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To Be Led by You

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It’s a simple prayer really

I’m not asking for power or wealth

Not even asking for wisdom or health

Just asking to be led by You

 

Of all the things that I think I need

I just need to ask for eyes that can see

And hands and feet to follow faithfully

And just let me by led by You

 

I wish I could live in a world at peace

But I can’t even find peace in my heart

Feeling in need of a little head start

In just being led by You

 

Maybe I just take a single stepp1010195

then someone else comes along

We’re walking your path and humming your song

Just learning to be led by You

 

There are those days when I dare to think bigger

I ask that the guns be laid down

I ask that a cure for pain be found

I just want to be led by You

 

Those are the days that I realizep1010205

War will not stop because of a president’s hand

An executive order won’t heal the land

But only when we let ourselves by led by You

 

So, today here’s what I’ll pray

Lord, take my anger and pride and fear

those things that get in the way and hold me here

And I cannot be led by You

 

Take me from valleys shadowed by doubts

And take me to a shining hilltop place

Where I can run through rivers of grace

And only then be led by You

 

Just let me be led by You.

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Anchored in a Foreign Land

How can we sing the songs of the LORD while in a foreign land? Psalm 137:4

 

I hear it all the time these days. People are asking how our country could have fallen into this quagmire of conflicting ideologies that have triggered such hate and fear. Whether you are on the right or left of the political fence, confusion reigns as finger pointing spreads the blame and shame.

So how do Christians respond?

Maybe we shouldn’t be so worried about responding to the world. Truth is, we need only respond to our God who is in control of this upside down world. If we can do that, I think we would find that our actions and words would spring from love and compassion rather than knee-jerk reactionary confrontations with the world we live in.

We may feel that we live in a foreign land, one that does not recognize Christian tenets but that would be short-sighted of us. God’s fingerprints are all over this world and its inhabitants. We sometimes miss what is right in front of us because we are so overwhelmed by the anger on social media feeds fueled by often biased news reporting. No wonder the land seems so foreign to us.

So here’s the best advice I can think of; take it or leave it.

anchorAnchor your life in both heavenly and earthly realms. Your faith must be built and daily
nourished by prayer and the Scriptures. This provides that all- important “hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Heb. 6:19) that gives you an open avenue of two-way communication with God. Secondly, do not neglect the earthly anchors God has placed in your life to keep you grounded. Work to protect the relationships you have with your family and friends who love you, will pray for you, will trust you and allow you to trust them. Jesus said it all when he said, “Love one another, as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)

Finally, and this may seem contradictory, but remember that this is not your home. On the deepest level this is a foreign land; for we are spiritual creatures who will only come into our fullness when we enter into that next realm. In the meantime we have the Holy Spirit who indwells us and keeps us tethered to each world. We may at times feel adrift but we are never really drifting. We are always within reach of eternity even while grappling with a fallen world.

Go ahead and sing the songs of the LORD! Sing them with words of love, joy and peace. Sing them with actions that display the patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22,23) that comes from the Spirit within, the Father above and a Savior who bridges that gap for us.

The land may feel foreign but it’s only temporary and even the temporary can be very beautiful in its fragility.blue-sky-w-rainbow


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After the Election (or how to run a race with grace and mercy)

 

joggerFor months now, I have seen a man jogging past my home around 7am each morning. He carries a plastic bag with him which flaps in the breeze as he runs by. It was the bag that caught my eye. He uses it to pick up trash along the way. This gentleman will bend and pick up the stray coffee cup or fast food wrapper and can do it while barely breaking his stride. He will even cross back and forth to either side of the road if he notices a piece of paper on the opposite side on his morning run.

I live on a main road in my town so there is much traffic, both cars, joggers and people walking and that means a lot of garbage can get tossed aside. I regularly pick up papers and sometimes bottles and cans along the front of my property. This guy is the only person I have seen in 20 plus years of living here who not just joins me in cleaning up my property but he does this for every property he passes through. He is my hero.

As I was sipping my morning tea and gazing out the window, I saw him jog by. He bent over three times in front of my house and another two times at my neighbor’s home. In the background, I had the TV tuned to the morning news and the reporter was shouting about the “Race to the Finish” and what the presidential candidates would be spending their days doing.

As with so many others, I have felt great stress and anxiety over this election. I am afraid images (4)for my country and its citizens.  But this man and his simple act of community service have helped me refocus. This jogger has found a way to focus his end results, yet never so much that he misses what is right in front of him. He has made a decision to leave a better world in his wake, one piece of garbage at a time. He runs with an attitude of mercy for those who made the mess and displays grace when he pitches in to help clean up. Imagine what kind of world we would have if we all adopted this attitude. Rather than an inward focus which causes us to either ignore or complain about problems, what if we lived life with merciful and grace-filled eyes that would compel us to do more than just see the injustices that occur every day. Rather than shaking our fist at the car speeding by and throwing a McDonald’s wrapper out the window, maybe we simply picked up the wrapper, slipped it in our bag and carried on with our race barely breaking stride.

