Categories
Peace Rescue Rest

The God Who Leads

We’re continuing with hearing from one of my favorite people, Mary Johnson. Enjoy today’s post on God’s leading.

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I can never Thank God enough.

How can I begin to thank God for His mercy, His grace, His love?

How great is our God. He alone is worthy of all praise, honor and glory.

13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!”   Revelation 5:13 (NIV)

When I think back on all His goodness it brings tears to my eyes.  Where there seems to be no way, He knows how to make a way.

There may be times when you feel all alone but God has said we are never alone.

10 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:10 (NLT)

So I say to Him thank You Father.  When you can’t seem to see your way, Jesus has said I am the way. He makes streams in the desert.

19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19 (NIV)

I find myself looking at all the wonderful things God has created. He made it all for us to enjoy and to remind us He is near. When you feel like life is pulling you in different directions just know He is near, leading us to Him. All this time has been about our drawing near to Him; not about the loneliness or inadequacies or not knowing which way to turn.

Jesus has been drawing me closer to Him. There my refuge would be. In Him would be my peace, my joy, my help- my victory!

So I can say, “There You were Jesus leading and guiding me every step of the way. You were there all the time. Thank You.”

Psalm 23 (NIV)

A psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.

Mary Johnson

 

 

 

 

Categories
Peace Perspective surrender

My Surrender

Once I heard of a church here in Africa that called itself the church of the, “intellectuals.” Obviously I didn’t qualify for membership. Yes, I do have papers, degrees, certificates, a longish cv (because I’ve lived a while now) but I only make use of them when necessary (i.e., proving qualifications and experience). Don’t get me wrong, I love studying. My husband often says if there’s a book lying around I will read it – and he’s right. However, I felt grieved when I heard of this gathering of people based on their perceived intellect. I say perceived because intelligence isn’t always measured by education; there are many who have earned numerous degrees but fail to produce results in the “smart” department.

When hearing of this church for “intellectuals,” I wondered what was the standard for qualification? Was it necessary for one to finish high school to be accepted? Or was a 2,4,8, or 12 year degree required? On this continent, even having finishing secondary school as a qualifier drastically reduced the number of qualified applicants making the church of “intellectuals” an elite society indeed.

Everywhere I go around the world, it seems people group themselves according to social preferences. It’s rare, if not impossible, to find a city in the world where everyone finds common ground on which to stand. The poor, who spend each day working for their next meal, find it difficult to understand the rich, who are busy trying to maintain their excessive lifestyles. The educated who understand a bit about science, find it difficult to communicate with the uneducated who are bound by folklore and superstition of the region. Unconsciously the lines separating society are drawn and the all-too-familiar divisions surface to hamstring the progress of unity.

Ephesians 2:14-18 NLT For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.  He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death. He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.”

The things that divide us must bow their knees when confronted by the reality that in the sacrifice of Christ which supplies us with what we need: peace. The cross removes hostility, the cross removes the wall that separates, the cross removes what divides – and this peace is impossible to attain without the cross. Peace that unites has evaded and continues to evade every system created by mankind throughout history and will continue to evade us unless the cross is given entrance.

Yes, I know what many are thinking at this point, “Why are Christians so divided?” The answer is simple: there’s a lack of surrender to the work of the cross. Were all believers to surrender to the point that is seen in Ephesians 2 above, the divisions that plague us would disappear almost effortlessly. The enemy (who is Satan, yes, he is real) knows this and works to divide in order to keep the church void of power. This surrender to the cross doesn’t rely on what others may or may not be doing – I am only responsible for my surrender and Christ is the One who then draws those together who have surrendered to be connected together in His body to form His church (Colossians 2:19).

But first of all, it’s my surrender.

Categories
Choices Peace

The Mom Voice and Shopping Carts

I had to laugh today when someone mentioned that the local grocery store had new shopping carts. I found myself smiling, thinking I need to go and experience using a clean, smooth-driving shopping cart. Using these shopping carts can be a hazardous to your health: they are sticky, smelly, and otherwise unhygienic. I feel as if I have to disinfect myself when using them and use my “mom voice” with my daughter when she tries to touch it, “Don’t touch that, you have no idea what is on it.”

mom voice

This may not seem important, and it really isn’t, but we in Blantyre have become accustomed to filthy shopping carts that turn left when you want to turn right and turn right when you want to turn left. There have been times when the cart I’m using simply stops moving in the middle of a shop and I, the unfortunate shopper, am stuck with a cart that I end up having to pull, instead of push, to the checkout.

From checkout, I then proceed with great difficulty with the sticky cart-that-needs-a-front-end-alignment turning this way and that, to the car. Finally, after loading groceries, the temptation is great to shout at the cart and leave it, just like everyone else does, in the parking area – but that is not meant to be. No, I have heard teachings on the importance of returning the cart and I can’t bear the guilt of leaving the cart. So, I once again fight with my nemesis and return it, often to the quizzical looks of others who also despise the carts at the store, to its proper place.

By the time I return to the car, that I have on occasion unintentionally scratched with the misaligned cart, I’ve broken into a full sweat and count shopping for that day as my cardio workout. The problem is that more often than not, I have to frequent several places to filling my grocery list for the week and this process repeats itself two or three times before I get home. Then, I have to unpack everything and take myself, and daughter, through a decontamination process after our encounter with the sticky cart.

It’s obvious I’m no fan of grocery shopping and perhaps you can understand why now that you know of my problem with grocery carts. The truth of the matter is, despite my utter disdain for the carts here, that shopping carts aren’t a big deal in life; they’re really little details. However, those little details can create a very big deal if left unattended. Just knowing that the store’s carts were as bad as they were, made me avoid shopping there – but now upon hearing that there are new carts I may (emphasis on may) not avoid that shop next week.

A rock in the shoe, a shopping cart that turns badly, or no power to print your document, all are inconvenient, but none are deadly. These little things are conveniences that are meaningful, but do we allow them to mean more than they should? I am guilty, on more than one occasion, allowing what’s really a small thing to have a greater impact on my life than it should and I find myself in a “kerfuffle” (I like that word) for nothing.

My mother was pretty amazing and I didn’t realize how amazing she was until I was grown. She graduated into God’s glory in 2008 and I miss her dearly; one of the things I miss most is her way of making what seems complicated, to be simple. One saying of hers that has stuck with me has helped me deal with the unimportant things of life: “If you’re going to be upset, be upset about something that really matters – and there are a lot of things that don’t matter.”

Today I choose peace, I choose to shake the rock from my shoe, avoid the bad shopping cart, and find a way to teach without my printout. The emotional energy invested in being upset has no payout besides elevated blood pressure and heartburn, so why bother?

John 14:27 NLT “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

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