worrying. And all the time we are complaining about small things, and afraid to address the real cause. We need help.
And the God, who knows us inside and out, who loves us and cares about us, has not left us while we were trying to do it all on our own. When we have tried everything, done everything, said everything, and we don’t even know how to pray, or where to start, the Holy Spirit, who dwells in us, tells God what we need and God goes into action.

What God would really like us to do is turn to him and unburden ourselves as we go, working through the pain on a daily basis. Then when the phone call comes or things crash, we don’t waste emotional and spiritual time blindly staggering around, crying “God, where are you? Are you there?”   We can immediately breath a prayer and God stills the storm to a whisper and makes the waves of the sea of distress calm.

Why do I need God? Because life is full of crashing storms and wild seas.

And so I pray:
God, I want to be so close to you I can just breathe a sigh of a prayer and have given the problems and hurts to you as I encounter them. I realize I am not there. Help me renew my relationship with you every day so it grows to the place my first reaction will be to ask for your help first. Then, with a quiet soul, I can face each new storm.