…live a life a love…

Ephesians 5:2

I am trying to adopt this attitude. While I have my own race to run, I don’t want to continue to miss what is right around me because I am so focused on end results. It’s a classic “stop and smell the roses” scenario. But this time, rather than just appreciate the beauty around me, take a minute to reach down and do my part in beautifying the spot that I find myself in.

il_570xn-729678921_t7xrAfter the election tomorrow, our country will refocus on the issues that face our nation. But we as individuals still have a job to do. Commit with me to leave this world a better place by rooting our actions in mercy and grace each day. Rather than looking for someone to blame for leaving garbage in my path, take a moment to bend down and dispose of the trash. Then continue on your way knowing that what you left behind is a bit cleaner, maybe even a bit better than it had been.

He has shown you, O Man, what is good, and what does the LORD require of you? To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. 

Micah 6:8

 

 

 

 


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Don’t Give up America

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One year, my church decided to give us kids little gifts on our birthdays. Maybe there was a little extra in the budget. More likely I just had a Sunday School teacher with a soft heart. In September, my friend got a fun pencil set. In October my sister got some sort of fall decoration that was beautiful. I couldn’t wait until November because that was my birth month. The first Sunday in November, the teacher asked who had a birthday coming (looking straight at me!). I jumped up to claim my gift. I opened the box and found two little black and white pilgrim candles. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful but what seven year old gets excited about pilgrim candles. I was disappointed but dutifully smiled my thanks to a well-meaning and very kind teacher. I didn’t want to hurt her feeling, but – candles? What a letdown.

But that’s the thing about November. It comes on the heels of autumn leaves against windy-day-leaves-1brilliant blue skies, apple picking, apple cider, hay rides and pumpkin carving. November 1st comes right after the sugar high of Halloween and getting to wear the costume that you spent all week working on. By November, most of those leaves have fallen and the few that are still holding on have traded their orange and deep red tones for a quieter soft brown. The trees are taking on a skeletal look as they stretch bony fingers against grey skies. People may decorate their homes with a token pumpkin and cornstalk but not much else. It’s the calm before the storm as they wait for the annual frenzy of Christmas lights. November and Thanksgiving are the quiet time between the “real holidays”.

But this year may be different with all the election hubbub that is swirling around us. I don’t know what will happen on November 8th. I have no words of wisdom to ease worried minds. Only this – November in an election year is a force to be reckoned with. Every news media outlet will be broadcasting right up till the last ballot is counted and the nation will turn weary and worried eyes to the headlines for that first stormy week or so. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the choices we are being faced with. It’s so easy to say, “I’m done, stick a fork in this November turkey.” But don’t. Don’t give up America. On November 9th, we will still have a country. It will look different and hopefully, we will start to see differences in our political parties as the effects of this hurricane of an election blow through.

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And something else to remember. On November 9th, God will still be God. He will still love you. He will still reach out to you. He will still guide you along the path the He has laid out. He longs to comfort you. Don’t give up, America.


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The Better Angels of our Nature

violence at rallyOr Hope Lives Despite Ourselves….

Jesus warned us that a house divided against itself cannot stand (Mark 3:25). Abraham Lincoln echoed that thought in a famous speech during the American Civil War. But, sadly, this is a lesson that is difficult to learn. Mankind will continue to argue rather than talk, fight rather than discuss their differences. In this year’s presidential elections, candidates seem to prefer wallowing in mudslinging rather discussing the issues.  And all of this is a  reflection of the society that we ourselves have created. Haven’t we,over several generations, seen our artistic tendencies slide down towards expressions of the ugliness of mankind rather that the beauty? I think of the music, movies and television shows that glorify negative role models and make morality seem like a quaint oddity. Not that I am calling for a return to starched collars and measuring dress hems. Such surface civility only hides the ugliness of humanity which will bubble to the surface regardless of how we try to hide it.

We like to think that this unraveling of our society as something new but the problem stems from ancient times as evidenced in the Scriptures.

“The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men.” Psalm 12:8

And, honestly, if I had stopped reading at the end of Chapter 12 today, I would have been left saddened and discouraged. But I could feel my eyes being drawn to the next Psalm even as I tried to close the Book and end my morning reading. Actually it was my notes that were written in the margin, probably from some long forgotten sermon or study that caught me. I had written “the circumstances” next to verses one and two. David is crying out to God asking “How long, O God? Will you forget me forever?” It’s as easy today to blame the downward spiral of our culture on God as it was in David’s time.

The notation besides verses three and four read “the conflict as he focuses on circumstances”. He acknowledges that though things are going badly, he needs to turn to God for help (such a simple plea, “Give light to my eyes”). Finally, in verses five and six, “confidence as he focuses on God”.

“But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me.” Psalm 13:5 and 6

This conflict has been ongoing for many centuries. David felt the struggle of sin’s grip on our world as he grappled with whether or not he would reach for God. Abraham Lincoln lived this battle as he tried to reunite a country bitterly divided. I wonder if he had read Psalms 12 and 13 before giving an inauguration speech in which he said:

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

He saw the brutality of war and was able to look ahead to hope. David, too, saw his pitiful circumstances yet looked upward towards hope. These men were followers of the One Most High and they knew where their focus had to be. Both men, living in such similar and yet vastly different circumstances, understood where hope comes from.

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain.” Hebrews 6:19

Even though David had not met Jesus, he understood Messiah. Mr. Lincoln, whose faith in Christ was strong in perilous times, knew there was hope for mankind despite the atrocities around him. Today, we can still see hope in the curtain of the sanctuary, in the cross of Christ and in the Scriptures He entrusted us with.

“O LORD, you will keep us safe.” Psalm 12:7

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